Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Luck's Twisted Sense of Humor

It was to be our first time at this posh and very highly-reviewed downtown restaurant. We were both excited and feeling romantic about this anniversary dinner. I guess most of all, as foodies, my husband and I simply couldn't wait to experience the culinary adventure we knew awaited us. 

I get the sense though, that when I thought 'culinary adventure', the Universe probably only heard the last word and decided to give me a taste of its sense of humor once more. For as soon as my husband surrendered our car to the valet attendant and he got the chance to feel his back pocket, he blurted out, "Oh shoot! I don't have my wallet!"

My panic at that point wasn't so much from the fear of not being able to pay for dinner since I knew I had my credit card with me, but from not being able to pay for our valet parking! On my own, I know that this would have been a full-blown disaster in my head. Luckily, I'm married to someone who simply knows how to talk to anyone and find solutions calmly. My husband very discreetly but candidly admitted the situation to our server, who happened to be a very nice and approachable gentleman, and they came to an agreement that he will give us some cash which we'll just add to our gratuity to pay him back. Problem solved! Blessed with a savior, an angel, once more!

That's the thing I notice about AJ. He's lucky (and not just 'cos I married him, haha!). Good fortune seems to follow him somehow. I'm not talking about winning the lottery or anything like that (although I'm still hoping!), but more about being blessed with kind strangers or finding himself in situations where circumstances thought to be hindrances or bumps in the road just almost magically evaporate, open up or resolve themselves in such timely manner.

I always tell him this and explain that it's probably because of his good karma, a law I firmly believe in. Aside from the fact that I'm married to a genuinely kind human being, I suspect he's also done some pretty amazing stuff in his past lives to reap these blessings. It's just the little things that add up. A good parking spot suddenly opens up in front of him in spite of an entire building or lot being insanely packed. Or being given the date and time slot he really wanted for our civil wedding eleven years ago even though it seemed impossible given that we booked so late. There are other examples, I'm sure, but the point is that he appears to have a charmed life.

Mine is a little bit different. I'm not saying I'm highly unlucky or cursed. But 'luck' seems to have a funny way of showing up for me. I think it likes playing hide and seek first before fully revealing itself. I think it gets a kick out of scaring the shit out of me initially before consoling me with its appearance.

Here's what I mean. For the past two weeks, my brain and creativity in general seemed to have been taken hostage by worries over jury duty. I received the dreaded letter summoning me for jury selection and for three days each in the past two weeks, I was to make myself available in case I needed to show up in court and be part of the pool of potential jurors. I ended up being summoned to appear in court two out of the six days. This meant that for those two days, I held my breath for a total of approximately 5 hours, intently willed myself to manifest whatever mind control or telekinetic powers I might possess, while simultaneously prayed to God and all the saints and angels, in the hopes that I would be lucky enough to NOT have my name and number be called. To say that it was beyond nerve-racking is an understatement. Sitting in that jury box is definitely not in my bucket list!

Luckily, my name was never called. But seriously, how 'lucky' of me that I've been sent that dreaded letter twice now when I've only been a citizen of this country for seven years?! I know of people much older than me and who were born here and yet have never ever been summoned for jury duty! How crazy is that? 

My first time was in Illinois and I was a new mom at the time. I was excused because I was the primary caregiver for my newborn. Dodged it. Now living in Tennessee, but only for 4 years, here we went again with that dreaded envelope that says "SUMMONS FOR JURY SERVICE". Fantastic.

I'm unlucky that way, but still lucky I suppose for not being selected in the end. But like I said, I had to shit in my pants first before luck let me have a big sigh of relief. I must have been a prankster in my past life and now it's payback time. Luckily I'm married to one lucky guy! Let's hope his seriously good luck can balance off the mischievous nature of mine. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Are You a Slave to Your False Beliefs?

"Your total is $66.68".

This was all the cashier had to say to the woman in front of me to bring her to a state of semi-panic. Hurriedly, she turned to her side, deciding what small item she could purchase to add to her total. I'm not sure what she ended up grabbing, maybe a pack of gum or a candy bar, but what I did hear was her saying, "Oh no. There is NO way I'm ending up with a 666 total."

Obviously the woman considered it bad luck and felt compelled to do something to avoid it. I thought it was nonsense and amusing, but really, who am I to judge? It's her belief, her life and her choices were really of no consequence to my existence, other than to inspire a thought for this blog post, obviously. 

The idea of false beliefs, and how these affect our lives, is what came to mind. And I'm not even talking about mere superstitions although they do function in similar ways. By definition, a superstition is a belief in supernatural causality even in the absence of rational, scientific proof. But a lot of us who say we're not superstitious still cling to certain beliefs about ourselves and our realities that don't make much sense, don't have much basis in practical reality. These same beliefs are also clearly detrimental to our mental health and how we conduct our relationships.

As a teenager, I was told by someone that if I didn't lose weight and become slim, no one 'worthy' (translate: an all around great guy) would fall in love with me. I believed it for a long time until I realized it was too painful to hold on to. Eventually, I had to convince myself that anyone truly worthy would choose to see past my size and appreciate what I'm truly about. Events in my life have disproved this false belief. I'm obviously married to a most wonderful man who saw beyond my bulges and tomboyish demeanor. But I'll admit that it's still a daily struggle to fight that mean voice in my head. The worst part is that now the voice is mine and it's one I have to always keep in check, at least until I'm able to finally fully slay it.

My struggle has to do with my false belief about the relationship between my physical appearance and my sense of worth and lovability. It continues to cause fear and insecurity within me which of course is never good for my marriage and how I open myself up to others. I know it doesn't make much sense but I still allow it to affect my behavior and bleed into my relationships. It's just as baffling as that woman's superstitious behavior in the store, only much less amusing and more damaging.

So why do we cling to our false beliefs? 

I think it's because we derive a false sense of security from them. They become safe and comfortable spots for us. Perhaps your false belief has become convenient and has protected you from taking risks or kept you from pursuing something more challenging which will force you to venture into the unknown. Perhaps it has become easier to cling to what we already know rather than change our minds and try something different. Status quo is always the path of least resistance but also the path of least evolution.

Maybe you think you're damaged. Maybe you think you're incapable of making anyone happy. Perhaps you've convinced yourself that you're not good at anything. Or perhaps you believe that no one around you could ever be trusted. Whatever negative belief you're holding on to, do yourself a favor and at least pause to question your data. How reliable is your belief? What gifts has it really given you? Is it costing you too much?

If you muster the courage to ask and consider the alternative, you might actually want to give it a try and realize that there is greater peace to be found in walking through life more freely without your false beliefs as crutches. Simply try it. You might just enjoy the amount of growth that's bound to follow. 

Are you holding on to a false belief? 
What have you done recently to challenge it?

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Intimacy of Love and Hate

My sweet blogger friend, Susan of The Most -- Of Every Moment, wrote a post on love and hate last week. She created an interesting list of things that she simultaneously loves and hates, depending on the facet she's focused on. I enjoyed reading the post as it highlighted the complex relationship we sometimes have with things in our lives, that it's not always as simple as loving or disliking something in its entirety. You can check it out for yourself here.

On that post, she tagged me and some other wonderful bloggers. So here is my personal take on this love-hate topic.

I'm very careful with these wordsLove and Hate.

To me they are both very strong and meaningful words, and should never be used loosely. I don't believe you can really love or hate unless you fully know and understand someone or something. These feelings assume a deep level of intimacy with whatever is loved or hated. 

That said, I've decided to focus my list on marriage and family life since these are two realities that are very dear to me and definitely possess intimate knowledge of. 

Let's start with things I LOVE about my marriage and family life...

The sound of my boys' laughter. This to me is the pure sound of joy and it melts my heart every time. It's like the Divine whispering to me, reminding me that this is all that matters, that life is good.

Spooning. My nights never seem complete when I don't feel my husband hold me close in the middle of the night. It doesn't have to last all night and I don't think I'd last too long anyway because I'm a restless sleeper. But feeling his arms around me and our bodies fitting perfectly in each other's arches always reassure me that everything is alright, no matter what we went through all day long. 

Five star food reviews. It's not always easy satisfying everyone in my family when it comes to meals. I still have a picky 8 year old, not to mention the pressure I have to always try to satisfy both Filipino and American palates in our household. So when I make something and hear "That was really good, Mama!!" (and they both call me Mama), it makes all the hard work truly worth it. 

PDA, but only on a non-embarrassing level. I'm merely talking about holding hands, or arms wrapped around the other, kissing my son (although sadly he's beginning to be shy about this now), or the occasional goofy stuff my husband and I do to each other such as winking at the other or pinching the other's cheek. I love these random acts that make me and my boys feel loved. 

Receiving special occasion greeting cards or notes that bring me to tears. Birthdays, anniversaries, mother's dayall these make me look forward to the kind and loving words that my boys come up with to show their affection and sentimentality. My husband is not a poet but he certainly always chooses the best greeting cards. And when he finds the words, writes his own note, with my son adding his spontaneous and completely unfiltered words of appreciation, they never fail to make me cry. 

Certainly I don't love everything. So, from the top of my head here are five things I HATE with regard to family life...

Cleaning bathrooms. Even after all these years, I still hate cleaning someone else's bathroom mess and please don't ask me to expound. I'm sure you can all imagine the kind of grime I deal with living with two males. 

Homework time. I still don't understand why I must suffer along with my son when he gets home from school as he deals with homework. It's not that I do things for him but I can't resist the compulsion to monitor him and make sure he's doing what he needs to do and is doing it right. I honestly don't recall my parents doing the same to me when I was in school. Was I just more disciplined, or were my parents just busier and I have more time being a SAHM? It could be a combination, who knows? When you've unlocked the secret to finding the right balance between caring for your child's success and teaching them a healthy level of autonomy and accountability, please let me know. I'm still not that consistent. 

Not knowing what to cook. I don't mind cooking, as a matter of fact I enjoy it. What I hate is when I run out of ideas to cook and every dish I think about simply bores me. Although when I start thinking this way, I try to force myself to change perspective. It could be much worse, right? At least I still have something to cook for my family.

Worrying. I wish it were possible for me to care about someone and not worry or be obsessive. But this is the curse for most of us. As I always say, Love and Fear are more intimate than most of us would like to acknowledge. Whether it be about my family's safety, health and general well-being, you name it, I worry about it. I'm not proud of it and I definitely hate it.

Hurt feelings. But this is inevitable, isn't it? Vulnerability is part of love, and love is what we share in our family. Just as we have the power to bring immeasurable joy to each other, we can also wield that power to break each other's hearts and cause the other pain. I may hate fighting, miscommunication, and feeling hurt, but we have to accept all of it as part of learning how to better love each other.


I'm supposed to tag a few blogger friends on this post and challenge them to create a list of 10 things they love, and 10 things they hate. As this love-hate list has morphed now since the original, I'd say you can create your own list involving loves and hates depending on how you want to interpret it. You can make a simple list of what you love and hate, or create a theme, or whatever sort of configuration or iteration your creativity dictates. I obviously deviated from the original idea so I won't tell anyone how to write theirs.

I want to emphasize though that these bloggers are in no way obligated to create such a post. However it would be interesting to see what they come up with as this list of amazing bloggers features both humor and 'serious' writers. I hope you can find the time to visit these great sites!

Have fun ladies!

Marie Nikodem Loerzel of Rock the Kasbah
Krysta Manning of The Thoughtful Mom
Rena McDaniel of The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver
Janine Ripper of Reflections from a Redhead
Sarah Schmitt of Salty Bug

Friday, June 26, 2015

Road Trip Part II: Everything IS Big in Texas

"I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22, everything will be alright if...." Taylor Swift was still echoing in my head minutes after turning my music off. We were talking, commenting on the traffic, the drizzle and then BANG! 

Or was it BOOM?! 

The loud sound of metal crashing.

"What the....!"

I was on the front passenger seat of our SUV, with my Mom behind me, and Dad behind my husband who was driving. Noah was in his car seat between my parents. I looked to our left as I felt our vehicle jerk to the side. Mom screamed. I was mostly confused. I still couldn't process what was happening until I saw this red truck moving between us and the left guardrail, hitting our left side all the way through until BAM! The other driver had obviously lost control and swerved right, further hitting the front of our SUV. At some point, I saw and heard the left airbags deploy, and I could hear my Mom still screaming in shock. I looked back and saw she was in tears, asking if my Dad was okay. Dad's ear was bleeding, though only superficially. He said he couldn't hear on his left ear. AJ's left arm was a bit sore from the airbag. We were all in shock, disoriented. I couldn't figure out why the truck that hit our rear still kept moving and hitting us. It was all so fast and yet it felt like the longest 30 seconds or so.

What just happened?!

It didn't take long before AJ dialed 911. While on the phone, we saw an old man alight from the red truck that hit us, and watched him walk closer towards us. He was shaking, asking if we were alright. He mumbled something about his mother being stuck inside his truck. The 911 operator instructed all of us to stay where we were, flash our hazards and that help was on its way. I'm certain the operator said a lot more but honestly, I was too much in survival mode at the time that I really don't remember all the details of what was said. I was mostly concerned with making sure everyone was okay and figuring out if I was still REALLY alive. (To be honest, I still wonder now if this is all real and that I really made it out of there alive, or if I'm like Tom Cruise in the movie Vanilla Sky).

We were 42 miles northeast of Dallas, travelling towards Benton, Arkansas where we were booked at a hotel to spend the night. One more day and we were back home from our vacation in Las Vegas, our almost two-week cross-country drive. Everything had been fun and amazing up until that point when things just turned plain scary. 

Who would've thought? We were doing everything right. AJ was awake. I was awake making sure he was awake. Traffic wasn't even fast. We were on our lane. We always signal when we change lanes and always do it carefully. But not everyone is the same, right? We still don't know what caused the other driver to hit us. He might have been distracted. He might have fallen asleep. But the logical conclusion is that he clearly did not anticipate that traffic had slowed down in front of him and he just kept going. We're just thankful that it appeared like he had done his best to not hit us head on. Our guess is that he hit the left guardrail first to try not to hit our vehicle, but then he probably ricocheted and ended up hitting our left rear wheel area and then slid all the way to our left side, inserting his truck between us and the left guardrail. Finally he swerved to our front, towards our right, until his vehicle stopped. 

It was a big accident that stopped the interstate for a while. It was bad. And traumatic for all of us. But in the grand scheme of things, we are still grateful and believe that angels watched over us and protected us. It definitely could have been worse...much worse.

What if we were hit directly on the back? The force would have pushed us towards the semi-truck that was right in front of us in traffic. 

What if, instead of hitting the left rear wheel which is a solid part of the vehicle, the other driver had hit the left passenger door which is more vulnerable and not as solid as the wheel? My Dad's injury would have been far worse, far more serious. All of us might have had some injuries too, including my 8-year old. I refuse to even think about it.

Point of impact

Damaged front

Damaged right front corner

Trauma and paranoia aside, this experience highlighted a number of lessons and realizations for me. 

First of all, please, please, please...Wear your seat belt, even when you're seated in the back. All the police officers, EMTs, nurses and doctors asked us that question and were all relieved to hear that all of us were wearing ours. I'm sure it would've been a different story if one or some of us were not securely belted in the vehicle.

Second, I still can't explain why I remained so oddly calm while it was all happening. I remember hearing a crashing metal sound and then the airbag popping and everything else that happened around me. But I also remember just simply looking and knowing deep down that we were going to be alright. I don't know how or why I thought this but the thought definitely kept me calm. Divine intervention? Perhaps. Who knows?

Third, I know it's cliche but life can really change in an instant. You always say it will never happen to you, until it does and you're shaken to the core. These experiences really make one focus on the good and the real things that matter. I believe that is Love. It's the people we truly love, the relationships we genuinely treasure. Everything else is 'stuff', background noise, replaceable. It's a shame that it takes crises for this realization to be brought to the fore. But as Maya Angelou always preached, "When you know better, you do better."

Before I end this post, I'd like to share that though the accident was truly unfortunate, I believe we were still fortunate and blessed to have met such caring and supportive Texans. Officer Daniel looked after us and made sure we received the help we needed. The hospital staff who cared for us at Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville, Texas, specifically nurse Brandi and William, are two of the most amazing strangers I've ever met. They were willing to give us a ride to the closest hotel and went above and beyond their professional responsibilities. I will forever remember their kindness and thank them from the depths of my being. May they always be blessed with earthly angels just as we've been blessed with them.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and stay safe!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Road Trip Part 1: What Happens in Vegas and Beyond

After my two-week hiatus, here I am doing my best to catch up. I've realized that having a social media-based type of work brings with it a different kind of pressure. Nothing stops or waits for you. No one else can really take over your workload. But that's how it is with every vacation, right? You have fun, be in the moment, and just deal with 'reality' post-vacation. 

As with anything, there is the good, the bad, and the scary ugly in our case. For now, let's treat this post as part one, where I'll share with you the fun highlights of our trip.

Our family went on a (semi) cross country trip. From TN, we drove all the way to Las Vegas, NV, stopping by (1) Oklahoma City, OK and (2) Albaquerque, NM on the way there. On the way back, from Las Vegas we stopped at (1) Albaquerque, NM; (2) Abilene, TX; and (3) Benton, AK before finally reaching home. The whole trip took 12 days, 7 of which were spent in Las Vegas.

Here are some highlights and I hope you enjoy!

I did my best to capture photos whenever we crossed state lines. I guess I was too distracted and excited by the time we reached Nevada that I completely forgot to grab my camera. 

Weather got a bit scary, ESPECIALLY during our drive back. We got stormy weather in Texas and at some point, visibility was severely affected and I was holding my breath as I looked around to make sure there were no funnel clouds forming around us.....whew!

Taking my parents and Noah to see the Grand Canyon was really fun. The last time AJ and I were here was in 2005 and Noah always wondered why he wasn't in the pictures displayed at home. I guess it's time to update them...

Las Vegas is ALWAYS fun for us! AJ was able to get us front row seats to a Blue Man group show and it was a blast! The theme was science and technology but I'd be happy to just call it a light and sound party! Noah enjoyed it so much and I'm sure it was even made more memorable by the fact that he was chosen by one of the blue men to receive an artwork made during the show. Paint was spat out from one of the cast member's mouth as he spun a canvas in his hand. It was amazing! Noah is so proud and so attached to the painting that I can't even bribe him with anything to surrender the canvas to me. Boo!

A few other Vegas highlights were----

...watching the light show at the Bellagio

Me smiling a bit too much ;-)

...AJ and I making it to Rao's since eating at the original New York location is humanly impossible. And yes, the food was phenomenal. You know how they're known for their meatballs and I was thinking it's probably overrated?? Well, they are NOT. Our meal from start to finish was impressive. The mussels were perfectly cooked. The Pasta Bolognese was well-seasoned. The Ossobuco with risotto was tender and velvety. And the meatballs were ethereal! We were so stuffed that we had to skip dessert. Now that's definitely reason enough to go back!

Lovely date night with my darling my parents and Noah the Fremont Street experience. Actually, this wasn't so kid-friendly given that there were half-naked women walking around. I kind of regret taking my son there but...oh well...lesson learnt.

Outside of Las Vegas, we were able to visit the Hoover Dam....

...the Meteor Crater in the Arizona desert...

...and the UFO Museum in Roswell, NM. Unfortunately, I did not spot any real UFOs while driving through the different states. 

It was a fun and memorable family time UNTIL our drive back home. I'll share with you more details in Part Two next time. Let's keep this post lighthearted and end it on a positive note! 

I hope everyone is having a great summer break! To those who have missed my online presence, THANK YOU for your patience and your thoughts and for welcoming me back! I'll see you around! 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When Love Ages

A friend and former co-worker recently posted on Facebook an old photo of me and and my husband. It was taken less than three months prior to my giving birth to Noah in 2007, when some of my coworkers decided to throw me a baby shower. It was to be my first baby, and it was my first job here in this country so I thought the gesture was really sweet and I'll always be grateful for it. 

I've been staring at this picture for days now and I can't help but feel like it came from a lifetime ago. And it's not just because I weighed less then and looked much younger. No, I won't go there lest my friend (and the photographer herself!) Anne ends up lecturing me on loving myself more and to stop body shaming myself! 

It's really because when I look at these two people in the photo, I'm reminded of the simple times. He had an office job and so did I. We would see each other at the beginning and end of each work day, eat dinner together, watch shows at night before falling asleep and on and on it went. With the sensitive pregnancy and the hard work we put in just to conceive, I felt that my husband took such good care of me, like I was fragile and needed to be spoiled. I couldn't be stressed out, shouldn't be angered, or made to feel sad and depressed. I felt especially adored.

And then I gave birth and nothing was ever the same. I decided to quit my office job to take care of our son full time. The amount of stress became unquantifiable, the depression undeniable. Love and adoration were no longer just shared between the two of us. It had to be spread out to include our wonderful son. Worries and paranoia became permanent residents in my brain as I became consumed with my role as mama bear. And he, as papa bear, found new priorities, greater responsibilities and demands on his time. New stresses came as we faced the economic recession, threats of job loss, and then a new job and a new home in a different state, 500 miles away from what he's known most of his life. Far from his family and friends, it was the first time in our marriage when both of us found ourselves with a new sense of isolation and the need to reconstruct our reality as a couple and family. 

The joys are there for sure, though perpetually balanced by some heaviness, doubts, anger, insecurities. More than ever, we found ourselves as two beings with quite disparate axes, yet willing ourselves to stay on orbit as we are pulled and grounded repeatedly by an undeniable force.

Love. This must be lovethis force that is built by us and yet also bigger, more powerful than just our consciousness combined. It creates us and yet demands our nurturance. We know of its endurance, and yet also cannot deny its fragility. 

Love is when you surrender to what will make your beloved truly whole and happy, knowing that this act of death on your part only breathes more life into what truly matters and what is lasting. It is to feel a vulnerability so deep that fear takes over every inch of your essence. And this is why you can't fully love unless you have faithnot that your beloved will make you happy or give you what you desire, but faith that your mere experience of true love, without expectation, ALWAYS brings gifts to those it touches. When you learn how to truly love, your deeper understanding of it makes you recognize more of it around you as it fills you. When you learn how to truly love, you automatically feel the Divine's presence in your being. 

The younger version of us in that photo may represent a simpler, more romantic version of our bond. But I won't trade the complexity we have now for that past life. We have fought more since. Cried more. Screamed more. Hurt more. But we've also talked more. Opened up more. Experienced a greater level of authentic intimacy. We remain imperfect, as is our marriage. But Love
with all its gifts of devotion, courage, compassionremains our bright and persistent star that keeps us in orbit. It is that force that always reminds me that there are no other arms I'd rather have draped on my shoulders, holding me close, than his, my AJ's.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


You can tell a lot about a person by the way she/he responds to pain.

When you hurt...

You can strike back. 
You can retreat.
You can deny the pain exists.
You can drown it in other distractions.
You can nurse the wound and wail silently in your sorrow,
or you can announce it to the world for them to cheer you on.
You can fall on your knees and call out to the Divine,
or curse what you've been dealt and feel driven by anger.

I keep it,
for as long as I could.
I try to breathe it in,
turn it inside out, dig deeper into it,
take the shards in my hand only to cut myself again...
and again.

I swim out of it, or at least try to,
if only to steal a breath or two,
and dive and drown in it all over again, as if in search of something.
I sing with it, dance to it, but most of all,
I write verses with it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Do You Scream?

 “You always scream at me!”

I turned my swivel chair to face my eight year old boy and saw his face turn red, eyes welled up with tears.  I felt sorry but was simultaneously so frustrated that the next best alternative for me was to try to calm down and explain myself to him.

“Do you know why I raise my voice and then finally scream?” 

He murmured, “Because you’re angry?”

“No. It’s because I feel like you don’t hear me.  The reason why people talk louder, raise their voices and then scream is because they want to be heard.”

I wasn't planning on that explanation at all, but since divine wisdom seemed to have decided to descend upon my short-fused and moody self, I couldn't refuse.

We scream to be heard. And we all have the desire to be heard, don’t we?

But each of us ‘screams’ in different ways and it’s not always easy to realize it.

Sometimes we act out in different ways in place of a scream.

We overeat.

We drink too much.

We get addicted to drugs or medications.

We rebel, throw tantrums or exhibit belligerent behavior.

Some of us end up overworking. Some choose to be perpetually tardy at their jobs.

Or we choose to retreat and become depressed.

‘Screams’ also sometimes manifest as silence. We withhold.

I think a lot of the times I’m the silent, withholding type. And I write. Sometimes I ‘scream’ here, on this site. But a lot of the times I just keep my written screams to myself to minimize collateral damage.

If there is anything I deem most important about screams, it is this lesson: 

 That one has to care to hear; one has to have heart to have ear. 

To hear and truly listen to someone’s difficulties, anger, pain, sense of isolation or any other wound one carries, you need to REALLY see the other person, be open and have compassion. Screaming back at another’s screams only creates more noise, produces more useless energy that blocks each person from truly receiving what lies behind the scream. 

I don't advocate screaming, nor am I encouraging parents to scream at your children. There are other alternatives, yes, and I'm not here to justify my behavior towards my son. Instead, I hope that next time I'd be more aware of why I'm really screaming, what it is that I want heard, acknowledged or received. 

What's behind your scream? In what other ways do you find yourself 'screaming'?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I Know For Sure About Motherhood

In observance of Mother's Day, I'd like to share (in Oprah-ish fashion) things I've become most certain about when it comes to motherhood. We already know it's a lot of hard work. And that it will surprise you with the amount of love you never knew existed in your heart. But beyond those obvious things, what else have become true for me which I am willing to bet are likely true for a lot of other mothers as well? 

Here are my thoughts after my eight-year stint in this job:

There's no one-size-fits-allunless it concerns child safety or health, and existing recommendations are backed by science (e.g. vaccinations, sleep safety, car seat safety, etc). My point is that there is no reason to torture yourself by worrying too much about guidelines on when or how to take away the binky, how long to breastfeed, how to carry or bond with your child, when to potty train, what sleeping arrangements work, or whether or not your child will be permanently damaged if you let him watch some television. We're really all just winging it and much of it depends on our specific situations. What has worked for one family may not be the best for yours. Use commonsense and ditch the beeyatch friend who keeps judging your choices and makes you feel inadequate by perpetually sounding like a talking American Academy of Pediatrics Handbook. 

Childbirth automatically raises your pain threshold. The pain you felt giving birth becomes the ultimate standard by which all other types of pain shall be measured against. When you step on broken glass and end up with a gaping wound, you say, "Bah! This is nothing compared to when I felt as if my body was being literally split in half!"

In the same token, your grossness tolerance is exponentially increased. As is true for most mothers, we're the ones relied upon when it comes to clean uppoop, pee, nosebleeds, earwax, snot, throw up, you name it! Of course we don't enjoy it but who else would do it? I once attended a party where one of my single friends threw up after drinking too much. She felt too ill that she ended up just laying on her bed. I went to assist her with the trash can as she continued to throw up and one of my other single friends asked, "How could you stand that smell? It makes me want to throw up too!" My answer was brief— "I'm a Mom".

Your life will be consumed by plans, routines, schedules. It's the only way to survive and keep your sanity. From coming up with a birthing plan, to feeding schedules, doctor's appointments, planning birthday parties, playdates, vacations, laundry, mealtimes, trips to the grocery store, as well as when YOU can pee, poop and take a showeryou will find that everything requires a lot of time organization and following routines in order to accomplish tasks...and to keep looking and smelling human!

You will gain weight and go through some degree of self-loathing. You'll regret all that wasted time in the past when you hated your body and thought you were big. But don't worry. If you're lucky (and almost all of us are!) you'll have a child that will always tell you the truth that you are perfect and beautiful just as you are, squishy and simply divine.

It's inevitable that thoughts of your own mother will come to haunt you. When you become a mother yourself, you ponder on your own childhood and the kind of mother you had/have. You will think of things that worked and want to emulate, and things you hated and swear you'd never turn into. You will remember the grief you gave your own mother and shiver at the thought of karma always finding its way. Most of all, at least for most of us, you won't be able to help but regress to your young self needing TLC every time you are sick and need that comforting touch only your mother could give. 

You will be plagued with self-doubt. Because you know this is the most important job you will ever do, you will keep asking yourself, every step of the way, if you're being good at it. However, you will soon realize that 'good enough' is a good place to be in. You need to be comfortable  with it, be friends with it, and know that the objective is not to raise someone perfect, just someone who knows how to love. 

I don't care how much you love and adore your children, but when you're a mother, the highlight of your day becomes that time of night when you can sit quietly on your couch or bed, let out a deep sigh of relief and have alone time. A remote control on one hand and a consumable treat on the other (think chocolate, or wine) are priceless and highly encouraged!

If you forget your own dreams, daily realityyours and others'will torment you. You will end up resenting everyone around you and everything will just feel unbearable. You have to find something outside of motherhood that will nurture your spirit and offer growth. This is not selfishness. It's commonsense. If your spirit feels replenished and cherished, this energy has no other choice than to overflow into all that you do and the roles you play. If you feel like an overused and neglected empty vessel deep down, you will be incapable of seeing joy around you, and time spent with your family will only feel like a duty, a burden, rather than a gift.

You may not need an entire village, but a small reliable tribe is always great to have when you're raising children. Never take for granted the amount of assistance you have available to your family. As a migrant whose family lives on the other side of the globe (and my husband's side lives in a different state), we don't have the privilege of having extra hands who are truly trusted, reliable, and not to mention, free-of-charge, when it comes to childcare or any type of family assistance. Having sitters who are strangers to us is an alien concept for me culturally, and so this is something that my son is strongly averse to. Going on a couple's date is a huge production number that takes a lot of planning and impeccable timing, often times involving my best friend's family. Every two or so years, my mom manages to visit from the Philippines and the three or four months she spends with us are priceless! I feel like those are the only times when I'm allowed to get sick, go out on dates and lay off the kitchen somehow to let her take over on certain days. That's my opportunity to taste Filipino dishes I can't cook myself and which I want my son to be familiar with. So if you have family close by, loved ones you can trust so that you can take brief, needed breaks from being 'mommy', consider yourself blessed and make sure you are grateful. Not everyone is as lucky as you.

Happy Mother's Day! 

I would love to hear what you know for sure! 
Please leave them in the comments below.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 5 Excuses for Failing to Blog

I can't seem to write anything decent. I don't know exactly what's causing the dry spell but it's a bad case of writer's block. I sit and stare at the blank computer screen, hypnotized by that blinking black line that keeps on mocking me.

So instead of completely surrendering to this void on my screen and my brain (which is possibly more of a dense black hole, full and yet void at the same time, incapable of spewing anything intelligible at this time), I've decided to milk my misfortune and create a post around it.

Here are my top five excuses for failing to blog! Yay!

Image by: Drew Coffman via Flickr Creative Commons

1. There's just far too many interesting updates on Facebook, organization porn on Pinterest, and endless Amy Schumer videos on YouTube...all much too entertaining and zapping my brain cells in the process.

2. I went to leave a blog comment on another site and the 'I'm not a robot' captcha wore me out. It asked me to check all the pictures of bread I can see and gave me 12 pictures to choose from. I chose one that obviously looked like bread, one that looked like dough, and included two that looked like pizza. It says I'm wrong. Isn't pizza bread???? And thus started a never-ending existential crisis.....

3. I'm having way too much real life, face-to-face adult conversation than what I'm used to (and trust me, I have a really low threshold), making cathartic writing a bit redundant. 

4. I'm seeing too much ugliness in the world and am still waiting for world peace to inspire me. I'm taking to heart what my mother taught me—"If you don't have anything good to say, just stuff your face with brownies!"

Which brings me to #5...

5. Fudgy brownies vs. sit in my office to type a blog post? No brainer, right?!? One might argue I can eat said brownies in my office. But they're so chewy and moist that I need to enjoy every moment of this sacred experience. Respect the brownie, people! How dare you even suggest I multitask!

How about you guys throw me some of your best excuses for not doing what you're supposed to be doing? Misery loves fudgy brownie, right?