Sometime in 2017, I stumbled into the The Poetry Marathon and signed up to do the "half" or 12 poems in 12 hours. Sadly, a series of events by the creators of this awesomeness meant they weren't going to be able to do it in 2018. I forgot all about it until recently when I saw a call on one of the many writers submissions group I'm in. I loved the energy, the camaraderie and the challenge of creating a poem, following their prompts and uploading it before the hour was up.
Naturally, when I saw they had returned and were going to be doing another anthology call, I jumped at the chance to redo this experience. This time, however, I am aiming to do 24 poems. A full marathon.
Honestly, the other day, my husband said he hadn't seen me so excited and happy in a while. It was after I got on a call with my sister and we were brainstorming and exchanging ideas for this Filipino folklore I've been saying I want to do. Writing stories gets me so excited, and I'm only sorry that I don't do it quite often.
Anyhow, the marathon starts this Sunday and I am pumped!
Write on, friends!
I'm a terrible liar. When I tell a lie, I know my eyes twitch and I can't look at whoever I'm lying to in the eyes. I'm pretty sure I stammer a bit or bite my lip as soon as I've uttered untruth.
So whenever my children asks me a question - about death, about the world around them, about the candy stash in my purse - I have to swallow the reply to make sure I've filtered it for their little hearts.
Sometimes, it works, and they accept the lie. Sometimes they frown and demand the truth (or the chocolate).
There are times when I respond and then make this passionate speech about the truths (as I see them/interpret them) and by the time I'm done, I know I've either confused my children, or opened up their world of innocence just a little bit to let clouds come in.
I've been glued to the news for the past few days. It's one of the most unhealthiest thing you can do. But I can't help it. I've been soaking in the hurt, cursing a little out loud in anger and trying my hardest to find God in the midst of the chaos.
When my children sees the news, they ask what's happening. They wonder why there are marches and fires, what the chants mean and why people are screaming.
I told them it's because black people are tired of being judged and killed for the color of their skin.
I told them that a black man died just because he went out jogging.
I told them that a police officer who should be protecting people made an evil choice and took a life.
I told them people are angry and hurt and exhausted.
I wish I knew a better response.
I wish I could shelter them from hate. I know there will be a time when they'll be asked a seemingly benign question of "where are you from," but really the truth is they're fishing for confirmation that you're different, a 'foreigner,' and your answer confirms that they could tell from far away that you're not from here.
That you don't belong.
I wish I could hold their hand and tell them that they won't be judged because of their skin color.
But the truth is that they will be. They won't see the preemie fighters, or the sweet boy and his precious big sister, they'll see a brown Mexican boy and a brown girl.
And then I think about my own shortcomings and the way I brush off people. I think about the circle of friends and people I surround myself with; mostly white, Middle class women. I know of 2 black women in my mom circle and I rarely see both of them (mostly thanks to nursing school, and travels). I'm the lone Asian in my book club. And I can count on one hand, how many Hispanics I'm friends with in this upper middle class suburbia I'm in.
I need my son and my daughter to be proud of their mixed heritage and their rich culture.
I need them to understand their privileges and to make sure they are able to help those around them who do not.
I need to educate not just myself but the generation I am raising to do better and to listen to stories that aren't ours to tell.
We need to amplify the voices on the screen screaming for justice and take our voices to the polls.
Revolutions were never peaceful.
And that's a story I want to tell.
Some resources I've found:
If you have this urge to reach out to the nearest POC (person of color) in your life about what this all means, please pause. They are tired of having to explain themselves...again. There exists a plethora of information, if you google it. I recommend you start here at "Be the Bridge," as they have educational resources, books, podcasts and movies that can educate you about racial injustice and inequality.
If you know of any other resources, please list them!
https://bethebridge.com/ - which serves to "Inspire people to have a distinctive and transformative response to racial division and be present and intentional toward racial reconciliation. Equip bridge-builders toward fostering and developing vision, skills, and heart for racial healing, and partner with existing organizations who have a heart for racial justice, restoration, and reconciliation.
https://diversebooks.org/ - We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Our aim is to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
https://thelovelandfoundation.org/Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.
http://www.shadesofblueproject.org/index.html - The Shades of Blue Project is dedicated to breaking cultural barriers in maternal mental health by raising awareness and ensuring action is taken to break the stigma surrounding seeking treatment in the minority community when experiencing complications after childbirth. We do this by helping women before, during and after child-birth with maternal mental health advocacy, treatment and support.
The story of ours began like most; I heard your heartbeat and joy propelled me from dreamlike stupor to scheduling baby shower and maternity photography sessions, deciding on nursery decor and what names would match you.
When I received my preeclampsia diagnosis, my heart sank and everything on my carefully crafted to-do list dissipated, along with the idea that this story of ours would be easy.
Motherhood welcomed us at 31 weeks.
It also welcomed strength, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. There would be no crying at our reality or our missed bonding time as you were wheeled away into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) over an hour away. Instead, I had to summon whatever will and adrenaline coursing through my body and demanded it heal so I can be closer to my heart. Tears would come later. And as I sadly learned, tears would come in waves that crippled and made me wonder where that strength went all those days and weeks I spent by your isolate in the NICU.
The story of ours paralyzed me.
I don’t know for sure how I lived to see you celebrate your first birthday, when every image I’d see, you were surrounded by tubes and wires and your heart monitor constantly beeping.
Somehow I did learn to move freely. I learned to save my tears in the shower. I learned to whisper prayers of gratitude every night as I watched you sleep.
As I started to accept the idea that there would only be the three of us - you, me and your dad - I learned I was again expecting.
This did not bring me joy. I met this news with anger and I tried for a long time to be happy. You were a beautiful four year old. I survived our first year and I was becoming less afraid of your future.
When I heard the heartbeat, I didn’t want to know the sex. I couldn’t give this heart a name.
I didn’t want to write to-do lists and there was no dream like stupor, either. I was a mom on a mission and my mission was to live so I could go home to you and our life.
A history of preeclampsia could mean I was a ticking time bomb again.
A history of premature birth meant I would be revisiting my nightmare in an enclosed NICU space.
A history of traumatic birth meant the possibility of not surviving.
And history usually repeated itself.
I packed my bags at 30 weeks and waited anxiously for 31 weeks.
It came and went. I wept and almost believed we were going to make it to ‘full term,’ at 38 weeks.
When I woke up with a headache and felt nauseous at 34 weeks, I knew it was time. My vision blurred and my blood pressure was elevated. My heart had already shattered when I was told I’d be welcoming another bundle in a few hours.
I thought I welcomed him in my arms. I thought I kissed his head as he was wheeled to the NICU. I thought I was doing okay until I wasn’t.
Until I didn’t hear him crying even when he was next to me.
Until suddenly, the idea of leaving you and him seemed like a rational action.
Motherhood has defined me in ways I never knew I'd be defined by.
While I knew motherhood gives you a different identity and purpose. Mine came with a two time Preeclampsia survivor, a parent to premature babies, and NICU graduates. I also had to include on postpartum depression survivor - an identity that I didn’t know I’d endure and survive.
And while the story of ours is still writing itself, I am hopeful that you and your brother can overcome any obstacles in life. After all, the strength I had to push through my storms were reflected in your eyes. You gave me courage. I choose to live bravely because of you. My purpose isn’t to understand why the story of ours began the way it did but how our story could give a voice and comfort to another.
My purpose in advocating for maternal mental health came because of the way our story began.
For more of my preeclampsia and postpartum depression story, please see here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073MVG4R4/
**preeclampsia survivor mamas + postpartum depression survivors, please message me for your free copy**
I miss blogging and I hate the idea of starting completely over because
1.) I don't have time for that - let's be honest
2.) I don't have the monetary funds to restart, buy another domain, etc.
So I'm reconstructing this website - originally intended to separate my writing about life and the silly little accomplishments like a poem being published.....not that its silly, I just wanted to form barriers for myself. But the thing I've learned over the past few years is that it's actually quite exhausting to separate things. I am a writer. I've blogged my way through preeclampsia, anxiety and depression. I am an author and I've been so excited to share new books, new poems, etc.
If Covid has taught me anything, it's that I need an outlet so badly. I've gone stir crazy. I've been on edge and barely hanging on.
So off to the blogging world I go. I haven't decided where I'm going with this. But this is better than nothing; better than the urge to scream every day.
Anyway, here's an update:
- Love, Defined will be available for 99cents May 29th - June 2nd!
2009 - 2019. Have you seen those decade challenge on Facebook? I haven't had a chance to participate yet. But apparently, since I can't find a 2009 picture of me anywhere....I wouldn't have been able to participate in said decade challenge.
Wowzers, what have I accomplished in 10 years?
I had 2 lovely babies (2012, and 2015).
I went from working gal (2009) to stay at home ('13 and '16 through now).
I learned about Preeclampsia in 2012.
I understood grace and kindness from being in a postpartum depression storm (2015).
I learned what strength comes from surviving storms.
I became a volunteer for International Association For Premenstrual Disorders last year and went one step further and started lending a hand as a Peer Support Provider (PSP).
I published my first book in 2012 and dabbled with poetry.
I lent what courage I had and started submitting works to various anthologies. I'm so proud to say that my words are in 9 different anthologies, some benefiting mental health charities like MIND UK and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
If I can sum up what I've learned, and lost, and gained in a decade with just one word, I would say, "transformative," but that feels like a cop out. I should hope everyone's decade was transformative. I hope everyone saw growth, and happiness, and learned from triumph, and walked away from negativity, and pain.
I don't know if at the brink of 2009 I pictured my decade challenge looking like this. This messy, perfectly chaotic, constantly changing view of self but I'm feeling hopeful, and secure about this coming one. I went from dreaming what was possible to living what could be, finding out my whys of existing, and grabbing hold of a passion. I want my next decade to continue to live with purpose.
If this decade of going from mid to late 20s to mid to late 30s has been transformative.
My word for the following 10 years would be AUDACITY.
I want to have the audacity to write about maternal mental health and speak to others about my lived in experiences.
I want to be bold enough to speak up about what I am: author, writer, poet, versus the identities that are my current seasons: stay at home mama, substitute teacher.
My identities of always aspirating for more.
I want to have the audacity to pick up that sword fighting class I say I'm going to do and be a black belt, sword fighting ninja or run across a finish line 13 1/2 miles away.
I want to be bold in speaking up about my faith, my courage, my dreams and hopes.
I want to have the audacity to do
and live for Christ
this coming decade.
May your Christmas be bright, your year be sparkly and new.
Happy Holidays and a bright decade is my wish for you.
Just in case you didn't know one thing about me....it is that I crave change. I get overtly anxious when things stay exactly the same. I don't know why. But every so often (and because I have a husband and 2 kids) I like to change the look of my house. Some are small: a little lamp there, a new vase here, a framed picture there. Some things are big and more noticeable: moving furniture around, taking down curtains, hanging giant posters there.
I can't seem to sit still and therefore my house shouldn't either...it seems is my random thought.
So, due to it being summer and I have kids all day long and my budget-friendly husband has had to put his foot down, I recently decided I need to make a change here. I don't blog anymore and I so do miss that. I'm not online anymore as myself and for a while, I loved stepping back from it, but I am more involved online repping for another organization and it's made me want to revamp my whole online 'self.' So I'm looking at you, website. Here's my "under construction" notice. I'm still toying with the possibility of having 2 sites: a blog and this author website but I've neglected both. I'm going to start combining both...starting in July. My goal would be to blog once a week about what I do best: mental health and preeclampsia advocating, book/author goals and whatever I feel like.
Thanks, friends for your continued support and hope you are still writing!
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.