I am fully embracing living and sharing my story - whether that means that I get to retell the same thing over and over again like a broken record; or figuring out how to navigate this fire and put it into words.
I am pumped. I'm excited to do something MORE.
I started finding opportunities that I know I can handle and commit to and among them was to speak to someone from ACOG (Am College of Obs and Gyn) about my preeclampsia and postpartum depression story. We spoke for over an hour about how we absolutely adore the new life (infant) while simultaneously forgetting about the one that made it (mom). We pass her over. We don't see mom. We see the most adorable cherub that we can't wait to cuddle and hold. We look past mom's sometimes harried appearance and go straight for the questions that sting: "how's breastfeeding going?" - I can't tell you how many moms dread this question. Breastfeeding is hard and the picture we have are these lovely breastfeeding moments, bonding moments, and not the crying, cracked bleeding nipples of the before or the surrender of not measuring up.
"are you excited to no longer be pregnant?"
"how long is your maternity leave?" followed by, "too bad, you can't stay home," or "you're so lucky you get to stay home."
We are measured by how much we can handle.
And then guilted into believing that super moms exist and we are far far from holding our own.
The things that continue to strike me are the tears that find its way down my face, the way my voice breaks or changes in octave. I had hoped that almost four years later, my courage takes hold over me. I had prayed that I can look back in awe at my own strength and bravery.....instead of reminding myself of past fears. In order words, I had really hoped to be over all of it by now, but time hasn't softened or healed my wounds of having 2 traumatic births. I may not recall every small detail but my broken heart finds its way to paint my nightmare.
So I told her that I am in the midst of the "after." There was life before NICU, before preeclampsia, before anxiety......but I am no longer welcomed there. Life in the "after NICU, after preeclampsia, after postpartum depression," is slow and measured. My movements calculated to avoid potential triggers. Life in the "after" consists of giving daily thanks and hugs and a quick reminder that we are all here. All three of us, my daughter, my son and myself. We're present and not figments of my imagination.
what happens next?
What happens now is laying down the foundation of helping mamas feel less alone after their storms. If all I ever write about is poetry on motherhood, preeclampsia, postpartum depression...... then I am thankful for those moments and use those lived in experiences to tell my story. It's not over yet.
I'm told it's easier to break this list down.
1.) Read 2-3 books
(Currently listening to I am Malala and Handmaid's Tale is our book club pick for January).
2.) Visit 2 museums
(already met when we went to Lone Star Flight Museum and Play Street Museum)
3.) Submit to 2 - 3 different publications.
(As of now, I've printed out 2 lit magazines submission guidelines).
4.) Walk 20 miles this month!
5.) 1 thing that scares me: ask this moms' group if I can share my testimony.....I'll let you know how that goes!!
What are your goals this year? Do you break it down to a more manageable list?
Happy reading and writing, friends!
November is my favorite month, even more than my birthday month of July. It feels like time slows down just a little before we hit the fast forward button in December. The air is crisper. The Food! The company. I love everything about November.
Persona Non Grata is packed with exceptional poets writing on the theme of social exclusion.With interpretations exploring our refugee crises globally, physical and mental illness, homelessness, addiction and family estrangement, the anthology will fundraise for two important and vital charities: 'Shelter' and 'Crisis Aid UK'.
We are delighted that 'Fly on the Wall Poetry Press publishes charity anthologies- and anthology 'Persona Non Grata' is packed with poetry inspired by the concept of social exclusion. Without support such as this, we would not be able to support the people who reach out to us for help with housing issues and homelessness. Thank you so much to everyone involved."
- Lindsay Tilston Jones, Regional Community Fundraiser: Manchester
I submitted a poem entitled, "I pledge allegiance," to this lovely press called, Fly on the Wall Poetry Press. It's out now and she is taking poetry submissions, if you looking for places to submit!
I've been debating whether or not to share this.....but a few months ago, I wrote a poem about childhood trauma and #metoo movement for an anthology benefiting the prevention of child sexual abuse. I've buried this secret for so long and that one poem and one anthology call seemed like a small peeling of that wound....and then Christine Blasey Ford spoke - regardless if you believe her or not, the fact of that matter remains: there are those of us who have THIRTY YEAR OLD secrets. However far removed we may be from that day, that incident, that trauma, certain things can never leave us: smells, sounds, laughter, taunts..... those are imprinted in a survivor's dna. A memory that must be unraveled because the trauma was too much to bear.
So I happened upon this anthology call from Rhythm and Bone press.
I found survivors who never spoke up.
I discovered a community who are still grieving for an innocence taken, a trust stripped away..... a boundary that was crossed.
I dug up my secret and felt compelled to share.
In anger, I wrote.
In tears, I hashed out pieces.
In solidarity, I shared.
"I am not my rape
I tell myself today.
I am not my rape.
I told myself yesterday."
You are not your rape: an anthology coming soon.
A look back on those August goals 1.) Fine tune my "I am" chapbook and have it ready. I've been debating on turning into a full fledge poetry collection but I'm also getting bored with it. I am easily distracted and my flaky self has already deemed this project "done." I have my eye on Dancing Girl press that a few poets have recommended and they are currently open for submissions. Deadline is the end of the month, if you would like to enter. - fine tuned and sent! Here's hoping I get some feedback!!!
2.) Write and edit a piece for this motherhood submission call I was lovingly tagged on. - this is still a current work in progress! I have until 9/14 to finish and submit!
September 8th is coming and so is the 15th anniversary for this anthology. I'm so incredibly grateful to be a part of this huge Filipino writing community that I honestly never knew existed!! I wish I was in San Fran celebrating, but I send all my love and positive vibes to my fellow Asian poets!!
For a complete list of all the poets and table of contents, click here. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands!!
1.) I'd really like to finish National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November this year and I have a couple of ideas that's been brewing. I'm a plotter, of course and just started printing out maps, and buying Filipino folk tales. I was so inspired by Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone and Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians that I'd love to do something along those lines. Write a story based off of a story that I vaguely remembering listening to as a child. But I want to fall in love and laugh and be surprised at the tears. I have NO IDEA what it'll be but I'd love to try. Soooo research, read, and plot. That's the BIG goal for this month.
2.) I still need to turn in my motherhood essay and hope to get that finished by the end of the week!!
3.) I need to write out two poetry reviews for this month! I finished Vachaknavi (Hiya) Sarma's Wild Imagination this summer and it was beautiful!! Cheyenne Raine's new poetry collection drops on September 14th and I'm in the middle of her amazing words. Look for both reviews by next week!
4.) I found a couple of journals that I wanted to submit to but sadly, the deadline passed by the time I sat down with pen in hand. This month's goal would be to follow them and read from their works to support more poets and get a feel of what they seem to be looking for.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
As we are winding down from summer and looking towards fall and winter, please know that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is a reminder to be kind to yourself and to the people around you. You never know what someone is going through. We cover up all sorts of pain and madness to fit in.
Know that you are not alone.
**the following information below was taken from NAMI**
I'll be on vacation mode this Saturday, and probably won't "return" until July 8th. But before I go, I thought I'd share some exciting news!!
- I wrote a piece called, "if only," and submitted it below. I'm elated that it was accepted but anxious to have it out. I've never told anyone my #metoo story. You see, not only was I a victim, but a witness, as well. I cannot claim what happened to me without naming the others. Since it's a shared nightmare, I would need their blessings and their acceptance of what happened, before I can share. It sounds cryptic, and I apologize, but it is what it is, in order to protect those that I love, our stories will most likely die in the graves with us.
moving on to happier news
Matt Banks (author of the Lonely Heart Wanders) did a call for submissions recently for a "Blank Canvas" themed anthology. I managed to slip into it right before he closed it. I can't wait to share these with you. I'm rather proud of one!
Last but not least...
I belong to a Filipino Writers group on Facebook. Back in November, the prolific and esteemed poet, Eileen Tabios put out an anthology call for the 15th anniversary of a Filipino named poetry form called, "hay(na)ku. It's a take on the Japanese form, but instead of counting syllables, you do 1 word sentence, followed by 2 words, and then three.
(2) wrote my
(3) heritage in poems.
I can't tell you how proud I am that 2 of my hay(na)ku poems are in this. 127 poets are included in this anthology from around the world, including some poets from the Philippines!
This will be out sometime in September and I'll announce it the closer it gets!!
Aside from that, happy summer!!
Summer vacation began yesterday at 12:10 pm, when the school bell rang. I know it'll be a challenge to write with two kiddos, and I wanted so badly to finish some semblance of a draft, but nope. Didn't happen much at all. Here's a look back at my May Goals and how I did:
1.) Get it together and practice my speaking skills for the May walk....will be doing a couple of live and recorded videos in the next few days. - I managed to NOT do a single live or video in May. I practiced my speech over and over, almost threw up at the hotel from the nervousness and managed to ...speak. Here's my transcript of the speech, as well as a couple of pictures from the walk.
2.) AND I'll be going to an open mic event at a local coffee shop to get more practice at speaking in front of people. May 11th from 7 - 8:30 pm at Third Gen coffee house in The Woodlands. - I was super excited to finally meet a couple of lovely mamas with whom I've been doing the online Motherhood workshop with! AND they BOTH read their pieces!! We've decided that we should attempt to do another one of these open mics, because let me tell you, there's nothing more wonderful than having someone there who not only understand the nerves, but also felt compelled to share from the heart. Beautiful, beautiful night. *I've included pics below.
3.) Finish chapbook #2, have it reviewed and edited before finding a home for it. I've got a few chapbook contests I have my eye on. - AMAZING NEWS AHEAD!!!
4.) Continue with research and hopefully WRITE out a first rough draft. I'm hoping to get this done before the kid gets out for summer...I don't think I'll be getting any writing done at all this summer! - Amazing news ahead followed by a whomp whomp sound, as I absolutely did not write out a draft.
Oh, June. I don't know what to do with you. I'll mostly be reading - A LOT. And playing with the kiddos - A LOT. However, I do need to sit down,
1.) Write, edit and submit articles for Daughters of the Deep for June - Sept (4 total posts).
2.) Continue to submit 1 poem to a press/journal.
Look what I did!!! not your Token is out NOW!! This is the first in a collection of chapbook series that I'm doing. For this one, I've explored my identity as an immigrant, as a Filipina raising "Mexipino" babies, and as a "token" Asian.
Pictures from Open Mic night. Theme was Mother.
I read my poem, Motherhood and Labels, that was recently included in the WOMb poetry anthology.
Have a happy start to your summer!
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the lovely Gayla Varna about being included in the Mar-Apr 2018 edition of We Art Friends, "Doorway to Art" edition.
So grateful to be included among such incredibly talented and prolific poets. To download your free copy, click here, otherwise, just click on the picture.
Sometime in January, I submitted a piece to be included in a motherhood poetry series. I got word a few weeks ago that my poem was selected! It went live this weekend and can't wait to get this baby in my hands.
So humbled and still can't believe I get to be a part of something great. Proceeds for this will benefit "Share The Dignity", an Australian based charity that provide the basic personal necessities to women and girls in need!
WOMb is a fresh and inspiring collection of poems celebrating Mothers from poets all around the globe. Over 120 poets from countries such as America, Canada, UK, Australia and India combine to lend their voices to explore the theme of Motherhood in all its glory, pain, joy, sorrow and wonder. This is the second poetry collection published by the indie press By Me Poetry. Founded in Melbourne and launched on Instagram in October 2016, By Me Poetry continues to celebrate poetry and promote the unique and heart felt points of view of poets from across the world. The book features notable poets such as Caroline White, Muby Williams, N.R. Hart, Kathia Huitron, Perry Poetry, Soshinie A. Singh and many more emerging talents. The cover design artwork is by Australian Graphic Artist Never Forever and the interior illustrations are by KK Foster. This book is one to not only cherish but also to pass on to mothers, grandmothers, sons and daughters and makes the perfect gift this Mothers Day. All profits of this collection will be donated to "Share The Dignity", an Australian based charity that provide the basic personal necessities to women and girls in need. Enjoy!
We are go for launch! Over 200 poems were submitted and I am so humbled that my poem was one of the accepted pieces. It's live today, so click on the picture which will head you on over to Amazon.
A mother comes face to face with the woman who would have murdered her baby.
A child who’s been betrayed by everyone hurts the only man who’s ever shown her kindness.
A teen stands at the crossroads of his impulses and his convictions.
A reformed addict needs help from a total stranger to protect her child.
Love lies at the heart of the Christian’s journey, but in moments of crisis, love often seems the most difficult of the virtues. In this anthology, nine of the brightest voices in independent Christian fiction offer novelettes about individuals at the crossroads, and the opportunities they have to respond with Christian love in all its forms.
“By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
Whether it’s a grieving husband or a girl dead before her time, each soul finds itself face to face with a choice: follow Christ’s toughest commandment, or remain focused on oneself.
Join these nine authors on a journey into the most difficult facet of the Christian life, but the one by which Christ Himself promised we would be recognized.
Patricia Bell · Faith Blum · Bokerah Brumley · A-M Frisby · Dyanne Gordon Green · Jane Lebak · Leila Tualla · Robin Merrill · C.L. Wells
Download The Light Leads to Love
NOW FREE for ALL eReaders
For a limited time, you can also get
Where the Light May Lead (Reflections of Faith Book 1) and
The Light Leads to Hope and Peace (Reflections of Faith Book 2) for only 0.99 each.
‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ is a poetry anthology, the profits of which will go to UK charity, MIND. The book consists of 116 poets from around the world and details a whole range of mental health experiences.
The expected date of release is Thursday 8th, on Amazon.
I'm so grateful and humbled to be part of this anthology alongside some of the most promising and established poets. I talk to editor Isabelle Kenyon about the project.
‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ Q and A
Question: How did this project begin?
Isabelle: I knew I wanted to work collaboratively with other poets and it was actually the theme of mental health for a collection, which came to me before the idea of donating the profits to charity MIND. This was because I knew how strongly people felt about the subject and that it is often through writing that the most difficult of feelings can be expressed. I think that is why the project received the sheer number of submissions that it did.
Question: How did you select the poems – was there a process?
Isabelle: In some cases of course personal taste came into my selection, but I tried to be as objective as I could and consider the collection as whole. I wanted the book to have as many different personal experiences and perspectives as I could find. Because of this, I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health and that the outcome of these last sections express positivity and hope.
Question: Why should people buy this book?
Isabelle: Easy – to support the fantastic work which MIND does and to support the fantastic poets involved. Rave about their work because I believe the poets involved are both talented and dedicated.
I drink too much coffee, read too many book, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.
Leila Tualla's books on Goodreads
ratings: 14 (avg rating 4.00)
Storm of Hope: God, Preeclampsia, Depression and me
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.36)
The Light Leads to Love
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.50)
We Are Not Alone: An Anthology for Mental Health Awareness
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)