SIGH. I don't feel like I've accomplished anything AT all this March. April is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder) Awareness Month AND National Poetry Month and I had PLANS.
But the news of Anti-Asian hate has been staggering. Homeschooling has been a mental struggle. I feel so drained from doing so much, and yet, have nothing to show for any of my efforts.
That's not quite true. In the month of March, I managed to write almost 50 poems. My goal is to double that for a full length collection...I'm just trying not to sound too much like an angry, tired, heartbroken and scared Asian. Most of my poems in it have been a combination of these emotions I visit on a daily basis.
And I've received 3 rejections back to back - within a span of a week - and as much as the emails were positive and kind....rejections, SUCK. It makes me wonder what am I doing wrong? But also....how can I tweak my voice in my poems to be more accepted?
I know I'm going to keep doing and writing and using my voice. This has just been a hard week. March is over and here we are. April.
I will continue to stay focused on use the same goals and parameters. Nothing else to add but that.
Tuesday morning, I was reading about and cheering on the first Asian American man (Steven Yeun) get nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. And by night fall.......Atlanta happened.
To guard my heart, I try not to read about the rise in Anti-Asian violence. The story about Noel Quintana, a Filipino American man who was attacked while in an NYC subway, or a Fil-Am vet, Angelo Quinto, who was killed while in police custody. The stories upon stories, seemingly not deemed "news worthy" but shared among the AAPI community.
There was a lot before covid; the microaggressions here and there (examples heard in my life: I hear Asians are good in bed. “Me love you long time,” “where are you really from?)” the "tokenism," the "fetishization of Asian women," and brazenly more in its wake.
So when Atlanta happened, suddenly it wasn't just the community that was talking, it was (is) everywhere. Suddenly, it's a "surprise," and someone's "bad day."
But then, how could you know something was wrong with the picture when the narrative has always been about the model minority myth and how racism towards Asian Americans isn't as "bad" -
When people “talk” about racism, it is both literally and figuratively a ‘black and white’ issue. How can we make space for people who look like me when we aren’t getting killed while sleeping *Breonna Taylor, or out on a jog? *Ahmaud Arbery
But as I write these words, I think about my elders, like my dad, who were innocently going on a walk in their neighborhood and being attacked. I think about storefronts vandalized; about leadership calling it the “China virus.”
Worse, I think about the Filipino nurses around the world who must endure the hate spewed on them, while treating those that hate them with the care. I think about this startling statistic "Filipino and Filipino American nurses are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, accounting for more than 30 percent of the 205 U.S. nurses who have died, though the group makes up just 4 percent of the total nurse workforce, reports The Mercury News."
The Model Minority Myth - that Asians are hard working, keep your head down, and follow orders - tells me to keep silent.
To not stir the pot of discord.
To not stand out.
But how many more stories do I need to read?
How many stories do I need to tell?
I don't pretend to be an activist of any sort.
But I am a Mother advocate. And one of the victims was probably a mother.
All were someone’s daughter.
I am a Filipina - an immigrant - and I am raising an Asian daughter.
I am cringing about the words and innuendos, tokenism, and microaggressions that I know will come. I am praying for the hope that when she gets older, it'll be "different." But for it to be different, I must accept this heartache.
For it to be different, the landscape and narrative must change.
And I don't quite know where to start.
I have no words. I’m just tired of keeping my head down, tired of the noise that I know will disappear and return to silence.
I will be heartbroken and not be surprised when this all fades. Because it will.
They all do, eventually.
To me and I'm sure for all my Asian American Pacific Islander, and my black brothers and sisters, it feels like a lifetime of fighting that goes absolutely nowhere.
And for some, it’s just another day.
The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is doing direct support and advocacy work for AAPI women and girls.
AAPI Women Lead which is an organization looking at the intersections between race and gender and focusing on gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Follow Stop AAPI Hate to help find other ways to support AAPI people facing horrific violence and relentless racism. Look for local organizations near you doing similar work.
Anti-Asian xenophobia and violence has had a long history in the United States, and is still enacted by the US government. Check out VietRISE
and the Asian Prisoner Support Committee - APSC to learn more.
I am in the midst of a creative thunderstorm. And have been bouncing ideas with my sister, a lover of horror.
While I prefer the softer reads and happy ever afters of romance, she delights in collecting not just 1 but 2 edition of any and all Stephen King's novels.
Naturally, when I started on this project, I asked for her input. I'm going to make this my inspiration board of sorts. Bear with me.
An Aswang project: Book 1
The aswang project finds Chesa, whose parents died in a fire, uprooted from the Philippines and on her way to live with her aunt's family in Texas. Along her journey, strange coincidences marred with death occur.
.....I haven't figured out what else occurs. I wrote out my entire outline for my second WIP, a romcom called, Love & Lumpia. But horror - this strange genre I've never read or written - has me developing the characters first, getting their arc and redemption, all the while researching folklores and colonialism's effects on Filipino folklore. Speaking of which, one of the characters is Chesa's cousin who happen to be writing an essay on this topic and I've decided I will research this topic ad nauseum and THEN share her essay somewhere in the book! I have no idea where these characters are going to go and who is going to die (its not a spoiler - death is inevitable in ya horror/sci-fi).
What I DO know:
Chesa - is my main protag. 1st person in this duology.
Darna, Chesa's cousin - has to survive in the end for her to go back to the Philippines where it all started...whatever "it" is they are trying to find/solve. This is book 2 fermenting.
What I DON'T know:
Chesa - is she also bad/evil/the bearer of this curse?
Also, I don't know the middle....but I have a vague idea of how I want the ending to go.
LONGEST MONTH EVER! But then again, after the holidays, the highs of starting "fresh" and then the mediocre start..... it feels like this month has just been dragging. Anyway, going to adjust my needs/wants and make an effort into a more realistic goal for me.
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology. I did submit a poem that was rejected once to a second chance press....who then rejected the same poem. SIGH. Such is the life of a poet whos work is very much subjective and objectified. I am forever grateful for each "rejection" however, as each one simultaenously deflated my heart but gave me just enough hope to try again another day. I also submitted a 'PMDD themed' chapbook to 2 different chapbook press. Still waiting on word.
2.) Write 1 chapter/1 hour of current work in progress (WIP) a day. Eh, I began this year having written 1 chapter...... I'm in Chapter 4. BUT I finished my outline of my WIP, a Filipino romcom..... and I wholly believe that progress is progress, no matter how small.
3.) January Whole30 starts on 1/04. I would like to say I had every intention of starting strong, but that would be a lie. Because my husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes, I've been cooking (and subsequently) eating more keto styled recipes. I do indulge in carbs because CARBS = LIFE. Soooo not going to start on Whole30 anytime soon.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator). 16/20...not too bad but gah, didn't realize how CLOSE I was to completing this!
5.) Spend a day outside with kids at least once a week (nature walk, park, school outdoors). Goal met! We've played with our friends who are in our pod every Sunday... this started in November and its' done wonders for all of our morale. Hiking to 3 different state parks has been an incredible experience. I'm thinking of adding yet another site on this recent bucket list addition of ours.
~ February Goals ~
"Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
For February, I will:
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology (repeating every month).
2.) Read and Review 4 romance reads by women of color (WOC), featuring protags that are WOC.
3.) WIP: Get to the 'middle of the story,' ie Chapter 10.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator). I mean, come on, I was *this close!
5.) Learn 1 new thing/activity/hobby with my family.
I use to run for fun. I was never in any competitive running teams nor would I ever join but, I know enough about running that you don't sprint in the beginning.
You start slow, build your pace, keep that pace, and
run like hell at the end to the finish line.
Even knowing this, I fail to remember that
I'm bearing the weight of mental illness on my race.
I sprinted right out of the gate and I've exhausted myself.
I had every good intention.
Got a shiny new planner.
Listed all the resolutions and all the things that I promised I would do/accomplish.
I was pumped and sat down and managed to write four chapters of a romance novel.
But that was a few days ago.
Today, I'm feeling the shadow of PMDD looming over me.
And I'm finding it hard to concentrate, harder to "keep calm."
I want off this track.
In a few days, I'll walk out of this fog and feel whole again.
I'll probably more than likely forget about this feeling of impending doom.
I'll forget about this pressure that is sitting above my chest.
I'll feel whole again.
And then be ready to write swoon worthy moments between my MC (main character) and her friend-turned-lover.
But in all honesty, it sucks to be here.
This truth that I feel myself slipping away.
This cycle is vicious.
Resolution (noun): a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Okay, so it's a lot harder to make a vision board using this technique. I'll probably spend some time trying to make a vision board at a later time.
So, breaking this down, my 2021 Resolutions are
1.) Learn something new and I choose cross-stitching. I see so many cute and lovely designs on Etsy and on friend's pages....it makes me want to try it. I usually try to find one new thing to learn or try every year and this will be it for me.
2.) I came across an old "bucket list" of mine. I can't tell you when I wrote it, as sadly, I didn't date it. However, yoga teacher was an interesting one. I signed up for a course called "Kidding Around Yoga" (KAY) online certification. I'm not quite sure how this will pan out in the future but it's a step. I have kids. I'm currently homeschooling. So why not incorporate what I am learning to my kiddos and maybe when the pandemic slowly lessens its toll on us, I can share and teach yoga to other kiddos.
3.) Write more poetry. Write more of my story. Write more romance. Just Write. (I'll break this goal down later).
4.) As a family, we have 2 goals for ourselves. They are to spend more time outdoors. We are challenging ourselves to 1000 hours outside AND to visit as many state parks as we can for the year! We began our first hike yesterday and already crossed one state park off!
5.) I need to be more intentional on sharing my culture with my kids. At some point in their lifetime, I'd love to visit and show them the Philippines! I want them to learn my language, know their roots and family history.
6.) I would love to be more involved in the organizations I believe in. Mom Congress, 2020Mom, Momma's Voices. But, for the most part, it's the continuation of doing the work of advocacy for moms, babies and maternal mental health. This past year, the Champions for Change summit was held virtually and while I could still feel the fire and passion from the virtual meet ups, I missed the tangible part of seeing advocacy in action. I hope this fall, I'll get to actual embrace the women I met and are inspired by!
7.) Well it wouldn't be a "complete" resolution list without my mentioning healthy eating and or workouts. HOWEVER, I have been making an effort in changing our lifestyles. My husband was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in November. We started doing a bit of keto - more lazy on my part and we've resolved to workout out more. Luckily, virtual workouts are a thing and I've signed up for Camp Gladiator before! My old boot camp crew is starting on January Whole30 and I'll be joining her to "jump start" my sugar addiction habit.
~ January Goals ~
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ―Aristotle.
The thing I know about myself is that I need to break down these resolutions....otherwise, it's truly overwhelming and either I don't know where to start or I do all of them at once and give up.
For January, I will:
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology.
2.) Write 1 chapter/1 hour of current work in progress (WIP) a day.
3.) January Whole30 starts on 1/04.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator).
5.) Spend a day outside with kids at least once a week (nature walk, park, school outdoors).
Do you remember playing "highs and lows" in school? It was more or less a quick reflection or feedback of the good parts (highs) and the worst (low) parts of an activity. My school drama teacher would play it with us after a field trip. I don't want to reminisce the lows of 2020. I'm sure we've all lost track of the many disappointments, anger, and grief. I had to scroll through my Instagram feed to remember the highs of 2020. I didn't capture nearly enough photographs but what I did take, reminded me that 2020 is not the "worst year" for our family. Sure, it wasn't the best either, we were merely surviving half the time, along with everyone else in the midst of a pandemic, but for a family used to "sheltering in place" when one member has an autoimmune disorder.....it was just "another" year for us.
I did have high hopes of having a summer beach vacation or a Disney holiday, we did start the year watching the sunset on the beach. So without further ado, here are a few things I learned, am grateful for, and what I will take with me from 2020:
1.) Our family (husband's sisters) saw the birth of two beautiful healthy baby girls.
2.) A surprise birthday backyard celebration (a week before shut down in Texas happened) with friends.
3.) I passed my Special Education Teaching certification exam for K-12.
4.) Stepping out of our comfort zone by retelling my birth story and reliving that trauma for ACOG (interviewed in May), Mom&Mind (interviewed in September) and 2020Mom Story (interviewed in December).
5.) Being nominated for 2020 Mom Ambassador!
6.) We cooked more at home than we've ever done in our whole 12 years of marriage life.
7.) I had always wanted to homeschool. Covid hit and I'm proud to say that we have managed to "survive" a semester of homeschooling. It was a LOT of tears. I learned to walk away. She learned to breathe and took responsibilities for her outbursts - meaning, she was able to come to me after we both calmed down and provided insight on why she was having trouble concentrating or learning. I learned (am learning) to let go of "public school" expectations and trusting that she is not behind. She is where she needs to be and we are going the pace she sets - not mine.
8.) We walked and explored various trails and nature centers around our area. It's amazingly good for the soul to step outside and breathe in fresh air, hike down paths unknown to us, and curate this memory of walking trails.
9.) We had our first family campout in October and every single one of us loved it! I didn't think my 4 year old would enjoy a single moment without electronics, but he loved looking for sticks to toss into our fire pit. Both kiddos enjoyed seeing the stars light the sky.
10.) My marriage isn't something I talk a lot about. My husband is my partner, a provider, and my friend. While he sometimes locks himself in, there were times that he managed to break out of his fortress to let me know where he was emotionally. There were situations in the year that gave us both pause; and where I found anger as a companion, he cocooned himself in grief. Thankfully, we've both voiced our thoughts - however jumbled they were (and still are). But truly, I am grateful for my husband. And while we can never know what 2021 will bring, we've decided it will be our "year of health."
So I actually thought I'd find 20 things for 2020, but 10 seems like a good number to end on.
Excited to announce my poem, "Echo," was accepted in Undivided Magazine.
"There is an echo of a shadow that follows me everywhere I go.
I catch her in glimpses; she’s bent over like a child,
a still statue on the floor." Click here for more.
Before Covid came into our lives, I had this goal of finishing up my teaching certification classes online and be ready to teach for Fall 2020. I was subbing for different grade levels to get a feel for who I want to teach to. I was asking Ellie's teachers what study guides they've used in the past and volunteered for everything involving planning parties, games, etc.
I had plans.
I was studying and was "on track." I passed my Special Education Certification test and scheduled to take my Elementary - 6th (E-6) general certification. That was in February.
By March, the schools were closed and I wasn't able to do any in-person teaching observations.
By May, we started toying with the idea of doing homeschooling full time in the fall. This was later affirmed that we were making a right decision from my daughter's hematologist (Short story: she has an autoimmune blood disorder and on immunosuppressants).
Last week, I sent out my letter of resignation to our local district where I worked as a substitute teacher and then officially, un-enrolled my daughter.
I had a really hard week.
And while it still stings that my goals once again will be put on the "back burner" as they say, I have already made peace with the fact that I may not get my teaching certification for a few more years, or at all.
So here we are, truly, all works of progress.
And once again, a reminder from the Universe and in the words of John Lennon that
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
How and where to beginThe first thing is decide, are we really going to do this?
Unfortunately thanks to our patriarchal society, mommas are going to be the teachers. That's not to say that dads won't help and my husband will leave the homeschooling all up to me....it just means that the burden (like most things) fall onto the mom. We are teachers. Are you going to be able to teach your child while taking care of home, of work, of yourself?!
Self care, ladies.
If you are not able to do distance learning, or homeschool full time.....it's okay. We all have our individual burdens to carry and I can only speak for what is possible in our home.
If you need permission, this is it: do what feels right for you and your family. Don't apologize or be tricked into feeling guilty.
However, if you have made the decison to homeschool, I urge you to look at what your state requires.
The first step is here:
In Texas, homeschooling laws and requirements are very relaxed compared to most states.
Texas Homeschool Law At a Glance
In Texas, homeschools are considered private schools. To legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
1. Teach the required subjects. The required subjects are:
2. Use a written curriculum. The private school law as interpreted by the Texas Supreme Court requires that you use some form of written curriculum (online programs meet this requirement) and that you operate your homeschool in a “bona fide” manner.
I’m a planner girl and I was super excited to get the “organized home school planner.” I read a few reviews, watched this homeschooling mama break it down....and went out and bought it, Let me just say, for $50 a pop, it was a regretful buy. While I appreciated the layout and it had sections for ideas, design, planning, etc..... I basically was able to do the same things (plan) by doing a “brain dump.”
I wrote down things that I thought would be appropriate to learn in different months, like pumpkins and how seasons change in October... or many different ways people celebrate Christmas around the world.
if you’re still looking, I suggest you do a big brainstorm day with you and your kiddo. Ask them what they like, what they’d like to learn and explore. Jot it down. And then find ways to incorporate that into the year. I also researched themes or awareness month and planning lessons around it. For instance, from September 15th-October 15th, is Hispanic Heritage month. We will be focusing on the people, the culture, the different foods and ways to appreciate the culture.
CurriculumThe third thing, after deciding you are going to homeschool and then planning, most people do is go out and BUY ALL THE THINGS.
It's great if you can afford it, but some of us want to slowly spend what we can and then if its worth it, buy it outright later.
In your research, do join homeschool groups in your area or online. See what everyone is using, ask around what would be appropriate for your child(ren) and then ask some more. Shop around. Remember what works for one family, or one child, may not and does not work for you and yours.
My upcoming 3rd grader is a tactile learner. She looks to read and play with manipulative and crafts.
She may not do well doing a workbook and sitting in one spot all day long.
You know your child(ren) best. So it's important when you're planning to get their input and see if they'll like what you picked out.
We will be using "Easy Peasy All in One" which, by the title, also gives you an "all in one" curriculum with health/pe, Spanish, poetry as some of the extra addons you can do besides math, science, history and language arts.
What has been good is that there are daily lessons you can do and it goes up to 180 days (your typical school year). It also has an "offline" or workbook option in case you didn't want to do all the computer work.
I will be supplementing this with another math workbook I found but this was the only one that I wanted to stay on track for, as math isn't Ellie's favorite subject.
It does go from preschool all the way through high school. I will be opting to do another workbook for Ro but I like that I can use their "daily lesson plans" as a guide to what he will be doing.
English, Language Arts, Reading (ELAR)
I patiently (not really) waited on the Good and the Beautiful work set. Although it is free to download online, I wanted to have the beautiful art work and poetry book, instead of what my black and white printer would dish out.
These books are gorgeous inside and I can't wait to get started. Each lesson can be done in a day, and per their website, if you do 4 lesson/week, you should be able to finish out the entire book by the end of the school year (end of May).
For science, I signed her up for a chemistry co-op. A local woman is doing a small Chemistry group for elementary aged kids and I thought, what fun! I'm loving that there is freedom in what she wants to learn. She asked to do Chemistry and that is what we are going to do this semester!
Luckily for her, 3rd graders only covers community, the helpers and various roles within a community. So we are going to be covering what it means for her to be a first generation Filipino American (my side) and a second generation Mexican American (dad's side). This basically means a LOT of books, a lot of arts and artists who are Filipinos and Mexicans. I moved to the US when I was 9 years old, so a lot of Philippine history was lost since here in Texas, there was no reason to cover it....we are a blip in most US textbooks and I know at some point, my children will learn all about US, what being a citizen means, the wars, etc....... but while I have them at home, we can learn Filipino folktales together, the different dialects across 7600 islands, and how it was colonized and by whom.
We are going to be living and breathing her history and I'm so excited to dive in!
She is currently taking her piano lessons from her teacher online, so we will keep doing that.
She has expressed interest in wanting to be a graphic novelist/animator, and we recently bought myself an apple pen. Can't wait to see what she does with it, however, I am excited to use it for coloring/lettering apps!
Spanish and Tagalog
This is where the "por favor" (please) and salamat (thank you) comes in. I want to give both my kids a living, breathing embrace of their roots.
So salamat for reading this far. I'd love to know your thoughts and what you have found so far!
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 drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.