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'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.
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!
So excited to announce that my book, Love, Defined, is now part of a romance collection! You get 1 price for 5 books to get your romance reading on.
When it comes to romance, trust and love go hand in hand…
Get ready to fall in love with these 5 full-length romance novels!
~ TOUCH ME NOT by Apryl Baker ~
A past tragedy has left Lily Holmes burdened with a devastating secret. Since the death of her twin sister, Lily can’t bear to be touched.
Enter Nikoli Kinkaid, the campus manwhore.
In an intricate dance of control and surrender, a reluctant friendship becomes something more.
Lily begins to crave things she never believed she could, and Nikoli realizes there is more at stake than his reputation.
~ TRUTH OR DARE by Aimee McNeil ~
Sophie Rogers has left her demons in the past and finally has her life under control. Until Ashton King saunters back into her life as a nude model for her art class…
Ashton’s body is made for sin, and his icy blue eyes scorch her with feelings too intense for a heart as scarred as Sophie’s to bear. Glimpses of another side of Ashton give her a flash of hope, but his deceptions run much deeper than she ever dreamed.
~ UNPREDICTABLE by CA Harms ~
Jett Jameson was the distraction Quinn needed, even if it was just for one night. A void-filler and a chance for a moment to allow herself to feel something other than emptiness.
He wasn’t what she expected, though. He was gentle. But her life didn’t have room for a man like Jett.
And now, it was too late. There was no turning back.
Nothing would ever be the same…
~ LEARNING TO TRUST by Cynthia P. O’Neill ~
When Garrett Andrews finds something that catches his eye, he goes after it, letting nothing stand in the way of what he wants to possess.
Laurel Hart was a swimming champion until a frightful event and unknown health issues derailed her career.
Once Garrett finds out about Laurel’s past, all rules are changed. He attempts to calm her nightmares and gain her trust so he can show her who he really is and the relationship he desires from her. Will they be able to overcome the damage their hearts have encountered?
~ LOVE DEFINED by Leila Tualla ~
In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do.
As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.
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!
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.