I'm participating in another round of poetry marathon. 24 poems in 24 hours. This year - what with the world on fire: looming recession, Roe v Wade being overturned, school shootings and formula shortages.....I am TIRED. And I all I have left are words. 24 activist poems. Here we go.
Today was my child's 4th grade ceremony. And I am a mess.
Thankful and guilty.
I am thankful for the years of innocence and safety in this little world of ours.
I am guilty that others are grieving and worlds have shattered.
I am grateful for all her teachers and their protection.
I am guilty as a mom to have to ask another person to take a bullet for my child.
I am grateful that her treatments have made us this far.
I am guilty for feeling grateful.
I am a mess of emotions and yet, I am grateful that I know how to pretend to be fine and happy.
I am guilty that I have to pretend when this is not ok.
I am grateful that I am here.
I am guilty that anger and rage is boiling in my heart and I am grateful I know how to catch all that rage.
Guilty and grateful.
Words are powerful.
Actions can move move mountains. I am grateful.
I am guilty.
I am here.
I am enraged.
I am done.
And, guilty that tomorrow.... it'll be another day for me, for her, for us... and another slaughter will happen and this cycle will start again. And one day, perhaps, my world too will be shattered and who will feel guilty and thankful then? Who will grieve for us?
Thankful, guilty and fearful.
Hugs and hugs and light and love from this emotional mama.
I was in San Antonio yesterday for my first ever production. I'm not quite allowed to share photos I took on the set. That'll come later. I did manage to grab this shot and as there are no people and I'm not going to share the context, I will leave it here.
I'm currently replaying everything I've said about my #motherhood #preeclampsia #ppd story. There were things I wished I said. Words I wish I could go back and edit for clarification (and hope they completely cut it out of my segment).
Regardless, I am still coming down from being surrounded by the most amazing people I probably will never see again.
10 years ago, I never expected that my beginnings (my daughter's beginning) would continue to be replayed and reshared and shaped me into advocacy work. I never thought I'd share how I felt about my son. But I needed to reconcile the guilt, the anxiety, the rage and the traumatic birth and I began to heal by sharing how I felt.
And in the beginning, I was sharing into this abyss, not knowing that on the other side of that, were people willing to listen and people needing to see survivors and even still, moms who caught bits and pieces of my heartache, asked questions and later shared how they advocated for themselves.
Because of me.
When all I did was speak up.
And I get that there is bravery there. But there a stories upon stories that need to be told and shared. I don't know how much of my bravery changes things but I do know I'll never stop being an advocate.
Something about milestone birthdays that almost always makes us look back at our entire existence and wonder......have I accomplished everything I wanted to do before insert milestone year here.
While in 20s, I was still figuring out what I wanted in life. From pre-nursing student to get me out of here however it takes. I moved around. Went to 3 different schools. Found religion. Found love.
I was 29 1/2 when I had my first baby. Almost 34, when I had my second. Motherhood, in all its ups and downs, strengths and weakness found me in my 30s.
This was quite literary a life changing, life giving, life persevering decade.
But as I approach my 40s, I still have this need to look and ask myself, "have I done everything I wanted to do up until this moment?"
I can check off author, writer, teacher. I can check off some travels, not all...never all. I am grateful for every single opportunity of friendships that have come and gone, of books and stories that I'm able to pass on to my littles. But there were things in life that I've always wanted to do....but came up with a dozen excuses not to do them.
And as I'm a little neurotic and have 6 months to count down to the big 4-0 and I thought. Would I have to wait another decade countdown to accomplish these tasks - simple as they may be?
Behold, another list of things I wanted to do, wanted to pick up but in my wayward distracted self, I've somehow forgotten this list. I did add some of my 22 for 2022 to this and I am aware that some of these are not "one and done." I want to continue and carry some (like wanting to be Lucy Liu, get a black belt and wield a kantana) into the next decade. I found my own inner strength as a postpartum depression and preeclampsia survivor in my mid-30s.
This decade - 40s - I want to be the badass warrior that I know I am.
40 things to do before 40
On this MLK jr day (& impending milestone birthday), I am reflecting on legacies.... what we leave behind & what we hope & dream for our children.
I hope to pass on kindness, leave a legacy of gratitude & goodness. But tangibly, I'd like to leave something more than the imprints in their hearts.
I am a writer & advocate.
I have essays & poems & stories of motherhood, of faith that they can find & wrap themselves in.
I also come from a mama who has taught me to cook w love. I'm no
foodie. I'm quite picky, actually. But certain smells & taste bring me back to my home country 🇵🇭. I remember the fish ball vendor right outside my school. I vaguely remember the fish market or the Santol trees that grew up and out in my neighbor's yard. I can barely remember the taste of spaghetti with hotdogs but every time I make spaghetti for my kiddos, I often wonder what faces they'll make should a hot dog make an appearance in their pasta. 😂😂
I remember certain things with clarity but as a 9 year old who left, my memories have lost focus 30 years later.
What I know today are my childhood in East Tx & my mom's eggrolls & pancit that I've been trying to replicate. I remember food from Filipino parties we held at someone's house & the whole community of Filipinos would gather.
A few years ago, I asked my mom to write down in her handwriting, recipes she's made for us over the years & some that she's "perfected," in most recent years.
I'm going to attempt to make each recipe from here & hope to impart a more lasting one for my kiddos... that food not only feeds us & can bring us comfort but the stories that came from the kitchen they were made in & the way some recipes get passed down... those I hope they'll make time to explore & remember. Whatcha cooking today?
And yes, I will share whatever I cook here. ❤️❤️
Confession time. I love the idea of New Year Resolutions. I write them every year....well, with the exception of this year. 2020 just made me want to survive 2021.
I follow this author, Gretchen Rubin, and she does a list of things in lieu of resolutions. Nothing to change about oneself as much as create a list of things big or small that you can accomplish in the year.
22 things for 2022
For a peek at Gretchen Rubin's list or how to use the "22 things for 2022," click here.
This morning, I spoke with a mama through the amazing Postpartum Support International (@postpartumsupportinternational) peer mentor program who needed encouragement and support.
Some days, truly, I am "over the talking," and the revisiting open wounds. And some days, I wonder what I am doing to myself and why.
And there are days where someone out there needed some encouragement and needed to hear how I got "out of it."
Honestly, friends. I'm not sure where I am most days. There isn't ever going to be a moment where I will wake up and be who I was in the "before." Before the #preeclampsia diagnosis, before the #nicu and #prematurebabies and #ppd
And that makes me both sad and thankful. Who would I be today without the above? Would I advocate so much?
Would I have written my stories?
I also got a chance to speak to Dianna Gunn of Spoonie Author Podcast. More revisiting. More advocating. But this time, she asked what advice I would give to someone who may have disabilities or a chronic illness who wanted to write.
I am a terrible advice giver. But I'd like to think I'm an excellent listener and observer. I love sitting in silence. When people share the heavy with me, I like to think of silences as this enormous pause of relief for the person who unburdened themselves and a chance for the receiver to process what was said.
Pauses are heavy and the silence that follows it can fill us with trepidation.
How will the receiver respond to our burdens?
What if we (the receiver) say the wrong thing?
Or the years, I've learned that most of the time, it isn't the response that we want. It is what we do while in the silence.
I hug in the silence.
I have cried and held someone's hands in the silence.
I have nodded and quivered and sighed in the silence.
So these advice giving this morning, I took a pause and a breath. I tell myself that if it were me on the other side, what would I like to hear?
I want honesty.
Motherhood is hard and it sucks.
Writing is hard and it sucks.
Yeah, we're all in some semblance of this world together but your hard (whatever that looks like and feels like) isn't how my hard looks and feels.
I told the mom this morning that this is just a season. There are probably more thunderstorms than sunshine. And yeah, winter is coming. It's hard. I don't enjoy winter. But at some point, there has to be a break....right? There is hope that this will all just be another hard season we had to get over. I can't promise when this season of hard will be over but I can promise that I can find you tools and resources to hunker down and shelter you from these storms. I can promise you that I have found myself in these trenches more often that enjoying the little bit of sunshine in whatever season I was in. I can promise that you will not be alone in these storms.
As far as for the creatives who wonder how to be a writer in the midst of pain and disabilities - that's the easiest part: write. Write a word. Focus on 2 words...now form a sentence. It does not have to be perfect. It does not have to make sense.
It does not even have to leave the pages of your journal.
Write what you know. And if all you now is pain, explore that. Maybe in the pages, you'll find how brave you really are.
Whatever season you are in, may you find yourself a listening ear......I will say that blank pages in a notebook are the best kind of receivers for the heavy and the hard.
Thankful to have this poem, "this is what I know" added to Lannang Articles' project on culture, identity and language. I had written this poem this past Spring when I attended a session with fellow Pinoy creatives. It was the first time I had been surrounded by poets of diaspora. I didn't even have to explain the meanings of this poem as we took a few minutes after a prompt on language. They knew. They understood what memories and phrases that come to the surface and pop like bubbles meant. Fleeting and magical and for a moment, a crystal clear remembrance of knowing of the native tongue.
I haven't been able to join in other sessions, but it did my soul good seeing Pinoy poets and listening to their stories and poems. I need more of that, please.
Anyway, here it is below:
Here’s what I know:
Usa lang ako. I am one.
I am alone.
Sayap. I am sorry. Words escape me,
And my mother tongue gets duller as I age.
For more of 'Here's what I know, go here: https://www.lannangarchives.org/post/here-s-what-i-know
I had my 20th High School reunion a week ago. I must admit, I wasn't excited to go and had to be prompted multiple times by my husband to just show up. It wasn't that I had a terrible experience, far from it, and perhaps I don't even truly understand my own hesitation. I obviously am not the same girl who walked down those halls. I barely remember any of it. The parts I do remember were confined within the auditorium and backstage. I loved theater. It wasn't necessarily the lights and applause, those were just bonuses. I loved theater simply for the idea that I got to be someone else for the length of rehearsals and the show. I got to be loud. I got to be quiet. A princess. A snob. A myriad of different people over the course of 4 years.
I got to explore. And that was my key takeaway.
I had this amazing avenue where I could be angry or sad, or extremely funny or bold.
And I miss that.
I miss having that escape and exploration. Mind you, I do have my moments and usually they're expressed in my writings. I get to explore different characters and find their foundation........and while I don't get the satisfaction of an applause, I do find closure in writing 'the end.'
Theater was my second home. And I am grateful for having those moments (good and bad). I do remember my 18 year old self wanting to explore and write. I wonder what she would think about me?
I'm still writing. Still musing and observing. I don't have this overwhelming need for validation or applause. I still find those quiet moments outside to reflect. I hope she's proud of this life we've lived.
I sure am.
Dear past self,
I would be remiss if I didn't list out your accomplishments over the course of 20 years:
So thankful for the team at Agape Review, their kind words and their acceptance on my poem, "One Day,"
my cries will sound like hallelujahs,
And this ache and burden I have been carrying
will feel weightless
I will stop bargaining over sickness
and rejoice in the health of the now.
I will train my eyes upward and follow
the path set before me, instead of wondering
if someone else’s journey is better than mine.
More, click here: agapereview.com/2021/09/03/oneday/
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.
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