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/
On days like this, I miss the country. It rained last night, cooling everything around us. The wind and trees whisper that summer just might be over soon. I walked as far as I could to get away from the roar of cars and trucks but I've never walked this trail by myself, and when I finally found the curve in the trail where the cicadas drowned out the city, I stopped. And took this picture. ❤️❤️
I'm at this weird phase of transition. Or maybe I'm just feeling stuck. Much like my walk here: do I keep walking into unfamiliar territory? Or turn around because the noise can tune out my thoughts and it's familiar and I've already walked it after all.
My children are at school. I'm feeling all sorts of emotions that come with that, covid being the highest and most consuming priority.
But somewhere around the worries, I find myself wondering what now? What do I do from here? Where do I go? Do I keep studying for this test for this career (teaching) I'm not even sure about. Do I keep sending 2 completed chapbooks hoping the Universe finds a home for them? Do I keep going through the motions until something leads me where I need to go?
I feel lost. Stuck.
As a mental health advocate, I'd be remiss not to mention my thoughts out loud, in case someone needs to hear this.
Who am I when no one is around to mother?
This walk didn't answer any of that for me. I thought as I stood in front of the sunflowers, I'd have some sort of epiphany.
The best I could come up with is that society has a warped and all consuming view of what stay at home moms are supposed to be. I left pieces of myself in my children - we create, we laugh, make memories, pray, cry - I speak joy and hope into them. And when they left to seek out peers, I wonder what pieces of them (and me) they've left behind. Who am I when they're not around?
There is a story brewing here. More tangible thoughts (probably) will be written into poems. And perhaps, that's always been the answer: I've never stopped being a writer.
On my next walk, I think I'll bring a notebook and go a little further.
Just some Friday thoughts for you. ❤️❤️❤️
Who do you become when no one's watching?
Summer Book Lover's Day is August 9 and we are Celebrating ALL WEEK with a HUGE giveaway!
I have partnered up with Celebrate Lit Publicity to do an amazing giveaway where you can win a spectacular prize of over 35 books or a $500 Amazon gift card to buy books you love to hold you over until Christmas!
Be sure to enter Celebrate Lit's 2nd Annual Summer Book Lover's Multi-Author Giveaway going on now through August 15.
Enter here: https://promosimple.com/ps/10ec7/2021-summer-book-lover-s-day
So thankful that my poem, "early start" was accepted for Issue 2 of Querencia Magazine. This one was a journey, written during my training as a Patient Family Partner Certification for Momma's voices. There was a point in the training, were we had to do a 2 minute storytelling pitch. I was reliving memories and the guilt and anger washed over me. I had to remind myself that my kiddos are healthy. She is indeed fierce and NINE. Having a traumatic birth cannot let me just remember all the good....my body only remembers the tears, the closing in of itself, the endless bargaining.
Anyway, here it is, 'early start'
This was not how I planned the start
of motherhood. But here she is, encased in glass,
tubes and wires surrounding her and a machine that
voices her heartbeat. And there I am,
sitting beside her, bargaining to a god that I’ve
believed in all my life that this isn’t how its’
supposed to be and how could we both fail at the thing
we were supposed to be good at? ...
more over here: hiccups (page 32)
My poem "someone who looks like me" published in Marias at Sampaguitas Mahal issue (July 2021)! Join us for open mic night tonight!!
Feel free do download the pdf below OR follow here for issue two.
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.