May 2021

So much to be thankful for this month!

Hi y’all! I’ve been wrapping up the loose ends with my job as we prepare for summer vacation. I have lots to share but for now enjoy the photo journal for May.

What is a healthy marriage?

I read or possibly heard somewhere that every marriage can define their own rules. Since no one was given a handbook or given the wisdom and secrets to a healthy marriage, it’s safe to assume that no one has the perfect or flawless situation. I believe the pandemic, sheltering at home, living on top of each other has exasperated this idea even more. Some say that having time apart is natural and is a healthy way to maintain, rekindle, ignite the spark. Others argue that time away is dangerous- that sooner or later you’ll get accustomed to the distance and will remain distant. I don’t know which argument is true, but my hubby and I are currently trying it.

In the past, we had time apart for legitimate reasons- work, family, emergency. It was never by preference. We always preferred, wanted, to come home, nightly to each other. If hubby had to travel for work, I requested that he take the flight right after work, not the next morning. If I had to visit family, I would make sure to come home, never extending my stay more than I needed to. We always had a purpose for being apart, and we knew that the time away from one another was harder on the person staying home, so we never tried to make it worse.

Over the weekend, the word “space” was brought up and we decided to take action and plan for space this week. The arrangement I proposed was that I would stay home this week and hubby can stay at his parents’ house for a few days. Next week will be my turn. I will stay at my parents’ house while hubby stays home.

What will I do at home alone for a few days?

Nothing grandiose. I do like the idea of stillness and quietness. Having the TV on less. Reading more.

I don’t know how long this arrangement will last. Who knows if we will even enjoy it. But I think it’s worth exploring, even if it seems strange to other people. I’m not excited or sad about the temporary situation. I’m curious and hopeful that every couple can decide, together, what is best for them.

RIP DMX

I haven’t followed DMX’s career in a while nor have I listened to his music, but serendipitously, about a month ago, I brought up his name and his song for one of my assignments for my TESOL certification program. The class was called Teaching Listening and Speaking to English Learners and the assignment was about pronunciation. We were asked to give an example of a lesson we did with our students regarding sounds and tongue placement. Many people may or may not know this but in some Asian countries, such as Japan, there is no /r/ sound. Speakers of Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean often have difficulty making the distinction between the /r/ and the / l / sounds of English.  Instead of pronouncing the word ‘arrive’, for example, we may think that a Japanese speaker is pronouncing ‘alive’, substituting the / l / for the /r/. One way of helping students to make the distinction between these two sounds is to tell them that the / l / sound is made with the tip of the tongue touching the tooth ridge while the /r / sound is made with the tip of the tongue touching no part of the mouth. In my lesson I explained how I would use DMX’s 2000 song “Rough Riders’ Anthem”. Musically, it’s a mesh between rock and roll and rap. The unique sounds, lyrics and chorus are about being powerful, who I liked to equate it to learning English. In the lyrics, it states “Rough riders roll”, so the /r/ and / l / sound are pretty close together, so it was pretty neat to see the students attempt to do this in a fast pace. They loved it and also loved DMX. You never know how music will influence life. I don’t think when DMX wrote that song that it would a model for a group of Japanese learning English, especially the /r/ and /l / sounds. But it did. And in their demeanor and their swag, in their posture and tongue, they definitely embodied DMX’s anthem. Ruff ryders roll !!!!

LYRICS

DMX: UH

DMX: Sumtin’ new

Stop,Drop
Shut ’em down open up shop
OOOOHHHHH! NNNNNNNOOOOO!
That’s how Ruff Ryders Roll
(2x)

~1 DMX~
Snitches wana try (what)
Snitches wana lie (what)
Snitches wonder why (what)
Snitches wana die (what)
All I know is pain (what)
All I feel is rain (what)
I cannot maintain (what)
With maddness on my brain (what)
I resort to violence (what)
My killers move in silence (what)
Like you don’t know what our style is (what)
New York killers the wildest (what)
My dogz is wit’ it (what)
You want it come and get it (what)
Took it then we split it (what)
Damn right we did it (what)
What the F you gon’ do (what)
When we run up on you (what)
You messin’ wit’ da wrong crew (what)
You don’t know what we gon’ through (what)
I’m gon’ have to show (what)
How easily we blow (what)
When you gon’ find out there’s some mo’ (what)
That’s runnin’ with yo (what)
There’s nuthin’ we can’t handle (what)
Break it up and dismantle (what)
Light it up like a candle (what)
Just cuz I can’t stand you (what)
Put my ish on tapes (what)
Like you bustin’ grapes (what)
Think you holdin weight? (what)
Hey you haven’t met the apes (what)

Stop,Drop
Shut ’em down open up shop
OOOOHHHHH! NNNNNNNOOOOO!
That’s how Ruff Ryders Roll
(2x)

~2 DMX~
Yo is ya’ll people crazy (what)
I’ll bust you and be swazy (what)
Stop actin’ like a baby (what)
Mind yo’ bizness lady (what)
Nozey people get it too (what)
When you see my spit at you (what)
You know I’m tryin’ to get rid of you (what)
Yeah I know it’s pitaful (what)
That’s how killers get down (what)
Watch my killers spit rounds (what)
Make you suckas kiss ground (what)
That’s for talkin’ ish, clown (what)
Oh you think it’s funny (what)
Then you don’t know me money (what)
It’s about to get ugly (what)
Whateva dog, I’m hungry (what)
I guess you know what that means (what)
Come up off that green (what)
pry niggaz offa me (what)
Don’t make it a murder scene (what)
Give a dog a bone (what) GGGGGRRRRRR!
Leave a dog alone (what) GGGGGRRRRRR!
Let a dog roam (what) and he’ll find his way home (what)
GGGGGRRRRRR!
Home of the brave (what)
My home is a cave (what)
And yo I’m a slave (what) to my home is the grave (what)
I’m gon’ pull papers (what)
It’s all about the papers (what)
Chickens talkin’ the paper (what)
And now thay wana rape us (what)

Stop,Drop
Shut ’em down open up shop
OOOOHHHHH! NNNNNNNOOOOO!
That’s how Ruff Ryders Roll
(2x)

~3 DMX~
MAN! Look what you done started (what)
Ask for it and you got it (what)
Had it should of shot it (what)
Now yo’ dearly’ departed (what)
Get at me dog that I rip ish (what)
With this one here I flip ish (what)
ziggas know when I kick ish (what)
Gon’ be some slick ish (what)
What was that look for (what)
When I walked in the door (what)
Oh you thought you was raw (what)
BOOOM! not any more (what)
Cuz now you on the floor (what)
Wishin’ you never saw (what)
Me walk through that door (what)
With that 4 4 (what)
Now it’s time for bed (what)
2 mo’ to da head (what)
Got the floor red (what)
Yeah that magget’s dead (what)
Another unsolved mystery (what)
It’s gon’ down in history (what)
n***** ain’t ever did ish to me (what)
b**** @$$ ziggans can’t get to me (what)
Gots to make a move (what)
Gotta point to prove (what)
Gotta make ’em groove (what)
Got ’em all like oooo (what)
So ’til the next time (what)
You hear this dog ryme (what)
Try to keep yo mind (what)
On gettin’ (uhhh) and crime (what)

Stop,Drop
Shut ’em down open up shop
OOOOHHHHH! NNNNNNNOOOOO!
That’s how Ruff Ryders Roll

(GUNFIRE!!)
TALK IS CHEAP MUTHAuffcka

One armed stranger

Today was my second day of bootcamp work out. I thought of every excuse not to go: I already walked for 30 minutes this morning; it’s so difficult to breath and work out indoors wearing a mask, technically I wasn’t wasting any money because I have a week-long free membership, which expires on Sunday. Yet with my sister’s probing, I went. Besides, the class is only 50 minutes, and it’s so close to my house; can walk there in under 5 minutes.

As soon as the workout began, I already wanted to give up. My breath was labored; my heart rate was at in the optimal zone and my legs felt like jello. Then I noticed this very striking woman. I don’t know if it was her svelte physique, her matching workout outfit or her sleek and shiny hair wrapped in a tight pony tail. I noticed her form, her pace and her effort. All of it was very admirable. And then she turned around, and she didn’t have a left arm. She seemed to be my age or maybe a few years younger. I thought about what could have happened. Then I realized that this woman had a very valid reason not to be here. But here she was making it work. I thought if I, a fully abled person, with just a minor disability of asthma, could work out unequivocally with no excuses then I have no reason to complain. Watching a one armed person do box jumps, and modifying works out such as swinging kettle bells and throwing weight balls are reasons for me to stop finding excuses and starting finding inspiration.

Photo by Julia Larson on Pexels.com

Vegan pancit canton

Growing up, my interest in cooking was marred by my mother. As a self- trained chef and baker, everything my mother cooked was naturally delicious. It was very difficult to cook anything under her shadow. Compared to her, my dishes came out under seasoned, under done, under cooked. And because my mom didn’t have recipes and relied on her instincts, I was very intimidated with cooking. 

It wasn’t until I discovered youtube that I became more comfortable with cooking. My confidence in the kitchen increased when I watched youtube shows like Laura Vitale, Panglasa Pinoy and Chef John. With video, I could easily follow along and replay if I was confused.

Tomorrow, I will be at my mom’s house for Easter and we all decided to bring a dish. When it comes to cooking Filipino dishes, my skills have been mediocre. To me, certain Filipino cooking requires an intermediate to advance level of cooking, where as I’m still performing at the beginner. By with faith and youtube, I attempted a Vegan Pancit Canton recipe and made it today. It will be the dish that I bring to my mother’s tomorrow. 

My husband, my taste tester, said it was delicious. I’ll say my mother’s reaction will be true testament. Stay tuned! 

A Different World

I grew up on Black television. I watched shows like the Cosby Show, A Different World, In Living Color, Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Living Single, and years later, when I reflect on that time in my life, two shows that inspired me were A Different World and Living Single. I imagined that when it was time for me to attend college, I would live in the dorms like Dennis while attending classes taught by obscure teachers and hanging out with friends at the Pit. Then when I graduated, I would live in New York, similar to Khadeja James who was the owner of Flavor magazine I imagined. I too, could be a writer and live with my friends in an opulent townhouse in Manhattan. 

The reality is my life was nothing close to the TV shows. I attended college in San Diego and lived off campus. I moved about 5 times and by the time I graduated, I lived four blocks from the beach and could walk to the strip of bars and restaurants with my two blond roommates from the OC. My professors didn’t seem worldly at the time, as English professors, their teaching styles were mostly lecture while students mostly listened, with the one exception. I had a teacher who had big curly brown hair and we read books by different authors on color, including Michele Serros who has been a formidable literary role model to me. I didn’t have much of a campus life- most of the people I spent time with were from Los Angeles or my home town ( they visited me often). And the entire time I was in San Diego, I was in a long distance relationship with a boy from my home town. I always wondered what would have happened if made other decisions like joining a sorority, breaking up with my boyfriend, spending more time exploring the campus rather than rushing home and talking to my boyfriend on the phone. Had I done this, would I have lived a life closer to what I had envisioned when I watched A Different Word. Maybe. But the greatest lesson I thought that would have the biggest impact on me would be moving to a city and not knowing anyone. Turns out, the greatest lesson was moving to a new city and loving someone 600 miles away. 

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

March 2021

March tends to be a busy month for me, and this year was no different, regardless of the state still mostly in shelter in place. 

Some things to highlight:

March 12- I celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary

March 13- we had a outside lunch for my father in law’s birthday

March 21- we went to Muir Woods to celebrate my sister’s birthday

March 27- we went to Golden Gate Park to celebrate my brother in law’s birthday

March 29- started spring break, my 13th spring break as an educator 

March 24- got my second COVID vaccine shot

March 7- ended my 4th class for my TESOL certificate (only 4 more classes to go)

March 15- submitted my applications for a professional and writing opportunities

March 6, 7, 14, 21, 29, 30 – Went hiking at different places

March 4-6: went to Sacramento to help my brother with his new home

Last March, in 2020, there so much uncertainty about what life would look like in the next few months, let alone an entire year later. But here we are, in 2021, living indoors and outdoors, savoring life in the smallest and greatest ways.

Lent 2021

Lent is a time in the Catholic calendar that brings us closer to God. During this time, we spend time in praying, fasting and almsgiving- all ways in which strengthens our relationship with God. Every Lent season, I usually participate is some sort of “sacrifice”; it has varied from eating no meat, staying off social media, giving up soda or adding something positive in my life like meditating, cooking, being a better friend. While I was successful in maintaining the goal for the 40 days, soon after Lent was over, I went back to my old habits- indulging and distancing myself from God, unintentionally.

This year I thought, at length, what I wanted to focus on Lent this year. On Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I still hadn’t decided on anything meaningful. My hubby asked me at 5:30 PM what I had decided. The day being almost over, he encouraged me to join his goal, since he already landed on the idea of giving up dairy. I really didn’t want to participate in anything food related because I’m already cleaning up my diet as a vegetarian/ vegan, and now I’m seeing a health specialist and dietician for by hypothyroid. Limiting my food just didn’t seem like the task that was going to bring me closer to God. Unsure of what to do, I turned on the computer and attended virtual mass. It wasn’t until I watched the priest sprinkle ashes on the tops of the people’s heads that it occurred how much I missed attended mass. When I lived about 5 minutes away from St. Callistus, I went every Sunday for almost two years. During this part of my life, I had so many blessings– I was writing, planning my wedding, going to graduate school, training for a half marathon, and I remember crediting God for all the fruitfulness coming my way. After the wedding, school and way after the marathon, I moved and haven’t been to church consistently the way I did almost seven years ago. When the pandemic happened and when churches began offering virtual mass, I attended for a few months and my husband and I prayed together every morning and night, yet over time, that too didn’t last.

This Lent, I plan to attend mass every week, and I’m hoping that this commitment continues well after Lent season. God has continued to shower and bless me with so much, and I know He doesn’t ask for much back. All God wants is some time together.

Valentine’s Weekend

My husband and I usually don’t participate in celebrating Valentine’s Day the traditional way. But we do like to keep up with our traditions, namely because it gives us something to look forward to the beginning of the year. Over the years, January has been a difficult month because a lot of people we love have passed away this time of the year. In February, we like to reflect on life and appreciate our blessings. On Valentine’s Day we honor our traditional love languages: we gift each other with food and things that we think will make us stronger- individually and together. This year I asked my hubby to join me on a hike, even though I know this is not the kind of activity he prefers. He often complains and makes excuses like his ankles hurt or that his fingers hurt. But this weekend, he joined me on a hike and what was more thoughtful was that he didn’t hesitate. He understands that my love language isn’t material things but offering support. In turn, I gifted my husband a pair of ipods. I know this is isn’t the most romantic gift, but I know my hubby is looking for motivation to jump rope consistently, and I know music helps him achieve this, so it was worth the investment.

After the hike, we drove to Oakland and picked up a combo meal from Vegan Mob.

I know this isn’t’ the typical way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Or maybe it is. What ever the case, happy Valentine’s Day, no matter if you celebrate it or how you celebrate it. Continue to do the things that are meaningful for you, every day.

Things are looking up

It’s so interesting that I noticed that when I hike, I’m usually looking down or eye level. I’m hardly ever looking up.

Today, I tried a different perspective. Rather than looking at the dirt below me or the hills around me, I looked way up- way up in the sky. I don’t know why I never did this before. Maybe the blue sky and billowing clouds seemed unreachable and distant, unlike the solid trail under me and the curvy peak ahead of me. But looking above, past my horizon and beyond the limit of my eye sight provided such a calming and welcoming feeling. I felt small and mighty all in the same breath.

My Memorable Visit to the Doctor

It doesn’t escape me that compared to other jobs, mine is relatively free from any type of gore or graphic images. As an educator, the most squeamish incidents I’ve come across are a bloody nose or a child urinating themselves. I taught in very challenging areas, where students wore wearing ankle monitors, had babies, were arrested. I’ve dealt with excessive absences, gang violence, a loss of a parent or close family member. There are some other teachers who have personally experienced loss of a student. In all my 14 years in education, I haven’t lost students. In many ways, I am thankful for this. And I count my blessings that the most gore I’ve witnessed involved a nose and a trip to the bathroom, not the emergency room.

Today, while I was at the hospital getting a sigmoidoscopy, I thought about the decision one makes about their job. When I first thought about being a teacher, I was motivated by the heart warming images of me in my classroom. I thought about me delivering an inspirational lecture, a student thanking me for teaching them a new skill, a shiny apple on my desk, a potluck of international food as the students talked about literature from all around the world. The traumatizing implications associated with my job came much much later; I was too preoccupied with relishing in the pleasant and charming aspects of my future job. I suppose this is the same for most people. A budding lawyer thinks about the innocent lives she’ll represent, a gardener imagines a lawn filled with vibrant plants and flowers she’ll curate, a chef fantasizes the different dishes and flavor profiles she’ll conjure. I’m sure these professionals later considered the gruesome parts of their job- bloody crime scenes, wet slimy mud, decayed and molded fruits and vegetables.

As my doctor entered my rectum with a probe (sorry for the graphic image and TMI), I thought about his decision for this occupation. All day he inserts his finger and squeezes a camera in a stranger’s hole that is meant for exit, not enter. He inspects colons filled with stool and waste, probably altering his sense of smell vision. As a patient, I laid on my left side of the bed and for about 15 minutes watched a monitor as a video of inside my colon appeared and will probably burn in my mind for a very, very, very long time. I know fecal matter is normal and everyone is literally filled with shit, but seeing it on a screen and having a doctor navigate his way so casually in me left me to wonder his motivation for starting this very unique occupation.

I am not making any judgements or ridiculing him for his chosen profession. I actually find it admirable. Although I can’t equate it to teaching or gardening- jobs usually associated with beautiful moments, I can say that being a physician who specializes in performing sigmoidoscopes requires not only highly trained skill sets but also requires patience and humanity. Obviously he thought about the gore before taking on the job and he could have easily reconsidered. Yet despite the uncomfortable procedure, I did feel safe and somewhat relaxed. He talked me through the entire procedure, explaining what to expect and how much time he needed. His assistant asked me several times how I was doing while she patted my leg for comfort. They encouraged me to breath in and out at they inspected a part of my body no one has ever seen. In the end, he was able to find what was giving me discomfort, why my general doctor requested the procedure, why I needed to be seen in the first place. He took a biopsy and swiftly normalized the situation trying to alleviate any worry, even though it’s always concerning when you hear words like abnormal, cells, and possibly a more aggressive procedure- colonoscopy. The room was sterile, the florescent lights were burning, the cold air was unrelenting. But the doctor provided comfort in the most unusual circumstance. He was kind, thorough and sympathetic. Perhaps that’s the image Doctor Tsang considered before taking on this profession: he wanted to make the absolute best of a very shitty situation.

Hello bloggers

After about a month or so on being on hiatus, I’m slowly crawling back to my safe space– this blog. After blogmas and the holidays, my professional schedule ramped up with trainings and conferences in which I was main facilitator. Hosting these events for teachers has been the highlight of my career; I am gaining teachers’ trust and helping them navigate through curriculum and instruction during one of the most tumultuous times in education. It’s been rewarding for me to hear teachers say that I’ve helped them in some way. It’s something I have missed. I used to hear students thank me, and every since I’ve taken District positions, it’s been difficult to get accolades from teachers; they are usually the most critical crowd, especially since I’m not a teacher from this district who has built a vetted reputation. I am new, and like most people in this situation, it takes time to build trust. I’m slowly making my way.

What else has been new for me? Hiking.

I go on long hikes anywhere from 4- 8 miles, 2-4 hours. I’m so enamored with this activity that I even bought hiking boots and hiking poles.

The reasons I’ve enjoyed hiking are the security and challenge it provides me. With each step, as the teeth of my rubber soles of my hiking boots, crunch and snap pebbles and acorns, and as my labored and steady breath inhales and exhales through the peaks of the green mountains and dirt trail, I know that this ascend is only for a moment before the ground is leveled and smooth. If I want, I can stop. I can collect my breath, stretch my legs and enjoy the expansive view before continuing the climb. If I really want, I can even turn around and head back down.

It’s fitting that I’ve found hiking as an escape. My mantras for hiking can be easily applied to my challenges at work. Yes, work has been difficult. Yes, it is unfamiliar terrain. Yes, it requires composure and measurable inner strength. At any moment, I can stop, pause, breath and even turn around (start all over). Despite some of the hikes being difficult, I have yet to stop and turn around. I’m always curious to see what’s over the next hill, what’s over the next peak. As demanding the hikes are and the amount of dedication that’s been required, I haven’t given up. And just like my job, I know this obstacle is only momentary. I focus on the determination and grit I’m developing, feeling assured knowing that it’ll prepare me for what is ahead.

Productive nights in the new year

My alarm went off at 7:30 AM, and with only 4 hours of sleep, it’s safe to say that I swiped to the snooze feature more than once. By the time I realized it was “really” time to get up, I only had 15 minutes before my 9:00 AM meeting. It was a quick shower. Thank goodness I practice intermittent fasting, so I’m already accustomed to not eating breakfast.

I share this with you because everything I had intended on doing to start the day never happened. I planned to meditate, clean an area of the house, pray and journal and exercise. As lofty and ambitious as all this sounds, there was a time in my life when I actually accomplished all of this, even when I had to commute to work.

I thought I’d be more successful before the start of the work day; I imagined a relaxed, productive version of myself walking into my home office with a cup of warm tea, opening the blinds to let in the sun, burning sage and setting in a positive intension and clicking into the zoom link for my first meeting. Today’s realistic version included a groggy me stumbling to the shower, then pouring myself a glass of cold water, opening the blinds to see the rain and grey sky and clicking on my zoom link a minute past the meeting. I greeted everyone with wet hair and bags under my eyes! This was not the appearance or energy I wanted to bring for the start of the school year.

Yet, when I reflect on what happened after work, I’m surprised how pleasant the day ended. I was able to jog two miles, beating my previous time, my good friend Krystal stopped by to visit me outside, I drank a gallon of water throughout the day, made time to read, post a blog, and now I’m getting ready to “draw/paint” on my ipad.

Although I hadn’t checked off all the tasks I meant to accomplish this morning, I was able to achieve other under takings that afforded a calm and peaceful night. So, maybe I’m not a morning person, maybe it was the rain, maybe it was manic Monday, what ever the reason, I’m content with letting go of expectations and instead embracing the surprising wins and sense of accomplishments anytime of the day.

Photo by Sanaan Mazhar on Pexels.com

Happy New Year

When I think and reflect about this past year, there are many moments that resonate with me. A ritual I have for New Year’s Eve is to list the months of the year and write down a special moment or experience that happened in that month.

Out of all things I wrote, I wanted to share an experience that occurred in April. Obviously this was a month into shelter in place and it seemed like the entire world was grieving, mourning or processing what the pandemic was ultimately changing us, mentally, physically and emotionally. As always, I turn to writing when I need to process extreme emotions, so I joined a virtual poetry class offered by Rachelle Cruz. The class had about 30 attendees from all over the world. The first prompt was to write down what we needed; what was it that we wanted fulfilled in our lives. Later, rachelle gave each of us a response from an individual and we had to offer them, in writing, what they needed . My recipient was named Krysten and she wanted the following:

The sun, connection and friends

We had 5 minutes to respond.

I wrote the following:

The fickle weather in the mid west reminds me of the unrelenting fog and haze here in South San Francisco. At times, I’m immersed in the golden sun, yet most of the time, the days are cool, cold with a steady breeze.

I encourage you to close your eyes and recall a warm memory, one that illicts a summer day, a glowing heat a toasty hug.

If you cannot think of one, know that when the weather in California creates flush trees and flowers, I will think of you and take a walk, bask in the memory of you and I virtually together gently burning our pens on the mighty page.

Blogmas #25 // Merry Christmas

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a peaceful and joyful holiday.

I cannot fathom the idea that I posted for 25 consecutive days. For a newbie like me, this accomplishment is quite the feet. Granted, some posts held more time and attention than others, but I still attempted and posted.

Congrats to everyone who participated in blogmas. And to all those who took the time to read, like and respond to my posts, thank you. I appreciate you.

The other day, I received a notification from WordPress that I received 1,000 likes and 150 followers. I don’t share this blog actively, so the idea of getting responses and support from people I’ve never met, warms and lights my heart, especially during this dark time.

Merry Christmas WordPress family.

Blogmas #23 // DIY Holiday nails

A few days ago I posted about my deep longing for long, healthy, decorative nails. I fantasize about painting long esquisite beautiful nails that reflect my personality. On Instagram, I scroll through pictures and admire the meticulous designs, colors, lines, shapes and details that go into nail art. Because I tend to have short nails, there’s less surface space for creativity. I had hoped that this Christmas, I could grow my nails long enough that I could get a manicure and perhaps some nail art. However, I live in California, and all the salons in my county are temporarily closed.

One thing I discovered while I scoured the internet is an alternative- Dashing Diva. This company makes artificial nails that you can easily apply to your reals nails. Now I know this is not a new concept, but I held a disdain for fake nails for many years due to their unnatural look. However, once I received my package and applied my nails today, I must admit that the easy application and believability made me reconsider.

Also fun…there’s so many styles to choose from! I ordered five packets, and it was so hard to choose. I decided on red because Christmas Eve is tomorrow and I wanted to be festive.

Although I didn’t get to grow my nails long this year or visit a nail salon to get nail art. But I was able to stay home, save some money and in less than 15 minutes, have a new set of gorgeous nails.

Blogmas #22 // Giving Tuesday

About six years ago, I experienced my first giving Tuesday with YouTube Influencer and home chef Laura Vitale. I was selected from hundreds of applicants to join Laura on a virtual cooking event where we cooked and conversed together via google hangout. Obviously this was way before COVID, so a virtual event of this kind was very unique.

I bring this experience up because since then, I have donated to a cause, non- profit or organization/ person in need every season. Over the past few years I’ve donated to meals for children, ending sex traffic, local businesses, book launches, and more. This year I focused on PAWA- Philippine American Writers and Artists. I chose this non-profit this holiday season because they have offered me so much space and support as a budding writer.

To begin with, since the pandemic, I have attended at least a related PAWA virtual event once a month, if not more. I attend classes, panel discussions and have even participated in several readings as a special guest. PAWA is a community in which I belong in and a few years ago I didn’t think I could be in such regarded company. Since my involvement with PAWA I have met some amazing people and writers and have greatly benefited from their guidance and support. Many of them have encouraged me to take the next step with my stories, but I don’t think, even with their vote of confidence, that I am ready to share my writing with the world.

PAWA provides the necessary space for me to feel held, with no judgment, no pretense, no vex. The community is one that welcomes all writers and artists and encourages each person at their own pace and trajectory.

I know this is a season of giving, but this year is fiscally challenging for many. I know there are a lot of causes and organizations that need support, but if you can help PAWA in any way, I encourage you to do so. During this pandemic, if you have relied on books, art, movies, music or any form of creative expression made by a Filipino American, to provide escape, entertainment or enlightenment during this very dark time, then I encourage you to donate to PAWA. They support writers and artists to continue to do this work so that we can all benefit from these enriching experiences.

For more on PAWA.. click below…

http://pawainc.com/

Blogmas #21 // Christmas Star

There are times during this pandemic that seem hopeless and despairing. Yet, there are moments, especially today when we experience the polar opposite. Today, my husband and I hiked our usual trail — Lime Ridge Trail Head in Concord, California. The hike takes us roughly 2 hours to complete, depending on how slow or fast we approach the incline. Today, we sped our pace because we anticipated when the sun would set.We wanted to be able to have enough light to traverse back to our car. Yet we needed it to be dark enough to see the Christmas Star.

The Christmas Star, or more appropriately the conjunction, took place tonight about an hour after the sun set. The conjunction is when Jupiter and Saturn appear closely aligned in the sky that it’ll look like a double planet. To me, they looked like they were kissing. The last time this happened took place in the Middle Ages. The next time this will happen will be 2080 and then again on 2400.

It’s amazing how when we’re in need of a good omen, especially when we are all experiencing a pandemic, all we have to do is look up at the sky and witness a celestial miracle. Years and decades from now, I can say that in my lifetime, I survived a pandemic but also watched as Jupiter and Saturn could been seen on the cold winter solstice night, seemingly with the naked eye. What a time to be alive!