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!

Blogmas #20 // Christmas Aunt

About a month ago, when the Lifetime Channel kicked off their holiday movie schedule, I watched a movie called The Christmas Aunt starring Keigha Night Pullam (Ruby Huxtable from The Cosby Show). In the movie, Pullam plays a career driven woman but is suddenly called to fly to her mother’s house to help take care of her niece and nephew for a couple weeks. In the movie, what I found endearing, is that Pullam organizes a Christmas list for her niece and nephew to get them in the holiday spirit. Everyday when they wake up they open a card from their aunt who gives them their “Christmas Activity” for the day. It could be anything from building a gingerbread house, donating toys, hanging Christmas lights, baking cookies, going ice skating, and the list goes on and on.

I thought about what I would do with my niece. Although she’s only two years old, I imagine when she’s old enough, I’d like to implement my own version of The Christmas Aunt Holiday Activity List. Here are some things, I’d like to include.

  1. Every year, my niece and I take matching pictures next to the Christmas tree. I’d like to continue that tradition.
  2. Bake traditional Filipino cookies (lengua de gato)
  3. Make a tree ornament that symbolizes the theme of the year.
  4. Make a parol.
  5. Donate clothes or food.
  6. Buy a holiday outfit or accessory.
  7. Go to the snow and do a snow activity (build a snowman, sled, snowboard)
  8. make cards
  9. write a poem
  10. read passages from our favorite books from that year

What about you? What holiday activities would you like to do with your niece and nephew?

Blogmas #19 // Bay Area

I have a throbbing headache, so this post will be very short.

I just watched the verzus between Too Short and E40, and all I have to say is that it was hella good to see the bay represented. Coming home for Christmas isn’t something we can all do this year but E40 and Too Short coming together felt like family all in the same.

Blogmas #18 // Happy Birthday

It’s my hubby’s birthday today, so this post is dedicated to him. Although this post is not Christmas related, it’s still evokes the essence of Christmas-being thankful and spreading love.

I love him for many reasons but mainly:

He has introduced me to the valuable lesson of being consistent and disciplined, which I have applied to this blog. The idea of posting for the last 18 days, consecutively, goes back to blogmas; however, I credit the sheer act of believing I can do it to my husband. When I watch him jumprope or dj almost every day, the inspiration motivates me to apply the same in my writing. For that very reason and more, my heart loves him very much.

Christmas at the Grand Canyon // Blogmas #17

Most people tend to visit the majestic Grand Canyon during the summer- where the vast views are unobstructive by snow and rain. Yet, my family decided to visit during winter. The drawback was that many trails and activities were closed and cancelled due to the weather; however, we were able to visit one of the most renowned wonders of the world in such an intimate and unique way. It was like we had the entire park to ourselves.

Lake Tahoe Christmas // Blogmas #19

Yesterday, I wrote about a trip my husband took to Iceland for Christmas. Today, I want to honor my family’s annual trip to the snow- Lake Tahoe.

We live in the Bay Area in California, so we tend to only experience the typical Cali weather, never snow. But if we drive north for about 3 hours, we see snow in South Lake Tahoe.

My mom’s birthday is in early December, so we’ve made it a tradition to drive to Lake Tahoe for a snowy Christmas.

Ironically, since we’ve gone, it seems like every year, we have family from the Philippines as our guests. Two years ago it was my uncle and aunt who had just moved from the Philippines for about 3 months. Last year, our guests was Mel’s cousin who was visiting from Pasig. To see our guests see and experience snow for the first time was definitely a memorable and lasting memory.

In the excitement, we ran out the rented house barely properly dressed just so we could get pictures of snow actually falling.

Iceland for Christmas // Blogmas # 15

A few years ago, for my husband’s birthday, we went to Iceland for two celebrations- his birthday and for Christmas. It was definitely a trip to remember. If you told 5 year old, 15 year old, 25 year old or even 35 year old me that one day I’d be able to visit Iceland, I would have told you – you’re kidding right? I never imagined an Island and Cali girl like myself would visit a country where the sun rises past noon and there’s only about 5 hours of sunlight during the winter. Not only that, but traveling to Iceland is a commitment. We had to fly to NYC then Iceland, roughly 10 hours of travel time. I don’t do well on planes, so this was especially difficult for me,

But once we arrived in Iceland, any qualms I had about the cold, dissipated. The warmth of the Icelandic culture, people and majestic beauty the country offered were utterly alluring.

I will definitely write a longer post that is dedicated to all the things we did. But for now enjoy this picture montage.

Christmas house in the Philippines// Blogmas #14

Yesterday, I posted about a vlog I discovered about a couple of foreigners who were celebrating Christmas in the Philippines. That post got me thinking about Christmases I spent in the Philippines. Thankfully, after my family moved from the Philippines to the United States, we visited as often as we could. My most recent visit was in 2016- for my wedding, but before that was 2014- for Christmas.

It was a wild memory! My parents had just built their house and the furniture that was supposed to be delivered hadn’t arrived yet. According to the shipping company, my parents’ delivery was still at the port. Because there was a backup, there would be no way for them to unload the container until next year. In the meantime, my husband and I were sleeping on an air mattress and the entire family ate in the “dirty kitchen” a term in the Philippines that described the outdoor or separate kitchen where most of the cooking occured because of the smoke and smell. As we approached Christmas Eve my mom was devastated because we were supposed to have a family party, but we had no furniture for the guests.

Then a Christmas miracle happened. As we were eating at a restaurant in Tagaytay, we received a call that the shipping container was on the way. It would arrive in a few hours– about 9:00 PM, on Christmas Eve.

We worked collectively to unload, unpack and move in the furniture for a 5 bedroom house. We unpacked and installed TVs, patio furniture, beds and dressers. I don’t know how we all pulled it off; it was definitely a group effort, and it will be a memory we’ll all share together.

Check out the video here.. the video moving part starts on 5:11

Christmas in the Philippines / Blogmas #13

I was on youtube today searching for a video of my favorite Filipino cookies – lengua de gato. In my search, I came across a couple who moved to the Philippines.

It was very interesting to watch a foreigner’s Christmas experience in the Philippines for the first time. What I enjoyed the most was their reaction to traditional Filipino desserts from Cafe Mare, one of my mom’s favorite restaurants.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvuoUpa-CNuQ3OJ4v-S6OU-1bxeb-Zz0x

Christmas Q&A // Blogmas #11

When do your decorations go up?

I actually love the idea of the Christmas trees up all year long. But in reality, the decorations go up around Thanksgiving.

Who is the Scrooge in your family or friendship group?

No one. Everyone in my family enjoys the holiday season. Their spirit is infectious.

If money were no object, how and where would you spend Christmas?

In the Philippines. They session starts in September and ends mid January!

What Christmas film do you HAVE to watch every festive season?

Christmas Chronicles

Who do you find hardest to buy presents for?

My husband.

Would you rather buy lots of little presents for a hamper, or buy one big/ main present?

What did you leave out for Santa when you were a child?.

Cookies and milk.

Where did you spend last Christmas?

Christmas Eve with my in-laws. Christmas day with party with my family.

Which Christmas song makes you cringe?

Most of them sound depressing to me.

If you could be a character in a holiday movie, who would you be and why?

Lily from Dash and Lily ( the Netflix tv series) because she’s an old soul who loves to read and make her own clothes.

My holiday splurges // Blogmas #10

Yes this is a season for giving, but don’t forget to give to yourself. This year especially required self -TLC, self care and self gratitude. Give yourself props for living through this time. When I think about all that I’ve endured the past 9 months, I’m surprised I’m not clinically depressed or divorced. Shit was definitely trying times, to say the least. I know others had it much worse, but everyone is experiencing challenges , the severity may differ, but that doesn’t take away one’s personal struggles.

We’ve got a few more weeks till the end of the year, why not indulge and spurge a little?

Here is what I plan to do to splurge:

  • Eat cake ( because it’s Jesus’ birthday and because I want to)
  • Give myself a pedicure
  • Paint my nails
  • Go for a hike
  • Buy myself a jacket ( which I already did)
  • Read all morning in bed
  • Buy myself perfume
  • Write poems
  • Take a hot bath
  • Eat taco bell!!!🔥🔥🔥
  • Watercolor
  • Bake and eat cookies

My two – week vacation starts next Friday. Let’s see how much I can check off my list. But then again, I’ll be perfectly content with doing absolutely nothing, except for getting perfume. I just lament the upcoming year with a scent. Something that when I smell it, it’ll make me smile.

Blogmas #9 // Holiday Nails

Being a woman has its advantages. There’s so many ways for women to use accessories to reflect their personality. A bag, a jacket, a scarf, a piece of jewelry even the type of shoe laces one chooses to don, can stay so much about the individual. Is she sporty, romantic, studious, a gamer? One can just look at an article of clothing and have a glimpse into her inner being. But what they say is also true: we always want what we can’t have. This is true for me. Nails. Long nails.

I have always envied women or men who can grow long nails. Nails that are tough, hard, smooth, shiny, pink and ivory. I can never seem to get my nails to grow this way. I’ve even tried taking vitamins and rubbing oil on them to make them grow longer and stronger. To me long, healthy nails doesn’t equate feminity, they express a creative outlet.

I remember when I was younger, I looked in the Guinness Book of World Records and was enamored by the woman who held the record for the longest fingernails. They were so long that they no longer grew straight; they curved like the track of a roller coaster. My classmates thought it was hideous and unpractical. How does she eat, hold her fork of wipe her butt? None of that concerned me. I thought, wow, what a creative way to express your style.

During the holidays, I geek out to elaborate decorated nails. I don’t care if they’re long or short nails; I’m in glee with looking at the specificity and details that go into such a special form of creativity. I’m even more pleased when I see nails painted in a festive theme. This year one of my goals was to get my nails painted professionally with a holiday theme. But since the nail salons are closed, I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity. Maybe, if I’m brave enough, I can attempt to do it on my own.

Here are some of my inspirations…