Saturday, December 31, 2011


My neurotic self seems to fully activate at the end of the year when I frantically ensure that nothing from the current year rolls over into the new one. For example, I spent most of last night editing photos from my December portrait sessions and cramming them onto my photography blog. I HAD to get them posted before 2012. This morning I got the haircut I sorely needed after three months of growth. I've always cut my "old" hair before the new year. 

But after pausing in my neurotic whirlwind of busyness I remembered to inhale then exhale. The practice of breathing is something I need to incorporate in 2012 since I tend to hold my breath when I'm stressed, agitated, frustrated, depressed, anxious, and tense. For most of 2011 I was all of the above and more. My lack of oxygen perpetuated my unremitting striving, longing, and restlessness always looking for more of what life offered. When I took the photo above it resonated so loudly within me because I related to that woman. I felt the constraints around her and the yearning in her body language spoke to my own. The yearning for whatever it is I sense that there has to be more than what this world can give me. I've felt like a caged bird with clipped wings having no freedom to be herself. Because of my restlessness I turned bitter and sour speaking words of negativity on every aspect of my life. But that was the old me. In less than two hours the world will herald the arrival of the new year and I will discard the muted version of myself that permeated 2011. 

In 2012, I will cease in "functioning in my dysfunction" and "I will believe that my time is yet to come and the Creator of the universe is lining things up in my favor: the right people, the right breaks, the right opportunities. (Thanks Joel Osteen for that valuable nugget.) I will choose faith over fear and stop seeking, striving, longing, and yearning when I know HE has my back. Instead of sour patch candy type words pursing my lips I will boldly speak faith-filled and positive words over every facet of my life. I will simply trust in God's plan for me. 

Out with the old and in with the new. Happy New Year to all of you! May we all OWN 2012! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rylee Speak | Part 1


I've kept a journal for Rylee ever since she was born and it's where I write the things she's done, her progress, how she makes me laugh, what I've learned from her, etc. I plan on giving it to her on her 16th birthday but the journal is never accessible when I need it and time robs me of completing a journal entry. So I have decided to document the things that come out of her mouth on my blog to preserve her innocence forever. I, of all people, know too well how quickly those teenage years taint the purity of childhood and with Rylee I try to savor every moment of being a grandmother.

Yesterday she accompanied me to my doctor appointment because we lacked babysitters. Before we left for my doctor appointment we had a conversation.

 Rylee: I will call Mama "grandma" because she's a grandma.
Me: Right, but she's not YOUR grandma, I'm your grandma. She's your great-grandma.
Rylee: (indignant) I know that but she's an old lady so she's a grandma!
Me: But I'm an old lady too.
Rylee: (exasperated and rolling her eyes) You're not an old lady! Mama's an old lady. You're a real lady! You're not pickly! (giggles)

On the drive to my appointment I made her promise to keep quiet when we were in the room and not to interrupt my doctor, run around, or speak loudly. Things were going smoothly. She was whispering when she spoke and sat patiently. But I knew it was going to be short-lived.

Dr. P: So what's up with your shoulder, why the pain? Did you lift something very heavy that you weren't supposed to?
Me: (shaking my head) Ummm...nooooo. Nope.
Rylee: (whispering loudly) Uhhh-huuhhh Gramma Nette, remember when you were carrying me and you fell and we were at Papa Romie's house and you were wearing your high heels?!
Me: (Bug-eyed) (Gritting my teeth) Shhh!
Dr. P: (smiling knowingly)

After my doctor appointment she was in her carseat talking a mile a minute. She proceeded to tell me what she wanted for her birthday.

 Rylee: I want Miracle Socks for my birthday, Gramma.
Me: Huh?! Miracle Socks? What's that?
Rylee: (Caressing her legs) They're socks that massage my feet. I want them.
Me: (dumbfounded)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Focus On Blessings

Last week I exchanged e-mails with my good friend and lamented on my mental and emotional state. "Bean! How could I love God so much and be so unhappy and miserable!?" That night I went to bible study and knew I was done for when the pastor said, "Tonight we are going to talk about how to be happy." It was then that I realized I've been focusing on what I DON'T have, what I can't afford, the gifts I can't buy for my family, how my aunt had a massive stroke and our annual family Christmas party was canceled, how utterly despondent I am at my job, how lame it is that I'm still living with my parents, and my woe-is-me list goes on. 

Why is it so difficult for me to be positive and acknowledge my blessings? Why does it have to take a monumental effort on my part to wake up every morning and be grateful for: 

  • the fact that my dad is still alive when we were so sure he wasn't going to make it this Christmas. 
  • my parents' house that is providing a roof over my head. 
  • my aunt's progress and recovery despite the massive stroke she had. 
  • my kids' and grandchild's health.
  • Ray, who seriously needs an award for having the courage to do life with ME.
  • a job that's paying my bills.
On Christmas eve I looked around at my family and was simply grateful for their presence. With my brother, his wife and 5 kids, my sister, my kids, Rylee, Ray, and John it was a full house replete with joyful noise. We had a tough year but we are resilient. Although times were difficult there were many golden moments in our lives and I NEED TO FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS on them. It really isn't about the amount of presents that surround the Christmas tree but the love of family that surrounds US. And I am grateful for the crazy people I call "family". 

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Mother's Pride

When I had kids I vowed never to impose the standard Filipino expectations on them to follow a career in the medical field. In the deep recesses of my heart I knew I didn't have it in me to be a nurse so I compromised with my parents and ventured into the pharmacy field. It wasn't my calling; nor was it a passion. It was a necessity.

Imagine my surprise five years ago when my oldest daughter, Maricelle, announced that she was accepted into San Diego State University and was pursuing a career in nursing. More power to her, I thought. I looked forward to her leaving home for college because it would give us a much-awaited respite from each other. Her four years in high school were tumultuous ones with each of us viewing the other as an annoyance. But I was secretly shocked when I felt the gnawing pain of impending loss after we dropped her off at her first apartment adjacent to the SDSU campus. For two weeks afterward I was a depressed, miserable mess and it was a revealing time for me as a mom: I wasn't the hard a$$ I thought I was and missed her terribly.

Last week, Maricelle graduated from the SDSU nursing program and the magnitude of my pride in her is inexpressible. The last 5 years have consisted of many tear-filled, anxiety-ridden, emotionally-charged phone calls from her at any time of day (or night). I've watched her maturity slowly unfold like the delicate petals of a rosebud. She would describe her experiences during nursing rotations and internships while I made sure my impulse to gag/vomit wasn't blatantly obvious. I received many requests to proofread essays, letters, and speeches. We familiarized ourselves with the Amtrak schedules, looked forward to picking her up when she came home to visit, and battled melancholy when we dropped her off to head back to college. Through my daughter I was able to experience the college life I shunned and scorned. 

It was only a few days after her graduation when Maricelle's true mettle as a nurse was put on display. We received news that my aunt in San Diego suffered a massive stroke with internal bleeding. After a flurry of phone calls and text messages I found myself playing chauffer as I drove my parents, aunt, and uncle to San Diego late Friday night. I watched as Maricelle asked the nurses questions about the type of stroke my aunt suffered and the words "subarachnoid" and "intercranial" scrambled my brain. She truly is gifted and meant to live life as a nurse which is obviously her calling. In between my desperate prayers of healing for my aunt, I sent a prayer of gratitude for my daughter who wouldn't have to live a life of mediocrity working a job she isn't passionate about. Maricelle possesses the courage to take the leap of faith necessary to pursue her dreams. It is a solid bravery that I never had at her age. 

The night of Maricelle's graduation my sister reminded me about the time 24 years ago when I discovered I was pregnant  at 19-years-old and decided to keep the baby despite the hailstorm of opposition I faced from my family. For all the parents, especially the single mothers, I would like to encourage you to NEVER give up on your children and to cover them with a quilt woven of prayers, love, and blessings. Even when times are dark and both of you view the other as nemeses I can assure you of the indomitable bond borne out of that darkness. And I can guarantee that at the end of that tunnel of blackness is a radiant, piercingly bright light and we, my daughter and I, are living proof of its glory. 

I am giving my parents, Sally and Eddie, and Maricelle's other grandma, Fe, public recognition and bottomless gratitude for their unconditional love and selfless sacrifices. Maricelle wouldn't be where she is today without them. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I bought a birthday card for my daughter Maricelle who will officially turn 24 years old at midnight. It wasn't until I was driving home that I realized I always write a birthday blog so why the heck did I buy that card? I was immediately taken with the words "What I learned from my daughter" and the sentiments along with it. So this birthday blog will elaborate on the sentiments excluded on the card. 


that forgiveness doesn't have to be long and drawn out. It could be instantaneous, releasing oneself from a self-imposed prison of hatred, resentment, and bitterness. 

that having a confrontation with a friend, loved one, or relative doesn't require banishing them from your life. There are ways of resolving conflicts in a mature manner and moving forward in the relationship. 

that mother doesn't always know what's best when her own daughter has to knock her upside her head with some good ol' common sense. 

that it's okay to display emotion and cry your eyes out. It's not indicative of weakness in someone's character. 

that someone describing her as my "mini-me" is actually a compliment to me. 

that an adult daughter is the walking equivalent of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. Despite my past mistakes as a mom she still loves me. 

that I can admire her for her passion in nursing. While she helped my dad on the porta potty during his stint in the hospital I was in the corner of the hospital room trying not to pass out and vomit simultaneously. 

that your own daughter could take your dreams, breathe life into them, and make them soar better than you can imagine. 

Dearest Maricelle, 

Thank you for growing into the strong female that you are. I am constantly surprised by my children and you continue to teach me lessons every day. Today, on your 24th birthday, I want you to reflect on the value of your life. It is the gift God and I gave you 24 years ago when people tried to convince me otherwise. I'm proud of you for not treating this gift lightly and for living the purpose that you were meant to live. I can't wait to see what this year will bring and I will be the diligent pupil always learning from you. 

Happy Birthday!!!

Love, Mom

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