Monday, March 26, 2012

21 THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS VIA ROCK DA MULLET

Photo taken by me at Occupy LA
My high school friend, Ed, a.k.a. Rock Da Mullet posted an entry that asked 21 thought provoking questions. It made me pause in the middle of editing photos and organizing the whirlwind mess of clothes I created earlier. I love my quirky friends who stimulate my brain cells. After half an hour of mulling over these questions I decided to answer them with this blog entry. 


What makes someone a hero?


A hero is a person who performs acts of kindness with a healthy dose of selflessness minus the desire for accolades and recognition. 


What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?


Tat myself up like Kat Von D and ride a Harley! 


What did you want to be when you grew up? 


Hands down, no question about it, a PHOTOJOURNALIST! My Filipino parents shot it down and coerced me into the medical field. I became a pharmacy technician out of default since I became a mom at 19-years-old. 


What is your favorite place on Earth?


Any place I can find solitude and meet with God. 


If you had to move 3,000 miles away, what one thing would you miss the most? 


No question about it--my family. 


When you're her age what one thing would matter to you the most? (see image on Rock Da Mullet's blog post.) 


That I lived a life worthy of leaving a legacy for my grandchildren. I want my grandkids to look at my photos, read my blog entries,  view the work of my hands and know that I didn't let adversity defeat me and laughed in its face instead. 


Which is worse, failing or never trying? 


Never trying equates to cowardice, failure is the catalyst for success. (My words.)


What have you done that you are not proud of? 


Not spending enough time with my kids when they were growing up. I was a stressed out, workaholic, and self-absorbed single mom that ignored my kids' cries for attention.  


When did you first realize that life is too short? 


When I was five-years-old and my beloved Uncle Loy died. He was the only male figure in my life who showed me the paternal kind of love I longed for. One day he was teaching me to dance to "Let The Sunshine In" and the next day he was gone. I've experienced death and the loss of loved ones too many times since then to know that life is fleeting. 


If the average human life span was 40 years how would you live your life differently? 


I wouldn't have allowed my parents to force me into the medical field. I would have pursued my photojournalist career despite being a young mom. Also, I wouldn't have stayed in an abusive marriage for ten years. 


What is the one thing you would most like to change about the world? 


Those who know me well would answer this question for me. I would completely eradicate human slavery, especially of the sexual kind that targets young women and children. Children would NEVER EVER be abused or sexually enslaved! (I'm getting heated with anger just writing this.)


Would you steal to feed a hungry child? 


Depending on the situation, absolutely. 


What's the most difficult decision you've ever had to make? 


Putting my dreams on hold while I raised my 3 kids. 


What is your biggest phobia? 


Claustrophobia. I fear being boxed in, contained, restrained, and confined either physically, mentally, or emotionally. I need space--lots of it! 


What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now? 


Ten years from now I will be 54 years old. I better be traveling to third world countries, taking endless photographs, and continuing my work as an abolitionist. 


What are you most excited about in your life,  right now,  today? 


I am most excited about: 
1. Being in my 40s and absolutely loving it (I firmly believe my 40s are the best years of my life. To find out why read here.).
2. Having a solid and loving relationship with my 3 grown kids after all the turmoil we've experienced. 
3. Finally being in a loving, honest, and healthy relationship with a man I've known for 30 years. 


When was the last time you lied? What did you lie about? 


Three weeks ago, for my birthday, I gave myself a weekend of solitude by booking a hotel room and not telling my family. I lied about where I would be and wasn't very convincing. I'm not a very good liar so I don't do it. My face is too revealing and transparent. You can read about my birthday retreat here


When you help someone do you ever think what's in it for me? 


Never. But sometimes I think I should. I get taken advantage of often. 


What's the one thing you'd like others to remember about you at the end of your life? 


That I lived my life in abundance and loved well. Despite being deeply scarred by abuse, I still mustered up the courage to love. 


What's something you would do every day if you could? 


Street photography. 


Where do you find peace? 


In the word. 






Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THE BEST YEARS | PART 1

Photo taken by my 4-year-old granddaughter, Rylee. Don't you love how the fish is eating my head?

My little sister recently welcomed a momentous milestone and I told her the best years have arrived! She seemed dubious and skeptical. I decided convincing her was futile and she would discover the truth as time passed. I love being in my 40s and so far they truly are the best years. I tried to explain it to my sister but she's the type who comprehends through experience. Last week was my 44th Life Celebration and I feel like a hippie chick gettin' groovy at Woodstock. 


Why my 40s are THE BEST years: 

  • The wisdom I've acquired! I wouldn't trade it for gold; not even for the new Canon 5D MKIII camera body. What I know now compared to the ignorance I flaunted as knowledge in my 20s is priceless.
  • The once shaky confidence I've rebuilt through the years has solidified into dense concrete. I am woman, hear me roar and purr! Sure, I still have insecurities but they're few and far between. And when they try to slither into my presence like nasty rattlesnakes I quickly stomp on their heads. Life is fleeting to let insecurities stop you from living. 
  • Becoming BFFs with my body! If I could high 5 every body part of mine I would! In my 40s I've embraced every stretch mark, wrinkle, gray hair, sagging skin, aches, pain, and roll of skin. I'm okay with my not so curvy and boyish frame. I've stopped waiting for my pre-pubescent chest to mature. I don't HAVE to listen to the person who "kindly suggested" that I try Botox injections on my forehead to eradicate the grooves. Those grooves are marks of deep thinkers. 
  • I don't have to apologize for my unconventional choices that seem to make some friends uncomfortable to the point that they feel the need to "fix" me. I always know when my friends' marriages are looking like they're livin' in the gangsta's paradise when they start hounding ME about marriage. I don't pry in my friends' personal lives or inquire about the state of their relationship. I'm happy and content with mine and have no time to focus on the issues of others. Yet, my 'well-meaning" friends are unable to reciprocate the respect for privacy. But it's okay, that's the beauty of being in my 40s. I understand that unhappy people need to project.
  • The acute self-awareness that comes with age. I've become hyper-aware of my faults, flaws, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. Some I know will stay and others I am in the process of tweaking and/or banishing to the depths of Hades. It's not attractive for a woman in her 40s to wear a necklace made out of negative, bitter, vengeful, and angry beads.
  • The courage to relentlessly, diligently, and tenaciously make my dreams become a daily reality amidst the mundane. Fear and doubt could sometimes grab a stronghold but their grip is brief. In my 40s I don't self-flagellate with comparing myself to others. 
  • Being a mom and a grandma. I know it's not the norm to be both in your 40s but these roles have shaped me into the woman I am today. It helps me appreciate life in its abundance. 
  • The gratefulness and acknowledgment of Life's blessings: God, family, and friends. 
I can't fit into one blog entry the surplus of reasons why my fourth decade in life is the best so I'll continue to write about them in the years to come. It will make life that much sweeter. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

LIFE CELEBRATION

Those who are closest to me know how much I detest the "b" word and all the festivities surrounding it. You know, the word that comes once a year heralding another year of maturity, or growth, or acceleration. The "b" word that welcomes cake, ice cream, streamers, balloons, and euwww, just the thought of it makes me gag. This year I made a vow to embrace it but I sure as heck wasn't going to use the "b" word. So I conjured what I thought was my own term but was told  otherwise. I wasn't as OG as I believed to be. Apparently, the term "Life Celebration" has been used in relation to eulogies, which actually made me clap my hands in glee. A few years ago, after a slew of consecutive funerals, I decided to write birthday blog entries for my kids. Why do people wait until someone's death to impart uplifting words of love, affection, and celebration of life? We should write living eulogies when they actually have the most impact. 

But this entry isn't a living eulogy to myself. Nor is it a pseudo-Yelp review of Hotel Current. It's about how I chose to celebrate MY life (and another year to wreak havoc on this Earth) in the way that makes ME happy, instead of being a victim of my circumstances. I could have chosen to invite a group of friends to celebrate my life at the lounge where my boyfriend deejays on Saturday nights. But that is SO. NOT. ME. This year, instead of acting like the recalcitrant child at her dentist appointment I decided to give MYSELF a gift: the gift of solitude. 

I booked a room for one night at Hotel Current in Long Beach and gave myself a birthday retreat where I can escape (for one day) from being pulled in various opposing directions. Thank God for Yelp because I was discouraged at the prices for hotels. I will sound like an old biddy but since when did the price of decent hotel rooms begin to resemble a car payment?! Hotel Current  in Long Beach fit my very tight budget. The Yelp reviews vacillated between very good to mediocre but it was obvious the reviews were contingent on preference. I just needed a haven that was clean, decent, and affordable and that is exactly what Hotel Current provided. 

I don't have my own place so the decor and furniture in my room at Hotel Current delighted me. It was a hip looking room that made me feel I was house-sitting a friend's humble abode instead of  staying at a renovated motel. I crossed the threshold of my room armed with the bare necessities of a retreat: bottle of Malbec, Caesar Salad, fruit cup, chocolate, water, a book, a journal, my laptop, and two mind-numbing movies. I ate when I wanted, drank as much wine as I wanted, gobbled all the chocolate I wanted, watched a corny movie because I could, and read my book in both beds without interruptions or distractions! It was a slice of decadent heaven for one night! I checked in early and didn't leave until the next day. My solitude was sublime. There was no one requesting something from me or expecting me to do something. The next day I felt recharged and wished I could have prolonged my retreat. But it's okay, I'll take what I can get. THIS was a life celebration and I deserved it! 

Loved the beds and pillows. I never had 2 beds to myself! 
Hip vanity and sink
I've never seen this type of open faucet. 
Why did the shampoo and body wash dispensers cause giddiness? 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

STOP KONY 2012


Who is Joseph Kony? (Taken from Invisible Children Web-site)

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony claimed to be a distant cousin of Alice Lakwena’s and the natural successor to lead the Holy Spirit Movement. Soon after Joseph Kony assumed management of the group, he changed the name to the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA.  Joseph Kony wasn’t able to maintain the group's number or regional support, so he started stealing food and abducting children to fill the ranks of his army. Subsequently, he lost any remaining regional support. What had started out as a rebel movement to end the oppression of the north became an oppression of the north in itself.
Joseph Kony’s tactics were—and remain—brutal. He often forced children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or blunt tools. He abducted girls to be sex slaves for his officers. He brainwashed and indoctrinated the children with his lies and manipulated them with his claim of spiritual powers. 
At the height of the conflict in Uganda, children “night commuted.” That is, every evening they would walk miles from their homes to the city cen
ters. There, hundreds of children would sleep in school houses, churches, or bus depots to avoid abduction by the LRA.
Kony and the LRA abducted more than 30,000 children in northern Uganda.


Why are we making him famous?
Because we want the world to know about Joseph Kony's heinous acts against innocent children in Uganda and the suffering he has perpetuated against children, women, and men. 

How will we come together to make him famous? 
On April 20, 2012 people in cities around the world will meet at sundown and cover their city with Joseph Kony posters and stickers to raise awareness of who this man is and what we have to do to stop him, even arrest him! 

Why am I doing this? 
Since 2004 I have supported Invisible Children-an organization whose sole purpose is to eradicate the abduction and use of child soldiers in Uganda. I have long desired to travel to Uganda to DO SOMETHING! Now I've got my chance. Wherever you are, I invite you to join me! 

Watch this video for more information. It is 30 minutes long but worth the time. 


The opposing view. 
I can't call myself a writer if I don't present subjects with objectivity. This is a blog post that expresses the reasons for opposing the Stop Kony 2012 campaign. 
We got trouble-Visible Children

Invisible Children's response to the critiques:
To read article, click here.