Improving Communication

I’ve realized lately that I’ve been more detached and have adopted the “go with the flow” / “I really don’t care” attitude, which is a big improvement since I’m usually an over-thinker that exhausts every scenario and question in my mind. I don’t know if my aloofness is due to pandemic fatigue, getting older, being busy, or just not giving a shit like I used to. What I’m currently working on is realizing that I am not responsible for anyone’s actions and emotions, except my own. Yes, in theory, that seems like a given. But it is something that I’ve struggled more with in the past. I’m learning to set boundaries with people around me, and removing myself from people or situations that don’t make me feel good. Over the past year, this is the area that I have grown and improved in the most. Being aware of how I communicate and how I choose to react has helped me see what I need to improve. It has also helped me see the flaws in others, and not letting their poor communication skills, or how they choose to project their feelings, effect me.

It’s a no brainer that everyone – regardless of who you are- deals with their own inner turmoil and demons. I will be the first to admit that there are still so many aspects of me that need healing, more self-work, and reflection. I know I’m not perfect. Self-work is an emotional journey. It’s a mix of shame, regret, sadness, and hope that there are better days to come. It’s never a straight path journey. It can be a little discouraging when you are doing so well for a period of time, and then something happens where you say something out of anger, or act a certain way that you’ve been trying so hard to avoid. At those times I get frustrated with myself, thinking that my progress that I worked so hard on is suddenly down the drain, and instead of progressing and going forward, I took a couple steps back. I feel emotionally drained knowing that I start back and square one – or at least it feels like it’s back to square one. Being aware of your bad habits and communication style is step one. Trying to unlearn all the bad habits and re-train your brain to react differently is a lifelong journey. I can only control what I choose to do with my life and time. And that also includes how I choose to react, or not react, who I choose to let in my inner circle, and what I will allow and not allow.

2020 was a bit of a shit show. But at the very least, it made me be more aware of how I communicate. When I really put my communication skills under the microscope, I felt ashamed and wanted to take the next steps to be a better communicator. It’s funny because in the professional sense, I am great at communication. I can keep it professional and say what needs to be said without hurting anyone’s feelings. But in my personal life, my communication is not that great. I’m very blunt, and I find it hard to cover up my annoyance, anger, and frustrations – it just results in being snappy and yelling. I’ve always said that I believe I’m a writer because I can’t communicate my emotions verbally without sounding like I’m all over the place. Writing it all out gives me the opportunity to revise my words, being extra careful to get all of my points across, leaving nothing unsaid, but at the same time giving the right tone. Verbally, I’m quick with my words, and I’ve come to realize over the years that my come back game is strong, but it can be very hurtful.

But I also understand that I can only control myself, and not others. Being aware of my own actions and trying to change my ways has forced me to see where others fall short as well. I reflect a lot on who I choose to surround myself with, and how certain relationships – whether that be with friends, acquaintances, family, and other people that I have to deal with day to day – can negatively impact me. Over the years, I have found myself cutting ties, letting friendships naturally drift, and setting boundaries. But it was not always that easy. It has taken years to finally set some boundaries for myself for what I will allow and will not allow into my life.

At this point in my life, I have tried to take more responsibility for how my words and tone can escalate a situation. Sometimes that even results in me staying silent to avoid an even bigger argument. Growing up, verbal fights weren’t over until there was an obvious winner or loser. This usually meant that someone said something so hurtful that the other person was in tears. You “win” the fight, but in the end you’re the loser for stooping so low. So now as an adult, I have to give myself constant reminders that a conversation can be had with disagreements without turning into a fight or argument. I try to apply this when I have a disagreement with my significant other, my sisters, sometimes even my parents. Like the saying goes, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” The importance of communication is undervalued, but I have seen instant improvements when I shift my tone or how I word things.

However, communication is a 2 way street. I can work on myself all I want, but I can’t control how others choose to communicate. How someone treats me is a reflection of themselves, and that is a pill that is hard to swallow. The truth is, not everyone will like you, and not everyone will be in your corner. How people act towards you when you are genuinely trying to better yourself is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. I’ve learned to just let it go, cut it off, and remove myself from those type of situations. Everyone has had some relationship, it could be romantic or not, that has been very negative and overbearing. It can be a relationship with your parent, or sibling, or friend, or co-worker, or in-laws, that just drains you. It can be anything from talking behind your back, saying hurtful things on purpose to hurt you, ignoring you on purpose so they make you feel like you owe them something, things that just don’t make you feel good. It may be sad to know that you are not for everyone, but it is also an eye opener to realize that not everyone is for you. You don’t have to have a relationship with people who constantly make you feel bad about yourself.

Everyone is dealing with something, but it comes to a point where it can’t be an excuse for how you treat others. That’s when cutting off, drifting, or setting boundaries comes into play. At this point in my life, I don’t have time to wonder if people are speaking ill of me behind my back, I don’t have time to argue with people who refuse to see my side or even listen, and I definitely don’t have time for people who don’t have the best intentions for me. It’s good to set boundaries with others, but also with yourself. What you will allow, and what you won’t. At the end of the day, you can only control how you communicate with others. And if you don’t like how someone is communicating with you, unfortunately, you can’t force someone to fix something they don’t think is broken. That’s something that they have to want and do for themselves. You can’t force someone to realize that they can be shitty at times. At those instances, it is best to remove yourself from that situation, or break that cycle.

The lesson of communication has taught me that not every person is going to be along for the ride with you forever. There are friendships and people that you just have to leave behind to move forward. It can be pretty sad, but it does bring a lot of peace of mind knowing that you have surrounded and hand picked every person that you chose to be in your life. And dealing with toxic / problem relationships without cutting them off is another story. Sometimes we are put in situations where you can’t really “cut off” the person that is bringing you so much negativity. I have found a middle balance of keeping it professional, but also keeping it moving. My feelings don’t get hurt anymore if someone is being shady because I’ve literally learned to not give a shit. I’ve learned to look past my own hurt and not take it personally. If you’re treating me some type of way, I know that it is something that you are dealing with within yourself. Awkward silence is no longer awkward for me, and letting someone else’s mood affect my mood is only giving them the satisfaction – misery loves company, and I got other shit to deal with.

2020 forced these things to light. “That’s just how I am,” is no longer and excuse or pass. Nobody is perfect, and we are all a work in progress. But, being aware, and attempting to re-learn is what’s important. You can’t control how someone reacts, speaks, or treats you. You can only control how you act, react, speak, and treat others. Understanding this has made it easier for me to weed out who I don’t want in my life. Setting boundaries has made me set a standard for what kind of people and energies I want to be around. I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but being aware and conscious that my communication skills need to be improved. It has brought on a whirlwind of emotions, from shame, anger, embarrassment, and everything in-between. There will be times where the progress feels stagnant, and like you’re fighting an uphill battle. There will be times where you mess up and go back to your old communicating style, but it’s all a part of the lesson. Understanding my emotions, and the root of why I react the way I do, has been a journey on it’s own, “that’s just the way I am,” is something I’ve been trying to take out of my vocabulary.

Filipino American History Month

Daly City / San Francisco born and raised. Daly City, California, is known for the huge Filipino presence. People joke around that Daly City is basically “Little Manila.” I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area that is so culturally diverse, but also, had people that had the same background and traditions as myself. I know that a few hours out of the Bay Area in either direction is a totally different story. So I didn’t realize until my early 20’s how lucky I was to grow up here. I know there are a lot of people that have stories about being some of the only Asians at their high school and feeling the need to conform to those around them, which usually meant acting more white.

Of course, when I was younger, I was unaware of how fortunate I was to live in an area where some people have the same features as me, speak the same 2nd language as me, and have similar traditions as my family. At the time, all of this was my normal reality. I went to a Catholic school that highlighted a Filipino-Chinese Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, every year. And everytime September rolled around, we would have San Lorenzo Ruiz’s mass during school hours. I would feel such a sense of pride. Mr. Mills’ class always “hosted” that mass, and I remember since Kindergarten going to the mass every year.

One student would recite sentence by sentence Lorenzo Ruiz’s story in English, and another student would translate that sentence in Tagalog. I can still remember the script: “Lorenzo Ruiz, our first martyr.” “Lorenzo Ruiz, una naming martir…” There was a specific song we sang at the mass that was entirely in Tagalog. I couldn’t understand the whole song, but I could understand majority of it. This was my “normal” growing up. Celebrating a Filipino Saint, for example, was “normal,” but now I look back and realize it’s because we had such a big Filipino community in the Bay Area. And I took so much pride in it. I was so proud.

When I was in 5th grade I was finally in Mr. Mills’ class. I was excited because I knew that I had the chance to play a role in the mass since he hosted it every year. When Mr. Mills started to ask for volunteers, my hand was one of the first to shoot up in the air. I wanted to be a part of San Lorenzo Ruiz’s mass so bad. The mass highlighted Filipinos and our language, and I wanted to be involved. Luckily, Mr.Mills picked me to have a part in the mass. I was going to be reading the English translation of Ruiz’s story. I was so excited because it was something I had watched for years from the church pews, but now, I’d be the one presenting it.

I practiced every night with my lines. The mass was going to be in front of the whole school, definitely more than 600 people. We would practice in the church, and I would have the microphone. I was known for being a loud mouth, which is probably why I was picked to read and have the role. Mr. Mills would always tell us, “Project your voice. Enunciate!” I could probably use my regular voice and people in the church could hear me without a microphone, so I was solid. I remember the day of the mass, I started to get stage fright. I looked out into the crowd and saw all eyes on me, as Ivan and I stood infront of the whole school. We told Lorenzo Ruiz’s story in English and in Tagalog, and after, I felt such a sense of pride that I got to be a part of something that highlighted my people.

Even though I grew up in a place where there were a lot of Filipinos, I still didn’t understand why nobody on TV looked like me. I would get excited watching shows that had an Asian person, and it was even more heart eyes if I knew they were Filipino as well. It was to the point where my sisters and I would say things like, “Look, an Asian!” “Do you think they’re Filipino?” “I bet maybe they’re half,” when we would see an Asian on TV. So even though I came from an area that was very Filipino/ Asian dense, I knew from a young age that Asians were  not being represented on the TV screens. From Manny Pacquiao, to Shay Mitchell, to Apl.de.ap, to Jokoy, to Jasmine Trias on American Idol, once we caught wind of them being Filipino, we rode hard for them. On Balitang America, the Filipino news station that broadcasted American news through the Filipino lens, they would feature any Filipino making a name for us in America. From the music industry, to entertainment, to education. 

I feel like Filipinos are very proud of other Filipinos who “make it.” Even if they have a small following, just claiming their Filipino heritage will have other Filipinos rep them. I even remember going on Shay Mitchell’s Ask back in the day and asking if she was really half Filipino. She actually responded and confirmed that she was in fact half Filipina. It made me so proud that an actress that I looked up to was representing us on the screen. I even recall reading interviews where Shay talked about growing up in an area that was mostly white, and being biracial had her feeling left out. Seeing people that look like me on the screen was important growing up. I was the kind of kid that literally set a “Filipino For Lyfe” themed MySpace background. Jokoy described seeing other Filipinos on TV as motivation to go for his dreams and make it as well. 

When I got to high school the history books just touched on Filipino American history oh so briefly. I used to skim through the history books in middle school and see where Filipinos or the Philippines was ever brought up. It wouldn’t be much. High school was a weird time. Going to a high school in Daly City meant that there were gonna be a lot of Filipinos. It wasn’t always the case, but sometimes there would be snarky comments (sometimes from people I was even cool with) complaining about how the whole school is mostly Filipino / Asian. Being Asian or Filipino in Daly City didn’t make you special. You were just like everybody else. Which I saw was a good thing when I was younger. But then I hit my teen years and wanted to be different, I didn’t want to be “like everyone else.”

I wasn’t ashamed to be Filipino, but I wasn’t repping it hard like I used to. Why would I have to rep it if everyone and their mama was Filipino in Daly City anyways? Don’t get me wrong – I still would be happy when I saw a Filipino coming up. But at the same time I wouldn’t plaster “Filipino For Lyfe” as a MySpace background anymore because I thought it was cringe. At this age I was on the prowl for a boyfriend (cringe lyfe), and when people would ask if I would ever get with a Filipino guy, I’d respond in a way that made it seem like “never in a thousand years.” Which I thought was okay, since I’m Filipino too. “What if I find out they’re my cousin or something?!” I would say. Which by the way, isn’t too far fetched, my family on both sides are pretty big.

I would say it wasn’t until I got to SFSU and joined the journalism program did I start to get that sense of pride back again. Suddenly, my whole perspective shifted. I took on the role of “journalist” and was bothered over the fact that a great portion of newsrooms are ran by white people. White men to be exact. The lack of diversity in journalism is what ticked me off. And I wanted to change that. I wanted to represent my people and capture stories of people in my community, and branch out further. Suddenly, that pride was back. But that pride was matched with determination. Determined to make change and actually make a difference. I wasn’t giving people a “voice,” because everyone has a voice. I wanted to be so open and chill that anyone felt like they could open up to me and tell their stories, and describe to me their raw emotions.

Suddenly, I had a mission. I wanted to get more in touch with my culture, the good and the bad. And since being on this journey, I have learned a lot, just by talking to people casually about their own experiences. I started to embrace my Filipino culture with open arms again, like how I did when I was a kid. I didn’t care if I was 1 out of 2 billion Filipinos in the Bay Area. I didn’t care about the “Little Manila” jokes anymore. I wanted to learn more about my people’s history, their stories, their struggles. And I wanted to write it. Not some random journalist who is just trying to bang out another story. I didn’t want someone else to be writing our stories.

Especially being out of school, I have made efforts to try to educate myself on my own. I remember writing a paper in community College about how my dad’s side of the family arrived to America. Just by talking to the members of my own family, I uncovered historic events. My great grandfather was a prisoner of War and survivor of the Bataan Death March. This information I would’ve never known if I didn’t have the school assignment, and if I never asked for the story. I started becoming obsessed with other people’s stories. My whole life I’ve been the talker. And now, I’m taking on the role of listener and teacher.

October is Filipino American history month. Every month, we teach the kids at my school about a new country. This month, I chose the Philippines. Over the years I have seen the Bay Area, but San Francisco is particular, changing. And changing fast. And it’s nice to teach my 1.5 – 2 1/2 year old students about my culture and traditions. One of my students got picked up and told her mom she painted a flag for activity. Her mom asked if she remembered what country’s flag she painted. My student responded with, “Well, it’s where teacher Marinelle’s mom and dad is from.”

I had the right idea when I was in 5th grade, “Filipino For Lyfe.”

What Will Make My 2020 Meaningful

“What do you need to do by the end of the year to make this year meaningful?” -Wordsmith Deck

When 2019 was ending, my goal for 2020 was to get a job in the writing/ journalism industry. I wanted to finally put my degree to use. That was one of my biggest fears – graduating and not using my degree. I know that’s not uncommon, a lot of people graduate with a certain degree and end up in completely different fields. And that is completely fine. But for me, I wanted to make sure that I gave it my all in the industry, and I know that meant starting from the bottom.

The running joke of journalists is that the money just ain’t there, even though the field takes a lot of dedication and passion. When I was still in school, it seemed like a lot of the professors and professionals that came in to talk about their experience as journalists had to put work above personal life to be successful. This was always something that worried me because I always knew I wanted a family, but I also wanted to be successful in writing. It seemed ironic that the girl who is so set on staying in the Bay Area got into a field that literally calls for travel and possibly living in different places in the world to be successful.

When 2020 started, I was motivated. I started getting my resume together and applying to journalism jobs. When COVID-19 hit, I used that time to apply to many entry level positions. I was applying and applying, but getting nothing but rejection email after rejection email. It was disheartening. It sucked because the positions I was applying for weren’t even what I was passionate about. It seemed like starting from the bottom to get experience just meant being a corporate sellout for a while until I have some experience under my belt. Not only was I getting rejected, but I was getting rejected from jobs I wasn’t even excited about. Finally, during the shutdown, I got my first follow up email that wasn’t denying me. In fact, they wanted to move forward with me and sent me some more information to reply back to where they would see if I was a fit.

It felt so good. My first non-reject email. May I remind you, I didn’t even get the job. But not getting denied after what seemed like 50 rejection emails was a fresh of breath air. This job could be a 1 hr drive with traffic from where I lived. But with public transportation, it was almost 1.5 hrs one way. It wasn’t even worth it. And it wasn’t even something that I was passionate about. I want to write with purpose and tell stories, but this job would’ve had me writing replies to people on social media under the company’s handles. There was nothing wrong with the job, but I felt like my passion was on the line for the price of getting my foot in the journalism door. And that wasn’t worth it to me. But, it still felt good to know that atleast a company was interested in me. Before this point, I was feeling super incompetent and pathetic. I had the degree, some experience, but nobody wanted me.

I felt a lot better knowing that I could’ve had a “journalism” entry level job if I wanted to. That email gave me hope and encouraged me to keep trying. By this time, COVID was all over the news. We’ve been shutdown for a couple of weeks. 2020 was not looking like how I planned it would be. If I thought it was hard to find a journalism job before COVID, how much more with everything shutdown? People were losing their jobs, businesses were closing down, unemployment was at an all time high – this didn’t seem like the right time to get a new job. The shutdown time kept getting extended. By this time, more than a quarter of the year had passed. My goal was for me to get a journalism writing job in 2020. I felt like my time was running out.

Then, my current job proposed an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. The new living situation would be at least a 2 year commitment to my current job. I felt like if I took the offer, I’d be taking the “easy way” out, and I’d be prolonging my writing career. I didn’t want to put my dreams on hold. But like I said in my previous post, I decided to pivot. Applying to all those entry level journalism jobs discouraged me because it seemed like they had nothing to do with what I wanted to do with my writing. I know everyone starts from the bottom and has to work their way up, but at the rate I was going, I felt like the journey was going to take a long time, and the experience I would be getting didn’t even seem relevant to my end goal.

I took the offer and decided to commit to atleast 2 more years at my current job. But in doing so, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let writing fall through the cracks. Since I graduated at the end of 2018, I used 2019 to just take a breather. I also felt like I was stalling, because I feared rejection and also didn’t know what steps to take to get to where I wanted to be. I didn’t see it at the time, but all those entry level irrelevant jobs made me realize that maybe the traditional path isn’t my path. And maybe it was supposed to be this way… Or shit, maybe I’m just telling myself all this to make me feel better. But all I know is, with how America is handling COVID-19, with no luck in landing an entry level position, feeling some type of way about how I’d feel unfulfilled at most of these entry level jobs even if I did get it, and then having the once in a lifetime opportunity living situation on the table, I knew it was all thrown at me for a reason.

I decided to pivot. I changed my whole plan when I took that offer. But I feel like it was a better plan than my original. I came up with a solution where I can still be the manager at the preschool 8-5 and feel fulfilled as a writer. Like I said, this situation opened my eyes and made me think – Maybe the traditional route isn’t for me. I decided that I’m going to use these next 2 years (or more) to spit out all the passion projects I haven’t pursued yet. If not now, then when? That’s the phrase that kept popping up in my head. It’s the same feeling I felt when I decided to post on this blog consistently over a year ago.

If I do all the passion projects that I have up my sleeve and they’re unsuccessful – 1. Atleast I know I did them and tried. 2. I did it all the while being a responsible adult and working a whole ass full-time job. 3. At least I’ll never have that “what if” in my head. 4. I’ll be proud of myself regardless if they’re successful or not because I know I did it for me as a personal goal and 5. I’m content with the fact that I followed my heart and took the unfamiliar path. And if I try all these things that I’m passionate about and nothing comes out of it, that’s okay too. Then I’ll just pivot again and consider the traditional route. But until then, my passion projects are my goal – and honestly, they always have been.

Just starting those passion projects will make my 2020 more meaningful. It sounds like a small step, but starting is always the hardest part. There is so much more I want to do in writing, this blog is just 1 passion project out of many. I really thought my 2020 was going to be a flop year. But it has really proven to be a year that has challenged me and forced me to grow. Because of the events that transpired this year, I had to re-evaluate a lot of my plans. And now I’m excited to follow through with those plans and finally get started on all the ideas I’ve had since college.

It’s one of those things where you have every detail thought out in your head, and the only thing you have to do is start. You already have the idea, how you’re going to execute it, you did your research, and now it’s just on you to get the ball rolling. I sat on the idea of me posting consistently on this blog for years before I actually went through with it. And now, here I am over a year later, and I don’t remember what it’s like to not post every Monday. I know I am capable, and I know the time to make moves is now.

Getting started by the end of the year on my other passion projects will set the tone for the next 2+ years. After such a rocky and stressful 2020, I’m happy I’m finally settling down and starting to make moves in the right direction again. I was so confused and stressed about what path I would take for almost half of the year. I’m excited to take those baby steps to start. And hopefully, I can stop and smell the roses with this journey because I feel like I always forget to do that. I’m always overthinking, stressed, or worrying about something. It’s nice to finally be in a spot in life where I can take a step back and realize life is pretty great right now.

At the start of 2020, I had completely different goals. Now, towards the end of 2020 (holy shit, I can’t believ it’s almost the end of 2020) I have a completely different vision of what I want to do. I feel so much more content with my decisions, when not too long ago I would’ve reacted the exact opposite and stress. I’ve said time and time again that I believe what’s meant for me will happen in due time. For once, I’m excited to start my passion projects, not scared. I’ve been talking about them for so long, it’s time I stop talking and start doing. I will really look back and see 2020 as the year I got the ball rolling. I’m content in knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.

In 2 Weeks’ Time

One thing we can all agree on: 2020 is a year we will all remember. This year has brought so much chaos, pain, confusion, and a lot of change. From the COVID-19 pandemic, to Sheltering in Place, to police brutality, to protests, to wearing masks on a daily, to shutting down (again), to California fires, to COVID-19’s 2nd wave, to highly favored celebrities passing away, and all the above. Whatever plans we had for 2020 clearly changed when all this went down. I had to learn to be adaptable, to pivot, to not cling to any specific plan because I knew with the pandemic’s end nowhere in sight, everything is unpredictable. Sheltering in place from mid-March until the end of May really had me living day by day, having no idea what would happen in the next month, or even the next day.

Sheltering in place and 2020 in general has also brought a lot of change for my best friend group and I. I feel like in one way or another, everyone is walking out of 2020 a completely different person. There is so much change that has happened / will happen in the next couple of months. But let me rewind it back, before decisions were made and tears were shed. In blog post #32: “Time,” I ended the post by saying I could feel change coming soon. That was towards the end of February. I felt change coming just over the horizon. Something in my gut was telling me things were about to shift, and I couldn’t have been more right.

Sheltering in Place was something so new to all of us. Do we have enough food? How long are we supposed to do this for? What’s the plan after? Should we stock up on everything? Is everything shutting down? So we can’t hangout with other people? When can I leave the house? Here we are about 6 months later, and the policies and regulations are not going anywhere. Nobody thought it would last this long. The first 3 weeks of official shutdown was the hardest for me. It’s like I was relieved I got to chill and relax, but I was concerned about the state of the world. I had no idea how long this would last or when the next time I could see my friends. After all, what’s 3 weeks off when you can’t go anywhere or see / hangout with people you want to? It’s one thing to be a homebody and be antisocial from time to time, maybe even all the time, but it’s another thing when you are being told you can’t leave.

My friends and I tried to cope by downloading apps like Houseparty and Zoom. We really tried our best to set up meetings so we could catch up and check up on each other. We wanted to make sure that we were all there for each other – whether that be to talk about personal issues, anxieties, or just to keep each other company during these confusing and lonely times. At first, it was all about Houseparty and playing games. It gave us something to do and something to look forward to. Especially since with time, sheltering in place made every day look exactly the same. We would set up little game nights or Zoom calls.

In the beginning, it was literally all fun and games. Until, Cam and I had suddenly had decisions to make. And when I mean “suddenly” I mean for real suddenly, all this shit came out of nowhere. For me, an opportunity came up where I could move out of my family home without worrying about any added responsibilities but still gaining some independence. It would also be an opportunity for me and Christian to take the next step in our relationship. For Cam, she had just taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. We have joked for years that Cam would be the first in the group to have a baby, and finally, our predictions were true. Cam and I were both at a crossroad.

For most people, my predicament wouldn’t even be a tough decision. But for me, I was scared. For one, in the Filipino culture, it is frowned upon to live with your significant other before marriage. But I have always told myself I would never marry someone without living with them first. This decision really brought to my attention how scared I am of change and how I fear commitment. Which is ironic, because I have always been very traditional, in the sense that I wanted to graduate college, get a job in my field, get married, and have a family. But here I was, in the middle of a pandemic, not where I want to be in my writing career, not even knowing when I would have the opportunity to even get a job in the journalism field.

On top of that, I had a time limit to make up my mind whether I would take the once in a lifetime housing opportunity or not. The feelings of being overwhelmed took over me. This would be a great little baby step in figuring out if marriage was in our cards, especially since we have been together for over 5 years. Not to mention a great opportunity for our future together. But I was scared. I would be the first in my family to move out and change the status quo. I wasn’t feeling confident in my choices – if I said no, I’d regret it for the rest of my life, but if I said yes, what if it doesn’t work out the way I planned? I was also scared shitless to bring it up to my parents. How would they react? I desperately wanted their support, but couldn’t get the right words out of my mouth to sell it to them.

Meanwhile, Cam and Mark were having similar issues. Were they ready for this responsibility? Cam had just graduated from SFSU, earning her degree, so technically she was at an okay stage in her life. But was she ready for this? Mark is in the thick of starting his business and working on getting known and having connections. Would a baby put those dreams on hold? Everything was up in the air. And Cam and Mark really had to weigh out their pros and cons, for this was a big decision – bringing another life into the world. Having a baby meant that their days of focusing on just themselves and their relationship would be a thing of the past. Were they ready to take the next step in their relationship?

The girls and I had our Zoom call. Up until this point, conversations about both of these topics were either through group chat or on the phone. It felt good to see each others’ faces and hear advice and feedback. On my end, there was a lot of venting, going back and forth on why I was conflicted on making a decision. I did a lot of ugly crying, snot dripping, and heart pouring that night. By the end of my rant, I was leaning towards no. I wasn’t ready to leave my family home, this isn’t how I pictured moving out to be. I felt under pressure. This time frame wasn’t enough time to decide a life changing event. So, my answer would be no. And whatever happens from my decision being no is just how it was meant to be. I was exhausted. My friends supported whatever decision I chose, but they did give their 2 cents on why it’s a great opportunity. I heard what they had to say, but dismissed it. I was too scared. I’d never grow the courage in time to do it and follow through. I knew it would put a huge strain on my relationship, but at this point, I didn’t care and if things were to fall apart, “it just wasn’t meant to be.”

I calmed down, wiped those tears away, and after about 45 minutes of my friends just watching and hearing me cry and vent, we moved on to Cam’s situation. Cam was the opposite of me. She was level-headed, calm, and didn’t seem too conflicted. Which was so surprising to me, because my situation was nothing compared to hers. She caught us up on her and Mark’s train of thought. They weren’t ready. They still wanted to do things like travel, get the business on its feet, get a better job in her field, etc. Now would not be the best time to have a baby. Cam said they were leaning towards no. There was a silence in the chat. We supported our best friend in whatever she wanted to choose. It’s her body and her life. But I will say it was so obvious that all of us hoped she would keep the baby. We would always talk about how we wish someone in our group would have a baby so we all can spoil it. We were happy and shocked when she told us her test was positive.

We hoped she would keep it, but we knew that we wouldn’t be living the reality of caring for a child. It would be her reality. It would be Mark’s reality. Only they knew if they were ready or not. And we fully supported our friends in whatever decision they chose. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it looked like she made up her mind. She explained that she planned to make an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. We gave our words of support. It just wasn’t in the cards for them right now. The “MotherFlickers” would have to wait a little while longer for a baby to enter into our friend group.

After a couple of hours on Zoom, we finally called it a night and hung up. Damn. Here I was, feeling like my world has been turned upside down not knowing how it could effect my relationship and my family relationship. I was stressed out. I would wake up everyday, and it would be the first thing I think about. It was all too much. I didn’t want to overthink anymore. But I had to make a decision. This wasn’t in my plan. My plan for 2020 was to find a journalism job, and now, with the pandemic and this new offer on the table, I didn’t know what my plan was anymore. It also made me reflect on why I was so afraid.

I was scared to fail. I was scared of wasting time. I was scared of what extended family would say. I was scared to make a move. And by being so scared, I was making no moves. And that probably is what scared me the most. I desperately tried to cling onto how things have been. But nothing lasts forever. I had planned to maybe move out at 26 and get a place with Christian. But this offer that was right infront of me was once in a lifetime, and put us both in a position where we could save up for our future, live in the most expensive city in the country and still be a 20 minute drive from my family, and not to mention test out the waters in our relationship. What was I waiting for?

I began to realize my fear of commitment. The girl who has talked about marriage since forever, now found herself scared to even take the first step. It’s one thing to talk about the future when you know it’s a few years away. But it’s another thing when you realize, holy shit, the time is now. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do. Moving in meant that people would expect us to get married ASAP. Was I ready for that? I had to talk myself out of that mindset. I had to remind myself that I was 25, the time is now. Living together will reveal if marriage is the next move. But I’ll never know until I try. I was also worried because if I took the offer, I would be commiting to atleast 2 years in the living situation. What would that mean for journalism? Does that mean that I put my writing dreams on hold for another 2 years? No. It means I should pivote. And I thought up a whole other plan that I can stick to while working as a teacher, but still feel fulfilled as a writer.

If you’re wondering how conflicted and stressed I was, please refer back to Blog Post #41 : “I Saw The Sign.” I wrote that blog post while I was in the thick of my confusion. Knowing the back story now, I’m sure that post will make a lot more sense to my readers. But suddenly, I felt my perspective changing. Who cares if it’s not exactly what I planned? This living situation is even better than my original plan to move out by 26 and get an apartment. I had to force myself to come to terms with the fact that not everything is going to be how I exactly envisioned it. It’s okay to change the plan. It’s okay to switch up the status quo. It’s okay to take a risk. It’s okay if there is no sign, because not everything will.

Meanwhile, Cam called the hospital line to schedule her “appointment.” She talked with an advice nurse who was being very supportive. The nurse asked some questions about if this was a decision Cam was making for herself. She was right about to finalize making the appointment and getting the date and time, but then… she hung up. Suddenly she had a change of heart, and she didn’t want to make any sudden decisions without thoroughly thinking it through.

Was she ready to be a mother and take on that responsibility? On the Zoom call, she told us that her decision was 60 / 40, in favor of terminating the pregnancy. But then she thought of what were the real reasons why she didn’t believe she was ready. She weighed out her pros and cons. Cam knew she was in a position where she could care for a child. She just graduated, she had a stable job, she knew her family is the type to be supportive. But she didn’t know if her and Mark were ready to be parents. Sometimes you don’t know you’re ready until you put yourself in that position.

We scheduled another Zoom meeting – two weeks after our last one. Everyone entered the room and we greeted each other. I broke the news to my girls that I have decided to accept the housing offer. They were shocked but supportive. I honestly shocked myself, because I didn’t think I had the guts to make a decision like that. My friends told me how excited they were for me, but they could see it in my face that I was still a little iffy about my decision. They reassured me that they would always be there, and if things don’t turn out the way I had hoped, it’s okay and it’s just something I had to experience so I wouldn’t regret not taking the offer. I knew they were right. They started to get excited about my place being the new hangout spot, and it made me excited as well. This was going to be a new chapter in my life.

Then it went quiet. “What about you, Cam? How are you?” Suddenly it got serious. Since our last Zoom call, we knew that Cam was scheduling an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. We didn’t know if she had already went through or if it was scheduled. She was very adamant in the last call that it was something she knew she had to do. We asked and tried not to sound sad. Then she broke the news to us.

“So…… we actually decided that we’re going to keep it.”

Everyone’s jaws hit the floor. Everyone covered their mouths in pure shock. Silence. We internalized what was just said, and the silence turned to screaming. NO. WAY. We couldn’t believe it. We all screamed and rejoiced, we were so excited that we were going to have a little one in our group!!!! This was the best news. Of course we would’ve supported our girl either way, but especially the last 2 years, Justine and I in particular, have been itching for one of the MotherFlickers to have a baby that we can spoil. The cover photo is a screenshot I took of our reaction to Cam’s news.

It’s crazy to me that in just 2 weeks’ time, Cam and I made such life changing decisions. It’s even crazier because we had originally said we weren’t going to go through with it at all. And in just 2 weeks, we decided to do something completely different. We were both scared, unsure, and doubting ourselves. We were scared of change and the unknown. But sometimes you don’t know if you’re “ready” for that change, until you actually put yourself in that situation.

2020 brought a lot of change. And things are going to continue to change a lot in our friend group in the next couple of months. I’m so happy that I have the support of my girls to vent to, to share my worries to, to go through life with. The day we have all been talking about is finally upon us. For years we have talked about how we’re going to start adulting and before we know it, we’re gonna have whole ass families and completely different lives. That time is now. And I’m so incredibly excited and giddy for what’s to come. I feel like we all evolved, and broke out of our shells. Change makes you mad uncomfortable, but that’s how you know it’s time. When you realize you’re scared to take the chance, but at the same time you’re also scared to stay in the same position, that’s how you’ll know.

The girl that has feared and avoided change for so long has finally embraced it. And by January 2021, she will have a Godson to share new memories with. In 2 weeks’ time, Cam and I shifted the direction of our lives. And I can’t wait for what life has in store for me and my girls.

It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

We live in the age of information. With the plethora of information and sources out there, it’s almost inexcusable to not look into things deeper. Especially with the current political climate and election day roaming around the corner, people are becoming more aware of the importance of voting. Where does our tax dollars go? What are we funding? How can we make change? How can I do my part in this all?

But we all know how life goes, people get busy, we get caught up in work, and sometimes we don’t make the time to dig deeper and do research. We get to pick and choose who we follow and what kind of content we get to see. That’s a blessing and a curse all at once. We get to filter and sift through all the things we don’t want to see. On my Instagram feed I’ll never find someone or a company trying to profit off of my insecurities, I’ll never see Trump-supporting content, I’ll never read racist commentary, I’ll never see anti-gay, anti-fat, anti-feminist content, I’ll never see any of that. Because I’ve tailored my Instagram to show me things I believe in, and filtered out the things I don’t want to see.

But what if someone is on the wrong side of thinking? It used to be “agree to disagree” and “everyone has a different opinion,” but now with everything going on, I really feel like there’s no going back to those ignorant days. And I don’t want to be a “my opinion is the right opinion” kind of bitch, but when it comes down to what is taking place right now, with Trump in office and all the havoc and pain he’s caused this nation in just under 4 years, it does boil down to “right and wrong” opinions.

We all knew from the get what kind of guy Trump was before he was elected into office. But after all this, after almost 4 years of presidency, whoever is still “Trump 2020”-ing, all I have to say is what the fuck?! Like genuine confusion. But I have to realize that there really are people out there that think like him, hate like him, and want him for president again. And sometimes I stop and wonder if they’re actually all for him, or if they’re too embarrassed to say he is wrong. And in turn, that they were wrong in wanting him as president. That, or they’re too set in their ways of thinking to ever see past their own views.

When new information is presented on a topic, situation, person, and it proves your previous beliefs to be wrong, it is okay to change your mind! There’s nothing wrong about changing your mind. There’s nothing wrong with getting more information and facts. There’s nothing wrong about being proven wrong. It’s time we normalize changing our minds and learning more information. But most importantly, taking accountability and admitting that your actions and beliefs may have been damaging and hurtful to others.

If you refuse to open your mind to new information, you’re not learning or growing. You’re depriving yourself from making a decision for yourself. And ultimately, you just follow whatever you’re accustomed to. And that’s dangerous when it comes to passing down beliefs from generation to generation. That’s why we still have racists, homophobics, and cult religious people who don’t practice what they preach.

It’s honestly terrifying to see all these people that hide behind religion be the biggest Trump supporters. It makes no sense to me. These are the same kind of people that condemn George Floyd and his past. The same kid of people that say the media is turning Floyd into a “martyr” and we all shouldn’t mourn his death because of his track record. The same kind of people that are justifying an unjust murder. The same kind of people that will back up murderers to the grave before they admit that a black man was wrongfully killed. The same kind of people that care more about animal rights than human rights. The same kind of people that talk down on peaceful protesters and say they are “thugs” and disturbing the peace but they can’t even wear a mask at a grocery store. It’s people that think like this that will pass down their beliefs to their children.

And unfortunately, sometimes these people never see why their views and microagressions are harmful. They have that privilege to not have to do the research because the results don’t affect them directly. And that’s wrong. You can’t force people to care about the well-being of someone other than themselves. You can’t force someone to want to change their view. You can just hope that some realize their privilege and try to educate themselves.

Admitting that you didn’t have all the information and your views may have been one sided, is the ultimate redemption. Just acknowledging how your actions and beliefs were hurtful and making an active change to educate yourself, people like you, and those around you will make change.

Where people fall short in this is when they realize they are “wrong” but have too much pride to admit it. Some even go the extra mile and obnoxiously rep their wrong views even harder because they have the mentality of “well, no going back now.” Everyone just wants to be right, but it’s okay to say you were wrong, that you didn’t have all the information, that you educated yourself and came to a different conclusion.

It makes me think of all the statues that are being taken down by protesters. As they should be, since they are statues of racists. But all these people that are tripping out about these statues being taken down….. I genuinely sit here thinking “why?!” Like why are you so pressed? The removal of a statue of a person who owned slaves is bothering you because? ….. Because your history books told you otherwise? Because we’ve been taught a sugar-coated version of American history? Because you’re realizing that a great majority of those who have things and places named after them weren’t that great? Because you’re too set in your narrow-minded thinking that you can’t fathom the true facts to be real? Or because you refuse to look at the facts?

Normalize changing your opinion when presented with new facts and information. It doesn’t make you look bad or uneducated. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Nobody comes out of the womb knowing everything and anything. We need to take accountability and educate ourselves. Be open to look and critique information on your own. Not just being force fed beliefs that you are accustomed to.

Filipinx For Black Lives

Illustration by: Marielle Cabillo

In the last week and a half, my social media platforms have been flooded by opinions, video footage, and information about the BLM movement. Everyone is getting vocal. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is posting non-stop. The problem is, everyone thinks their opinion is the right one. Some are willing to hear the opposing side, some are agreeing to disagree, some don’t want to hear it at all.

This whole week my group chats and messages have been blowing up. It seems like everyday, I’m hearing the story about another friend of mine confronting an undercover racist relative or friend on social media / text message. Everyone is fed up. People are done ignoring content on their timeline and just scrolling past because they don’t want to start beef. Nope, those days are gone. Silence has gotten us to this point. As a country, we’re realizing that staying silent isn’t the way. We’re realizing that ignoring undercover racists is doing a lot more damage than we think.

All these killings, protests, video evidence of police brutality are giving people the courage to finally speak up to those they call family or social media friend. I know it’s very tough, but the uncomfortable conversations need to take place. It starts in your household and those around you. That’s how we make change, by keeping the conversation going to educate ourselves, the people around us, who we raise, and who raised us.

I know confronting older family members or acquaintences you know on social media can be difficult for some. We all know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I understand why some people feel on the fence about confronting someone so directly – whether that be commenting on their post, texting, calling, or in person. But the death of George Floyd has really forced everyone to look at the people around them and decide whether they want to tolerate and allow people with differing views to stay in their lives. It sounds a bit dramatic to cut someone off for having a different opinion, but when that opinion is about racism and in turn denies / undermines certain groups of people, we have to really evaluate who we choose to surround ourselves with. And in order to make that decision, the conversations needs to be had with friends and family.

Being from the Bay Area where the Filipino community is very big, it gives me a sense of pride when I see “Filipinx for Black Lives” signs at protests. And I know for a fact that a lot of Filipinx kids are trying to educate their elders and those around them on the Black Lives Matter movement. And this is not something that’s easily done, especially in the Filipino culture. There is a generational divide between first generation Filipinx Americans and their elders. Especially being born and raised in the Bay Area, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a diverse community, people from all backgrounds and cultures. We grew up in an environment that allowed us to think freely, accept people’s differences, grow up with friends of different cultures, and live completely different lives than our ancestors.

We literally come from two different worlds. Generally speaking, traditional Filipinx born and raised in the Philippines are pretty conservative. This is where the generations seem to clash. Speaking against a Filipinx elder is seen as complete disrespect. Especially if it isn’t your parents you’re disagreeing with. It casts a bad name on your parents and it takes “who raised you?” to another level. For that reason, many Filipinx children find it hard to oppose their elders and their views. So the cycle continues for Filipinx American children: fighting the urge to speak out, avoiding conflict by ignoring ignorant comments, minding their business because they’re not in the conversation even though they’re ear hustling. Because we know, either from experience or how we were raised, that you should always respect your elders, and sometimes that means never speaking out of turn.

“If you don’t agree with what they’re saying, or maybe what they’re saying is wrong, it’s okay. Just ignore.”

We’ve been taught to ignore. Ignore the ignorance. Ignore the racist views. Ignore out of pocket and unacceptable comments. And if you speak out, you are shamed and seen as disrespectful. It’s a toxic cycle, because it punishes Filipinx Americans for speaking up and having an opinion. We are taught to comply and if you disagree, disagree silently. We are taught that your age is the deciding factor on if your opinion is valid or not. And in turn, basically saying respect comes with age and not earned.

This is the dynamic in a lot of Filipino families. But people shouldn’t get a pass to be racist because they’re older. This closes the door for open conversation and for education to take place. Sometimes conversations aren’t even started because you get the sense that some of these elders are already set in their ways of thinking, and no amount of facts, stats, or common sense can change their minds. So instead, some stay silent because what’s the point of stirring the pot if nobody’s gonna eat it anyways?

The truth is, if you confront an elder Filipinx relative or friend for being racist, they will deny it with all of their being. They are completely oblivious to how their comments, views, and microagressions hurt other people. And when someone responds on the defensive when confronted, it’ll feel like the conversation is going in circles. You can’t force someone to hear you out. Successful conversations only take place when both parties are willing to be open minded. When confronting someone about being racist towards the black community, they may use the excuse that they aren’t racist because they don’t use the “N” word. But there are so many other ways where racism can take root.

And it all stems from self-hate and fear. And that self-hate and fear has been passed down through generations through microagressions. Some traditional conservative Filipinx elders will swear on their graves that they aren’t racist, but when some really stop to think what they were taught when they were younger, there’s no hiding the fact that a lot of what we learned is racist and damaging.

Who you choose as a partner is a big deal in the Filipino culture. I’m pretty sure it’s a big deal in every culture as well, but I can only speak from my own culture. We are taught to look for a successful partner, of the same race preferably so there are cultural similarities, but if not, you better make sure they’re light skinned and rich. Bringing home an African American partner is frowned upon, while bringing home a Caucasian partner is seen as a victory. If your African American partner is successful and making good money, they get less shade points, but you’ll still get the side eye and be the talk of the party behind your back. If you bring home a Caucasian partner, they will be more accepted, and you’ll get looks of approval. A silent “good job” head nod will go around from aunt to uncle. In fact, your relatives will start to awe and woo over your future light skinned children who will *fingers crossed* inherit the “good features” of being white. Also known as, they pray your kid won’t have a Filipino nose.

And that’s an ongoing theme in the Filipino culture. They are so blatantly ashamed of their dark complexion and Filipino features. They have adopted the notion that darker skin is ugly and unwanted, and everyone should strive to be lighter. Lightening soaps and other products are so heavily advertised around the Philippines. They have celebrities swearing by these products, they have doctors on commercials, they have little Filipinx brown kids hating their skin. We are taught from a young age that being dark is something to be ashamed of, it’s something that needs to be “fixed,” while being lighter is the “goal.” But it doesn’t stop at wanting lighter skin. No, this goes deeper than the outside appearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my people and I’m proud to be Filipino, don’t get it twisted. I just know that we as a community and as a people are not perfect. There are toxic behaviors and ideals that should not be circulating around anymore. It’s 2020. It’s time to do better, act better, and be better. That being said, a lot of the conservative Filipinx elders try to do just that, in terms of being a model citizen. We as a people work hard, we push ourselves, we try to abide by the rules. Some serve in the military, some go into the police force, some take the route of civil servant. And unfortunately, some believe that their time being served will get them the same perks and treatment as white people. They try their hardest to be model citizens and get the approval of the white man. But the truth is, as a Filipinx in America, you can try as hard as you want to adopt the American culture, try to get their features, act like them, lighten your skin, forget where you came from, but you will never have the same privilege as a white person. We will never be on the same playing field because we are a minority.

We have more in common with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters who are also fighting to be seen as equals. We are all on the same boat, even though some people don’t want to acknowledge it. Instead of tearing our brothers and sisters down, we should link up and put up a united front. Because we are all fighting the same battle. Some groups have it way worse than others, but it is up to us to stand up to the oppressors.

There are some people that genuinely believe that everyone has an equal chance of making it, and that the playing fields are even regardless of your economic background and race. The argument of “if they are not successful, it’s because they chose that life.” Which is somewhat true, but only to an extent. The playing fields are not even, and a lot of systems for people of color, especially black people, is set up so they can fail. And if you can’t see that through which neighborhoods get good school funding, what foods are offered to those who are on a budget, the stats of those incarcerated, I don’t know what to tell you.

Some will argue that this is more of a reason for minorities, especially black people, to work 10 times harder. But the point is, why should they have to work 10 times harder just to make the playing fields even? It shouldn’t be like that. Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many people. It is in our Filipinx privilege that we are not the main targets of oppression and police brutality. However, please don’t get blindsided and think that you are the exception to the rule. You are still a person of color.

I believe a lot of the Filipinx elders are opposed to the idea of standing with the BLM movement because they are misunderstanding what it stands for. So let me make this clear : standing for the BLM movement doesn’t mean you condone looting, it doesn’t mean all cops are bad, and it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. The older Filpinx mindset is to believe that all the rioters and looters are a part of the protests. I’ve seen some referring to the protesters as “animals,” “barbaric,” and “thugs.” Please, please, please remember your history, and know that these are loaded terms. Never forget that Filipinos were showcased in Zoos for the amusement of others, to show and “prove” that we were barbaric and animalistic. How Americans view Filipinx people has changed and we have came a long way since the 1900’s. But it is time for us to stand in unison with our black brothers and sisters who are still having those labels attached to them to this day.

It is time for Filipinx people to stand and support black lives like they support black culture. For all the undercover racist Filipinx people who take part in these dance challenges to songs by black people, to those who cheer on black people but only when they’re winning your city a championship, to those who try to adopt the fashion, style, and slang, this is a message for you. You can’t love black culture only when it’s convenient for you. You can’t love what black people produce talent wise but leave them hanging when it comes to their rights and lives. You can’t chant “all lives matter” when you know you’re turning a blind eye to black people and their struggle.

Black people are dying every day from police brutality, and we are refusing to let this go on any further. The truth is, a lot of people are pressed about well known businesses burning down, churches, flags, etc. Things that are easily replaceable and essentially mean nothing. The fact that people care more about burning goods than black people’s lives is beyond me. You’re more pressed about people burning flags? Flags that were never meant for them, representing a nation that was never meant for them to be included in, a land they built for free and still get treated like second class citizens? But seeing black and brown people dying, being mistreated, arrested, maced, beaten, etc, is so common to you that you’re basically used to it? It’s truly a shame.

It’s time to have the uncomfortable conversations with family and internet friends. Silence is letting hate breed, especially if you have black people in your own family. Im proud of my Filipinx brothers and sisters who are speaking out against those closest to them, even if it’s difficult. Even if you’re seen as rude, disrespectful, abnoxious.

The generational gap is something we’ve struggled with. But times are different. Our generation are allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community. We are no longer staying silent to appease those who can’t see the bigger picture. Try your best to educate those who are too set in their ways of thinking.

Filipinx for black lives. We stand with you, we see you, we understand your frustration, and we’re here to break the chain of racism you might’ve felt from our community. It’s truly beautiful to see so many people of different backgrounds get together to fight for what is long overdue. So many people are breaking the chain of ignorance, unlearning racist ideals that they grew up on, and educating those around them. But it all starts with breaking the silence.

Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System

California is just a little over 4 weeks into Shelter in Place. Originally, the plan was to shutdown for 3 weeks and hopefully arrive back to work with our usual routines at the end of March / early April. As the days went on, America soon realized that things were definitely not going to be back to normal in 3 weeks time. Even after things open up again, we as a society will slowly ease back into life before COVID-19, but with plenty of restrictions. Its safe to say that COVID-19 will have permanent effects to how we maneuver on a daily basis.

The 3 week mandatory shutdown was tough on business owners, but especially small business owners. It was hard enough to close for 3 weeks, but the extended Shelter in Place Order is forcing a lot of business owners to change up how they do business. This is especially true for Serge and his fitness business.

Serge is the creator and owner of “Positive High System.” He’s a Fitness Coach, eager to help those who want to improve their way of life through food and movement. He believes his Positive High program could benefit anyone who wants more knowledge and guidance in the fitness world. Before COVID-19, Serge was doing in-person training / group training. That, of course, is not possible anymore with the social distancing and Shelter in Place Orders. His clientele dropped by over 50% since COVID-19. As a small business owner, Serge knew that he would have to switch it up if he wants Positive High System to ride this pandemic wave and make it out in the end.

It is understandable that many business owners are frazzled and anxious about their business and their means of making a living. The unknown is what gets the best of people. Surprisingly, Serge, with his upbeat yet chill attitude, has decided to look at the bright side of this pandemic. It was already in his plans to open up the virtual / online component of training for Positive High. Online sessions were going to be Serge’s next business move later on in the year. Even though the timing is different, Serge took this as a message from the universe to act on the idea now. He has no choice but to. Serge has converted all of his in-person training sessions to live personal training classes on Zoom.

“Life is good,” he said on his vlog as he ended a workday early.

Serge is looking on the bright side of this Shelter in Place Order. He loves the fact that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend and son. He shares that before COVID-19, he would get home around 8 or 9 PM. But now, he ends his day around 7-7:30 PM, and gets to take breaks during the day to do activities with his son, Elijah. Serge is a very active father, and the Shelter in Place is bringing him and his family closer. He’s finding time to reconnect with family through gaming apps, still running his business, spending more time with family, and doing more hobbies and activities with no time crunch.

As if he wasn’t already making the most of his time, Serge puts his phone on “airplane mode” by 7:30 PM to be more present with his family. Instead of looking at what could go wrong, Serge is deciding to take the less traveled route – taking it day by day, adjusting if need be, and not worrying about the unknown.

Serge launched his new Positive High System app that helps it’s users log their food and beverage intake, exercise, goals, accomplishments, etc. What is unique about this app is Serge is just a message away if you need encouragement or help. There is also a video section of workouts you could do at home. Serge stresses that the point of logging food is not be obsessive, to calorie count, or make drastic changes – but to be aware of what you’re doing – eating wise and exercise wise. By being aware, you’re in a better position to see what it is that you can tweak to benefit your health if that is your goal. Saying Serge has gracefully transitioned during this pandemic is an understatement!

Check out “Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System” by clicking:

Time

It’s Sunday, my family and I just got back from a late lunch to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Tomorrow work will start up again, but most importantly, Monday is blog post day. Truth is, I ain’t got shit. I pulled my writing deck of cards and I went into Merl’s room.

“Pick my blog post,” I said and spread out the deck. This deck has definitely come in handy. I usually try not to rely on it and draw writing inspiration through my experiences, but when I’ve had a heavy week and my brain is tired, the last thing I want to do is force some inspiration when it just isn’t there. She drew a card.

“What don’t you have enough time to do? Why?”

We both read the card silently, processing the prompt.

“To write this blog post,” she said. We both started laughing, but she was right.

Recently, I find myself thinking and saying out loud, “there’s just not enough hours in the day.” And then I quickly realize just by saying that cliché sentence that, 1. That statement proves that I’m getting old, and 2. I have entered adulthood.

But it’s true. I find myself spreading myself thin. There’s so many things I want to do, so many local places I want to go to, so many ideas I want to make come to life… and then, it’s 5 PM, I take the commute back home, and I just want to go to sleep.

I love to sleep. I can sleep any time, anywhere, and everywhere. Sleeping is my favorite pastime. But I realized long ago that sleeping is my escape. Stressed out? Sleep. Sad? Sleep. Happy? Sleep. Angry? Sleep. The feeling of going to sleep is so calming. No matter what I’m going through, good or bad, losing myself in my REM sleep is comforting. Knowing that for a short time I get to escape my reality, and my mind is resting and not over thinking every little detail of my life. You know that feeling when you’ve had a good sleep or nap, you wake up, and in those first couple of seconds waking up you’re there thinking, “Where am I? What time is it? What day is it today?” I love that feeling of being well-rested, which is probably why I try to sleep every opportunity I can.

But I’m a sleepy girl because I’m a busy girl. I don’t know when it happened, but all of a sudden I only have pockets of time for X amount of things. And I feel myself spreading myself thin with work, a social life, trying to keep the dream alive of becoming a writer, trying to take those steps to getting my foot in the door, planning the next steps in my romantic life, keeping up with friends, all the while trying to save my money. I find myself lost in the chaos of everyday life.

And even though I find myself always trying to catch up on sleep, sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my life away. But how can I do things I enjoy when I’m so burnt out? I sleep to escape the uncertainty of my life. I’m a dreamer in every aspect. I dream big, I have bigger plans, I want to achieve greatness.

I feel like there are a lot of people like me. That feel like somehow, some day, one day, they’ll achieve their dreams. But then I think of my current situation. Where I feel like I’m stuck, and I don’t know what path to take. So in the meantime, I hustle and I do what I got to do before I figure it out. But ironically, “doing what I got to do before I figure it out,” is probably what’s in the way of me “figuring it out.” There’s not enough hours in the day. I’m too busy that I can’t even think of a “plan” to follow. And then I realize, that’s how people get stuck. That’s how people lose the drive to achieve their dreams – getting stuck in the same routine and being too tired and burnt out to do anything about it. Note to self : stop putting off thinking of a plan. Make time even if there’s not enough time.

I love spending time with my friends. When I’m feeling off, or isolate myself for too long, I know hanging out with them will make my heart full. Except, we’re getting older. We all have responsibilities and different schedules, and we all can’t just hangout like we used to. Everything needs planning out. Every hangout planned out atleast a week or 2 in advance, and even then everyone may not even be free. Sometimes we don’t have enough time. But I’ve learned to make time, especially with hanging out with my friends. Truth is, we’re not always going to be in the same area. One day, living so close to each other will be a thing of the past and we’ll look back and wish we made more time.

Anyways, my point is, I don’t have time to do anything, but at the same time I have all the time in the world. It’s so hard to pick and choose what gets your time and what doesn’t outside of work. And when things I enjoy don’t get enough time, I find myself in a funk. Questioning wtf I’m doing with my life and where my time goes.

Self care. You see that shit plastered all over. This can mean doing a face mask, taking a bubble bath, doing a skin care routine, or watching your favorite show. It’s different for everyone. I’ve realized self care is really important. Carving out that “me” time is really vital when you feel like you’re going through life in a daze. My “me” time is this blog. Even though its stressful to produce something every week, it keeps me on my toes. It forces me to do something I love on a deadline, so I’m forced to take that me time, not just sleep.

For me, going home right after work and sleeping is “me time.” And sometimes having no plans is the best plan. And then there are other times where having a hangout is fulfilling to my soul. I’ve found myself not having time to do things I love. And the first step is to be aware that this is happening. A change in routine is always good, especially when you feel like your days are on repeat. But I can’t just wait for everything to fall into place on it’s own. I need to take the time and make the time to get shit done.

You know that feeling where you can feel it in your soul that there is about to be change real soon? My gut feeling is telling me change is just over the horizon. I don’t know what, but I feel it. Call me crazy. But cue in J.Cole’s , 🎵 “My intuition is telling me there’ll be better days…” 🎵

Change$

Last picture of me and Goldie 💔

I never realized how much I hate change until…

“…Stay tuned for next week, I’ll be sharing a story I’ve been wanting to share for years…” I wrote on my Instagram post last week. I reread my caption, added my hashtags, and clicked the “Share” button.

Within minutes of posting that post, my phone froze and acted like it was restarting. It stayed on the “Samsung” black background for hours until the phone ran out of juice and died. I thought I’d just charge it and I’d be fine.

“Its just a glitch,” I was trying to tell myself so I wouldn’t freak out that there’s a pretty good chance I’d be phoneless for a couple days.

I charged my phone and no luck. I tried to reboot, restart, all the above that Google suggested. Nothing.

This was the last thing I needed. Like I had shared before, I’m on a 2 week vacation break from work. It’s the preschool’s “summer break” before school starts up again. I planned to use this time to give myself a break- after the Portland trip I planned to sleep in as long as I wanted to, hangout with my boo and friends, workout if I felt like it, start my graduation scrapbook, but most importantly, write.

I’ve long anticipated this break. I couldn’t wait until the Portland trip, and then doing all the things I listed above. My phone is so crucial to my writing. When I decided I was going to be posting every week, I whipped out my laptop, covered in a thin layer of dust since it’s been tucked away in my bed stand since I used it last. And that was in April for my Women Gender Studies Conference prep. Before that, I haven’t used my laptop since I turned in that last final in the middle of December. Let’s just say once I graduated I kicked my laptop to the curb. But when I decided in July that I HAVE to make my blog a consistent thing, I took out that dusty lil thang and expected to start writing right away.

BUT. OF. FUCKING. COURSE… there’s something wrong with it. It was dead, so I plugged it in, and noticed after about 30 minutes that its plugged in but not even charging. The moment I unplugged the chord from the laptop, it died. After many tests and theories, I concluded that the only way to use my laptop is to have it be plugged into the wall the whole time and have it be on “0% not charging.” The moment I unplug the laptop, it’s dead. Given I’ve had the laptop for 6 years, I knew it was probably time to replace it. I planned on taking it somewhere to get it fixed, but didn’t really get around to it since I had the WordPress app on my phone. I figured until I save up money to get a new laptop, I’d just be writing my blog posts from my phone. Which was going well, until Goldie the Galaxy died on me.

The next day, I went with my cousin, my Ate Nina, to get my phone looked at. I told her that I’ve had the phone for basically 3.5 years, and I was so sad it was dead. She hit me with the “duh” it’s dead, it’s old as hell. But that’s the thing with me. I use my shit until it dies, literally. Same goes for my laptop, my shoes, my makeup, whatever it may be, I use that shit until I know it’s time to be retired. And even then I will fuss about how I need to replace it/ try to save it.

We went to the mall, and the guy in the stand didn’t even bother to look at good ‘ol faithful, Goldie. How rude. I explained to him that she’s not dead dead, for she stays on the “system rebooting” blue screen / galaxy black screen until she dies. So to me, there was still hope to revive my beloved. He looked at me, “Yeah. Its fried. There’s no fixing it, you just need a new phone. Sorry.” How he dare? In my head I was thinking, “Put some respect on her name, and give her a chance! At least try!”

So we went into the AT&T store in the mall, and I asked if they would take a look at her. The lady said they couldn’t do anything about it, and the only way I can maybe save it is if I call customer service, preferably “from that phone.” Me and Ate Nina looked at her like…. bruh… how?! Its fucking dead! I called customer service from the AT&T store, overwhelmed that ma baby girl of 3.5 years is probably dead dead and I had to go through the grieving process. I hung up the phone with customer service frustrated, “fuck it I’m just gonna get a new phone,” I said.

I planned to buy a new phone right then and there since I needed a phone so bad. It died on Tuesday, and here we were Wednesday trying to get a replacement. “Well if I’m gonna get a new phone, I might as well get the newest one so I can use it for over 3 years until it dies again,” I sadly joked. I usually stalk a product I want online until I decide to buy it. I need to do a thorough research, consisting of rating online, product reviews, but most importantly unboxings and comparisons on YouTube for days on end. All of which, I didn’t do. And honestly, it didn’t matter because the lady said I would need my mom to be there with me to make a purchase since she’s the main person on the account. So that meant I would have to live phoneless until Saturday. Honestly, first world problems. But the fact that I didn’t have a working phone wasn’t the only reason why I was trippin’.

It was because for months I planned out how I would use this 2 week break. Not having a phone ruined all of those plans. I could only get in contact with people through Instagram, and only if I had WiFi, because I was using my old phone before Goldie. I planned to use this 2 week break to write multiple posts to archive for later, since I would have so much free time. And I couldn’t do that laptopless and phoneless. The old phone I was using with WiFi was so old that it only let me have 3 updated apps. Hahahaha. When I tried to update Facebook Messenger it told me to delete 1 of the 3 apps I had. 🤣 Its funny now, but at the moment I was like bruh, whyyyyyyyyyyyy. And on top of that it took about 3.5 hours to fully charge, but lasted less than 4 hrs off of the charger.

“I hate change,” I told Ate Nina.

“Yeah, bitch, I could tell just from today with your phone!” She laughed. The rest of the day I just kept making phone references and how sad I was that Goldie was done for.

That opened up the topic of “change.” Ate Nina told me that she struggled with change, but quickly had to adjust because of her job. She said something along the lines of, “Bitch, I’m 35 and I’m just now getting used to change. If anything, get used to it now.”

That’s one thing I always noticed about myself. I do not do well with change. On the outside, it probably seems like I deal with change well, but internally it brings me turmoil. I like structure. I like planning things out. I like things done a certain way. I’m not saying I’m hella nitpicky and annoyingly controlling, but it’s more so just having to do with me, myself. Things that I know I can control in my life.

For example, something that just happened this morning. Me and Justine planned to workout everyday this week at 5:30 am. I mentally prepared myself for this the night before, making my preworkout so I could just grab and go the next morning. This morning I woke up at 5 am and got ready for the gym. “I’m awake.” I texted Justine. No answer. We used to gym early mornings back in the day, so I knew I had to call her until she woke up because she probably snoozed her alarm. I think I called 4 times. No answer. By 5:20 am I gave up and went back to sleep. But I was feeling antsy because I had already planned to go to the gym. And it’s all I could think about. I drifted off to sleep, and woke up around 9 am. I was so stuck on the fact that I planned to go to the gym but didn’t go. So I walked to the gym from my house, worked out for about an hour and 45 minutes, and walked back home. In this sense, I guess my stubbornness was a good thing, because I got a workout in. But a lot of the times it’s not in my favor.

In this specific instance with Goldie the Galaxy dying, changing my plans after planning it out months in advance is what got me like FML. I’ve noticed that I resist change, but once I get a hang of the change, I’m totally fine with it! I feel like it’s all mental. Like the thought of something new is scary because I don’t know what to expect. But I always end up chillin’ at the end of it all, and adjusting well. This is probably something about myself that most people don’t notice. I told Ate Nina in terms of my job, I don’t think I show that change bothers me. I wouldn’t even say “bother” is the right word for it either. More like an “ohhhh I was expecting this to happen today, but instead, change of plans, this is happening.” When it comes to work and there’s change, of course I have no choice but to go along with it and be a team player. If I have no choice but to go with the change, that’s when I accept it. But if its within my own life and my own personal changes that I have to do, that’s when I get annoying as hell and I resist.

I don’t know why I’m like this. I think I’ve always been like this to an extent, but I really started to notice it when I graduated college. The fact that there is no right or wrong path to take now, it’s like I’m at a crossroads. In terms of career, location, growth, it all scares me. I’m at the point in my life where I have to make moves, but the moves scare me and I’m so afraid to disrupt my routine that I stay stagnant. I come from a long line of worriers. But all this worrying really isn’t benefiting me in any way, its just really adding unnecessary stress to myself. I really struggle with where I should start my career.

Don’t even get me started with location! I’ve never moved before. All I know is Daly City/ San Francisco, Bay Area! But I know for a fact that my ass can’t afford it here if I were to branch out on my own and leave the nest. Yo, that’s a whole ass other thing too. In Filipino culture, we value the whole family dynamic. Usually, if you’re moving out, its because your ass got married and you’re starting your own life. And even then, you don’t stray too far from home. I’m talkin’ the same city or a few cities over from where you grew up. And in some instances, if you’re married, staying at home isn’t that frowned upon. In western culture, staying home with your parents as an adult is looked at negatively. In Filipino culture, it’s what you do, it’s not unusual. If anything, it’s preferred so someone is there to take care of the parents. We don’t put our elders in nursing homes. We stay with them and live with them, and cater to them as they get older. So thinking of a life outside of the Bay Area terrifies me more than I can even imagine. But I know for a fact I need to branch out and should experience living in different places before I have a whole ass family of my own.

It’s like I know what needs to be done to be successful, but the resistance to change is what will be my set back. I can play with the big dogs, I can speak with my chest, I can work hard for the things I want, but my fear of change is what will forever hold me back.

It’s really hard for me to think in terms of things changing. Like if I were to move away, the thought of us not living together as a family would make me super sad. Even though I know it’s going to happen eventually, it just makes me sad. Probably the fact that I know that it means we’re getting older. And that means living your own life. And that everything won’t be as family oriented as it once was. And that makes me sad as hell! I’m a very sentimental person, thinking of the future makes me excited but at the same time sad. The fact that I can’t rewind and have these moments again makes me want to cling on to what I “know” more.

But like I said, once the change happens I’m like haaaaaaa, yaaaaa, it was for the better. But of course it’s always after the fact. Change is scary as fuck. But its inevitable. Things never stay as they are. Everything is constantly changing and evolving. I resist change as if I can do something to stop it. But let’s be real, change is gonna happen with or without me. The death of Goldie the Galaxy made realize that I need to work on accepting change. Even though I knew that all along, this situation amplified the need for me to get it together.

Something as small (but not really small lol) as the death of my phone made me realize a big flaw in myself that needs workin’ on. So here’s to change, may we not resist it. Hahaha.

Omg, this whole fucking post just kept reminding me of that song by First Lady when she’s like “you say you’re not okay with chaaaaaangeeee,” and it’s so annoying because I know nobody will get that fucking reference because it was such an underground song in like 2002 🤣🤣🤣

His Name Was James

It’s crazy to think of all the little things we seem to overlook when it becomes routine. We’re so used to people, things, feelings, interactions – whether big or small, on a daily basis. Most times, little things in our routine change, sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s not, sometimes you don’t even notice the change, and sometimes you realize it but keep it movin’ because what can you do?

For over 6-ish years, my dad and I literally crossed paths with an old man from our neighborhood almost every day. He was a Japanese old man, probably in his 70’s or 80’s, it’s hard to tell because he seemed to be in good health – being that he would talk to my dad every day during his morning walk. He had white hair, that kind of hairstyle where they’re bald in the middle, but he covered it with a Golden State Warriors championship hat, usually with a matching blue Golden State Warriors Letterman-type jacket. And his most important feature – his smile. He was always in a good mood, with a huge smile on his face. He just radiated kindness. My little sister and I described him as the “cute old man.”

For years, it was routine for me to walk out of the garage to find my dad talking to this man. How did they even get close? I don’t even know. My dad is the type of guy that smiles and says good morning to strangers if they so happen to walk by our house. My sisters and I have crazy schedules, between my older sister’s job, and at the time my little sister & I’s changing school and work schedules, my dad was basically always chillin infront of our house anywhere from 7:30 am to 1 pm, waiting for the next daughter he had to drop off (bless my dad’s heart, he works hard as hell.) before he leaves for work at 1 pm.

When I would walk out of the garage to get in the car, I would already expect my dad to be talking to this kind old man. When they would see me, my dad would say something along the lines of “Well, there’s my next customer!” The old man, with his charming warm smile, would wave at me as I say goodmorning to him, and he would tell my dad, “Ah! Taxi, your next rider is here!” He would say departing words to my dad, and 10 see ya later’s/goodbye’s we would be on our way. My dad would get in the car with a big smile on his face, close the garage, and pull out of our driveway. All the while, our friend would be waiting infront of our house for us to drive away, we’d wave goodbye, he’d do the same, and then we’d drive off. Through the mirror I’d see him continuing his morning walk, going up the hill towards the stop lights. This was routine. Every day.

My dad would tell me little bits and pieces of this man he got to know over the years. He knew he was Japanese, that he had an adult son he wasn’t close to because of the son’s troubled past, his wife had passed away and he was living alone, and he basically had no family in the area. He lived a block away from us, which is why our paths crossed plenty of times during his daily walks. He expressed to my dad that his next door neighbor was his friend, who was on his Will to obtain his house and belongings when he was to pass away.

As the years went by, gradually, things began to change. It seemed that we would pass by him on our car ride to school or Bart, when in the past, he would already be talking to my dad in the driveway way before we got out. It seemed that either our times weren’t lining up, we left earlier, or he started his walks later. All of this was so minuscule to me at the time, but now that I look back, I see that it was his health declining. My dad would make comments that he would see him taking a few steps and pausing. He was getting weaker and older, but still he persisted on with his daily walks. Everytime we passed by him in the car, my dad would honk. The old man would smile and lift up his whole arm to say hello, and we went about our drive. It made me sad to think that my dad and him didn’t talk as often, because it seemed like our times weren’t matching up anymore. Like I said, schedules changed, he was getting older/ walking slower, and we just seemed to see him in passing.

As time went on, it went from seeing him everyday, to seeing him every other day, to seeing him once a week. Gradually, we saw him less and less. This was all over a span of years, so it didn’t seem too drastic as how I explain it now. Like I said, we get so used to routine, that little changes in our day seem so minor, until you look back and realize it’s no longer the same.

The last time I could remember seeing our friend was around November 2018. I want to say sometime after Thanksgiving. It was a brief encounter since I was on the way to school. From what I remember he came walking up our street just as we were about to get in the car. They talked about the Warriors briefly, and that was that.

In February 2019, it had been months since we seen him. I asked my dad a few times before if he had seen the old man recently, and he also said he hadn’t seen him in a while. My dad thought that he had passed away since we hadn’t seen him in months. I brought it up a few more times, and when I didn’t verbally ask my dad, I thought about it everytime I got in the car in the morning and we didn’t see him.

Finally, one night when my dad and I got home, I brought up to my little sister how we haven’t seen the old man in very long. My dad agreed that it had been such a long time, that he’s pretty sure he had passed away. He also told us that he drove past his house a couple days before and saw a big container in the driveway filled with belongings, further explaining why he’s been M.I.A. That thought made my little sister freak out, even though I knew it was a huge possibility. My dad enthusiastically said , “Ok, Marinelle, tomorrow before I go to work, we’ll drive by his house and knock on the door.” This made me happy but at the same time sadness had taken over me. I thought it would be good to get closure on our longtime friend, but I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be what I expected. I doubted that he was at home just chillin this whole time, but a part of me still clung to hope that it was a possibility.

My little sister was bummed that she wouldn’t be present when my dad and I planned to go since she would be at school. I asked my dad how he even knew where he lived, and he said, “I’ve been in his house before! In his garage.” My dad also brought up how he would give the old man bread from the bakery, after dropping some off to my grandpa. My dad said he would see him walking by and would give him a portion of our family’s share. All these things we never knew, my dad going to his house, giving him bread, all these aspects of this man’s life that we had no idea of.

“… wait…. do you even know his name…” I asked my dad.

“…….I think its Steven? Steve?”

“Bruh! How have you been talking to him for years and not even know his name?!” Yes, I called my dad ‘bruh.’

“I…… I don’t know it never came up…” My dad said sheepishly.

“Did he know your name?”

“You know, I don’t think so. We might have said it maybe 1 time and we never called each other by name.”

The next day before my dad went to work, we drove the block to the old man’s house. The big container my dad was talking about was gone. There was no car in the driveway. My dad got out of the car and made his way to the house. I lost sight of my dad since the stairs were located on the side of the house. But I did hear a bell ringing. Not a doorbell, but an actual bell that you have to “gong.” After about 5 minutes my dad came back to the car.

“Yeah, he didn’t answer… I think he passed away,” my dad said.

“Was that a real bell?”

“Yeah, he said his doorbell wasn’t working so he just has a lot of bells.”

I felt bad that my dad didn’t get any closure. I looked at the old man’s house again. I saw that his neighbor 2 houses down was outside cleaning her car.

“Go ask his neighbor, or you’ll never know,” I told my dad. My dad’s a shy dude, so I expected him to say Nahhhhhh and drive off and forever wonder. To my surprise he agreed and got out of the car.

I watched as my dad approached the middle aged lady. She was cleaning her car and had to turn off her vacuum. From the car I could hear my dad say “… yeah, he’d be walking all the time.” After about 3 minutes my dad returned.

He got in the car and explained that he asked the neighbor about the old man that lived in “that” house.

“Oh, James? He passed away a couple months ago,” she told my dad.

My dad went on to say that he knew he passed away because it was so long since the last time we seen him. I said atleast we knew for sure and wouldn’t have to be wondering anymore. It was a pretty depressing moment and my dad said how the whole situation was just sad. I tried to brighten up the mood and car ride…

“Bruh, you said his name was Steve.” I said. My dad laughed and shook his head.

When I texted the group chat with my sisters and told them that James had passed away, my little sister texted back that she was actually tearing. He was a familiar face that we saw almost daily. His smile and positive upbeat attitude will always be the first thing I think about when I remember him. Mornings aren’t the same as they used to be. But nothing stays the same. These small routines and conversations were just that at the time – small routines that you don’t think twice about. But now that he’s gone, it makes us think of him everytime we pull out of the driveway to start off our day / morning.

His name was James.