Shaina: Leading By Faith

“This is story 2 of 10 of LoveYourzStory’s Motherhood Series. 10 mothers give us a glimpse into a small portion of their motherhood journey. I am so grateful that these 10 women gave me the opportunity to share their stories on my platform. Though they focus on different topics, each mother has gone through challenges that tested their strength, patience, and sense of self. Thank you again for sharing.” -Marinelle, LoveYourzStory

This is Shaina’s story, written in her own words:

“At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks its own normal, healthy tissues. This can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Looking back, I guess this is a huge reason why my parents were so strict on me. I can’t imagine what it’s like being worried about my own baby girl with a medical condition so young.

Luckily for me, I met my husband, RJ, when we were only 12 years old. He was my very first boyfriend in middle school. I know, 12 sounds a little crazy, especially since our daughter turned 12 this year, yikes! But I guess this was just part of God’s plan. You don’t ever expect relationships that young to last that long…I mean, hello! Puppy love! First loves always have a huge impact on people, but they don’t always last, which is what makes our relationship that much more special…like true soul mates as I always say.  

Fresh out of high school, we got pregnant with our first daughter, Shayla. Literally the most scariest moment of my life! I had just started college at CSU East Bay for Nursing – go figure, Filipino family LOL – and I didn’t know what to do. I had to break the news to my parents, who immediately expressed their disappointment. But soon after, they provided their 100% support because that’s the type of family we were. I still had questions lingering within myself, though. 

Was I really ready to be a young mom? I was only 18. How would we take care of a baby? Everything would change. I remember feeling like my life was over, but being someone who grew up in a religious family, I always held onto faith. And with that, I immediately knew that God put me in this position for a reason. We continued on with the pregnancy not knowing how our life was going to play out, but just continued to have faith. During this pregnancy, I experienced my very first Lupus flare-up involving my lungs. I was hospitalized a couple of times to get my Lupus back under control, which was definitely a scary time. Regardless, me and the baby made it through, and our first born came into this world in 2009. She was the best decision we ever made. 

I ended up dropping out of college because both RJ and I had to work to provide for our new family. We got married a few years later in 2011 at the age of 21. We had our second baby, a son, Ryder, at 22, which we also experienced a few scares during the pregnancy. I first experienced a Subchorionic Hematoma in my first trimester, which is when the placenta partially detaches from where it was implanted in the uterus. I was put on bed rest for about 2 weeks and was lucky for this to resolve on its own. In addition to that, I was again hospitalized for Lupus flare ups, involving my lungs. Despite that, we made it through the pregnancy okay and still always saw the bright side of things. Our baby boy was born healthy and we were so grateful.

We had a pretty cookie cutter life over the next few years. Both of us had jobs and lived in an apartment together. In hindsight, I do believe that for being a young mom and a young couple raising our family, I thought we were doing pretty good in life. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows though. We still experienced many challenges as young parents: living paycheck to paycheck, missing out on our kids first words and first steps since they were with grandparents while we worked, and even struggling when unexpected bills came about, like car problems. Despite that, we learned and grew with each other along the way. 

After my first 2 births, my Lupus flared up both times and my doctors decided it wasn’t safe for me to have any more kids. I was bummed because growing up in a family of 6 kids, I knew I always wanted a big family, but I also felt that I should be blessed to already have 2 kids. I felt so torn between what I wanted and what God wanted me to have…like I didn’t deserve to complain because I already had one of each: a boy and a girl. I should be grateful, right? So, I once again had faith that my life was perfect the way it was, and we just moved on and continued with our lifestyle.  

A couple years later in 2016 at the age of 25, my world was shaken up and my life started to truly change in all aspects. My Dad passed away. I don’t feel like my faith was ever being tested during this time. Mainly because my Dad always talked to me about keeping faith. It was always drilled in me to always hold on to that faith, most especially in times of need like this. But, what it did do was spark questions in me. He was my first huge loss, and the biggest thing that hurt me was that God had given me a dream of my Dad dying before he went into the hospital. I didn’t know why at the time and all I could do was wonder. I hated knowing that I had this dream, and I kept it to myself until we knew for sure he wasn’t going to make it.

 While I think I did a pretty good job of holding it together, the stress of it all caused my Lupus to flare up. I would literally wake up with hives all over my body, or wake up with both eyes almost swollen shut. My immune system just went crazy. Worst of all, I found out that my Lupus had spread to my kidneys. I was put on multiple new medications, including a high dose of steroids and a chemotherapy medication to help try and get it back down under control. This was the first time I really looked at my life and was afraid of what Lupus could do to me. My kids were still so young and I knew I wanted to be there for them for a long time. 

Being a mother with a chronic autoimmune disease isn’t easy. I have always hated that I couldn’t keep up with my friends who are also  moms. They could go out to an event one day, and be completely fine the next day and take their kids out to a theme park. For me, no matter what I did, whether it was grocery shopping or taking the kids out to the park, I always had to take the entire next day resting to gain my energy back. I always felt that it wasn’t fair to my kids because I couldn’t give them the full “mom experience,” but they have never made me feel that way. To be honest, they’ve always been so young to really realize what Lupus was. They just know that I’m here and that’s all that matters. One thing I am happy about is that I have the most understanding husband who picks up the slack without question when I can’t give 100%.

Both of my parents have the biggest faith in God and I believe that’s why my faith is so strong. After my Dad passed away, I often found myself hearing him in my head telling me to have faith that everything would be okay, especially after having that dream of him passing away. This is where my journey into spirituality began. It’s really hard to explain, but from this point on, I just started to “know” things. If you’ve read this far, you’re either interested in what comes next or you’re going to think I’m crazy LOL. Well, I was constantly pushed to see Mediums, someone who can talk to the “other side”. At the time, I was the biggest skeptic, trust me! Upon finally seeing a Medium, they told me that I was a Medium myself and that I’m supposed to be helping others see that there is truly a Heaven, so they can also keep their faith in God also. It’s really hard to explain, but I feel like this was a calling for my life’s purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my life, but I always felt like something was missing. The feeling of finally realizing I was meant for something way more in this life instead of just going through the motions was so refreshing. 

While I still had faith in God, I felt like my faith shifted and my whole world just became so much more spiritual. God was calling me to do something bigger and it filled my heart knowing that. I started to learn how to expand my spirituality, found mentors to teach me how to open my third eye, and literally everything in my life started to look and feel so much brighter. Most of all, my Lupus even started to improve and I knew it was God at work. During this time, I had multiple moments of doubting myself during this whole “spiritual awakening”, I guess you could call it. But, my husband and kids, along with my entire family, always pushed me with so much encouragement. I never once received an ounce of doubt from them. They continued to push me to continue on this path and trust my intuition.

Well, here comes my faith again…with my spirituality growing and my Lupus getting better, I prayed and asked God if I could have just one more baby. I was older now and wanted to be able to experience and enjoy having a baby at a more responsible age. In addition to that, I told Him that if I am meant to be on this spiritual path, then I needed to receive signs showing me that I was meant for this life change. I knew that if it was meant to be, then God would let it happen. Sure enough, in 2020, right before my 30th birthday, God allowed me to have one more baby girl, Sage Mya, who I will forever be grateful for. We chose her name because it means “wise great one”, and we felt it just fit my entire spiritual journey.

So, with my Lupus and spirituality opening up my eyes, what did that mean for me as a mom? It meant that I had to teach my kids about the important things in life. Not about politics, or work, or bills. Although those are important and yes – I still intend to teach them about those things, but it’s not what life’s truly about. Rather, I have to teach them the importance of compassion, forgiveness, loyalty, having faith when you feel lost, and just being a good person all around. It meant teaching them to always picture yourselves in someone else’s shoes because you never know what that person is going through. I once read that people won’t remember what you say to them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. I want to raise my kids with so much love and so much FAITH that they have an impact on others as well. I wish for them to just be kind people because we don’t have very many in this world. I truly believe that things happen for a reason. My kids are my biggest accomplishment and my absolute joy, so it’s only fitting that all of these things happened to me so I can pass on the knowledge and raise better people.

The most rewarding part of my motherhood journey to date is watching my own kids’ lives unfold. I love being a part of their own individual unique journeys. It gives me a chance to still learn through my kids also. Growing up, I always thought my mom had it together and knew exactly what she was doing 100% of the time. As a mom myself, I now know that we are all just learning as we go. It’s such a humbling experience because I have realized that we are all perfect in our own ways. If there is one thing I could share with other young moms, it’s that when things feel hard in the beginning and you feel as though things aren’t going well, just know that everything will eventually fall into place. Your life will come full circle. Always remember to have patience because you don’t always see the size of the blessing that’s coming toward you!  

Today, not only do I try to instill faith in my own kids, but I have this passion to help others do the same as well. I remember after my Dad’s death how healing it was for me to see a Medium…and I didn’t even know I needed it! That’s exactly what I want to do for others. I want to help remind them to always have faith, no matter how bad things get. I do this through my newfound spirituality using tarot cards, my Mediumship abilities, as well as recently becoming a Reiki Healing Practitioner to provide energy healing to those in need. Using these practices in my own life has shown me the bigger picture: life is all about helping and being there for each other. If you ever find yourself needing a little bit of spiritual guidance, I’d love to help you! Feel free to contact me on my website: www.shaina-marie.com-Shaina

Anthony’s Decision to Pursue Music

Aspiring singer and songwriter, Anthony Regala, is determined to make it in the music industry. Though, it took him a while to make the solid decision to pursue singing, Anthony is sure this is the path he was meant to take.

Anthony is no stranger to performing. In fact, he grew up dancing infront of his family. Dance was his first love. And dancing was actually the gateway to him discovering the singing world. Anthony was inspired by the music videos he would watch of Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, and Destiny’s Child. His family always encouraged him to perform and hyped him up everytime he put on a show at parties.

Anthony was introduced to singing in the 2nd grade. His 2nd grade teacher started a choir group, and he was all for it. They sang karaoke, practiced after school, and got to see their practice pay off when they would perform at AT&T park and The Symphony. Anthony’s mom saw how enthusiastic he was about singing, so she enrolled him in voice lessons.

The first 2 years of high school, Anthony put singing and dancing to the side. That little break from his passions made his comeback that much stronger. His last two years of high school, Anthony signed up for theater and choir. The auditions he went through were exhilarating, and he found his way back to his passions once again. He sang his first solo performance, The Christmas Song, during Westmoor high school’s winter concert.

Anthony recalls one weekend where all his friends were busy, and he was looking for something to do. He decided to go to this mountain near his neighborhood, Bayshore. He took with him a pen and notebook, and it was there on a mountaintop that he wrote his first song. It was a random song about clouds, but Anthony knew that at that moment he had sparked an interest in song writing.

High school ended, and ususally most have college in mind. Anthony knew from the beginning that he wanted to pursue music, so he didn’t really care to take general education classes – or any classes for that matter – that didn’t have to do with music. Friends encouraged him to take at least general education classes, but Anthony felt like there was no need. He was content with his music classes, and still believes it was the right choice for him at the time.

Anthony admits that the first year of college was the most discouraging. He started seeing musicians and artists he knew pursue different career paths. When he would meet other musicians and singers, they would share that they’ve been told that music is not a “realistic” job. He started to see fellow musicians and peers having “back up plans.” He admits that this was very discouraging, to see talented musicians and artists put their dreams to the side for more “realistic” plans. It made him doubt himself because he saw people he looked up to take on different career paths.

“The first years of community college were crucial because I knew every choice would affect my future,” he said. “I went into it knowing what I wanted. If I didn’t make a decision, I knew that later down the line I would have to.”

This made Anthony doubt his career choices, and he declared “Sociology” his major in school. All the pressure and stress started to stack up, and he found himself overwhelmed and confused. He admits that he didn’t take high school too seriously, so college is where he had to push himself. He felt like he had to make a decision, and fast. The time was ticking, what was he going to make of himself?

“During this time I broke down, it was my cry out to God,” Anthony explained. ” ‘What am I gonna with this life?’ I went to the back room in my house, went on my knees, put my head on our little couch and just cried. Was I just in my head? During this, visions came to me of my previous performances all throughout my life. It was encouraging because right then is when I knew God was going use this gift He blessed me with. I didn’t know full picture of what would be, but that was when I decided I am going to do music. Even though I had no clue how I would do it.”

His mom was in full support. He jokes that it’s because she didn’t want the voice lessons she paid for to go to waste. Anthony’s dad supported his decision to go forward with music as a career and let him be. His family in general was very supportive and encouraged him to put himself out there as an artist. They’ve always pushed him to perform whether that be for the family or an audience.

However, Anthony did sense that his mom was a little worried about his career choice. The questions she would ask him regarding his plans pursuing music gave him a hunch that she was uneasy over the fact that it’s not a traditional career path. Her support was definitely there, but so was her mother instinct to worry.

“To be honest, I think this is where representation comes in,” Anthony says. “If parents saw more Filipinos in music, then they would not worry so much.”

Right now, Anthony is focused on building his following. He released his first song, “I’m Mine,” on Soundcloud, quickly released it on Spotify, then other streaming services. His goal was to gain traction, to get listeners to be invested in him as an artist, but also as him as a person. He used to post his covers on Instagram, and that would be that. Now Anthony is conscious to what he puts out there as an artist, and is starting to post things that show his personality. For example, he’s starting to share more on a stories, just so his followers and listeners get a feel of what kind of person he is.

“It could be easy for some artists to just tell people there song is coming out, release it, and a lot of people listen to it,” Anthony explained when I asked how does he try to promote his content. “Yes I have those people and I appreciate all of them, but getting my music to more ears has been an interesting challenge. There’s getting my song on playlists, which I’ve been able to do. However, getting on popular playlists has not happened yet and its a challenge for a lot of us artists. I’ve also learned there are so many ways to promote yourself, you just have to find what works.”

Anthony is trying to get out there, and has had a couple performances. He has had 2 showcases at Neck of the Woods, and occassionally performs there on Wednesdays for their open mics. He has definitely pushed himself out of his comfort zone. He recently started going to an open mic at San Francisco State. Anthony adds that he is always down to connect, so if you see him around campus or at an open mic, say whatsup.

He receives some money from streaming, but for now, catch him at the Museum of Ice Cream SF, and ask for Honey LavAnthony to serenade you via song! He knows one day that he will be able to provide for himself off his music alone. LA has been on his mind for a hot minute. But for now Anthony is trying to get the most out of San Francisco / the Bay Area (and save that money, honeyyyy).

Music is so important to Anthony because he feels like he can reach people. He wants his listeners to know that they are loved, and made like nobody else. To all the people that feel like they are unloved / don’t have a purpose, Anthony is trying reach you through song. He wants people to believe that “anything is truly possible.”

What’s Anthony’s word of advice to anyone out there chasing an “unrealistic” dream?

“Be a go getter, but with patience. There’s a purpose to it all.”