The Year in Transition

“Will I be something?
Am I something?

And the answer comes:
I already am.
I always was.
And I still have time to be.”

— Anis Mojgani, “Here Am I”


Things can get a little crazy during graduation time...

Things can get a little crazy during graduation time…

I’ve been seeing a lot of news coverage of graduation commencement speeches.  Sandra Bullock surprised a senior class at a New Orleans high school with a short address and Charlie Day yelled at the Class of 2014 at Merrimack College.  They gave certain advice to graduates such as:

  • Bet on yourself
  • Don’t pick your nose in public
  • Make your own opportunities
  • Leave the house with a skip in your step
  • Don’t give a shit about what people think

Of course, seeing all of these commencement videos reminds me of my own graduation, which took place a year ago.

We didn’t have a super famous person come to our school.  I kind of remember that he was a pretty successful entrepreneur and that he talked about Hurricane Sandy.  But I don’t remember really what his advice to us was.

I do remember being scared and sad for a lot of weeks after graduation.  Scared that I was back at home to no job prospects or graduate school prospects.  Sad that I left the happy, comfortable home I made in San Diego with my friends.  Life had just become fifty times more confusing than it was before I got a diploma.

Despite all the wisdom and advice that people tried to pass on to me, I did not take chances or do something crazy.  I didn’t move across the country to start a new life.  I didn’t join the Peace Corp.  I played it safe.

My life is pretty simple as of now because of this.  I have two part-time jobs now, meaning that I make my own money and am able to slowly pay off my student loans.  I live in my childhood home.  I am surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends.  I live in a town that just declared a stage two drought condition and I live with two dogs.

I have career and life goals, but you don’t need to hear more about them.

I’ve realized that I can talk about my goals over and over again, but the thing that really matters is what I’m doing right now to make them happen.

When I graduated, I thought that I had to be doing something amazing right now, one year after graduating.  I actually know some people from my class who are doing the extraordinary.  Some of my classmates are in the Peace Corp and some have moved or plan to move far away from their homes to start a new career.  But I’m not them.

So what am I doing right now?  What am I going to do after I finish this blog post?  Will I keep marathon-ing television shows that I’ve watched before on Netflix?  Will I ever finish that story I’ve been working on?  Will I go take pictures of those purple trees that I saw yesterday?

Probably neither of these things.  I will probably put on my shoes, do my make-up, and go to work, where I will be picking up half-eaten string cheese from the ground and getting tear stains on my jeans.

While it’s not glamourous (I don’t think taking care of children will ever be anything close to it), I have the job for a reason, and until further notice, it’s what I’m doing now.  And I can’t really picture myself doing anything else at this moment.

It doesn’t really matter if what I’m doing right now is amazing or not.  Because there are a lot of amazing things ahead for me that I’m building towards.

And all I have to do is concentrate on what I’m doing now.



Letter to Self | “Bahala na…”

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."  - Lao Tzu

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

Yesterday, I realized that Memorial Day Weekend 2014 is the weekend of many happenings:

  • My parents’ anniversary
  • My best friend will be back in California
  • The graduation of the Class of 2015 from USD
  • My cousin’s wedding
  • One of the weekends I planned to spend with my long-distance boyfriend

The first thing I thought of is how I could possibly be at each occasion and how I should prioritize them.

Naturally, the things that come first are family events, so weddings and anniversaries should be at the top. I have a lifetime obligation to my family and they will always come first.  However, there are things that are important to me outside of my family members and I know that I will regret missing them.

Then I thought, “It’s not fair.”  It’s not fair that so many important occasions are happening within two days’ time.

As I talked to my boyfriend last night, I kind of imploded with frustration.  There is no way that I will be present at everything, esp. since all of these events will be happening at different places within the two days of the weekend.

Whenever my plans go awry, I think of a Filipino saying that I learned about last year: Bahala na, which loosely translates to either “Come what may,” or “Whatever will be, will be.”  My mom also says Bahala na ang diyos which means “Leave it up to God.”

I’ve heard this phrase a lot in my years of listening to the language, but I didn’t learn the meaning until last year at a workshop for Filipino history.  I connected with the phrase immediately because of all the chaos that I was experiencing at the time during my second-to-last semester of college.  On top of my school work, I was working on campus, I was a student leader in the Filipino organization, I was having car troubles, and I was having financial aid problems.

That semester, I kept thinking,”maybe if I didn’t do so-and-so, then I would have been able to avoid all the trouble.”  But, the fact that everything was happening at once wasn’t under my control.  It just happened that way.  And looking back at the events that transpired that semester, I don’t regret anything that I participated in at all.  If I’ve learned anything from experiences like that and my current situation, it’s that nothing ever goes as planned. And all you can do is roll with it.

So, as I make my plans for the summer and throughout my life, I just have to remember that life goes on.  When things don’t happen as I plan them, I want to remember that it will be ok and that Fate or God has another path for me to follow.

I want to keep telling myself, “bahala na, bahala na,” like a tattoo on my heart.

Read more posts like this at my website!

Letter to Self | Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

Sometimes, you can look at a picture of something hanging in a museum or see a person doing some sort of activity and say, “Pshhh, that’s easy, I can do that.”  That is what I was thinking last week as I scrolled through Tumblr and saw my fellow bloggers posting pictures of themselves doing some yoga moves.  

However, when you actually set out to do what you’re seeing someone else do, it’s not really the same.  

After skipping out on yoga for a couple of months, I was inspired to get back on the mat after following a couple of yoga blogs by doing a yoga challenge.  

Previously, my practice was a combination between yoga videos from Tara Stiles and a beginner’s sequence from B.K.S. Iyengar’s yoga bible, Light on Yoga.  I tried some old poses that I knew from these yoga series’ and new poses from the yoga challenge.

It was hard to do a simple triangle pose and other standing poses from the beginner’s series, and I couldn’t even dream of doing some of the arm balances from the yoga challenge.  It was difficult and disappointing.  

Part of my failure to do some of these easy poses was that I haven’t done yoga in awhile.  The other, larger part of the problem was that I was trying to do moves that were at an intermediate/advanced level that I just wasn’t ready for.   

I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself, but this challenge in particular was different.  Not because I couldn’t do the challenge, but because of the motivation behind me wanting to do try it out.  I wanted to prove to people that I could do certain poses.  I wanted to have cool pictures on my Tumblr and be bendy and graceful.  

I realized that I cannot have cool pictures and be bendy and graceful like other people.  I can only be me.   

Something that I’ve been constantly reminded of when I watch Pilates videos by Cassey Ho of Blogilates is that everyone is on their own fitness journey.  In the same way, I’m on my own yoga journey, I’m on my own relationship journey, I’m on my own career path, and so on.  

I don’t want to sound defeatist or sound like I’m limiting myself.  However, I can really only do what’s within my physical and mental limits – for the time being.  But I can always stretch those limits.  I can still go for those challenging yoga poses, but I have to remember that it won’t look like what other people are doing.  Yoga is about practice, not perfection.  My practice will never be perfect the first, second, or twentieth time.  I can also attempt a career in journalism and attempt other challenging life stuff, but I can never have a career like other writers or follow the same life path as another person.   

I can only ever be me.  So why beat myself up if I can’t be like someone else?    

Rough, Rough Drafts | “Ode to Laundry Pile”


Here’s a rough, rough draft of something that’s been on my mind all week – laundry.  I’ve had a huge pile in my room since the holidays.  I set some time aside to do it this week, but every time I’ve checked our home’s washing machine, it’s been occupied.

I’ve also been itching to write something new and show it, even if it’s not perfect.  I’ve been working on some drafts of old short stories and working on some other stuff, so this blog has kind of gone by the wayside for the past two weeks.  There’s a draft I’m working on where the opening lines are just stumping me.

Drafts are never perfect, especially first drafts.  I can already see things I want to revise after I post, but I think I will always see things that I want to change, even if I get lucky enough to publish stuff.

So here’s to celebrating the rough, rough drafts and imperfection.

Ode to laundry pile

Monday, just a pair of underwear and a towel, slightly damp / Tuesday, my favorite jeans after a walk on the boardwalk / Wednesday, more underwear, more t-shirts, and a pair of socks / / It’s Sunday now and you’ve outgrown your laundry basket // I’m sorry – I’ll wash you soon.

The Resolution


At the end of the day, there is only one resolution I need to keep.

Yesterday morning, I sat in the cramped dining room of my grandmother’s home with my cousins, Sam and JP.  We ate fried spam, vienna sausages, and eggs, sunny-side up on paper plates with flowers printed on the edges.

It didn’t feel like the last day of 2013 until they started talking about New Year’s Resolutions.

Sam, the older sibling, a little girl with long, dark hair, and a shy smile said that she wasn’t making any resolutions.

“Nobody ever keeps their resolutions, anyways,” she said.  She laughed.

“My New Year’s resolution is to help people come up with their resolution,” said JP, younger with the same dark hair and big eyes.

The two are no more than 10 years old.  When I was that age, I think I was coming up with resolutions to do better in school or maybe to eat less candy that year.  I don’t think I ever thought that I’d fail in my resolutions and I never thought of not making one because others failed in keeping their resolutions.

“What is your New Year’s resolution, Ate?” they asked, using the Filipino term of respect meaning “older sister.”

I laughed, spitting out some egg yolk.  They had just told me that they weren’t making any resolutions, but they expected me to make some and to keep them.

The last few years, I have made similar resolutions: to work harder in school, to spend more time with family friends, to exercise more, and to read more or do more things other than spend time on the computer.  I’ve never really kept track of them because I’ve been too busy with school and now that I’m out of school, these are things that I am constantly trying to get better at.

So what’s my resolution?  I told my little cousins that I wanted to apply to grad school.  I don’t know if that’s a real resolution.  But I think the last New Year’s Resolution I need to make is to try and be the best version of myself everyday.  To me, this means exercising as much as I can, being good person to my family and friends, eating yummy food, etc.

And, if I’m trying to be my best everyday, it means that every morning is a new chance to be better.  Life doesn’t renew itself once a year – it happens day by day.

Checklist for 2013

2014 is just around the corner! I feel as though September through November just came and went.  It is hard to believe that just a few months ago, I had just moved back home and had started my job hunt.

For the past few years at around this time of year, I have always had a clear objective for the next year: do well in school and maintain a balanced college life.  Right now, after the first “semester” of no school and no extracurricular activities for me, I have time to reflect on the past year and on certain goals that I haven’t achieved yet or want to achieve in 2014 (outside of crazy Christmas shopping and celebrations).

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The typical weekly schedule and checklist during my school days. Balanced? Ehh… Crazy? Of course.

As I think about everything that I’ve done this year, naturally, what comes up is what I haven’t done.  Specifically, I think about different items on my various reminder lists on my phone and different things I have been thinking of doing all year round but never got a chance to.

1. Open up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

For the past few months, I’ve been living on a new budget.  I’ve been saving half of my earning and then allocating the rest into different things I want to save up for – either spending money, food money, money for a trip I’m planning on taking… etc.  It’s been going well so far and I’ve been able to save up and stay within my budget.  Of course, the holidays are taking a toll on my savings, but I’ll just have to start saving hardcore when 2014 rolls around.  Along with saving up spending money and such, I’ve also been saving money to put into an IRA.  I’ve been debating which kind of IRA to do, even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with a Roth IRA and I have people who can help me decide.  But it’s something I’ve been procrastinating on and want to get done this week.

2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment

I had always had a doctor around (my dad) and I never got in the habit of getting a regular check-up because I never really needed one.  Being on my own in a sense in college made me realize that there are some things that I can’t really ask my dad about or want to (i.e. vaginal health, etc.) and that I should start getting regular check-ups.  I think in September I asked my dad who is a good doctor to go to and he gave me a name but I never called the office.  I probably won’t be able to go until January, but just getting it scheduled is all I want to do.

3. Finish my book

When I was in school, one of the things that I really wanted to do was read for pleasure.  Now that I’m done with it, I have read 2 books so far, The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I remember reading at a faster pace than 2 months per book when I was younger and of course, there were much less distractions like Netflix and Facebook to keep me from reading.  I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and am making it a goal to finish it with these next 2 weeks left in 2013.

So there’s the list of goals I have for the rest of 2013! While these goals aren’t really life-changing, I feel like they’ll propel me into a healthier, more financially conscious, and well-read new year.

Asides from that, it always feels nice to check something off of your list.

Let me know if there’s anything you want to get done before 2013 is over and thanks for reading!

Happy Holidays 2013!


It’s the holiday season! This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the cold weather that has hit Santa Barbara because it means I can wear my cozy sweaters and my heavier coats.  I also seem to appreciate hot drinks a lot more.  But I think what makes this one of the best times of year is the general feeling of unity and love that I get every time I hear a Christmas song or see lights on someone’s house.  It’s just a fun time.

There are times when this season can be stressful and commercialized or materialistic  (i.e. Black Friday, holiday products being forced onto shelves right after Halloween, Christmas shopping).  Christmas shopping has already been quite a challenge for me, especially since I’m trying to be more frugal with my money.  However, when I think about this side of Christmas, I remember that, not only do I like getting presents, but I also love giving them.  The idea behind gift-giving and thinking of others is quite wonderful in my opinion.  When it comes down to it, it’s really the thought that counts.  

So enjoy the hot chocolate, my favorite Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe’s, gingerbread cookies, enjoy your faith and enjoy giving to others.  I’ll probably come back with some updates on my Christmas shopping and gift ideas.  Thanks for reading and happy holidays :)   

I made the above Holiday GIF/E-Card using this tutorial from Blue Lightning TV.  I’m creating a work Christmas card and am testing out some different looks.  Love the idea for creating simple lights using lens flares, and the tinsel is really glittery and fun.  It worked out pretty well and I definitely learned some cool new techniques, but I’ll probably go for something more simple for the Noozhawk holiday card.

The Things That I am Thankful For

I have 10 minutes of Thanksgiving left, so here it goes.

I am so very blessed with many gifts.  A comfortable home, a college degree from a top university, and more than enough stuffed animals – enough to last through my children’s lifetimes.

But when I think of what I’m grateful for during the holiday season, I think of all the people that share my life with me.  I realized that I am most grateful for LOVE.

“Love” is a word that gets tossed around a whole bunch these days.  Sometimes we say “I love so-and-so” because it just feels good to say it, even though we don’t know if we mean it or not.  Or sometimes we just really have strong feelings for a certain song or certain person or certain whatever and cannot express it without the word “love” because I feel like “love” is the strongest kind of “liking” there is.

My definition of love has changed throughout my lifetime, so today, when I talk about being grateful for love, I think of times that people have shown love to me through their actions: my parents, brothers, best friend, boyfriend…

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There are so many people who have given me a reason to be thankful everyday, and I want to show them my gratitude for that by being the best that I can be and for giving love back to them.

So, THANK YOU for reading :)  I hope everyone had a great day filled with family and with love.

How Not to Settle into a Routine

For the past two months, I’ve been working and watching lots of television.

Everyday, I wake up at around 7am, exercise and eat breakfast, get ready for work and arrive at around 10am.  I work at Noozhawk until 2:15pm and get to my daycare job at 2:45pm.  Then I get home at around 6pm and eat dinner and watch whatever I’ve been watching on Netflix.  Usually I’ll talk to my boyfriend on the phone at around 10 and then be asleep by 2am at the latest.  I’ve also been trying to get my computer turned off by 10pm so I can sleep by 11pm and not be too tired to wake up early and exercise.

For me, having a routine and having things to do for money is what I wanted all summer.  But, lately, I’ve been missing the non-routine of being at college.  Ok, I had classes and had regular meetings – but there was always something different going on besides those things.

There are things I have to do – I have to work and I have to exercise and I have to spend time with my loved ones.

But, I’ve been thinking about integrating some of these things into my week to shake things up and to possibly be more productive outside of work:

  • Reading – I recently interviewed a writer, Tracy Shawn, who reminded me that reading fiction is one of the best ways to get out of your own mind.  I’ve been trying to read every night before bed, and I’ve already read more in the past few days than I have in a long time.
  • Catching up with friends –  Grabbing lunch with a friend not only gets me in touch with other people in the area, but it’s also fun.  And you have to have lunch sometime – why not have some good company while you’re at it?
  • Yoga – I used to do some online yoga routines with friends in my final months of college.  I finally am starting to get back into that groove by taking a class at a yoga studio, and hopefully it can lead into my own home practice.
  • Writing – I eventually want to go publish fiction stories and it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything.  I’m getting to that place where I’m wanting to revise some of my drafts, so I’ve been taking some time to read them.

It may just look like another list of things that I need to do, but I don’t see it that way.  I want to do these things because they are enjoyable and they will help me improve myself.  I could watch television for the four hours that I’m home or I could go through Tumblr posts or whatever – but there’s no real quantifiable outcome.

It’s ok to do nothing and sometimes, it’s needed.  But I’m starting to think that if I’m at least a little bit productive in my personal life, I’ll be able to feel less stuck in a rut.


The Weekenders | Connecting with my Greater Good in a Hike for Haiti


This weekend, I have learned again that things happen for a reason.

Back in September, my mom had asked all of us if we wanted to do a “Hike for Haiti” for our church.  I was reluctant because it was early on a Saturday (yes, I am that lazy).  However, her desire to do it outweighed my reluctance to get up early for one Saturday, so I registered along with her.

One month after registering, this past week before the hike, I was feeling pretty down.  I felt lazy and lonely with a short wick of patience.  When I have weeks like this, there really is no hope for me to get anything done – or to want to get anything done.  I will watch too much TV, eat too much ice cream, decide that I can exercise next week, and avoid contact with people, even my family members.

So, going to this weekend’s Hike for Haiti wasn’t really something I was looking forward to.  However, after a night out with my parents and family friends, I was kind of looking forward to going outside and being active – even if it meant just walking around.  I had also decided to cover the event as a Noozhawk intern, so it’d would be nice to write something afterwards and get something out there on the web.

As it turns out, the Hike was really a refreshing experience for me.

When we got to Manning Park, where the Hike began, one of the first people I ran into was my first childhood friend, Katie.  She was always a bright ray of sunshine in my life as a middle-schooler, and she’s still exactly the same person.  Ok, not exactly the same, but still as much infused with unicorns and candy in every fiber of her being as she was before.

I was able to meet a lot of people at the event thanks to Sr. Kathleen Patrice, who I’ve known since I was a little kid at elementary school.  The Hike was also a benefit for a local nonprofit called Destined for Grace and I was able to meet the founders and talk with them.  The organization has a lot of thrift shops in the area, those of which I love going to, and all the profits made at these thrift shops fund a school in Haiti.

And as the Hike started, my mom walked alongside some old friends and I was able to hang out with my brother and talk with him as we walked together. He and my dad were acting like goofballs the whole way there.  It was nice to be together.


He’s walking!


Just getting water from the well…

From the beginning of the week to the Hike, I felt like anything I did had no meaning.  Things would happen and no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could not change the outcome of things.  For example, no matter how hard I try to wake up early, it will never happen.  I could go to my parents’ prayer group, but I’m not close enough with everyone to make a difference.  I have also been brooding about things that are happening outside of my control, like where my boyfriend will go to med school.

Sometimes, in the words of someone who works with me, I was just having a hard time last week.  It’s not like anything has triggered these emotions (maybe hormones have), but I just feel them all at once.

I am not saying that going on the Hike for Haiti made my feelings go away, but something alleviated these feelings.  Action, and it didn’t benefit just me.  I decided initially to go on the Hike for my mom.  And I covered the event for my news organization because I didn’t think anyone in our community knew about this great event and about Destined for Grace.

Life is always a work-in-progress.  It will never be perfect and I will not always be happy.  But I think what I can take away from all of this is that action is always the best medicine.  Writing it all down, going on a walk, anything.  The less selfish the action is, the better.

I recently came across this quote that explained it perfectly for me.

Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.

– Ovid

So instead of using my strength to worry about myself, I need to remember to use it in the action of taking care of others.  That’s where my happiness lies.


Me after the hike :) Thanks for reading everyone!