We have to keep her safe….

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This was my mom yesterday when I dropped off food and groceries for her for the week.  It’s not a very clear picture since she had to stay behind the glass window.  She’s 88 years old.  Olivia was with me and so she is all smiles.  Olivia calls her “Lola” which means Grandmother in Filipino. I have not hugged or given her a kiss in weeks.  Her birthday is coming up next month but I don’t think we can celebrate until this nightmare is over. 

I miss her….but we need to keep her safe.

I purposely waited for a few weeks to write about how I am doing.  I struggled to find the exact word to describe how I was feeling these past weeks with COVID lurking just outside my doorstep.

Fear?

Anger?

Perhaps.

I feel fear the most when Peter goes out and gets groceries and when he comes home, we have to keep the groceries outside by the door for a few hours in case he brought the virus back home with the broccoli.  That goes for any Amazon packages and the rare times when we order dinner through Uber Eats.  We live in a bubble and I’m cool with that, for now.

I taste the bitter tang of anger….or more appropriately, BLINDING RAGE, when I hear the news about people who are woefully ignorant and indifferent by not self-isolating, not practicing physical distancing or those who think that this virus is a hoax or it will mysteriously disappear or would rather play golf when people are dying. Not going to lie–these types of people will only look out for themselves and to hell with everyone one else.  These people should not be holding any position of power as they would be the first one to throw their loved ones under the bus.

Indifference?  Definitely not indifference.  COVID is supposedly Mother Nature’s best revenge and we are all paying for all the price for our shameless treatment of all her gifts.  I am talking about dolphins in the clear Venice waters, blue skies over Beijing devoid of pollution, wild boars in the streets of Barcelona.  Whoa!  COVID pressed the “Pause” button and in the process highlighted the delicate balance between man’s seemingly limitless wants and nature’s finite resources.  When we come out of this, we should all rethink about how we live.  There is too much at stake.  There is no Planet B. 

However, not all is lost.  I have found lots of positive things that have come out of this whole COVID experience.  For instance,  working from home, I am getting more sleep, spending more time with Olivia and Peter, saving loads of money from not taking the train to work, spending less time figuring out what clothes to wear to work, getting laundry done and put away, and the house is always tidy.  I will truly miss all these when we finally are allowed out of hibernation.

So, what word best describes how I feel right now?

Uneasy.

Yes, I think that sums it up perfectly.  I feel that at any moment of letting my guard down or one little slip, I (or anyone close to me) could catch COVID-19 and my whole world turns upside down.  This is why I cannot comprehend how some people can protest that their rights are being infringed upon and “liberate” them from stay-at-home protocols.  Let’s see if they are still asking about their rights when they are gasping for air and asking for a ventilator.  They need to be taught a lesson.  I know, I know….COVID is really testing my mindfulness practice. 

Anyway, as Olivia and I drove away yesterday, I looked back at my mom, still staring out her window.  So close yet so far.

I miss her…..but we have to keep her safe.

I hope you and your loved ones are also staying safe and healthy.

Love always.

Debbie.

Dance like no one’s watching…

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My very good friend Holly left me a voicemail today.

“Just wanted to make sure you feel great and have that 30 minutes of fitness in your day.  I miss you hugely!”

She’s a personal trainer and she is checking up on me.  I know, right? She’s awesome.

I must admit, working from home due to COVID has brought out the workaholic in me and while I have been trying to get a workout in during the day, it’s been a hit and miss.

Anyway, I was doing the dishes tonight while my hubby was glued to CNN and the depressing news of the day.  I really didn’t want to hear any more disturbing news about how some people are skipping quarantine and still going out.  Come on, people!!!!  Ugh.

So, I grabbed my headphones and the first song that came up was Maroon 5 “Moves Like Jagger.”  If you haven’t heard it, check it out on YouTube.  At any rate, I never thought cleaning up after dinner would be so enjoyable.

Before I knew it, Taylor Swift’s “I Forgot That You Existed” came next and I found myself all alone in my living room…

I closed my eyes….

…and just like that, I was awkwardly dancing to Ed Sheeran’s new song “Put It All On Me”!  Three and a half minutes of pure and unadulterated happiness!  If you have the time to check out the video, you would understand!

Hey, no one’s here.  Even if I dance like Elaine Benes in Seinfeld, who cares! No judging.

Post Malone –“Wow”…I found that it had a good beat for squats…and calf raises.

Ed Sheeran…”Beautiful People”…I caught the words…” surrounded but still alone.”  I made a mental note to think more deeply about this… it resonated.

Billie Eilish, more Taylor Swift, more Ed Sheeran…(check out his new song “I Don’t Want Your Money”).

The last song on my playlist was Lizzo’s “Good as Hell”.  I love that song!

At any rate, I somehow managed to squeeze in 30 minutes of fitness tonight.  It wasn’t that difficult! Maybe tomorrow I will try to catch one of Holly’s virtual fitness classes on Instagram (@hgoldsmithjones). Check her out…she does so much in 30 minutes!

If not, I could always dance like no one was watching!

Let me know if you have any songs I should add to my playlist! (Most of my songs on my playlist are from Olivia 🙂

Stay safe and have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Love always.

Debbie

 

It takes a village…a look back at 2019.

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As the year comes to a close, I realize that 2019 has been a year of contradictions….full of ups and downs, a few tears from broken hearts but quickly replaced by an inner strength, and old friends lost but replaced by newfound friends.

However, through it all, I realize that it takes a village to get us through difficult times as well as share the laughter and good tidings during good times.

One recent example was when Olivia’s heart was broken one December day.  As she stood on our driveway, numb, dazed, blindsided, and not knowing what to do next, our neighbor from across our house came to the rescue. Peter and I were out shopping when we got a text from Oliva that “Aunt Mo” came and she made her soup, gave lots of hugs and stories about teenage boys not mature enough, and told her that she should not take high school boyfriends so seriously; the world is her oyster–there are so many more adventures waiting for her! Aunt Mo and Uncle Ray have been our neighbors for as long as I can remember and they might as well be family.  Broken heart restored and moving on…

Another recent example is when Olivia had a panic attack at school and her best friend Carol, Olivia’s math teacher Mrs. I  and her guidance counselor Mrs. D. took charge and made sure that Olivia felt safe and grounded during such a scary incident.  To this day, Olivia’s teachers check up on Olivia…I know because I am included in the check-in emails they send her. I also know that her friends like Kathryn and Khalid keep her focused and constantly remind her to keep it real…

As for me, I recently went back to my hometown in the Philippines.  I have not been back for almost 35 years and it was just because of Olivia wanting to “find our Filipino roots” that we went.  I left the Philippines when I was in my teens and I really never expected to come back since there are so many more other places in the world to visit!!  However, I was glad I came back as I got to meet up with my former classmates who still lived there and I was regaled with stories about how my nose was always buried in a book and somehow missed all the shenanigans they got into! My long lost friends were so warm and kind and actually took the time to meet with me and point out our old haunts…I had forgotten how warm and kind my Filipino culture is!  I will be back for another visit, I’m sure.

I’ve always tried to do everything on my own.  In honest truth, I like doing things on my own; I like being in control and not have to rely on anyone.  However, this year taught me that being part of a village is what makes life so much more interesting and more fulfilling.

As I read my 2018 post Happy New Year!, I realize that 2019 was even more wondrous as it made me realize that I am blessed to be part of an incredible group of people who has my back and look out for me even when I least expect it.  Thank you to everyone who made my 2019 the most awesome year ever (you know who you are)!

I hope you had a wonderful 2019 as well and looking forward to 2020!

Happy new year, everyone!

Love always.

Debbie.

“I’m allergic to B’s…”

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“I’m allergic to B’s.”  I still remember my mom telling me that over the phone and it hurt.

I was in my first year of university and honestly, even though I was a straight-A student coming out of high school, I was still finding my subjects difficult.  To top it all off, I was unprepared for being away from home, having to make new friends, making sure I had enough money for tuition, rent, and food, and the list of responsibilities went on….

Essentially, I had to grow up.

To be honest, I totally understood where my mother was coming from.  As immigrants, my brother and I knew the value of hard work.  Coming to Canada meant that if we worked hard, we can help my mom make a better life for us here.  Not only that, our older sister, Sofy, had worked so hard to bring us over… so failure was not an option. We had no choice but to work hard.  At any rate, I did graduate with honors and passed the qualifying exam on my first try.

But still….to this day, Peter still talks about the first time he actually saw me cry.

Anyway, this week brought this memory back.  Olivia had decided to do the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and for those who are familiar with this program, it is a doozy.  Olivia had such a tough two weeks with all her evaluations and tests, along with her other extracurricular responsibilities.  The final straw was her math test this past Friday where she said that it was so hard that some students started crying during the test since they had no clue how to answer it.  Some students even said that they cannot tell their parents about this.  One of her teachers called it “mathematical treachery.”

At any rate, I definitely am not following in my mother’s footsteps….

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Peter is the tough one since he always wants to figure out what went wrong.

                    Did Olivia study enough?

       Did she have enough Omega 3s to improve her memory? 

 Did she get enough sleep?

And his checklist goes on….Meh, he means well. Truly.

As for me…..

 I know the power of a comforting hug and shoulder to cry on.

So, really, parents have different ways of trying to make things better for our kids but one thing is for sure, all parents want their kids to succeed.

But as parents, sometimes we forget that our kids are just that…KIDS.  Their brains are still under construction as I wrote in my blog How to Survive Middle School: My Mindfulness Guide  (see point #4) ).  We may resort to threatening them, saying that they are not doing enough, or that they border on being useless, but we take the risk of that backfiring…BADLY.  These kids are already under so much pressure that they don’t need additional grief from us.  Would you agree?

Anyway, here’s hoping that Olivia’s weeks get better…and “No, I’m NOT allergic to B’s…”

Have a good week ahead, everyone!

Debbie.

Noah, The Brave Little Bunny

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I finally did it.  I had the courage to publish my first-ever children’s book!

It is about a little bunny named Noah, who just wants to go on adventures–not a typical bunny, that’s for sure!  He goes on an epic journey and on the way, he learns to trust himself and makes a new friend.

For me personally, just being able to do something so different from the world of numbers and accounting theory is a journey of discovery!

Check out my ebook on Apple iBooks or Blurb.ca.  Check out the preview to see what it is all about!!

https://www.blurb.ca/ebooks/698460-noah-the-brave-little-bunny

(I discovered that if you are viewing it on your iPhone, landscape orientation is key! I know, I know– I live in a cave!)

If you want a printed copy, it is also available on Amazon.ca or contact me!

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07V7K8LR9?pf_rd_p=46535598-d2e0-4bc4-8392-182d8c1e93fc&pf_rd_r=0NB4P124T72ZPXXHBMMN

Let me know what you think!  I would love to hear what you guys think!!!

I guess I can now legitimately call myself a children’s book author?!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Debbie.

Yes, YOU are “Good Enough”

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Olivia recently attended a friend’s birthday party.  However, when I asked her how the party was, she did not mention whether the cake was vanilla or chocolate, whether or not her friend liked her presents, or whether she had fun during the sleepover or not.

Instead, she told me how she felt judged as not “Asian enough”.  Somehow being half Chinese/ half Filipino, not able to speak either Chinese or Filipino, and not been to China or the Philippines are black marks against her. “White-washed”, she called herself.  

She was measured and she came up short. 

I find this subject really tiresome since this feeling of not being “enough” is really based on other people’s prejudices and biases…but here we are.

But wait.  I know exactly where Olivia is coming from.  In my mind’s eye, I remember the crippling thoughts just because someone said something and I latched on to their biases…

“I am…

        not smart enough…

                  NOT pretty enough…

                             NOT worthy ENOUGH…

                                                  NOT ENOUGH.”

Just not enough.

Yet, I wanted to yell at her.

“You are smarter than this!  Why would it matter if you are half Chinese, half Filipino, whether you speak the language or not, or whether you’ve gone back to countries where we no longer have family ties?”

But before I could say a word, Olivia said,

“Nah, I’m good. Doesn’t matter what people say.  Totally irrelevant.”

That’s my girl.

So, my dear friends, when you start feeling insecure and doubts start creeping in, ask yourself, as Michelle Obama did at one point in her life,

“Am I good enough?  YES, I AM.”

Have a good week ahead, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

“Running on Ramen” in Tokyo…

When Olivia told me their team name “Running on Ramen”, I actually chuckled. She is part of this team of high schoolers who decided to enter a TechUnder20 competition with an idea of developing a health app for teens.

I’m not quite sure if they really knew what they were doing but hey, these kids are fearless.  They pitched their app to a cranky old judge and although they did not win the $15,000 price, they walked away thinking they gave it all they’ve got along with some fond memories of coming in at 6th place… and of course, coming up with such a catchy cheesy name.

I remember picking up Olivia after the results came and as she recounted how they did, I marvelled at how these kids shift gears and take risks and have no fear trying something new.

In my mind’s eye, I saw this to be their team’s greatest achievement–do something different, take a risk, and see where it goes–aka “Running on Ramen” motto.

When I think of ramen, I immediately think of those fat traditional Japanese noodles in chicken stock and topped with vegetables and pork slices. Coincidentally, I am in Tokyo this week for Spring break!

Tokyo is definitely not for the faint-hearted…Best place to try “Running on Ramen”!

My ROR journey has been the following so far:

1. Carry-on only:

I have always been in awe of people who just have a carry on for when they travel. My brother Jonah does it all the time and he told me just pack the necessities… so I guess my favourite shampoo and conditioner stay at home. I made sure to book a hotel that provides these little luxuries 😂.

At any rate, my Osprey carryon backpack seemed smaller than when I bought it😢.

2. Onsen:

As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do…”

An onsen is a Japanese hot spring…and it is a must try when you visit Japan.

We went to one onsen/spa in Enoshima (about an hour away from downtown Tokyo) which allowed for swimsuits…

It was so nice, peaceful and relaxing ….until we realized the last train back to Tokyo was at 8pm and we had to go on full sprint back to the train station…

Oh well, so much for peaceful and relaxing!

We plan to go to another one in Hakone ( about 3 hours away from Tokyo). This time, I’m allowing 3 hours to make sure I get my f*^%~ peace and relaxation! 🤯

3. Instagram worthy:

I really have to be more understanding about the importance of the perfect “Instagram pic”.

Olivia also did the minimalist carryon route and so did not pack a lot of clothes as she lamented to her best friend Shayla 😂.

Enough said. We still have a few more days in Tokyo so I’m sure Olivia will get at least one Instagram worthy pic…and I just might cave and let her buy one cheap shirt…

I must admit I’m not that good of a photographer either, like Shayla’s grandma!

Well, that is it for now. If you have ever had an ROR experience leave me a comment!

Signing off from Tokyo!

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!!

Debbie.