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.

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.

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.