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.

“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.

Run your own race…

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The first time I heard this was when I was training for my first half marathon.

Makes perfect sense, right?

However, try sticking to that in the middle of the race when everyone is speeding past you and you are trying to keep up.

I realized then that it is not really just “run your own race”…it should also be “RUN AT YOUR OWN PACE!”

Needless to say, I did finish my very first half marathon at a half-decent time (no pun intended!) and went on to run many more races after that.

However, lately, it seems that I have to keep reminding myself (and others) that I am “running my own race and at my own pace.” when it comes to my own career.

“You could make more money somewhere else…”

“You are so smart; you should ask for more money.”

“You are already doing more anyway, why not get paid for it…”

Money, Money, Money.

In a fit of impatience, I had blurted out “I don’t want more money!”

In my previous experience, more money, meant more work, more expectations, more stress.

No thanks.  Been there, done that.

The best decision I have ever made was to leave my high-stress job, take a step down the proverbial corporate ladder, and take a significant pay cut.

“But you still get stressed in this lower-paying job, so why not get a promotion and get more money?”

But somehow, the stress is different.  I leave it all behind at 5:30 pm and I look forward to spending more quality at home…

Walking through my garden and seeing if the squirrels left me some strawberries…

Having a beer in the front patio and count the number of white cars that go by…

Getting the mail from the mailbox and actually sorting and reading the flyers that came with the bills…

Work should not be just about money.

But for some people, it is about the money…. which is unfortunate. I guess for them, their race is to amass as much money as possible, as soon as possible.

Wrong race for me…

I think next time, I will not feel the need to justify that my race is to find what makes ME happy and it may take me a while to figure it all out. My happiness is worth more than a million dollars in the bank.

So, when you feel that someone is pushing you to do something that you know is not for you, tell them:

“I’m good.  I am running my own race at my own pace.  Thanks though.”

Have a good week, 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.

 

 

 

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I went through my journals today and I came across this little gem…

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April 21, 2017, FRIDAY

I woke up angry today.

Maybe angry is not the right word…

Testy. Impatient. Bitchy.

I am not in a good mood.  I think I’m simply tired.  I need more sleep.

Peter came home late after a night of having a “quick beer” with the guys. It was a lot of “quick beers” and even though he took a shower, he still reeked.

I had just decided to ignore him and settle deeper under the covers when he started snoring. Not one of those normal snores but a gurgling kind of snore.

I froze.

It didn’t help that I was nursing a headache the whole day and it had not fully gone away.  It also did not help that he can just fall asleep within 5 minutes after his head hits the pillow. Ugh.

Gurgling snore.

I gave the bed a little jolt.  He grunted and then turned to his side.

Ahhhh…Peace at last.

Gurgling snore…this time, it’s somehow deeper and louder.  At this point, I was thinking he was doing it deliberately.

I coughed.

I caught a Snore midway…yah!  But, after a few restless minutes, the Snore is back.

I coughed louder and a jolt on the bed, for added effect.

Nothing. Definitely a lot of “quick beers”.

A myriad of thoughts race through my mind…do I give him a good nudge? Do I pinch his nose? Turn on the lights? Sprinkle him with cold water?  Lavender essential oil or maybe peppermint?

After a few minutes of mulling it over at 2 am, I gathered up my pillows and blanket and headed to the guest room.

…Ahhh.  Peace at last.

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And, that my friends, is the secret of being married to a gurgling snorer.  As a twist to a famous saying goes “If you don’t like where you are, LEAVE.  You are not a tree.”

Coincidentally, this week marks 22 years of being married to Peter….who may annoy me with his little quirks but will always be there when I need a hug.

Happy anniversary, Peter!

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.

Happy New Year!

2018 was such an awesome year for me!!!!

I realized that I take myself too seriously and learned to laugh at myself.  Olivia taught me this.

I learned that some people are very good at giving you the ultimate guilt trip or the silent treatment for even the smallest of things but I realize that I cannot control other people but can only control how I react to it.  So, I have learned to shrug it off and know that it is not the end of the world.  Who cares what other people think when the only thing that matters is what YOU think.  Easier said than done, I know but it’s worth it, I promise.

I learned that if you really want to do something, you go for it.  Don’t let other people discourage you from doing it (this is for my mother-in-law who said I shouldn’t write a cookbook since I can’t cook…yah, she’s a tough one).  Watch 2019 for a cookbook for those who can’t cook!!!

I have learned to forgive all the people who have thrown me under the bus (this is for my old boss who taught me that difficult people are learning opportunities to practice patience as per the Buddhist tradition!)

I learned to always watch my thoughts since sometimes, I always seem to veer towards the negative….

I learned that worrying is a waste of time.  If there is something you can do about it, then do it.  If it is out of your control, then worrying is a waste of time.  Let it go.

Finally, I learned to …. DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING!!!!  Close your eyes and let it all go!!!!!

Here’s to a new year and may 2019 bring us joy and new adventures!!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!

Love always…

Debbie.

 

 

EGO–how to deal with it.

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I’ve had a tough week.

As an accountant, I have had my share of meetings full of fragile egos and people who seem to exhibit sociopath tendencies and do not seem to care about throwing people under the bus.

Difficult people.  You know what I’m talking about. There should be a Difficult People 101 course.

Okay, you are right–I’m probably overreacting but I’m sure I am not alone when I say, dealing with difficult people sucks the life out of you and makes you wonder how you can deal with them.

Soon after I started my mindfulness journey, I began to really pay attention to the types of difficult people I normally deal with.  I started grouping them in the  following categories: 

1) Talkers (they talk more than they listen and they interrupt incessantly!),

2) Perfect (they are NEVER wrong),

3) Fake (they often lie to get their way),

4) Control freaks (they are controlling and their way is the only way),

5) Only Me (they bring down others to prop themselves up). 

I’ve thought of this long and hard and I think I may have a way that may ease the pain a bit.  I’m not saying that it will be roses and wine from now on but it may give you a new perspective on how to deal with difficult people.

E—Empathy.  Empathy is the ability to put yourself in one’s shoes and understand what they are going through.  In most cases, I have to remind myself that everyone has a back story.  It may be that they are under stress and feeling overwhelmed, or they have some personal issues they are currently dealing with.

G—Gratitude. Be grateful that you have a difficult person who you can practice your mindfulness on!  In the Buddhist tradition, difficult people are to be cherished. 

O—Opportunity. View difficult people as an opportunity for growth.  Pay attention to what your body is feeling.  Are you holding your breath? Did you just tense up? Tighten your jaw? Stay present. Stay silent and just listen with a beginners mind.  Perhaps, the difficult person may have a good point and emotions are getting in the way, or it may be YOUR EGO that is clouding your judgement.

One final thought–I always believed that these difficult people had inflated egos.  Now that I think more mindfully about it, it may be quite the opposite–they have deflated egos and they need to push people onto oncoming traffic because they believe that by doing so, they can attract more attention and elevate their own value.

What do you think?

At any rate, as I finish my second glass of wine, I am not looking forward to the coming week.  However, armed with a new perspective about ego and how to deal with difficult people, meetings may finally be something to look forward to.

Have a good week ahead, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

S.T.O.P. –A refresher…

 

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I had a little argument with Olivia on our way to school this morning.

I didn’t have time to make her lunch and I was a feeling a little vulnerable since I knew I have not been a model parent these past few days. I was on a training course and we were off our usual routine.  Although I get home earlier than usual, I do not seem to have enough time to do laundry, put away the dishes, or go for a run.

Although…I seem to have time for two glasses of wine and cheese, check the Raptors game, do some Amazon surfing for some retail therapy, sleep later than usual, etc…

At any rate, some consequences have certainly been felt the mornings after….I’ve been oversleeping, Olivia scrambling for clean jeans, no time to sit down and have breakfast (or even packing lunch), and both of us grumpy and testy in the morning.

I knew she was going through a rough patch too…she was worried she didn’t study enough for her Spanish test, she has a history project to work on, a finance test for DECA Ontario (an extracurricular finance club for young and upcoming junior executives), a math test to study for  (trigonometry, as I recall) and she was having some trouble prioritizing which one to deal with first….

Anyway, she said, “I’m hungry.”

For some reason, I took this negatively.  I immediately responded that we should really do better at planning our mornings or even consider laying out our clothes the night before and she should give me some ideas on what she would want for breakfast or lunch instead of relying on me to read her mind…and how late did she stay up last night that maybe she should be waking up earlier in the morning?

…all in my “pissed off” and “accusing” tone.

Silence on the passenger side.

Then I realized that with all the mindfulness practice and mantras I have in my arsenal, there are still times when I fall off the wagon and I revert back to old habits of mindlessness.

Anyway, I dropped her off and said, “Have a good day, honey”.  At this point, I was hoping that she had forgiven me for my outburst.  As I was waiting for the train heading downtown, I remembered one of the simplest techniques in my arsenal that I should have done:

S.T.O.P.

S–stop and take a time out; pause

T–take a slow breath in and out. Take another one, for good measure.

O-observe what is happening inside you. Were you holding your breath? How about your shoulders–were they tense and up? Just notice. No judging.

P-proceed; having checked into what is happening, continue with whatever you were doing.  Maybe, just maybe…you are feeling calmer and clearer to deal with the present situation.

Anyway, as I write this blog on the train on the way home (the course finished early! yay!), I remind myself that there will be times when I will fall off the wagon, but it is okay.

I can always begin again.

Next time, I hope that I remember to STOP… before I blow things out of proportion.

Hopefully, you will too….

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.