I Hope Your Flowers Bloom

How do you define success, and how will you know when you have it?

Growing up, we all invision what our future will be like. In our daydreams we always think of a happy scenario, the “dream” life, where we’re successful, happy, and probably rich. This prompt is a loaded question, and I thought about how my answer would differ at different stages of my life.

If I were to answer this in 2013, it would be completely different than my answer now. It would probably be along the lines of : stay in college, transfer to San Francisco State, earn my degree, save money. For the longest time, graduating college was the only goal that mattered. And when I finally achieved that goal, that’s when I fell into my post-grad blues.

Keeping my mind on one goal kept me motivated. I wanted it, and I wanted it bad. The thing was though, once I achieved it, I had nothing else to look forward to. What now? I’ve always kind’ve been like that though. I make one goal thee goal, the HBIC of goals at the moment. I do that because I know myself well enough to know that if I overwhelm myself with multiple big goals at a time, I’ll feel swamped with “to do’s.”

So, I do one goal at a time. Graduating college was how I would define success in 2013. And I did it! It is to date the greatest accomplishment I’ve achieved. And I tried to grasp that proud feeling for as long as I could. Because I knew, eventually, the feeling would fade away, and I would have to draft out my next move for success.

And that’s kind’ve where I’m at now. It’s 2020, and my answer to what success is is completely different. Being a college graduate and coming up with my next goal has me stuck. Before this, there always seemed to be a clear path on what to do next. You know, graduate high school, go to college, graduate. All my goals have always been education based. So when I was no longer in the school setting, I had to re-evaluate what my goals were going to be.

You guys have followed me through my post-grad depression journey, and I’m pretty unsure what road to take. There is no “clear” path anymore. The endless possibilities excite most, but to me, I’m overwhelmed. I’m an overthinker, a planner, a whole jumble of nerves and uncertainty.

But one thing that has never changed, it is the fact that I want to remain authentic and true to self. I bring this up to a lot of my close friends. In journalism, you have to work your way up the ladder. I’ve realized while applying to some entry level jobs, that the journalism jobs that are in my range have nothing to do with my end goal. And I apply to some jobs, and after rejection after rejection, 1 job reached out. I was so thrilled that finally something bit back.

After much thought, I didn’t follow through with the next step. Why? Because it had completely nothing to do with what I wanted to use my degree for. It was ironic that I desperately wanted a journalism writing job, but when a writing job came, I couldn’t follow through with it. I was totally capable of the job, it was writing, but more so for a company maintaining their brand. That’s not me. I want to write for a purpose. To inspire. To share stories with meaning.

I don’t ever want to be a sellout for a check. That’s just not me. And sometimes it frustrates me. Because I know I need to work my way up the journalism ladder, but there has to be another way… where I’m starting from the bottom, but still feel fufilled in my writing. That day will come. Hopefully soon.

As cliché as this sounds, success to me nowadays is being happy. Genuinely happy. I want to be happy in life, in my job, in my decisions. Success to me is staying true to myself while being financially stable. Sucess to me is trying and taking chances on things that scare me, because I don’t want to think 20 years from now “what if.” Success to me is keeping up with the people I want to maintain a relationship with. Success to me nowadays isn’t anything material.

Of course, I dream of the day I have a car, own a house, and have a career I love that puts food on the table for my family. Who doesn’t want that? Not those things exactly, but stability and success in general. As I get older, the more I realize this : at the end of the day, as long as I’m happy with my decision, and I remain true to myself, it doesn’t really matter if others think I’m successful or not. Being happy and confident in my decisions is success.

How will I know when I achieve it? This is tough to answer. For me, I feel like I don’t simmer in my success for long. I achieve it, I get it done, and then I scramble onto the next task, the next goal, my next dream. I realized, while trying to answer this prompt, that I don’t celebrate my successes, because I’m too busy stressing over what comes after.

When I graduated, that was pretty easy to determine “when I had it.” I literally got my degree and was finally done with school. I walked those stages and milked my time on Oracle Park’s big screen TV. But its a little tricky to determine success on things that aren’t so black and white.

The thing is, our definition / goal of success is forever changing. My answer today may not be my same answer in 10 years. But I hope it is the same answer since happiness is very important. A part of success is realizing how far you’ve come, and simmering in the moment. That’s something I know I definitely need to work on. Being in the moment and celebrating little victories in life. I get so caught up in the bigger picture that I fear I’ll just keep pushing for the future without looking or realizing I’m knocking out mini goals along the way. I tend to miss the baby steps and just want to fast forward to the top.

But that’s not how it works. Even though that’s how I’ve been dealing with goals. I have the mentality of “well I’ll celebrate and slow down and be happy when everything I want is accomplished.” And I realized that that’s such a sad way of living. Because during all that time, I’m thinking that happiness and being proud of myself will come years down the road. Having “everything together” takes years, and to be honest the list never ends. And then what? I’ll never be happy and proud? bLAck pARty has a song entitled “Bloom,” for which this post is named.

“I hope your flowers bloom,” he repeats and repeats. “I hope you grow up to be everything you want to, I hope your flowers bloom…”

Like flowers, success and fulfilling goals just doesn’t grow over night. You spend days, weeks, months, years, planting your seeds and watering them, caring for them, until your flowers bloom. That’s the same for goals. You just don’t achieve great things over night. You have to work towards them, baby step by baby step. And we should acknowledge those baby steps.

As I grow older, I’m realizing that the most important thing is true happiness. Money don’t mean shit if you feel like shit inside. For me, the job that can pay me 6 figures ain’t shit if I feel like a corporate sellout and that I’m losing sense of my values and beliefs. I have a vision of what kind of writer I want to be. My success may come with struggle – oh, it’ll definitely come with struggle – but as long as I feel fulfilled in my work, and I feel like my purpose is being served, that’s all that really matters to me. Of course, we all want to be successful and make money. But not at the expense of my happiness.

These flowers have been blooming and growing in my backyard for as long as I can remember. Today, I went outside to take a picture of them for this blog. I asked my dad, “how long have these been here?!” For I haven’t really noticed them or remembered them being this vibrant and plentiful growing up.

“They’ve always been there!” My dad said, “You just probably never noticed because the bushes were always in the way.”

He cut down the bushes in our backyard during the Shelter in Place. He’s right. I knew the flowers were there, I just never really noticed or cared about them my 25 years of living in this house. But since my dad cut out the bushes, I noticed how abundant the flowers were. The flowers had more room to grow, to flourish, to bloom. Over the years, sometimes they bloomed, and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they weren’t getting water, sometimes the weather wasn’t agreeing (that happens in the very foggy Bay Area), but sometimes, everything aligns and these flowers bloomed.

The bushes my dad cut down blocked these growing flowers for the longest. Its all I ever saw from my bedroom window. Today, I stepped out into our backyard for the first time in a hot minute. I saw plants that were once so tiny, tower over my parents as they fried fish in the backyard. I saw everything that the bushes were covering all these years. All these plants and flowers blooming and growing this whole time. That’s how I feel about the mini baby goals we crush to achieve our main goal. They get overshadowed by the big main bitch – the bushes – and nobody really stops to look past and see that what was once a seed is now growing and flourishing.

I hope the same for not only myself, but for all my readers. I hope whatever goals you are planting and watering, working towards everyday, I hope you achieve it. And when you achieve it, I hope you celebrate how far you’ve come. I hope your flowers bloom. 🥀🌸

Teaching Preschoolers on Zoom!

My alarm goes off at 8 AM, I pick up my phone and slide the alarm off. I look at any notifications I may have, and scroll through social media. I might even Google something random that I think of. Had this been 3 months ago, I would not have the luxury to chill in bed and look through my phone at 8 AM. Around 8:20, I finally get out of bed and get ready to start my Zoom classes.

Yes, you read that right. My Zoom classes with my 2 year old students. I lazily make my bed, and walk up the stairs to brush my teeth. I’m usually greeted by my mom, who is also working from home. In fact, everyone in my family is home. I quickly eat something right before my class. I’m usually not a breakfast person, but once my Zoom classes are over, I try to go back to sleep until it’s time for lunch. Why? Because I can.

My janky laptop, that I’ve had since 2013, only works when it’s plugged into the outlet. And even then, my poor shot dead battery reads, “Plugged in, not charging 0%.” This Shelter in Place made me realize how I need to stop lagging on getting a new laptop. My camera quality on this laptop is so pathetic, but I make do.I used to do my Zoom classes in the living room, but our WiFi is so bad there, that I had no choice but to do them from my room. I would literally freeze, or I’d have robot voice. The look of confusion on my students’ faces tell me that im probably frozen. The first week of Zoom classes, I did them upstairs in the livingroom. And without fail, after every class, my mom would come out of the room, pausing her work flow, just to mimic the songs I just sang with the kids. Haha! These are crazy times!

It’s been almost 3 months of Sheltering in Place in the Bay Area. In the beginning of this lockdown mid-March, I was relieved because this was the break I so desperately needed. Sleeping in was so nice, we didn’t start live Zoom classes until April. I had so much free time on my hands I didn’t know what to do. But as the Shelter in Place kept getting extended, I started to follow a routine. Zoom classes, go back to sleep, eat lunch, watch paranormal shows on TV, do 1 on 1 Zoom chats if I have someone signed up, go for a walk, shower, dinner, watch more TV, fall asleep on the couch, and make my way down to my room around 2 AM.

The Shelter in Place got extended twice, and here we are more than half of May done, not knowing if it will be extended once again. Its crazy to think that by the time everything opens up again, 2020 will be atleast halfway over. Its been so long, I can’t picture myself going back into my pre-COVID-19 routine. I’ve adjusted to this Shelter in Place gracefully. I’m already a homebody as it is. So when the Governor says “Stay at home unless you absolutely have to…” I’m like… say no more, sir.

Since this Shelter in Place, a lot of the parents from the school have expressed their gratitude to me and all the other teachers. Everyone knows that being a teacher is not an easy task. There are good days and bad days. Especially dealing with 12 kids 5 and younger, a lot of the times you find yourself with your hands full. Being Sheltered in Place with their child/children, has given some parents more insight on being an early childhood educator.When we decided on doing live Zoom classes, I will admit that I was a little skeptical. How was I going to capture the attention of 8 two year olds in each Circle Time class? Getting all of them to sit still and participate in person is challenging as it is, how much more through the computer?

“If anything,” I thought, “These daily Zoom classes will keep the structure that they know from school, while letting them see their friends and teachers faces.”

I had to switch up my teaching style to convert to the online world. Muting everyone is a must, raising hands and thumbs up and thumbs down are our new norms, me speaking in Dora the Explorer fashion (asking questions and pausing, reading their muted lips through the video screen) was kind’ve awkward at first. But we all had to adjust.Nobody expected the Shelter in Place to last this long. We are almost 3 months deep into social distancing.

Yes, that’s a long time for us adults, but for young children, this must be a lifetime to them. I imagine what it will be like once we go back to school. Almost 3 months of not being at the school will be like their first day of school all over again. So it’s nice that we get to see each other over Zoom.

We have also been writing letters back and forth with our pen pals. We divided up the school roster among the teachers, and have been keeping in touch with our penpals since April. Its so sweet to read what they want to share with their teacher, and what they look forward to.At the end of April, when we were hit with another Shelter in Place extension, we decided to switch it up. Our Zoom classes were going well, but we felt like we should add another component. That is when I suggested doing one on ones – having students sign up to talk to any teacher on Zoom to have a video call. By taking away the learning component, and just having a casual conversation between teacher and student (most of the time with a parent), we hoped that this would help our school community feel more connected. This proved to be a hit.

In one of my Zoom calls, my 4 year old student told me all the things she’s been doing since Shelter in Place. I was telling her how I’ve been spending my time, and how I miss her and all her friends. Since this was the first week of the Zoom 1 on 1 calls, I brought up how nice it was to talk to her 1 on 1.

“I like how I can talk to you and have a conversation with just me and you!” I told her.

“Yeah! And I like how both of our mics are turned on!” She replied eager and happy.

When she said that my heart melted. This is the new norm for my students. And since she is one of the older students, she is aware of the pandemic, why school isn’t in session, and why we have to learn through the computers. It made me sad when she said that, just because we are living in such a different time. Kids this age shouldn’t be refrained from talking and sharing their thoughts. But essentially that’s what we have to do when we mute the kids. We don’t do it for malicious reasons, but for the simple fact that sometimes there would be more than 15 kids attending a class, and the background noise just gets to be too much and too distracting. These memories and way of life will truly go down in our history books. She’ll grow up to tell her peers, “hey, remember in 2020 when we had to sign up for Zoom Circle Time classes when we were 4?”

Another student I had a 1 on 1 conversation with, is 5 years old. We can carry out a real conversation for maybe hours. But since these are scheduled chats, she knows she has a time limit. In the middle of showing me her toys, she cuts herself off…

“Marinelle, how many more minutes do I have left?” She said gently knowing that I would possibly have another meeting right after.

All these questions and responses pulling at my heart strings! I felt pretty sad that she even had to ask that question, that this is the current situation we’re in. Little did she know, I didn’t have anyone else scheduled, and was letting her take up as much time as she wanted.

Since I’m teaching the youngest of our preschoolers (2 and younger), they don’t understand what’s going on. Most of their side comments when they raise their hand for me to mute their mics are just little random sweet nothings. But I’m okay with that and its honestly the cutest thing. I will literally be in the middle of a lecture of whatever it is that I’m teaching, and someone will raise their hand. I unmute their mic and ask them what they would like to share with the class.

“Dinosaur! T-Rex! Roarrrrr!”

“Look at my lovey elephant!”

“I love pancakes!”

Everything totally irrelevant to the topic at hand, but oh soooo sweet! Kids really do say the darnest things. And if anything, I’m always left with a smile on my face or laughing out of cuteness or randomness.

Its been a challenge to keep my 2 year olds engaged. I have to think of new ways to spark their interest. I’ve found the reward system is really helpful. My kids love them some felt stories! I always tell them in the begining of the class what we have planned, and if we do very well during our learning component, we will get a very special felt story. Kids love the simple things. And it could seriously be the same felt story everyday, and they’ll still be interested. Its something to look at, something to sing along to, something familiar from school.When I see that they’re restless, I like to call on each of them at any given moment for them to answer a question. It keeps them on their toes, and they like the opportunity to be unmuted and share with all their friends. These are definitely some trying times – where my creativity as a teacher is being tested.

Two weeks ago I logged onto my first live Circle Time class. One student joined the class, and set up “Teachers plant the seed of knowledge that lasts a lifetime!” “PHK Teachers rock!” A second student joined in, excitedly telling me she drew me something- a green heart with “Thank you Teachers!” I was so confused and surprised. I thanked them and told them how much I loved their kind gestures. When I signed onto my second Circle Time, I was greeted with more love.

“Teaching is HEART work, thank you! We miss you!”

“Thank you Teachers!”

“Thank you!” With a beautiful flower

“Thank you! I miss you.”

” ‘Why do you love your teachers?’ ‘Because they give me lunch.’ ”

My heart! Seeing all these signs (literally all to the screen at the same time) gave me an overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation. I took pictures of my screen, but won’t share because it has my students’ faces in it. But I was so surprised that I wanted to cry. I didn’t even know that it was teacher appreciation day/week, but I definitely felt the love and gratitude through the screen. I told them (even though they’re 2) that I felt like it was a surprise party for me and I was so happy I wanted to cry. I – who by the way, am horrible at receiving surprises – said “wait…… I’m so confused, did y’all plan this or something 😭🤣.”

Teaching is not an easy job. There are some days where I feel defeated and wish I had more patience, or handled a situation differently. But at the end of the day, its moments like these that make me feel so fufilled as a teacher. Especially with Sheltering in Place, the parents have expressed their gratitude and appreciation more often. Its funny, before each vacation break we have, parents will always say goodbye with “you deserve this break. I don’t know how you guys do it.”

Being a teacher is hard work, but so rewarding. Especially at the age that I’m working with. They’re so funny, energetic, and hyped for everything. I made them a tooth project by hand and drew all the food, and they were so hyped for the different snacks I drew. I miss hearing “byeeee, love ya!” “I love you, Marinelle.” “You’re so funnyyy!” And all the random things I between.

During this Shelter in Place, several of my students have asked me to come over their house to play 🤣. “Maybe one day when Coronavirus is over, you can come to my house.” “Maybe my mom can set up a playdate so you can come to my house.” “Maybe you can come over one day so we can play this game!” I must be doing something right if I have multiple playdate offers. Hahahaahha.

Mother’s Day 2020

“You’re exactly like your mom.”

“You’re mom’s twin.”

“You act just like mom.”

Growing up I would retaliate with “noooo!” being that I wanted to be my own person. But now that I’m older, I realize now that I am definitely my mother’s child.

I’m proud to say that I’m the outspoken woman that I am because of my mom. Growing up, she always taught my sisters and I to stand up for ourselves, speak up, and never let anyone fuck with you. She hates to admit it, but our smart mouths and witty responses are all thanks to her. We just all turned out to be her mini me’s.

Mother’s Day 2020 looked really different this year. Usually, we flood our parents room in the morning with our gifts for our mom. Then we all get ready to make the 1 pm mass, and celebrate with a Mother’s Day lunch just us 5 after church. Around dinner time we would head to Tatay’s house where we would celebrate with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles. This has been a tradition for as long as I can remember. Due to the pandemic, we had to celebrate differently.

For starters, none of our Mother’s Day presents came in on time. The present I bought didn’t give me a tracking number for 2 weeks. I saw the ad on Instagram and should’ve read the comments first! All the comments claim that it’s a scam – no one recieved their product. I was so mad I found the real website and ordered it again. Neither came in time. And my sisters’ orders also have yet to arrive because of the pandemic back up.

None of us had gifts to give, church is closed, restaurants can’t be dined in, and we haven’t been to Tatay’s in over 2 months to protect his health – being that he’s 96. It sucked to think that Mother’s Day 2020 was going to be a flop, given that our mom deserves all that and the bag of chips.

We ended up having a takeout crab lunch at home – roasted crab, garlic noodles, chicken wings, prawns, and veggies. And of course our meals wouldn’t be complete without boba. Our mom was happy and most importantly she felt special on her day.

Its so easy to overlook the work a mother does on the daily. My mom has done her duty as a mother non-stop since my older sister was born. Her being a hardworking mom is all we know her to be, its so routine and second nature that sometimes we hardly notice how hard she works for our family.

When I was still a stressed out college student, there were many times where I wanted to just skip class and not care. My mom and dad were all I could think about. I know that all they ever wanted was for my sisters and I to get that degree. My parents have sacrificed so much for us, and that was my driving force to complete school. And honestly, everything. I dream of the day where I can pay it all back. Because they’ve always worked hard for us, never made excuses, always busted their asses.

Growing up my mom would always hit us with the infamous, “Bahala ka / Bahala ka sa buhoy mo” (Do you what you want / Do what you want with your life). This phrase is no stranger to Filipino children growing up. Its usually said in a petty, passive aggressive tone. It could have you in tears at the drop of a dime. When you hear that phrase, that’s how you know your parent is thoroughly over you 🤣. But as a mother, I know that she’ll always want what’s best for us. And hearing that phrase all my life has humbled me to choose the right path, use my head, and think of how my actions can effect my family. But also catching her bluff, knowing that my mom would never turn her back on us.

Another saying my mom would tell us growing up when we would be arguing – yes, it ain’t always rainbows and clouds over here – is the saying “You’ll know when you become a mother.” And as I grow older, I’m starting to understand more. Its true. I don’t really understand yet because I haven’t taken on the mother role and have kids of my own. But I do know that when I have kids and raise them how my parents raised me, I’ll definitely find myself repeating this phrase to them.

My mom is everything I aspire to be one day. And even though this Mother’s Day looked a little different this year due to COVID-19, it was still a celebration. We ate food, drank boba, and ended the day watching the new episode of 90 Day Fiance. In our family, we don’t share our feelings, we show it through action. My mom’s acts of service for the whole family, her selflessness, and the sacrifices she has made for her children to have a better life does not go unnoticed.

“You’re just like your mom,” is now a phrase I’ve learned to take pride in. My mom is hard working, loyal, and always putting our family first. Even though we’re all getting older, no one’s love will ever come close to a mother’s love for her 3 “prinsesas.” LOL.

To the woman that holds us all down, Happy Mother’s Day, Queen! Just like your presents – your post is late 🤪💘

I Saw The Sign

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

This is the question I have sat on this whole weekend.

To me, the quick and simple answer is no. Letting things naturally fall into place doesn’t mean you are being neglectful or careless. But, of course, going with the flow is easier said than done. This is something I find hard to do a lot of the time. Why?

Because I follow a plan. Not a strict one of course, but to some extent I’ve built out the skeleton of how I plan my life to be. And when things don’t go according to plan, I feel like I’m losing control and I feel lost and stuck. Is this way of thinking detrimental to my mental health? As you can see, answering these questions have only brought up more questions for me to answer.

Why is it that when someone does not have a plan, they are seen as irresponsible? While someone who does have a plan but gets thrown a curveball and freezes at the shock of things falling out of line is seen as unprepared? For both scenarios one thing remains true – you can never fully plan out or predict the outcomes of your life.

I’ve always been taught to have a plan, to not just do something for the sake of wanting to do it. I’ve also been taught to exhaust all possibilities – the good and the bad. And this is where I find myself stuck. Constantly outweighing the pros and the cons of every major situation/ life decision causes me to over-think, over-worry, over-analyze every possible detail and scenario, that I close myself off. And then I’m stuck. Stuck not knowing what to do, do you make a drastic change, or do you do “nothing” and let things go on the way they’ve always been? “Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken,” is the closest thing to my mentality.

But, that also means that there is no room for growth or improvement. Is staying where you’re most comfortable the best choice? I beg this question because I don’t know myself. Of course, it seems like the obvious answer is along the lines of: No! Without a little discomfort there is no growth!

But how do you know when it’s the right time to let go of your comfort zone? Does the right time even exist?

There are obvious answers, like the right time to buy a car. You have to make sure you have the consistent funds, the license, and the need for a vehicle. Most people don’t just decide they want a car and go pick it up. You have to do your research, see what your options are, and make sure you plan accordingly. Obviously, if you don’t have the funds, don’t have the license, or the urgent need for a car, it wouldn’t be “the right time” to purchase a vehicle.

I like to call this my “stalking,” phase. When I want something, usually that something will take out a great chunk out of my wallet, like a new phone, laptop, makeup, or clothing. I don’t usually spend my money on stuff (it’s mostly food when I hangout with friends and Uber), so when I do, I make sure its what I really want. If its an electronic item, I watch YouTube reviews, unboxings, reviews, and stalk the shit out of it for months. I make sure this is an item I really want, I take into consideration people’s pros and cons. Once I feel like I’ve stalked enough and I’m ready to buy it, I will save up the funds. All the while, keeping a close watch on possible sales, discounts, etc. That is true for me right now as I plan to buy a new laptop. The one I have right now is so beyond dead, only works when it’s plugged into the outlet, and heavy as rocks. I already have my eyes on a particular laptop, and when I get in the buying/stalking mood, I do my research. All of a sudden I know all the features and aspects as if I’m a computer wizard- which I’m totally fucking not.

That is the same for when I buy clothes or look at expensive makeup products to buy. About a month ago, I knew that the Rogue sale was coming up for Sephora. My sister is a Rogue member, meaning she gets 20% off of her purchases. This is a big deal, and these sales are usually when we stock up and figure out what we want. Being Sheltered in Place, I had all the time to stalk all the products I wanted. When I’m telling you I read maybe more than 150 pages of product reviews, I’m not kidding. What throws me off sometimes though, is when there’s a couple of 1 star reviews but the rest are 5. But anyways, I take into consideration all the information handed to me. Then, I look at reviews from different sites (sometimes they’ll just post the reviews from that brand’s actual website and I feel like I’m being played.) Not only will I go through multiple sites, I’ll ask friends if they’ve ever used it, then I’ll turn to YouTube videos. I guess its the journalist in me, to try to get all the information to make a decision for myself. I weigh out all the possible pros and cons and see if its worth my coin. But at the end of the day, regardless of the reviews, its up to me whether I want to buy it or not. And all those reviews can be completely useless if my skin reacts a different way.

My point is, this behavior just doesn’t stop at shopping. This way of thinking applies to my actual life as well. When I have a goal, I do the same. I try to talk to people who have achieved that goal, have the same goal, or are in the same track as me. I want to know what actions they are taking and what their plan is/was, so we can bounce back ideas and I can kind’ve see what my path should look like. Once I’ve heard the stories of successful people in the industry, and know how my peers have gotten their foot in the door, I’m left to make a decision for myself. In other words, I get the “reviews” in real life. I’m interested in people’s stories – how’d you get to this point? Was this the path you’ve always wanted? How should I go about making moves in the right direction? How’d you overcome the hurdles? Any advice?

But, at the end of the day, its my life. Its my path. I can interview all the people I want and ask for their advice, but our circumstances are different, our journeys are different, our priorities are different, so our paths will be different. Knowing this information, I still ask for advice from those around me, those I trust, those who are going through the same thing. But deep down I know that my life decisions depend on me.

When I feel like I’m in a crossroad, I’m that friend that will vent about it until a decision is made. And sometimes, a decision isn’t made at all, and I choose to do “nothing.” But I feel like there’s a thin line between going with the flow and letting everything fall into place vs. not doing anything. How do you know when the time is right? How do you know when its time to act?

And I guess I just don’t trust my judgment. I’m so afraid to make the wrong move – career wise, decision wise, and life wise. I’m terrified to make a move in the wrong direction, that I end up not even making a move. How can things fall into place if I keep dodging them? Is “going with the flow” and “letting things naturally fall into place,” my excuse for being too afraid to make a confident decision for myself?

And my argument sometimes is : I’ll know the right time when I see it. And sometimes, I’ll even ask God/ the Universe for a sign to point me in the right direction. And if I don’t recieve those signs, was it just not meant to be?

If I see a butterfly, I’ll know that’s Mama coming to me telling me everything will be okay.

If I save X amount of money by this time in the year, it’s a sign that I’m financially ready to move out.

If I dream about XYZ that must mean its a sign to ____

If I don’t get a job offer by ___, that’s a sign that I should ____.

And the list goes on. Its like I’m playing a guessing game with myself. For the most part, I will say I do believe in signs when its so blatantly in front of your face. But what if there are no signs? What if you just have to make a decision without really knowing where either decision will take you? What if no sign is the sign? Or what if there’s no signs at all and I’m just looking into coincidences to justify decisions in my life? How will I know? When is the right time for anything?

If ya’ll are annoyed with my questions, just know that I’m even more annoyed with me, because these questions roam around in my head daily. But I will answer the first question in this blog post. In case you forgot what it was since I asked like 30 questions, let me refresh your brain:

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

Like most of my answers, nothing is ever black or white with me. I don’t think going with the flow and letting things naturally fall into place is equivalent to doing nothing. But I do think that with time, hoping things fall into place and seeing that its not, and still choosing not to act is equivalent to doing nothing. Not saying its a bad thing, especially since a lot of people can relate. Not knowing the right move is scary. But I’ve learned that if you’re waiting for a sign and the right time to act on something, that sign may not ever come. And it all comes down to what you believe in and what you’re confident in. But if you yourself aren’t confident in the decision, then you’ll always be stuck waiting for that sign, waiting for things to fall into place. But how can things fall into place when you yourself won’t allow it? In this scenario, which came first, the chicken or the egg turns into : which came first, the sign or the action?

Not knowing where a decision will take you is scary. Thinking of all the possible cons that can go wrong is also terrifying. As I get older though, I’m stuck wondering which is scarier: making the wrong decision, or not making a decision at all?

Shelter in Place Diaries – Marinelle

Before this Shelter in Place, I complained about not having enough time to practice self-care, do hobbies, or have a moment to relax and just be. It seemed like there were never enough hours in the day. I found myself falling into routine, and I had to find ways to switch up my week. That included spontaneous taco truck trips with my girls, meeting up for dinner with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and some more meet ups with friends in a food setting. Sometimes though, the best plans were no plans at all. I’m such a homebody, and knowing I could go straight home and relax after work was something I got excited about. It seemed like that was becoming my life story – the girl who never had enough time.

And then COVID-19 happened. And all I can say is wow. I definitely did not see this coming. And now, the girl who craved to be at home with no plans, is literally at home with no plans. Its as if Mother Earth heard my silent pleas for a break. Yo, Mother Earth, thanks but no thanks, you did it in the most fucked up way, but here we are, and I have no choice but to accept it. And now, I have plenty of time to do some of the things my heart desires, from home that is.

When all of this was first going down, I thought of the Shelter in Place Diaries series immediately. I knew I wanted to show how some people were using their time during Shelter in Place. What we are living through right now with this pandemic will probably be in history books. I picture myself being a wise grandma talking about, “back in my day during the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent my time… blah blah.”

I tried my best to reach out to different types of people to get different view points of your everyday Californian. From a single young woman living alone in San Jose and working from home, a mother having to find different approaches to teaching her 3 year old son in SoCal, an aspring rapper and producer in the Bay Area, a fitness coach having to convert all of his in-person classes to Zoom sessions in Elk Grove, to me – a writer / professional overthinker doing Zoom meetings with 2 year olds in Daly City.

I not only wanted to share my story, but my struggles as well. If you’ve been following me or have been a reader of mine for a while, you will know that I stress the importance of being transparent and real. In the era of social media and faking it till we make it, I want to be that voice that speaks the truth, and let people know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be 100% all the time. It’s okay to be honest with yourself and not put up a front for others – whether that be on social media or real life. Not everyone has it together. And anyone that seems like they do, probably don’t. And for those reasons, I decided to document my Shelter in Place Diaries.

To be completely honest, I was on the fence about doing an episode on myself. There where times where I thought about deleting the videos I recorded, or just not doing it at all. But I knew that if I could ask someone to document about a week of their Shelter in Place for MY blog, that I should be able to do it as well. So, I decided to follow through and give you guys a glimpse into my Body Positive journey.

I find myself on my phone more, now that I have all this free time. Like I explained on my videos, sometimes roaming through social media can open up someone’s box of insecurities. And sometimes, you need to find a way to pull yourself out of that dark place before you’re stuck feeling like shit about yourself. I imagine that this Shelter in Place is tough for anyone who struggles / has struggled with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, or abusive self-talk.

I don’t take the “quarantine weight gain” jokes seriously or to heart, but I do understand that that can be a trigger for someone who is struggling with self-love. As a foodie, I’m out here chilling at home, ordering from UberEats and doing takeout to support local businesses, eating all my quarantine snack, and most likely gaining weight.

People turn to food for different reasons, whether that be for pleasure, to self-sooth, stress eating, emotional eating, or maybe even out of boredom. If you are overeating, it is okay. Its not the end of the world. If you’re gaining weight, it is okay, and your outward appearance does not define you. If you haven’t put on real clothes in weeks, that’s probably a sign that you’ve been complying with stay at home orders, and I applaud you! If you don’t like the person you’re becoming during Shelter in Place, find activities, TV shows, home workouts, or find small improvements that you can make to better your stay at home experience.

For me, that was drinking atleast 96 oz of water everyday, and going on an hour neighborhood walk. I was binge eating, and once I started recording what I ate on my food diary, I realized I was just eating because I had nothing else to do. I didn’t want to restrict myself from eating what I wanted, so instead, I would try to incorporate more fruit and water into my diet. Drinking a lot of water kept me from wanting to eat everything in sight, but also help keep my face clear.

I also practiced a lot of makeup looks, because for once I wasn’t on a time crunch. I cleaned my room, I did these projects for my blog, and I catched up on my Avatar books. But there were also days where I did absolutely nothing. And I appreciate those days as well because pre-COVID-19, I didn’t have the luxury to be chillin when I pleased. So I’m definitely trying to take advantage of my lazy days.

I made it a point to not put pressure on myself to create, to clean, to workout, to read, etc. My life before this was so routine-based. It feels good to do things on my time and when I feel like it. Originally, I thought this Shelter in Place was going to only last 3 weeks. But now knowing more information about COVID-19 and how it spreads it will most likely be a couple of months. I never would’ve thought that I would have this much time to create / work from home / be home. And I’ll probably never get this opportunity again. Its a good time to reflect, create when I want to, and map out future goals.

Thank you all so much for following my journey and supporting me! Truly means a lot! Here are my Shelter in Place Diaries:

Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System

California is just a little over 4 weeks into Shelter in Place. Originally, the plan was to shutdown for 3 weeks and hopefully arrive back to work with our usual routines at the end of March / early April. As the days went on, America soon realized that things were definitely not going to be back to normal in 3 weeks time. Even after things open up again, we as a society will slowly ease back into life before COVID-19, but with plenty of restrictions. Its safe to say that COVID-19 will have permanent effects to how we maneuver on a daily basis.

The 3 week mandatory shutdown was tough on business owners, but especially small business owners. It was hard enough to close for 3 weeks, but the extended Shelter in Place Order is forcing a lot of business owners to change up how they do business. This is especially true for Serge and his fitness business.

Serge is the creator and owner of “Positive High System.” He’s a Fitness Coach, eager to help those who want to improve their way of life through food and movement. He believes his Positive High program could benefit anyone who wants more knowledge and guidance in the fitness world. Before COVID-19, Serge was doing in-person training / group training. That, of course, is not possible anymore with the social distancing and Shelter in Place Orders. His clientele dropped by over 50% since COVID-19. As a small business owner, Serge knew that he would have to switch it up if he wants Positive High System to ride this pandemic wave and make it out in the end.

It is understandable that many business owners are frazzled and anxious about their business and their means of making a living. The unknown is what gets the best of people. Surprisingly, Serge, with his upbeat yet chill attitude, has decided to look at the bright side of this pandemic. It was already in his plans to open up the virtual / online component of training for Positive High. Online sessions were going to be Serge’s next business move later on in the year. Even though the timing is different, Serge took this as a message from the universe to act on the idea now. He has no choice but to. Serge has converted all of his in-person training sessions to live personal training classes on Zoom.

“Life is good,” he said on his vlog as he ended a workday early.

Serge is looking on the bright side of this Shelter in Place Order. He loves the fact that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend and son. He shares that before COVID-19, he would get home around 8 or 9 PM. But now, he ends his day around 7-7:30 PM, and gets to take breaks during the day to do activities with his son, Elijah. Serge is a very active father, and the Shelter in Place is bringing him and his family closer. He’s finding time to reconnect with family through gaming apps, still running his business, spending more time with family, and doing more hobbies and activities with no time crunch.

As if he wasn’t already making the most of his time, Serge puts his phone on “airplane mode” by 7:30 PM to be more present with his family. Instead of looking at what could go wrong, Serge is deciding to take the less traveled route – taking it day by day, adjusting if need be, and not worrying about the unknown.

Serge launched his new Positive High System app that helps it’s users log their food and beverage intake, exercise, goals, accomplishments, etc. What is unique about this app is Serge is just a message away if you need encouragement or help. There is also a video section of workouts you could do at home. Serge stresses that the point of logging food is not be obsessive, to calorie count, or make drastic changes – but to be aware of what you’re doing – eating wise and exercise wise. By being aware, you’re in a better position to see what it is that you can tweak to benefit your health if that is your goal. Saying Serge has gracefully transitioned during this pandemic is an understatement!

Check out “Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System” by clicking:

Shelter in Place Diaries – $wift JiGGy

March was just days away from coming to an end, and all of America was stuck wondering if the Shelter in Place Order was going to be lifted on April 7th. We were at the cusp of March and April and were anxious to know the verdict. Would we go back to our regular schedules soon?

No. The Shelter in Place Order was extended until the first Monday of May. May 4, 2020 is the new date to start countdowning to. Another month indoors. However, not everyone sees this as a bad thing. In fact, many have found themselves practicing self care by getting back into hobbies, reconnecting with friends and family, sleeping at a reasonable hour, cleaning the house, and tending to things that they just never had the time to do. Indeed, the time to act is now.

Bay Area artist, $wift JiGGy finds this to be especially true. Since the Shelter in Place Order, $wift JiGGy sees staying at home to be a blessing in disguise. Before COVID-19, $wift JiGGy was always busy with his day to day routine, promoting club events, while doing his music concurrently. Now, he finds himself with a lot of free time to chill out and work on his music.

$wift JiGGy is using this time as an opportunity to work on his craft as a rapper and artist. He takes us through his process of making beats with friends, how he promotes himself on social media, and how he decides if a beat is a mood or not.

You will see on the vlogs that $wift JiGGy doesn’t mind taking “break days” where Netflix, Hulu, snacks, and his phone are the highlights of his day. I think this is important to artists during this Shelter in Place. You can be an artist and not be creating everyday. It’s okay to not be creating. $wift JiGGy doesn’t put pressure on himself to create. He let’s the inspiration come to him and doesn’t force anything.

Watch “Shelter in Place Diaries – $wift JiGGy” by clicking: