Why ‘All Lives Matter’ Is Insulting

“Educate yourself.” That’s one of the many ways you can help play your part during the social unrest currently taking place. So this is dedicated to all the folks plastering “All Lives Matter,” on social media, and defending the term in person. I have seen this hashtag and phrase on my feed posted by people I know personally. Some of these people, I know they truly mean no harm, and others, I know what side their beliefs are shifting towards and cover it behind this phrase. The fact of the matter is, when your response to black people losing their lives to the very people sworn in to protect society is to say “All Lives Matter,” it’s a slap in the face. It’s insulting, frustrating, and triggering.

Why? Because obviously we all know in the greater scheme of things that “All Lives Matter.” But obviously, the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” is very specific to bring awareness to an issue that has been going on for decades. “All Lives Matter,” as an independent statement is something mostly everyone can agree on. But the second the term is used in conjunction to “Black Lives Matter,” it’s offensive.

Clearly the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is specific. Its point is to make the public see that Black lives are in danger in this society. Some police officers who are sworn in to protect and serve the people are using deadly force and hiding behind their uniforms to kill Black and Brown people. This is the community’s way to say “we are here, we know you hear us, we know you see this injustice, I matter, my life matters, my life shouldn’t be any less important than yours because the color of my skin.”

I have seen so many memes and cartoons explaining why many are frustrated when they see and read “All Lives Matter.” The meme I saw used the concept of a burning house. If someone’s house is burning down, you’re going to call 9-1-1 and the fire department is going to come to your aid to put out that fire. They’re not going to spray down every single house because “everyone’s house matters.” They’re going to help the house that is in danger and on fucking fire. Nobody is going to be upset at the firefighters for not hosing down their houses, because obviously their house isn’t on fire. That’s the same concept for “All Lives Matter.” Yes, all lives matter, but Black lives are the ones in danger right now. It’s not okay for people to try to make it about everybody and anybody. Just because you aren’t included, doesn’t mean you make the cause about yourself and everybody else. What is this, oppression FOMO? This takes away from the main point.

That’s like if a group of people were to come to my grandmother’s funeral and demand that we all acknowledge every single one of their relatives and loved ones that passed on, and my family comforts them for their loss. Even though the funeral is for a specific person whose casket is right infront of your eyes. It would be equivalent to going to a fundraiser to raise money to find a cure for a specific disease / cancer, and then having people come in protesting and chanting that other cancers and diseases are worse and need your attention more.

It’s frustrating to see people cling onto “All Lives Matter” because it takes away from the main point. It derails the focus, whether that be intentional or not, and it makes a group of people feel ignored. It’s even more messed up because “Black Lives Matter” is the Black community’s way of feeling heard and being seen. “All Lives Matter” is basically down playing the Black community’s suffering. That’s why it’s a slap in the face. You’re going to take a phrase that they created to bring awareness, and then use that same phrase to dismiss their feelings. And what about “Black Lives Matter” bothers you? The word “black?” If you can sit here and say “All Lives Matter” but feel uncomfortable saying “Black Lives Matter,” that means black people were never included in your “all.”

And I hate a “I see no color” type of bitch. If you don’t see that the color of people’s skin dictates the opportunities they get in life, the treatment they recieve from law enforcement, and can essentially put them at a disadvantage since birth, it just means that you have the privilege to not face those realities. And it’s OKAY to realize that you are privileged in some aspects. But it’s not okay to think that your experience is a blanket experience for every single person out there, because a lot of people do not have the luxury to ignore these issues.Why can’t some people ever let the Black community have their moment? Why does another opposing hashtag have to be trending as well? Why does “Black Lives Matter” rub some people the wrong way?

Like I said before, if “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, it’s probably because Black Lives were never a part of your “All Lives Matter.” But let’s break it down. You can’t chant “All Lives Matter” but exclude certain people from that saying. You can’t say “All Lives Matter,” if the LGBTQ community, all cultures, and those that aren’t U.S. citizens don’t fall under that umbrella. If all lives matter, you can’t be biased.

I still know a lot of people using “All Lives Matter,” and they genuinely don’t see why it’s so offensive to others. We all know everyone’s life matters. No matter what race, religion, economic background, and sexuality you come from or identify as. You matter. But for some reason it’s so hard for society to see that BLACK LIVES MATTER. And they need to spell it out in plain English for some of y’all to get it. Don’t hit them with the, “why does everything have to be about race?” It has always been about race in America.

The phrase “All Lives Matter” tries to silence “Black Lives Matter.” It tries to deny a group of people’s suffering and downplay their pain. It tries to make people think that they shouldn’t single out just 1 race, because ‘everyone’ should be included. And that’s definitely not the case when Black lives are threatened everyday by the system.

Filipinx For Black Lives

Illustration by: Marielle Cabillo

In the last week and a half, my social media platforms have been flooded by opinions, video footage, and information about the BLM movement. Everyone is getting vocal. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is posting non-stop. The problem is, everyone thinks their opinion is the right one. Some are willing to hear the opposing side, some are agreeing to disagree, some don’t want to hear it at all.

This whole week my group chats and messages have been blowing up. It seems like everyday, I’m hearing the story about another friend of mine confronting an undercover racist relative or friend on social media / text message. Everyone is fed up. People are done ignoring content on their timeline and just scrolling past because they don’t want to start beef. Nope, those days are gone. Silence has gotten us to this point. As a country, we’re realizing that staying silent isn’t the way. We’re realizing that ignoring undercover racists is doing a lot more damage than we think.

All these killings, protests, video evidence of police brutality are giving people the courage to finally speak up to those they call family or social media friend. I know it’s very tough, but the uncomfortable conversations need to take place. It starts in your household and those around you. That’s how we make change, by keeping the conversation going to educate ourselves, the people around us, who we raise, and who raised us.

I know confronting older family members or acquaintences you know on social media can be difficult for some. We all know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I understand why some people feel on the fence about confronting someone so directly – whether that be commenting on their post, texting, calling, or in person. But the death of George Floyd has really forced everyone to look at the people around them and decide whether they want to tolerate and allow people with differing views to stay in their lives. It sounds a bit dramatic to cut someone off for having a different opinion, but when that opinion is about racism and in turn denies / undermines certain groups of people, we have to really evaluate who we choose to surround ourselves with. And in order to make that decision, the conversations needs to be had with friends and family.

Being from the Bay Area where the Filipino community is very big, it gives me a sense of pride when I see “Filipinx for Black Lives” signs at protests. And I know for a fact that a lot of Filipinx kids are trying to educate their elders and those around them on the Black Lives Matter movement. And this is not something that’s easily done, especially in the Filipino culture. There is a generational divide between first generation Filipinx Americans and their elders. Especially being born and raised in the Bay Area, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a diverse community, people from all backgrounds and cultures. We grew up in an environment that allowed us to think freely, accept people’s differences, grow up with friends of different cultures, and live completely different lives than our ancestors.

We literally come from two different worlds. Generally speaking, traditional Filipinx born and raised in the Philippines are pretty conservative. This is where the generations seem to clash. Speaking against a Filipinx elder is seen as complete disrespect. Especially if it isn’t your parents you’re disagreeing with. It casts a bad name on your parents and it takes “who raised you?” to another level. For that reason, many Filipinx children find it hard to oppose their elders and their views. So the cycle continues for Filipinx American children: fighting the urge to speak out, avoiding conflict by ignoring ignorant comments, minding their business because they’re not in the conversation even though they’re ear hustling. Because we know, either from experience or how we were raised, that you should always respect your elders, and sometimes that means never speaking out of turn.

“If you don’t agree with what they’re saying, or maybe what they’re saying is wrong, it’s okay. Just ignore.”

We’ve been taught to ignore. Ignore the ignorance. Ignore the racist views. Ignore out of pocket and unacceptable comments. And if you speak out, you are shamed and seen as disrespectful. It’s a toxic cycle, because it punishes Filipinx Americans for speaking up and having an opinion. We are taught to comply and if you disagree, disagree silently. We are taught that your age is the deciding factor on if your opinion is valid or not. And in turn, basically saying respect comes with age and not earned.

This is the dynamic in a lot of Filipino families. But people shouldn’t get a pass to be racist because they’re older. This closes the door for open conversation and for education to take place. Sometimes conversations aren’t even started because you get the sense that some of these elders are already set in their ways of thinking, and no amount of facts, stats, or common sense can change their minds. So instead, some stay silent because what’s the point of stirring the pot if nobody’s gonna eat it anyways?

The truth is, if you confront an elder Filipinx relative or friend for being racist, they will deny it with all of their being. They are completely oblivious to how their comments, views, and microagressions hurt other people. And when someone responds on the defensive when confronted, it’ll feel like the conversation is going in circles. You can’t force someone to hear you out. Successful conversations only take place when both parties are willing to be open minded. When confronting someone about being racist towards the black community, they may use the excuse that they aren’t racist because they don’t use the “N” word. But there are so many other ways where racism can take root.

And it all stems from self-hate and fear. And that self-hate and fear has been passed down through generations through microagressions. Some traditional conservative Filipinx elders will swear on their graves that they aren’t racist, but when some really stop to think what they were taught when they were younger, there’s no hiding the fact that a lot of what we learned is racist and damaging.

Who you choose as a partner is a big deal in the Filipino culture. I’m pretty sure it’s a big deal in every culture as well, but I can only speak from my own culture. We are taught to look for a successful partner, of the same race preferably so there are cultural similarities, but if not, you better make sure they’re light skinned and rich. Bringing home an African American partner is frowned upon, while bringing home a Caucasian partner is seen as a victory. If your African American partner is successful and making good money, they get less shade points, but you’ll still get the side eye and be the talk of the party behind your back. If you bring home a Caucasian partner, they will be more accepted, and you’ll get looks of approval. A silent “good job” head nod will go around from aunt to uncle. In fact, your relatives will start to awe and woo over your future light skinned children who will *fingers crossed* inherit the “good features” of being white. Also known as, they pray your kid won’t have a Filipino nose.

And that’s an ongoing theme in the Filipino culture. They are so blatantly ashamed of their dark complexion and Filipino features. They have adopted the notion that darker skin is ugly and unwanted, and everyone should strive to be lighter. Lightening soaps and other products are so heavily advertised around the Philippines. They have celebrities swearing by these products, they have doctors on commercials, they have little Filipinx brown kids hating their skin. We are taught from a young age that being dark is something to be ashamed of, it’s something that needs to be “fixed,” while being lighter is the “goal.” But it doesn’t stop at wanting lighter skin. No, this goes deeper than the outside appearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my people and I’m proud to be Filipino, don’t get it twisted. I just know that we as a community and as a people are not perfect. There are toxic behaviors and ideals that should not be circulating around anymore. It’s 2020. It’s time to do better, act better, and be better. That being said, a lot of the conservative Filipinx elders try to do just that, in terms of being a model citizen. We as a people work hard, we push ourselves, we try to abide by the rules. Some serve in the military, some go into the police force, some take the route of civil servant. And unfortunately, some believe that their time being served will get them the same perks and treatment as white people. They try their hardest to be model citizens and get the approval of the white man. But the truth is, as a Filipinx in America, you can try as hard as you want to adopt the American culture, try to get their features, act like them, lighten your skin, forget where you came from, but you will never have the same privilege as a white person. We will never be on the same playing field because we are a minority.

We have more in common with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters who are also fighting to be seen as equals. We are all on the same boat, even though some people don’t want to acknowledge it. Instead of tearing our brothers and sisters down, we should link up and put up a united front. Because we are all fighting the same battle. Some groups have it way worse than others, but it is up to us to stand up to the oppressors.

There are some people that genuinely believe that everyone has an equal chance of making it, and that the playing fields are even regardless of your economic background and race. The argument of “if they are not successful, it’s because they chose that life.” Which is somewhat true, but only to an extent. The playing fields are not even, and a lot of systems for people of color, especially black people, is set up so they can fail. And if you can’t see that through which neighborhoods get good school funding, what foods are offered to those who are on a budget, the stats of those incarcerated, I don’t know what to tell you.

Some will argue that this is more of a reason for minorities, especially black people, to work 10 times harder. But the point is, why should they have to work 10 times harder just to make the playing fields even? It shouldn’t be like that. Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many people. It is in our Filipinx privilege that we are not the main targets of oppression and police brutality. However, please don’t get blindsided and think that you are the exception to the rule. You are still a person of color.

I believe a lot of the Filipinx elders are opposed to the idea of standing with the BLM movement because they are misunderstanding what it stands for. So let me make this clear : standing for the BLM movement doesn’t mean you condone looting, it doesn’t mean all cops are bad, and it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. The older Filpinx mindset is to believe that all the rioters and looters are a part of the protests. I’ve seen some referring to the protesters as “animals,” “barbaric,” and “thugs.” Please, please, please remember your history, and know that these are loaded terms. Never forget that Filipinos were showcased in Zoos for the amusement of others, to show and “prove” that we were barbaric and animalistic. How Americans view Filipinx people has changed and we have came a long way since the 1900’s. But it is time for us to stand in unison with our black brothers and sisters who are still having those labels attached to them to this day.

It is time for Filipinx people to stand and support black lives like they support black culture. For all the undercover racist Filipinx people who take part in these dance challenges to songs by black people, to those who cheer on black people but only when they’re winning your city a championship, to those who try to adopt the fashion, style, and slang, this is a message for you. You can’t love black culture only when it’s convenient for you. You can’t love what black people produce talent wise but leave them hanging when it comes to their rights and lives. You can’t chant “all lives matter” when you know you’re turning a blind eye to black people and their struggle.

Black people are dying every day from police brutality, and we are refusing to let this go on any further. The truth is, a lot of people are pressed about well known businesses burning down, churches, flags, etc. Things that are easily replaceable and essentially mean nothing. The fact that people care more about burning goods than black people’s lives is beyond me. You’re more pressed about people burning flags? Flags that were never meant for them, representing a nation that was never meant for them to be included in, a land they built for free and still get treated like second class citizens? But seeing black and brown people dying, being mistreated, arrested, maced, beaten, etc, is so common to you that you’re basically used to it? It’s truly a shame.

It’s time to have the uncomfortable conversations with family and internet friends. Silence is letting hate breed, especially if you have black people in your own family. Im proud of my Filipinx brothers and sisters who are speaking out against those closest to them, even if it’s difficult. Even if you’re seen as rude, disrespectful, abnoxious.

The generational gap is something we’ve struggled with. But times are different. Our generation are allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community. We are no longer staying silent to appease those who can’t see the bigger picture. Try your best to educate those who are too set in their ways of thinking.

Filipinx for black lives. We stand with you, we see you, we understand your frustration, and we’re here to break the chain of racism you might’ve felt from our community. It’s truly beautiful to see so many people of different backgrounds get together to fight for what is long overdue. So many people are breaking the chain of ignorance, unlearning racist ideals that they grew up on, and educating those around them. But it all starts with breaking the silence.

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:

Corona Confusion

We touched down in San Francisco from Massachusetts on a Sunday. That’s when we learned about the death of Kobe Bryant in our Uber ride back home. The news was such a damper to our incredible weekend, and that feeling of “Back to real life,” hit. You know, when you’ve been on vacation and experience that post-vacation high, and as more days pass that high dwindles down a little more and more each day until you’re finally getting back into your everyday routine? That feeling. Except I felt that “back to real life,” feeling not even 1 hour after touching down.

Christian had to get a livescan done for his coaching side-gig, so after dropping off our luggage at his place, we made the 15 minute walk to the UPS store. We should’ve called ahead, because the livescan person wasn’t in at the time. The worker explained that it’s best to call the UPS store before showing up for a livescan, since some stores only do them from certain times in the day, or only a certain worker does them. He called another UPS location that confirmed that they’d be doing the livescan service for 1 more hour. We decided to take an Uber there to not risk our chances of being late.

When our Uber pulled up, we got in and he greeted us through his mask. He was a 30 something year old Asian guy, who was very apparent about his fears of the Coronavirus. Immediately after entering the car, he starts talking about how serious the virus is. To be completely honest, I was hearing about news of the Coronavirus being spread in China, but I wasn’t thinking too hard about it spreading or getting as big as it is today. During the wedding weekend, I heard about 3 to 4 different conversations about the Coronavirus. It raised suspicions, but I wasn’t too worried about it.

Our Uber driver’s muffled voice continued through the mask. He was curious if we were up to date on the Coronavirus spreading throughout China. We said we knew about it, but weren’t closely following it. He was spitting straight facts, I knew he was reading and staying up to date with this topic.

“Did you know that ____ (insert exact amount that I can’t remember) thousand people commuted to and from Wuhan in just 1 week? Imagine all the people that have Coronavirus and don’t even know yet,” he explained.

“It’s gonna make it’s way here, watch. Its just a matter of time, protect yourself. Get a mask. Disinfect everything, in fact, here -” he reaches over to the passenger’s seat and takes out a roll of Clorox disinfecting wipes, “Can you do me a favor and clean whatever you think people have touched before you back there?”

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” Christian said casually. We each pulled a wipe from the bottle. We both wiped down the handles of the car door, and then quickly after that the whole surface of whatever we could reach of arm length.

“Yeah, after each couple of rides, I’ve been wiping down all the areas that passengers touch, just to make sure its clean,” he went on. “Especially if I hear someone do a little *sniff* I immediately wipe the car down, I’m not trying to risk it!”

It was like we touched down back to San Francisco and it was a new world. This guy was definitely spiking my anxiety. But also to be completely honest, I thought he was overreacting a little. The virus is going to make it’s way all the way over here? Really? And if it did, its probably not as big as everyone’s making it out to be. Maaaan, was I wrong!

He gave us little fun facts like how people can be carrying the virus and be symptom free for about 2 weeks until they start feeling something. Or how the infected person can feel nothing at all. All the while, in both scenarios, the infected person is still contagious. He was upset that China was initially trying to downplay how serious Corona is, and believes that America needs to learn from China’s mistakes and tackle this virus head on once it makes it’s way to the states.

“I even got me and my girl a mask off Amazon,” he said, this being probably the only thing he said that wasn’t nerve wracking.

We finally got to our destination, and we said our goodbye’s. Our Uber driver told us to keep safe and sanitize everything. I got out of the car ready to hear Christian’s view on what just transpired. We came to the conclusion that it’s something really serious in China, but maybe this guy was jumping the gun and just being a little paranoid.

We got to the UPS store in less than 20 minutes, more than 40 minutes until the livescan service was closed. We went in, “oh sorry, the employee that does the livescan just left early.” Cool, as if we didn’t just call 15 minutes ago. We were definitely back to real life. This was late January.

January 27, 2020 – Literally the day after arriving back from Massachusetts, we were back to our same routine at work. We literally left work that previous Thursday, ate dinner, chilled a little, went to SFO, caught a red eye flight at 11:15 pm, touched down in Massachusetts around 8 AM Friday their time, explored, ate, explored some more, took a 2 hour nap, went to the rehearsal dinner and ate bomb food, got back to the haunted Airbnb, prepared for the wedding the next day, went to sleep, woke up on Saturday 5 AM west coast time, 8 AM east coast time, got my hair did, did my own makeup, went to the most beautiful wedding, danced and partied, got back to the haunted house and ate pizza with the cool roomies, some who were also part of the wedding party, slept for about 2.5 hours, and was on the next flight back to San Francisco. So we immediately jumped back into real life as if we never left.

Anyways, that Monday I felt a little weird. I could tell that I had an itch in my throat, and I was probably going to have a little cold. I figured no biggy, it’s most likely because of the sudden weather changes – Massachusetts being snowy and basically a winter wonderland, and back to San Francisco where, for the most part, it’s basically a constant 60 degrees all year round. I worked the full 8 hour shift at work and then headed over to Christian’s place.

On Mondays, blog post days, I usually stay back at Christian’s place while he works out. He still felt a little tired and jetlagged, so he decided to take a rest day from the gym. I remember blasting the heater, having it facing me as I wrote. I was so cold. And the heater didn’t help as much as I thought it would.

“Its so cold,” I kept saying.

“Are you serious?” Christian said. I looked away from my WordPress app to look at him. Beads of sweat were forming on his head.

“Yeah, I’m really cold I want it hotter.” I said. It was so hot in the room he started to sweat, his shirt looking a little sweaty too. That’s how I knew I was going to be siiiiick sick.

I pushed through with the Kobe and Gigi Bryant blog post, but honestly I felt delirious. When I finally posted it, we turned on som Netflix, and I still complained with how cold it was. He begged me not to turn on the heater. When he touched me he said, “You are burning up. Your skin is so hot.”

Shortly after that came the body aches. I seriously felt like I was dying. And I was scared. I had just passed through the airport, traveled cross country, passed through the airport again, and work at a preschool. All I could think about was our Uber driver’s predictions. After a couple days of what seemed like death, my boss finally told me to take a day off and get checked. They all thought I was being dramatic when I suspected I had Coronavirus. Had this been taking place today, they would’ve believed it as well.

On my day off I went to the doctor’s. Something I never do. When I’m sick, I just deal with it until I’m better. This was a whole different type of sick. I felt like I was on my death bed. I told them that I was passing through the airport the week before, and they checked me out. Thank the universe when she said I was showing no signs of COVID-19. What I probably had was the flu. And that flu was the worst sickness I’ve ever experienced in my life. It seemed never ending. I just started to feel just “ok” after 2 weeks. 14 days of actual torture.

I recovered around my birthday, February 15th. People were joking that I had Coronavirus, but here we are a month later and it’s no joking matter anymore. I seriously take a step back and think of all of this and how it all transpired, and its mindboggling. It seems like ever since we got back to San Francisco, the news got worse and worse each day. And here we are, on lockdown.

Since January COVID-19 is all that’s been on the news. Hearing it take over China, then Italy, then slowly creeping it’s way into other countries is something I’ve never witnessed before. Yes, in my lifetime there were the SARS, bird flu, swine flu, etc. But I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. When news broke out that COVID-19 was in the US, I couldn’t believe it. The guy I thought was trippin’ a month and a half ago was right. It made it’s way. And we were not prepared.

It’s such a confusing time to be a consumer of media right now. You watch the news, go on social media, read news articles, and you don’t know which to believe. Some are saying it’s not that serious while others are locking down and stockpiling on canned goods. What do we believe?

It has always been serious to me, while others are saying its just basically the common flu, I still feel like that’s something to fear. I’ve had the flu this year and personally felt like I was slowly dying and there was no coming out of that sickness. Me, a young adult, felt like I was on my death bed. The elderly can’t handle this.

Simply saying it’s not a big deal because you as an individual would recover if you were to contract it, is selfish. Some think having a lockdown is dramatic and unnecessary, but they’re not taking into consideration all the elderly people that will get COVID-19 and not be so lucky. Soon, the hospitals will be filled and the workers in the medical field will have to determine who gets to live and who gets to die. What a horrible position to be in.

I’ve never seen anything like this in my life – stores emptied out of food, toilet paper, canned goods, and cleaning supplies. It seriously feels like we are bunkering down and getting ready for the apocalypse. What I don’t agree with is people stockpiling and being greedy. Just take what you need, there is no need for 75 rolls of toilet paper. Having people panic buy things in big loads, causes everyone else to go out and just try to get the stuff they know won’t be available anymore if they don’t act now. That’s why shelves are empty, people that really need the toilet paper and baby wipes are out, and the elderly can’t stay out in crazy long lines for hours.

It’s just crazy when I sit and think of just 2.5 weeks ago. It seemed like every single day, it gradually got worse, and now San Francisco is on lockdown until April 7th. Last week my work was still open, and planned to stay open through all of this. As the week went on, more and more information on the spread of the virus trickled in. Thursday night my boss finally called it – we were shutting down the preschool for the next 3 weeks. I never thought that was going to happen. I’m still shocked that this is all happening.

In a matter of what seemed like minutes, we got news of the Golden State Warriors planning to play their game audienceless. Then news broke out of the NBA player who had Coronavirus, and then the NBA haulted it’s season. It all happened to fast!

My friends from different parts of the US are reaching out. One pregnant in the east coast, not knowing if she should take pregnancy leave early. My friends in Boston fighting to work from home because the state hasn’t called shutdowns yet. All I can think about are those videos and messages from people in Italy telling us to shut down asap, that they were in our position just 10 days prior. All the while, the president was making a mockery of the seriousness of this issue.

My little sister came into the living room and announced that SFSU is canceling and postponing their graduation in May. This is what many of my friends feared. Everyone is afraid and confused of what’s to come. Like me, others have never witnessed something as crazy as this COVID-19 hoopla.

It’s especially confusing because where people stand on the virus is very divided. Some don’t want to comply with lockdown regulations and continue to be out in social settings. Last night, Mayor Gavin Newsome ordered that all bars, wineries, restaurants, and social settings be shut down, effective midnight tonight. I respect the actions that San Francisco is taking to keep its people healthy.

Turning on the news is pretty stressful. COVID-19 is all you hear about. You are bombarded with footage of empty shelves, long lines, death statistics. You see the stocks declining and talks of a recession. If you thought you couldn’t be more paranoid and anxious, these last 2 weeks have proved you wrong. But what should we do?

Easier said than done, but this is when we need self-care the most. Do the activities you’ve been wanting to do – start writing that book, start reading that book you’ve been putting off, continue that scrapbook, binge watch that show you always end up falling asleep to after a long workday, do things that bring you joy.

Yes, stay connected and know what’s going on in the world, but limit your intake. If its only going to make you go mad, especially being locked inside for the next 3 weeks, limit the time you will give to keeping up with the news. Its normal to be freaking out right now. This shit is crazy! But worrying about the state of the world is just going to break you.

Amidst this Corona Confusion, just know that it starts with you. You may not be in danger, but you can pass it on to someone who will be if they contract it. I’m happy that Newsome shut down all social gatherings, limiting restaurants to certain capacities, because it may hurt financially now, but the faster people comply, the faster this virus will be gone and out of our city.

I’ve never been on lockdown, so these next 3 weeks should be interesting…. stay tuned.

“Are You Filipino?”

It was Thursday evening, I just got off work at 5 PM and was waiting on a reply from the group chat with my sisters and cousin. Where were we going to freakin’ eat?! And when I mean “waiting” on their reply, I really mean I was blowing it up because nobody was responding to me. I told them to figure out where we were eating by 5 PM so I could Uber there ASAP to save time. But here I was, 5:05 PM with all the crickets. Anyways, that night, we were going to watch Jo Koy, a Filipino comedian. We followed him throughout his career and that night, we were finally going to see him live at Chase Center in San Francisco.

Finally around 5:15 my cousin texted the destination spot. The show started at 8, so I didn’t want to risk it for the biscuit by being cheap. I called an UberX to get to Mi Lindo as soon as possible. I waited outside on the sidewalk waiting for my Uber. All I could think about was how tired I was. I was thinking of taking a nap during my Uber car ride, but I was hesitant because of all those creepy Uber ride horror stories. My Uber driver turned the corner and in no time was pulled over right in front of me. I got in and did the basic greetings and confirmation on who the ride is for.

After about 3 minutes into the ride I feel myself wanting to doze off. Working at a preschool full-time got me going home at the end of the day pooped. I was thinking of taking that power nap, my eyes struggling to stay open. I usually have my earphones on during my Uber rides alone, but I was too lazy to reach into my back pack and put them on. Which was probably for the best, since this car ride would give me all the feels. There I was, tired, exhausted, not to mention hungry.

“Are you Filipino?” My driver asks me. He was a middle aged Filipino man, I would guess late 50’s barely early 60’s. But he later told me was almost 70.

“Yeah I am,” I responded happily. I had to turn on my customer service voice on. But honestly, I wasn’t really in the mood to have a full on conversation.

“Can you speak Tagalog?” He asked through his thick accent.

“I can understand Tagalog, and I can speak it,” I said. But then I started explaining myself. Yes, I can understand Tagalog completely when it is spoken to me. Yes, I can speak it, but it takes a while for me to translate what I mean and formulate it into a Tagalog sentence.

“Ah, it is because you were born here, ha?”

“Yeah. I was born here. I can speak Tagalog, but you can tell I have an American accent.”

“Oh, that’s okay. You know, as long as you can still understand, that is good.” He told me.

He kept the conversation going. He told me he was almost 70 years old, and has been in America since 2009 or 2011 (if I’m remembering this right.) He currently works 3 jobs total, Uber being his part-time gig. He is a caregiver for his other 2 jobs. He cares for elderly patients in their home, and does over night shifts. I told him I was on the way to see Jo Koy. He knew him as the “bald guy.”

“Wow, you work a lot,” I told him.

“Yes, I work a lot. To be honest, I don’t really sleep, just always work.” He explained further that of course he does sleep, but it is while on the job as a caregiver. When he’s doing his overnight shifts and his patients are asleep, he sleeps in a separate room, while occasionally checking in on his patient throughout the night.

“So when do you find time to do things you like and have fun since you work so much?”

“I don’t,” he laughed. “I like working. I’m old already. I don’t need to go to parties or anything.”

He told me how he enjoys working a lot. Working makes him happy. Sometimes when people talk about working a lot, its ususally negative. Its ususally followed by a “life is hard” speech or “all I do is work and it sucks” speech. He genuinely seemed to be content with his work load.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in America,” he told me. “You know that? If you are a hard worker in America, you can make a lot of money.”

We continued on with the conversation. He asked what part of the Philippines my parents are from, told me about his 2 kids back in the Philippines, how he came to America on a tourist Visa years ago, then had to work to remain tourist-ing. He married here in America, and his wife works at Kaiser. His daughter is graduating college in the Philippines soon and he was going to return back home for her graduation. In about a year or 2, he plans to move back to the Philippines for good.

Throughout our conversation I understood why he asked if I could understand Tagalog. He was struggling to speak English, probably the same way I would be struggling to speak Tagalog. The point was getting across, but it took a while. I thought about telling him to speak to me in Tagalog and I would just answer in English, but I didn’t know if it would come across as rude, or discourage him from speaking English. I tried to compensate by throwing in Tagalog phrases so he could understand more.

He asked about my name, and said how beautiful it was. I laughed and said my name is very Filipino since my name is a combination of my mom and older sister’s name. Filipinos love combining names to make a new name. He eagerly chimed in that both of his children’s names are a combination of his and his wife’s (the one in the Philippines) name.

He was shocked to discover that I’ve never been to the Philippines. He tried to sell the idea of me visiting with my family soon. “Oh you will love it there,” he went on. He spoke about all the Filipino food he cooks, and how his wife is chubby because he’s such a great chef.

I could tell that he just wanted to talk. I got zero percent creepy vibes from him. He never said it, but I felt like I reminded him of his daughter or something. He told me she was 20 or 21, me being 25. I think the fact that I’m Filipino made him feel comfortable. Just hearing about his life made me want to invite him to one of family parties or something. He told me it’s just him and his wife, that they met here, in America. Because of his busy schedule, I commented that he and his wife probably don’t get much alone time. From what he described, it seemed like he goes from job to job to job. The whole time I thought of how lonely that must be.

When I told him I graduated SFSU in Journalism he got happy. “Oh, you know, that’s like on the TV? Like broadcasting? You should apply! Just apply! You have a beautiful voice!” I laughed a little in my head because it’s a running inside joke with my sisters and cousins how deep my voice is. But I accepted the compliment.

He said something to me earlier in our conversation that stuck with me. When we were talking about Tagalog and if I could understand and speak it, he reassured me that it was okay if I had an American accent.

“It’s okay. You were born here, but your blood is Filipino. You might be from here, but your blood is 100% Filipino.”

We finally got to my destination. He pulled up infront of Mi Lindo. I told him that I really enjoyed talking to him, and for him to take care.

“Send my regards to your mom and dad,” he told me while waving.

I got in the restaurant, and my sister and cousin could see me from the window. My little sister commented that I was way too happy getting out of the car, prolonging getting out and saying 1 last thing before finally closing the car door. I told them that I just had such a nice conversation with my Uber driver.

Chase Center was only about 2 miles away from the restaurant we were at, so we were doing great time wise. We parked a couple of blocks away from Chase Center, but the short walk seemed longer. That San Francisco cold hits you differently at night. The kind of cold that makes your back hurt and body tighten up. Anyways, it was well worth it, paying $10 cheaper than the Chase Center parking garage.

Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors. It was a magnificent sight. It’s a beautiful stadium, and the outside of it was just as dope. It was a sea of Filipinos. We joked that we would all see people we knew. And turns out, we all did. All 4 of us.

We got to our seats, and waited for the show to start. The crowd was huge. And it was a sold out show. Finally, after much anticipation, Jo Koy finally entered the stage. He got an automatic standing ovation. I could only imagine how he felt, the stadium is huge, there were so many people. You could tell by his face that he was genuinely like, “damn, I made it.”

What makes Jo Koy’s jokes so much funnier is the fact that we can relate to everything he’s talking about. He’s half Filipino half white, raised by a Filipino mother. He may not be full Filipino, but his experiences growing up are exactly like mine. Feeling like you can relate to someone is such a great feeling. Especially since he’s made a name for himself, he’s telling the Filipino narrative.

I’ve watched Jo Koy since he was on the Chelsea Lately show. Honestly, I would get a little bummed when Jokoy wasn’t in an episode. They would cap on him for being Asian, and the running joke was that they never got the right type of Asian. He would always talk about him being Filipino, and growing up I got a sense of pride from that. Nothing more rewarding than seeing your people on the screen, and it’s a cherry on top when they claim being Filipino publically, and make an effort to rep it.

During Jo Koy’s act, he talked about growing up and not seeing Filipino people on the screen. He goes on to talk about representation, and how that shit is important. He tells the story of how his sister stitched on the Filipino flag on his jacket right before an interview. Why?

To represent all the Filipinos out there, but to also inspire other Filipinos to dream big. He went on to talk about Manny Pacquiao, and how he was killing the game in the name of the Philippines. And how proud he was to see Manny on the screen. And I can relate to that so hard.

I remember when Manny was first coming up, before he was the main event, before all the fame. We were in my aunt’s living room, and he was an under card fight. When Manny won, they lifted the Filipino flag behind him. “Oh, he’s Filipino?” I remember my dad saying. And then Pacquiao got bigger and bigger, and made/ is continuing to make history. I felt that shit. The pride and admiration Jo Koy was talking about, I can relate.

Everytime there is a known Filipino doing big things in America, best believe that person will be on “Balitang America” (a Filipino news station that reports on American news that relates to Filipinos). Jo Koy is right, growing up, there wasn’t enough Filipino representation in the media. So when there was a known Filipino, we repped them, claimed them, and supported them regardless.

From Manny Pacquiao, to Jo Koy, to Apl.de.ap, to Rob Schneider, to Bruno Mars, to Shay Mitchell. Once we learned of their Filipino heritage, us as a community support them like super fans. It gives us a sense of pride to see someone that looks like us on the screen.

Jo Koy tells the Filipino narrative through jokes. He sheds light on issues in the Filipino community, like holding grudges and not talking things out. This is a topic I’ve talked about with my cousins and friends! It’s some real shit. And as a comedian, Jo Koy jokes about some of the toxic Filipino traits, and even though he is making people laugh, it sheds light on the issues at hand.

“Stop that shit,” Jo Koy said when talking about holding grudges and going mute, “Talk! Just talk! Communicate!”

Seeing a Filipino like Jo Koy make it big makes me so proud. Having someone that represents your culture, in media that is predominately Caucasian, really does inspire other Filipinos to dream big. It’s an even better feeling when you’ve followed somebody throughout their career, and finally see them reach the top. Jo Koy said he wore that Filipino flag on his jacket to inspire other Filipinos out there, and it makes me proud. Because I have the same mentality. All these Filipinos in different professions, making a name for all of us in those fields is a beautiful thing.

I want to be successful, not just for me, but to represent my people. I come from Daly City, one of the most Filipino dense communities in America. But the fact of the matter is, once I go out of Daly City or the Bay Area, the Filipino community gets smaller and smaller. There are parts in America where people don’t even know what the Philippines is.

If you keep up with my blog, you already know I want to make it big to represent the Filipino community and shed light on Filipino topics with my writing. I can relate to Jo Koy and his need to rep his Filipino-ness hardcore to inspire other Filipinos.

Even everyday people, like my Uber driver, takes pride in talking and relating to another Filipino. When we see someone make it big and rep us, it’s a proud feeling. And I aspire to make my community proud like that in my lifetime.

One day this journalist will be getting interviewed, and they’ll ask me, “Are you Filipino?”

And I’ll respond with a proud, “Fuck yeah I’m Filipino.”

Sunshine After the Rain

How did Rain get here? Her story started years prior, but the passing of her baby brother, Josh, in 2015 is what triggered her to live her life… her way.

No more waiting. Live your life now. Life is too short.

And just like that, “Rain” was officially “born.” This time, legally.

Growing up, Rain always knew she was different. Back then, the LGBTQ community wasn’t as evolved as it is now. It seemed like being gay or being a drag queen were the only options she could choose from. Rain didn’t identify with either. But Rain knew since her early high school years that she identified as a woman, even though her outward appearance said otherwise.

In high school, Rain experienced her fair share of bullying. She felt like she had to hide her emotions. If she was angry or hurt by her peer’s bullying and taunting words, she would go somewhere private where she could cry out by herself. When people would ask if she was okay, she’d play it off and swear that everything was fine. Even though she truly felt like the joke was on her. Rain felt like she was an easy target back then because she was the, “obese gay boy,” that only hung out with girls and focused on academia. High school Rain has been called every degrading name there is to label a feminine male.

Unfortunately, Rain was incredibly shy and never spoke back to her bullies. She just accepted the taunting and knew that it would all eventually pass. The bullying just made it more apparent that she was different, and she was curious as to why she felt so out of place. Through all the bullying and her ruthless peers, Rain does remember one classmate in particular. She remembers him not because he was an asshole to her, but because he was the only one that wasn’t. His name was Jordan. He was one of the popular guys at school. All of Jordan’s friends would make fun of Rain and go out of their way to be mean to her. But she remembers vividly how Jordan showed her compassion and kindness. He would wave to her and say what’s up in the hallways, and would smile at her whenever they saw each other. He was a friendly peer that didn’t give Rain a hard time for just being herself. Unfortunately, Jordan passed away tragically before she graduated, but Rain remembers how his kindness meant so much to her during a very difficult time in her life.

“It meant a lot to me because many can hurt you, but it takes 1 to heal you completely,” Rain shares.

High school was the beginning stages of Rain finding herself. She knew that her parents had a hunch about her sexuality, but she never revealed to them how she identified as a female. That all changed on Prom night. Prom night – a staple night for a high school student. Rain remembers her prom night as the day she came out to her parents.

Right before Rain was going to go off to her prom, her parents sat her down in their backyard in Hayward. Her dad calmly asked if she was gay and liked boys, and if she has ever done anything with a boy before. Rain finally revealed to her parents that she was attracted to men, but she didn’t have any experience with them. A weight was lifted off Rain’s shoulders. She could see on her dad’s face that he was relieved that the talk was quick and to the point.

Her parents accepted her, they already had a feeling that Rain was “gay.” Rain admitted to being “gay” to her parents at the time because she wasn’t totally sure how to identify. All she knew was that she was attracted to men and felt like a woman. She looks back and laughs at how obvious it was that she was attracted to men, and that her parents had to have known. She was obsessed with boy bands like The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and is embarrassed at how much money she spent on “those boys.” Since she was open with her dad about not having any romantic experiences with men, she gained her parents’ trust. They were more concerned for her safety and how she carried herself.

You know how movies depict prom night as a magical, important, and life changing event in a teen’s life? Well, that was true for Rain. Not in the traditional aspect, she didn’t fall inlove and get her first kiss from her crush, like how Hollywood depicts it. But prom did change Rain forever. That night, she fell in love with herself.

At the actual event, she dressed in men’s clothing, feeling completely uncomfortable and not herself. After prom, Rain and her friends hit up the after parties. That night, she borrowed her friend’s plus-sized dress and boots, and they took over the night. She felt exhilarated. She never felt more like herself. Rain and her friends took the after party to a strip club in San Francisco. There she was, in a strip club surrounded by men in a dress and boots, passing with flying colors as a woman.

“It was so much fun because I never felt so good about myself,” Rain explains while remembering that night she dressed in women’s clothing for the first time. “I seriously felt like the woman I’ve always wanted to be.”

That night, Rain found herself. She always felt different and couldn’t put her finger on what would make her happy. But this was it. Being a woman made Rain happy. And from that day on, she dressed as a woman. She felt so good about herself, she didn’t want to hide anymore. She wasn’t afraid of what her family would say or think, or how strangers would react. She showed up to her family’s barbecue party in a skirt, boots, and makeup. She felt on top of the world, and didn’t want to keep it a secret, she wanted everyone to know who the real Rain was.

In her early college years, Rain tried to perfect her look. She dressed like a woman, wore makeup, and presented and introduced herself as a woman. Around this time is when she met her community of friends that were just like her. Rain’s uncle owned a restaurant/ club in South San Francisco called, “Solita’s.” A lot of comedians from the Philippines would perform on stage and do live shows at the club. This restaurant/ club scene brought in so many different audiences.

Solita’s is where Rain met a lot of her transgender friends. Solita’s welcomed the LGBTQ community with open arms. Rain quickly realized that many of them struggled to find work because they were being discriminated against because of their outward appearance and mannerisms. A lot of these transgender women were underground prostitutes, and that’s how they made their living. Their clients were usually heterosexual men who wanted to experiment with transgender women. Rain connected with a transgender woman at Solita’s who opened her eyes to the transgender world. One night Rain caught her friend making out with a guy outside of the club, she was intrigued, and wanted to learn more. She pondered on how her friend got a straight man.

Through this transition, Rain’s family supported her. Her mom and aunts bought her clothes, designer bags, bras, underwear, and other material things that showed that they were on board with Rain dressing up as a woman. Still, Rain felt like she had to be secretive with her personal life. She didn’t want her family to think that she was sleeping around and not doing things the “right way.” She never rebelled against her parents, she would sometimes push back with her choices in life, but for the most part she obeyed. Keeping her parents’ trust is something very important to her.

When it came to dating, Rain admits that she turned to the internet back in the day because it was easier to talk to men. Also, it was a lot safer because through her online categories and bio, it would tell her matches who she really was. She isn’t a fan of wasting time, so the internet was a way for her to express exactly what it is she was looking for. However, she quickly realized that the internet dating world wasn’t for her. Nowadays, Rain finds herself trying to connect with men in real life. Rain prefers to meet up with love interests in very public meet up spots. She knows a lot of her transgender friends would rather have an intimate setting, but for her own safety, Rain wants to be in a public area.

“When dating, we text each other to meet in well crowded public places, but then again I really don’t have a lot of experiences on dates,” Rain explains. “It’s mostly with guy friends or one on one with the ones I’ve known for a while.”

When she’s dating and knows something is getting serious, Rain will reveal to her partner that she is a transgender woman. But for the most part, she doesn’t say anything right off the bat because she wants to be judged as a regular human being. However, she plans to be very transparent about herself with future love interests because she believes they should know the truth. In her experience, most of the time they don’t ask, almost a kind’ve known topic that doesn’t need confirmation.

“As I get more confident, those days are so gone,” she explains when talking about online dating. “When I meet someone in person, like at work, they never ask me unless it’s going somewhere. Basically I want to ‘go with the flow’ and just be human. After all I ain’t an easy person – meaning I ain’t a hoe. My motive here is get to know him and see where it leads to. Now, if it’s going somewhere best believe I’ll break the ice and say ‘hey, sorry babe, but I’m transgender,’ so that it’s fair for the men. But nowadays most men don’t ask, they simply respect the way I want to be treated. I know for a fact they know of me, yet they still pursue me in a level of friendship or even intimacy.”

One thing that Rain takes very seriously is how she is perceived. She carries herself with high esteem and refuses to be a man’s fetish. She has heard of countless stories where trans women are used for financial gain, sexual curiosities, and just used to achieve someone else’s fantasies. And that’s not what Rain wants for herself. She knows herself well enough to know that she falls inlove fast. She wants to protect her heart, and guard her well-being.

“I just don’t wanna be jumping around with different men when I only want to focus on one,” she explains. “I want to save myself for someone who deserves me. I don’t want to live up to their lifestyle of just always looking for sex sex sex. I want to be different. I want to enjoy a meaningful safe life where its not all about being desired. I want someone to have deep conversations with, a simple dinner and movie, good laughs, holding hands in public without shame and without having to hide from anyone, and be able to show affection towards him with no hesitation.”

According to Rain, men treat her with respect and like a lady. She believes its because of the boundaries that she sets. She knows that she sets the precident for how she should be treated. But to her, it’s not about feeling desired from men. Rain doesn’t want a man so she can start loving herself, she wants to be content with herself first, fall in love with herself first, and a man’s love can come second. All she wants is to be happy with herself, content with her life, and most importantly travel the world.

Rain is the eldest of 5 children. When her youngest sibling, Josh, passed away tragically in 2015, Rain’s world fell apart. She was very close to Josh, and shared that older sister motherly bond with him. They shared a lot of the same interests, like food and anime. Josh was 16 when he passed away, and this tragedy changed Rain’s view on life completely.

“I believe if Josh was still alive he’d live his life the way he would have (wanted),” Rain says remembering her baby brother. “Imagine, a 16 year old in 2nd year college at Skyline, about to transfer to a university. A BSN major and minor in psychology; a life that I would love to have for myself. I’m so proud of him. I look up to him more than my own self. His teenage years I was there. He was my baby, I helped nurture him, understand him, guide him, and spend time with him. Josh and I were never selfish, we always care for our loved ones. When he passed, I chose to be a little bit more selfish for myself so I can fulfill his legacy, a promise to live the life I’ve always been wanting. When Josh died, I told myself, ‘That’s it, lets make it Rain!'”

After Josh’s passing, Rain decided to legally change her name. Her friends referred to her as “Rain” since high school / early college. However, her parents and family still referred to her by her birth name. When Rain legally changed her name, her parents and family had no choice but to comply. She filed for her legal name change, did her vows, and got the official document. To her, she did it the “right way,” by not rebelling and causing a scene, but by doing it legally and respectfully.

Why the name Rain? In the Play Station game “Galerians,” there is a character named Rainheart. She fell inlove with the powerful boss who is psychic and plus sized. But also because she loves cold weather, water, and the ocean. To her, Rain is a majestic and powerful name that she identifies with. Her family didn’t see it as the death of the man they once knew. They were just happy that they raised Rain to be a respectable human who kept the morals and values that her parents taught her.

Not only did Rain legally change her name after her brother’s death, but she also made the decision to transition. She is taking hormone pills, and plans to get her reassignment surgery done this July or August. Her family was supportive up until this moment. They believed that legally changing her name to Rain was enough. They felt like she didn’t need to do the reassignment surgery. But this is something that Rain has been wanting, and she’s doing it for her own happiness. Her family was against her getting a legal sex change because they are worried for her safety. They’re scared of all the sexually transmitted diseases that are out there. Her family knows people that have died from HIV/AIDS, so they are very weary. They are also worried about the complications that can go wrong during surgery. Not only did her family not agree at first, but her fellow transgender friends were not in favor either.

Her friends believed that Rain should keep her “parts,” and just use anal and oral sex. She is irked at the thought of her fellow transgender friends being so controlling on how the “transgender life should be.” Her friends were encouraging her to just use anal and oral sex to gain a reputation for herself, but Rain refuses. Her decision to have a vagina is completely her choice and something she’s been wanting to do for a while. She remains true to herself and her beliefs, though it might not be what her friends want for her. But she let’s her friends live their lives the way they want, and asks for the same respect with the choices she decides to make.

Right now, Rain is taking all the necessary hormone pills to stay on track for reassignment surgery in the Fall. The hormones in these pills sometimes makes Rain depressed, have mood swings, sweat more, and gives her a period every 2 weeks.

“Besides my high blood pressure pills, diabetic pills, here’s my hormone therapy pills,” she explains. “Spirolactin is a medicine to decrease testosterone level so that the estradiol pills works through my blood stream to increase my estrogen level. That I’ll be taking for the rest of my life.”

Rain admits that being a woman is tough work! Sometimes she thinks to herself why she chose this path, since the transition can be sometimes hard on her. She finds it tough that women have to be so concerned about their outward appearance, whether that be beauty, weight, etc. But then she remembers why she’s doing it. She identifies as a woman and feels the most like herself when she presents herself as a female. Everything she is doing if for her own happiness. And her dedication and bravery is nothing short of admirable and inspirational.

It took her some time to figure out who she was as a person. But that journey is what made her who she is today. When asked if she could give advice to younger Rain, this is what she had to say:

“(For) younger Rain, I’d tell myself: ‘Bitch, live now live everyday you only die once! Rain, so many opportunities you missed because you over think what others think of you… Don’t get stuck, if you feel like a real woman by all means make a goal to make it happen. See the world once you start making an income and while you’re young. Fall in love with yourself first before you fall for someone else because it’ll mentally destroy you! Stay healthy and be wise, research if you have time, if you have time to post on Facebook, bitch you have time to do homework and other important things! Take good care of yourself, pursue the happiness you’ve always wanted! Take care good of your siblings and your parents but spare time for yourself. Rain, me time is very important, it becomes a necessity not an option! Explore your world of adventures. Don’t wait for no one, let them be and they’ll follow once you show them what it is like to be one with the world. Clubs and loud music eventually will get over rated! Don’t get into a relationship just to be happy; be in a relationship with God and he will show you happiness! Always stay positive, always challenge yourself, be mindful before you react, actions are more valuable then words. Be humble, be honest, be nice, be calm, and be brave always… another thing count your blessings not the materialistic things!'”

She knows that there are some haters out there that don’t agree with the LGBTQ community. But her message is this:

“Above all else educate those who lack (knowledge) of our existence. I need for the community to know yes we do exist and will continue to co-exist until we are accepted peacefully. There’s still violence and discrimination out there about my transgender community, but we are doing our best to educate those who want further understanding of our world. Its also our job for my fellow trans to educate ourselves on how to better our future without having a war, remember we are accepted, respected, and acknowledge but to what extent if we ourselves don’t prove to those who want to know us. Let us change history to exist peacefully, in harmony, and in balance for everyone to have an open mind.”

When life threw her a curve ball, she made it Rain, full force. She has remained true to herself, ignoring other people’s desires and wants for her life. She is on a mission to live her life her way, and to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Self-Sabotage

Describe what your life will be like in 3 years if you continue to allow your bad habits to stand in the way.

For Christmas my little sister got me a writer’s deck of cards. I was so hyped because sometimes I struggle with finding new topics to write about that is out of my ususal – you know, post-grad life, personal anxieties, body positive posts, sad relatable content.

On Christmas day my sisters and I went through each card in the deck. They’re all mad personal and really make you think. Every single card in the deck is heart felt and makes you think of your past, present, and future. I feel like these prompts make you feel the feelings you need to feel to heal and brainstorm on how to do better.

“First of all, deck of cards, you don’t even know me,” I jokingly ranted to my sisters. “I don’t know who you think you are asking me these very personal questions, but I ain’t with it!”

“But why’re you getting defensive?” Merl said with her 4.5 Gimme Brow eyebrow raised, “It’s just a question.”

True. They are just questions. But they really make you look within yourself and reflect on your life. While I have other interviews to conduct, I decided to draw a card for Monday’s post. The quote above is the prompt I got. Woah. I could feel it… *Defensive walls starting to emerge*

But why? After all, these are just questions 🤷🏻‍♀️ On the packaging it reads something like, “path to better self” or something along those lines. And I believe it.

This one hit me. Damn, draws first card of the deck and has to admit all bad habits and look towards the future 😫. But okay. 3 years from now I’ll be 28. Yo, T W E N T Y E I G H T. When I was little I had my whole life planned out. I wanted to be engaged by 22-24, married by 25-27, baby by 27-28. And the age gap was me giving myself some wiggle room. The foolery.

It’s pretty comical to think back to my “plans” back then, and then actually see my life now. If someone was to ask me right now, 24 year old Marinelle who turns 25 next month, what is on my mind currently, it is definitely not marriage or children. It’s 100% my career and being successful – how to brand myself, what jobs to apply for, figuring out what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. Yeah, intense stuff. I’m at the crossroads in my destiny where I need to act now, or marriage and a family will be harder to obtain. If I can’t provide for myself, how much more for another life?

So in 3 years, the goal is to be successful, atleast have a foot in the journalism world, and make a difference with my writing. But most importantly be happy and content with where I am in life. My worst fear is living an unfulfilled life. That’s why I promised myself I need to at least try to make a living off of my passions, or I’ll forever be wondering “what if.” Because I really feel like my personality type is basically the perfect person to have a mid-life crisis.

But what will happen if I let my bad habits to stand in the way? A bad habit I have is definitely procrastinating. I’ve explained this in a past post. I have so many ideas and goals, but I go through periods of motivation and laziness. In the back of my head I know I need to act on things if I want change. For example, looking for journalism jobs. The logical thing is to apply to a few jobs everyday. Except I love to make my life harder for myself, so I’ll be too lazy to do anything. Until the anxiety in me builds up and I go on an absolute motivational rampage. Days, sometimes weeks, of not applying to anything, and then all of a sudden I force myself up and apply online for hours. This pattern and mentality will definitely hinder my future in 3 years if I’m too laid back about job hunting.

It’s like I want it all, but I don’t know where to start. So I delay that process until it’s all I can think about, and the only way to not absolutely resent myself is to force myself to do it. It’s actually a sick mind game that I keep playing with myself. Even though I know I’m just sabotaging myself.

Another bad habit I have that’ll effect me in 3 years is this belief that there is a perfect timing for everything. Not only that, but that I will “see the sign,” when the time is right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer of signs. I’d be lying if I said I don’t ask the universe / God / my dead ancestors for signs on certain things. And I do believe in them. However, sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. And sometimes there is no sign, you just do it. I mean that in terms of possible relocation, decisions, etc. Because if I’m forever waiting for a sign or some type of validation from the universe, I’ll be stuck in the same position I’m in. I’ve been waiting for signs, and not much has changed. But maybe that is the sign – nothing is happening, time for you to act. If I don’t act now, 3 years from now I’ll be on the same boat doing the same shit.

A lot of my bad habits point to one thing: I’m scared. But being scared isn’t going to help me. Not even a little. No benefit at all. I’m scared to make the wrong choice / decision/ step / move, that I end up staying in the same spot. And there’s no growth in that. I’ll be damned if 3 years from now I’m in the exact same position because I’m too scared to live my life.

I could also find myself alone in my life journey, if I continue to let my emotions run my mouth. I’m (too) good with the comebacks. I sometimes hurt the people closest to me because I say mean things in the heat of the moment. It’s a 2 way street of course, but sometimes I’m so out of pocket with the ruthlessness that I even shock myself. I need to learn to communicate my frustrations and annoyances the right way, and not just blow up with the people I’m comfortable with.

For over a year now (way late to the game honestly), I’ve been more serious about saving my money. If I want to be an independent adult, I need money. I’m not going to make an uncalculated move just to prove something. One thing that I stand firmly on is that I’m not moving out until I feel financially stable. And if I’m being completely honest, no amount is “enough” for the Bay Area. So until things make sense, I lay low and save. Which is way easier said than done. Sometimes I think of my parents and how what they had to go through at my age, and how they grew up and started adulting.

It’s also crazy to think of my life 3 years from now. That’s not even a drastic number of years into the future either. We’re not talking 5, 10, 15 years down the road, we’re talking three. But I guess it hits home for me because I feel like that’s a big gap. 25 for me is like “okay get it together but it’s okay to be confused, you’re still young. Find yourself, giiirl,” 28 year old Marinelle… yo, I hope that bitch gets it together because her biological clock is ticking at that point. 28 is just an age where it’s like, you should have an idea of what you want by now, and if you aren’t working towards it, what’re you doing?

Writing this all out just made me realize that seriously the only person getting in the way of what I want is myself. Yeah there are outside forces, but if I can distinguish what I personally can change to make my future more bright and go that much more smoother, why not change it? In 3 years I definitely don’t want to be in the exact same position. If I stick to my bad habits, I’m only playing myself. I’m self-sabotaging my own success. And then the joke is on me. I know everyone says this, but I really feel like 2020 is the year for change. Its the year to plant the seeds of what I want, and water them regularly, to one day see them flourish, so 3 years from now I’m not stuck thinking what I could’ve done to be in a better spot.

Anthony’s Decision to Pursue Music

Aspiring singer and songwriter, Anthony Regala, is determined to make it in the music industry. Though, it took him a while to make the solid decision to pursue singing, Anthony is sure this is the path he was meant to take.

Anthony is no stranger to performing. In fact, he grew up dancing infront of his family. Dance was his first love. And dancing was actually the gateway to him discovering the singing world. Anthony was inspired by the music videos he would watch of Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, and Destiny’s Child. His family always encouraged him to perform and hyped him up everytime he put on a show at parties.

Anthony was introduced to singing in the 2nd grade. His 2nd grade teacher started a choir group, and he was all for it. They sang karaoke, practiced after school, and got to see their practice pay off when they would perform at AT&T park and The Symphony. Anthony’s mom saw how enthusiastic he was about singing, so she enrolled him in voice lessons.

The first 2 years of high school, Anthony put singing and dancing to the side. That little break from his passions made his comeback that much stronger. His last two years of high school, Anthony signed up for theater and choir. The auditions he went through were exhilarating, and he found his way back to his passions once again. He sang his first solo performance, The Christmas Song, during Westmoor high school’s winter concert.

Anthony recalls one weekend where all his friends were busy, and he was looking for something to do. He decided to go to this mountain near his neighborhood, Bayshore. He took with him a pen and notebook, and it was there on a mountaintop that he wrote his first song. It was a random song about clouds, but Anthony knew that at that moment he had sparked an interest in song writing.

High school ended, and ususally most have college in mind. Anthony knew from the beginning that he wanted to pursue music, so he didn’t really care to take general education classes – or any classes for that matter – that didn’t have to do with music. Friends encouraged him to take at least general education classes, but Anthony felt like there was no need. He was content with his music classes, and still believes it was the right choice for him at the time.

Anthony admits that the first year of college was the most discouraging. He started seeing musicians and artists he knew pursue different career paths. When he would meet other musicians and singers, they would share that they’ve been told that music is not a “realistic” job. He started to see fellow musicians and peers having “back up plans.” He admits that this was very discouraging, to see talented musicians and artists put their dreams to the side for more “realistic” plans. It made him doubt himself because he saw people he looked up to take on different career paths.

“The first years of community college were crucial because I knew every choice would affect my future,” he said. “I went into it knowing what I wanted. If I didn’t make a decision, I knew that later down the line I would have to.”

This made Anthony doubt his career choices, and he declared “Sociology” his major in school. All the pressure and stress started to stack up, and he found himself overwhelmed and confused. He admits that he didn’t take high school too seriously, so college is where he had to push himself. He felt like he had to make a decision, and fast. The time was ticking, what was he going to make of himself?

“During this time I broke down, it was my cry out to God,” Anthony explained. ” ‘What am I gonna with this life?’ I went to the back room in my house, went on my knees, put my head on our little couch and just cried. Was I just in my head? During this, visions came to me of my previous performances all throughout my life. It was encouraging because right then is when I knew God was going use this gift He blessed me with. I didn’t know full picture of what would be, but that was when I decided I am going to do music. Even though I had no clue how I would do it.”

His mom was in full support. He jokes that it’s because she didn’t want the voice lessons she paid for to go to waste. Anthony’s dad supported his decision to go forward with music as a career and let him be. His family in general was very supportive and encouraged him to put himself out there as an artist. They’ve always pushed him to perform whether that be for the family or an audience.

However, Anthony did sense that his mom was a little worried about his career choice. The questions she would ask him regarding his plans pursuing music gave him a hunch that she was uneasy over the fact that it’s not a traditional career path. Her support was definitely there, but so was her mother instinct to worry.

“To be honest, I think this is where representation comes in,” Anthony says. “If parents saw more Filipinos in music, then they would not worry so much.”

Right now, Anthony is focused on building his following. He released his first song, “I’m Mine,” on Soundcloud, quickly released it on Spotify, then other streaming services. His goal was to gain traction, to get listeners to be invested in him as an artist, but also as him as a person. He used to post his covers on Instagram, and that would be that. Now Anthony is conscious to what he puts out there as an artist, and is starting to post things that show his personality. For example, he’s starting to share more on a stories, just so his followers and listeners get a feel of what kind of person he is.

“It could be easy for some artists to just tell people there song is coming out, release it, and a lot of people listen to it,” Anthony explained when I asked how does he try to promote his content. “Yes I have those people and I appreciate all of them, but getting my music to more ears has been an interesting challenge. There’s getting my song on playlists, which I’ve been able to do. However, getting on popular playlists has not happened yet and its a challenge for a lot of us artists. I’ve also learned there are so many ways to promote yourself, you just have to find what works.”

Anthony is trying to get out there, and has had a couple performances. He has had 2 showcases at Neck of the Woods, and occassionally performs there on Wednesdays for their open mics. He has definitely pushed himself out of his comfort zone. He recently started going to an open mic at San Francisco State. Anthony adds that he is always down to connect, so if you see him around campus or at an open mic, say whatsup.

He receives some money from streaming, but for now, catch him at the Museum of Ice Cream SF, and ask for Honey LavAnthony to serenade you via song! He knows one day that he will be able to provide for himself off his music alone. LA has been on his mind for a hot minute. But for now Anthony is trying to get the most out of San Francisco / the Bay Area (and save that money, honeyyyy).

Music is so important to Anthony because he feels like he can reach people. He wants his listeners to know that they are loved, and made like nobody else. To all the people that feel like they are unloved / don’t have a purpose, Anthony is trying reach you through song. He wants people to believe that “anything is truly possible.”

What’s Anthony’s word of advice to anyone out there chasing an “unrealistic” dream?

“Be a go getter, but with patience. There’s a purpose to it all.”

Rafa’s 2019 Reflection

There was just a couple more days of 2019, and I got a message in my Instagram DM’s. It was from an old high school friend, Rafa. She told me that she wrote a reflection of her 2019 that really hit home for her, and wondered if I would be interested in reading it.

Rafa explained that this was her first time writing a reflection, and it was a therapeutic experience that brought her to tears at the end.

“I thought of you when I finished,” she said. “I was like ‘I know somebody that will like this.'”

It made me really happy. I’m always encouraging people to dig deep within themselves for some type of self-discovery moment – probably because I aspire to be Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender one day… still currently Zuko with my angry ass 🤷🏻‍♀️. I always try to leave the door open for anyone who wants to share their story with me, and I thank you, Rafa, for not only sharing with me, but agreeing to have it be posted on here.

I feel like Rafa and I are very alike. We make our stories of our struggles and insecurities public in hopes that it reaches someone who can relate. I admire her ability to open up about her struggles and reveal raw emotions.

Here is Rafa’ 2019 Reflection:

The year of 2019… What a year for me…

This year I embraced my art of seduction and it felt so good to feel wanted and desired as a woman. I was able to experience and feel what its like to feel wanted… As a woman I felt the need to have that experience. I was searching for other’s validation in me. I was desperate to be seen by others that made me feel like I was “the next Kim Kardashian” yet not satisfied by all the attention I was getting. On this journey I learned and gained a lot of experiences. I gave my time to the wrong people. I met amazing people. I struggled financially. I cried. I screamed. I gained weight. I lost weight. I had hair extensions. I took them out. I decided to live make up free. I decided to embrace and love my natural hair. I prayed. I danced. I got drunk….. A L O T!!!!!! I smoked weed for the first time. I went out partying A L O T. Partying was part of me “seeking other’s validation”. I traveled A L O T. I experienced the rich lifestyle. I met celebrities. My phone would blow up with so many messages, calls, voicemails, DM’s from guys I was never interested in. I became toxic to myself at some point. I felt like the shit. I went downhill again. I realized that money doesn’t make anyone happy. I decided to take a step forward into my future career. I took big steps backwards because I had bigger bills. I worked out. I was able to reunite with my auntie after 16 years. I fought depression and I won throughout the whole year. I was selfish. I learned how to say “NO!” I learned how to walk away without looking back! I learned how to not give people second chances to come back into my life. I trained my head to be stronger than my heart! I was emotionally unstable and unavailable for love! I lead people on. I hurt the ones I cared for. I hurt myself. I built boundaries. I irritated a lot of people. I was at some point heartless, cold, & careless. I was stubborn. I unfollowed a lot of people I didn’t feel like I needed on my social media account. Others I blocked. Best feeling in the world!!!!!! I would constantly ask myself why can’t I have what they have? I confess to God. I was always very transparent to God. I was very transparent to myself and others. I loved & lost the person I was madly in love with.. I learned how to value my inner self, my beauty, my body & mind. With everything that happened this year the most important task that I did not fail was being a mother to my little girl… Yes I left her with family to go out but I always and forever will come back to her. 6 years later and I still haven’t found ways to explain what it feels like to love a child. It’s crazy because she’s my weakness and my strength. She drives me crazy. She gets me big time mad but I can easily forgive her and move on with my day…. She doesn’t judge me regardless of what I say or do. She loves my imperfections and she still sees me as her role model. And that’s crazy to me because I have so many flaws… I love being her mother. It’s like she’s my best friend.. She is so incredible and it’s so real… I tell her weekly “I don’t know how to measure my love for you but I love you as big as the sky” she always has this big ass smile, it’s so priceless and I’m so blessed to be growing together. I lived a life I always wanted to experience.. so when I’m ready to settle down I know that I will not look back or have the urge to live this wild life…. and after all I am so grateful for all that’s happened, the good and bad.. Maybe I’ll be ready for love in 2020. Maybe not! But hey, look at me now: still standing, laughing, smiling, loving, forgiving, & living.. Still a few days to enjoy the rest of this beautiful year of 2019…..

Love, Rafa 💕