03 May 2016

Day 2: My Earliest Memory

As a child, music surrounded me.  It seemed like my dad was always playing his Elvis or Beatle records, tinkering on our piano, or strumming his guitar.  The melodies were woven into the blanket of love that my parents wrapped around me.  There was always someone who hummed or sang along to whatever music was in the air.  As soon as I could talk, that someone was me.

My earliest memory was my mom holding a microphone attached to a tape recorder in front of two year-old me while my dad played his guitar.  I sang this children's song from the Philippines complete with the hand movements to go with it.

I have two hands
The left and the right
Hold them up high
So clean and bright
Clap them softly
One! Two! Three!
Clean little hands
Are good to see

Thus began my love for music and performing.  I started piano lessons at age five and continued until my freshman year in high school.  I exchanged the piano lessons for voice lessons for a couple of years, performing in my school's musical variety show as well as for various Filipino organizations.

During the years that followed, I have left and returned to music several times with guitar lessons, more voice lessons, and the occasional YouTube instructional video.  What I realize now is that the long stretches of not singing and playing an instrument leave me feeling empty as if part of my energy source was drained.  Part of ME was missing.  Looking back at my earliest memory reminds me of how long music has been a part of my life and part of my family's identity.

Today I'm still singing, even if it's just in my car or my home.  And these two hands are now learning how to play a ukulele.

02 May 2016

Challenge Accepted!

All I needed was a little push to get back onto the writing wagon. My cousin Kevin, also a writer, invited me to participate in a 30-day writing challenge. Over the last few months, we have been talking about how we both want to grow and improvement.  It is time to shut up... No more excuses... Ready, set, go!


Time Suck
Saturday morning, I woke up early, cleaned my kitchen, ran a couple miles (I'm getting back into running), and visited my chiropractor for my recent bout with plantar fasciitis.  It felt great to accomplish so much before ten o'clock in the morning.  When I got home from my appointment, the weather took a turn for the worse.  The sky darkened and it started raining so hard it sounded like thousands of tacks hitting the cement.

Great.  I'm stuck inside...

And then I picked up my phone.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.  Scroll...  Scroll...  Like... Scroll...  Like...  Like!!!  Comment.  Like.  Scroll...  Scroll.

I kept going like it was my job.

The next time I looked at the time, almost THREE HOURS had passed.


Don't judge.  I know you've all done it too.

Negative Messages
Pictures of puppies, funny cat videos, inspirational quotes, uplifting articles, updates on your friends' kids, and your brother's latest vacation photo album are not the only things you'll see on social media.  Unfortunately, with the good comes the insanity of the unsolicited and unfiltered political rants and lewd comments about celebrities (despite any of those people commenting know them personally).  With the upcoming presidential election, social media is going to cause a lot of fights between friends and family.  Mark my words!  I will probably read less and post more --- dog pictures, that is.

At my age, I can't relate to cyber bullying.  My cousins and friends who have children understand this all too well.  Parents and teachers are working on educating our youth and raising awareness, but it still happens.  The playground has become bigger and more difficult to manage. 

One of my cousins loves to post pictures of her latest food adventures, vacations, and good times with friends.  What she doesn't do is post anything about her personal struggles and challenges.  While most of her friends understand that her life isn't perfect, there is her one so-called friend who interprets her posts as my cousin not inviting her to partake in the fun.  This adult (but not quite grown up apparently) friend of hers is taunted by my cousin's photos.  She doesn't know how to be happy for my cousin.  Instead she puts her own spin on the story the photos tell and demonizes her friend.  Doesn't make sense to you?  I'm still scratching my head on this one.

Not Present
Some people walk down the street, but they don't see me.  They hardly see anything around them.  It is because their eyes are directed to the phone in their hand.  More often than not, they are checking Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook updates.  The same thing happens at dinner with friends, parties, and family gatherings.  There are times we need to disconnect with social media for a little while and reconnect with actual people.

Coming Soon:  Day 2: My Earliest Memory

08 July 2015

Finding My Voice

Last night I had the weirdest dream.  It was a mix of colors, sounds, places, and people.  Everything was familiar but the combination was dizzying.

At one moment I was at work --- well, it was supposed to be the hospital where I currently work.  I knew it to be work in my dream, but it was DEFINITELY not what, in reality, was my workplace.  In any case, locations and situations would switch from time to time as if I was watching a TV drama.  The weird thing was that I was part of each scene - from hospital to restaurant to my flat.  Someone was channel flipping through my life!

There is one situation I clearly recollect.  At every restaurant that I found myself in, I was seated with a group of people.  The chatter of happy voices surrounded me and suddenly, I spotted one of my friends.

"Sara!!!  Sara!!!" I called out.

Her gaze never turned towards me.  Sara was busy working as a server (in reality she's a nurse like me).  She smiled as she made small talk with the patrons.  I tried harder to get her attention.

"Sara!!!  Sara!!!"

No response.

What the...  I realized that I could not speak any louder than a raspy whisper, as if I was starting to come down with a serious case of laryngitis.  I coughed and cleared my throat to see if that would help.

"Hey, Sara!!!"

Nope.  Nothing changed.  Sara never saw me.

This scene repeated a few more times and each time Sara never heard me.

So what does this mean???

I used the power of Google to determine the significance of losing my voice in my dream.  A few dream dictionaries say that I feel like I cannot express my feelings or opinions with others.  As sad as this sounds, this is probably true.

For a long time, I have felt somewhat isolated.  This may come as a surprise for people who know me, but it's the truth.  The ladies who are the closest thing to sisters that I will ever have are not in Chicago and/or are busy with their own lives.  I must remind myself that I'm busy too.  Ugh, adulthood.  This means that I am not expressing myself in any shape or form whatsoever - at least not on a regular basis.

What are you waiting for, girl??? 

Yeah, I know.  This is a problem.

Although I am in a better work situation than before, I now find myself in a more relaxed state so that some feelings are starting to bubble up.  I often think, 'Whoa...  Where did this come from?'

And in the great tradition of hyper-analytical career-oriented people, I compartmentalize: 'No time for this...  Let's put it aside so I can deal with it later after I've done all the more important things I have to do.'

Honestly, this is part of my modus operandi.

So here's the thing...  I promised myself almost a year ago, that I would finally put ME first.  I have done this in many ways:  finding a new job, getting back into shape, and dating again.  What I have come to realize over the last week is that expressing myself has to be added to this list.  And it should not only be done in the few but far between conversations and gatherings that I have with my Tribe.  Expression must also be practiced in the relaxed, quiet moments of my solitude where I may find safety.  No longer can I hold my feelings hostage.

I don't know why I've done it.  Maybe I'm afraid that others will think differently about me.  Maybe I'm afraid that someone may take offense.  Maybe I'm afraid of rejection.  Maybe...

No more fear...  Time to find my voice.

04 December 2014


Oh my poor neglected blog!  I really have had so much to say, but very little energy and heart to put into writing.  The good news is that will be changing soon.  My job situation has changed and, I'm excited to report, I will have more time to really and truly focus on ME.  You have no idea how thrilled I am about this!  It must have been the right time to do it because everything fell into place.  I really do believe that for everything there is a season, just like the song says.  This is my season.

Looking forward to letting it unfold!

09 August 2014

Recovery Means Relax

Coloring is very therapeutic!

Three and a half weeks ago, I had major abdominal surgery.  My friends and co-workers gave me crayons, coloring books, movies, books, and puzzles to keep me entertained during my recovery.  I thought for sure that I would do all those things plus start and finish projects on my never ending To Do List.  What I did not realize was that recovery was not the same as a staycation.

While it appeared that I was healing from the outside, who knew that I had to consider what was happening on the inside.

Yes, Marji, the surgeon took a few things OUT of you.  This required CUTTING your tissue which is connected to your body.  You are alive and you bleed, remember?

Oh yeah...  I was forgetting about being human and my close call with cancer.  I had pushed aside thoughts of how big of a deal this really was.  After all, my surgical wound had been healing nicely.

I got a little cocky.  I fancied myself to be the overachiever of recovery from surgery.  Accepting invitations to dinner, a concert, trips to the dog beach, I convinced myself that these were not body-stressing activities.  Quickly, I was reminded that this was not the case.

Just as I thought my healing was progressing, approximately an inch-long section of my incision closest to my belly button developed some redness and started oozing a small amount of thick, white fluid.

Oh crap...  Not a good sign.  Infection?  Possibly.  Ugh.

I don't know what did it.  Was it taking my pup Maggie and her BFF Lucy to the beach a few times this week?  Maybe when I was cleaning up around the house, I overexerted myself.  Or have I been sleeping on my belly and not realizing it?

Whatever the cause, it is glaringly apparent that I am not relaxing as much as I should be.  Since becoming a nurse, it hasn't been easy for me to do this.

Oh, why are we nurses such bad patients?

In a few days, I will see the doctor to see what he has to say.  I am sure that he will read the guilt plastered on my face.  He will make me eat my words from last time when I commented on how well my healing was progressing.