The big questions….

I’ve been asking myself these questions over and over, not out of regret but more of redefinition.  Also had a good talk with a former colleague about these, so I thought I’d post it as well.  Trying not to overwhelm myself with an answer, but since I’m on this career break of sorts here goes:

1.  If you didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?

2.  If you could reboot life, what would you do differently?

3.  If you were to be known or famous for one thing (a legacy), what would you like it to be?

They’re really broad and can be answered in various ways, but worth definitely a thought.  I’ll get back to you on this as I dwell on it some more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I get the history of it all, but I really do wish Thanksgiving was a universal holiday.  I mean, why not? It makes absolute sense to celebrate gratitude.  It’s one of those American holidays I never really understood fully – a feast of gluttony with an excuse of thanksgiving.  What about the pilgrims and Indians again? Oh yeah, right…..they awkwardly became friends.

I considered preparing our own thanksgiving feast at home.  Just the 3 of us – dad, mom and I – with the usual mashed potatoes, beans, casserole, lasagna and turkey (for dad) but then I realized that the ingredients were too foreign here that it turned out too expensive.  Not only that, but with mom’s selective taste buds and eating habits these days she may not even be able to partake in the feast itself.  So instead, we just had our usual dinner, but this time, expressing our thanks for each other and for the sustenance of life itself.  It turned out more intimate and meaningful, something I’d cherish for its simplicity and significance.

This year, I’m sincerely grateful for life and the relationships I’ve been blessed with.  Even though we’ve been going through a rather difficult time in our life, I can’t say thank you enough for all the genuine concern and support through everything.  I love that we’re all going through this together.

How about you, dear friends and relatives, what are you thankful for? 🙂

I miss you, Trader Joe!

I miss your well-stocked shelves filled with delicious treats and healthy snacks.  I miss your meatless meatballs, soyaki glazes, mango salsa, wasabi chips and nuts, healthy frozen dinner options (Japanese fried rice, pad thai, mushroom truffle pizza ftw!) and yes I won’t lie – I definitely miss your “two-buck-chuck” wine.  I was never really a big fan of your cookie butter, but yes, I sure miss that too. I miss the intentionally one item trips that ended up taking an hour longer and $100 more of random purchases.

Now that I finally have the time to experimental cook and bake, it sure isn’t the same without you, Mr.Joe.  Not the same kind of soy or almond milk, not the same kind of nutty mixes, not the same rewards without your mint ice cream cookies or choco-orange slices. NOT.THE.SAME. UGH!

Oh you mecca of everything amazing, you were too good to me.

I miss you and everything about you, Trader Joe’s……even your lousy organic dishwashing soap that couldn’t even clean.


Could it be?

Now that her radiation is over, mom’s pain is more manageable. She’s also been getting daily massages which have strengthened her muscles and made her more energetic. Just 2 weeks ago she could barely move and we practically had to carry her down the stairs and onto her wheelchair. Now she is able to get up and reposition on her own, and prefers her crutches instead of her wheelchair. It’s tremendous progress.

However, as illness goes, if it’s not one symptom there’s always another. Our dilemma these days is her intermittent cold sweats. She often gets sweaty, while also shivering. Then her tummy aches often too. But when we check her vitals – blood pressure, body temp etc – they all appear normal. It’s so weird! Sometimes we have the fan and heater simultaneously on. Other times we go back and forth between changing clothes, sponge baths, massaging her, feeding her, and wrapping her up in many blankets. Her doctor is aware but perhaps another visit is due soon. The first time she had a cold sweat we ended up checking in the hospital, not sure why she still has then after spending a few days there.

Or they say that fever and changing body temperatures is illness leaving the body. Could it be? I sure hope so!

Oh cancer, why do you have to be so awkward and cruel? Sheesh!!!

My paradox of fall and eternal spring

I’m a little sad to be missing fall this year. I always liked the refreshing feeling of seasons changing and life starting anew. Since school starts in the fall as well as being a 3/4ths threshold of the year, it always felt like a good time to do some inner checks and balances. Like an inner rejuvenation of sorts, I liked using this time of the year to refocus on myself and catch up on my goals for the year.

This year, however, I feel out of sync with the lifestyle and geographical changes. Living back in the town of “eternal spring” it feels awfully weird to still be wearing tanks and shorts and not layered sweaters and boots. As much as I enjoy the sunshine, I also miss watching leaves change color and fill the ground. My heart always liked to be in sync with the seasons, watching and feeling as nature changed it’s colors.

I saw a meme earlier that said “I hope there are days that you fall in love with being alive” and I couldn’t stop smiling with how apt those words felt. Even though my changes have been rather cumbersome this year, I have also felt a deeper love, zest and appreciation for life. I haven’t read the Bible in awhile but a friend reminded me of a verse in Philippians 4 that talks about experiencing true peace, love and joy during the toughest trials of our life.
As he describes it “Just like tea, the flavor comes out when it is put in hot water. Instead of it being a discomfort for us, it serves as healing and sweet smelling aroma towards others, to us, and it makes God more present in our life.” Thanks to this, I’ve rediscovered a deeper love and sustenance from the people and things that keep us alive – God, family, friends, sunny days, clean laundry, and of course, yummy treats. Easier said than done of course, but I love the things that give me hope as others seem bleak.

How about you, dear friends? What keeps you in love with life lately?


Art Therapy

It got a bit boring at the hospital last week, so I thought I’d try making and coloring a mandala – with crayons no less. Took me sometime but how’s this for art therapy?



I’m second guessing the yellow, but it does make it vibrant.

I thank the village

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  In that same vein, given what I’m witnessing now, I would also say that it also takes a village to sustain (and ultimately cure) a sick patient.  For all of you that have reached out to help us, we are very grateful.

Many have asked us why we didn’t force Mom to return to the US for better medical treatments. Although there are many valid reasons for her to be treated there, particularly better medical care, I must say that Filipino hospitality and concern can’t be beat.  In fact, more than anything else, it sustains her.

It’s such a treat to be spoiled by doctors who are personally available 24/7, doctors who immediately come to our home when she is distressed, family that magically procure rare medicine for her, friends who share their groceries, cook for us daily, lend us their cars, go out of their way to visit us from out-of-town (we’ve had friends visit from SF, Indonesia, Japan, distant parts of the Philippines), those always available to take us out for stress relievers and of course those from far away who constantly keep in touch for updates.

In fact, all your support has made a difference on her health.  After spending the past few days in the hospital for tests and a blood transfusion, we discovered that Mom’s tumor has gotten smaller enough to baffle and please her doctors.  She’s a lot stronger and more energetic too.

We are truly blessed and thank the village.