January 27, 2015

The Lists

Lists are so dear to me partially because they're unique to the moment you wrote them. From grocery lists, from to-do-lists detailing the day (run in the morning, write and read in the afternoon, piece time together for tea around 4). The "here-now" of these lists tug my heart, and I see some crossed off, others standing bold and waiting to be done. Make soup for dinner, Chinese fried rice and steamed chicken. Bundle up before a walk, remember a cardigan. Buy more apples. Pick up dry leaves on the driveway. 

If I was a poet I'd write a piece but for now, I'll catch syllables between rhythms and round the rhymes into letters half between cursive and print that range from words between clean my room and buy a birthday gift for my sister. And yet, there's a piece caught between the lines. My line is cast and I sit quietly in a boat, holding my pole tight and waiting to snag words. I'm a fisher woman of stories and stories in all forms, from photos to books to music to drawings to designs to the halfway letters of a list not finished. I collect the discarded grocery lists in the bottom of my purse, the leftover pages of a packing list for weekend getaway crumpled in the pocket of my bag, a few hurried lines of to-do before lunch.

There's a beauty and grace to the change of seasons and the differences that come in our homes and hearts within them. Some days are for quiet and abundance of simple. If we had a hearth, ours would be lit. I'm sucker to the romantic and pretty things but will not disregard the simple, because honesty is the best. 

Things that catch my eye:
wispy curls
steam and smoke and fog
dabs of color
continuity errors in movies

Books I'm reading:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Songs that I could hear over and over again:
Yellow by Coldplay
When It Rains by Paramore
100 Years by Five for Fighting
Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.
Happen Ending by Epik High
Chandelier by Sia

Things I don't want to purchase (but need to anyways):
a haircut
a power bank
new bag
new jeans
an iPod

What I want to get better at this year:
going to bed early
giving grace (always)
being intentional with my time
eating healthier
creating art that matters
baking gluten free
getting fit

Some things I'm excited about:
traveling plans
being healthy
the weekend
going shopping for food
making lasagna
new job

Names I like:

Plans for the rest of the week.
take a walk
go out for lunch and coffee
order pizza
mail postcards
get my inbox cleaned
tidy my room and declutter and simplify

Outside my window:
bird nest on a tree
an acrylic sky painted blue
slippers on neighbor's roof
cat's footprints on sandy pavement
sunlight warm across the neighborhood

January 23, 2015

Life Goals

Travel the world. Travel some more. Write a story. Fall in love. Stay in love. Get married. Travel with my love. Write a story of us. Sing. Learn a new language. Gain a few pounds from eating through traveling. Spend a week in Italy. Have a baby. Have another baby. Have lots of babies. Maybe just a few. Travel with my babies. Kiss my husband. Write another story. Have a library. Buy a Mini Cooper. Go to Mecca. Be honest. Live in another country. Make pancakes on Saturdays. Make pie on Sundays. Buy a house by the water. Sell extra things. Open up our home. Plant a garden. Learn to play piano well. Travel. Go wedding dress shopping with my daughters. Go to little league games. Live out of my gut. Write my grandparent's stories. Get good at yoga. Move cross country. Start over. Stay. Meet the girls my sons love. Photograph what I see. Watch my husband become a grandfather. Spend my anniversary in Paris. Drink tea with people I love. Explore. Live with less. Get a rabbit. Make lots of pastry. Stop being afraid. Cook through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Wear skirts more. Start a traveling library. Ditch the TV. Start traditions. Keep traditions. Make cinnamon rolls and egg bake for family brunch. Say I'm sorry, I love you, I need you, I like you, I miss you. Understand they're sometimes the same.

January 21, 2015


The weather has been so strange lately, so unpredictable. For days we've seen a mix of sun and fog, extreme heat one day followed by brisk cold the next. Yesterday, what felt like a light breeze suddenly turned into a gust of wind so powerful I had to stop in the middle of the street so to keep from blowing right over. Needless to say, things have been changing rather suddenly these days, rather unexpectedly.

As a creature of habit, as someone who leans toward the familiar, toward routine, it usually bothers me when weather isn't steady, when I wake up and don't have any idea what I'll find outside my window. Usually, that makes me uneasy. Recently, though, my life has matched the odd weather; things have been constantly shifting, any sense of routine tossed right out the window.

And it's been just what I needed. Invigorating, exhilarating, altogether satisfying. Funny, isn't it, how sometimes we believe we know just what we need, when all along the universe knows better?

January 16, 2015

Road Maps and Treasure Chests

I'm the kind of person that's easily overwhelmed. By the kindness of a waitress on an ordinary day or the breeze that blows in sunny afternoon. And on a daily basis, I'm overwhelmed by the indifference of the world in light of all the suffering that takes place. I get anxious about small things like passing a test or an interaction that didn't go as I had hoped. And I've always been the kind of person that can be overwhelmed by how much I have left to do and how little I've done.

So it's no surprise that I was standing in the make-up aisle when I was suddenly overcome by the number of products I was surrounded by. Highlights, blush, foundation, and mascara. Eye shadow, lip liner, and eyelash extensions. Age-defying cream and wrinkle prevention lotions. There are lotions and sprays and tanning beds. The magazines that tell us what we're supposed to look like, the headlines that call on us to be thin, tan, and flawless. The implications that our outward appearance is a determinant of our individual worth. And all I could think about was how many products tell us that the way we look, the way we are, is not enough.

I generally don't skim through magazines, but I hear the messages all the same. We tell them to ourselves. We've been trained to become insecure about a blemish on our face, a haircut that's a little too short, stretch marks on our stomachs, or weight gain in all of the wrong places. To be clear, I wear make-up on a daily basis and I workout as often as I can, I reward myself with new clothes and even bought Korean facial products. In no way am I suggesting that there's anything wrong with wanting to feel beautiful and confident, I just don't believe that a flawless outward appearance is the only way to get there.

In high school, my friend said that it didn't matter whether or not we understood calculus or algebra because at least we're pretty. While I understand that they're trying to be comforting, encouraging, and nice, I can remember my exact feeling of outrage. The anger that arose because I was supposed to feel relieved by someone's perception of our outward appearance; of the implication that the way we looked would somehow be enough to help us get a scholarship so that we could go to college. That somehow the way we looked would help to determine whether we would develop enough self-discipline to finish what we started, that somehow our appearance would help us to further our career. And I remember wondering when 'being pretty' began to outweigh our intelligence, capabilities, attitude, and our individual contributions to the world.

I find that sometimes we place so much emphasis on what our body looks like that we forget about the amazing things it does for us. Your legs, regardless of their length and width, have carried your body for all of these years. They have held you up on your weakest days and were there with you to jump for joy in moments of celebration. They've ran through the grass during hide and seek and they've rooted you to this earth. And your arms, they work. They can bend and they can write. They can pick up a child and hold another's hand. They've helped you to feel objects and to build things, they're your ability to reach out to the world. Your mind, it's a wonderful, magical, and complex tool that continues to guide your perception and understanding of the world. I could go on, but you get the point. Each and every one of your body parts has served you in some way. Each and every part continues to do something for your life. Let's not forget that every minute detail of your being is made with extraordinary and intricate capabilities.

I've always believed in not being attached to something as impermanent as our physical appearance. Of being attached to short hair, long hair, thick hair, or thin. Of not being attached to the number on a scale or the amount of space between your thighs. The way you look can change. It'll change and it's always changing. It has never been our job, responsibility, to be beautiful. We're not alive for that purpose. We all have so much more to offer the world than our physical appearance.

Who you are as a person, that's what matters. Are you beautiful on the inside?

I believe in intelligence, the ever expansion of your mind through books, travel, and new experiences. I believe in having conversations with people who have a different point of view than yours and in staying current on world events. Of challenging yourself to set higher expectations and to dream bigger dreams. And i believe in health, eating healthy, nourishing your body, and being good to your soul. I believe in exercising to add longevity to your life, to add strength to your mental and physical abilities, and to foster self-discipline. I believe in getting adequate amounts of sleep so that you're energized throughout the day. I believe in confidence and beauty in the form of a smile to a stranger, of a hand that reaches out to help without question or reservation.  Kindness towards others, determination to succeed, and the courage to forgive. That's beauty. Our internal integrity, our ability to respond with grace, the gifting of our time, and the mark we leave on the world. That's the beauty that should define us.

I believe in beauty that's real. In the naturalness that can be observed when you become who you are. I believe in our bodies serving as road maps to remind us each where we've been. That scar on my left knee from the bike crash I had as a 7-year-old kid, the burn scar on my right arm that I got from playing fireworks when I was 10. In growing old, your body having all the proof to show it. The wrinkles, flaws, blemishes, and stretch marks. Laugh lines for a life well lived. Grey hair for all of the challenges you've overcame. Extra weight around your midsection from the babies you've birthed, from the celebrations you've had the opportunity to experience, from those delicious desserts you were able to indulge in. Worry lines on your forehead for the uncertainty you felt during troubling days. Your body's a treasure chest holding within it all of the goodness you've received, the love you've given, and the pain you've endured.

You are more than beautiful. And you are more than something to be looked at. You're strong, brave, intelligent, kind and funny. You're a giver, receiver, dreamer, and a doer. You're as bright as the sun and you're so much more than the simplicity of your outward appearance. You are so much more.

January 13, 2015

And the Winner goes to..

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2015 Golden Globes Awards! The things that I really fond of about the award night are the remarkable acceptance speeches and beautiful dresses from the red carpet. They say quotes will live on forever. Well, the good (and really bad) ones, at least. So here's my picks for the best speeches from the night:

1. "These days, you get in a lot of trouble no matter what you say. Do you know what I mean? You can say anything in the world and get in trouble. I know this for a fact. So I’m just going to say thank you." - Billy Bob Thornton (Best Actor in TV Movie)

2. "It's a humbling thing when you find someone to love, especially when you've been waiting your whole life, especially when your whole life is 53 years. Amal, I couldn't be more proud to be your husband." - George Clooney (Cecil B. DeMille award)

3. "As I got to know the people of the Civil Rights movement, I realize I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote. I am the caring white supporter killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. Selma has awakened my humanity." - Common and John Legend (Best Original Song)

Annnnnnd these are my picks for the best dressed female stars from the Golden Globes red carpet:

Anna Faris in Reem Acra

Giuliana Rancic in Maria Lucia Lohan

Jenna Dewan in Carolina Herrera

Emily Blunt in Michael Kors

Julianne Moore in Givenchy

Allison Williams in Armani

Naomi Watts in Gucci

Amal Clooney in Dior

Kate Beckinsale in Elie Saab

Salma Hayek in Alexander McQueen

Keira Knightley in Chanel

Felicity Jones in Dior

Taylor Schilling in Ralph Lauren

Anna Kendrick in Monique Lhuillier

Emma Stone in Lanvin

Lupita Nyongo'o in Giambattista Valli

My favorite is Emma Stone's outfit. She rocked the red carpet with pants instead of floor-skimming gown. It's a formal jumpsuit featuring a silver sequin bustier top and black pants with a huge bow tied at the back, wonderfully designed by Lanvin. It's simple and elegant. What's your favorite? ^^

January 9, 2015

Doubt It

It's amazing how quickly doubt can settle in. It's like a question mark at the end of a statement, an uncertainty about what you thought you once knew. A tilt of the head or the raise of an eyebrow. It's a whisper that makes you wonder if you really knew after all. And it can be a series of dominoes that start to fall down if you let it.

While I've never really had a low self-esteem, I continue to observe situations in which my self-confidence begins to waver. In my ability to complete tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions. I can feel when it starts to come and I can see what happens when I start to listen, when I start to believe it. The stumbling over words, the second guessing, and insecurities. the questions I begin to ask myself; can I pass this test? Can I accomplish this goal? Am I capable of more? Is this good enough? What if I fail?

The self-doubt leads me to fall. It opens up the door for excuses to slip in, it welcomes discomfort and feelings of uneasiness. it's that little whisper that tries to tell you that you'll never make it, so that you give up before you ever do. And part of self-doubt comes from a comparison of yourself to others, of feeling like you don't measure up to others' strengths. Self-doubt convinces you that you won't get to where the others have already gotten. And maybe it's that little voice that tells you that what you do, who you are, or what you're working towards is not enough. And when you start comparing yourself to other people you might start to notice that you begin putting them down, that you begin basing your accomplishments off of other people's lack of success. Comparing yourself to others seems to  imply that someone's going to be better and someone's going to be worse. But really, we're just different. That's all. 

So what do you do when you feel like you're not enough? That you can't succeed? That someone's better, stronger, smarter, nicer, more talented, and capable than you?

You persevere.

And in persevering, you acquire the right perspective. You change your thinking from the "I will never get there" to an "I'm on my way." And through this perspective shift, you remember what you do have, what you're capable of, and where you're going. Part of this perspective is about remembering that you have enough, you do enough and you're enough. Perspective is about a willingness to see the situation from a different point of view; it's about changing your attitude and strengthening your resolve. I've also learned that perspective is about gratitude, about feeling grateful for your individual abilities and experiences and for honoring how other people got to where they're at. And perspective is a reminder that there are other ways to look at the situation, other feelings to feel, other beliefs to believe, and other movements to make. (Thanks to Ifo for teaching me the art of perspective ^^)

And when you hear that self-doubt, perseverance is about trying to understand where it's coming from and what is it saying. And to persevere, you plan. You develop a plan to overcome it. And while you may have great intentions to persevere, it may be hard to do so when you haven't considered how you will. Write down the steps. List out your personal challenges. Address the ways you'll get over road blocks, detours, and bumps in the road. And if your self-doubt is telling you that you'll never reach your physical goals, you write out your health plan. You list out all of the assignments to complete before you graduate from college. You record all of the bills left to pay before you're debt free. You plan and then pursue with consistent dedication. And to persevere, you must decide to work harder than your self-doubt is telling you not to.  

In times of self-doubt and in times of perseverance, you surround yourself with people who believe in you and who believe in themselves. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to grow, who push you to succeed, and who hope that you'll get there. You've probably heard that you become similar to the people you spend the most time with. Spend time with people that you want to be like. 

Self doubt? Doubt it.

January 8, 2015

From Aemy's Lab: Curry Noodle

Nobody can resist the temptation of curry noodle! It's one of the famous dish here in my country. My undying love for anything remotely resembling curry noodle, be it dry or wet, santan-full or santan-less, spicy or sour or sweet, from north to south and everywhere else, led me to the urge of making one at home. It's my first attempt. ^^

What you need:
- a pack of yellow noodle (blanched)
- a cup of bean sprouts
- crisp-fried onions

#2 (sliced)
- 2 fried tofu
- 2 stalks of parsley and scallion
- 2 red chilies
- 3 limes 

#3 (for the gravy)
-1/2 kg of chicken (cut into chunks)
- 200 g of shrimps
- a pack of chicken balls
- a pack of fish cake (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons of chili paste
- 3 tablespoons of curry powder (mixed with a little tamarind juice)
- 5 cups of coconut milk
- cooking oil
- salt

#4 (blended)
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1/2 inch of lengkuas
- 5 onions
- 2 garlic

How you do it:
1. Stir-fry the #4 ingredients until fragrant. Add curry paste and the spices and cook until the oil separates.
2. Add the chicken, fish cake, chicken balls and coconut milk into the pan. Let it boil.
3. Serve with noodles and #2 ingredients.
4. Bon appetit

January 3, 2015

Happy 25th Birthday, My Love

I first met you at 18. Within weeks you bought me a ring and I called you charming. Your hair was spiky and my hair was frizzy and I fell in love with you so easily and instantly that it didn't feel like falling at all, but more like floating or sailing or sinking back into an old favorite chair. You danced hip-hops and I dressed in bright colors, and soon we couldn't remember our lives without each other. Then I met your family and introduced you to mine. At 20 , it was the year you wrote me songs, the year I convinced you to join competition. In my blogspot I wrote that you might be the one, that you had the kindest, most beautiful heart I'd ever known. We had a lot of hard times at 21, but our boat was tougher and we kept sailing through the ups and downs.

And at 22 I changed a lot and I was glad that you still love me no matter how I looked like on the surface. We talked about the future, about marriage and life became so clear that I could almost see right through it and into the most wonderful, joyful future with you. We hopped on a plane with our friends at 23 and went across the border for the first time to Manila. We had the best days of our lives. We're out of college at 24 and you've got your dream job and I can't forget the lights in your eyes, how happy and grateful you were when we received the news. We're both happy because we knew that we're few steps away to our next phase. :)

Today you turn 25, exactly 10 months before I do. Which, I have to say, feels quite appropriate, our birthdays, 10 months apart. Because that's what they say, after all, isn't it? Opposites attract and all that. This year, your birthday feels especially special. For one thing, we're real adults now and things feel a bit like they've come full circle. But mostly this year feels special because we're both wishing for something great.

And for the millionth, trillionth time since first meeting you, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Thank you for being my voice of reason, my anchor to keep my feet on the ground while my heart is in the clouds. Happiest of birthday to my man. Wishing you health and contentment and happiness. I love you. :)

p.s: Hayley Williams from Paramore and Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory are getting married!! OMG!!!


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