Monday, January 31, 2005

Life In Retrospect

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection."      Anais Nin

 I confessed long time ago that I am not a prolific writer and I genuinely admire people who have ways with words. I started a journal as a practice in writing my thoughts. In the beginning, I wanted to write poetry and meaningful articles about motherhood ala Erma Bombeck. I ended up with a jumble of miscellaneous entries comparable to that of a schizophrenic blog.

Journaling had been a very positive experience for me. Not only did I gain a writing perspective but I also benefited in meeting such a diverse populace.

In my Journal Land frolics, I was introduced to all kinds of writings and writing styles. I particularly love to read the homey, the upbeat, the funny, the absurd, the political, the intellectual, and the emotional  journals.  It is heartwarming to visit Derasta's, Linny's, Lori's, Jae's,Sam's, Michelle's, Catherine's and Barb's homes through their journals. It is wonderful to giggle like a teenager again while reading Mary's, Paul's, Ann's, Sie's, Haley's and Karen's blogs. It is enlightening to drop into Mara's, Jenn's, and Lisa's and pick their brains. It is a visual feast to visit  Judi's, Virginia's, Nettie's, Coy's and Monica's entries. It is empowering to read Rebecca's, Pennie's and Becky's stories and reflections. There are more blogs I visit and get a lot of joy from but I do not know their author's first names (you know who you are). If I left someone out, please identify yourself.

I want to thank all the J Land people who opened theirs hearts and homes to me through the journaling community. I made so many friends in such a short time, and I am overjoyed. I feel like making that Sally Field speech ("You love me. You really love me!") but it might be a bit premature at this time. Afterall, I know you all are very old fashioned and you've just known me for a few months. LOL.

Thanks a million, everybody!


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Japanese New Year Extravaganza

Taiko drummers.

Japanese Dancers.

More Japanese Dancers.

We went to the Japanese New Year celebration in our hometown last weekend. It was wonderful because hubby, son, and daughter were there with me. My family  enjoy cultural events and our exposure to the Japanese people and their culture while we were living in Hawaii  made us very fond of anything Japanese.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Best Things In Life Are Still Free

This entry was inspired by my conversation with a young man a couple of days ago. He is from Smalltown, USA. He recounted the simple ways to pass time in Smalltown: swimming in a river, visiting friends, exploring the woods, boating and fishing. He said that his friends who live in metropolitan areas seem to be oblivious to free activities and at lost in amusing themselves without spending money. 

When I was growing up, we did a lot of things this kid have done to while the day away. My friends and I swam in a nearby lake, fished, visited with one another, cruised the neighborhood, and played games such as hide and seek , jacks, tag, and basketball.  Occassionally, we made road trips to nearby towns and saved for concerts, plays, and must see movies. 

I guess I am bothered by this young man's observation because themessage hit home. I raised my children mostly in metropolitan areas and they became rather unimaginative when it comes to personal amusement. I took them to concerts, plays, exhibits, movies, skate parks and a lot of other paid form of entertainment. I somehow feel that I took away something very vital from them during their formative years by not introducing them to the activities I enjoyed when I was young.

The conversation also made me think about things I love and treasure. I had to go back to an old entry and revisit the list I compiled. Here is the list:

I love: kids, sunshine, sand, surf, ocean, sunset, sunrise, flowers, candles, cheesecake, good wine, ice cream, pasta, exotic foods, smiles, hugs, kisses, laughs, friends, family, nature, fishing, traveling, music, indie and foreign films, success stories, performing arts and culture, books, readworthy articles, blogging, reading J entries, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Erma Bombeck, Michael Crichton, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Vanessa Mae, Charlotte Church, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kurt Cobain, and Rod Stewart.

I noticed that a lot of them are free and a few cost money. I realized that the ones that are free such as as: kids, sunshine, sand, surf, hugs, kisses, friends, family and laughs would go to my "can't-function-without" and  "can't- live-without" list and the ones that cost money (flowers, candles, wine, pasta, etc.) can go in my "nice-but-not-necessary" list.

I also remembered that the best gifts I ever recieved are those from the heart and not from the store: a mixed tape, my kid's artwork, homemade cards and baked goods, downloaded music, homecooked meals, hugs, kisses, smiles, kind words, recipes, online greeting cards and sappy e-mails.

To sum these up: Yes, the best things in life are still free!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mislabeled and Misdiagnosed Future?

I am glad that mental illness in America is no longer a dirty secret. The American public finally realized that the stigma attached to mental illness should be eradicated and that mental illness is a disease and it should not be held against individuals who have it.


 I am passionate about topics relating to children. What bothers me about the widespread acceptance of people with mental disability is the glaring fact that a lot of children now a days are taking medications for one form of mental health illness or another.


 During my not so distant past, when mental illness was not as socially acceptable, I can count with one hand children or adult I know with this affliction. Nowadays, it seems like every other person I know had been diagnosed with mental illness such as ADHD, depression, and manic depression. It is particularly disturbing to me when kids who behave like kids are labeled as “hyperactive,” “troubled,” “learning disabled,” or “mentally challenged.”


Labeling and mental health diagnoses bothers me because my daughter was once “diagnosed” by her kindergarten teacher as having ADHD and found to be in need of  “special education.”  A teacher in the public school system recommended my daughter to special education without the school psychologists’ assessment of the matter. The recommendation was based on my daughter’s low score in the kindergartner’s oral test (that was given to her when she had a bad ear infection) and her inattentiveness during class (because she already knew what was being taught in the class). I was livid when the teacher told me about it during the parent-teacher conference. And she made the situation even worst by saying, “All parents think their children are geniuses.” I asked her about the school psychologist’s recommendation and I was told that children with low test scores were “automatically” put in the state’s special education program.


 I did not let the matter lie because I knew my daughter did not need to be labeled as a slow learner or take medications she did not need. I told her teacher I want the psychologist’s input and that I will seek a second opinion from people who have the expertise and the credentials to diagnose and recommend educational placement for children. The teacher tried to appease me by giving my daughter extra work and placing her in second grade math and reading classes after she found out that my daughter had knowledge beyond her kindergarten curriculum. I did not back down so my daughter was retested. She was recommended to the gifted class after the school psychologist did the much-needed Individualized Educational Placement (IEP) assessment. It is fortunate that she was not labeled negatively because I believe that being in the gifted class contributed to her many educational successes.


 The above experience left me thinking how many children must had been misdiagnosed and/or educationally misplaced in the school system. How sad it is for a child to be labeled and/or misdiagnosed: to grow up believing she/he is not capable of learning or that there is something wrong with her/him when she/he is as capable of learning as other children and that she/he is mentally healthy until she/he fulfilled the misdiagnosed prophecy.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Yay, Sunshine, Beach and Sand!

A successful attempt at downloading the seaside picture I was talking about two entries ago.I took this when I brought my son to the beach to take pictures for his photo essay. I had the camera on the video mode so I had to crop the picture. Looks like I am not good at it because I can see that I did not crop it right. Oh well, the picture is there and that's what counts.

For those in the snowy states. I'm sorry. Down here in Florida, we still get sunshine and warm weather every now and then. Please do not hate Floridians. We would love to trade states during the summer months.  

Saturday, January 22, 2005


What children take from us, they give…We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.
Sonia Taitz, O Magazine, May 2003

            The survey form I lifted off Ann's J had a therapeutic effect on me. There is something cathartic to owning my feelings and my thoughts. The power of the word "I" unleashed a flood of memories, reflections on the present, and possibilities for the future.

When I filled the blank for I HURT, this is what I wrote:

I hurt: when my children, husband, friends or family are hurting.

            I am hurting right now because my daughter is. She came home on Friday and I immediately knew that her heart was heavy. I do not know what it is about being a mother that makes me feel I have a radar detecting my children's feelings. I somehow know whether my children had good or bad days as soon as they hit the door or can divine their feelings by the inflection of their voices. This sort of sixth sense is a heavy burden to carry during the bad days and a joy to have on good days.

My daughter who is averse to picking up the phone and blubbering her feelings, sent a sort of signal by calling and asking me if we were still "on” for our breakfast date. I said," It's almost lunchtime.  Do what you want or needed to do. Call me when your social calendar is not full." I detected in her voice the absence of the usual I-am-in-love-with-life lilt but I was a little irate about her canceling dinner on me the other night and not calling like she promised about our breakfast and trip to the black lacquer exhibit. I felt guilty when I hung up the phone because I knew there was something wrong and she was reaching out to me. I went on line and e-mailed her. A little later, I saw she was online so I started talking to her. I told her that I was planning on seeing the Phantom of the Opera and I would like her to come with me if she was available. She said she would love to. We met at the theatre and my premonition about her world falling apart was validated. The vibration between us was so heavy and painful I wanted to take her in my arms and cry.  I gave her a quick kiss and a hug instead because I did not want to break down. Whatever it was, she was trying so hard to be strong and I was not going to deny her that by turning into an emotional mush. I told her, "I know you are hurting because I can feel it. You do not need to tell me if you do not want to." She looked at me with a sad face and said, "Thank you. Thanks for inviting me to this movie because I needed it."  

She came home with me after the movies and I gave her a dinner of warmed roast and potatoes from the night before. I really wanted to take her to dinner with me but I knew both of us would want to fill the silence while waiting for our orders and I got a feeling that she was not ready to talk so I opted to come home instead because I wanted to respect her silence. I knew it was her way of telling me that she is big girl now and she wants to deal with her own problems on her own terms.

It was so hard for me to sit by idly and let my daughter nurse the pain she was feeling on her own. I felt so sad because I can't do anything about it. She gave me a kiss on my forehead and said she loves me before she retreated to her room. I knew she knew how I felt too.  

Thursday, January 20, 2005

ME, ME, ME: What a Surprise!

I was trying to upload a seaside picture to this entry and the AOL FTP was giving me a hard time. Then I glanced at my last entry where I uploaded a funny image and it was gone! I have to figure out those Photosite instructions because I am getting frustrated with the AOL FTP!!!  

On the brighter front, I filled out the survey form I asked  Ann of ann7inflorida to have from her J a few days ago (which she stole from Barb of  barbpinion . Naughty, naughty, Ann!) and did my usual visit of J Land friends' journals. I found out that a lot of people had been doing it too. Yes, I am a copy cat.  So, sue me!

Here's my version of the cut and paste discount (no fingers used in lifting this off Ann's J).

I am not:  afraid of new things.                                                      

I hurt: when my children, husband, friends or family are hurting.

I love: kids, sunshine, sand, surf, ocean, sunset, sunrise, flowers, candles, cheesecake, good wine, ice cream, pasta, exotic foods, smiles, hugs, kisses, laughs, friends, family, nature, fishing, traveling, music, indie and foreign films, success stories, performing arts and culture, books, readworthy articles, blogging, reading J entries, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Erma Bombeck, Michael Crichton, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Vanessa Mae, Charlotte Church, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kurt Cobain, and Rod Stewart.

I hate: being rushed to a decision. I like to ponder options and possibilities.

I fear:  losing my loved ones.

I hope: to grow old gracefully with my hubby by my side.

I hear: my children’s happy voices, Broadway musicals and life’s hustle and bustle.

I crave: exotic foods like Indian samozas, Japanese mochi, Hawaiian lomi lomi and Greek dolmatis

I regret: wasting my time with dramas and shenanigans when I was young.

I cry: when I read or see something sad or oppressive, when I miss my husband and my daughter, to vent my frustrations, when I am happy and proud.  

I care: about my children’s future, the state of the world, the ecosystems.

I always: tell people I love them because I am afraid losing them without them knowing.

I long to: go to places where I have not been before.  

I feel alone: when I indulge my negative thoughts.

I listen: to uplifting music when I am feeling down, to people and emphatize with them.

I hide: nothing. I am an open book. If you want to know anything about me, ask away. WYSIWYG. 

I drive: like a Floridian, slow and erratic enough to scare and annoy those behind me.

I sing: Broadway musicals songs, Jazzy tunes and songs my children play over and over in my car.

I dance: when I am happy or silly.

I write: poems, prose, stories about my children, funny observations and daily frustrations.

I breathe: easily now a days. I am finally getting used to letting my children grow.

I play: around like a silly child. I like telling jokes and getting laughs.

I miss: the days when my kids are younger and life was simpler

I feel: lovedand secure with my husband by my side. 

I know: how to bake, love, appreciate beauty and live life.

I say: Laugh often. Love much. Live well. 

I search: for that hidden socks blackhole in my clothes dryer.

I learn: a lot of things from raising my children. Parenthood is a humbling experience.

I succeed: when I persevere.

I fail: when I quit or give up.

I dream: of spending my retirement in an exotic locale where I can help people.

I sleep: in my flannel pajamas. Not sexy but very comfortable.

I wonder: about a lot of things that is why I am a research fiend.

I want: health and happiness for my loved ones.

I worry: about my children and their future.

I have: all the things I need and I have enough to afford some things I want.

I give: and give, and give. I savor the joys of being able to be generous.

I fight: for injustices, poverty and illiteracy.

I wait: for the day that my children have their own children. Revenge will be sweet.

I need: books, baking goods, Internet connection, and stimulating things to delay my brain atrophy.

I am: a work in progress. I am learning to upgrade the quality of my life and my relationships

I think: all the time. I am a veritable thinking machine.

I can’t help the fact that: life has its ups and downs. I wish everybody will look at it as riding a horse in a merry-go-round. It has it ups and downs but you ride them all with a silly grin or a smile on your face and the experience feels great when the ride is over.

I stay: grounded, logical and practical most of the time.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hierarchy or the Trickle Down Effect?


My husband sent this to me via e-mail. He said it is their organizational chart.

***The FTP ate my picture!!! GDY AOL FTP!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! 

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My Not So Little Ones

I have not added an entry in a few days. Life had been a little busy. I was not able to go to the beach until today and I only went there because my son had to do a photo essay. He chose Edgar Allan Poe's, Annabel Lee, so he wanted some seaside pictures. We went to Pensacola Beach and he took some picture of the ocean and I did too. This little outing was wonderful because we had a chance to talk at length. He is still "bummed" by the fact that he did not get the lead role at the upcoming play at his school. He got the understudy for it and a guitar/vocal solo. Not good enough for my ambitious son. I had to tell him that he have to move on to more important stuff because he had been sulking about this lost role for a couple of days now. I love my talks with my son. He is still at that age where he is very honest about everything. I will miss our talks when he stops telling me about his disappointments, hopes and fears.

My daughter is home with a couple of college friends. They all have a long weekend off from school because of the Martin Luther King's holiday tomorrow. It is hard not to play Mom to all these kids because I know that they look like adults on the outside but they are really kids on the inside. All of them graduated from highschool last year. Last semester was their first time away from their families and their homes. My daughter tells me that I "baby" her friends. I admit to that. I do become a very hospitable host to her friends because I like these kids. They seem to have their heads where they are supposed to be. They are very intelligent and respectful. I am pretty sure that they have wild, rambunctious sides but they respect my home and my values when they are visiting. I love hearing them laugh and see them joking around.

 I like it that my daughter seems to be happy and have healthy relationships but I miss our time alone. She always have someone in tow when she comes around. I miss the days when we can talk about everything and anything. I understand that she is at the age where her peers are very important to her and I often scold myself for feeling left out in her life. I know she needed me at a different level now but I can't help but reminisce about the days whenI am her sole confidante.

My children grew up and my role in their lives changed. It was hard for me in the beginning to shift gears. I kept hearing my inner voice say, "But it is so comfortable taking care of all your needs. I want to be your hero. I want to save your day. I don't like being relegated to a guardian angel status. I want to do it all for you!"  I am learning how to keep that inner voice calm and quiet now.  I am acquiring another one who seems to be older and wiser. "You are not letting them go, you are letting them grow," it says.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I got a feeling I am not in Florida anymore!


Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James, British (US -born) author (1843 - 1916)


As I am making the rounds in J Land, I found that melancholy is prevalent among J Landers these days. I myself was melancholic for a couple of days.  Is it the post holidays funk? Is it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Is it situational depression? Oh,  the causes of that pesky feeling of not wanting to get up in the morning and not wanting to see anyone are endless! Sometimes finding the cause of my depression makes me even  more depressed. 

There are days that I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Disoriented and confused about my surroundings because I am suppose to be in Florida yet it is cold and dreary outside. I chose to live in this state because it is suppose to be the Sunshine State. Some days I feel like I have been duped.

Today is an exception. I woke up at 6:30 AM to bring my son to school and by 7:00 AM the sun is trying to come out behind some clouds already! I had this urge to do the happy dance but my children had asked me politely not to do it again because it scare the bejesus out of them. I think I am going to go to beach today and take some pictures. Happy days are here again!

Hope those of you who are not feeling great for whatever reason, find something to be happy about. Have a great week!

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Helping the world? What about those in your own backyard?

I received a lot of good comments regarding my dream of  joining the Peace Corps but I also got some e-mails that in summation want me to rethink my dream of venturing overseas to help out  because a number of  Americans needed as much help as those in third world countries.

There is a lot of truth in that. Some Americans in inner cities are as poor and hopeless as the people of the third world. I am aware of  it  because I've been there and I met a lot these people.

I was helping the poor, cold, and downtrodden people of North America for a number of  years. I was once a social worker, a case manager, a child welfare investigator, and a mental health counselor. That is all I wanted to do when I got out of college. I made it my mission to give back the blessings I received by serving people. I enjoyed my social services jobs but I needed to venture out of the system and explore other career possibilities. I am still helping in every little way I can though I am no longer a public servant.  

The difference between living in the United States and a third world country is that the US has the welfare/social services system to help its residents. There are a lot of national, state, and local agencies: private and public, which owe their existence to serving people's needs. Most third world countries do not have social services system. They rely on international organizations such as the Peace Corps, Red Cross, and United Nations to help them out. Most international organizations provide tangibles such as food, clothing, and money but the Peace Corps provides intangibles such as expertise, education, opportunities, and skills/vocational training. I like to think of their paradigm as   "not giving fish but teaching one to fish."

Joining the Peace Corps will be my reward. It is something I can do when I retire from work. Something I will enjoy tremendously because I love helping empower people through education and awareness.

In conclusion, I can notplease everybody so I might as well do what I want!


Friday, January 7, 2005

Getting There

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
US poet (1874 - 1963)


The dark clouds are slowly lifting off. The melancholy dissipating. All I needed was action. Instead of getting angry, I walked the talk. I did something about what I thought was the root of my unhappiness. I helped with the Southeast Asian relief efforts the only way I can, with my pocketbook. I really want to go there and physically help but I have a family. My family needed me where I am. I also wrote a letter to our local paper's editor about my feelings regarding the headline news that I ranted about on my last entry. Last but not the least, I rewrote my five year plan to coincide with our youngest child's high school graduation. 

I told my husband long time ago that once our children are out of the home, I would like us to join the Peace Corps. Right now that dream may be realized in about four years. Our son will be in college by 2009. Though my husband has reservations about going overseas and living without the creature comforts he is accostumed to, he said he will go if that is really what I want. He is a gypsy like I am  and I know he will love it when we get there. One thing that my husband and I always agree about is traveling. Being a retired sailor, he had seen the world and at his present job, he is a road warrior and travels all over the country. His company is suppose to send him to Europe next month. I am always ready to go somewhere. I had been in a lot of countries in Asia and a lot of states in North America, including Hawaii. My dream is to eventually visit at least one country from all the continents. Two out of the way, and five more to go!    

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Think Positive: Mantra for 2005

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.
Martha Washington
US wife of George Washington 1759 (1732 - 1802)
Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
William James
US Pragmatist philosopher & psychologist (1842 - 1910)
Change your thoughts and you change your world.
Norman Vincent Peale
US clergyman (1898 - 1993)
Things do not change; we change.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1970)
Feeling melancholic for the past couple of days. I have to seek inspiration in the words of sages to lift my spirits. Ergo, the quotes above.
I do not watch a lot of television but I read our local newspaper daily. Why does it seems like the headlines are always depressing? Suffering people in Southeast Asia, someone getting murdered, another casualty in the Middle East... It is very seldom that I encounter a human interest article without violence and with substance. I began thinking that it is probably an outcome of my present disposition. Or is it because stories that are touchy-feely do not sell newspapers or boost TV ratings anymore? Are we becoming a sensationalist nation? 
Pardon my musings. I realize that the last two sentences might not settle well with some people in J Land. I am just thinking out loud, trying to make sense of the senseless parody called "groundbreaking news" now-a-days.

Sunday, January 2, 2005

New Year Reflections










Just reflecting on the events of 2004. In light of the devastation Mother Nature had dealt on people of Southeast Asia, I feel blessed to survive the wrath of Ivan. I am grateful to all the people who helped our community rebuild. I remember getting teary eyed after seeing linemen from Canada trying their best to restore electricity in our town. I also saw relief workers from everywhere around the country doing anything they can do to ease the loss and the pain of  my town's residents. I am thankful that my town is located in the United States of America where the relief efforts are almost instantaneous. Lives had been spared because of the concerted efforts of many public and private agencies.

I love the picture above because it embodies the spirit that my town had during the holidays. Ivan was the Grinch who threatened our Christmas but like Dr. Seuss' famous book's Whos, my townpeople and I realized that Christmas was about the intangibles. 

May everyone of you have the best year ever!