The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the planet and continues to do so, even as fire and violence hit the streets. Pandemic after pandemic serves to wipe our lenses to see the current state of affairs of the society we live in. And it's the same message we hear:
I can't breathe.
When SARS-CoV-19 came and swept the air, many rushed to the ER whispering, "I can't breathe." ICUs ran out of ventilators as more people gasped for breath. The zoonotic plague seemed to be Mother Earth's way of shouting, "I can't breathe," forcing people to stop all the activities, clearing the air, and finally giving her the respite she needed.
But a brief respite was all that she had, before another uproar came from people who've gone berserk with the masks on their faces. "I can't breathe!" And the world once more riveted into another pandemonium of opinions. To wear masks or not to wear masks.
Before a resolution could be had, a knee-jerking incident pushed another human being to beg, "I can't breathe." And the massive exodus of people from their homes to the streets completed our picture of catastrophe.
Clearly, the world is clamoring for change. How many more "I can't breathes" do we need before we realize that?
Those gasps should have served to produce mists on our dirty spectacles so we can wipe it clear.
I was so excited to embrace this year, highly joyfully-expectant of the surprises and events that would unfold. And what a surprise the first quarter had been.
How do I react to these? Or is that even an option? We have always been reacting to the events. Have I stopped to ponder and pro-act instead?
I think I have come to a state of surrender. It's not the kind of surrender that makes one cry out in hopelessness and despair. Instead, it's the kind of surrender that acknowledges that even a small voice can be heard amidst the rubble.
"Lord, I can't breathe. Please give us a respite from all the toxicity in the air---the toxicity of prejudice, anger, violence, rebellion, pride, greed, lust for power, avarice, envy--calamity after calamity. We need the peace that only You can give."
"With our noise and shouting, we have consumed the oxygen. Everyone can't breathe anymore. Breathe the Holy Spirit in us and resuscitate the face of the earth. We are in dire need of Your life support. Please blow the current tide to go Your Way, not his way, nor her way, nor my way. We have done it our way and it sucked... the life of the planet."
We need silence to hear the voice of the voiceless and the cry of the poor. We need silence to gasp for air. We need silence to pray and listen to God's answer. We need silence to mourn what we've lost. The whole world needs to go on a sabbatical to understand what's going on.
To LISTEN, we need to be SILENT.
Perhaps we will hear a voice that once spoke these words:
"When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows." (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
I’ve been banging on the walls of inspiration to proceed with my novels but to no avail. I’m still stuck.
Have I stopped writing though? Not really.
Words may not have touched the screen but my mind and heart continue to write. In time, it’ll be out soon. My characters will be back.
Meanwhile, I faced an unfinished business.
The last few weeks brought me back to where I left before I took the sabbatical in 2015 and pursued this writing path.
Back then, I had been involved in health literacy and advocated plain language use for informed consents. So I took a certificate course on medical communication and publication.
An email from the American Medical Writer’s Association reminded me that I had not completed the workshops required. It expires at the end of the year unless I take the on-site workshops. This brought me to Washington DC to reunite with this community. Once again, I felt at home, among my colleagues.
Somehow, the event brought some light into the darkness I’ve been plunged into since my editor’s block.
Is it any surprise that I got writing leads and opportunities right after I finished the course? Now I’m back to writing health contents as an independent contractor. Now I feel like a fish that had jumped back into the water.
I’m working against deadlines and timelines again. And hope flickered.
Perhaps like a lemon that doesn’t produce juice with stroking but with squeezing, I will benefit from a little pressure.
Although inspiration evaded me in the novel-writing arena, my breadbaking had brought me much joy and consolation.
I have tamed my sourdough starter, Doughy and know how it moves and breathes. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment one could achieve with breadbaking is knowing how to troubleshoot mistakes when it happens and knowing when to put the passion to rest when it’s warranted.
It had provided me the needed respite when inspiration abandoned me. It filled the void left by my daughter who had gone to college. It fed the family with healthy bread. Now my creativity turns to health content writing. I need my focus and clarity. For now, Doughy will bring us Sourdough Bread in its most ordinary form. Not much flourish and style but just as good.
Meanwhile, I continue to find inspiration in the works of others. Meet Anne, fellow sourdough breadbaker, whose entrepeneurial venture is worth admiring. Read how sourdough bread and baking paved the road towards her health and healing.
Advent is here. For four weeks, my daily devotionals will focus on the preparation of our hearts and minds for Christmas.
You can continue reading it via the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.
Last Saturday, we flew to New Jersey to watch the BTS concert with my younger daughter. Please don’t think she suddenly became a spoiled, only-child after our firstborn left for college. Remember the time we almost moved to NJ in June? Yes, we bought tickets for the concert thinking we’d be there around this time. Of course, a lot of things had happened since then.
I was not a fan of this K-pop group or culture until I saw this video of the full speech of RM, leader of the BTS group, at the United Nations.
For a K-pop group to be invited to address the United Nations was no small feat. They had a message to tell and it was a compelling and timely one.
And this was before the concert so I became even more curious. I asked my daughter to play the songs in the car. At first, she was embarrassed, but when she saw that I didn’t make fun of her, she became more open. The beat and melody were actually catchy. So come concert time, I surprisingly enjoyed the high-energy, vibrant, crowd-engaging show. I did more research on why BTS is such a hit when you barely understand what they’re singing. This video on why BTS is so popular explained the strange phenomenon.
But was it just a matter of personal taste? Apparently not. Watch this video and learn how the South Korea government uses music to uplift their economy and advocate for peace.
So that’s what transpired at the homefront.
What about my new pets? My pet DOuGhy is still barking and is a smash hit with his new tricks. See how I mashed up an Eastern fave, pandesal, with this Western ingredient, sourdough starter and came up with pandesour, and submitted a festive sourdough recipe in Our Neighborhood magazine for the holiday issue.
Follow my baker’s journey in FB, like my page and share it with five of your friends and I’ll mail you a dehydrated sourdough starter.
As for my other pet, she’s more like a cat. She drinks milk, but right now, she’s asleep in the refrigerator, just like DOuGhy (but in different compartments, because they don’t like breathing the same air). That’s a clue. I’ll talk more about her in my next newsletter.
Did I get back on the writing track after last two week’s epiphany on my writer’s block?
Not yet, because I realized, there’s another factor keeping the lock in place.
The back story.
Without this, I’d end up with a sagging middle. So before I put my pen on paper for Chapter 11 of How I Met Dr. Anthony Sparker, I need to set my hero’s timeline in place. But not after I’ve finished the workshop assignment for the American Medical Writers’ Association. Gotta beat that October 10 deadline. Yes, I also like writing technical, scientific stuff.
Back to creative writing, although I still have that sagging middle of the web novel to fix, I’m happy to say that my "middle" has a hint of six packs and is no longer sagging as much, thanks to running and the half-marathon training program. In less than five months, I’d be running with Mickey Mouse in Disney Land.
Click here to follow my running journey in FB.
And this gets me to another writing project.
Did you know that all these passion for writing started out in 2008 when I trained to run? That’s when I self-published my book, Running the Millionaire Lane. And I thought that would make it to the best-selling list! Yes, that’s always the newbie’s malady, thinking she’d hit a jackpot on her first writing stint. Ten years and many writing courses after, I know better. I’m revisiting my memoir from twenty years ago. I have a feeling that straightening my backstory as a writer will straighten out the backstories of my web novel and manuscript. Please pray with me. Traveling down memory roads of failures is never easy, yet these past months as I’ve shared in my daily devotionals, I’ve seen how the Lord had turned my failures into glorious moments, a glimpse of what His redemption means in my life.
I think I’m in a good place where writing is concerned. I have enough writing fares to choose from. Delving too much in fiction and my head becomes out of touch with reality. Limiting my craft to medical writing, and I grow sterile. Focusing too much on my memoir and I get self-obsessed and narcissistic. It’s fun to engage in the community and publish articles in the local magazine, write about my hobbies and all those other things that give life its wonderful flavor.
I have sought the kingdom of God through writing. I wait with expectant faith for His promises to be fulfilled.
I have a confession to make. I’m guilty.
I have not published Chapter 11 of my weekly web novel, How I Met Dr. Anthony Sparker last week.
I have not completed Week 9 of my Podrunner interval program for my DisneyPrincess Half-Marathon training.
I have not edited my manuscript in quite a while now.
But you know what I’m not guilty of?
Getting deep in my relationship with my family, and getting involved in the community.
And this is another confession I make.
For two years since we got here in Texas, I have hibernated in my little monastery.
I kept out of other people’s affairs, school affairs, or home association affairs.
I minded my own business until God said, “Mind My business.”
“What is Your business, Lord?” I said.
“Build My Kingdom on earth so people will seamlessly transition from the mortal life to the immortal life. Be my undercover change agent. Plant the yeast in an unobtrusive manner. Season the lives around you with just the right amount of salt. Be my mouth, hands, and heart. Love one another as I love you.”
And a sword pierced my heart. Indeed I have loved God and tried to be faithful to my vows to Him. And I used this as an excuse not to be involved in the community, for fear that I would neglect my most important vows for things that I am not bound to in the eyes of God.
These vows include the vows my parents and godparents took on my behalf during my baptism and confirmation, which I have renewed with my conversion to the faith at age 21.
God first in everything.
The moment I wake up each day, I say “Good morning, Lord,” and pray. And the moment I close my eyes each day, I say, “Good night, Lord,” after I recap my day.
I try. And sometimes fail. My batting average is improving though.
And at 27, I took another vow. The vow of matrimony. I vowed to take care of my husband, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death unite us in love.
And at 28 and 33, I vowed to raise my children as good Catholic Christians through their baptisms.
And it has not been an easy task. And adding the writing ministry in this bowl of vows distracted me from my binding vows.
I fumble in my spiritual journey to be obedient to God’s perfect will. I often make mistakes in my discernment. And often find myself lacking in the grace to carry out His purpose. But God is faithful and pulls me back each time.
The journey to be of one mind and heart with my husband had been a tug of war and peace. He was Mr. Right. And I was Mrs. Always Right. But love has managed to pull us through. And the God of love makes the knot unbreakable.
The journey to provide light and flavor to my children’s lives was not a walk in the park either. Sometimes I beam the light straight to their eyes and I put too much salt for their taste.
Lately, the Lord has held my hand and led me to the Path of Serenity, in the hands of His mother who walked the earth in the most unobtrusive manner. She kept her lids lowered, humble and meek, and went about the business of her Son, even when it was not convenient, or clear, and even when it led her to the foot of the cross.
Prudence. Restraint. Pondering heart. These are the graces I sought for the Lady to teach me. These are the traits that helped her walk the Way of her Son, the Way of the Cross, and led her to His glory.
With these traits, I have come to accept the things that block me from writing my web novel, things that hinder me from editing my manuscript, and the things that delay me from completing the running program.
First things first.
God’s perfect timing is not mine to dictate. It is His.
My task, my daily bread, is to listen to His call in the Present Moment. Where does He call me to love?
Each yes brings me closer to my purpose, my call, my destiny, and God’s dream in me.
What about you? Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started a closed group in Facebook for those who want to get notification whenever I publish the Daily Devotionals. If you want to be part of that group, sign up here. I don’t want to spam people’s inboxes, so if you want to add your friend or family to the group, send them the link, and they need to take action to be included.
Please pray with me and for me, that I remain faithful to the Lord’s call in the present moment, as I pray for you and with you.
May you spend the rest of the day with the Lord whom You will encounter in your loved ones and people He will send your way today.
Our daily bread is to do the will of the Father today.
God bless you and your family’s Sunday!
So what’s new at InspiredCopywriting?
My Feature Story is out! Yay, and Kristin Lavitola will surely inspire you to follow your dream and take the plunge.
One Saturday morning, I chanced upon Kristin lounging in her booth at the Irving Farmer’s Market. Displayed on the tables were her ceramic artworks in different sizes and vivid colors.
Click on the Feature Story to read more about Kristin...
#DisneyPrincess Half-Marathon is still in the far horizon but I’m getting nearer my goal of being a half-marathoner.
It’s Week 8 on my 10 Weeks to 10K Program. I missed quite a few running days due to vacation and the effect was significant. Catching up required more discipline than usual. And my daughter’s wisdom teeth (all 4) extraction gave me the wisdom on how to deal with missed runs.
See, she had to be on round-the-clock antibiotic and pain reliever and the first few days were the most challenging. Blame it on her erratic sleeping schedule. Blame it on the summer break. Blame it on the TV. Blame it on whatever, but she still had to make up for doses she missed taking on time. The sooner she remembered the better because it enabled us to adjust and keep doses back on track.
And that’s what I did where my half-marathon training is concerned—got caught up and back on track.
I’m now running 8K for 1 hour. Who would have thought, after a back injury in 2010, and now diagnosed with Sjogren syndrome, an autoimmune disease associated with early onset arthritis, I would be back on my feet: a half-marathoner wannabie?
Thanks to www.djsteveboy.com. This was the program I used about 10 years ago that enabled me to run 10K and converted me from a hater of running to a lover. The memoir is in my book, Running the Millionaire Lane, available as an ebook at Amazon.com. Now, I’m training again and somehow running helps control my stiffness and myalgia. Follow my journey as a wannabie on my facebook page Running the Millionaire Lane.
As for my writing, I suffered the same setbacks. My daily devotionals are missing some dates. My web novel got caught in the web. I’m really in a panic mode not because I’ve been missing on stuff, but because the complacency is starting to get too comfortable.
My web novel, How I Met Dr. Anthony Sparker spoke to my heart.
Stop. Look. And Listen.
God is trying to tell you something. Decode the message.
Lost your path? Recalculate.
Yes, He’s definitely leading me to a different path and I must listen otherwise, I’ll only get more frustrated.
God is a God of peace. When restlessness and chaos ensue, I know I have gone out of my orbit.
Recalculating. It’s time to get back on track and listen to the voice within.
If ever there’s such a thing as an editor’s block, I’m definitely suffering from this chronic condition.
Then today, God told me a parable.
The Parable of the Faucet and the Shower Head
My kitchen faucet has been suffering low pressure, and when the plumber checked it, he recommended replacement of the entire faucet to bring back the pressure.
The shower head on the other hand could not be replaced because doing so might break the pipes. Our only reason is aesthetic, and not worth the hassle.
If it ain’t broken, don’t break it.
I realized it’s the same with my works in progress. If it didn’t need fixing, I should not worry too much about the form and aesthetic details. The water, i.e. the message of God will be transmitted as it is. No matter how ugly the conduit. But if there is something that needed to be replaced to make the water flow faster, i.e. make the sentences flow better so the message is understood, then that’s where I should focus my energy and not on something that already works in terms of readability and clarity.
So long story short, I got myself a fancy Delta faucet and the old shower stays.
I’ll do the same with my novels. Make the web novel fancy and fun and keep the manuscript simple.
It’s gonna be tough, but I’ll do my best, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
That’s it for today!
It’s been a crazy week for me. Pardon my tardiness for not sending out my weekly newsletter as scheduled.
After visiting family and friends in Cincinnati, OH, I flew to San Jose, CA with my husband and two daughters to attend college orientation.
The one thing I find hard to do is to let go of the mother’s string that flies this little kite that is my oldest daughter. It’s been a game of tug and let loose these past years. When I give too much slack to this little kite, she dives down. I have to pull the string fast to get her up and ride the wind again. But pulling too hard keeps her from flying high, and she spins round and round, so I have to loosen the string, so she rides the wind and flies high again. I realize that I cannot let go of this little kite completely because based on past experiences of flying kites, letting loose of the string altogether would send the kite high up in the air to fly everywhere, but when the wind dies down, it hits the ground hard and breaks. I may still be able to fix it, only if I find it. I’m not taking my chances on her.
Because she is the oldest, she gets the brunt of parenting blunders. Despite the nursing courses I took on child-rearing practices and units in pediatric medicine, nothing could ever prepare me to become the perfect mother. The techniques that apply to other kids do not always apply to her. And what applies to her does not apply to her younger sister. But one thing was certain, when I mother them too much, they didn’t get much of me. Instead, they got a mother with an “s,” but not the plural form of mother, but smother.
Seated among first-time college parents, I felt relieved to see that it was not just me who seemed nervous to let go of their kid, uncertain whether we’ve prepared them enough to be on their own and make the right choices.
In the past, when my husband and I give her permission to attend some social activity, I’d often say, “Enjoy and have fun but don’t make a fool of yourself.” Hearing one college student say, “the one advice my Mom gave me that kept me from losing myself was ‘Don’t bring shame to the family,’” made me heave out a breath. It’s not just me. This is all normal parenting blues and jitters.
But after the two-day orientation of listening to all the talks from the school staff, administrators, professors, directors, mentors, spiritual directors, co-parents, and students, I am assured. My daughter made the perfect choice. We made the right decision. We found her home away from home, a Jesuit school, where she will thrive and not just survive.
I relearned cultures and traditions that had been with my husband and me when we met as Jesuit volunteers. Magis, to be more and do more, to be men and women for others, and one can only succeed in being and doing through constant reflection and introspection— the Examen, another practical Jesuit tradition, because an unexamined life is not worth living.
So I sat not so much as to be enculturated but to be reminded of what I already had, it felt like getting a refresher’s course on life and my life’s purpose.
The message addressed to the Class of 2022 became the message addressed to me. What is my purpose, my mission, my call?
A very practical guideline resurfaced to me during the opening program.
My purpose is the meeting point of what I love doing, what I’m good at, and what the world needs.
These serve as clues to why God created me.
I’m in my late 40s, and people might think it’s quite late in the game for me to be asking these questions. My daughter is blessed to be put in a learning environment where she could find the answers and pursue her call.
But I’d rather find my answer now while I still have half of my life to pursue that answer. I don’t want to become that someone in her deathbed still asking these questions and hoping that the life beyond would give her the opportunity to pursue her mission.
Although I’ve never been educated in a Jesuit school, through strong bonds and affiliations, as a Jesuit volunteer married to someone educated in the Jesuit tradition from kindergarten to college, I have embraced the Jesuit spirituality among other spiritualities in the Catholic tradition. I walked out of that place wearing another Jesuit hat, one that says, “I’m a Broncos Mom.”