Did you know that in the Catholic Christian tradition, we celebrate Easter for about 40 days? This makes complete sense because Jesus roamed the earth and appeared to His disciples before ascending to heaven.
So I greet everyone, “Happy Easter!” And just like Jesus, I too have “resurrected from the dead.” After a year-long of sabbatical, (yes, I decided to hibernate last year during Lent of 2020 to discern my life’s direction, not knowing that the world would join me, when the pandemic broke in March), I gained more clarity about my vision and mission by writing my memoir. You won’t find it anywhere because it’s a sacred text that shall only occupy the shelf of our family library.
And if you’re an aspiring writer who wants to grow in your practice, I highly recommend starting with a memoir. It will bring you clues from the past so you can navigate your future with ease.
Grab Lisa Dale Norton’s “Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir.” It’ll show you an easy method so you don’t go around beating the bush and unleash snakes and rats in the process.
Memoir-writing can be very therapeutic as well, just like journaling. As an advocate of holistic health care, I find that caring for the mind and spirit is just as important as caring for the body. And don’t forget, you need your heart and soul in this journey.
What the pandemic taught me
I learned how people cope and it’s as classic as the process described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s Stages of Death and Dying. When we die to our freedom, which is what essentially the pandemic brought to the world, we undergo the following stages as exemplified by the following reactions:
Anger - “This is insane! We cannot be in this lockdown for ever. We cannot wear mask. It will kill us!”
Of course, by now, we know masks don’t kill the wearers. I for one can attest to that. I have worked in the operating room for years as an anesthesiologist. We wear masks all the time because we want to protect our patients from the bacteria and germs from our mouth and nose. We cover our hair with caps because our hair can trap all dusts and microbes from the outside and bring it to our patients. When the surgeon opens up the abdomen, any microbe that can fall in there can potentially lead to infection.
Healthcare workers sacrificed much of this freedom to breathe freely during the pandemic. They had to wear more than the regular surgical masks. The N-95 masks had to be fitted snugly to the point that wearing it for 12 hours (a regular shift for most hospital workers) leads to skin breakdown, wounds, and sores. But they do it anyway. For the sake of the patients. That’s why I was greatly disturbed by the attitude of the anti-maskers.
Denial - “All these will go away soon. This is just like the flu.”
The first time I heard of this coronavirus variant, I got worried. I had lived through the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak when it hit Asia. I had intubated patients who went into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. But the lower risk of transmission didn’t lead into a pandemic. The mutation in the first subunit of SARS-CoV-2 makes this bug more contagious and cause a more serious illness. The route of entry may be respiratory, like the flu virus, but the manifestation of the disease is more systemic and vascular. Some long-haulers have experienced injuries to the brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. It is an inflammatory virus. I knew this virus wasn’t one I wanted to mess with, not with my auto-immune condition, which closely resembled some of the symptoms. I didn’t know whether I am more resistant or prone to its systemic effects. There was no room for denial in our home.
Bargaining - “We can partially open the school. Or we can lock down half of the country. We can allow half the kids to be exposed.”
In this dysrhythmic tango, many overstepped and failed to follow the steps. What’s more unfortunate was the conflicting messaging from various authorities. We were like flocks without a shepherd. As a result, many got bitten by the lion of a virus and succumbed. There was no room for bargaining in our home. Everyone went remote. We were all willing to sacrifice our freedom in exchange for our lives. It was hard. My high schooler voluntarily searched for a virtual schooling program and withdrew from her school. My college daughter chose to do the purely remote learning, although she could barely hear half of the lecture and struggled with the fact that she was just one of the few who chose the path least travelled. My husband cancelled all business trips and by the grace of God, his company made it easy for everyone to work remotely. All these brought challenges for everyone.
Depression - We know how many have lost their lives not just from the virus but from self-inflicted harm brought about by depression. The rise in behavioral and mental consult is a clear evidence of the struggle that we all experienced as a humanity. Alcohol consumption increased too, and not just to disinfect the hands but to deaden the mind from the situation. Various coping mechanisms emerged. And we learned that the best way to thrive and not just survive this pandemic was to accept that the world will have to change if we are to win this war. We fight an enemy that we can’t see, that evolves with every jump from one host to another, that preys on the careless, the clueless, and the immune-deficient, and that lingers for as long as we allow it.
Acceptance - “This will get worse before it gets better. We must adapt to the situation, adopt effective ways of preventing transmission, and abandon baseless and harmful practices.”
We knew we had to work as a team to get through this pandemic alive and healthy.
As people of science, we knew from our preventive medicine and epidemiology classes that a pandemic can only end when herd immunity occurs. This means 70-80% of the population have developed resistance to the disease and stopped transmitting it to others. There are two ways that this can happen.
Two Ways to Herd Immunity
1) By active infection - this type of immunity means that 70-80% of patients, after getting COVID-19, will develop antibodies that lasts for a long time. But based on evidence, the level of antibodies from patients dropped after three months. Meaning, they can get sick with this virus again when exposed to a dose that can overcome their immune system. To get herd immunity through this route, the world will lose many lives first.
2) By vaccination - this type of immunity confers a more promising route. Some studies have shown that by vaccination, the level of antibodies stay longer in the system. If about 70-80% of the population will have this kind of resistance to COVID-19, then the virus will naturally die from a lack of host to infect. But sentiments against vaccination may prove deleterious to this process of herd immunity. Unless 70-80% of the world population become resilient to the virus, it will continue to jump from one host to another, mutate, and even become stronger, so that we need to develop vaccines that will be able to fight it. Unless the world reacts and acts as one, there’s no way we can end this pandemic fast enough. Factors that make the fight more challenging is the constant movement of people that encourages transmission of the virus. As long as the virus finds a vulnerable host to infect, it will continue to replicate, mutate, and spread. And that has been the life story of viruses from time immemorial. History will attest to this. It was only with much vigilance that we were able to eradicate smallpox in 1972. I still have the marks of the vaccine for that virus. So you can guess how old I am.
Which brings me to our journey as a family.
How we coped during the pandemic
Creating safe spaces
With everyone at home, we had to create a space for each member. That entailed moving furniture, donating stuff we no longer need to free up the home. It also entailed letting go of toxic personalities. We cannot be a constant sandpaper to each other, which although did smoothen up some of our rough spots, because it also leads to abrasion and wounds. We learned to be more mindful, patient, kind, and comforting. That was the only way to keep everyone healthy, happy, and holy.
Creating music and crafts
The creative people will always find a way to deal with hardship and turn it into opportunities. We unearthed talents that were abandoned because of lack of time. Now, we had all the time in the world to learn the ukulele, pick up the guitar again, and learn new piano pieces. Music therapy is just as effective as art therapy.
Creating a greener backyard and home
Doing the groceries every two weeks to lessen our exposure had its challenges. But I’ve learned that washing some of the vegetables can make them last longer. And the greens that tend to wilt in days remained fresh when stored in the freezer. I invested in hydroponics that provided us with fresh herbs and did some garden work where I harvested okra and cantaloupe. I also learned composting and found that nature therapy is an effective mood lifter.
Learning new things
We all learned many skills from doing remote work. Navigating Zoom and investing in its stock sure paid off. This encouraged my daughters to learn how to invest in the stock market, start their retirement and investment funds. They earned a thousand fold compared to the measly earnings they had from their savings accounts. We supported companies that developed vaccines and developed infrastructures that proved beneficial during the pandemic.
Learning to be creative in the kitchen
With four mouths to feed round the clock (except when they’re asleep, of course), I spent more and more time in the kitchen, and am not complaining!
What cooking in my kitchen?
The lockdowns and quarantines gave me the time to complete the Culinary Medicine course, a career I decided was worth my investment. In December 8, I took the board certification exam and early this year was conferred as a Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist.
Many wonder what is Culinary Medicine? In the words of Dr. John La Puma, author of Chef MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover’s Road Map to Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Getting Really Healthy, “Culinary Medicine is a new evidence-based field in medicine that blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine.”
Not only did it give me an outlet and platform for my passion, but it also gave me a pathway to deal with my auto-immune disease. Finding health and healing in the kitchen is what Culinary Medicine is for me. It marries well
with my Certification as a Professional for Healthcare Quality.
My hope is to be able to teach the lessons to the community for free, but the licensing for the course from the Health Meet Food program will cost me $1,500/year.
Will you help me raise the funds and together we can work for a more healthy, happy, and holy society starting at home?
Bringing the family together back to the table sharing healthy meals is a foundational approach to rebuilding a sustainable world. You can be my first students and we can journey together in this path towards health and healing using food as medicine.
In my quest for a better quality of life, I found the pandemic as a blessing in disguise. Although the light at the end of the tunnel looks like a tiny spot, the fact that it’s there gives us hope to endure. The world needs to change in the process, and we evolve with it for the better. I don’t think we can ever go back again to the pre-pandemic period without learning our lessons. Otherwise, we would have failed as a society and humanity. The pandemic brought some strong messages that only the blind and deaf would miss.
And it’s not a message of despair or doom. It’s a message that calls people to become good stewards of our home.
As a Christian, I hear a call to stay and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, we prepare and pray.
I believe that we shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We wait for the Lord with courage. Stouthearted, we wait for the Lord.
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.”