kind of woman.

Sicker than your average, I walk around with my head high, kind of woman. Not because I’m full of it, full of shit, or think I’m better than the rest, but because I know who I am and I’m proud to be, a woman. Far from average, I handle business on a daily, kind of woman. On the grind, on a mission to provide, for everyone, kind of woman. Take one good look, because that’s all you’re going to get; no time to slow down for anything, woman.

If you want to waste my time, I’m not your woman.

I get mine and hope you’re getting yours too, kind of woman. No stuck up shit, I’m headed to the top and want to take you with me, woman. You want to know me, know my mind and soul, not just my scent or the way my hips move, kind of woman. I set my standards high because I know what I deserve, kind of woman. No doubt, I appreciate for what it is, but if it’s not meant to be, I keep things moving, kind of woman. I love love and love hard, so be prepared, kind of woman.

Beyond sexual, so intellectual, I want to enlighten, be your soul’s inspiration, kind of woman. I don’t take a thing for granted because I know nothing lasts forever, but I’ll forever be, a woman. Forever, your woman, if that was the case. I believe in the highest power who gave me my purpose, my power, as a woman. I do what I love and I love what I do, kind of woman. I don’t stress to impress anyone but myself; I am a perfectionist, yet imperfect altogether so appreciate it, kind of woman. I won’t trip if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world, woman.

Respect is given but can easily be lost, kind of woman. No drama resides here because I’m a positive kind of woman, a positive woman. It’s all in the laws of the universe, I can and will be where I need to be, kind of woman. So let’s keep it moving, women. I’m for change and for the better, kind of woman. I want to make a change because I know I can, kind of woman. So stand up because I know we can, women.

[thanks mars]

LOVE|EVOLution

Evolution+Love1.jpg

 

1987
I have a kung fu death grip on my Barbie because I have a long day of preschool ahead of me and I don’t want to lose it.  It’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world and she does everything with me.  Breakfast, baths, naps and  you know, all the things five year olds do. My teacher asks me why I won’t let her go during recess.  “Because I love her,” I say.

This is it.  This is love.

1991
I catch my father in the living room, furiously writing down a lot of numbers on a piece of paper.  His brows are furrowed and his toes are tapping.

What’s wrong, Daddy?  What are you doing?
I’m trying to budget.
What does that mean?
Mommy wants to take you to the Philippines again. Going back home makes her happy so I am trying to make that happen.
Why?
Because I love you both and I want you to be happy, always.

This is it.  This is love.

1995
“I’m in love!” I tell my mom, as I cry into a pillow.
“No, Anak, you have a crush.  And if he doesn’t like you as much as you like him, he’s not worth it. I promise.”

Well shit.

This is not it.  This is not love. 

1999
It is my 18th birthday and my parents have thrown me the party of the year.  My friends and family are all in attendance, and my high school boyfriend has flown home from the Air Force to be here with me.  I kiss them all in succession.

“Are you happy?” My parents ask.  “Good, we love you talaga.”
And I believe them, furiously.

“Aren’t you happy I’m here?” My boyfriend asks.  “Me too, I love you.”
I don’t believe him.

This is love.  That is not. 

2002
I like you.
I like you, too.
Will you be my girlfriend?
Sure.
I love you.
I like you, too?
That’s not the right answer.
Boy, bye.

This is not it.  This is not love. 

2006
I am 23 years old and a full blown adult. I know everything there is to know about life and I want to get married!  We’ve been dating awhile and marriage comes after dating so that’s what we’re gonna do!  I do!  We do!  Let’s do it!

This is it.  This is love, right?  Right?! 

2008
Adonis Mateo Quinn

Mateo comes first.  He is small, still. A baby who has been born but has already died.  I refuse to look, afraid of what I will see.   Adonis comes next, 2 lbs 2 oz, but the weight of him is instant and heavy.  I count the seconds of silence.  I need to hear him cry…  18.. 19.. 20.. and there it is.  A sound so beautiful I start to cry myself.  I may still lose him in the upcoming weeks but for now, for always, I am their mother.

I have never loved anything so much and so instantly as I do in this moment. I just met you, Adonis, but I know that you will change me.  I am already changed.

This is fucking it.  This. Is. Love. 

2010
Cancer.

The word is crunchy and foreign, like eating a dirty oyster for the first time. There’s no way that I have cancer. I am young and cool and hip. There is no fuckin way. Yet, here’s a little piece of paper saying all kinds of medical mumbo jumbo that translates to cancer.

We can do this, they said. We can do it together, she said.  I look back at the voices and see the faces of my family. My mama, who is a cancer survivor in her own right. My girls, who wouldn’t let me shut them out. Even my new ex-husband and his family were in my corner. I am overwhelmed. And scared. But mostly, I feel loved.

This is it. This is love. 

2011
My body is attracted to his body, but when he speaks my brain gets confused.   Shhhhhh.  Just shhhhh.

This is not it.  This is not love. 

2012 
It’s my 30th birthday. This dress is too tight but that’s the point and I look great in it if I do say so myself. I’m dancing. My girls need a one dance, my man’s gotta Hennessy in his hand. Out of the corner of my eye I see a face and a look I recognize.  She’s trying to figure me out, who I am and who I am in relation to him.  I know instantly that we’ve unknowingly shared the same person.  I look at him. Why would he invite us to the same place?  On my birthday? He wouldn’t? But I know he would. He did.

I am more than a man’s fool, and this is the last time he will think me for one.

This is not it.  This is not love. 

2014 
It’s been a really really long day.  I am exhausted, emotionally and physically. I climb into his shower because I refuse to get in bed dirty. I try to rinse off this tiredness, this day’s stress.  He joins me.  He lets me stand there awhile, decompressing.  He washes my hair.  HE WASHES MY HAIR.  I am thankful my back is to him because I am crying the kind of ugly tears that don’t know how to hide in the shower water.  How is he so good to me? I say a little prayer as his fingers run though my hair with conditioner.  “Thank you God, for this man.” I whisper, because whispers hide in the shower water quite nicely.

This is it. This is love. 

2016
It’s my best friend’s wedding and I’m standing at the altar next to her trying to keep my shit together cuz I hear my makeup looks great and I paid a lot of money for it. She’s whispering her vows to her husband and I almost lose it. I look over to the back of the church.  All of my other best friends doing numerous things:  1) passing babies and tissues around 2) jokingly checking on our friend, who happens to be the bride’s baby daddy 3) taking lots of photos. 4) smiling really really hard.

I think the following:
Shit, those are my people.
Look how happy they are to be here.  Look how happy they all are in general.
My man looks great in that suit.

This is it. This is love.  

Today
I am in Crazy Town. I wake up crippled with anxiety and fear.  I am usually a reasonable and level-headed person but somedays, like today, reason gets thrown out the window and is replaced with self doubt. A lot of it. Maybe it’s PTSD, maybe it’s shark week, or maybe I’m simply crazy. On these days, I do not own it.  I want to give it all back because I don’t know if I can handle the responsibility of taking care of such precious things. Do I deserve this life?  Am I failing at being a mom? Am I being a bad friend? Do I deserve this man?  Am I enough?

These days are few and far between and are hard as fuck. Sometimes all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and hope for the best.

And then the reminders come in:
Mommy, you’re the best and a weirdo.
I miss you, lets hang out.
Can’t wait to spend the weekend with you, Baby.
I love you.

Yes. I am enough.

This is it.  This is love.  And I live it. 

I Workout So I Can Eat Donuts

1462295228051.jpeg

A WOMAN IS OFTEN MEASURED by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-26 and inches and ages and numbers, by all the outside things that don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside.

And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become.

Because every woman knows, measurements are only statistics and STATISTICS LIE.” – Nike Women, 1990s ad campaign

I am a 33 year old sugar addict.  My hips and my attitude are major key, and my first love is food.  I’ve spent the majority of my life hating my body and whatever form it’s in at the moment.

Read the rest of my blog for Sol Sisters here!

Fear Factor.

“You will die a thousand times before you wake up feeling alive in your own skin.  You will love all of the wrong hearts before you realize the strength in your own.”

There are things I’ve just come to accept about myself.  One, I’m not all that coordinated.  I trip over a flat ass sidewalk (it came out of nowhere!), and I can’t really swing a bat, or throw a ball.  Two, I don’t know how to swim.  I almost drowned at 6 years old, and I’ve had this crippling fear of deep water ever since.  Funny enough, I love going to the beach.  I wade in the ocean with the best of em!

Three, I’m afraid, but I ain’t no bitch.  My friend E once asked me to go to a trapeze class once.  I said yes, of course, but told her I was deathly afraid of heights.  Because I ain’t no bitch, I still did it.  I agree to do a lot of things for said reason.  About a month ago, I let my friends talk me into going white water rafting…

After falling in the rapids more than once, getting t-boned by a rock, and having to be evacuated because of an awfully close brush fire, I left there thanking Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that I still had my life.  My friends were “so proud of me because I faced my fear and went rafting.”

Bitch, all I did was stay alive.

Something had to change. My friends were “proud of me” but I didn’t feel the same.  They all had fun, when all I did was wish it was over.  Different strokes for different folks I guess, but some times that’s an excuse scapegoat for something bigger.  It wasn’t for me, because I believed it wasn’t. But I could change that.

Life is for living, not for surviving.

I decided I needed to get over myself.  I wrote down a list of things I didn’t like about me, and I set out to change it.  I signed up for swimming lessons.  I didn’t know how to ride a bike, so I bought one.  I hate running, so I’m integrating it into my workout routine.  I’m scared of spiders.. but fuck that spiders are terrifying, I’ll keep that one in my pocket.

My big love told me how proud he was of me.  This time, I believe it.   I can’t tell you how much being loved the right way has changed me.  There are all the really obvious ways, but what’s surprised me is how it manifests itself in the not so obvious ways… like this.  It bleeds into the small facets of my life, and in every way possible, it makes me better.

Maybe one day I’ll get over disliking cats and my (very valid) fear of heights.  But for now, I’m working on becoming a bike riding ocean swimmer in time for my next vacation.

The Journey Wasn’t Always Joyous

It’s been far too long since I last wrote something, and for that, I apologize.  I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is about writing and sharing that I’ve been avoiding, and I came to the conclusion that it was because I didn’t have a struggle to write about.

Silly Rachel, why do I have to write about my struggle?  People want to hear about my joy, too, right? I had a conversation with my good friend Jey sometime last year.  How do you write about being happy, without sounding… well.. too happy?

Challenge accepted.

I have been all up and through my feelings this week, for reasons that may or may not include shark week and a self inflicted lack of serotonin, but I digress.  The point is, I’ve spent a lot of unnecessary time dissecting my current situation, second guessing my life choices, and questioning my future.  Here are a few takeaways:

I am still scarred.
From a lifetime of choosing him over me, of settling for less than I deserve, of turning the other cheek when I am being hurt.  I still carry the scars of being young and naive.  They are faint, and they make themselves visible at inopportune times.  Like the one time, in the middle of an ordinary dinner, an innocuous comment turned into World War 3 in my head.  My lessons have been learned, and I’m doing a better job of recognizing when my past should stay there.

I am my hardest critic.
Because I spent much of my life being the way I am, I eventually learned to put shadows on all my sunshine.  I second guess ev.ery.thi.ng. I play my own Devil’s Advocate, and while for the most part, it keeps me grounded and realistic, it also drives me absolutely insane.  I never want to get “too excited”… about anything… “so, we’ll see.”   I still can’t take a compliment without saying something bad about myself.  I am learning that it’s ok to be excited about the good in my life because it’s worth getting excited about.  I am also learning to shut the fuck up…. sometimes.

Giving always gives back.
I give myself to other people, in the fullest sense of the term.  The right people give back, and give back in such a way that I feel more than whole.  I am overflowing with so much energy, love, and effort that all I want to do is give it right back.  See how that cycle works?

Adonis is an actual person.  And I am so proud.
He talks to me, about everything.  He sings every chance he gets.  There are moments when I look at him and absolutely cannot believe what it took to get here.  I made a human, and he is changing my life every day.

I am in love.
And I am loved.  And there’s nothing else that needs to be said about that.

The word ‘happy’ doesn’t quite describe the way I feel lately.  I am so… joyful.  A quick search of the archives here will prove that the journey wasn’t always joyous.  There were shadows, and dips, and valleys, and abyss. I don’t have to explain it, because you have all been on this journey with me.  But that was then and it was fine. But in this moment, I am so far beyond fine it is spilling out of my pores.

Happy, happy.  Joy, joy.

BRB.

I feel like I’m constantly navigating different worlds.  And there are so many worlds I don’t fuck with because I’ve only got so much time and so many heartbeats.  Can I live? 

You guys.  Being a person is totally exhausting.

One of the many self realizations I’ve had in the last year or so, is that I am most fulfilled when being supportive.  I’ve taken on support roles in the most important roles of my life — at work and at home — I give myself to helping the people and causes that mean something to me.

I don’t half-ass anything.  I give 110% of myself 110% of the time. Sometimes I am so engulfed in being a really great mother, partner, daughter, employee, friend that I just do not have the energy at the end of the day for anything else.  People want to engage in intellectual conversation, or sit down and break bread with someone who is an actual person, or simply even ask me how my day went.  These are all normal people things that I usually like to do.  But some days, like today, I. LITERALLY. CAN’T. EVEN.

Don’t get it twisted. I am not tired of making effort where effort is due.  I am not asking for extra credit for doing the things that I am already supposed to be doing.  I am not tired of giving my all to so many other people.  I am just… tired.

Its just sometimes I wish I was a shitty person.  I wish I could turn the world off and be selfish and neglectful and forgetful and disrespectful and irresponsible and all the things that are horrible but still feel good.  These thoughts don’t last long, but is it wrong of me to still have them?

I know how lucky I am.  My girlfriend told me just the other day that I take such good care of the people I love, that I deserve that too.  But I have it. When you give and give and give to everyone your whole life, you learn that giving doesn’t leave you with nothing. Giving actually fills you up. The lesson was finding the right people to give to, and I feel I have found that.  My heart and my life have never felt so full, and it feels so fucking good.

I swear, I know how fucking lucky I am. But today, just for a second, I’m going to lay down and not be a person.

Be right back.

And I Quote.

Does she scare you a little?  Good.  She should make you fear her love, so that when she lets you be a part of it, you won’t take it lightly.  She should remind you of the power that beauty brings, that storms reside in her veins, and that she still wants you in the middle of it all.  Do not take this soul for granted, for she is fierce, and she can take you places that you never thought you could go; but she is still loving in the midst of it all, like the calm rain after a storm, she can bring life.  Learn her, and cherish her, respect her, and love her; for she is so much more than a pretty face, she is a soul on fire.

Lola Lessons

She came to this country when I was 3. I remember being picked up from my babysitter’s house one day, and in the car with my parents was this random old lady sitting in the back seat.  “Rachel, this is your grandma,” my dad said.  “I have a grandma?” was my response.  Then a timid “Hi.”

I stopped going to my babysitter’s house.  Instead my parents kept me home with Lola, because smart, and free, and family.   Our first few days were frustrating for the both of us — I only spoke English, she only spoke Tagalog and Ilocano. We taught each other words like

Chicken. Manok.

Water. Tubig.

Grandma. Lola.

Child. Anak.

Love. Mahal.

She made me all of my new favorite things like avocado with milk and sugar, adobong pusit, and kare kare   All the things I didn’t know I loved until I was asking for seconds.  She was magic.  During the day she would quietly and diligently do what she knew — laundry never sat in the hamper for more than a day.  It was also starched and ironed immediately.  The roses in the yard were somehow always in bloom and dinner was always hot and delicious.  Like I said…. Magic.

My brother came along and because of her, English was not his first language.  We went to the Philippines when he was 5 (I was 11) and he schooled me by speaking to all the adults in perfect Tagalog with all the hard 5 syllable adult words I had only heard in the movies my mom rented.  RUDE.

As I got older, I learned her recipes and her stories.  Her stories of working to the bone at a too young age, illiteracy, my Chinese and Filipino roots, running from the Japanese, World War II.  I learned about my ridiculously large family, how my fathers only brother has 13 kids and they were all waiting to talk to me.  Always.

As a young adult, on a day I was trippin over something trivial, she looked at me and said “Ne, you deserve more.”  I looked at her with crazy eyes.  Doesn’t she know this is what I want?!  Doesn’t she know this is important?!?!   She was right.  But it took me years to figure it out.

In my life’s darkest days, her words always rang loud and true.  Looking back, I have changed my whole life, more than once, with one thought– I deserve more.

My Lola was 105 when she left our worlds yesterday.  It sounds like a lot of time to be alive… But it doesn’t feel like enough time with my Lola. I want more avocado shakes and lumpias and sinigang.  I want more you.

I miss you too much already, Nay.  Mahal na mahal kita.