I’m not a regular (future) mom.

Can I not send my children to school? Because I’m not a regular (future) mom; I’m a vegan (future) mom. I don’t want them to be lied to that certain animals are born for human consumption, or that the main source of protein is animal carcass, or that dairy is good for them. I don’t want to risk them being uninformed subjects to animal-tested synthetic medicines, egg-containing vaccines, or milk supplementation programs. I don’t want them to be forced to thank large corporations for donating stuff to show that they’re good when they’re not.

I’m not a regular (future) mom; I’m a feminist (future) mom. I refuse to put them in colors and uniforms and classifications that are based on their sex. I refuse to have them indoctrinated to ideas that certain chores and jobs are for males and others are for females. Or that doing male jobs make females sexy. I refuse to have them conditioned that girls are dainty and soft, and boys strong and tough. I prefer that they all know how to change tires, or fix the plumbing, or bake lemon cupcakes, or teach others as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

I’m not a regular (future) mom; I’m an anarchist (future) mom. I want my children to govern themselves. I don’t want them to fear positions and ranks. I want them instead to see every single being as an equal – neither superior nor inferior – and they don’t have to bow to or be bowed to by anyone. I want them to judge people according not to their status or their salary grades but to their principles. I don’t want them to compete with their peers but instead compete with their past. I don’t want them to be fixed to the idea that they have to study to get a job to have money to get married to have children who will study to get a job to have money to get married to have children to have the same things over and over again. Instead I want them to study because they know there’s no room for ignorance in a free society.

Moreover, I don’t want to place them in positions where they would be bullied, questioned, and judged harshly because of their principles and coerced to abide by the status quo.  I can’t imagine seeing my future children growing up powerless over the school system.  That, for me, is scarier than giving birth itself.

You see, I’m not a regular (future) mom. I’m a (future) mom who watched V for Vendetta one too many times.

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I Ain’t Pretty

I’m slowly teaching myself to love myself – pores and all.

I lost my confidence in high school, the story of how still too painful to recall. Since then, I loathed how I look like: the long face, small eyes, upturned nose, brown lips, long chin, huge pores, huge legs and wide feet. And in the few times I felt kinda pretty, there was always a voice that reminded me of that hideous comment in high school.

No, I wasn’t pretty. I was never going to be pretty. Even believing the contrary was a crime.

Then, as I started earning my own money, I discovered the magic of make up. Suddenly, I have between my fingers a magic wand that made my eyes appear bigger and more alive. My pores disappeared at the lightest touch of creams and powders. My lips were my favorite shade of pink.

And the shoes. Beautiful shoes whisked me to beautiful places. On my high heels, my unshapely legs took shape, my feet didn’t seem as wide.

I had shoes and I had make up and I was happy.

And then, last year during Lent, I decided – or rather was forced – to fast on make up and heels. For the forty days that led to Easter, I was to be bare faced and on flat shoes.

I died, indeed. Letting go of the only things that made me feel pretty was hard and painful.

But by Easter, I discovered something: that feeling – feeling pretty – was an illusion.

At the end of the day I was still the girl with the long face, small eyes, upturned nose, brown lips, long chin, huge pores, huge legs and wide feet.

Then I realized I had spent all my money on things that fed that illusion. Then I’d spend more money on makeup removers and facials and foot massages to alleviate the after effects. Being pretty was unnecessarily strenuous.

Just like what Pistol Annies sang: Being pretty ain’t pretty at all.

I seldom wear makeup and high heels now and I only do so when forced by special occasions. When people tell me “mag-lipstick ka nga,” I’d smile and walk away. After all, people who want to be with me will still be with me even if I don’t look like Barbie.

In addition, most makeup I used to use either had animal-derived ingredients or tested on animals or both. I can’t continue using them anymore. There’s vegan makeup, of course, but they’re ridiculously expensive and I’d rather spend my money on food that nourish me from the inside.

I have given up on being pretty. I’m trying my best to cut off the chains that bind me to the influences of mass media and the industries. I’m trying to reclaim myself. I may not always like the woman I see in the mirror but I’m learning to love her in spite and because of the flaws.

I may not be pretty. But this – pores and all – is me.

Of Love

Let’s talk about love today.

This morning, I went to Mass, and Father L said humans are created out of love.  Thus, our nature is not to hurt but to love.

Something that’s always bothered me is why people become bitter when relationships end.  They would say mean things to their friends about the ex, smearing her or his image in the process.  Calling them names.  Why do they do that to the people they supposedly loved?

I’ve been called idealistic many times before.  (I also wonder why being one is such a bad thing.)  They meant it in contrast with being realistic.  They accused me of being ignorant of real-life experiences – because they misrepresent me as a pampered princess growing up – to understand the realities of this world.  They called me naive.

But sometimes being idealistic or ignorant or naive could be positive.  For example, today’s question: Why do they do that to the people they supposedly loved?

Having grown up without real difficulties or serious responsibilities, I had all the time in the world for thinking.  Many years ago, when I experienced heartbreak for the first time, I was surprised to discover that I cannot say any bad word about this person who hurt me.  On the second time, despite all the trash talk people who were supposedly consoling me said, I can’t get myself to say or think bad things about him.

I wondered if that was because I didn’t love them enough.  But this would be untrue because I know in my heart there was nothing more I could have done or given at that time.  I also wondered if that was because what I felt for them wasn’t true love.  But that would be wrong because the very reason I can’t be cruel even to their memories is because I loved them.

Admittedly, I’ve been bitter over some people.  I’ve had my fair share of trash talking to friends.  And that is because I didn’t truly love them.

Because to truly love someone is to set them free.  Of course, it’s almost impossible not to ask of something from the other person – I can’t imagine a truly unconditional love by a human being.  You can only hope that you’d be enough for them and they’d choose you and stay with you forever, but that is something you can’t force or manipulate them to do.  If you can’t set them free, that means you love yourself more than you love the other person.  That means you love the things you do, the happiness they give you, the emotions they stir, or the future you envision with them… more than them.

Think about God for a second.  He gave us free will.  He loves us.  He gives us everything.  He nurtures us.  But He doesn’t force us to follow Him.  That decision is up to us… because we, his beloved, are free.

To love is to place the other person’s happiness before our own.  (But take note I do not in any way condone staying with sociopaths and psychopaths.  If their happiness is torturing and destroying you, by all means, leave.)

To try to give unconditional love is a tough choice that requires hard work but it will always be worth it.  When you set them free, you are set free.

 

Confession

Today is First Friday and I want to confess about burnout.

As some of you know, I haven’t been back to the Catholic church for long (just since December 2014) and have been reading at the Mass for much shorter than that.

Some of you are living testimonies of how I loved it.  There was a time I felt everything else – daughter duties, work, leisure, relationships, self-love – was sagabal to my service, and if I could only be in church every minute of my life, I would.  I could stand not eating on Sundays.  I bought books that taught how to read and practiced everytime I can.  I researched the context of each reading to properly convey the right emotion.  My copies of Sambuhay had marks indicating emphasis and where to have eye contact, pause, or stop.

But I’ve lost it.  It’s only been two and a half years but I don’t love it anymore.

Today, getting myself to wear the uniform I once thought were the most beautiful pieces of clothes ever designed is a struggle.  Dati, I would spend half an hour doing my face and my hair so I would look at least presentable (and hopefully sophisticated) but now I just don lip balm and tie my hair in an effortless ponytail.  There were even mornings in the recent past that I don’t shower or even wash my face.  Now I don’t even polish my black heels.

At our monthly meetings, I’d rather stay in the back, wishing I were somewhere else.  I’d wish we’d just go straight to the schedules and adjourn.  Then, when I see how many serves I have, possibly more than anyone, I’d curse inwardly.  Always on the verge of crying and breaking down, I secretly (but not anymore now) hate that I’ve been doing First Fridays ever since I learned how to.  I’d scream inside: ano bang tingin niyo saken, walang pamilyang kailangan asikasuhin sa umaga?!  Or, alternatively, kayo lang ba ang busy?

I learned to despise Kuya Sarsi’s “lika n holy hour ngaun” messages.  When I used to be at church at least twenty minutes before the Mass, I’m now a buzzer beater.  I don’t even have time to, or bother to, pray the Panalangin Bago Magmisa.

Then came the judgments.  It turns out, for some, I’m not good enough.  In the beginning, I only cared about the idea that God was smiling at me for what I was doing.  I didn’t care whether I was appreciated by people because I knew God appreciated my efforts.  But later the criticisms and gossips and parinig and sumbong just turned too much, eventually alienating me, numbing me, making me think, if you’re so good why don’t you do it?, making me wish they’d just kick me out instead.

And then came the envy.  I started to envy the people who have lives, who own their mornings and their weekends.  I envy the anonymous parishioners who have the freedom to be at the Mass without the fuss.  I even started to envy those who do my much-needed yoga… because apparently Catholics must not.

Gone is the reader who Father Peter praised to be “very good,” coupled with his happy smile and two thumbs up.  In her place is this spiteful, empty robot who can’t even remember the readings of the day when she leaves the church.  In her place is this person who wishes she can go back to the invisible anonymous churchgoer.

I’m so tired.

Today is First Friday.  On First Fridays, we confess.  This was what I confessed and I’m confessing this again now.

I’m sorry for feeling this way.

I’m sorry for being ungrateful.

2017 Round Up + What’s Up for 2018

2017 was a roller coaster ride, but if it taught me one thing, that would be not to plan too much.  I made a long list of things to do for the year, but I must admit I wasn’t able to accomplish that much.  In fact, I think I managed to do just three: eat at a vegan restaurant (I got two), read 12 books, and visit ten Catholic churches.

A number of unexpected reasons factored in for that dismal outcome: God gave me Francis, Inoo died, I had more church activities, and I simply lost interest in many of the things in the list.  But do I regret not ticking everything off my #2017goals?  Not at all.

2017 taught me to take things as they come.  I didn’t plan for the love that came.  I, of course, didn’t foresee God taking Inoo back last April.  My interests and priorities changed.  But things happen when they happen, whether or not we are ready.  I’m not an expert in living life to the fullest, but I guess the trick is to be present to recognize life’s gifts as they come.  And to know yourself enough to know which to accept… if and when you’re given the choice.

After all, the only time we have is the present.

This 2018, I’m not making a long bucketlist.  This year, I simply want to be more compassionate with myself, let go of the people, things, memories and notions that cause me negativity, and take the first steps to mindfulness.

30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30

I just turned 29 last Tuesday.

I’m a bit sad because I just got older.  Haha.  But then I remembered that I should be thankful I’m still alive, still blessed, and still loved.

Some major things happened on my 28th year.  I finally decided to commit to veganism, I began with Neocatechumenal Way, I fell in love with Francis, the library finally opened, I lost my son Inoo, and then I was elected the new coordinator of our ministry.  For the most part my 28th year was great, except of course, Inoo dying.  And getting elected to look after a bunch of assertive and seasoned Church readers is scary.

Having said that, I’m really hoping to do a lot on my 29th.  That is, if God permits.  Every year, I make a list of things I plan to accomplish for the next 365 1/4 days but nothing really happens.  I can’t even finish filling my Belle de Jour Power Planner, you know.  But I’m thinking if I make them simpler, measurable, and attainable, I’d be able to do them.

Here they are, the things I want to have done before I turn 30:

  1. Cook and bake only vegan food.
  2. Eat vegan ice cream once.
  3. Eat at a vegan restaurant like Green Bar once.
  4. Own one vegan statement shirt/sweater.
  5. Perfect a vegan bread recipe.
  6. Have homemade vegan lunch at work at least three times a week.
  7. Drink 4 liters of water every day.
  8. Be more flexible.  Gotta do those Boho Beautiful workouts properly.
  9. Workout at least 5 times a week.
  10. Pay up my credit cards.
  11. Save P50,000.
  12. Go on a couple weekend getaway trip once.
  13. Redesign my bedroom.  Get the sunshine in!
  14. Speaking of, aim for at least 30 minutes of morning sun three times a week.
  15. Read 12 books.
  16. Do a Daniel Fast once.
  17. Go on a two-day screen fast once.
  18. Limit eating out to once a month.
  19. Compete for the research contest.
  20. Finish business plan for my vegan restaurant.  Even if the whole thing doesn’t materialize.
  21. Seriously let Francis teach me to ride a bicycle.
  22. Apply and get interviewed for a job once.  It doesn’t really matter if I get hired.  It’s just that I’d never competed for a job in my life.  Gotta start facing my greatest fear: rejection.
  23. Never do office work on a Sunday.
  24. Aim to attend at least 75% of my Mass schedules.
  25. Surprise a loved one.
  26. Do a Marie Kondo purge once.
  27. Pray every single day.
  28. Hike once.
  29. Love a new furbaby.  Kuya Inoo would be happy.  And raise him/her vegan.
  30. Grow sunflowers.

There.

Wish me luck!

What Makes a Keeper

Keeper (Urban Dictionary)

  • Someone who would make better marriage material than baby momma material.
  • Someone who you’d likely spend the rest of your life with if you found him or her.

What makes a keeper?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Drink beer or drink champagne.  Choose bonfire over candlelight.  Don pants or a frilly dress.  Be one of the boys or be a lady.  Wear makeup or don’t.  Cook or bake or don’t.  Laugh out loud or be prim and proper.  Straddle his motorcycle or ride like a Disney damsel.  Sit on the passenger or drive.  Or walk.  Reply at once or take your time.  Call or don’t.  Be skinny, be athletic, be fab.  Choose a traditionally female job or a traditionally male job.  Or don’t have a job.  Do your hair however you choose.  Be loud or be quiet.  Pay for your meals if you wish.  Stay the night or don’t.  Like kids or don’t.  Be a princess or a cowgirl.

Remember, you are not defined by whether or not he thinks you’re a keeper.  You are in charge of your womanhood.

After all, getting a guy to marry you isn’t the purpose of your life.

Happy women’s month.