My Bravest Move, Yet!

Last year, I did my bravest move yet: launch a premium freelance VA (Virtual Assistance) business. (Yup, that’s where hitting the road led me to)

My Bravest Move, Yet! | Stitches & Words

What’s so brave about that?

  • I had to put myself out there to find clients. It started with Upwork, sending proposals and getting interviewed. And then I moved on to LinkedIn prospecting – even when I didn’t think I was ready yet!
  • I needed to resist the temptation to take on work from clients who didn’t see the real value that I bring just so I could start earning again.
  • I turned my back on the possibility of having a more predictable 6-figure monthly income with HMO benefits and 13th-month pay, by not applying for a job at another BPO company.

It wasn’t easy, and it was a tad scary. I wasn’t sure if I could make it happen. I really think this is my bravest move, thus far. There were so many $3-$5/hour jobs out there for VAs but I refused to take them. I chose to stand my ground and wait for my ideal client even as I watched my bank account balance get smaller each month.

Of course, I had a cushion. My old company gave me a going-away gift for 9 years of service; I have a husband who was employed and has HMO benefits that extended to me. So maybe that meant I could afford to be brave, and maybe I wasn’t being brave after all?

But being brave is not just about doing things without a safety net. At least for me, being brave means intending to and actually leaving your comfort zone, seeking growth, and stepping into a vulnerable space – so you can emerge and realize your wildest dreams.

Down the road, I may have to do something that requires even more bravery – I will look back at this time, as well as other times in my life, to get me through it.

What’s your bravest move?

How to Maintain Good Vibes While In Quarantine

In our neck of the woods, it’s Day 13 of {Extreme} Enhanced Community Quarantine.

I mentioned in last week’s update that life is almost normal and that despite all the things that makes this situation difficult, life is still good. And it is.

As we end the second week of quarantine, I wanted to share with you some of the ways in which I maintain GOOD VIBES despite being in this time of uncertainty and hearing all the sad and upsetting news. | How to Maintain Good Vibes in Quarantine

Start a Daily Gratitude Practice

Now is a good time as any to start a daily gratitude practice. Carve out 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to jot down what you are thankful for. It could be just one thing, or five things, or ten.

As for me, I have a journal (on my second now!) where I try to write 10 things that I am grateful for on a daily basis, usually at the start of my day while sipping coffee. Some days I don’t make it to ten, and that’s okay! Doing this daily has helped me stay positive and it encourages me to recognize the lessons from otherwise difficult and upsetting situations.

If you don’t feel like writing in a journal, consider sharing what you’re thankful for daily on Facebook, or creating a card for posting on Instagram Stories. There’s value in sharing your practice with others, you’re spreading the good vibes!

Get Moving

Movement plays a huge role in boosting your mood and energy. Movement and exercise release happy hormones! So does going out to soak up some sunlight (in these times of Corona, do this in the safety of your front/backyard or balcony/terrace).

So I may not be the most credible here because if you Google sedentary lifestyle, my image will probably pop up! BUT I get points for effort.

Start by walking around the house. When you’re working, set a timer to stand up and walk around (and maybe do stretching, and hip circles (it’s fun!)) every hour.

Go outside (put on a mask, if you must).

Take frequent breaks from whatever it is you’re doing and do a 30-minute happy dance ala Meredith and Cristina.

When I’ve gone long periods of NOT moving enough (as is the case now), my go-to exercise to ease me back into the habit and to build-up stamina, are Leslie Sansone’s Walk-at-Home videos on Youtube. I really do not like exercising and hardcore workouts stress me out (I’ve tried HIIT), but these videos, even the hubby sometimes does them with me.

Find the movement or exercise that is doable for you.


Now is not the time for isolation. Yes, we are physically distancing from each other, but this is the time to be social. And I don’t just mean scrolling Social Media feeds.

Talk to the people you’re quarantined with. Binge-watch a series or movies together. Eat together. Be present with each other.

Chat with your parents, wherever in the world they may be. Call them!

Setup group video calls with your friends and family.

Reach out to friends and workmates just to say Hi! Ask how they’re doing.

If you’re in a book club, participate! If you used to meet up in person weekly/monthly, do it virtually now.

Instead of sharing doomsday theories and/or fake news, share the good news. Exchange recipes, book recommendations, crochet/sewing patterns, online courses.

Stay connected.


So I had a bad headache all day Friday and all I did was sleep it off. I got up just before 8 PM, right in time for an exclusive training inside a freelancing tribe I belong to.

Before it started, the host played music from the early ’90s and, of course, I sang along. I immediately felt better!

Sing out loud to upbeat tunes or any of your favorite songs. Kebs na kung maingayan ang kapit-bahay.

I’ve also been tuning in to the Facebook Live sessions of various Pinoy singers/musicians raising funds through Bayanihan Musikahan. They have a different set of performers each night (who perform from home, with just their phones or computers to broadcast with, yet they STILL sound great!) and it’s been fun and AMAZING too. You can still catch them, performances usually start at 6PM each night, until late into the evening! I think Martin Nievera’s performance on Wednesday lasted 2 hours!

Get Good Sleep!

Just like movement, sleeping well has a lot of benefits. Remember my post about The Sleep Revolution?

A person who hasn’t had much sleep tends to be cranky and irritable. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of depression and higher levels of stress. Don’t let that be you. Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Take naps if you need them.

Sleeping well does wonders for you, and helps keep you in a good mood 🙂

Spend QT with your Pets

We now have 4 grown dogs (Sirius Black, Pandora, Jango Night Fury, and Lep) and 2 puppies (YuQing and LuXia). They’re not trained, but I swear, they are like emotional support dogs.

The way they’d come close and reach out when you don’t feel all that well. Or particularly sad. Hay.

The hubby randomly picks up one or two or three of them at a time, smells them and showers them with love. The two pups are particularly smelly because they haven’t had a bath in two weeks (sabay sa quarantine, haha) and they eat dog food (pellets) but he still smells them. I believe it’s because it makes him feel better.


I know that when you spread goodwill, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. But, it is true also that giving makes you feel better. So, for my last tip on how to maintain good vibes while in quarantine, I ask that if you are able to, give. Share your blessings.

In closing, I hope that you picked up a thing or two from me today (not the virus!). Though we continue to hear a lot of stories that are heartbreaking, and there are whispers that sow fear and anxiety, it’s important that we stay in good spirits and not be led by fear or scarcity. This is just the rain we’re putting up with right now, soon we’ll see the rainbow.

I leave you now with a short list of ways to help others. Thank you in advance for sharing what you have, prayers and good thoughts included.

Ways to HELP

Donate any amount while enjoying the sounds of Bayanihan Musikahan performers. They are raising funds to send food and PPEs to frontliners, AND to feed and help out families whose livelihood have been compromised by this pandemic. Food and assistance will be sent to them so they won’t be forced to leave their homes to earn a living and run the risk of contracting or passing along the virus.

Frontline Feeders PH – this is another effort by the private sector to feed frontliners and provide PPEs.

Support this group who makes Faceshields for Frontliners!

Protect the Poor by supporting Caritas Manila in providing COVID-19 Ligtas Kits and/or Manna Food Bags to poor families.

Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine – The First Week

Our story this week isn’t any different (not that much) from that of any other family in many places the world over. We are in that period of suspended animation – much like what you find yourselves in on those few days between Christmas Day and New Year – when you’re not sure what day it is, or what you’re supposed to be doing.

masked stuffed bears on quarantine
Photo by L N on Unsplash

Because three residents of our barangay (the smallest unit of local government here in the Philippines, like a more ‘official’ type of neighborhood) have tested positive for COVID-19, we have been declared under Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine, an announcement made three days into the Metro Manila-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Residences of the confirmed patients are considered Hot Zones and are blocked off. There will be no one going in or out of those homes. Houses within 500 meters of the Hot Zone (like ours) are considered Warm Zones and are also on a sort of lockdown. For a few days, we were not allowed to go beyond the checkpoints on both ends of the street, but now we are given a Quarantine Pass to be used by one person per family, to buy essentials.

I work from home, and I’m grateful that I continue to have work during this time of crisis. My husband is also able to work from home.

We are surrounded by family, and get to interact with them ALL THE TIME if we choose to. The other day, I got two nephews to clean my car, plus the windows out front and today, another nephew indulged me when I asked him to fill a bucket with soil (which I will later use to bury my Bokashi in).

And as we both continue to work, we also both talk to clients/colleagues over Zoom all the time.

Our pantry is currently stocked – thanks also to food packs we received from caring groups and individuals – and our last-minute grocery run before the restrictions kicked in. We have food and vitamins for our dogs. The puppies missed their scheduled vaccine, but we can always get that done after all this settles.

So life is almost normal.

Except that we can’t go out to visit our parents.

And we can’t physically show up for friends who are grieving.

And we can’t just go out anytime to go anywhere.

But life is still good.

I recognize that we’re one of the privileged ones. And we won’t take that for granted.

From our home to yours: love, light, and healing. xx

I Am Happy And Grateful

Thanks to a group coaching program that I joined this year, I have developed a daily gratitude practice that has me listing ten things I am happy and grateful for. Out of those ten things, three have to specifically be about me.

Although I’m pretty sure I have mentioned some things more than once already, really, I feel like there is still a lot more to be thankful for. I have been doing this now for over a hundred days and it sure is getting more and more challenging to come up with three things I particularly love about myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me! And I think I have great qualities. I guess we’re just not wired to sing ourselves praises, no? And we should. But if it’s uncomfortable to call it self-praise, let’s put it this way: I just have to love me.

We’re not being called to be boastful, only to be grateful for oneself.

What does it mean to be grateful for oneself?

It means appreciating something about you, acknowledging something about you that makes you happy (or has made you happy).

And we do it along with being generally grateful for everything else. For what’s around us, our circumstances, etcetera, etcetera.

A daily gratitude practice worked wonders for me.

I no longer feel anxious about tomorrow. And I feel a lot more positive about life in general. Now, I never was a negative type, but I also didn’t think I can be even more optimistic. And, in a way, I am.

It reminds me to not take anything for granted. To be thankful for the big things, and the small things. For the good, and the bad. It has helped me feel less envious or resentful, and to not look at others and regard them less fortunate, but understand the difference in our circumstances and yet feel genuine empathy and a yearning to reach out and find out how I can help.

This gratitude practice is teaching me to not waste time, energy, and opportunity. It has taught me to see how much abundance is out there, and how we are already living in abundance, no matter the balance in our bank accounts.

On the outside, I know it seems like it is taking me so long to get my butt moving and do something already. After all, I am 6 months into my mini-retirement (and I’m pretty sure my husband feels that way) but to me, it doesn’t feel like a waste of time or opportunity.

It was a gathering of energy and love. A (long) moment of rest and enjoyment of freedom. Of making space in my life for more. And now that I know how it feels to have so much time to do just the things I want to do (and I haven’t even done everything), I now know the importance of protecting that freedom and not be tied down to living life in somebody else’s terms.

But this post isn’t about my mini-retirement. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude.

A quick Google search for “effects of gratitude” will lead you to a lot of research on this topic. Feel free to check those out if you need to be convinced that you should develop the practice. But all I want to tell you is this,

Just start with one thing.

Find time in your day to sit down and express gratitude for one thing in or about your life.

Write it down with a pen and a notebook. Or type it on a notepad on your phone:

“I am happy and grateful _____________________________________________.”

Do it again the next day. Do it for the whole week.

Do it for another week. And another. Even if you miss a day, that’s okay. No need to double up the next day (though you’re free to do so).

When you feel like you have nothing more to say thank you for, go back and review your list. And then try again. Give thanks for just one thing.

After some time has passed, reflect on what has changed for you, or in you. Ask yourself if you want to keep going. If the answer is no, ask why not?

Try it.

As for me, and for today, here is my list of ten things:

  1. I am happy and grateful for Martine De Luna and her Be Captivating program, for many reasons, one of which is helping me cultivate this gratitude practice.
  2. I am happy and grateful for the SATS Community that I grew up in. Today is Fiesta at SATS (feast of St. Andrew the Apostle).
  3. I am happy and grateful that I have complete control of my life right now. That is both scary and exciting.
  4. I am happy and grateful that I have choices to make. That can be a disadvantage sometimes, but it is definitely a good thing for me, right now.
  5. I am happy and grateful for my Auntie Leesah, who died this day, 15 years ago. She always had my back. She was very supportive of my side hustles back then. Especially of my baking.
  6. I am happy and grateful for the TV series His Dark Materials. I love having to look forward to a new episode every week. I haven’t read all three books in the series yet but I’ve pulled them from my shelves, ready to be cracked open. Still deciding if I’ll be re-reading The Golden Compass.
  7. I am happy and grateful for people who leave product reviews on E-Commerce platforms, and also for those who blog and vlog about them. Real and honest product reviews are helpful when you’re deciding to buy something.
  8. I am happy and grateful for being able to find the right words to say at certain times and situations.
  9. I am happy and grateful for trusting people.
  10. I am happy and grateful that I have set healthy boundaries in terms of what I expect from others and my perceived role in their lives (or what I think others may expect of me). I just really don’t assume that I or my opinions are that important to anyone else.

For the past two Novembers, I’ve played along with Cathy Zielske for 30 Days of Thankful: I made a 6×8 album for 2017 and wrote a series of blog posts for 2018. This year, I intend to make another album. I know, it’s already the end of November, and I haven’t started, and that’s okay. It’s the practice that matters.

Will you join me in being grateful every day?

Mothering Despite Your Mental Illness

Motherhood, though rewarding, isn’t an easy job. Moms must constantly find a way to balance their own needs with their children. Successful parenting requires the continual learning of how to efficiently manage your time and resources to support your children physically, mentally, and financially. This is something that all moms struggle with throughout their children’s lives. So, when you add mental illness to the mix, these troubles become more extreme. 

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Challenges of Parenting With a Mental Illness

There are a number of mental illnesses, each with their own set of symptoms that make mothering a challenge. Some women suffer from lack of energy, concentration issues, emotional highs and lows, sleep-deprivation, and isolation, making it difficult to be present as a mother should.  

Imagine a mother with depression. She sometimes lacks the energy to even get out of bed, or the emotional willpower to interact with, comprehend, and understand her children. This, in turn, negatively impacts her relationship with her children and hinders her ability to properly parent. Without mom actively or emotionally present in their lives, children can suffer from issues ranging from language and development to physical and mental problems of their own. 

Unfortunately, due to stigmas and societal expectations of women being the perfect mothers, most won’t speak up about their mental illness. Instead, they try to find the strength to keep going until it weighs on them. Their physical health declines and some even turn to substances to cope which results in them needing drug or alcohol detox treatment. 

Tips for Parenting With Mental Illness

The good news is that while your physical and emotional wellbeing isn’t 100% at all times doesn’t mean that you can’t still be the best mom to your kids. Below are some tips to parenting with mental illness: 

Be Honest With Your Kids

The first bit of advice would be to be as open and honest with your children as you can about your mental health. Leaving them in the dark causes confusion and even self-blame when mom doesn’t seem or act herself. Discuss what’s going on and how it makes you feel at times. Explain that mommy still loves you very much and is doing everything she can to take care of her health and your needs. Answer any questions they may have as well. 

Stop Beating Yourself Up

Your mental illness causes symptoms that sometimes will make you unavailable to an effective mother to your children. You have to stop beating yourself up as if you’ve done something wrong. The guilt only worsens your mood and exacerbates your symptoms. Realize that mental illness can be managed and/or treated and that you’re doing the best you can. 

Seek Treatment

Don’t hide your need for professional help when dealing with mental illness. This does not make you crazy, nor does it make you a bad mom. Not all mental illnesses can be cured with lifestyle changes alone. Sometimes you need medication and therapy to help you truly get past your issues. So, if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of mental illness, don’t hide and try to go it alone, talk to your doctor, a therapist, or a support group to get the assistance you need. 

Rely on Your Village

Even with perfect health parents require a plethora of people to help them shape their children into outstanding people. Don’t be afraid to rely on this village now. Call on your parents, friends, extended-relatives, educators, community center directors, and religious leaders to help ensure that your kids have everything they need. Get them enrolled in activities that keep them occupied and in healthy environments, and ask for support with everything from transportation and meals to quality time and overnight stays.

Being a mother to your children while you struggle with mental illness will not be easy, but you can relieve a lot of the pressure and prevent a lot of problems. By being open with your kids, getting treatment, and relying on your village, you can create a healthy parent-child relationship and raise your children to be smart, happy, and healthy.

%d bloggers like this: