How many days left before Christmas?

76 as of this date. And that has been my favorite question to ask these days. It encourages me to keep pushing, keep moving, keep my eyes on the prize. It’s a reminder that all these too, shall pass. That God never forgets His promises. I say that repeatedly everyday – when I wake up in the morning, type in my reports, and recently – whenever I get an annoying email from some corporate bully.

I feel like I’m too old for corporate politics, for link building (duh!), and for proving my salary’s worth (again and again). I know I deserve better at this point in my life. Eight years in the work space and I no longer flinch whenever someone tries to challenge and push me over. But I can’t help but think – is this ever worth it?

So back to my favorite question – How many days left before Christmas? Not only does it mean I can finally quit office and be free to create my own rhythm. More than anything, it means people will be kinder, more sensitive, and less asshole-like.

Screenshot from 2013-10-09 15:56:40

 

 

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What is your greatest struggle?

I can say that at this point in time I have somehow fully-accepted the fact that I am a working mother. Different from my original plan to be a WAHM (although I work from home once a week). I came across a post about a working mom who has struggled mostly because  her plans on how to live her life were otherwise re-written by God.

Her revelation resonates so much in me as I am just like her – a planner by nature. Most of us women have this built-in tendency to be 20 steps ahead, planning our next course of action, taking calculated steps toward the kind of life we idolize. But of course, life has a way of throwing us things we never planned to have. We struggle.  We suffer a bit because it is out of our plans. Plans are always within our comfort zones. But we change our minds all together in the end.

life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zone

I’d like to share an excerpt of her post here:

What is your greatest struggle?

I have spent too much of my life discontent because my life does not look like as I expected it to. I have struggled throughout my adult life to learn contentment and find joy in living the life I have.

I am a planner by nature, and this is a very useful skill in my career as an Executive Assistant and Project Officer and in my role as wife, mommy and even friend.  But I would by lying if I said that this has always served me well.  You see, beyond planning logistics, I have invested my heart in expectations of how my life would be.  I have made these plans an idol and sacrificed my own joy at their feet.

 I have spent over a decade planning and struggling, planning and struggling.

Of course, each one of these diversions from my plans has led me to meet people, have experiences and learn lessons that I would not have otherwise. There has been so much joy and so much beauty along the way, but there has also been grief.  I have had to grieve the loss of my own plans.  

When I read that part of her post I realize how many times I have deprived myself of my own joy and contentment simply because I have focused too much on my own agenda. There is nothing wrong in planning your own life. But if the blueprint is too hard to erase/re-write then we just fall into the trap of discontent.

I often tell people that motherhood has a way of pulling us in the right directions. Before I became a mom, I would have never thought of changing careers or even go for more intentional living. I have operated within a very limited life architecture I mapped out that going beyond my comfort zone is unimaginable, at least for me pre-mom stage. Now is different. I have been stretched further – so symbolic are the stretchmarks you get after giving birth. I assume it’s because mothers will always want to give their best to their children that’s why we become fearless in making hard decisions.

I have also learned a great deal about letting go of control. When I allow God to shape my life, trusting His lead – I become less afraid of the outcome of anything.

The writer ends with a note on the best advice she has received when fighting discontentment:

It doesn’t matter what “things” my heart is chasing after day by day (be it a deadline, or a goal or something my son is needing) seeking Jesus is always the “right” answer.  Seeking Him first always manages to take care of everything else.  It’s too simple, and often seems trite.  But it’s true.

How about you, what are you planning/struggling about?

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What’s your Life’s KPIs?

Life KPI

In most business reports, we put premium on the KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. These statistics tell us if what we have been doing is bringing us any closer to our objectives or not. Most of the time, KPIs dictate the next course of action for any organization.But why not apply it to our own lives?

I’ve thought of this long and hard last night as I got a ‘yes’ from a long-standing aspiration. The irony is, the green signal is quite hazy that I constantly have to ask myself if this is REALLY WHAT I TRULY WANTED. I know it is a dream come true but really, will it resonate to my values and priorities now that I have moved to a new phase in life? So it brought me to the next relevant question: What is my life’s KPI?

There are 4 things that came to my mind. If I have to set my own KPIs in this particular life season, these would be:

1. A healthy, secured, and well-developed child

Not to neglect my spouse, but I just believe that at this point in time my little baby needs me for her full growth and potential. Of course, the obvious course of action in order to meet this is to spend as much quality time with my child. I’d like to be able to monitor her development and make sure I am raising a good one and not a future monster. Kidding.

2. A comfortable lifestyle that we can afford

We are at a phase when the mommy is still the breadwinner of the family. We just could not give up my income yet. I do hope that one day this is no longer our reality. But as for now, as for the present moment – it is the place I am in. For all the young mommies out there who are in the same circumstance, I know there are days we despise this fact of life. But I’d like to believe that we are in it because our KPI requires us so. We have set it up ourselves. Hashtags #GinustoKoTo #AlphaMarsPalaHa. Joke :)

3. The most-coveted work-life balance

The most overrated phrase that you hear from parents and single adults, alike. What is with this so-called work-life balance – is this really achievable or is just an on-going myth? I’ve read somewhere that working mothers (whether they are office or home-based), will always be at a dilemma. For me it  looks that a work-from-home mom is just as hectic as an office-mom. Some say the former even has more on her to-do-list. So for this KPI, I believe it is up to us to define what is “work-life balance”. There really is no correct answer or solution to totally say: yes, we are living a well-balanced life. You just have to keep moving and take the next right step. It’s relative for every family so I guess the more important objective is: To know what works for your family.

4. A meaningful career

Whether I decide to quit corporate and work from home, the real cost is time. In any way I see it, it will still be time away from my child and family. So that has got to be meaningful work unless I want to be a miserable mother at the end of the day. And the classic equation still stands: Unhappy mom = Unhappy hubby and baby.

Can a woman have it all? YES! – but not all at once. If I have 1-2-3 checked, does it mean I should be content even if I’m losing the KPI stats for #4? Something has to give, isn’t it? Such is life.

But for all its worth, setting our KPIs is like our guiding compass. It gives us a clearer picture of where we are currently and where we want to be headed. It’s some sort of a simpler roadmap of life. There could be times that the tension between our priorities can grow intense and super conflicting. Because of the expectation vs reality one can feel just as defeated at the end of the day. But remind yourself this: It is not us who is in control. Might as well trust in His leading and just take the next right step. I know it is easier said than done. But really, that is the only choice if we want to keep going with some meaning.

How about you, what is your life’s KPI?

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A Working Mom’s Schedule: A Guide to Keep Your Sanity (Hopefully)

I do think women can have it all. Just not at the same time.

- Madeleine Albright (former US Secretary of State)

workingmomgraphic

This has been my mantra for the past couple of weeks when I started working back in the office after the maternity leave. Not many knew about my post-partum depression of being a working mother and leaving the baby at home.

BUT in God’s grace, I am progressively dealing with the circumstance and overcoming the challenges.

FYI, this post is:

  • For those of us who are the breadwinners of their families and cannot sacrifice their income contribution yet
  • For all full-time working moms who are still in that phase of actively waiting for that ideal “work-at-home” opportunity
  • And for those of us who do not balance, but JUGGLE work-family life

I have listed my own share of a “Working Mom’s Schedule” hopefully to help you out in this crazy phase of your motherhood.

Big shout-outs go especially to working mothers with newborns!

6.15am – Wake up. Prepare my office baon (last night’s dinner + the local bakery’s pandesal for breakfast)

6.30am – Bath. Dress up. Handbag was prepared last night pa.

7.10am – Kiss hubby and baby good bye. Commute, go!

7.45 – 8am – log-in to work.

8am – 5pm – CORPORATE SLAVERY HAPPENING

5.15-5.30pm – Out of the building to go home.

5.30-6pm – drop by the grocery if I need fresh ingredients/meat for dinner

6.30-7pm – Home. Rest. Play with the baby

7-7.30pm – Give Summer a bath. Prepare her milk and diaper for the night.

7.30-8pm – Prepare dinner

8pm – Yaya eats dinner. I put the baby to sleep (most of the time, I’m not successful)

8.30pm – Husband and wife dinner and bonding time

9pm – Baby decides she’s not sleepy yet and needs me to soothe her AGAIN. I put her back to sleep AGAIN (most of the time, successful!)

9.30pm – I take a bath and prepare my things for tomorrow

10pm – Collapse

6.30-7am the following day – Summer decides to wake up just in time for mom’s morning alarm!

Me and the hubby take alternate days of doing middle-of-the-night feeding + diaper change for the baby. I do the MWF-Sundays. I get “me time” on Thursdays (I don’t think I ever used this privilege). My husband takes up Wednesdays. Saturdays, my yaya is off from work starting at 5pm and returns the following day, same time. Sundays are strictly family days.

So far so good. This schedule is working for us. Routine keeps stability in the home – and mommy gets to keep her sanity in check.

How about you? What’s your working-mom schedule?

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Little Miss Summer Cupcakery

Baking is my refresh button.

Choco-Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Choco-Cream Cheese Cupcakes

For some it’s reading, or meditation. But for me when life gets too hectic and I need a breather, baking is my antidote.

It took me several months before I realized that being a (time)control-freak is pointless. Heck, I have to make the best out of my time by doing what I truly love. And making cupcakes is one of them. So enough of the dramatic foreword, I’d like to introduce to you my sweet little business – Little Miss Summer Cupcakery! (and yes, my daughter’s name is Summer Maria :))

I am not a pastry expert or some cool culinary graduate. I started baking via DIY efforts with the help of the world-wide-web. Having a sweet-tooth, I figured I could save a lot of bucks while having constant access to my favorite desserts by baking it all myself. As expected, there were a lot of trials and errors before I was able to perfect my *secret* recipes for:

Choco Cream-Cheese Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

Choco Cream-Cheese Cupcakes (topped with white choco-chips) by Little Miss Summer

Super-moist chocolate cupcakes that you actually no longer need frosting!

Banana-Raisin Muffins by Little Miss Summer

Although not included in the picture, I frost my banana muffins with chocolate cream cheese topped with white chocolate chips, as well.

Packed and creamy Banana-Raisin Muffins!

Red-Velvet Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

Red-Velvet Cupcakes topped with cream cheese or chocolate-cream cheese frosting – Your choice!

Currently I am in the process of refining my Red-Velvet Cupcake recipe

carrot cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

The Peg (for now): Carrot Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

and will soon offer my mom’s favorite creation of mine – Carrot Cupcakes!

Little Miss Summer Cupcakery

My USP (Unique Selling Point): The TASTE. I’m not really a fan of fondant icing as I’ve observed it tends to produce the same taste among cupcake varieties. And it is really more for aesthetics. My cupcakes are different in the sense that I capitalize on the goodness of each cupcake flavor. I make sure they come out packed and moist. They are also versatile as they can serve as part of your party dessert buffet, be made as souvenirs/gifts, or just be an out of the ordinary treat for a snack.

Payment Terms: Cash on Delivery. I normally do not take pre-order payments for your convenience – unless we have an exceptional bulk of orders from you.

Shipment Procedure: I personally deliver my cupcakes, or do meet-ups around Makati or Pasay.

How you can reach me: Please like and message me on Facebook, or send email to: lmscupcakery@gmail.com, or just call/text at 0917.523.0118

As a last note:

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First Mommy Birthday

It feels more like my official entry to adulthood when I turned 29 and became a mom. Turning a year older is now a big deal for me. I remember when I was still single, I had no special plans but to sleep it out the whole day. It was both boring and exhausting working 5 days a week and coming home to an empty apartment with takeout food for dinner. No one to take care of but myself, most of the time.

But now look what a difference a year can make!

I have to constantly ask myself if this is real. Every night, I come home to a smiling baby, cook dinner for my husband, and make a quick fix of the house. I’m glad we all sleep through the night because finally, the little one knows the drill by now. It’s pretty routine but it is no longer boring. Exhausting yes, but I don’t mind because this is what brings meaning to my everyday. Now it’s easier to answer that coffee commercial we see on TV, “Para kanino ka bumabangon?”

Sorry I can’t resist not to include her picture here. Toothless tawa :)

I may not have the same amount of money at my disposal, or even that top level career I once dreamed of. But I know I now have what I have always wished for. Grace has flown into my life in measures and ways beyond my asking. It has filled my heart with that kind of joy that I’d rather choose cooking over shopping any day (well, except when there’s a baby sale I cannot resist!) :)

In my 29th year I am in the middle of life’s sweet embrace. In all its fullness, I am humbled by God’s perfect plan and timing in our lives. When you have a loving family, a supportive bunch of long-time friends, and a constant love from above – Getting into that final year in your 20’s is like a grand entrance to more good things ahead. And that’s definitely a very happy birthday!

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Gonna be a Working Mom

The past 2 months have been one of the most exciting phases of my life. I have delivered a baby girl, started and established my mommy routines, and is now currently a work-from-home mother. Not to mention having organized a baptism party for our little one just a week ago.

The start of this journey has been real amazing! And here’s our little family pic to prove the point, hehe!

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I can say I am settling well into the WAHM (work-at-home-mom) setup. Thank God for yayabells, I have my sanity intact! There is work-life balance. Our meals are healthy. House is not too chaotic as I expected it to be. My husband still loves me (I hope! Haha!).

Life is not always easy, but I still think it is treating me fair and square. I am enjoying Summer so much as she is now able to coo and smile when we talk to her.

 

Sorry for being a stage momma, but check out how cute she is! :)

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I can’t believe she’s hooked into Disney Babies on YouTube this early! Watching her get all perky and delighted while staring at the Android screen watching cartoons is by now, my life’s greatest wonder.

So this leaves me to having a surge of separation anxiety… Monday will come in a few days and I’ll be working in the office again. I’m still not so sure if my client will allow me to work a few days at home. That would be a favorable set-up. I wish! wish! wish!

But really, I think it isn’t just going back to work that hunts me now. I feel more like a 20-ish girl at a certain point of her quarter-life-crisis (by the way, I’m turning 29 in a few days, yeah I’m old like that!). Some questions that keep bugging me at night especially when I’m rocking the babe to sleep, are:

  • Is this the kind of work that I want to do for the rest of my life?
  • What is that one thing that I definitely love doing that it has never felt like working?
  • Can I achieve security if I quit and move into a work-from-home career?
  • Should I really feel guilty as an office-working mother?
  • Am I simply underestimating myself or am I just too fearful of life?

Whatever the answers are (and I can tell you, I don’t know them yet), I’m keeping my hopes alive. I know there are a lot more other things in store for me and our little family. Isn’t life’s supposed to be a continuous fulfilling of your purpose? I’d like that to happen one day. So here’s my little memo to the universe:

“When we let go of our fears, do what we love, and just take it one step at a time – we can have it all!”

– Masha Malka, You Can Have it All, Chicken Soup for the Stay at Home Moms.

What to watch out for:

The first week of July is my birthday week. During that time, I’ll be launching a test business I have long been wanting to do. I’d like to connect more with YOU here and here so we can make good (and yummy!) treats together – there goes my clue! :)

To make your brand a success, contact: http://www.designsandprintsph.com/

 

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