You Will Never Find Love

IMG_20171019_145100_289

Love is kind of an asshole if you think about it. Love is a selfish, scheming creature that has its own timing and agenda with absolutely no regard for your feelings. It’s never there when you seek it, no matter how much you want it or how deserving you are.  

You’re lonely, and on some days, desperate; but love won’t come to your side. You were voted “Best Looking” in high school and you still have a rocking bod; love has no interest in aesthetics. You enjoy a successful career, give to charity, and have a heart of gold. Love just yawns and shrugs.

If you’ve already discovered the nasty nature of love and you’re now over it and focusing on other things in life, then let me be the first to congratulate you. You, my friend, have bright days ahead because you’ve outsmarted love, and you’re saving yourself from much regret, heartache, and frustration.

As for me, I was on to love’s crafty ways. In fact, I figured it out a very long time ago in my puppy love days. One might ask, what does a child know about love? A lot. Sure, my experiences with it were short-lived with a different love each day. Nonetheless, I feverishly chased those boys as if it were a matter of survival, and didn’t think twice about professing my love to them. It was excruciating; but, it was real love. Alas, unrequited love; still, love.

Call me a romantic or a masochist, or just plain idiotic, but even though I already had tasted love’s torment, I persisted in my hot pursuit of love. It defined my twenties, all summed up as monthly boyfriends, blind dates, meetups disguised as volunteer and recreational groups, and online dating websites. I even devoted myself as a student of love, literally. I chose interpersonal relationships as the emphasis of my communications major, and wrote my last scientifically researched college essay on breakups. My idea of recreation was studying the art of seduction and devouring books and podcasts on relationships. I thought that if I worked hard for love and wanted it badly enough I would eventually obtain it, like the American dream or something. But, love proved unpatriotic.

Dating was exciting at first, but the thrill of dressing up and going out with someone new grew stale and eventually all of the time and effort I invested became downright embarrassing. It wasn’t just that these guys, almost simultaneously, were making up their minds that I wasn’t the one for them. It was also having to deal with the strong suspicion that even the universe was rejecting me in its ignorance of all my good intentions and noble proactiveness. Dating became a source of pressure because after meeting the eleventh guy in two weeks, there just had to be some kind of cut off point before someone stepped in and created a happy ending with me.

By 28, I was done with the chase. I decided to put love on hold (as if I were going anywhere with it). I was as lonely and cynical as ever, and I felt extremely compromised. And what’s a girl to do when love doesn’t work out the way she had planned? Dye and chop off her hair, prioritize career goals and re-discover herself. I took it a step further and decided to skip the country.

The plan was to continue my teaching career and start afresh in China. While love was uncooperative and difficult to acquire, the job market in China was merciful and sympathetic to me. I immediately got hired by an elementary school, had all of my documents verified, and I was set to go in a month’s time.

And then, one Friday night, I went to a bar and met my future husband. China never happened.

I didn’t necessarily have my life in order nor did I make a significant improvement on myself before meeting him. What is significant, however, is that love found me when I finally learned to turn my gaze from it, and focus elsewhere and inward. When my husband found me, he didn’t have my beefed-up online profile to reference. He didn’t catch me sending him come-hither looks while I pretended to pack food for the hungry. He saw me, in all my imperfections and emotional baggage, but as someone in love with herself.

Love, in its supreme selfishness and lack of respect for plans, found me. There are but a few guarantees in life, and I’m about to share one of them with you: Love will come upon you, uninvited and unannounced. It will tap you on the shoulder while you’re occupied with working on the relationship with yourself.

Search for love, and you’ll end up with its imposter. Love has a target on your back. Not the other way around. Let it find you.

Now, what to do with love afterward is another story.

0525141756

4 Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Home With Your Child

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice; once for herself and once for her child.” -Sophia Loren

As a stay-at-home mom, my daily goal is to remain mindful and present among the activities of my son as well as my own. By doing so, I keep things fresh despite the looming redundancy that being at home can pose.

Here are 4 simple ways that have helped me find calmness, joy, and mindfulness throughout the day:

  1. Take deep yogic breaths while blowing on hot food. This act never ceases to catch my son’s attention and create anticipation. After taking a deep inhale I blow slowly on the food (sometimes Lionel will join me) and express gratitude for the hot meal and nourishment that which will bring my son. By the time Lionel takes a bite, the food is cooled down and we’re both focused on the meal.
  2. Meditate while brushing your child’s hair or giving a massage. I heard author Dr. Shefali Tsabary say that we don’t need to wait to be on a mountain top to meditate. It’s true, folks. We don’t have to wait until our kids’ next nap time or when they’re engrossed in an activity; we can meditate anywhere at anytime we choose. I especially enjoy meditating while running my fingers through my son’s hair. I focus on the softness of his locks and its rich golden brown color. I watch him quickly settle down and bask in my love and admiration.
  3. Sit into a deep squat and open up your hips while picking up toys. Let’s face it; as parents, we spend a lot of time bending for our kids, figuratively and literally. We bend over to scoop them up into our arms, to tend to ouchies, to change them, and of course, pick up after them. So while we’re bending down to fetch whatever mess is on the floor, we might as well get a good stretch out of it. Instead of grumbling over the toys that are strewn all over the floor, I squat down and pick them up while doing a sideways crab crawl. Afterwards, my lower joints feel limber, and I feel more energized.
  4. Sit back and just watch. During playtime, I love getting down on Lionel’s level to see the world through his eyes. However, I used jump in, point things out, ask questions, and consequently interrupt his playing when I wasn’t necessarily invited. I’ve finally learned to hang back, keep my mouth shut, and just watch. Doing this has allowed me to catch my breath and enjoy some floor stretches. It has also let my boy concentrate, practice individual playing, and even reach milestones on his own.

It’s all about finding beauty in the simple things, isn’t it? When we open our minds to the grace and flow of parenting, whether it be from home or not,  we can tap into the wonderment that our children experience on a daily basis.

IMG_20180919_111431

IMG_20180910_122347

My Definition of Self-care

Whenever I research anything that’s related to motherhood, self-care inevitably comes up. And each time it does, I think to myself, Of course! That’s a no-brainer. We mothers absolutely should take care of ourselves. Then, days will pass and I’ll begin feeling irritable and neglected. I’ll even resent my husband for taking a minute to himself regardless of the fact that he’d worked 12-hour days for the past week.

For a long time, self-care seemed like it was supposed to be a special treat, a luxury. I thought it was about mani-pedi’s, bubble baths, and shopping sprees. But recently, I realized that I can practice self-care on a daily basis by re-defining it  — or, more like, learning the actual definition — which is, “providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness.”

IMG_20180508_111136~2For my current season of life, as an attached parent of a toddler who has significant stranger anxiety and still nurses throughout the day and to fall asleep at night, I have to continually remind myself and accept that “adequate attention” means just the basics. But that doesn’t mean that it should be dismissed. In fact, whether I practice my basic self-care ritual will determine my mood and outlook for the entire day.

The American Psychological Association is aware of the importance of self-care and considers it an “ethical imperative.” You can even find self-care in the APA’s Ethics Code. So self-care is actually an ethical deed!

My daily self-care ritual includes:

  • applying a full face of makeup,
  • having a cup of coffee,
  • doing quick yoga stretches (usually while I play on the floor with my son),
  • partaking of a sweet treat (or two),
  • writing down my thoughts and ideas,
  • and connecting with my husband at the end of the day.
  • IMG_20180601_115750~3

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

More often than not, my self-care occurs while Lionel pulls on my leg for attention and my dog is pacing around and whining to go outside. It’s hardly relaxing, and there are countless interruptions. But that’s okay. There will come a day when I’ll have so much time for self-care that I’ll feel overly indulgent. I’ll even look back and miss these hectic times.

For now, I can pat myself on the back for bare minimal self-care. I’ll get it done because if it doesn’t, I’ll have broken my own code of ethics. Not to mention, all hell will break loose.

How do you define self-care? What does your self-care consist of?

Becoming a Mother Changed my Ethics

My son is currently 19 and a half months old. The memories of my pregnancy are just a blur now. It’s true what they say; you really do forget! Yet there’s one thing that stands out. During my pregnancy, I was challenged to be compassionate. It’s difficult to describe; it was as if Lionel was nudging me from inside my belly saying, “Be kind.” Lionel’s soft reminders made me re-evaluate how I interacted with people and how I treated them. I also became increasingly sensitive towards animals and their welfare.

IMG_20180120_105118_219

I’ve always loved animals, and I consider our doberman, Linus, a family member. However, I still didn’t make the connection that my lifestyle was harming animals.

About 6 months after Lionel was born, I came across a documentary called, Vegan: Everyday Stories. It really did me in. I wept through the entire thing. That day after my husband returned home from work, I recall telling him, “I’m going vegan. I don’t want to hurt animals anymore.”

By that point, I had already cut dairy out from my diet (for fear that Lionel might become gassy via my breast milk) and consumed meat occasionally. Thus, it wasn’t a big jump to veganism from a dietary standpoint. With the exception of cage-free eggs, Lionel and I enjoy a plant-based diet. We’re both flourishing and sparing animal lives.

Around this time, I felt like Lionel was nudging me yet again to examine my lifestyle choices. I was standing up for animals, but what else could I do and change to stand up for others who didn’t have a voice?

c7808c3ddd35ab280c8fad201d67342f-1

It was then that I discovered Dressember and became an advocate to help end modern day slavery by wearing a dress every day in December. Being a part of this movement opened by eyes to the “who” behind everything I purchased. Whenever possible, the items we purchase are cruelty-free, vegan, fair trade, and/or secondhand.

Becoming a parent truly turned my world upside down and has led me toward a more compassionate lifestyle. I have my baby boy to thank for that.