#HealCountry

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

The theme is #healcountry
To better explain the concept please read from the organisation itself.
https://www.naidoc.org.au/news/2021-naidoc-week-theme-announced-heal-country

I get too passionate and political about racism but I can’t help myself. I have been unfollowed because of my views. It’s easy for those who did not suffer from it to just say “move on” and not validate our hurt from the past.

Why do I care? I have been a victim of the odd racial slur. We need to educate each other learn from our mistakes and make it right for everyone.

I am an ally and obviously not Aboriginal. Although I have been called a sister when I lived and studied in the city. 💕

Memory is stored in cells and are passed on to the next generation according to my university lecturer. (Further support: Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton)

I remember when I was approached in the crowd and the person’s icebreaker was our heritage – him being from Spain and I am from the Philippines.  My immediate reaction was – “Ah yes – you killed our men and raped our women.” 😂 Way to make friends Ruby!

Even when I went to Spain I wasn’t as excited. So funny though that people spoke to me in Spanish. Though I bear a Spanish last name I doubt that there is Spanish blood in me.

My mum further educated me that Kastilas (Spaniards) married each other even when they lived in the Philippines.

I also learnt that there was only a small influx of Spanish people that lived in Philippines compared to South America.

Until now, Filipinos idolised mestizos and mestizas  and use cream to lighten up their skin. They should love and be proud of the skin they are born in.

I want my children  to love their heritage, their skin and everything about them. I want them to love themselves as much as I love them. To my eyes they are perfection.

My husband is so proud that his kids have Filipino blood. He often describes Jack’s clothing (with a bit of humour) – colourful Filipino boy. Jack certainly got his dress sense from my mother. 😂

Okay, this story has now become about me! I am trying to give you background how I identify with Australia’s First Nation.

Naidoc is a platform to set the wrong things RIGHT. Stop the ignorance. Be educated.

Find out more how to celebrate by visiting
http://www.naidoc.org.au/

#westernsydneymums 
#naidoc2021 
#healcountry
#naidocweek
#hillsdistrictmums
#herstory
#sheconquers #sheempowers #filipinoheritage #racisminaustralia #whiteaustraliapolicy #mumbloggerau #mumblogger #stoptheignorance

Gaysia – Book Review

The yellow cover attracted me as I wander the aisle of Kinokuniya Sydney and the words GAYSIA and then BENJAMIN LAW.

I admire Benjamin Law’s clever writing and reviews in Frankie magazine. My family also watches The Family Law on SBS. The drama series was introduced to me by my husband and I was hooked.

I grabbed the book and I said outloud I must read this book!

What do I think of the book? Benjamin claims that he is lucky being gay in Australia. He wondered what it would have been like if he grew up and lived in Asia. So he went exploring and investigating in Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia,  Myanmar and India.

I was wondering why he skipped the Philippines? Maybe he left that part for me. I grew up there and I have a lesbian Aunty who is a Police Sargeant and a distant gay Uncle who is the Who’s Who of the Asingan Town of Pangasinan Province.

The Philippines have popular gay actors, singers, comedians, hairdressers, make-up artists and clothes designer. They are thriving in all industries and very well accepted in society. While being gay/lesbian is ok, it’s not okay if it’s your son or daughter; or if they started going out with your brood. That’s the general view I observe as a child in my neighbourhood in Manila.

Anyhow, Benjamin IS lucky to be openly gay in Australia. He did not discuss his family’s reaction to his “gayness” in the book. On the TV series which I assume is loosely based on his life story, they were accepting of his sexuality.
I think acceptance of family is the most important of all.

In China, they hide their sexuality from their family so much so that they fake weddings. In poor cities, young men (gay and not gay) are exploited by foreigners. There is not a lot of option for these kids and this is an ‘easy way” to earn some money. 

In these poor cities, a lot suffer from AIDS. They get very little help from the government or from anyone. (I must say it is a struggle to survive for all in some of the countries from civil unrest.)

Authorities in charge are also frolicking with the sex workers they are suppose to be educating. There are a lot of sad, helpless and horrific stories in the book.

There are also some stories of hope in some areas. It’s not all horror stories. I am glad I read the book. It expanded my knowledge about the joyful and sorrowful plight of LGBT in some areas of Asia.

Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
ISBN: 9781863956130
ISBN-10: 1863956131
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 19th June 2013
Publisher: Black Inc
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.7  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Number: 1

#bookreview #gaysiabookreview #thefamilylaw #AUMumReview #instamumreview #mumblogger #mumbloggerau #shereads #shereviews #bookloversclub #bookloversofinstagram #booksofinstagram #bookrecommendation #creativespirit #creativeheart #creativeentrepreneur

Pumpkin and Cauliflower Mac

Ingredients
500g pumpkin (small cubes)
500g cauliflower (chopped to your desired size)
1 packet (500g) macaroni
600g cream
Grated cheese (we use Colby)
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
Optional Nutmeg
Feeds 5-7 people

500g of pumpkin cubes. 500g of cauliflower chopped.

Method

Cube the pumpkin and take skin off. Roast or air fry pumpkin and garlic until brown and soft. Put in a container where you can mash with cream while it’s still hot.  You can manually mash or use a hand held blender. Set aside.

Mash the pumpkin and garlic with the cream.

Cook the macaroni in boiling water with table spoon of salt. When macaroni is al dente, mix in the cauliflower. Cook/boil for 3 to 5 minutes then drain water.

Pour the macaroni in the pot of boiling water to cook.
Place the chopped cauliflower with the al dente macaroni. Boil for another 3-5 minutes.
Drain water from macaroni and cauliflower.

Once water is drained, pour pumpkin and cream mixture in the pot of macaroni and cauliflower. Mix well with the macaroni and cauliflower.

Pour pumpkin and cream in the pot of macaroni and cauliflower. Mix well. Why am I struggling to mix it on video? LoL

Sprinkle grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add grated cheese at this stage to the mixture for more cheesy creamy taste. But my kids do not want cheese and are happy to eat it as is at this stage.

I pour all this in a baking pan and top with grated cheese (not a lot) and pop it in the oven at 180 degrees to further meld the flavours together and to melt the cheese on top.

A healthier version of mac and cheese with pumpkin  and cauliflower.
Delicious pumpkin and cauliflower macaroni

Becoming by Michelle Obama – Book Review

At a glance, Becoming appears to be a fairytale story. “Poor” girl from the Southside of Chicago; married the “prince” of Hawaii and they lived happily ever after in a palace called the White House.

In the early/middle parts of the book I thought Michelle Obama sounded boastful. My thoughts –  “Oh wow, Michelle, good on you!  What a lovely story! What a high achiever you are.” 👏👏👏

I had to dig deeper. There must be more purpose to this book. How is this story relevant to me? What sets it apart from another feel-good/success/romance story?

But I loved every page of this book. Unlike fairytale stories, Michelle is no damsel in distress. She doesn’t need rescuing. In fact, does the rescuing by lifting others.

Michelle is the fairy godmother with no magical powers at all. Just with the hope and the belief that things can be and should be better. Expecting others, corporations/organisations, to care and do the same especially for the next generation. Instilling belief to those who feel left out – they too matter and they too belong. When she utters these words – magic happens in the hearts and minds of the young students (especially).

This book is about so many things. You can get a very different message from it depending on where you are at in life. I am a mother and a wife, so I related to her story with these roles. I have listed below the things that I found I related to the most, found profound and melted my heart.

Defining who you are.
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

Not all of us are in the public eye, but this apply to all of us. Even when I was a teenager, I did not bow to peer pressure. I don’t care if I am a called a spoil sport or a kill joy. “It ain’t me.”

This is what I am teaching my kids now too. This is what Michelle talks about in front of thousands of students. Don’t allow society to dictate who you are because of the way you look or where you are from. You show them who you are.

You matter
When Michelle was growing up, she was lucky to have a community of people that constantly told her she matters. It is the same message she gives to her daughters and to the new generation. “I was determined to express some version of it to every young person I encountered.” “You belong. You matter. I think highly of you.”

Importance of education and/or mentorship for young individuals.
By encouraging the younger generation especially those underprivileged; believing and investing in them that they belong (in Princeton or Oxford) – they will flourish and they will achieve.

Family matters
The book is also about the importance of family; family love and support.

Excellence over perfection
“They weren’t striving for perfect, but managed somehow to be excellent … dropped any masquerade and were just powerfully, and instructive themselves.” This is how Michelle described Susan and Valerie – two important role models, advisers and definitely friends of hers.

Hope brings miracles
She was particularly disappointed at the outcome of the presidential election when their ‘reign’ ended. Everything that she and her team stood for and fought for looks like it’s going to be undone. However, they are steadfast that they have done enough to keep the so called ‘fire burning’. The most obvious examples being the first black First Family. Others – you have to read the book to find out.

I urge you to read the book. It’s long but I understood the story and her message. I have books that I have to read again as it’s concept I cannot fully grasp.* Becoming is very ‘relatable’ and it can be your story.

⬇️ Please comment below, your thoughts or feelings about Michelle’s book if you have read it. Please share a favourite book you recommend or a book you would like me to read and review. ⬇️

________________
*Written by people with medical and/or scientific background and the later often referring to theories in physics. 😳

Beeswax Wraps

I was so excited to receive my beeswax wrap from On South Hill. The minute I opened the packet and saw the lovely pattern of the product, I knew I have to make a small video of it.

In the video I am wearing my pajamas like most mornings when I make the kids their school lunch. #keepingitreal

Okay, on to the good stuff! Why I love the beeswax wraps:

  1. I love the joyful prints and pattern of the material. It just puts a smile on my face when I make kids’ lunch.
  2. They are reusable and I reduce the use of paper bags.
  3. Reduce my waste because they are reusable.
  4. Natural materials used – beeswax, jojoba oil and pine resin.
  5. They are handmade.
  6. Supporting a local Australian business.
  7. Supporting a rural Australian business.
  8. Supporting a fellow mum-business.

One con: It came in a small plastic pack for obvious reason as it has to travel and needs to be protected. It’s also hygienic and more presentable. Maybe it can be wrapped in cheap waxed paper. But it won’t look as good. Organic wrapping is expensive and will cut profit margins for a small rural business.

On South Hill Beeswax wraps
https://www.instagram.com/onsouthhill/
www.etsy.com/au/shop/OnSouthHill

My Meditation Experience

I thought I am quite a patient and a loving person. Then along came a husband and children and I was pushed to the extreme. I mean it!

My former self was long gone and I have devoted my time and energy to others. I felt lost and torn apart.

Even when I have stepped back and started taking care of myself again. It wasn’t enough. Some ‘me time’ was not enough. Because once I am put back in the ‘boiling water,’ past stories reemerge and the beast from within is unleashed once again.  

I have set a goal to be a quiet and loving mum and wife for 2021. Because of that goal,  meditation, which is something I sometimes do has now become something I must do.

I am just so proud of myself for being able to find time as little as 10 minutes everyday to meditate. It has been more than a month and I can see the changes and improvements in myself.

New skill
This will sound weird to those who have no clue what meditation is and what it can do but I have gained a new skill. I can note or observe a feeling and let it NOT consume me especially if it is a negative one. So, yes, I am proud that I have reach some form of awareness.

Where was I…
I started with Oprah and Deepak’s Meditation app but for the love of me and I am so sorry Deepak but his accent throws me off sometimes. I will continue to use it obviously as I have so many inspirational moments and awakenings with Oprah and Deepak.

Each daily meditation also comes with a special message; encouraging you to journal your thoughts and emotions which I haven’t utilised.  So I am definitely starting ‘Creating Peace From the Inside Out‘ again. Also, can it get any more authentic than Deepak Chopra guiding you through mediation?

Discoveries since meditating
I often ask myself – how do I break the anger? Looking back, it wasn’t even anger. It was hurt and feeling unloved by the very people I gave up everything for.

Also, when I started meditation to find ‘inner peace.’ (The intention of inner peace that I have set when I started another meditation app called Headspace.) But along the process, I realised I needed time to heal. There is no “inner peace” unless I have healed.

I think that has been a profound discovery when I recently did a harmonic meditation run by a mum at school, Paris, who is part owner of The Creative Heart Centre. I am hurt and needing to heal.

Harmonic Meditation Experience
Everyone will have a different experience, of course, but these were my observations when i did the harmonic meditation.

Some of the instruments for the meditation.

I set the intention of inner peace when the meditation started because who doesn’t want inner peace, right? I also had the intention of fully immersing myself and gaining the best outcome from the experience.

Before we began the whole process, we randomly picked an oil (Angel Oil?) from a bag. I got the light magenta oil which from memory is to spark creativity.

As I lay listening to a guided visualisation at first and then to all the different sounds – I felt a lot of tingling sensation along my finger tips especially the left pointy finger; and along my right arm and shoulders (an ongoing “battle” for the latter over a year now.)

There is not one sound I did not like. I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds the different drums/instruments made. It was a beautiful concert for my being.

I lay on the ground feeling very safe, secure and warm. When I came out of meditation I was so calm. I felt uplifted. I spent the weekend after in a very restful and contemplative mode which I feel was brought by the experience.

The Harmonic Meditation runs monthly and I am looking forward to the next one already. I wonder how it would affect me the second time around. I will set the intention of healing.

The Creative Heart Centre
FB www.facebook.com/thecreativeheartcentre/
Web www.thecreativeheartcentre.com/
IG instagram.com/thecreativeheartcentre

Based on love …

I had to think hard and dig deep to find a decision I made in my life that is based on hope and possibility. The decision I made, this sounds super corny, was based on love also.

When I married my husband, it was somehow agreed upon that I will quit my full-time job and help him establish his business. I was also the carer of his young daughter at the time (when we had her).

There were many struggles and battles over money, etc; mental health issues (not mine), patience tested (mine) and a lot of growing on both parts.

I felt like I GAVE more and GAVE UP even more for us. Also, I am the only one with  solutions like setting goals, saving money and writing affirmations. It was quite frustrating period of our marriage like our marriage rested on my shoulders. No wonder my shoulders hurt even until now.

Fast-forward 12 years, I am grateful  that the business does provide for the family; that I am able to take care of all my children and be there for them full-time.

Now that Willow is turning 4, I have more time for myself including to blog and post on Instagram. I can now open myself to new creative ventures.

Looking back, what really looks like a dumb decision to give up my  career, is actually the best decision I made for me and my family.

PS. Started reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. Loving it!

#mumblogger #shewrites #sheconquers #sheempowers #sheprays #sheloves #herstory #herbusiness #deardiary #mumlife #mumlifeaustralia #mumblog #mystory #raiseyourvibration #motherhood #spiritualjourney  #mystory #loveandmarriage #lovestory #parenting #parenthood

The Gifts of Imperfection – Book Review

Brené’s book The Gifts of Imperfection can be considered as the culmination of her academic/research work – hours and hours of interviewing, digesting, dissecting and tabulating information; arriving and coining to what is now the popular term “wholehearted living.”

So, it seems unfair that someone’s heart-work; someone’s blood sweat and tears – is summarised into a few paragraphs. I hope my review brings justice to her words and the difference it has made (so far) on my outlook in life and on million others’.

The book made a whole lot of sense to me after I did her little online test on wholehearted living. It will ask you a series of questions to assess where you are on the scale of wholehearted living. The book also made more sense after I did the test.

The book encourages everyone to live wholeheartedly by embracing their authentic self. Who are you’? Do you know who you are? How do you find your authentic self? This is where you need to do the test I mentioned above. Also, each chapter is a guideposts on how to find and embrace YOU. Each chapter ends with how to apply the guidepost in your life.

The messages I personally got from the book are:
1. Wholehearted living is engaging in our lives in a place of worthiness.
2. Stop trying to fit in. Stop doing things to win the approval of “others”
3. Enjoy the simple (yet I found so profound ) things in life.
4. Have a grateful heart which leads to a joyful life.
5. A lot of wholehearted living actually reminds me of a lot of Filipino’s way of living. A lot of doing things simply because it is fun. Karaoke on the bus? What the? Why not?
6. Be creative. Do something creative.
7. Dance! Sing! It’s inherently human. It is essential in life.
8. Some days, it’s enough just to turn up.
9. Have a nap.
10. No to “perfection.”
11. I am enough. I am worthy.

When people say, stop and smell the roses. This book represents the roses. Hopefully, it’s the book that will open your hearts and minds to truly enjoying and loving yourself and life.

I definitely enjoyed the book and have actually started reading it again with more clarity and understanding. I highly recommend the book. It’s the wake up call we all need! You need to read this book!

Willow Magdalene West

More photos of Willow on my instagram account. Click here.

She was born with a birthmark on her face – big angel’s kiss on the right side of her face. This is her birth story.

From the get go, because of my age when I fell pregnant with Willow, I was automatically categorised a high risk pregnancy. I was also gestational diabetic. 

So red flags were flying everywhere even though I was very healthy, fit and maintained very low sugar during my pregnancy.

As the pregnancy progressed, it has become certain that I have placenta previa. The placenta was partially covering my cervix.

The umbilical tube also conveniently decided to reside in the cervix area too. To add more complications, I have a lot of amniotic fluid.

The doctors were scared that when I ‘rapture’, water will gush out leaving baby dry inside with the placenta and umbilical cord in it’s way. (Something like that).

I needed to be induced. Later pregnancies were meant to be easier but not in my case. It got more complicated with my 3rd child. But then also, I am a “geriatric pregnant person.”

I also insisted on natural birth when caesarean was probably the safest option. But caesarean would mean I am homebound. I have 2 other school-age kids. It’s crazy to not be allowed to walk and/or drive around.

Fast forward….

So, the day has come and I was given the royal treatment at the public hospital. I swear, it was a lot  better than my 2 private hospital birthing.

I was induced and ‘punctured’ for a lack of better word. Lo and behold, they were expecting a gush of water. Nada. Trickle.

Waiting and waiting until I am 10cm dilated. Pain was slowly radiating from I dont know where until I was totally consumed by it. I embodied pain and I was in complete agony.  I remember howling in agony. The male assistant or trainee nurse/midwife looks at me helplessly. The pain quickly subsided I can’t remember how.

[ I was so amazed with how the nurse reacted. So professional and she was back the next day to check on me with a big smile on her face. How can she do it after such a stressful night. ]

I can’t precisely remember what happened. If it involved a jab on my left thigh. Or was that during Jack’s birth – were the nurse blatantly stabbed/jabbed me after literally just giving birth. I can’t recall details of my pregnancies. All the three kids’ births have just merged into one big birthing nightmare. 😂

When Willow finally arrived, I immediately noticed the birthmark on her face. I thought it was cute.

But the nurses were more concern about something else. Willow wasn’t breathing. In a flash, a doctor appeared. Willow was put in an apparatus ( I think) and someone was counting loudly. There was a slight concerned look on the nurses faces.  Matt was panicking. I was hopeful. I went to all these ordeal.- she will be fine. Four or six counts and Willow was breathing. Yay! I was beaming at Matt – “I told you!”

While my concern was on Willow, a piece of the placenta remain stuck in my uterus. My focus was now back on me.  At some stage, I was pushing/massaging my belly down to rid of it. They gave me Willow to breastfeed hence the placenta to detached. But the stubborn piece of uterus remains.

Emergency surgery for me! Willow stays in the arms of Matt until I get back.

While in surgery, I woke up briefly to tell them I am cold. One of the young female surgeon was actually my consulting pregnancy doctor. I felt relieved seeing a familiar face. I blurted out “everybody looks so young” and then drifted back to sleep. 😂

When I return from surgery, not a lot of the nurses know anything about birthmarks. It wasn’t very evident at birth, but the birthmark has become prominent hours later. One nurse thought it might be a bruise.

I knew it is a birthmark. I met a lot of people with birthmarks. No biggie. My husband though was very concerned about a lot of stuff. It’s his nature. But of course, he loves Willow so much. He was genuinely concerned about what it is and it’s impact on his daughter’s well-being.

Willow has a port wine stain birthmark. It is a vascular anomaly – genetic mutation – an over production of capillaries on parts of flesh.

Birthmarks are not uncommon.  One out of 10 babies have a birthmark. Quoting from memory here. I will provide links of agencies below with facts and statistical data.

Portwine stain birthmarks are never the same for all affected. Willow needed an MRI to see if it is on her brain also. There are tiny specks of no concern that the brain people (neurologist) didn’t even want to see us to my disappointment.

Our consulting doctor at the time didn’t want to give me the MRI report just in case I started googling stuff. As of this day, I still have not sighted this report.

Willow also had countless eye doctor consultations. It was every 3 months in the beginning, then every 4 months, once a year and now none.

We are blessed that she is hitting her milestones and progressing well if not advanced in some areas.

She currently has had 10 laser surgeries which is taking a lot of toll on me than her. She continues to amaze me. She seems to bounce out off the surgery like a Phoenix out of the ashes. Literally.

We had one awake surgery to test Prima on her and it was hell. Four people were pinning her down so the surgeon can perform a test on her skin. I remember smelling burnt skin as they did it.

I am also the one that goes to the hospital with her during these surgeries. Obviously, it is nowhere near fun and is traumatising for me (and her). Watching her convulsing on my arms as I hold her while she inhales  gas to put her to sleep.

Too many times she has woken up after the surgery distraught from the anaesthesia,  the pain, the sore, from thirst and from hunger. She was inconsolable and I just hold her in my arms – singing songs, saying I love her so, offering food, etc.

It is also the reason why I breastfed her until 3 years old. Feeding comforts her and obviously my milk would have some healing powers as it is so designed by nature and by God.

The birthmark has considerably cleared up. She has my skin tone so it would easily blend with the skin. Makeup would help if she so chose to do so when she is older.

I am extremely happy with the clearance thus far. Technology has progressed and I cannot wait when she is older and she can use the latest laser  (private clinics have them but not the children’s hospital), doesn’t need anaesthesia and she doesn’t have to do it too often.

I am extremely hopeful. While I had some slight concern, mainly perpetuated by my husband’s concerns – i had no fear and will not fear.

She was made to stand out and stand out she will. She will stand out because of her sweet smile, her loving and caring nature and her many talents. She is a joy to be with (and can be very bossy sassy). I am extremely proud of her. I can’t wait what the world has installed for her. I can’t wait what she has to offer the world.

Thank you for reading Willow’s Portwine Stain journey.

PS. More photos of Willow on my instagram account. Click here.

Resources and support
Vascular Birthmark Foundation
https://birthmark.org/
https://www.facebook.com/VascularBirthmarksFoundation/
Birthmark Social
https://www.instagram.com/birthmark_social/

Easy to make pasta sauce

It’s all the rage on Tik Tok but I really didn’t know about it until my friend forwarded me the recipe seeing that I have tonnes and tonnes of tomatoes from my garden.

It is really an easy to follow recipe. I modified it a bit from the original as the kids are going to have it so I had to omit the chili flakes. You are also to use 2 blocks of feta but I only used one as I am lactose intolerant. LoL

Ingredients:
1 x block of Feta
1 kg of tomatoes (any kind I guess)
4-5 x cloves of garlic
Sprinkle of oregano
(“They” also suggested chili flakes, Italian mix spices)
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of pepper
Half a cup of olive oil

Instructions:
1. Place tomatoes on the baking pan.
2. Place feta in the middle of the pan with the tomatoes.
3. Place garlic in pan.
4. Pour olive oil on ingredients in the pan.
5. Sprinkle salt, pepper and spices.
6. Place in the oven at 220 degrees C for 30mins or until cooked.
7. Meanwhile, boil preferred pasta in pot.
8. Take baking tray out of oven. Mash the cooked ingredients in the pan to a desired consistentcy.
9. Drain cooked pasta of water.
10. Add pasta to the mashed feta and tomatoes.
11. When serving, you can garnish with basil and parmesan.
12. ENJOY!

DELICIOUS!!