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!!

No. One. Is. Spared.

Please slide to reveal the next page!

As a wife and as a mum, I am trying to figure out why I get so enraged some days. I wish I can blame this bad behaviour all on my husband and at the kids nibbling away at my patience with their silly questions, untrue stories from TikTok; antics and tricks (from Tik Tok, YouTube and proudly their own).

The truth is, I was irritable today because I stayed up late last night watching Bling Empire and ate some ice-cream. I didn’t wake up in time for mass. No exercise and no mediation either in the last 42 hours.

No wonder I was a pile of mess. 

This is what happens when I totally deviate from my routine. I need to be more vigilant now with my self care and self love routine because of my family. 

Normally, I am in bed by 8.30PM. I do my skincare routine; put on my aromatherapy mist and pink salt lamp; read a few pages of my book/meditate/prayer of thanks then sleep.

Moral of the story: Some days I am lousy and that’s okay.
Moral of the story: Some days, it’s okay to just show up. (Brené Brown thinks so too – and countless people she has interviewed – in her book I am currently reading: The Gifts of Imperfection)
Moral of the story: Don’t forget self love and self care
Moral of the story: There are many morals in one story!

PS: I don’t own a gun. This is all metaphorical to create drama and massage your imagination. My husband also received the grunt of my drama. The kids were spared this time.

Happy Australia Day!

This topic is dear to my heart. However, this post could be my most  controversial, unpopular and uncomfortable one yet. Hold on to your seats!

My post is paying homage to #beamaddock ‘s art called Terra Spiritus. “Monumental in scale and ambition, Terra Spiritus … with a Darker Shade of Pale is a 52-panel drawing work that details the entire Tasmanian coastline, inscribed with indigenous place names, and took six years to make” [1]

Australia – lucky country
I came to Australia at the age of 16 from the Philippines. I really don’t know much about the history of Australia. World History was taught in Year 10 at the Catholic school I went to in Singalong, Manila.  I left in Year 9. But I doubt that they will tell the stories and plight of the Aboriginal people in the hands of the colonist. They would probably focus more on The Gold Rush in 1851.

When I was in  Year 11,  I remember writing essays why Australia is a “lucky country.” Below are some of the words from the Australian Anthem:


“We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.”

“For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.”

When I started University, as a social science student, I learnt about Australia’s sinister past. I the “lucky” immigrant enjoying Australia’s bountiful and boundless gifts today. However, the native people of Australia were massacred, their children stolen and stripped of their land  (and still is).

Australia’s Policy of Assimilation ‘proposed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be allowed to “die out” through a process of natural elimination, or, where possible, assimilated into the white community.’ [2]

First Nations children were forcibly removed from their families between the years 1910-1970. This is only a century and less ago!

The world’s oldest civilisation is ALIVE (barely)
There is still much suffering due to this now. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia. More info and statistics here.

The truth shall set us all free
I know what you might be thinking. Why do I need to dampen the mood by mentioning Australia’s bloody past on Australia Day? I wish I can turn a blind eye; keep sipping my Moscato, keep nibbling my cheese and bikkie BUT I CAN’T. I am crying and bleeding for the Aboriginal people now*.

We can only move forward as a nation by accepting the hurt and shame of the past. First Nation’s culture will flourish and thrive. Humanity can learn from them!

References

[1] Stephens, A. (2013) Painting with ice and fire , The Sydney Morning Herald (online)

[2] Behrendt, L. 2012, Indigenous Australia for Dummies, Wiley Publishing Australia PTY LTD, Milton, Australia, pg. 295

Resources
Hannah Gadsby’s Oz (2014) – explores Australia’s art to debunk the myths of Australian identity. This actually what motivated me to write this piece. This show is can be watched at Stan.

https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/stolen-generations

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-aborigines-stolen-factbox-idUSSYD20665020080213

https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice

https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/face-facts-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples

_____________

*I am crying and bleeding as I did for my Filipino ancestors when they fought the Spaniards. (Philippines was colonised in 1521).

Family Cycling Adventure

I am very thankful for Covid. I am not saying that lightly and candidly. It is evil. It caused (and still does) so many deaths, anxiety, depression, job loss … a surmountable number of evil things. There’s a lot of questions. Who do we blame? Who is at fault? When will it end? Will we go back to ‘normal’ again?

There are a lot of questions we don’t have the answer to. It is also beyond my control. What I have control over is my actions and thoughts after the fact. Yes, I was angry and depressed at first but I eventually wiped the tears off my eyes and got my big ass off the couch and onto a bicycle.

I have a fixation on cycling rural france and devouring food at French markets. (I watched too many intrepid traveling shows.)

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH … Instead of just dreaming, talking and blogging about my dream. I finally did it. Not cycle France but cycle the beautiful Sydney West/Norwest/Inner West with my family. It was quite fun!

So, far we have done Rouse Hill to Wentworth Point and back. (Not in the same day. We have a 3.5 year old that will need to be strapped up to 6 hours for us to do that. That would be abuse.)

We like cycling around Rouse Hill – so many beautiful cycling tracks. We cycle to the Town Centre, to school and to Essence my fave café. We cycle to The Ponds for breakfast, Meadow Bank and surrounds along the Parramatta river; and most recently Windsor to visit the Sunday market.

Please enjoy our cycling video. This ride was from Rouse Hill to Wentworth Point (near Homebush.) We were on busy roads and along the beautiful Parramatta river. Almost six hours of cycling jammed into 13 minutes. I hope you enjoy the scenes. Willow is constantly talking, singing and making noises! What a chatterbox.

New Year, Less Unboxing

One of my new year resolutions is to reduce my consumption of clothes, bags, shoes and other accessories.

If you check my personal instagram account @rubstar5000, you will notice that I have done a lot of unboxing. All my years of saving and being responsible was forgotten in 2020. I went ballistic with shopping as “there was nothing else to do.” Thank you Covid!

Twenty Twenty-One is a different year! Shopping and unboxing will be few and far between. I have lost my way in 2020 but now I am found again in 2021!

So why? Why am I consuming less? 

1. Growing up, my grandparents have instilled upon me the value of taking care or respecting my belongings (ie ‘my shit’.) They would often say to take care of my toys because they are my parents blood, sweat and tears. Whoah! Imagine a 5-year old Ruby trying to process that information. This is a value I want to embrace and instill upon my children now. I want to set a good example.

2. Reducing my consumption also reduces my contribution to landfill and my carbon footprint. (Did you know there is a carbon footprint calculator? Click here.)

3. Put less value in material things and belongings. Less value on material things defining who I am and what I am about.

4. Save some money. It doesn’t hurt to save more money. I have always been a saver. Working for Pizza Hut at the age of 17, I suddenly understood what my grandparents meant by blood, sweat and tears. I still think they are over dramatic though. 

My catalyst for a ‘better’ life
My father’s death was a devastation for the whole family. It was also the catalyst for a ‘better’ life. My loss catapulted me into mild depression of not feeling worthy. I devoured self-help books which includes how-to-get-rich titles. I wanted to ‘manifest.’ I went after a ‘corporate career’ cause that’s where the money is apparently. I don’t know why I did. Someone told me I could! Lots of money didn’t make me feel worthy. It just meant I have to pay a lot more tax.

It’s not how much you earn. It’s how much you save!
If you spend more than you earn (and according to Rich Dad, Poor Dad – a lot of people do)* then you are in the negative every month. Don’t feel bad about me, some days I did splurge on myself. Over the years, I have saved and invested. I am doing okay now. LoL

Why Thank You Global Financial Crisis
Also, buying a house in 2005/2006 (pre-GFC) on high interest through a greedy broker (which we were related to) taught me how to budget /manage my limited money very well.  

So, there you have it folks! Less shopping and unboxing in 2021. More repurposing, reusing, and repairing. Let us see how I go.

_________
*My husband being a financial adviser can attest to this.

Sky Safari – Taronga Zoo Cable Car

Short video of our dramatic cable car ride.

The most exciting way to get yourself to Taraonga Zoo  is by ferry from Circular Quay and the Sky Safari cable car!

We caught the ferry from Sydney Olympic Park wharf (Wentworth Point) to Circular Quay. Then changed ferry at Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo. For a family of five (one being 3.5 year old),  we paid $24 for a one way ferry trip. (So, it’s another $24 to go back home.)

Once we hopped out of the ferry, we climbed up a long set of stairs and hopped on to the cable car. You can also take the bus if height is not your thing.

Height is not my thing, but we took the cable car anyway. It was an exhilarating and breathtaking experience for me. Also, a little scary. I couldn’t video our descent to the zoo because I was clinging on to my seat because of fear. My daughter Summer was the same. Everybody else loved it so, so, so much.

The view of the city in the horizon (depending on where you are seated) is jaw dropping. The Sydney Harbour just always made me feel lucky to call  Sydney my home. It is such a beautiful city. The Opera House is so iconic.

You can also view the ‘safari’ down below and observe the animals from above. It was like a bird’s eye view of the zoo. I love that perspective. I spotted the elephants from the distance.

The entrance fee is $124 for a family of 5 – 2 adults,  2 x child + baby/toddler.  Depending where you live, it is  better value for money to you grab a family pass for only  $198 (plus fees) and you can visit everyday of the year if you wish! Here is the link of membership prices if you want further information.

This video of us in the cable car is as we are leaving the zoo. It has been a long day and the last call for the  cars were being made (roughly 3pm). Summer was really scared of the ride. Willow was trying to comfort her. She is also a little confused of Jack and Summer’s kerfuffle. Clearly, they should be enjoying the ride and the view rather than ‘fighting.’

I hope you enjoy our little story and video! Enjoy your day!