Rescue, our favorite breed

Can't say I love her just yet. I'm certainly grateful that I'm free to be my uninhibited self around her. She's my new audience. As we adjust to life with our rescue dog, I'm mindful of how long N. has been wishing for a dog. As a three-year-old, she paged through her dog encyclopedia carefully studying each breed and their characteristics, whether or not they were a good family dog. We'd been buying our time, telling her we'd consider a dog when she turns nine. 

What better time to adopt a rescue than a year into the pandemic? Now we have Creagh, a two-year-old beagle mix, we think black labrador retriever, whose got the most exquisite freckles on her chest and front paws. She's just the right dog with the right temperament for our first-time-dog-family, snuggles up to anyone sitting on the couch. Still wary of unfamiliar people and other dogs, she delights in being the only dog in our home. Most of all, as an only child N. is thrilled to pal around with a four-legged companion.

With great expectation, we drove an hour and a half away to Walkersville, MD to pick up Creagh from her foster family. I'd bought and cancelled two crate orders before settling on my third choice. Still had to borrow a crate for transport as I hoped our new crate would arrive in time for Creagh to settle into our dog-friendly home. I'd scrubbed our home in preparation for welcoming a new resident, and our Creagh Advisory Board of expert close friends and family dog owners was on call. 

Three weeks in, I've warmed up to having Creagh on my daily treks and certainly appreciate even more being in the now. With her open smile, she appears happiest on the trail as she constantly looks back at me and putters along, soaking up her daily dose of tree oil during a woodsbath.

You know that Subaru commercial? The one where the parents watch as their daughter grows through the years? Just like that commercial, I find myself charmed in the moment -- N. in the backseat of our Forrester with Creagh on our way to the park for a hike and some fishing. 

And the moment is . . . perfect.



I see the light. I think. I hope. Qualified for a covid Pfizer dose based on my BMI. Yay to being overweight by 2.2 points! After what feels like waiting so long for my turn, getting the first dose finally gave me permission to sigh. Big. 

And it's been a terribly heavy hearted week. Particularly disturbing has been a homily a few weeks ago at what we thought was our progressive church when the priest in all of his fire and brimstone spoke how love and marriage was only between a man and a woman as my 8.5-year-old asked, What about Uncle Mitch and Ninong Ben (and others in our family and friend circles who are gay and married). This is the same priest who has spoken about how maybe it was Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. It's also the same church that pushes its pro life propaganda during a family Mass, and I have to answer my daughter's question, What's abortion, Mom? Because she actually is listening and picking up on the rhetoric. Child-appropriate explanation, of course. 

Then the Pope's declaration that same sex marriages cannot be blessed by the Catholic Church. Really? You let your cardinals and bishops reel you in like that? I had so much hope for you, Pope Francis. 

You'd think as a nine-year-old, I would have been immediately turned off by the image of my parish priest arrested in handcuffs because he had sexually abused and offered pot to a high school student. I vividly recall the image of him in the local paper, The Jersey Journal. Not really understanding the gravity of what had happened even after I read the article, just knowing that it was bad and scary. This is around the 1980s when the made-for-TV movie about family incest starring Ted Danson and Glenn Close, Something About Amelia, debuted. 

Without a doubt, I credit the Sisters of Charity who raised me to have strong values in community and feminism, and I stuck it out because of and despite the deep cultural colonized heritage ties of Filipino Catholicism. Not to mention years of pent-up angst around sexual abuse cover-ups and misogynist attitude towards women as church leaders. 

But enough. 

So Catholicism, we must part ways and return to exploring truly welcoming faith communities that are much more in tune with today's humanity and commited to social justice.

Then the murders in Georgia, in my dearest cousin's neighborhood. So much is circulating in the media and on social media. So much there. The class, gender, race, power and sexualized dynamics AND the hate that leave our Asian American communities terrorized and eight families mourning their loved ones.

Last night, I treated myself to a 90-minute guided sit with my former MBSR teacher, who encouraged us to intentionally place our hands on our hearts. This much deserved time gifted me the needed space to connect with and be in my body and feel the heavy-heartedness. To courageously sit with the anger, disappointment, sadness as I continue to process the madness of hate and violence. To remember to be heart-centered as I lead with my heart in all of my actions as a woman, partner, mother, friend and community member. 

In these trying times, let this be an invitation to place our hands on our hearts and ground ourselves in a moment of heart-centeredness. 


Keep on going

Almost a year since pandemic lockdown, and I am definitely covid fatigued as we patiently await our turn in the vaccine rollout and watch others as they finagle their first and second doses, every person for themselves. Myself included. I would have never been able to schedule my Mom for her first dose had it not been a tip from my cousin's husband who received word through local politics. It's maddening. While I usually exude optimism, I'm admittedly silently defeated trying to stay strong for myself and those around me . . . because what other choice do I have? I take solace in the words of others whose poesies artfully hold space for me as I struggle to hold space for others. 

What happens when we can no longer hold space for each other? 

At the end of the day, the only thing that helps to feel good about such a sh*! year is to work at being in service to others with whatever energy I have left. That means taking care of myself, finding ways to be more healthful, so I can keep showing up. I'm exhausted and heartbroken. Can I still connect, give, change and grow? Yes, I can. We can . . . keep going.

Yes, it's really hard right now. I cry while watching a movie. Then I write when the spirit moves me. I read, then I well up. I binge on some hulu or netflix series. I give to my family, myself, my friends and my community. I try to sleep, and I engage again. Day after day, longing to see the light as we continue to muster up patience with much grace and gratitude. I can . . . keep going. 

The Great Command
by Jacqueline Suskin

The great command holds
my attention at various points
throughout the day and night.
Keep on living, keep on living, keep on living.

I hear a voice ask me what abilities
can I manage, or what am I able?
I respond with
whatever I can muster.
I follow up my ideas with infinite thanks.
What else is there
in the face of such mystery
other than continuous celebration?
I'm just happy to be anything at all.

I say yes without fault
for nothing could be too wrong --
everything is as it should be.
How could it not be?