Jersey City Strong

My parents met in Jersey City in the 1960s. They married at St. John's on Kennedy Boulevard. Both my brother and I were born at Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital. My mom, along with hundreds of other Filipina nurses recruited from the Philippines, worked at Margaret Hague, Jersey City Medical Center, and Pollack Hospital.

A couple of days ago, with a heavy heart I attended the wake of a childhood family friend, who is gone too soon, too young. Our parents knew each other back in the day as young dating couples, as married couples. They nurtured their children together in a familial Filipino American community. Through the years, I've even learned how some of us in that community are remotely related through connections that go as far back as our great grandparents. 

I don't keep in touch much with too many childhood friends other than through facebook. And when we meet up at these sad occasions, while much has changed, we still have that inherent closeness. I feel it in our greetings, our conversations, and our goodbyes. These are the same kids with whom I ran around and played punchball in the parking lot of Roosevelt Bowling Lanes during Saturday's Filipino Family Bowling League. We may forever see each other as the six- to twelve-year-olds who met up weekly and partied together at each other's homes when house parties were the norm. 

I am immensely grateful for my parents and the history they've established in Jersey City, as well as the deep rooted connections that I have with those who share in those days of old. 

We are undeniably part of an extraordinary tribe and will always remain . . . Jersey City strong. 

Dedicated to a new star up above. May you rest in blessed peace & stay forever young, Art. Swing on!


Finding passion once again

Almost a month into the new year, almost two and half years since I left the rat race in the city, I find myself digging deep for breaths of fire. My amazing partner of a little more than 11 years encourages me to take the time to explore and rediscover my passion. He reassures me that yes, I'm a mama and a spouse. But I'm also more than that if I want to be. 

After a lengthy discussion, he reminds me about who I was before N.'s mama. Not that I have to be that same person. He thanks me for giving him the space to explore his passions of fishing and writing.  He asks, Who do you want to be?  What do you want to try? Now's the time to search and learn. 

Breaths of fire.

My immediate reaction? That person whom you first met is long gone. Other than parenthood, I haven't had passion for some time. Sure, I've cared considerably about diversity, educational access, and family welfare. These concerns have been my life's work since my coming of age. But what's my passion now? 

I don't know. 

I've always known that I want to return to work once N. is in preschool.  (We're not there yet, and I'm still enjoying these early years). Like most parents, I desire flexibility in my next calling.  I can apply for online teaching gigs if it's finances pinchingly urging me to get back out there and find a job. 

That's not what he meant. And that's exactly what he doesn't want me to do. 

Breaths of fire. 

My partner's kick in my arse certainly lights a fire under me and gives me the permission (that I didn't need) to do some much needed introspection. 

A crackling fire can be meditative on one's journey to passion. 

I've always known my commitment to youth and wellness. It's how my career in higher education started -- focusing on students and their personal development and providing opportunities for them to grow emotionally and intellectually.

My passion leads me back to . . . youth and mindfulness. Supporting young people in the life skill of continuously being present. Kids are experts at living in the moment. Sadly once school happens, that know-how dissipates with pressures of achievement.  Yet, mindfulness is such an important skill to maintain through all stages of life.

Breaths of excitement inspire me to fervently research certifications in children's yoga instruction and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). I've looked into several studios, schools and have connected with a couple of resources in the industry. 

I haven't felt this exhilarated in quite a while -- in fact so energized that I actually committed myself to a training with Child Light Yoga this summer as well as an introductory class in MBSR as soon as this March. 

Thanks to my most amazing life partner . . . finding my rhythm once again.  

May we all be fearless and inspired to nurture ourselves in this journey called Life.   


New Year's Breath

a delicate layer of winter's ice
holds the pond
like this exact moment 
in time
minted in my heart