One Good Thing – Giving Blood

It’s not lost on me that I’m coming back to blogging at a time when I don’t read blogs regularly. In the old day, I had a number of favorites and kept tabs on them by Google Reader. These days, I read updates as they share them through FaceBook or other social media. Now I get newsletters to my inbox and can’t always keep up.

Here are a few of my favorites. Go subscribe!

  • Leave it to Leonor – One of the highlights each Thursday. I always come away with a new book recommendation, topic I may want to write about, or article I missed.
  • Terryngrams – Lately, Terryn has focused on cooking and it’s a good reminder of how fun it is to cook for yourself.
  • Wandering Ephemera – One of Taz’s recent newsletters was an entertaining review of Christmas rom-coms from her perspective as a Muslim woman.

This all brings me back to the inspiration from Leonor in last week’s newsletter: one good thing from the week. I’ll start with last week.

I donated blood.

I used to give blood a few times a year pre-kids. Sometimes I’d extend a lunch break and drop by the UCLA medical center’s blood donation site in the student union. I always thought of my family members who received blood transfusions. I liked the idea of paying it forward. The snacks were a nice bonus. There were times I couldn’t give. I’d feel well, but then get turned away due to low hemoglobin levels. Once I had kids, I stopped donating. I couldn’t find the time. When there was time, I had a cold. Babies and toddler pass on all their germs.

My motto is just like my bloody type: be positive

Last Friday, I gave without an issue and got that feeling when you do something good. I also am thankful for being well enough since we’re still in a pandemic and a cold isn’t just a cold anymore.

I donated through the Red Cross. In a few weeks, I’ll get an email telling me where my blood was used. In recent months, it’s been in neighboring states and I joked that at least my blood got to travel. This time, I wonder if it’ll be used locally since there are severe shortages everywhere. A few days after I donated, I got an email from a local listserv. The midwife who delivered Archie advocated for donating and talked about the impact of the sever shortage locally. It was a nice reminder that even though I may be helping people who are far away, I can also have an impact in my own community.

I’d be remiss to note that like everything, being able to donate blood is political. I didn’t know as much about the FDA’s policies restricting gay men from donating until more recently as the national blood shortage has gained media attention and there have been calls to end the discriminatory policy.

Bebe, Ithaca

Moving the Goal Posts

In 2018, one of my goals was to get more local. I wrote it down in my bullet journal and even drew a cute little waterfall to illustrate what I meant. At that point, I had been living in Ithaca for 2.5 years and still adjusting to the area. By being more local, I wanted to commit to my current home and community and not just long for LA. Instead of embracing winter and getting more involved at church, I went to LA four times. No regrets.

I looked back on this goal a few weeks ago when Sean and I took the kids to a local ski resort for their school’s ski and snowboard club. For a discounted rate, kids in K-12 schools can sign up for a six-week pass. They get two weeks of lessons and can ski one afternoon a week. I had never signed up Xavi because it’s in the middle of the week and working around our schedules was tough with two kids at different day cares/after school program sites. Also, I’ve never been skiing or snowboarding and had little knowledge of the mechanics.

Things have changed since fall 2018. Due to the pandemic, both Sean and I have a more flexible work schedule. Both kids attend the same school and after-school program. We have the funds to commit to a pricey activity. I’m more adjusted to the weather and enjoy playing in the snow with the kids. I don’t love winter, but can appreciate the breathtaking winter wonderland views.

In the fall the PTA sent out info on signing up. Sean and I talked it over to see if we could adjust our Wednesday afternoon schedules. We asked the kids if they were interested and which sport they’d prefer. They both chose skiing. I added ski club as an “experience” gift to the Christmas list we share with the grandparents and siblings. My brother Adrian and his wife, Alexis, pitched in. Then I covered my eyes as I paid and prayed they wouldn’t hate it because winter sports are not cheap. (Aside: I thought that by limiting toys as Christmas presents and focusing on experiences we’d be saving money. Joke’s on me!)

Two children on skis dressed for the sport in snow pants, jackets, buffs, and goggles.

The kids are halfway through their ski club and both are getting the hang of the basics thanks to the patient and knowledgeable instructors. It’s been really cool to see them learn. I may even be inspired to sign-up for lessons myself.

Blog/tech, Randomness

Without Prompting

Yesterday, my Facebook memories reminded me that three years ago I announced that I’d return to regular blogging. Reader, it did not happen. The last post here was on my 40th birthday nearly 18 months ago and these days I mostly use WordPress for work. But I’m still a blogger, just like I’m still an LA girl, and a runner on a 9-year hiatus. I still find a lot of value in recording the mundane and the special. The relationships I made at the height of my mid-20s blogging career are still important. I still value the conversation and inspiration that can come from sharing my own words. I still love stories.

Smiling woman standing in front of a gallery wall holding a Becoming journal with Michelle Obama on the cover.

Last year, I received a Becoming journal which features quotes and prompts from Michelle Obama. It was Galentine’s Day gift from a colleague at work. I didn’t use it in earnest until a month ago when I tried to do about one prompt a night. As I responded to the prompts, I realized that I’d already written on many of the topics here. I can go through my archive and find a number of posts about my childhood, what it was like growing up in Hacienda Heights, the many activities I started and didn’t continue as a child but still formative, my family both immediate and extended. But those were all written from a different lens. Home was only a 30-minute drive away — without traffic. I wasn’t a mother. I could reconnect more easily to those places that made me. My maternal grandparents were still alive. The time and distance has altered my perception and how I want to tell stories.

It made me realize that one of of my biggest obstacles to returning to regular blogging — I’ve already written about everything I want to share in this medium — doesn’t really apply. Of course, time is still there and plain old ganas.

Familia, Mememe

On the 9th anniversary of my 31st birthday

Sean is pretty awesome at planning birthday surprises. On my 30th birthday he flew out to LA from NY to surprise me on my doorstep. Unwittingly, I messed up the surprise he envisioned. I spotted him walking up my driveway after I stepped out to take out the trash. He was bummed, but I was still happy to see him.

Today, my 40th birthday, I got in the way again. I spoiled his plans for a surprise breakfast of chilaquiles by going out for a long run (6.2 miles!) in the morning. He still made the chilaquiles, but I had them for lunch instead. Then we watched the video he made. Sean coordinated with 35 family and friends (not counting all the kids and babies!) to sing me Las Mañanitas and send birthday greetings. I messed it up by accidentally hearing a little bit of my cousin Bibi’s greeting while he was still editing the 15-minute video a few days ago, but he played it off.

The video was PERFECT. It even included a blooper reel. Of course, I cried while also laughing and singing along. 

My sister later sent me a video of the full version of her duet of Las Mañanitas with my dad. It wasn’t the same as hearing them sing outside my window to wake me up (which they did when I turned 20), but they still sounded amazing and I get the bonus of watching it over and over.
Last fall, inspired by a monthly doodle challenge to draw a party scene I drew my 40th birthday party. I knew there was no chance of it happening and as July became August I started to feel down. I felt a little silly because I’ve been fortunate to weather this pandemic okay. Not having a party for a milestone birthday seemed small when others have lost so much this year including missing milestone celebrations. Then I took the time to read one of the wellness emails from work. I usually skip them, but a comment by a colleague on the article about toxic positivity caught my attention. It was what I needed that day. I realized I was minimizing my own feelings. It’s okay to be sad.
After all, I knew the party wasn’t at the heart of my sadness, it was knowing that it’d be many more months until I was in LA again and around my parents, siblings, tías and tíos, cousins, and friends. In March, sheltering in place didn’t feel hard because I had just come back from being around family for my padrino José’s funeral. But we were approaching the end of August and I knew we’d likely finish 2020 without feeling safe to travel.
I’d love to be in LA surrounded by loved ones and celebrating in person, but I know we can’t do that. The video was the next best thing.
Whether they’ve been in my life for 40, 20, 15 or 5 years, their presence is the true gift. Thank you for making me feel loved and I can’t wait for the time when I do get to see you again.

Postcards by Xavi

One of the good things that has come out of the past 5 months is Xavi improving in his drawing skills. Back in the spring, Sean took some of Xavi’s latest drawings he made following YouTube tutorials, photographed them, and printed postcards to send to the teachers and classmates he really missed. They were a big hit!

In July, I posted the following on Instagram after trying to console Xavi who has very upset over not drawing a perfect dinosaur. He also wants to be famous and earn money. I saw an opportunity and suggested he sell his postcards for $1.

Spinosaurus illustration

Less than a day later, we were sold out. Xavi’s cards went to supportive friends and family. Even though we can’t travel, Xavi’s artwork and greetings can cross state lines and even go to Canada.

We have more now! If you’d like to order one or more, fill out the Postcard Order Form.

Postcards scattered with dragons, anglerfish, dinosaurs and trains

I can’t promise they’ll get there soon due to Xavi’s motivation to write his notes and USPS slowdowns in service (sigh…), but they’ll get there!