Summer of Health and Fitness Week 4

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From last Wednesday til yesterday, I was on vacation. My family and I went to Galveston for a day and Corpus Christi for 4 days.

Since I couldn’t cook, dieting came down to controlling how much I ate. I drank more Slurpees than I usually did and because of my allergies, I couldn’t just order a salad everywhere I went. (The problem with restaurant salads is that they put stuff there that I might be allergic to, like peanuts, croutons, or stuff I never ate before. #foodallergyproblems.) In spite of not really being in control of what I ate, I still managed to stick to my diet. 

Here’s a tip: If you’re eating out, don’t eat the whole plate. Eat a portion and share the rest or save some for later. 

If there’s anything I learned from my vacation, it’s that if you want to stick to your diet and exercise plan, have courage. Don’t be afraid to eat out! Just be smart about it. At the same time, don’t be anxious when you treat yourself to Slurpees or Italian Ices. When you get back home, you can return to your regular diet/exercise and everything will balance out.

If you’re planning on traveling this summer, make sure your hotel has a good gym. Even the smallest fitness room usually do fine. I worked out for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine 2x during my vacation. The rest of my exercise consisted of a lot of walking, whether it was on the beach or browsing around antique stores. Do a lot of walking on your vacation, but keep the weather in mind. Nothing wrong with doing a long walk inside a museum on a hot day! 

I’m gonna end this blog post with a recipe for my new favorite food: Tuna and guac tacos! This is perfect for anyone who’s gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small haas avocado (or 3 if you’re cooking for 4 people)
  • 1 small (4″ diameter) corn tortilla. (I got a store brand.) 
  • 1/2-1 whole yellow onion, diced (Depends on the size of the onion and how many people you’re serving)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped (use 6 if cooking for 4 people) 
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Salt and pepper (feel free to add your favorite spices here)
  • Starkist tuna in vegetable oil (Pouch, please. You can also use the EVOO version.)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Set a pan over medium/high heat and cook up the Starkist tuna
  2. Scoop the avocado meat once the tuna has been cooking for a few minutes. Add spices as you spread your avocado meat around the pan. Mix it all together.
  3. Add the onions and lime juice.
  4. In a separate pan or in your toaster oven, cook up your corn tortillas for a minute or two. The tortillas should be light and fluffy.
  5. Turn off the heat after cooking your guac/tuna/onion mixture for 10 minutes.
  6. Plate the tortillas and scoop the mixture by the tablespoon into the tortillas.

The Japanese Legacy of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Most people recognize St. Maximilian Kolbe as the priest who offered his life in the Auschwitz death camp to save a man who had a family. However, Maximilian Kolbe also left behind a legacy in Japan that would later make a huge difference during the end of WWII.

During the 1930s, Maximilian Kolbe went on a mission trip to Nagasaki, Japan. Even though he didn’t know any Japanese, he was able to create a Japanese version of his magazine Knight of the Immaculate. It grew to a circulation of 65,000 in 1936. He also founded a monastery in Nagasaki and decided to build it on what the locals believed was the “inauspicious” side of the mountain. When the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, that monastery miraculously survived because the other side of the mountain took the majority of the blast. Today, it serves as a center for Franciscan work.

I also feel like Maximilian’s legacy remains in Nagasaki in other ways. My brother got to visit the city as part of his college’s study abroad program. While he didn’t get to visit the monastery, he did see a lot of monuments dedicated to peace, not to mention a couple of Catholic churches, which are pretty hard to find in Japan. The Japanese’s hope for peace is something I think St. Maximilian Kolbe would be very proud of.

Postcards: A Series of Haikus

My brother is studying abroad in Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia for the summer. We dropped him off at the airport early this morning, but we’ve been preparing for this for a while now. Back when I was doing the Poem-A-Day Challenge on Writer’s Digest, one of the prompts was “Across the Ocean.” I decided to write a series of haikus called “Postcards,” which is told in the point of view of my brother writing postcards to me. Pray for his safety as he lands, while he’s travelling, and for his trip home.


 

Hey there Sister,

It’s my first month in Japan

studying abroad.

 

I’m here in Beppu,

in the middle of nowhere,

but still having fun

 

I travel sometimes

to Tokyo with all my friends

wishing you were here.

 

Now I’m in Thailand

2 hours’ drive from Bangkok.

The traffic is hell.

 

The study abroad

is going by so quickly.

I don’t wanna leave

 

But I still miss you

while I’m here in Malaysia.

I’ll be home real soon.

 

I hope you get to

travel the world by yourself.

With love, your brother

 

From the Big Easy to the Emerald Coast

So I was pretty much out for four whole days, travelling to New Orleans and Northwest Florida. It was a really good weekend, given the beauty of St. Louis Cathedral and the gorgeous view from my hotel room and the epic awesomeness that was the Bad Blood music video by Taylor Swift.

The first stop on our road trip was New Orleans.

When I first wanted to go to New Orleans, we got lost and ended up in some run-down areas. Then, when we actually got to the city, it was crowded with traffic and a lot of party-goers, including a guy standing barefoot outside of a bar, drinking a beer. They don’t call New Orleans “the big easy” for nothing.

This time, my mom picked a different area for us to go to: Jackson Square. We arrived on a rainy late morning/early afternoon. The city wasn’t as crowded, even though it was a Friday, and I could see the beauty of the city. It’s a unique city, to be sure, and a very noisy one. But unlike New York City, the noise of New Orleans comes from the jazz bands and performance artists playing on the street corners. We ate lunch at a food court in a building called Jackson Brewery.

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My dad and brother, ever the NCIS fanatics, were quick to point out the various streets and landmarks that they saw in NCIS: New Orleans. I always love it when a show films on-location and a city like New Orleans is easily imitated but never duplicated.

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We went inside the Cathedral of St. Louis, the oldest cathedral in North America. There was amazing artwork on the ceiling and all around the church.

 

The only weird part was that I noticed a row of fortune tellers outside of the Cathedral. I guess rain isn’t a deterring factor for them.

After hours of driving, we finally arrived in the town of Crestview, Florida, which was a little outside of Destin and a lot rainier. My first day on the beach was cloudy and my glasses were tinted so darkly that even when the sun came out, I saw the whole beach as if it was dusk or early evening. It was also really windy, so I decided to just sit on the beach and do some light reading.

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I’m about halfway through with it and will write about it once I’ve finished it.

I really wanted to go somewhere other than the beach or shopping. We managed to find a museum, specifically the Air Force Armament Museum, but the place had a strict dress code: no shirt, no shoes, no entry. Given that my family and I were straight from the beach in flip flops and shorts, we wandered around the outside of the museum, which displayed a lot of old airplanes.

Most of the vacation was spent at the beach or hanging out at the hotel. I even got to swim in a pool for the first time in forever. But even out on the beach, my mind was still on Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood and it did not disappoint when it premiered on Sunday night (although Taylor’s outfit for the Billboard Awards kinda did). I was really surprised that the video turned out to be a rap remix, but the video itself was awesome, with references to movies such as The Fifth ElementFight Club, and The Expendables. If I was in the video, my character’s name would be Illyria after one of my favorite characters from Angel.

Not everything in this vacation was perfect, though. For example, my family and I went to Mass at the closest church we could find. The church was nice-looking, but compared to the gorgeous cathedral in New Orleans, it was a few steps down. Then I had to endure a video about diocesan improvement during the homily, which really stinks given it was the feast of the Ascension. But I knew that churches did this kind of thing once in a while. Just when I thought things would be okay, though, the recessional hymn was the ever-dreaded “Go Make a Difference.” It was my first time actually hearing the song and I wanted to throw up in my pew. Even the worst of the Praise and Worship genre would’ve been a God-send compared to this song. And keep in mind I’m the girl who likes “Ashes,” “On Eagle’s Wings,” and “Here I Am Lord.” The worst part, though, was that I couldn’t decide what I wanted to buy from the church’s Lighthouse Catholic Media/Dynamic Catholic kiosk because they had a lot of great CDs and books. I ended up leaving without buying anything. But maybe, given the less-than-stellar Mass, it was better that way.

On my last day, we took pictures at the beach outside of the hotel and had breakfast at Waffle House. Then, we endured a lot of pouring rain on the long road home. We prayed a Rosary to get us through. By the grace of God, we made it home safely.

 

Going on vacation is always fun, but getting home is still my favorite part.

I was inspired enough to write 2 poems.

 

Song of New Orleans

The city is dizzy, filled with twists and turns

Always a party wherever you go.

The streets are alive with the noises of the city,

a mix of trombones and trumpets,

street performers, artists,

and steamboats playing merry old tunes.

The city mixes the old and the new

Its citizens dance along,

in a strange chaotic order.

New Orleans dances to its own strange beat

Making a symphony out of cacophony.

 

Oceans and Pools

Swimming in a pool is always safe

The water is shallow and warm

inviting and easy

clean and nice

but oh so small

The ocean is not the safest place to swim

It’s vast and cold

unpredictable and fierce

Sharks and trash swim in the water

and if you aren’t careful, you’d drown

But oh the pull of the sea

call us out of our pools

We face the waves

and let ourselves get swept in he tide

Tasting the salt on our tongues

that makes us thirst for more

Instead of the sterile scent of bleach,

we are intoxicated by the air of the sea

We keep our eyes on the beauty of the waves

A mix of seafoam and sky

The water mirrors the heavens for a brief moment

as it lays still on the sand

But like our lives, the reflections are washed by the tide

The oceans call us to go deep into their waters

The fear diminishes as we sink in

Immersing ourselves in the ocean of grace

 

My Year in Photos: December

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As I look back on the previous year, the best way I can describe 2014 was that it was the year that I found my voice.

When I finished college, I found myself feeling very lost. For most of my life, my dream was to go to college, but once the whole college experience ended, I found myself without any job offers and most of my friends were getting engaged or married or having children. It didn’t help that I lost a dear friend who was with me from the beginning of my college years. He was a retired teacher, a pastor that I often had lunch with, and he passed away of old age. Losing him around the same time I graduated college made me feel like I was completely losing everything I knew about myself. When 2013 started, I also lost another friend who turned out to be a toxic influence and most of the year was spent making new friends outside of the safety of a college campus and the internet.

When 2014 came around, I started taking more positive risks. I started this blog and took pictures of what I was grateful for everyday. I participated in a poetry-a-day-challenge. I volunteered at an Awakening retreat in March and taught Sunday School at my local church. I had the opportunity to travel. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that 2014 was perfect, but it was definitely of the good, at least on a personal level for me.

When I think about what it meant for me to find my voice in 2014, I think of 2 events: the first was Comicpalooza, where I met the cast of Buffy and got to ask them questions at the panel. It wasn’t a picture-perfect moment, but it was pretty close to it because I spoke with confidence, even amidst my girlish giggling.

The second event was me giving testimony at the September Awakening retreat. I gave my speech with just my voice, no microphone necessary. I talked about how the friends I made during Awakening became the community I needed to have after finishing college. Keep in mind, by the way, that during both moments, I stood in a large room in front of a lot of people. The days of me taking anxiety medication are long gone now.

So with reflections out of the way for now, here are my 10 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Visit some convents. I’m currently interested in meeting the Daughters of St. Pal.
  2. Travel to more places outside of Texas. I especially hope to go to Philadelphia for Pope Francis’s first visit to America.
  3. Write 700 words a day for 50 days to finally finish the 2nd (or was it 3rd) draft of my novel.
  4. Read at least 12 new books by reading at least 1 book every 2 weeks.
  5. Lose 5lbs every week by snacking less and going to the gym and/or taking a 30 minute walk at least 3x a week.
  6. Keep updating my gratitude journal by listing at least 3 things I’m grateful for every day.
  7. Update this blog at least once a week.
  8. Learn how to drive by taking classes in the next few months.
  9. Increase my prayer life by praying the Rosary and Examen daily and the Liturgy of the Hours at least once a week.
  10. Finish 3 new knitting projects and, if possible, be able to knit presents for everyone for Christmas 2015.

 

Here’s to the new year, y’all!

My Year In Photos: April

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April began with me getting over my disappointment in shows I didn’t want to watch anymore. I also met with my spiritual director while attending a vocations-related event. I spent time with my friends preparing for another Awakening retreat in September.

But the coolest thing that happened during the month of April was when I traveled to California for my cousin’s 18th birthday party. In Filipino culture, a girl’s 18th birthday is the equivalent of the American Sweet 16. The last time I was in California, I was finished with my first (or second) year of college. And this time, there wouldn’t be any trips to theme parks. But I had just as much fun doing regular stuff because I was with my cousins.

One thing that I found out in California that I didn’t write in my previous blog entries is that I was starting to discover things about myself I never knew before. For one thing, manicures (while nice) felt fake on me. I also remembered the dreams I had during vacation, and I don’t usually remember the things that I dream.

I also learned that while I liked getting dressed up for the party, I didn’t feel like myself or even the best version of myself. I had a great time at the party, but in spite of the many likes that I got on the picture of me in my dazzling party dress, the girl in the picture wasn’t really me.

The real me was the girl who changed into her pajamas after the party ended and watched a live stream of the Canonization Mass, which declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII as saints. The real me was the girl who smiled when Pope Francis carried the cross that John Paul II used as the procession began and greeted his predecessor.

I had a lot of wonderful experiences during my time in California. But if I had to choose my favorite moment, it was when I was out on my own, meeting the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Although their event was more of a party and not much of a come-and-see event, they showed me where to go for Mass and I went to Mass all on my own. I haven’t done that since college.

I met so many wonderful people in this event, including some women from the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order). Again, it felt like a celebrity sighting. Even though these meetings were brief, I felt very happy that I had this opportunity to even see them.

In a way, my trip to California was a bite-sized version of Eat, Pray, Love. I did eat a lot of good food and I strengthened my spirituality, and I experienced love with my family and their friends. But I only stayed in California for a week, the kind of spirituality I experienced was different, and there was no romantic relationship, although I kept dreaming of love.

What I Learned From My California Vacation

Sometimes vacations can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, they feel way too short. But for my California vacation, it seemed like I learned a lot about myself, things I never realized before. It wasn’t some big spiritual epiphany like in Eat, Pray, Love, but a lot of little things.

The first thing I learned is that although I liked getting dressed up for my cousin’s big 18th birthday party, I felt like I was wearing a costume. I hated having fake nails and while the dress I wore was beautiful, it was not easy to dance in. Also, I’m pretty sure my big toe is still hurting from wearing platform sandals all night. Sometimes, you have to play around with the idea of being something you’re not in order to figure out what kind of person you are.

The second thing I learned was that the best times I had during the vacation were whenever I was having a low-key element of fun. Singing karaoke, line dancing, or just having dinner with friends, I loved it all. But the most fun I had was whenever I went off on my own to have adventures. I learned that when it comes to being alone, there are good times and bad times, but sometimes, you can be your own best friend.

The third thing I learned was that I had a lot of emotional healing to do. The one thing I was afraid of when I went back to Los Angeles was running into people I didn’t want to see. Thankfully, I didn’t. But I don’t want the people who’ve hurt me in the past to have this power over me anymore. In the past few weeks, I found ways to forgive them. The pain won’t go away overnight, but I’m getting there and getting better.

The last thing I learned while I was in California was that I found that I can really write. The trip ended at the same time that the Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Challenge ended, so I spent my last day of vacation reflecting on the fact that I wrote 30+ poems in a single month. I also left California with an idea for a new character and a better plot outline for my novel. Although I’m nowhere close to publishing anything, I feel like I’m a better writer now than when I lived in California all those years ago.

So now I’m spending my time perfecting my writing. What’s next for me? You’ll find out this summer.

Eat, Pray, Love (Catholic Version) Days 3 + 4: A Weekend Recap

Saturday and Sunday were jam-packed with a lot of awesome, wonderful events. 

Saturday was the day of my cousin Di’s 18th birthday party. I got dressed up to the nines and danced the night away. I ate sirloin for the first time. It was really good, all things considered. The best part was making funny faces in the photobooth, both by myself and with my cousins. 

At the end of the party, my uncle announced that there would be a huge family reunion the next day. But I had other plans.

On Sunday, I went out to Alhambra, where I attended a Papal Party, also known as a celebration of the canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. (Fun fact: The canonization took place at around 12-1AM Cali time so as soon as the party was over, I turned on my computer and fell asleep watching it.) The party was hosted by the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. They were all wonderful. 

Part of the party included (you guessed it) line dancing after spending an hour in prayer. Here are some pictures of nuns having fun:

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There was a church nearby, so I was able to fulfill my obligation of going to Mass that day. It was founded in 1924 by Discalced Carmelite Friars from Ireland and at the time, St. Therese was just Blessed. It’s the first church in America dedicated to St. Therese, or so one of the sisters told me.

Although I didn’t get to know the sisters as much as I wanted to, just meeting them was a wonderful privilege that I’ll never forget. Plus, I got to take a selfie with Pope Francis!

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After the party, I went out and got sushi for dinner.

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Overall, I had an awesome weekend.

EPL (CV) Day 2: Sing…Sing a Song

Today was a little more low-key than yesterday. I wore earrings for the first time in forever. (I had to get them re-pierced and I just took my earrings off.) It felt really weird, but I liked how they looked. But, like the nails, they are definitely not something I want to wear all the time.

The best part of the day, though, was going to the local arcade, where they had karaoke rooms, just like in Akibaranger. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it.)

It was so much fun singing karaoke in a place other than the usual Filipino family reunion. Di and her friends were hilarious!

Here are some grid photos featuring the highlights of the hour-long karaoke-rama.

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Now on a scale on 1-10, how 90s is my outfit?

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Eat, Pray, Love: The Catholic Version Day 1: Smells Like Teen Spirit

So if you can’t guess from the title, I am travelling! I am spending a week in sunny California as sort of an Easter vacation. So why the title? Because I was reading Eat, Pray, Love on the flight to Los Angeles.

I arrived in LA at around 10PM local time. It took a while for things to sink in because highways all look the same at night. It wasn’t until we found an In-N-Out that made me realize that I wasn’t in Texas anymore. (In-N-Outs just got started in Texas.)

The first thing I ate was a burger from In-N-Out, wrapped in lettuce, with a side of fries.

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It tasted awesome!

Today, I got my first manicure.

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It feels weird typing this out with acrylic nails glued to my hands. It was a nice treat, but I’ll be honest, it is not something I’d do often. But I do like how my nails look. I just wish I could name the color. So far, I call it “coral colored,” but you fashion-savvy readers should have a better name for this. (I picked an O.P.I. nail polish.)

After getting a manicure, my cousin Di asked me if I wanted to go to the mall with her and her friends. I was like “Why not?”

Being at a mall was actually a lot of fun. I got to know Di’s friends, Annie and Rocky, along with half a dozen others. I found a Disney Store there, which was seriously awesome since the one at my local mall closed down.

 

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Even though Di and her friends were younger than me, I got along with them well. I was able to make small talk easily, which is a big deal considering that I have autism.

After exploring the local mall, I went with Di and her friends to the local boba (SoCal speak for bubble tea) place. Di explained that back where I come from, the boba was pretty average. The place I went to was small, but they had a lot of good choices. I went with my tried-and-true favorite, a mango slushee with tapioca.

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I feel like I’m 17 again.