We shouldn’t have to ask people we love to choose between Family and Self when they tell us what makes them happy. It can be both. If that’s an impossibility, then no one will be completely happy. Everyone loses. No amount of pretending and substitution will fill the void when someone irreplaceable leaves.
Observing the people around me, I see different faces doing both similar and different things in search for the same, Happiness.
It’s easy to be numb. It’s easy to lose sight of self and be swept in with the seemingly never ending demands of work and people. It’s easy to feel nothing. Even easier to get hurt, feel sad, angry or frustrated. So we do what we do to see and feel Happiness. It doesn’t matter if it’s swift and fleeting. It doesn’t matter if we are to lose it as soon as we find it. What matters is we get to have it again and again. Like air to survive, the heart needs it to know it’s still alive. Like an addicting drug, we crave its euphoric effects and go into bad withdrawals when we run out of it.
A life without Happiness is not living at all. This is true for every Human being. Acknowledging this truth sets apart the Contented and the Miserable, the Pessimist and the Dreamers. No one is better than the other. Happiness is not a competition. It’s not about who gets the most. It’s personal. It’s unique. It’s genuine. It’s natural.
The need and search for Happiness will cease to exist only when we are dead. I don’t think it’s overrated nor an exaggeration. It’s a basic right and freedom for all. Everyone deserves to enjoy it, rich, poor, middle income, ordinary, famous, the forgotten, friends and enemies.
Happiness yesterday was a family road trip. Today, a walk at a Rose Garden Park. Both beautiful but the Happiness didn’t feel the same. I guess, the heart has preference or maybe the moment just didn’t feel right because I didn’t get much sleep. Whatever the reason, Happiness took more effort and I’m still craving for it. Oh well, Happiness reset begins again tomorrow. Perhaps it will feel just right.
“The greatest of them all is Love.”
Mom, know you are missed, loved, thought of and appreciated everyday. Happiness will never be complete without you. If you see me smiling in those old social media pictures, it’s for the world. Was never real. Know I am still your Son, that never changed, only silenced with lies. Just thinking of you now made me happier and that is a luxury not a normalcy like it used to be. My heart smiles both with joy and sadness. Still haven’t accepted the fact that this is the definition of our Happiness forced by people and circumstances. May my deep Love, Longing and Prayers find you. May it be more powerful than the scars and the Demons. We may not get our Happy Ending on Earth, but perhaps in Heaven we will find our forever Happily Ever After.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. May Happiness finds you. May Happiness finds us. I Love You Always.
Old town charm, new exciting Nature adventure discovery. This is what to me describes River Inn Big Sur.
Few images pop up in our Google search every time we search for places to stay in Big Sur but it never captured our curiosity until the day we decided to stop by to check what it is that draws travelers here. Lo and behold, we were missing something magical for so long.
Anyhow, never too late to dip our feet in cold river water while drinking apple cider and margarita.
Nature so intimate it’s like we’re in a romantic lovebirds spell sipping sweet love potions.
So, next bucket list, stay over night or two. We want to dip our feet in that magical refreshing river water just a bit longer. We did however get to take home a bit of it’s magic, and it made us happy…very happy.
Let Nature surprise you this weekend.
Be curious. Be creative. Give in to the magic, relax and let go.
Wild Superblooms waving and smiling to drivers to stop on the roadside to celebrate Spring. So we did.
Acrobatic Kite Surfers dancing and flying in hypnotizing synchrony with the tumbling Ocean waves, inviting people to stop and watch a spectacular show for free. So we did.
5 minutes of stop near the road cliff, a very long non-moving traffic happened on both sides of the coastal highway. Emergency siren lights visible from afar, alerting all vehicles to halt. A gut feeling that something bad happened follows.
After 30 minutes of waiting and confusion why fire trucks and police cars haven’t left, a thoughtful driver who turned back told the other drivers, “2-hour wait. Fatal accident.”
No one can explain how, but close to the entrance of Waddell Beach where normally drivers stop or slowdown, a woman driving her car and a man on his motorcycle had a head on collision. The man died on the spot. The woman survived but wounded with guilt, trauma and blame that may haunt her for the rest of her life. It was something unimaginable, dreadful. No one saw it coming.
We’ll never know when fatal and tragedy strikes. In a split second, a dream can turn into nightmare. Minutes to hours of fun could end with horror and regret.
Wife the next day after Googling more information about the incident told me, “The time you stopped and took pictures was about the same time the vehicular accident happened.”
Fatal and tragedy could have been me with my family. Perhaps it wasn’t my time or theirs. Perhaps God was telling me something and giving me another chance to do whatever it is he wants me to accomplish. Perhaps, it was just a coincidence and has nothing to do with my decision to stop and appreciate a moment.
Fatal and tragedy, the when and the how only God knows. We can only pray we have enough time to prepare and say our goodbyes. We can learn from the events that we witness or shrug them off as nothing.
For now, we try to live meaningfully well.
For now, we try to catch as many sunsets and dance with nature and people who matters in a beautiful harmonious surrender.
We can’t afford to miss on life anymore nor ignore it’s signs.
After finding the challenging one way narrow road with no name, we were led to a hidden secret Nature wonder, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur.
Purple Sand? Is that even real or possible? It is in this California Dream.
Purple minerals from the mountain rocks find its way into the shore mixing it with the golden white sand.
Some sand areas looks ordinary like any other beach we’d been, others magic. Settling is not an option.
It’s our comeback visit after 5 years. First was visually more incredible because almost everywhere was purple. Second, not much. So finding more purple needed more walking, climbing and discovery which means more adventure. Thrill wise, much better!
We climbed the sharp rocks and steep sands. We dreamed and had nice Father and Son conversations while sitting on the safest top. When he smiles and laughs, it outshines everything around him. We made each other happy. This place made us happy. This is why Family Roadtrips matters to me and him. These are what my happiest moments and memories are made of. I will never trade it for the World or people, not after what they taught me.
Happiness and Freedom are one of the best gifts we could ever give to those we love. They are rare and precious as the extraordinary Purple Sand. They are also the hardest to give and let go.
But don’t we owe it to ourselves to discover and try happy? Don’t the people we care deserve them? Don’t we deserve them?
Our life, our choice. Our story, our magic.
Our time, our adventure, our new beginnings.
Never settle for less for what makes us happier. We deserve what we believe we deserve. We stop worrying of what others may say. Our heart, our joy.
Like Nature, we are meant to be free. Like the Purple Sand, we are a beautiful wonder, every grain of magic and imperfection.
When the Sun is out to play, 17-Mile Drive transforms into an Oasis of beauty and escape.
On a rare day, a portal into the realm of Pebbles, a multi verse like our own opens up revealing its hidden history of secrets and life lessons as valuable as every grain of its sugary soft white sands overlooking sparkling emeralds and sapphires of the Pacific.
People have Doppelgänger Pebbles on the Sand. Some resemble their human persona, others their extreme opposite.
Some Pebbles are alone by themselves screaming invincibly or living in blissful quiescence on purpose. Some Pebbles claw each other down dragging, drowning one another whenever they notice a bit of good and sunshine in the lives of other Pebbles.
Some Pebbles help each other to reach the top to experience together the light, joy and the best this World has to offer. Some Pebbles gives hope with act of kindness just the way Nature intended. Other Pebbles drain dry hope every opportunity they get.
Some Pebbles will throw a rock to another Pebble because hurting and destruction is what they do. Some Pebbles will just watch because they do not care or are too afraid.
Few Pebbles will sacrifice their lives to defend and save other Pebbles. These Pebbles are the rarest and are near extinction because good Pebbles are being hunted and eradicated. They are a constant threat to Power, Politics and Earthly Riches.
The kind of Pebble one becomes is not written in stone. It is written on sand, constantly changing to give as many chances and choices for change.
A Pebble is free to stay stuck or it can can evolve into something magnificent the way God envision a Man and Woman should be, in his image and likeness.
A Pebble can inspire other Pebbles to also enjoy the good life or take it away because of Greed, Egoistic Grandeur and Apathy.
One day, a young Pebble ask several questions many Pebbles just accepted as okay, “Why so much land and water that stretched beyond what my eyes can see but only a few can have them? Why is there so much space only to be made unaffordable and unattainable? Why is sharing and equal opportunity so difficult? Why only a few enjoy God’s gifts of creation when he made them for all?” No Pebble was able to answer his questions because everyone was guilty for allowing them to happen.
Life will never be fair for as long as the Laws of Men holds dominion and supremacy over the Laws of God.
A Pebble thrown into a body of water creates a ripple effect. What ripple effect are we making? How do we wish to be remembered?
Do we shine to give light or are we responsible that there’s no more light?
We went for our son’s Pokemon cards but San Francisco’s Japan Town gave us more and a lot of first.
First time to see it’s beautiful Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.
First time to see the Japan Town square turn into a festive park where friends and families are having picnic and tea party.
First time to taste authentic Takoyaki. Whatever’s in it, we love it.
First time to experience the unraveling of delicious flavors and texture of mango ice cream wrapped with peaches, corn flakes and green tea crepe. So good, we ate it down to the tip.
San Francisco wasn’t in our bucket list this weekend but our nature hike led us to it. Glad we did because everyone had a great time.
PS. Just want to thank all the San Franciscans and Californians for still following the mask mandates. Everyone I saw was wearing mask and the only time it was off was when people were eating. A sigh of relief in comparison to places where masks are already being burned and caring for other people’s safety is gone. The rest of the seasons are promising for Californians and it’s because they earned it. It’s a relief. It’s hope that soon we will get our normal back. Summer will feel like Summer once again.
Adventure is a choice. It is free. It can be anything we want to escape the ordinary.
So, take one or a dozen now. I assure you, what we have today will not happen exactly the same tomorrow. Time machine is not yet available…or is it?
We all have our masks. We wear them everyday at work and places we can’t show who we are and what we feel.
We wear that mask to hide and protect our hearts from the familiar, repetitive pain, judgement and rejection. We wear it because of fear and anxiety. We wear it to fit in. We wear it so we won’t get shamed, beaten or eaten emotionally, psychologically and physically by the angry, the jealous, the wicked.
We wear a mask because we value privacy in a world obsessed with “tell all, show all, gain all.” We wear it to protect our secrets, choices and rights that others will always see as a threat or find difficult to accept.
Many times, the mask doesn’t even feel like a mask because we wear it so well. However, there are triggers that instantly reveal gems of realness and vulnerability during unguarded moments.
So, just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean I’m happy. Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m okay. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m sad or lonely. Just because people assume my world looks perfect doesn’t mean it is. I never pretended it was. People made assumptions and created a picture that fits their narrative. The mask worked.
Imperfection keeps me inspired to strive and thrive. Imperfection keeps me humble, appreciative, connected. Imperfection is the true face, the mask just a mirror of what people want to see, think or believe.
People who genuinely care are willing to experience the hurts and your scary unknowns so they can see, understand and know the real you. They are willing to listen to what you are going through and stay to help you find solutions to your problems. They are willing to risk themselves for you. They are ready to fall in love and fight for love with you.
Until we find that person we are willing to expose and reveal that hidden part of ourselves, we keep wearing the mask and we wear it confidently well.
On a busy Monday, few days before my 50th, co-workers surprised me with a birthday song, balloons, cheesecake and a gift just before I started my shift. The mask just fell off. Their thoughtfulness and caring gesture had me off guard. I was smiling, laughing, out of words, blushing even because I was really happy. They took time to create a real powerful moment stronger than the why’s of the mask.
For a day, it felt great to hit the golden milestone. It didn’t feel as scary. I didn’t have to face getting older alone nor eat that delicious cheesecake by myself. Friends became Family and that was one of the triggers.
It’s okay to have a mask to protect ourselves but it’s also okay to show the beautiful, sensitive, amazing person behind it every now and then. We do what we do to survive our purpose. We do what’s necessary.
Look around you. Look at the mirror. Who is that incredible person? Can’t wait to know you. Can’t wait to know myself.
“Some people run away to escape their demons. Some let it consume them because surrender is easier. Some wear their mask to overcome, be invincible and win their life back victorious.”
Until people are ready for the all, they will only get the usual that fits their comfort. The best they will never know nor experience because they never proven themselves deserving of it.
In case people haven’t notice, everyone is wearing mask now, just took a global pandemic to expose the truth and the need for it.
“Blessed are the ready and the grateful for they will accept both the good and the bad events in their lives and those around them as an opportunity.”
Greatness doesn’t simply happen. It is a unified effort made by all for all. To feel it belongs only to a worthy few will be its downfall. How deep the fall? The higher the pride.
From door to sand and sea, rows of pastel colored square houses at Capitola Seaside Village brings back child-like curiosity and imagination.
It’s our secret little Santorini, Greece in this surfer beach lover playground of Santa Cruz County California.
So, why spend thousands of dollars on International Travel when you can just drive and pay for gas.
Why travel stressed from origin to destination and repeat because of the pandemic restrictions and its what if’s when we have options for quick relaxing beach escapes .
Why not a day trip or overnight getaway that takes you to another country without the hassle of applying for a passport and proof of COVID-19 vaccination?
We are now at the corner of having COVID-19 in control through vaccination. Why can’t we just wait a bit longer doubling down safety measures until the other half of our fellow Americans gets vaccinated from the more infectious, deadlier variants like the B.1.1.7? What’s a few more weeks or months of patience when it means everyone gets to enjoy visiting other countries where everyone are also vaccinated and protected? We can’t be in this vicious cycle of countries infecting other countries then blaming everyone else except oneself with anger and violence.
61,000 more Americans mostly unvaccinated and at the prime of their lives will die by July 1st as Governors after Governors lift all safety mandates including the effective lifesaver mask wearing. Together with full reopening and mass gatherings, that hopeful corner may turn around towards disaster.
December to January death peak of 3,000-4,000 a day wasn’t that long ago. Unless we are God, we are not certain that this won’t happen again. Pride, ignorance and no protection are what fuels COVID-19 surges. The constant mutations just made it easier to increase hospitalizations. The pattern of surges had been like that and all are preventable.
Global travel now sounds liberating, but experiencing our best years ahead is a better long term investment. We get to have our fun moments again and again and not just only once or twice.
Greece without the passport? Why not.
If we can imagine it, then it’s real enough.
There are a lot of great adventures and destinations from minutes to hours around us. Being a local tourist in my side of California made me discover gems and treasures otherwise I wouldn’t have known if my idea of vacation is flying out somewhere new. It took a pandemic for me to realize the blessings I already have. So Amen to that and wishing all an Easter full of life and lots of happy new adventures.
2015, 8 days after our 2 weeks Summer Road Trip in California, we left Texas that was home for 9 years and move to California to follow a dream. We left everything behind, bad memories included except 9 luggages and our son’s favorite Lego Star War’s Ship that I carefully hand carried with me in the plane.
We have no idea what the city looks like nor knew anyone but there’s this profound calmness that everything will be alright, that this will be our new home where we can start fresh with everything new, kind and beautiful.
5 years after, wife showed me the picture of our son in our first one bedroom apartment kitchen eating cereals looking so happy and excited. It made us remember how it felt the first year of discovering our very own family adventures in California. It was exhilarating and fun. It’s like being reborn and life is presenting itself more colorful, positive, inspiring.
Not everyone gets a second chance much more, several chances to have miracles happen in their lives. Not everyone who has fallen is able to rise up and have things turned around to something even better. Not everyone gets so lucky to be given their dream job among hundreds in a National Government Job listing at the right time at the right place beyond what the heart has prayed for.
Just when everything felt hopeless, just when I’ve lost everything I worked hard for, I found God and the dreams we will venture together. It was powerful. I felt dead, but he brought me back to life. I was lost, super lost but his love and mercy found me no matter how undeserving I was. God saved me and helped me fight my battles. We won over pain, loss and impossibility together.
Remember and appreciate the many miracles in our lives. Second chance for restart is just a dream and prayer away.
We are worthy of saving. We deserve blessings of happiness, love and everything better.
“The journey will never be easy nor it will be boring. Enjoy the good times, dream stronger during the bad times. Never stop fighting for what you believe will bring you happiness. Don’t be afraid or be ashamed to ask help if you need it. Rejections will be plenty, but few acts of kindness are all we’ll ever need to create a life that we are awesomely alive.”
I started writing this story the day we flew out of Texas. So many things happened since then both great and not so. Overall, no regrets, just very thankful that I took a leap of faith for myself because now I am free.
Until last year’s rise of Anti-Racism Movement, I didn’t know Karen is a widely used name to label a female person who commits Racial shaming, assault or prejudice to a Person of Color. Videos of them were all over You Tube, Social Media feeds like Insta and FB. It was all over the news and was the start of people getting concerned ( NOT authorities nor our government ) with the increasing trend of Asian and Pacific Islander Hate Crimes, Pandemic Essential Healthcare “Heroes” included.
Personally, I think the label is offensive, degrading, insensitive. Karen is a common name around the world, and many person named Karen had been a victim of Racism, Inequality and Discrimination themselves.
So today, I’m sharing a different Karen. A Karen that is selfless, brave, kind, just, wonderful , humble, generous, caring, an inspiration to those who took time to know her. A Karen that is a wife, mother, daughter and sister. A Karen that is friend and family to all. A Karen that sees people for the goodness of their hearts and not by how people look or their social status.
The Other Karen Series
I haven’t painted for more than 10 years, but my wife kept asking me to make her one. She has this favorite artist that she wants me to get my inspiration from but until weeks after I was done with the painting did I realize the face of the woman is her.
What the heart knows, the hand holding a paintbrush simply follows. She is my Karen, the loving wife who carried my heart when pain and sadness was too much that giving up on life was an easier alternative. She is my Wonder Woman who fought for me when no one did. She believed in my dreams jumping from one country to another, State to State, city to city not knowing what awaits at our destination.
Karen is not a label nor a tool to be used for a movement. She is a person. She is a human being like you and me. And right know, she’s preparing my coffee with lots of love to make sure my day will be more than just okay.
“True richness and beauty of people are not measured with money, power, popularity or aesthetic superficiality but how rich and beautiful their heart is with genuine acts of love and kindness.”
Multiple choice. Which activities of daily living spreads the most COVID-19?
G. Huffing and Puffing while exercising
Imagine riding a roller coaster and NOT being able to scream? Imagine riding a roller coaster where everyone is screaming with mouths wide open while the COVID-19 contagious droplets are being passed around from one mouth to the next? One scenario is funny and unrealistic, the other may extend the thrill ride to the Emergency Room.
It’s nice to be able to laugh now about the pandemic and the many crazy things it did to our lives and lifestyle but just not too much. Laughing is choice letter I.
Laughter is the best medicine…with a mask and 6 feet distance, vaccinated or not.
Science hasn’t changed on the ABC’s of COVID-19 spread and prevention, only our beliefs to justify our actions.
LOL Weekend because we all need a diversion from the constant bad, sad and shitty news. Too much I’m silently screaming “A Whole New World Please,” to let it all out. How about you?
Hakuna matata? Sure!
“And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer That we got this far And can you feel the love tonight How it’s laid to rest? It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds
Until a year ago, I didn’t realize people have to worry for their life and safety for looking too Asian in America, even in the most diverse tolerant State like California.
My wife is concerned that I stand out looking too Chinese when we travel to places where Racial Hate Crimes and Violence has increased like San Francisco. Ironic because SF has one of the biggest Chinese American population in the U.S. Terrifying because more than ever it is dangerous to be culturally different and ethnic in a country that used to take pride as Land for “All” Migrants and Dreamers. All has been replaced with “some are welcome, not everyone.”
Times have changed. Today, new migrants and refugees are treated like pests including children. Aren’t we doing this now to Latinos crossing the U.S. Borders?
It’s scary to see more people losing their humanity because of supremacy and entitlement. To show kindness and mercy to those seeking refuge are now considered weakness and being unpatriotic. So we treat the new arrivals like animals, dehumanizing them. We take away their dignity. We break their dreams until they are no longer recognizable. This is what we’ve become when greed and self interest are threatened.
What is happening to us Americans? Aren’t we suppose to protect the oppressed? Aren’t we the leader and protector of Democracy? We can’t claim greatness when we are not really great. We can’t pretend to be a hero when our actions are those of a villain. We can’t claim to be good when we’re not.
People see us for who we are. The world sees us for who we are. Trust and Respect are earned. Bullying and harassment does not work.
Racism is just one neighbor away.
I can’t forget my wife’s words when she told me, “I was lining up to order burger for our son when I noticed people were looking at me from head to toe. It made me very uncomfortable.” I asked her why. Her answer made me angry, “Because I was the only one that looked different.” I asked her, “Did you say anything?” Her response, “No, I hurriedly left after I got my order because I felt really bad and embarrassed.” I’m reminded of her experience every time I see the burger place on my way to work. It is unbelievable that Racism is just one neighbor away, but it is!
Violent Asian Hate Crimes are rising alarmingly but not treated seriously. Defenseless old people being shoved to the pavement even to their death. Asians being shot randomly senseless. Asians being beaten on their lunch break. Children stabbed because of misinformation that anyone who looks Chinese has the “China or Chinese Plague,” a label that screams Racism yet allowed to be spoken repeatedly on National Television by no other than the former President Trump himself. It isn’t a surprise that Asian Hate Crimes are increasing. We know it’s coming. We are just shock fellow Americans in our own communities will act on it. Who would have thought people you cared for will turn on you?
Racial Hate Crimes and Violence are inhuman, cowardly, horrific, appalling, evil, unacceptable. They are the real present threat. A domestic terror that needs to be eradicated. A disease as fatal as Cancer and the Pandemic.
I’m showing America we are more than its stereotypes and labels. We are your frontliners risking our lives and health every day for you.
We are your Doctors, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Paramedics and Pharmacists who helped you survive COVID-19 and help you get vaccinated so you can have your normal life back.
We took care of your sick families members like they were our own family when you can’t. We held your love ones hands till their last breathe and treated them with love, dignity and respect.
We are the faceless unknowns that helped built, maintain and clean your homes, business establishments, parks and streets. We are the people that prepares your food and everything to make your life easier.
We are the unappreciated, the undervalued, the unseen, the unspoken who contribute with our blood, sweat and tears to make America Great possible.
Racial Hate Crimes perpetrators are serial violent offenders. They are the real pest and threat that needs to be stopped. No place is safe for our elderlies, women and children until it ends.
Until we speak and do something, we will never know if change and hope are possible.
A crime to one of us is a crime to all. The pain inflicted to one of us is a pain inflicted to all. Shame one, shamed all. Harm one, harmed all.
Please #StopAsianHate and Killings.
#AsianLivesMatter too like everyone else and till that truly happens, #AllLivesMatter is just an elusive dream in America.
My family's unwavering belief in me makes me feel that I can do anything, be anything. This blog is about the people that made a difference in my life and the many journeys we made together. Because of them,I get to dream again...and those dreams, they remind me each day that life is a gift and a blessing. A blessing that is full of goodness, joy and hope.