Proud of you

I recently listened to an episode from Pursuit with Purpose podcast, where Sunny Lenarduzzi shared that she writes herself a letter about how proud she is of herself and I thought it would be a great idea for me to do one especially with all the things I’ve done to pursue my dreams in public and private.

I highly recommend doing this for yourself before the year ends as a way to reflect on all you’ve accomplished this year. If you’ve made it through some really tough moments tell yourself you are proud and why. If you experienced many wonderful things this year, celebrate them. Being grateful is a beautiful way for you to end and begin a new year. 

While I normally don’t share journal entries, I am going to share my letter to myself here in hopes that you write yourself a letter by the end of the year as well.

So here goes…

Dear Maryann,
This has been a tough year of internal work. While you share many things on social media, there was so much more that you battled with in private. I want you to know that I am proud of all you’ve accomplished this year.

You have carved out time to do more physical activity and created a solid workout routine. This has resulted in losing some inches off your waistline and gaining some lean muscles. I know you’ve weighed yourself a few times and while you don’t like the number on the scale, you know that the number doesn’t define you. The goal is to keep your body moving and just getting to the gym. Can we also talk about how insane it is that you have actual knowledge of how to use the cardio machines and free weights!?!? Like that is something you thought you would never be able to do AND now you are doing it at least twice a week. Mind blowing.

Even with this increase in self care, you still had some hard mental health days and that’s ok. I am so proud of how you allowed yourself to feel your feelings even if it was hard. Having dark days no longer defines you or enables the harsh words from your inner critic.

It has been a difficult year of parenting a threeanger and teenagers, your house has had a lot of emotions and learning how to parent in these stages is not easy. You have doubted your parenting many times through the year but you have parented the best way you know how. These chapters in your kids lives is not easy to move through but you reached out to others who have experienced similar instances and utilized their advice. Remember that your kids are significantly more behaved than you ever were as a child and teen, so know that you are doing the best you can even if it feels like everything is going down the drain. Your children are healthy, well loved and fed. 

You and your family made the hard decision to not travel home for the holidays which was a very difficult decision. It is hard to disappoint family but you knew that financially you couldn’t afford and putting yourself in a financial hole is not something you are comfortable doing anymore. While it is difficult to place a boundary around financial, you stood your ground and did was best for your family right now. While you will miss seeing lots and lots of family next week, rest in the fact that you stayed within your comfortable budget and pray that your family will be able to visit next year.

You had the biggest miscommunication and arguments with relatives this year. This was probably one of the hardest events of the year for you. It was hard for you to swallow your pride to admit you were wrong and apologize but you did something that you were never taught to do and I am proud of you for that. Its not easy to be that vulnerable, hold space for other people’s feelings, and then move forward with new boundaries and understandings. Healing from very emotionally heated arguments aren’t easy and I know you had a lot of anxiety about it but you pushed through and made efforts to rebuild relationships anyways. 

This year you have also leaned into your faith and increased your time in serving others in your home church community. What people don’t always see is the amount of prep that goes into serving others in small or large events. You have pushed through your social anxiety and made many meaningful relationships with women. Which is something you thought you could never do. Who would have thought the girl who had all guy friends in high school would now have a tribe of women who support you. That is such a God thing and I am so proud of how you’ve embraced, listened, and unconditionally supported these women. It is impressive to witness.

Can we celebrate launching your blog and actually having people read it. I mean that was a huge fear you had and everything is going better than you expected. While this chapter in yourself is just starting, know that you have done some amazing things this year with stepping outside of your comfort zone.  I’m so proud of how you have become an advocate for the mental health community this year and putting your true feelings on the interwebs. Sharing those unedited feelings isn’t easy and you did it in the best way you knew how and this has helped so many people in the process.

Becoming a person who shares their life on the interwebs is not easy. There have been many battles with your inner critic about your abilities and capabilities BUT you still pushed through the negativity in your head and moved closer to your dreams and goals. This brings up the biggest feat you’ve begun – going back to school to become a life coach. With all that you are currently doing, I didn’t believe you would be able to pull it off and you have with so much grace. There have been many late nights and times when you had to miss out on events because you made your schoolwork a priority but those sacrifices allowed you to move closer and closer to an amazing way you will serve your community local and around the world. I cannot wait to see how you help those around you with all that you learn from this certification.

With all that is going on, you are still able to make your marriage a priority. You and Chris has really invested more time in your relationship and being creative with how you spend time together. Gym dates and just hanging out is your new favorite way to spend time with your forever partner. Who knew you could become even closer to him even after 20 years together. Proud of you guys.

I encourage you to reread this letter next year to remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished. 2019 was a hard hill to climb and you’ve handled it with grace and grit. Keep believing in yourself or at least pushing yourself through your fears because you are doing amazing. 

Blessings and love,

Series: Family Favorites – Seafood

We are a mixed food preferences family. Let me explain. While we have kids who are generally open to all foods – even vegetables – one of our kids is pescetarian. This was a very foreign concept for our family. We had never really experience anyone who had lived a particular food preference lifestyle so this was a hard transitions for me since I was in charge of all of the meal preparation.

Pescetarianism, or pesco-vegetarianism, means being vegetarian while still including seafood in your diet. One still cuts out red meat, pork, poultry, etc. from his or her diet like a vegetarian, but does not cut out fish and other seafood1.

Clean plate club

Yes, that means every night I basically make two dinners.  In a Filipino household making multiple dishes is unheard of. Well in my nuclear family we really weren’t able to choose what times of dinners we had. Our dinners were generally focused on Filipino cuisine and nothing else. Which is absolutely not a negative statement because Filipino cuisine always makes me feel like I’m home no matter where I am.

When I was growing up, we had to finish our dinner even if it wasn’t something we absolutely enjoyed. So We had to clean our plates or else. My parents worked opposite shifts and my dad was with us most of the time for dinner. So he made sure we finished our dinner. If you know anything about Ilocano dads, you know he wasn’t messing around. So I cleared my plate almost every night.

Quick meals

One of the benefits of making seafood dishes is how quick the meals come together. I will be sharing our top two recipes we have in rotation. They can be on the table in about 30 minutes!

Chili Lime Tilapia

  • 4 4oz tilapia fillets
  • 2 limes or lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 small clam shell cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    On a large sheet pan covered in foil, place the spinach all over. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle tomatoes over season spinach. Cover the entire pan tightly with foil.

  2. Place fillets on top of spinach and tomatoes. Season the fillets with olive oil, chili powder, citrus zest, citrus juice, salt, and pepper.

  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until fillets are fully cooked through. Serve with rice.

Miso-Glazed Salmon

A sweet-salty miso, brown sugar, and soy sauce glaze caramelizes in about 10 minutes as it cooks atop rich, meaty salmon.

This recipe is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper or to taste
  • 2 tbsp miso (soybean paste)
  • 4 6 oz salmon fillets
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat broiler.

  2. Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish.

  3. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture.

Recovering people pleaser

Hi! My name is Maryann. I am the a daughter of the King of Kings. My current struggles are people pleasing and codependency. I also have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

If you have ever attended an Al Anon meeting or Celebrate Recovery meeting (Christian recovery small group), my statements above are a normal way to introduce yourself. It also allows me to accept my flaws and move towards more healthy habits/boundaries.One of my main unhealthy boundaries is being a people pleaser. It is still something I struggle with today but I have learned how to navigate the feelings and thoughts around this boundary in a way that still allows me to fill my cup – as they say – with desires/interests/passions. 

Currently I am involved in the following:

  • Creating content for my blog
  • Managing the multiple social media platforms linked to the blog
  • On the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) leadership team
    • Leading a MOPS table of 9 women
    • Running the Facebook group for MOPS
      • Creating content & graphics
  • Serving on the events team for the women’s Christmas event at our home church
    • Lead for guest services/greeters
  • Work part-time remotely for a software consultant company
  • In school to be certified as a life coach
  • Preparing to launch a new project at the beginning of the year
  • Researching how to launch my life coaching business next year

Oh yes, my everyday life also includes:

  • Managing a home with
    • A husband
    • five kids
    • 2 dogs
    • 4 hamsters

When I list everything out it is no wonder I am exhausted all the time. You would assume that I should subtract a number of things but the crazy thing is that these events/meetings/functions bring me great joy. Sigh. Guys, I am notorious for overscheduling myself. I like to be included in all the things even if it doesn’t make sense with all that is going on in my life. My husband says quite often that there are too many things I have my hand in right now. That I need to make sure to not overcommit because I will get burnt out. It has happened more than a handful of times. You would assume I have learned my lesson but of course I didn’t. 

The art of saying ‘NO’  

This year has taught me how to choose what functions, events, and meetings I will say ‘no’ to. It hasn’t been an easy to say that simple sentence. Guys, did you know that the word ‘NO’ is a complete sentence. Yup learned that recently and I am floored. I however am not able to say ‘NO’, it triggers all of my codependent feelings and thoughts. So I have learned to say a simple statement that I use on a regular basis – “My plate is full right now.” This statement allows me to put a boundary while still giving a vague explanation of what my schedule is like right now. 

Bayanihan. Pronounced like “buy-uh-nee-hun,” bayanihan is a Filipino word derived from the word bayan meaning town, nation, or community in general. “Bayanihan” literally means, “being a bayan,” and is thus used to refer to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation1.

I know in the Filipino culture, it is frowned upon to say no. Moreover, boundaries are more of a western concept so learning to politely decline isn’t always easy. As it is part of the bayanihan spirit to always lend a helping hand. I have lived my life this way for as long as I can remember – helping those around me. I have also taught my kids the bayanihan spirit and they are the type of kiddos who will always lend a helping hand. This collectivist culture has its benefit as we will always help other but it can also be hard to set boundaries on what we can help with because it is ok to say ‘no’. 

Questions to ask yourself

I have learned over the last few years questions to ask myself before I commit to another event/function/meeting. The next time an opportunity arises and you are presented a function you are unsure if you can add it to your current schedule, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • If I do this [insert event/function/meeting here] am I ok with missing [family time/self care time/etc here]?
    • If the answer is no, then do not commit to the event/function/meeting
  • Is my answer an absolute ‘YES’?
    • If not, it’s a no. You will hold resentments towards the individual who invited you. 
    • The Christ Follower caveat to this is to listen to what God has told you about this event and if it is in line with His promises. His promptings will always be in line with His Word.
  • What am I willing to give up if I commit to [event/function/meeting here]?
    • Again, if its a ‘no’ then don’t do it. 

There are many versions on these questions but you generally get the point. Sometimes saying no means sacrificing time with those most important to you and most of the time, I am not ok with doing that. So I will decline the invitation. I recently decline an opportunity to lead a women’s bible study table as well as attend a women’s bible study at a friend’s home. I politely decline the first invitation but agreed to the second invitation. Committing myself to the second invitation proved to be too much for my schedule, so halfway through the bible study, I politely removed myself from the group. It was not an easy decision and I don’t regret the interactions I had with the ladies in the group but I had too many things on my plate (see above) and I was beginning to feel very very overwhelmed. Once I left that group, I was able to focus more on my current obligations.

How to say ‘NO’

This might be an easy thing to say to people but for me it is the hardest sentence to muster. Here are a few ways I have said ‘NO’ in the past few months.

  • I’m sorry my plate is full.
  • I don’t have the mental capacity to add another thing to my schedule right now.
  • My schedule is jam packed right now. I can’t.
  • No but thank you for thinking of me.
  • I am not able to right now but please keep me in the loop for the next opportunity to serve.

Theses statements allowed me to say ‘NO’ in the most polite way possible without disclosing my current schedule as well as my feelings towards the event. I challenge you to use one of these. They work.

I tried to add one more thing

As of this week, we will be on break from MOPS until January and the two women’s Christmas events will be completed this week. For the women’s event, I knew that I wanted to participate but didn’t want to immerse myself in the event that I would have to not serve on the events team. So I asked if I could serve as head greeter for both nights. That would only include recruiting volunteers to help checking in, greeting, and assisting our guests with anything they needed. It has proven to be a great compromise for my current schedule and it allowed me to pour my Christ Follower heart into the women coming through those doors. I will tell you the event was a great success and we received wonderful feedback. I am so proud of myself for only signing up for an attainable responsibility. This is a huge step forward for me. 

I am happy to report that I will be focusing on more quality family time, self care, and filling my cup with things that will sustain me until the next wave of events. I pray that this post gives you the strength to put up healthy boundaries around your time. It isn’t easy to set these limitations but know it is for you to have a healthy mental space because that is the most important space for everyone. 

Remember…its ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!