Inner work

From a very early age, I felt as if I didn’t measure up to the expectations my parents and relatives had for me. One of the statements that still make me emotional today is “you should have been a boy.” To make matters even more uncomfortable, we were a family of three daughters – Tres Marias, as everyone called us. Being a family of all daughters apparently wasn’t a very appealing family dynamic for a Filipino household as they also believed in the patriarchal systems like many other cultures. So for most of my life, I heard that one of us should be a boy.

Yes, I understand the importance of passing down the legacy of the surname. I also realized at an early age that this system is flawed. Without the females in the community, generations wouldn’t exist. Women in most cultures were viewed as less than and my Filipino heritage wasn’t any different. So with that one statement, repeated many many times during my childhood, I never felt that I measured up to something that I couldn’t control. I never felt that I was enough just as I am. Just as I came into this world.

The work

As it turns out, this was the foundation from where my negative self monologue stemmed from. I only recognized that this statement shaped my belief in myself when I began to dig deep within myself and do some major inner work.

Inner work – the process of deliberately changing yourself through bringing an awareness to what is happening inside you and how it affects what you do in the world.1

I had gone through therapy when I was a teenager for childhood traumas. While I won’t go into that at this time, I want you to know that going to therapy really helped me tap into the feelings I had about who I was as a human in this world. Therapy was a safe space for me to understand what my inner being needed and I was thankful that my parents were open to providing me with this space.

Inner being – a person’s true or internal mind, soul, or nature.2

As an adult, I could never shake the negative self talk I had around being enough. I struggled with my self worth for my entire life. I never understood how to overcome this belief I had of myself. I didn’t have the tools to even begin to heal that deep part of myself. The inner child who heard that because she was a girl and not a boy – she wasn’t enough.

Since I couldn’t control the gender I was born with, I decided to control everything else around me. I became a control freak. I wanted everything to be as perfect as it could be because it was something that I could control. I thought that if I created an environment that was perfect that maybe, just maybe I would be accepted for who I am. I was chasing an invisible and unattainable standard of perfection and being enough. The questions I began to ask myself were:

What is perfect?
What is enough?
How is it measured?

This was the beginning of my journey to healing the inner narrative that everything had to be perfect, I had to be perfect, and everything around me needed to be perfect. I began to ask myself really hard questions and began to write down what I really believed about myself.

  • Why does everything have to be perfect?
    • Everything has to be perfect so people think I have my life together even if I don’t.
  • What is enough?
    • I have no idea what enough is but I think its more than I am already doing.
  • How is it measured?
    • What? I have no idea but I’m sure its more than what I am doing now.

Yes it all looks and sounds very irrational but in my mind it all made sense. Challenging all of the beliefs I’ve had since I was a child was and still is the hardest thing I’ve ever done for myself. It has allowed me be free of creating an immeasurable scale for myself that I could never truly quantify or gauge when it was enough.

Change the language

What I’ve learned from challenging my beliefs of myself from childhood is that they no longer help me become the best adult version of myself. So I began the hard work of reframing the words I used to describe myself because I knew that how I described myself was how I truly valued who I was and it didn’t sound like I valued myself at all. I wanted to badly to create a more accepting inner being and I knew that it wouldn’t be easy but I was up for the challenge. I began to ask myself one really hard but simple question everyday.

  • What if what you did today was enough?
    • Ummmm…I don’t know. That sounds really weird but ok if that’s true then I don’t feel like I need to do more.

That question is the same question I ask myself today because it allows me to accept that who I am and what I’ve done is plenty. There is no reason to perfect the task that I needed to do or to create a more polished persona. I could just be. And just being was glorious! The more I allowed myself to just be, the more I was comfortable with doing the best I could at that time, knowing that it is absolutely 100% enough.

This is hard work

Yes, it is hard to challenge the beliefs you’ve had about yourself for as long as you can remember BUT what if, they’re 100% wrong?

What if you can?
What if you are enough?
What if you are perfect just as you are?
What if you are capable just as you are? 

I know what you’re going to say – BUT I have never been able to do that in the past because …..

Yes I understand that reasoning 100%! I thought that way too until I allowed myself to just take a small step forward into “What if I can?”

What would that look like?
How would I accomplish that?
What would I need help with?

Instead of asking myself a finite Yes or No question, I asked myself a more inquisitive question – What if? Questioning how I would accomplish a task, project, or job allowed me to freely think about all the ways it could be accomplished instead of if I could accomplish it at all. When I began to reframe the beliefs I had for myself, I began to transform how I spoke to myself. This was absolutely freeing!

Me too

If you read through this post and said, “me too” or “Amen” or “that’s me.” Know that you are not the only one who struggles with their self worth. Furthermore, know that you can begin to change the narrative of how you speak to yourself. I’d love to help you begin that process! The hardest thing to do is to admit you need some support. Guess what! I will offer my services to you for free.

All you have to do is schedule a session using my scheduling link here. Click on the FREE 30 minute session. We can talk through whatever you want. It’s your time and I want to honor whatever is most important for you. A coaching session is a place were you can say anything you want about yourself and no one else will hear about it. Its a confidential safe space for you to be as vulnerable and transparent as you want. You drive the conversation, I just ask you questions to help you get to where you want to go. Sounds easy enough right?

Let’s get started! Schedule your free session today. Click here. The best investment you can make is to become your best true self and I am here to 100% support you in that.

Behind the design

When I dreamed about this blog, I didn’t have any true aspirations except to shed light on mental health in the Filipino community. I had more anxiety around how my family – nuclear and distant – would view how I was airing my, and inadvertently our families, dirty laundry all over the interwebs. As you may, or may not, know people of color specifically of Asian decent, don’t talk about their struggles or feelings of any kind. Everyone, in my community and culture hid behind unhealthy communication styles: sarcasm, passive-aggressive commentary, gossip, narcissistic invalidation, minimizing of feelings and shaming others for being open about their feelings. Yes, I am guilty of all of these unhealthy behaviors too. I knew I wanted healthier communication skills for my kids. So I began some really hard work.

Was I ashamed of my depression and anxiety? Not anymore

I understand what was at stake when I began to write about my true raw dark feelings but my yearning to heal myself. Giving my kids a fighting chance for healthy conversations around struggle was worth more than the inauthentic persona I portrayed in the past. I wanted to stand in my truth even if it showed all of my imperfections and dispelled every positive but false characteristic people had of me.

I knew something had to change even if I had to go first. That meant possibly standing alone in my truth even if no one stood beside me. I was tired of hiding my depression and anxiety. Talking in secret about my struggles with other family members brought so much shame to something that I knew other’s very close to me struggled with too. The whispers of aunties, cousins, and other relatives were deafening. Yes, I heard the chismis! I understand enough Tagalog to know that some looked down upon my struggles even if they also didn’t face their own mental health issue.

Logo creation

Now that I committed to creating a more transparent persona and the reason why I was embarking on this journey, I wanted a logo that truly encapsulates my purpose. So I set out to a very talented family friend who had her own graphic design business. I sent her my why, colors I gravitated towards and to ensure to spotlight that I am Filipino.

Filipino heritage

Growing up in a predominately Filipino and Vietnamese community, I spent the first eighteen years of my life not seeing the importance of embracing my culture because it was all around me. When I graduated high school and moved all around the Bay Area, I, again, didn’t see the importance of embracing my heritage because it was all around me. I lived in Daly City for a few years, yes lots of Filipinos there. I lived in Redwood City for a several years, not as many Filipinos but the community was diverse. Once we moved farther east to Antioch, I realized that there weren’t as many people of Asian decent. After a couple years, more and more Filipinos migrated to Antioch and the diversity grew. When we decided to move to Arizona, I knew it would be a culture shock because we would be a minority. I never understood what it meant to be a person of color until we moved to the East Valley. (Yes another blog post unpacking this in the near future.) So once I began this blog journey, I knew I had to highlight my Filipino heritage.

In my early years of managing my depression and anxiety, I never found someone that looked like me and had similar cultural nuances. I had found a therapist of color but they still didn’t get the cultural shame that came with talking about my dark feelings. So I decided to be the person I needed years ago and that is how the logo for The Filipino Mom blog was born.

Logo anatomy

With the ever talented Michelle supporting me through this logo process, I knew that whatever she brought to me was going to be amazing. She had given me three proposed logo but this one really stood out to me because it encapsulated everything I was attempting to accomplish with this platform.

With this blog, I want to:

  • help those in the Filipino community find courage in their struggles.
  • know that they are not alone.
  • dispel the stigma around mental health in our community.
  • support those who suffer in silence and to give them hope that there is so much strength in asking for help.
  • begin to change the narrative around the mental health even if it was a difficult subject to talk about.
  • transform the image around the Filipino mom because moms mean well even if they don’t act like it.

Moving forward

Now a year and a half into creating this blog, I have experienced more support from my Filipino community more than ever. I’ve had extremely hard conversations with others in this community who needed someone to validate their feelings. I believe that’s all we want as human beings, is to be seen, understood, and unconditionally supported.

With the need enormous need of support for our community, I know that the work is never going to be finished but I pray that the narrative that I have started has a lasting effect through the future generations. There is so much in store for The Filipino Mom blog! One of the ventures in the immediate future is the official launch of Maryann Clark Coaching and The Filipino Momcast Podcast. Please look out for more information to come. I can’t even believe I’m writing this!!!

Again, thank you for being here to help change the narrative. Not only will you heal yourself but your bravery will heal the future generations.

And remember – it’s ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!

Self Care in Shelter in Place

As a mom in this pandemic season, there is a lot to manage on a day to day basis on top of all of that I am moving forward to create. Self care is vital during this time because I am pouring into not only my family. I am pouring into my church community and this online community. So I have to take intentional time to take care of myself and “fill my cup” if you will.

Before I share how I take care of myself, I wanted to share the definition of self care with the help of my amazing friend, Kyla from Discovering Mabuhay. This busy mom of one is working from home while still managing to keep her toddler entertained. I admire her strength and creativity as she navigates this pandemic.

I asked Kyla to share what she’s been doing this season as we shelter in place. I love how open and honest she is!

  • What is self care?
    Self care is taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual needs. 
  • How are you taking care of yourself during this shelter in place season?
    When I’m ‘on top of my game’:
    • Physical – 1 minute of deep breathing, 10 minute dance party with my toddler, taking a walk; 
    • Mental – mindfulness, taking a break from work, watching a mindless comedy; taking in moments of Zen, recognizing nature;
    • Emotional – speaking to yourself lovingly, quality family time playing a game;
    • Spiritual (how I connect with Spirit/God; or reach toward my Higher Self) – prayer, meditation, listing what I’m grateful for
  • What are your tips for those of us who are starting to feel stir crazy/cabin fever?
    • Remember that we may not all be in the same boat, but we are in the same storm. Give yourself grace if you are having a hard time.
    • Schedule your frustration/fear, don’t fight it. Give yourself 15 minutes to freak out. Then let it move you in a productive direction.
    • Carve out time to connect with nature. For me, sometimes that just means sitting on my front porch with my son for and notice how the leaves of our tree move in the wind for 10 minutes  
    • Find the humor where you can. Laugh at yourself when you can. Don’t poke fun at your quarantine partners, unless you have that sort of relationship!
    • Find gratitude where you can. Every day is transformative. My husband and I gather almost daily to list what we’re thankful for with our 2 year old. It’s never to early to instill these practices!
  • What is your favorite routine/thing to do for yourself?
    (Honestly still figuring this out!)
    • At the moment, my weekly hour to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. (I think drag queens are restoring joy during a tough time!)
    • Participating in virtual Happy Hours with friends is huge for me, too. This helps me realize how many other people are experiencing very similar feelings

Address it now

I want to be honest just like Kyla and say that sometimes I forget to take care of myself. When I do take time for myself, I do simple things that I know help my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. I decided at the beginning of this pandemic season, that I wouldn’t numb my emotions with excessive shopping, alcohol, drugs, or anything that helps me get an instant relief without really getting to the root of that emotion. It hasn’t been an easy few months but I know that I’m helping myself in the long run. If I don’t address the feeling now, I will eventually feel a heaviness in my mental space and probably a new symptom in my body.

My favorite self care tips and tricks

I have a handful of things I do for myself and I want to share them with you just in case you are struggling with how to take care of yourself during this season. Know that everyone has different ways of taking care of themselves so if yours looks different from mine – that’s ok. God made us unique so we will all “fill our cup” in different ways.

  • Physically
    • Quick 10-15 minute yoga stretches
      • It seems like my shoulders and back are very tense during this season. So I have learned different ways of relieving the tension.
    • Belly breathing
      • I have always been a shallow breather. So I’m still learning how to take deep breathes and really focus on expanding my lungs as much as I can.
    • Naps
      • Sometimes a nap is the answer to so many of my needs. So I take them – unapologetically.
  • Mentally
    • Remembering feelings aren’t facts
      • I am going to write an entire post about this! Your feelings are subjective to your personal experiences and can be different from others. So knowing that feels are facts helps differentiate what is real and what is an emotional response.
    • I am doing the best I can.
      • I have created an enormous amount of expectations on myself in the past and sometimes those expectations creep back in. So I continue to remind myself that I am doing the best I can in this current situation.
  • Emotionally
    • I feel my feelings.
      • In order to understand what is going on with me, I have to identify what the feelings is. Once I am able to name it, I can then tackle it in a constructive way.
    • I ask for help.
      • This is a big one! I never used to ask for help because of my ego and pride. Now I ask for help all the time! This has allowed me to provide others the opportunity to use their talents to help me move through my feelings and process.
    • I find truth in my emotions.
      • Our emotions lie to us! They take past experiences to define current events. Most of the time we are reacting instead of responding. Yes I will write a post about this too. Once I know why I feel an emotion, I search for the facts and evidence that is real in the current situation.
    • I ask for hugs.
      • Yes we cannot receive hugs from people outside of our homes but we can ask for hugs from those inside our homes right now. Hugs helps me tremendously when I am an emotional wreck. So I ask for hugs often in my house. You can read about the scientific evidence that goes along with the benefits of hugs.
  • Spiritually
    • Start my day off with a daily devotion
      • Our church is doing daily video devotionals right now. I’d love for you to join me first thing in the morning! It helps me get my mind in the right place when I listen to God’s word.
    • Reach out for support from our church
      • Asking for others to pray for you or even if you need a helping hand builds a community of like minded people around you. I check in with church friends and they do the same for me. It helps me know I am not alone even when I feel like it.
    • Listen to worship music
      • Sometimes I go for a drive, crank up my praise and workship playlist and remember that today is a blessing even in pandemic season. Music can heal the soul. So I listen to worship music daily.
      • Here is my praise and worship playlist.

What are your favorite ways to fill your cup? I’d love to hear it! Please comment below on your favorite tips and tricks.

And remember – it’s ok to not be ok! Tomorrow is a new day.

1 in 5

Creating more awareness around mental illness is very important to me because I suffer from depression and anxiety. I am no longer ashamed to talk about my struggles because I know that many others are suffering in silence. They are plagued by the shame of mental illness.

As a Filipino American, I feel that it is a privilege to talk freely about my mental illnesses because there are many who are too afraid to talk about their own mental illnesses in fear of being shame, ostracized, or minimizing their symptoms/feelings/emotions.

It is ok to not be ok.
It is ok to ask for help.
It is ok to talk about really hard dark feelings.

There is hope

If you or someone you know needs immediate help and it is unsafe to leave the location, please call 911. Self harm is not the answer — ever. The counselors talk individuals to a safe mental space and present other resources in their local area.

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline : 1-800-273-8255
Veteran’s Helpline: 1-800-273-8255 & Press 1 or Text a message to 838255

Maternal Mental health awareness

I posted about my mental health throughout 2019 and would like to place all of those posts in one place to help you learn more about mental health, how to get help, and what resources are available in the US. Know that the hardest part is reaching out for help AND more importantly, you are brave for asking for help. I have create this blog to breakdown the negative connotations around mental health.

Please feel free to read these posts at your leisure. I pray it helps you know you are not alone and you can overcome this. If you ever need to talk, I am 100% here to support you. Unconditionally.

Something is wrong with me
The battle with my mind
Husband’s reaction to mental illness
He never fails
A worried mind

Interviewing a Filipino therapist

Series: Asking for help: Why is this so hard?
Series: Asking for help: Resources
Series: Asking for help: Tools
Series: Asking for help: Alternative therapy & medicine

Series: Parenting a child with mental illness
Series: Parenting a child with mental illness – Mama bear & diagnosis
Series: Parenting a child with mental illness – Managing daily life
Series: Parenting a child with mental illness – Moms supporting moms
Series: Parenting a child with mental illness – Conclusion

Series: It’s not just you – Chronic disease & special needs
Series: It’s not just you – A year later (PPD/PPA)
Series: It’s not just you – GAD (General Anxiety Disorder)
Series: It’s not just you – Mentally healthy mom
Series: It’s not just you – Empathetic mom (PPD)

Darkness during the holidays

Recovering people pleaser
Proud of you
Self Injury (Do not read if you are easily triggered by self harm)