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!

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Odd woman out

One year of blogging!!!!

Holy moly cannoli can you believe its already been a year!?!?!

A year ago, I knew this blog would create uncomfortability and an inward angst among the Asian community. I was (and still am) ok with that. I am not here to be a hero – or shero. I didn’t begin this work to be loved by all. If you know anything about the Filipino culture you KNOW that what I am doing goes against all cultural norms. We’ve been taught to stuff down our feelings and pretend everything is ok. Well I’m tired of pretending. I am over silencing my struggles. I’ve made my peace with being the odd
wo-man out. It was time to shed a light on the mental health epidemic even at the expense of my vulnerability.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of support and like minded 1st and 2nd generation Filipinos that supported this journey. When I made this social media presence, I was floored by the amount of direct messages I would receive thanking me for being brave enough to share my story and create space for others to share theirs. I am so thankful for this community and all that it has given me. 

If we’ve had direct message conversations and we’ve never met before in IRL – I’m so proud of you for reaching out to me and being vulnerable. Keep reaching out!

If you’ve never reached out to me, just lurk, and get inspiration from my posts – Hi! Hello. I’m Maryann. Thanks for being here! I’d love to know what you enjoy about my blog and my social media platform. HMU let’s support each other.

If we’ve had IRL conversations where we cry, hug, laugh, and pray together – Hey thanks for being brave enough to talk in public with me. As you know, I’m extremely emotional in person and the fact that you braved all of my facial expressions and tight hugs means a lot.

I hope you continue to vocalize and support each other in our struggles. It is the only way we are going to heal ourselves, our community, and the world. Your voice matters! Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

Accomplishments

I had no – zero – zilch – expectations for The Filipino Mom blog when I started it. I truly believed that the only people who would read my content would be relatives – to see if I was talking about them. Chismosa! The fact that I have been able to collaborate with so many amazing people and communities in a short amount of time is mind blowing. I am extremely humbled when people reach out and give me a platform to share my story. 

Outward

Many measure success by outward accomplishments. I am absolutely floored by what has been achieved by this blog in such a short amount of time. These stats absolutely humble me in the deepest parts of my heart. The fact that this blog can reach anyone and everyone means that anything is truly possible. 

Here are a few stats that I am extremely proud of for this blog:

Inner

I am most proud of the inner work I have overcome in the past year. While inner work is not an observable value others can visibly measure, my personal growth has benefited my everyday life in ways that extend farther than just myself. Conscious inner transformation is releasing old belief systems that I held on to since my childhood. I learned these survival strategies decades ago and as an adult, they no longer benefit my current life goals, aspirations or help me become my true self. While isn’t been a difficult few years of creating a new inner narrative. Once I was able to release the old beliefs, strategies, and tactics, I was able to accept a new belief system based upon facts and not my feelings. 

Confused on what in the world I am talking about? I know it’s hard to explain without vocalizing my thought process. Here is an example of one of my biggest belief system that held me back from doing- anything new. 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you resonate with this mental obstacle I had? I’d love to help you talk through your thoughts about yourself. You can schedule a FREE 30 minute clarity session with me! I’d love to support you in moving towards your best self. You can also download my free Ebook to help you look at your life from a birds eye view. Its a great first step to creating a more impactful life.

Unconditional Support

Last but absolutely not least, I am extremely thankful for my group of family and friends who have supported me this past year – and really my whole life.

First and foremost, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for never leaving me or allowing me to stray too far. Holy Spirit, thank you for knudging me towards things that I would not normally do and blessing my life (and my family’s lives) with so many wonderful people. I’m humbled by your renewing grace for and pray to be as selfless as you. Amen.

Thank you mom for being open and accepting of this journey of mine. I appreciate all the pep talks and words of wisdom you give me when I am at my lowest. Also thank you for being an amazing caregiver to dad.

Thank you dad for showing us what true perseverance looks like. Even at your most trying times, you have encompassed strength and determination.

Thank you to my sisters! I don’t think I would be who I am today without you. You have been my constant stream of support for as long as I can remember. While we are all living in different areas on the west coast. We still support each other with the help of technology. I appreciate you both sooo much and hope I make you equally as proud.

Thank you to my amazing friends, near and far! You have accepted me with unconditional support and open arms. I appreciate how you’ve put up with my crazy texting rants, uncontrollable tears, and loud laughter.

To my crazy bunch of kiddos, man you guys drive me bananas. Thank you for allowing me to grow along side you and figuring this mental health stuff out together. I pray your bravery heals your generation and the generations to come. Keep doing the right thing even if its hard. I love you guys!

To my church family, in California and Arizona, I don’t think I would have survived the last five years without you all. Your unconditional support, unceasing prayers, and tight hugs have given me the strength even on my darkest days. I appreciate each and everyone of you. I pray I’ve helped you just as much as you’ve helped me.

Last and certainly not least, my husband. You have picked me up off the ground while I’ve been in a puddle of tears. You’ve coaxed me out of bed on days when I wanted to disappear from this world. You love me despite the times I hate myself. I appreciate all that you do for me, for our family, and for yourself. I love you forever – and a day.

Moving forward

While I don’t want to share too much, I want you to know that there are so many things I have planned for 2020. More collaborations, more mental health talks, more real life struggles, and even more Jesus talk.

I hope you join me! I need all the help I can get.


Why: Serve

I became a Christ follower 20+ years ago. It was the best decision of my life. That is not to say that I have not experienced hardships in my life. In fact, I would never describe life as easy. However, believing in something bigger than yourself – a higher power, the universe, etc – creates a belief that there has to be a purpose for everything. My belief in a “higher power” is in our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. There are many instances in my life where there is no explanation than a divine intervention – God’s timing.

I have shared a portion of my testimony in my post, He Never Fails. I would love for you to read that to see a small glimpse of how Jesus has changed my life. I have experienced so much of Christ’s love, mercy, and compassion from others that I wanted to give others’ the same experience of His divine intervention by helping them meet, know, and follow Jesus.

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:43-45

To serve

For those who are not familiar with the term “serve” as it pertains to a church environment, to serve is to volunteer your time in particular ministry at the church you regularly attend. The amount of time you usually serve can be as little as 45 minutes as a person who greets guests to facilitating a bible study group, every week. Requirements for volunteering your time is usually a background check and a heart to serve. The beauty of serving is that there are many ministries in the church that need volunteers from the nursery to making coffee to greeting guests to keeping the campus safe. Whatever your interests are there is a ministry that would love for you to step in and show Christ’s love through service.

Our family has been serving at our home church from the moment we started attending. We knew that getting plugged into a church was high on our priority list especially since we were moving to a new area where we only knew one family. Joining the service team has allowed us to make friends, serve our local community through service projects, and most importantly, grow our faith.

Community

I currently serve in multiple ministries as a personal choice. Each of these ministries have helped me deepen my faith in Christ as well as cultivate relationships with other Christ followers. It also fills that part of my soul that always felt as if it was never satisfied until I found Christ and began to share my testimony. As humans, we are innately drawn to seek community and a deeper understanding of the big picture. Both of these internal needs can be met a your local church.

I serve on the leadership team for Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS) ministry, as a small group co-leader for a monthly meeting for Moms for Mental Health, and as a coach to small group leaders in the tween ministry. I also serve in multiple other seasonal ministries such as a week long summer church program similar to Vacation Bible School and the women’s Christmas event. Each of these ministries are very close to my heart as they were different seasons of my life that I really leaned on the church for guidance as a mom with lots of little.

These ministries allow me to share how Christ’s love, compassion, and grace has shown up in my life and the life of my family with those who participate in each ministry. Every time I have participated in a small group, local outreach or church event, my heart swells with thankfulness because I had met an individual who had never been to church before or helped pray for a mom who is just overwhelmed by her current circumstances.

Just show up

Are you interested in serving at your local church but don’t know how? Well the easiest way to start is to ask someone who serves there already or contact the office and ask. Chances are they will share their testimony of how serving has impacted their live in an extraordinary way.

One of the biggest commitments that comes with serving is just showing up. While it is absolutely normal to not want to attend church on a regular basis especially to serve a bunch of people who don’t know you, know that your presence is deeply needed week in and week out. Your unique testimony could help someone you greet or even talk with. This simple interaction can change the trajectory of their life and all you did was show up and be yourself. So just show up and see how the Holy Spirit will move through you to bless someone else’s life.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!


Why: Strength training

Never in my entire life would I have thought that I would say, “I like going to the gym.” Guys, I do. I really do and it’s not because of the most obvious reason. If we’ve never met IRL, you would be surprised how vertically challenged I am. All 4 feet, 11 inches of me. At the gym, I feel even smaller around all the meat heads and testosterone. Imagine little me at the free weights station, attempting to deadlift. The bar is longer than I am tall and the weights on each end are wider than my torso. I truly don’t look like I belong there but I do it anyways. 

At the beginning of my self care/self love journey, my therapist would tell me to workout at least three days a week to help with my mental health. I used to laugh at what she would say. Three years later and I am now consistently getting to the gym twice a week to at most four days a week. What has changed? Strength training. 

Strength training

Weight training – or strength training – is truly why I continue to go to the gym today. Strength training has allowed me to challenge my mind in what I ‘believe’ I am able to do. For example, the plate loaded barbell is forty five pounds on its own. ON ITS OWN. When I first started to attempt to bench press, I could barely – like shaking arms barely – push that sucker above my head. Today, I am able to bench press a full three sets without breaking a sweat. How? I kept at it every week until one day, I decide to put five pounds – 2.5 pound plates – on the bar. For me it was a momentous occasion because I did what seemed impossible. *insert happy dance here*

Once I started to see results in my increased weights on the machines and in the free weight station, I began to challenge my mind even more. I would purposefully add a little more weight each time I went to the gym. From there, I began to try a different strength training machine each time I went to the gym. I gained so much confidence that I would put my headphones on, play some 90’s hip hop, and move through each station as quickly as I could. At the end of my workout, I would do some yoga to 90’s R&B and wait for my husband to finish his workout.

Gym dates are the best dates

The main supporter at the gym is my husband. I expressed to him that I wanted to attempt to use the strength training machines and possibly the free weights but I was intimidated because everything looks complicated and honestly, I didn’t want guys to be staring at my butt while I worked out. It actually brought a lot of anxiety for me to attempt any machine or station. So my sweet husband would help walk me through each machine as well as how to use the free weights station properly. 

Three months later, I am confident in my abilities enough to move through the machines without his help and only ask for him to spot me in the free weights station. This is huge for me! If you were to imagine little ol’ me in the free weights station deadlifting 95 pounds while surrounded by muscular men who deadlift 300+ pounds, it is a sight to see. My husband is usually close by – or at the station next to me deadlifting 200+ pounds – just in case I need a spotter.

These evenings spent together have become our favorite times together because we are able to get in some exercise, encourage each other during our workout and also talk through our day. We have dubbed them our “gym dates”. What we also love about “gym dates” is that they are free since we already pay for the membership monthly. So all we need to do is show up and be each others’ cheerleaders. We have been doing this since we’ve started at the gym and I can honestly say that it has helped us reconnect in a way that I could have never imagined. I am so thankful for this time because we are both so busy and carving out time for each other is so important. 

How to start strength training

If this post has peaked your interest in attempting to strength train, here is what I suggest:

  • Utilize the new member orientation
    • There is a reason it is included in your membership. Take advantage of it!
    • Orientation usually include some of the following:
      • A health assessment
      • Body fat analysis
      • Instructions on how to use basic strength training machines
      • Help in choosing exercises, reps, and sets
      • How to use different cardio machines
      • Heart rate and intensity information
      • General workout guidance
  • Go with a friend
    • This is great for accountability and encouragement.
  • Try the group classes and find the one that works for you
    • When I first started at the gym, I used the treadmill and elliptical machine only. I became bored really quickly. I knew that I needed more in order to keep coming.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the gym staff for help
    • I have seen many patrons ask a staff member to spot them. 
    • I have also seen staff members take the time to explain how to use a machine properly.
  • Keep coming back
    • In the beginning, it will seem really intimidating but over time you will become comfortable with the environment and “zone” everyone out. 

Mind over matter

The biggest change with adding strength training to my self care routine and the encouragement of my husband was my mindset. I began to believe that I could do ‘impossible’ things. On rough days, going to the gym was an outlet to release my stress. It also challenged my negative self talk and inner critic because there was nothing for those statements to stand on if I could prove them wrong.

This mindset has overflowed into other parts of my life. I have more courage to try new things and take small steps to reach a goal. There is more evidence of success than failure. So I keep adding on weights, I keep challenging myself to do new things, and I keep moving forward. 

What is your favorite workout at the gym? Comment below!

If I haven’t done it, I’d love to try. 


Why: The Filipino Mom

I have received many direct messages (DMs) about my blog name: The Filipino Mom.

“Why would you want to name yourself that?”

“When I think of a Filipino mom, I think of all the typical things Filipino moms do – passive aggressive commentary, no boundaries, and inappropriate conversations.”

This is exactly why I decided to call my blog – The Filipino Mom.

 Just as I want to break the stigma around mental health, I wanted to change the narrative around this title. As a first generation Filipino American, I don’t have the same mannerisms and boundaries as my mom. Now before you become really defensive about that last statement, hear me out. The generational beliefs and cultural differences between my mom and I were sizable. We disagreed on almost everything under the sun. 

To see how different our views are I have created a table for comparison. Please keep in mind that these are my view and my mom’s views. They do not reflect all immigrant mom and 1st generation Filipino Mom’s views. These were the big topics that we disagreed on when I was growing up. So much so that I decided as an adult, that I would be a little more open to my kids’ opinions and views. 


Immigrant mom1st gen Fil-Am mom
Talking about feelingsNo talking about feelings, stuff them downOpen to talk through feelings
ChoresOldest daughter must do choresEvenly distribute chores between all children
Meal servingServe everyone their plates and spoon feed the younger kids Allow everyone make their own plates and allow the younger kids to feed themselves even if they get messy
CollegeMust go to a university
Has a choice of university, vocation college, or specialized schooling
Tattoos and piercingsOnly for gang members and drug addictsOpen to both
Make upNo make up Ok with wearing lip gloss in middle school. Full face of make up in high school
CareerChooses occupation for childAllows child to make decision on their occupation

Conversations with my mom and mother-in-law

I have had numerous conversations with my mom and mother-in-law about how our parenting styles are very different. At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I struggled with how I would parent my kids. However, I knew I wanted to give my kids a little more freedom and decisions than I wasn’t allowed at their age. 

Most times, as my kids grew older and older, my mom would tell me that I was pretty hard on my kids and that I should really give them less chores. She dubbed me “the military mom” with how we kept a strict daily routine and ensured they always used their manners. My rebuttal was that they all need to learn how to do everyday tasks so they won’t be so lost as adults. I have kept with this same belief for the past 19 years and I am happy to report that my mom now sees why I gave everyone chores. It allowed me to not do all of the domestic duties and gave my kids more knowledge of what life will be like when they grow up. 

The most recent conversation I had with my mom was around the time of my kids’ birthdays. The older kids are born on the same day, two years apart. She called that morning to wish them a happy birthday and asked how life has been with teens. I told my mom that it has been a little bit of a struggle but they are far more well behaved and obedient than I was at their age. At their age, I had already ran away from home, had a boyfriend, and had been a generally rebellious child. My mom said something that I will never forget – “Anak (baby), you are doing and did a great job. You have great kids.” The moment she said that, tears welled up in my eyes. I knew compliments were few and far between from immigrant parents. So the fact that my mom said that I nearly lost it as I picked up the cakes for that evening. She also eased my anxiety of what would happen to my kids when they became young adults and told me that they would be ok because they are great people. “Thanks mom” – again I teared. 

Never letting them fall

When my girls grew into teenagers I had a really interesting conversation with my mother-in-law. She stated that she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her kids so she wanted to protect them as much as possible. Moreover, she was very naive to all of the activities American teenagers were into. Looking back, she has told me that she wishes that she was more open to understanding why teenagers and young adults in America were indulging in certain things. It was the hardest part of parenting for her. As the mother of her granddaughters, she has asked many times if I was scared to parent teenagers girls. I told her that I had a general sense of how it was to be a teenager so I could sympathize with them. I also talked about how I was ok with them learning lessons from their mistakes because sometimes when you have a stubborn child (aka ME) they need to learn life the hard way. This concept really took her by surprise. It was hard for her to grasp that fact that I was ok with my kids learning from their mistakes but I knew that I had taught them right from wrong and they would have to learn how to move through life making their own choices. Is this hard? Absolutely, we are living it now as my oldest is getting ready to graduate high school.

Blending the two

I have learned, as an adult, that my parents parented us in a state of survival. They came to a foriegn land in hopes to give themselves and their children a better life and opportunities. It was hard for them to navigate how to assimilate to an individualism culture when they grew up in a collectivism culture. So they struggled. We butt heads. We fought a lot. The clash, I’ve learned, is more about a generational gap than being disobedient and misunderstandings.

So I have blended the parenting styles of my parents, my in laws; and my husband and I. This has allowed us to keep the general foundation of collectivism as well as give our kids the opportunity to be individuals. It hasn’t been easy blending the two because I still revert back to how my parents parented me. Yes I have turned into a blend of my parents. My kids have confirmed it many times.

I pray that when my kids start to have their families they will take the parenting styles from all of us and create a parenting style that works for them because they won’t be in a survival mentality. They will be well adjusted 2nd generation Filipino-American who know the sky’s the limit how they would like to build their life because it is their life to live.

My parents did the best they could with the knowledge and belief systems that they possessed. Now that I’ve kids of my own, I understand that because I, too, am parenting the best way I know how. It is not always perfect but I am trying my best.