The bible and mental health

In the recent months, our home church spoke about pertinent topics that many struggle with as human beings of this earth. What I appreciate about our church is the focus on bible based teaching. As a former Catholic, I never really read the bible and remained focused on the traditions of Catholicism. Growing up, I believed that God’s truths for me were conditional. Believing that someone would love me just as I am was a foreign concept. It is still a struggle today but I know the truth and press forward everyday to build my relationship with Christ.

With all that is going on in the world, I wanted to create a complication of sermons our church has spoken about so other’s may find comfort in His truths. Being a person in 2020 is absolutely exhausting – mentally and physically. I am thankful for my faith in Him and not in my own willpower. If you want to read more about how I am leaning on Christ during this hard season, please read my article in The Brave Collective digital magazine – Who is Jesus? Jesus is my beacon of hope.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

– John 16:33

Life struggles

I have struggled with shame and guilt around my mental health as a Christ follower for years because I believed that I shouldn’t be sad or have hardships as a Christian, right?

Wrong.

Christ never said that we will be without difficulties, instead He gives us His grace, love, and new daily mercies – unconditionally.

Doubt

I was told as a child that I should never doubt or question God. As a teen exploring world around me, I wanted to ask so many questions but was silenced very quickly. My curiosity was deemed as being unfaithful. In turn, I stopped asking questions and began to doubt any presence of a higher being. It wasn’t until I began my own faith journey as a young adult that I learned that doubt was ok and God wanted us to doubt. This concept blew my mind! It helped me grow my relationship with Christ.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

-Proverbs 3:5

Mental Health

I have heard many incorrect statements about mental health as a Christian.

“All you need to do is have more faith.”
“Just pray the mental health away.”
“You probably don’t believe in God enough.”

I want you to know these statements are not constructive for those who are struggling mentally. They actually do more harm than good. As someone who supports other’s in their mental illnesses, I would like to offer you a few helpful statements instead

“I’m sorry you’re struggling.”
“How can I support you?”
“How can I pray for you?” (Then pray for them right then and there)

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

– Psalm 34:18

Hope

I remain hopeful in this current season of unrest and uncertainty because I know who is in control. I pray these sermons have helped you and hope you even venture into other sermons our church has shared. It is through my faith in Him that I can share with you today.

I’d love to know which sermon resonated with you the most! Please share that with me in the comments.

As always – It’s ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!


When is it enough?

I have written and rewritten this particular post many many times. I have struggled to find the right words to provide clarity and compassion. I feel like no matter what I say, it won’t be enough. So I will speak from the heart as a human being, a parent, and most importantly a Filipino American. If you are triggered negatively by anything I share, please know I am speaking from my own experiences and they may not be what you have experienced. The most important part of this post is just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Hear my heart when I say, have an open mind.

This post will be different from my regular posts as I included thought provoking questions for you to dig deep as you read some of my experiences. I would love to hear your answers and continue this safe open conversation.

Filipino-American

As the granddaughter of two Filipino men who served in military branches during the Civil War, I have deep roots in this country. Not only did my ancestors fight for this country, they also endured an enormous amount of prejudice, discrimination from the country the put their lives on the line for. They are the epitome of grit and resilience. They have provided a way for those from the Philippines to immigrate to America to provide a better life for their family and the next generation.

My family isn’t the only one that has grandparents or even parents that served in multiple military branches. I know of many fellow Filipinos who have served in the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, and the Reserves. Our people have fought along side those who wanted our help. It pains me to see the hardships they endured after all of our ancestors’ sacrifices. My family is from this great nation.

Please stop asking:

  • Where did I come from?
  • What type of Asian are you?
  • What type of Chinese are you?
  • Do you eat dog?

Historical Fact: The reason people ask if Filipinos eat dog is because of the ‘Living Exhibit’ of the Igorots at the 1904 World’s Fair. The largest of these exhibits was the Philippine village, a 47-acre site that for seven months in 1904 became home to more than 1,000 Filipinos from at least 10 different ethnic groups. The biggest crowd-drawers were the so-called primitive tribes — especially the Igorots, whose appeal lay in their custom of eating dog.1 Their ceremonial purposes became a performance.

NPR, ‘Living Exhibits’

Thought provoking questions:

  • How would that make you feel if someone made your ceremony an exhibit?
  • How would it make you feel if someone made your ancestors into a ‘living exhibit’ for entertainment purposes?
  • Why did anyone need to be deemed less than especially the Igorots?
  • Who decides what is savage or primal?
  • Why is it ok to categories people in that manner?
  • How does this change your narrative around Filipinos?

English only

I am a born and raised Bay Area native. I am proud to be from ‘The Bay.’ Almost all of my family still lives in The Bay and all across California. The west coast was my home for more than 30 years. I am a descendant from Philippine provinces in Bohol and Tarlac who rode the wave of the 1965 Naturalization Act. The main purpose for this act was to reunite families and bring skilled workers to the US. They met and married in 1979. I was born in 1980 in San Jose, California.

Historical fact: There was a critical shortage of nurses following WWII and U.S. hospitals started advertising for Filipino nurses. The Philippines continues to be the leading exporter of professional nurses to the U.S., although the ways they immigrate have changed over time. About one-third of all foreign-born nurses in the U.S. are Filipino. Since the 1960s, there have been over 150,000 Filipino nurses who have migrated to the U.S.2

Berkeley News, UC Berkeley

My parents didn’t teach my sisters and I what it meant to be Filipino. They only spoke English at home. We only heard Tagalog, Visaya, or Ilocano when my parents talked to our relatives. We would only get tidbits of information about the Philippines and we would have to piece them together to understand were we came from. Only until I became an adult is when I really began to understand what it meant to be Filipino and why I should be proud to be from that country.

Furthermore, I never understood why I couldn’t play outside in the sun. I never understood why it was not ok to be dark skinned. If you were to meet my sisters and I, only one of us is light skinned. To be clear, if it isn’t already, the standard of beauty was based on European light skinned colonizers. Cultural assimilation was heavily encouraged. We were told to only speak English. Being a Filipino American felts like a balance to act American but not look like an American.

Cultural Assimilation – is the process by which a person or a group’s language and/or culture come to resemble those of another group

Wikipedia

Thought provoking questions:

  • How would that make you feel if someone told you to not speak your native language?
  • How would it make you feel if someone told you how you looked wasn’t beautiful even if you couldn’t control the color of your skin?
  • How would you have navigated the balance of acting like an American but not looking American enough?
  • What does an American look like?
  • How much cultural assimilating is required to be American?
  • Is there a balance between being American and Filipino? If so, please explain?

Mama Bear

We moved to Arizona a little over three years ago. I will say it has been the best decision for our family to become more financially stable. As a family of seven on one income, transplanting to Arizona was a more viable option for us. We moved to a beautiful suburb in the East Valley. We love our neighbors. We love the community driven relationship. We appreciate the kindness we experience on a daily basis.

The one negative we’ve experienced is the racial discrimination in the public school system. I will not go into any details to protect my kids as well as the others who are involved. This has not been an easy six plus months of dealing with this in private. My kids are extremely braver than I ever was to speak out for what is right. I know this hardship will not only built their character as 2nd generation Filipino Americans but it will leave lasting scar deep within them. Just because they were born with Filipino features and darker skin, they have been deemed not American enough. It pains me in the deepest parts of my soul that there are people in this world that would find fault in a skin color facial features, or body shape. My kids were born in America and belong in this community just as they are.

Racial discrimination occurs when an individual is subjected to unequal treatment because of their actual or perceived race.

Race Discrimination in Education, FindLaw

Thought provoking questions:

  • What does an American looks like?
  • How would you feel if someone made assumptions of your intelligence, athletic ability, and general capabilities in the public school system?
  • What would you do if you saw someone be discriminated?
  • How can we help our community gain knowledge on how to be sensitive around racial profiling and racial biases?
  • What can you do today to help your kids or kids you come into contact with feel see, validated, and heard?
  • How can you teach your kids about the truth of how this country was founded?

Thank you for being here and support this blog. It means the world to me to get my words out to those who have similar or even different perceptions of living in the United States. Again, I would love to hear your answers and continue this safe open conversation.

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


Just show up

I’ve been in a reflective state for the past week because I knew that I would hit this major milestone and I didn’t know how I would feel. In fact, I was anxious about today because there is a sense of fear of the future and the unknown. What is this major milestone you may ask?  

I am officially a professional certified life coach.

I’ve invested in myself for the past 6 months to get to this moment. I will tell you that this certification isn’t for the faint of heart. The hardest part of becoming a life coach is going within yourself and coaching yourself around all of your own limiting beliefs.

What is a limiting belief?

Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives.We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about our selves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general.In any case, they sadly limit us.1

Do you have limiting beliefs? 

ME TOOOOO!!!! I didn’t realize the amount of limiting beliefs I had until I had to face them head on and let me tell you – it wasn’t easy or pretty to do. There was a lot of crying involved. Furthermore, I had to share my limiting beliefs with my classmates. WHAT!?! Not a fun or comfortable experience BUT beginning to change the narrative around my limiting beliefs allowed me to begin an inner transformation.

Here are some of my limiting beliefs:

Limiting BeliefReframing the belief
I am not qualified to be a coach. Once you are certified you will be qualified.Your experiences qualify you to be a coach.
No one will want to hire me as a coach.Your unique experiences will draw the right client to you. 
Who will listen to me? What authority do I have?Your experiences and views give you a testimony that is unique and people will want to hear about it.  
How can I do this? It’s impossible. Just take it one step at a time. You will find your way. 

I have learned that each stage of my life has prepared me for this exact moment. I have been asked numerous times how I do everything for this blog, life coaching, and generally just life. I do explain how I “do it all” in my Doing It All post. Spoiler alert if you haven’t read that post already – I don’t do it all. 

  • As a mom, I have learned how to explain things in a way that is simple to understand. I have also learned how to be compassionate and have empathy for others.
  • As a retail worker, I have learned how to give great customer service to my clients and ensure that they are happy and satisfied with our coaching relationship. It has also helped me learn how to deal with negative people and give grace even if they are hurtful.
  • As a phlebotomist, I have learned how to calmly hold space for a client as they become emotional and guide them to a more willing state of mind.
  • As a Christ follower, I have learned how to be brave and pray for clients at the end of sessions. I was never brave enough to do this but I understand the power of prayer and now I am praying over clients.

Each experience has taught me so much about how to interact with those around me and all of those experience has prepared me for the newest chapter as a life coach.

Show up

The biggest lesson I have learned is to just show up.

  • Show up mentally to class even if you feel that its not beneficial. You don’t know how it will assist you later on in life. It will help you, believe me.
  • Show up physically when you have an opportunity to network with other like minded individuals even if you feel under qualified. You never know how that one interaction will catapult you to an even bigger opportunity.
  • Show up emotionally for clients when they pour their hearts out to you. Creating a safe space for anyone to be vulnerable isn’t easy. Showing compassion and empathy is important.
  • Show up as yourself. People know when you are being inauthentic. Trust that you are enough just as you are and that people are 100% interested in what you have to say.
  • Show up and be seen. Allow yourself to be seen for the amazing person that you are even if you don’t believe it. Your unique experiences give you great authority of how your life has been shaped. People want to see that. So let them.

Beginning anything new is overwhelming and your limiting beliefs will shout at you internally because it is new. That’s ok! Your brain is programmed to keep you safe, so anything new will cause a feeling of ‘danger’ and fear. All you have to do is take a step forward and keep doing that until you reach the next thing. I know it sounds simple and its extremely harder to do but also know you are absolutely capable to do it right now.

But, how?

How you may ask? By just showing up.

If you need help working through your limiting beliefs to get to the next milestone-chapter-goal-aspiration in your life. I’m here to help you work through them. If I can create space for myself to do something new. So can you.

I believe in you. So let’s talk about it.

Schedule a FREE 30 minute coaching session with me and let’s work through those limiting beliefs together. You’ll be surprised what just one session will do for you.

Don’t believe me? My one session with my own coach (YES coaches have coaches too) capitulated me forward and transformed how I viewed myself and my abilities. That is why I am here today. To serve you just as she served me.

Waiting…for you! Let’s do it!


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!


Doing it all

I have been asked how I manage to ‘do it all’ with of my all the current responsibilities – required and volunteered. In addition to managing a large family and their daily lives, I also volunteer in multiple ministries at church; work part time remotely for a software consulting company; run a blog utilizing multiple social media platforms; enrolled in a 6 month certification program (and graduated as of April 2020); launching multiple project/business ventures at the beginning of the year; dating my husband; hangout with friends; and all the while making my self care a priority. 

WHAT!?! Yea when I list all the things I have my hands in, its overwhelming to see.

Do you have the same 24 hours in a day that I do? ABSOLUTELY.

Here’s the biggest secret – I DO NOT DO IT ALL. Over the past year, I have had to create an environment for myself to work towards a life I want to live. This new lifestyle isn’t perfect. I still need to tweak things but overall I feel like I am living more authentically now than ever. Yes, I am going to share how I’ve done that. It’s not complicated, expensive, or unattainable. It’s not even really an exact formula.

Here is how I’ve created “more time”:

  • I have voiced my aspirations, goals, and dreams to my family.
  • I have limited my time on screens for entertainment purposes.
  • I hold space for myself to rest.
  • I give myself grace when things don’t go my way.

I will expand on these bullet points in hopes it given you ideas of how to prioritize your time even more. Again, I am no expert on time management but I want you to know that there is time for you to do what you dream about. You are capable and equip with everything you need to create the life you desire. 

Be intentional

In order to “make time” for the goals I want to attain, I needed to be more intentional with my time. For me that means limiting my time on social media, watching tv, and falling down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. I realized once I decided that I wanted to start my blog that I needed to prioritize time for creating content, learning how to scale my blog and engagement. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many late nights as well as short spurts of time that I intentionally use to benefit all that I am attempting to accomplish in one given day. 

Fo example, as I edit this post, I am sitting on the floor in the Phoenix Convention Center while my oldest walks through the college fair asking all the questions she wants. I’m here as moral support even if she doesn’t need me to walk around with her. She has vocalized that she would like me here but would like to walk to fair alone. So I brought my laptop and charger with me to utlize my time while allowing her the time she needs. I brought a charger for my phone so the toddler can watch his favorite shows if he become extremely irritable – which is often – and snacks because everyone – except me – gets hangary. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but it works.

Cut myself some slack

Creating an intentional life takes time and a lot of work – physically, emotionally, and mentally. I am learning new concepts and beliefs. Which in turn means that I must let go of old concepts and belief systems that no longer benefit me. This is no easy feat. In fact its probably the hardest part of this journey. I must allow myself the time to let go of concepts, expectations, and beliefs I have about myself. These belief systems have been an integral part of how I have succeeded and failed in life. It takes time to change. I’ve accepted this transformation will probably take the rest of my life and that is OK. Moving forward is better than staying stagnant and unhappy. 

I have also allowed myself time to rest and reset. Yes that means naps and breaks from creating content, doing homework, and replying to emails for work. This is a marathon not a race! So I must be realistic with my mental and physical capabilities. If I am exhausted, I am not able to adequately write social media posts and blog post. I won’t have the energy to attend networking events and coaching sessions. Rest is essential. I have learned to listen to my body to take breaks and be ok with being still. 

Letting go of mom guilt

When I first pitched the idea of a blog to my immediate and extended family, I was nervous about their belief in my abilities and fear of judgement. Little did I know that my family was extremely supportive of anything and everything I aspired to do. I am very blessed in that sense because there are others who are not so lucky. Once I knew I had their support, I had to voice my concerns on what I needed to succeed. You see, my mom guilt is a very prevalent feeling I have at all times. I had to let go of that guilt and listen to the true statements my family was saying. 

“I believe in you.”

“Go for it.”

“I will support you.”

Once I believed in factual statements instead of mom guilt, I was able to inch towards my goals. It hasn’t been easy letting go of the guilt. It’s a daily practice but I am getting better at it. One of my teens recently expressed that I exude more self confidence lately. I asked her to tell me what she sees and she says I seem more “sure of myself”. It was nice to hear – especially from a teenager, my teenager – that I am externalizing the confidence I have in myself.

Here is the affirmation I have given myself when I have extreme mom guilt is:

I am a great mom and I can…

  • be a successful business owner.
  • a devoted wife.
  • a flawed Christ follower.
  • make mistakes.
  • encourage others as a Mindset Coach.
  • create a safe space for other’s to heal from generational trauma.
  • be a mental health advocate.
  • serve my community.
  • help other moms find their worth outside of motherhood.
  • live my life, unapologetically.

Moving forward with grace

As with any change, there will be uncomfortable transitional periods. I am constantly reminding myself that it’s ok for things not to be perfect and that there is no expectation but to try. The house will be ok even if it’s not as tidy as it usually is. Those important to me understand that my attention is occupied for only a period of time. Most importantly, I am capable of all I would like to accomplish. Extending grace to myself is not easy but I know it’s necessary in order to move forward with change.

Small steps forward

My biggest secret to getting to where I am today, taking small courageous steps forward. YES! It may sound simple but it is absolutely true. I didn’t get here today by sure luck, I have worked tirelessly on days and evenings when I didn’t feel like it would matter. What I’ve learned is every small step forward matters. Each of those steps have brought me to the next incredible opportunity and the next lead for a client. It all matters!

Give yourself permission

I would love for you to dream big.

Nope. BIGGER!

Your dreams, aspirations, goals, and life purpose do not have an expiration date. Let me say that again.

Your dreams, aspirations, goals, and life purpose do not have an expiration date.

I want to offer you permission to move closer to your life purpose.

If you had all the time, money, and resources in the world:

  • What would you be doing right now?
  • How would you accomplish it?
  • What small step can you do today to move closer to that?

You will find a permission slip graphic to the right. Click on it. Download it, type/write down what you give yourself permission to do, and tag me on all social media platforms – @thefilipinomom.