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Monday, June 1, 2020

Things I've learned


I don’t even know where to start, but I feel compelled to write. So I will just go. 

A few years ago when things really went south here in St. Louis, specifically the suburb of Ferguson, one of my friends I met on an online shopping forum pointedly asked me why I wasn’t posting about it on my blog or social media. She is a huge activist, and my silence was hurting her. At the time, I truly felt in my heart that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Everything I post about on this blog is superficial. I was not purposely trying to ignore but it honestly just didn’t cross my mind that I SHOULD post about it. And if I was going to post about it, I wanted it to be organic, and not forced, because the last thing I wanted was a post like that to come across as insincere. Ultimately, she unfriended/ unfollowed me, and looking back at it now, her reasons are clear as day to me and I’m a ashamed and saddened that I let her down. 

So what has changed from now since then? I’m not sure, to be honest. Maybe my heart has actually changed. Maybe me listening to people’s stories and reading the thoughts of others has truly started to sink in. Regardless, I wanted to share a few things that really hit home for me in case you also are sitting there thinking, “I’m not doing anything wrong.” 

Let me back up a bit. Obviously, I’m not white. I was born here in the States, but my parents are first generation here from the Philippines. Growing up, if I’m being honest, I hated being Asian. Other kids would always ask me, “What are you?” When I tried to tell them I was Filipino – they had no idea what that was. They didn’t get that it was different from Chinese or Japanese. It caused so much confusion, eventually, I just started to tell people I was Mexican. It’s sad really. I grew up in San Antonio which is very diverse, but how crazy that parents didn’t educate their kids on other nationalities. It's not like I grew up in the 50s!

Fast forward, and I was constantly bullied. I can remember my dad having to go to a boy’s house down the street because he physically kicked me in the butt for no reason. Another time I was standing in the aisle on the bus waiting to get off on my street and a different kid grabbed hold of my ankles and pulled back so that I fell flat on my face; everyone pointing and laughing, and the bus driver legit doing nothing about it. I constantly was picked on for my lunch money. I hated standing out and being different. I resented my slanted eyes so much so that I would try and make them “round” every day after school, holding them as wide and as round as possible in hopes that one day they would eventually change shape. 

It didn’t stop in high school. You cannot even imagine the amount of racist comments I received waiting tables. One customer told me he would have the Chinese send me back to Hong Kong after I told him we were out of Lemon Meringue Pie. I had people assume I wasn’t born in the States and compliment me on my English. I was at the movies with my boyfriend at the time, a man asked my boyfriend where “his wife” was from. When I answered him myself, he looked at me then looked right back at my boyfriend and said, “It’s good to know she understands what’s going on around her.” Fast forward even more and a different boyfriend was told by one of his friends, “How can you even date an Asian?” (implying that I was gross.) 

Most recently, right before the quarantine, I was standing at a crosswalk with a friend waiting for the light to turn. This guy hangs out of the truck yelling at me saying "SHE HAS CORONA VIRUS!!!" I looked at my (white) friend and said, "I'm going to pretend that wasn't a racial slur because I'm Asian." 

I really could go on and on and on. 

So what is my point to all of this? Racism undeniably exists. People are uninformed and uneducated on diversity and how harmful innocent words can make others feel. All these stories, while they are annoying and made me self-conscious of my ethnicity, were never life threatening. I know how much these incidents hurt me, and they sound very insignificant. But over time they culminate and build-up. If these types of things were happening to ME as an Asian-American, the reality of what happens to People of Color terrifies me. I will never truly understand that kind of fear, hurt, and anger. 


Racism is a Spectrum.

And that leads me to my first learning. Racism is not a yes or no type of stance. I learned that racism is a spectrum. An excerpt from this Momstrosity post that really spoke to me:


"I'm inclined to believe that most parents are not setting the example of being openly racist. Overtly cruel. Racism is spread in more subtle ways. It is kept alive through generations by "jokes." By little comments with racist undertones."

Based on my social media feeds, many feel that so long as they have POC friends or they don't physically hurt or murder someone based on the color of their skin, they are not racist. The way the info-graphic above breaks down racism makes things very clear and eye opening. Instead of saying, “I’m not racist!” stop and think, “HOW am I racist?” We can all be better at this.

Black lives matter.

There's often the "all lives matter" response when someone says "black lives matter." Just because someone says "black lives matter" does not mean that other lives don't. Period. Imagine going to a Breast Cancer Fundraiser and people coming in angry that money wasn't being raised for ALL cancers. Seems like a silly analogy, but it resonated with me. 

Black Lives Matter is a movement and it gives POC their voice. So yes, they will get angry if you try and downplay it by other lives and other scenarios. The other very powerful video I watched was this one. She asks white attendees to stand if they want to be treated the same as black citizens do in society. No one stood, and she said this proves "you know what's happening. You know you don't want it for you. I want to know why you're so willing to allow it or to accept it to happen for others."


Educate yourself.

It is heart breaking seeing posts from my friends who are in so much hurt over these current events. Specifically, Rachelle, Charnele, Daphnee, Renata. I want to support them. I want to do SOMEthing. So many of us do. And I see a lot people asking their POC friends - what can I do? I learned that this, once again, puts the burden on the POC community. It is not your POC friend's responsibility to educate you. Yes, learn from their posts, learn from the resources they openly share. But don't expect them to go out of their way just for you. Imagine a friend going through a terrible loss. Would you bother that friend in that moment to teach you how to make their famous lemon blueberry dessert? No. They're emotionally exhausted. They're angry. They're reeling. Do the legwork yourself. Do your own homework. Be respectful even if you can't fully understand their pain. Learn how you can support them without further burdening them. Then help educate others so they don't have to.

Another post of Momstrosity's that I have watched a couple of times is this one. She talks about how her family was super racist. Later in life, she adopted two African-American children and her family not only loves them as if they are from her womb, but they have completely changed hearts and are now activists! She went on to say that what truly changes the heart are relationships and that truly is key. Meet, engage, discuss, learn, empathize, trust, try and understand the struggles of all cultures. Be kind. Just because you aren't a person of color doesn't mean you can't use your voice on their behalf.

Screenshot of this video

Focus on the illness, not the symptoms.

The rioting, the looting, the fires - all of that makes me sad. That said, I understand it is a symptom of the overarching illness, it is not the problem in and of itself. Yet, it's often the one thing that is focused on. You begin to notice that people are quick to post about the riots yet those same people say nothing when the murders happened. Why is that? Can you see how that could raise an eye to the POC community to only speak about the rage but not the injustice?

I've watched this CNN video a handful of times now. There are a few quotes from that video that really impacted me. The screenshot above reminds me of how my parents told me I could not have a boyfriend until I graduated college. That's not really realistic - I was a teenager. I was social. Dating was inevitable. And that restriction on me just caused me to lie to my parents. To not tell them anything about my boyfriends. And again, that's a very simplified example, but it makes sense why the POC community is forced to act out. Because they have been repeatedly let down by the same people that are supposed to protect them. 

Talking to a colleague today and he mentioned that he was all for peaceful protests but didn't understand or condone the violence and that he has a lot of friends that disagree with him. I told him that I was in his same boat a couple of years ago. I didn't get it either. But I told him that what helped me understand was - picture being so defeated, so helpless, so outraged, so desperate, that you felt the only way to be heard was to act out. I mean. I am so passionate about BASEBALL. And that has nothing to do with me, or my family, my culture, my beliefs. Just stop and think about that magnitude of hurt.

That said - I also understand that there are many people who simply want to jump on the bandwagon and camouflage their looting and vandalism within these protests. Do I agree with that? Absolutely not. But it's merely a symptom. Let's focus on the illness. I also understand that the media likes you to assume that these malicious acts are being done by POC and that is not the case. So do your own research. Do not trust the media as you're passing judgement.

Posted by Rachelle here

Silence is the same as being complicit.


I will wrap this up by bringing this post full circle to how it started. I am well aware now that my silence was the same as being complicit. I should have spoken up then. And I still really don't know why my heart wasn't quite there at that point. But the past is the past, how can we focus on the future? Rachelle's post was so spot on. There is a new energy around this right now. Let's keep that going. Let's work on truly changing ourselves, not just letting this fade away and we go back to being passive. 

COVID forever changed my awareness on germ spreading, and the things I touch, and how quickly things can spread. I hope this moment in time also forever changes my awareness on racism and social injustice. I don't want to post just to post. I don't want to post just because everyone else is talking about it. I want to post because I do want to be part of the positive change and to share some of the things that truly changed my heart. 

I hope I can be as brave as my shopping forum friend who wasn't afraid to call me out or unfriend me. She could have easily tried to ignore it, let the resentment build, then lose her sh*t on me one day. Instead, she had a calm, but albeit difficult, conversation with me, spoke her case, and when she saw I was not on the same page as her, she cut me out of her life and moved on. Even though it took me some time, I more than understand I was wrong, and she was the one that planted that seed of change.



READ MORE... "Things I've learned"

Monday, November 25, 2019

Buying Lately

Well hey there guys! I don't know if it's because I had a shopping and brunch date with Jenna this weekend or because I was exchanging texts with Gina and Rachelle last night or because I purged my handbags and could picture every blog post photo I took with each of them that made me crave writing a blog post, but alas, here I am! Seemed fitting with Black Friday around the corner anyway. I do work from home now and admittedly don't shop near as much as I used to. I spend a lot of days in workout clothes thanks to midday workouts and teaching Pilates, but I still love me some shopping. I realized I accumulated quite a few new purchases, and thought I would share them! So let's get started.

READ MORE... "Buying Lately"

Saturday, July 27, 2019

My microblading experience

I've been going to my esthetician for over 4 years now for my lash extensions and if there is anyone I trust with my face, it is her! I've followed Katie to 3 different places now! She recently opened her own business called The Art of Beauty. It is located in Columbia, IL which is a suburb on the east side of the St. Louis metro area. Over the last couple of years, she's been tempting me with microblading. Every time I see her work on Instagram, it kept convincing me I needed this in my life. At one of my lash fill appointments in June, I told her I was finally ready to take the plunge! The thing about Katie is that she is amazing and her schedule is booked! I legit have my lash appointments booked out for a whole year just to ensure I get them scheduled at the times I need. One whole year out! So even though I told her in June I was ready for my brows, I knew it would be a few months before it actually happened. Plenty of time to mentally prepare! My appointment was booked for October 11th.

The Art of Beauty Combo Brows, Katie, Columbia, IL
Before and after
Combo microbladed/machine shaded brows
READ MORE... "My microblading experience"

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Haul '19

Nordstrom haul:

The sale that everyone loves and hates is here! I've been shopping this sale even before I was a blogger, so although my posting schedule is sporadic, I can't not shop this sale! I live for this sale! It's really the only time (other than Black Friday) that I actually prefer to shop it in store vs. online! I'm ruining the ending by showing you everything that I bought in the photo above, but for those of you that want to see how I narrowed it down to those decisions, you can read on for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

READ MORE... "Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Haul '19"

Sunday, July 7, 2019

My home office makeover


A little over a month ago, I shared in this post that I left my job of 13 years and started a new job that allows me to work from home. We had a home office already, but it was pretty haphazard in terms of furniture and decor. It turned into a quasi storage space with a desk in it, and of course my infamous mirror I use for my outfit selfies. Since I'd be spending so much time in this room now, I really wanted to make it a space that I loved, a space that made me feel good, and a space that was more intentional. It took a few weeks of buying things here and there and painting, but it is officially done! I couldn't not share the transformation. Let's get started!


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Monday, July 1, 2019

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Catalog 2019

You guys! Admittedly, I'm not on Instagram as much just because that's the way life goes and priorities change. But the one thing that does not change is that I still hoard ALL my Nordstrom Notes for the Anniversary Sale! And when you're not on Instagram, you don't realize until now that the Anniversary Sale is only two weeks away! Insert girlie squeals here! I ran to my mailbox to see if the catalog was waiting for me, but duh. There's this thing called the internet and the Anniversary Sale catalog is online. So here are all my picks! Let's get started!

Topshop Sweater Sale $44.90After sale $68
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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Europe recap day 4: Notre Dame, boat tour, dinner

Welp. Life has been extremely crazy since we got back from Europe. I never imagined it would take me this long to recap the trip, but alas, even if it takes me the rest of the year, I am determined to document everything from the trip! It's kind of nice because I'm able to relive it as I put these posts together. Putting together these posts also makes me realize how much we actually did and saw! I mean. I'm only on day 4. DAY FOUR! Yet this is post number 7! Each day could easily break down into 2-3 posts thanks to all the content. Anyway! Let's go ahead and move on to part two of day 4. If you want a refresher on how part one of day 4 went, you can get yourself caught up here first.

Notre Dame Paris, April 2019
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