Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations

Typically, we spend Easter Sunday in a pleasant frenzy. Getting dressed up.  Coordinating gifts for the boys with the Easter Bunny. Serving at Mass. Cooking up something small to add to the feast we would inevitably share with my extended family, all 30+ of us crammed into some relative’s home to celebrate the holiday.

This year is, obviously, more subdued. I think it’s easy for me to mourn the Easter that could have been — and to feel annoyed with this pandemic and its effects on my life, particularly in light of this holiday’s importance to my faith and to my entire family.

And that emotional weight seems a bit heavier when I take into account:

  1. I haven’t seen my extended family in over a month.
  2. My grandparents wish that they could see my kids and me, since being around their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is one of their highlights of any holiday.
  3. I’m continuing to grapple with my sense of parental failure, particularly since I dropped the ball a bit and completely overlooked compiling an Easter basket for Tadashi and Hiro.

Going into this Easter Sunday — particularly last night, as I prepared to fall asleep — I wrestled with an overall sense of sadness, frustration, and emptiness. How could this day be special when it seems like everything has gone so wrong?

Continue reading “Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations”

2020 Goals: Quarterly Check-In

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had set a few goals for myself (you can read the full post here). Now, given that the first quarter of the year is over, I wanted to complete a quick check-in and share with you all my progress so far… So, here we go!


Check-In: My 2020 Goals

  • Achieve my goal weight of 140 lbs.
    • Progress: In an unfortunate turn of events, I had actually gained quite a bit of weight between January and February. Probably due to the free food at work? Nevertheless, since I started working from home full-time earlier this month due to coronavirus concerns, I’ve been more intentional about eating home-cooked meals, implementing intermittent fasting, and staying active. So I’ve actually lost a few pounds and a couple of inches since the beginning of this month! Still quite a ways away from my goal weight, but I’ll keep moving forward.
  • Publish 52 blog posts by the end of the year.
    • Progress: Given that this is Week 14 of the year, I should have published 14 blog posts by now. Sadly, this post brings my total published post count to five. Don’t worry: my COVID-19 creative sprint actually put me in a good place to publish a bit more content this month, so you’ll be reading more from me in the near future.
  • Practice self-care regularly: daily prayer/meditation, journaling, gratitude, exercise; monthly date nights with Reggie.
    • Progress: I know that I’ve skipped a day or two here and there within my different daily practices. However, holistically, I’ve made these different tasks a priority in my daily routine — even intentionally carving out time in my work-from-home schedule, given that I no longer have my one-hour commute to meditate, journal, and read. Overall, I feel positive that these daily self-care regimens have been helping with my mental and emotional health.
      Monthly date nights with Reggie, however, have not been a priority. Partly because quarantines don’t allow us to go out on dates. But also because, candidly, we’ve been struggling to balance taking care of our marriage with all of our other obligations (i.e., my work, Reggie’s work, our children, our home life, our extended families, this global pandemic, a complete shift in how we manage our family life since being forced to shelter in place, etc.), that carving out time to spend one-on-one didn’t seem like a possibility. Don’t worry: we’re not in crisis mode; however, we’ve realized that being stuck together in quarantine — without work or other people as distractions — is an opportune time for us to tackle some underlying marital woes. More on that later this week.

Check-In: 20 Things to Do in 2020, a.k.a. My Annual Bucket List

(listed in no particular order)

To-DoStatusNotes
Sign up for a library card.PendingUnfortunately, didn’t get a chance to do this before the current shelter-in-place order impacted the local libraries’ operating hours. TBD on whether or not I can do this by year’s end.
Plant and maintain a terrarium with the boys.In progressPlanted a little terrarium kit with Tadashi* and Hiro* some time in January. Terrarium is currently sitting on the window sill by my desk. Is the plant alive? Questionable.
Take a calligraphy class.PendingI was hoping to do this in-person, but I think I should research some virtual options at this point.
Complete a Couch to 5K program.In progressJust started my Couch to 5K program this week! 7.5 more weeks to go…
Run a 5K.PendingI intended to sign up for a formal race. However, I may be a bit more flexible and count an “unofficial” 5K, a.k.a. running that distance on my own time, given the potential that formal races might not occur for the rest of the year.
Go to a live concert.PendingSame concerns as above.
Buy a house.In progressYes, “in progress”!
Get triple lobe piercings.PendingSame concerns as above.
Get a tattoo with Vinh Huynh at Ironwave Ink.CompleteGot this done in mid-January!
Get a tattoo with Sai Li.In progressI initially had an appointment scheduled with Sai this Thursday, April 2nd. However, we had to reschedule due to the shelter-in-place orders. I’ll reschedule as soon as Sai confirms when she can reopen her tattoo studio.
Read at least 20 books.In progressCurrently reading my ninth book of the year! I definitely need to thank my Book of the Month subscription for making this bucket list item so easy to maintain.
Listen to one album a week.In progressFeel free to leave any album recommendations in the comments!
Re-learn (and memorize!) Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor.PendingI’m happy to share that I’ve been playing a lot more piano recently, since I have more time to spare during the day. However, have not yet cracked open Rachmaninoff’s Prelude.
Travel to a city I’ve never been to.PendingI was supposed to go to San Antonio last week for work, which would have completed this to-do. We’ll see if I can still make this happen this year.
Take an overnight trip with Reggie (no kids!).PendingSame concerns as above.
Dine at a Michelin star restaurant.PendingSame concerns as above.
Visit Disneyland during Christmas.PendingGod, I hope that Disneyland reopens by Christmastime…!
Complete a 30-day plank challenge.PendingI’ll tackle this after I complete my Couch to 5K program.
Host a private movie screening.PendingHopefully movie theaters reopen by the end of this year…!
Complete my 2020 bullet journal — artistic spreads and all!In progress… And I am oh-so-proud of how my bullet journal looks so far! I’ll share some spreads on here in the coming months.

And that is my progress so far this year. I admit that I haven’t completed as many things as I had hoped to do by this point. But I’m going to give myself some grace and recognize that, within this past month alone, my whole life (and the world, in general) has been completely upended. We all deserve a bit of a reprieve and some allowance to adapt to this new normal.

Looking at the month ahead, I’m committing to a sense of positivity. I’m prioritizing my personal (physical, mental, and emotional) health, focusing on my marriage, and aiming to keep my children healthy and happy. If I maintain this focus, I know that — organically — I’ll make more progress on my goals.

To all of you, readers: hope you’re all staying safe and sane and healthy. If you’ve had any goals set for this year, please let me know how you’re doing, as well, and let me know how I can support you! I know that 2020 has seemed like a dumpster fire of a year so far. But we still have nine months ahead of us and opportunities to create something positive.

Bright Spots: Birthday Celebrations

Your special day was more subdued than I envisioned.

I suppose “subdued” is what I should have expected, though, in the midst of a global pandemic and a regional directive to shelter in place. There’s only so much you can do when restaurants are closed, nonessential traveling is discouraged, and gatherings of 10 or more people are essentially banned.

Truthfully, I had hoped to throw you a huge shindig. Not necessarily in terms of the guest list (because I know you prefer to keep things intimate). But definitely in terms of energy. A party full of laughter and beer and burgers and donuts and all the people that you like to have in your corner.

I’m saddened that I couldn’t give you that celebration this year, especially since this is a milestone one for you. Amidst all this craziness going on in the world, I recognize that my reaction is selfish, probably a little misplaced. After all, there are bigger things going on in the world, right?

But after yesterday, after our “subdued” birthday celebration at home, I would have to say: no, celebrating you on your day — just the five of us, with the empty takeout boxes piled on the counter, with Henri whining for crumbs or potentially a big bite, with the boys’ chubby faces lighting up to sing you “happy birthday” and devouring their pieces of cake and ice cream — is the biggest thing going on in the world for us right now.

So, happy birthday to you, love. Thank you for being you. Thank you for weathering this storm. Thank you for always thinking about what’s best for me and the boys. On your 30th birthday, I hope we were able to give you the best, too.

Birthday cheers with my favorite guys…

My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19

Ah, what an interesting time we live in today…

With the current, constantly escalating situation with COVID-19, my little family and I (just like everyone else in the world) have felt the impact of the pandemic on our home life.

Professionally, my employer decided to temporarily shutter all of our global offices. So I’ve been working from home since last Monday, March 9th. I’ve had different business trips and projects either canceled or postponed until Q3 of the fiscal year – which means that (1) I’ve been tasked with identifying new, virtual ways of getting my job done and (2) a much busier August than I initially anticipated. Plus, I’m grappling with a general sense of uncertainty around how long this temporary remote work situation will last — and when I can expect to return to my work “normal.”

Personally, my home life has been disrupted. I find myself constantly reassessing how I spend my days (What structure can I put into place to make sure I get everything done? How can I make sure that I’m still taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally when my daily routines have been upended?). My little family and I are frequently realigning how we coexist within our three-bedroom apartment: how we can capitalize on spending more time with each other, how we can ensure that we carve out crucial times we need to be by ourselves, and how we can ensure that we’re still providing a sense of normalcy to our toddlers who, quite frankly, have no idea what’s going on.

Continue reading “My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19”

Happy New Year: 2020 Goals

Ah, here we are: at the start of a new year.

It’s funny: thanks to my favorite feature on my Day One Journal, my end-of-year journal entries automatically resurface through an “On This Day” recap, and I’ve had an opportunity to read through all my new year sentiments from the past six years or so.

There definitely were common themes.

I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to… but I will next year. I’m going to lose that weight. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to write more blog posts. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to take care of myself.

Forgive me, but this blog post is also going to be filled with some of the same stuff… We’re creatures of habit after all, right?

Continue reading “Happy New Year: 2020 Goals”

New Year, Who Dis?: My Commitments for 2019

Dear Readers,

Another year has come and gone, and I inadvertently abandoned this “beanbrain” blog about a quarter into 2018.

My apologies for that one. I hate making excuses as to why certain goals, especially my creative projects, fizzle out as the year progresses. But I’m just going to put my justifications out there. And you are welcome to pass judgment (or not).

  • Work became insane. I actually went through a pretty tumultuous professional year shortly after returning from maternity leave last January, which resulted in my moving into two different jobs throughout the course of the year. Both roles within the same company, both ultimately great moves for my long-term professional career — they just made my day-to-day schedule (and managing a blog) a little more challenging.
  • I found out I was pregnant again. Yup. I’m actually about 33 weeks along. I’ve been growing steadily larger and becoming more and more tired. And Reggie and I are just counting down the days until our little family grows a little bit bigger. So, of course, managing a second pregnancy and taking care of an increasingly rambunctious toddler leave little room to blog (and also made my fitness and weight loss goals pretty much nonexistent).

But…

It’s a new year. And I’ve committed to making 2019 my year of no excuses.

Continue reading “New Year, Who Dis?: My Commitments for 2019”

On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)

I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Tadashi got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.

And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.

I wrote on my 28th birthday that taking time for myself and for my (physical, emotional, and mental) well-being was one of my top priorities this year. And that still stands. It’s just been so difficult for a multitude of reasons:

Continue reading “On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)”

Dealing with a Sick Baby

Tadashi* hit an unfortunate milestone this week: his first sickness. More specifically, his first bout of the flu. Which has made for a very tumultuous past few days in the C.B. household.

Looking back, it’s simultaneously funny and miraculous how we even discovered he was sick: it was because our DVR malfunctioned. For whatever reason, my recording of Sunday’s post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” was botched. And, because I couldn’t bear to go to sleep and wake up to spoilers all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I re-activated my Hulu account and waited until midnight for the new episode to pop up on the streaming service.

And thank God that happened. Because, while waiting to watch the new episode, I realized that my sleeping baby was sleeping a lot longer than usual and was making an odd whistling sound while snoozing.

So, for whatever reason, Reggie and I decided to take Tadashi’s temperature. And lo and behold — he had a 104º fever.

That led to a bit of whirlwind night, filled with long phone wait-times with the Kaiser Advice Nurse, panicked conversations with my mom and my sister, and mini arguments about whether or not we should give Tadashi Tylenol, whether or not we should undress him some more, whether or not we should bring him to the emergency room…

Continue reading “Dealing with a Sick Baby”

On the Anxiety of Leaving My Kid for the First Time (and How Much I’ve Grown Since Then)

All right, I did it.

I not only survived my first week back at work post-maternity leave but I also somehow managed to get through the days without a single tear.

True, it was a short week: I purposely asked that my return date be a Thursday to ensure as easy of a transition as possible. And, while I was physically present, I honestly can’t say that my mind was operating the way that it should have been — speaking coherently in a business meeting is proving to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated…

But I’m cutting myself some slack. And I’m outwardly admitting: Yes, I’m human, and I’ve spent the past nearly six months of my life operating in a way that’s drastically different from working in an office environment, so this transition is probably going to be a bit challenging.

And, thankfully, I’m surrounded by so many work colleagues that not only hear what I’m saying but are also supportive.

So, on this Sunday evening, I’m not feeling as horrible as you think I would be — and that lack of dread has made me reflect on the first time I left Tadashi…

He was a few weeks old. It was a hot summer day in Dublin, Reggie and I were both on maternity leave, and I was deep in the throes of a particularly bad bout of baby blues. My older sister had recently moved to the apartment complex across the street, and she (and the rest of my family) knew that I was going through a tough time, mentally and emotionally. I had not left Tadashi’s side at all since coming home from the hospital.

Continue reading “On the Anxiety of Leaving My Kid for the First Time (and How Much I’ve Grown Since Then)”

Update: What I’ve Been Up to for the Past Month

Hello Readers,

I know that I haven’t shared a blog post in over a month, which I both find unacceptable for my writing goals and refuse to apologize for (the lack of apology comes from my commitment to embrace when I can’t be perfect!). But, now that I’ve found a few minutes, I’d love to share a quick update with you all.

As you know, the whole point of my motherhood blog is to be extremely honest about my parenting reality. And the truth is: this has been a tough month! And while I wanted so badly to stay on top of my writing, I, unfortunately, had to let it slide through the cracks while I got into a bit of a routine with taking care of Tadashi* on my own: Reggie went back to work, and his wedding photography work has picked up a bit, which means more time dedicated to a rapidly growing infant and little time for anything else.

Thankfully, I feel like I’m settling into a routine with my son (and hopefully can start to write a little bit every day moving forward!). Also, I feel like I’ve developed a great deal of self-confidence. Not only in my ability as a mother, but also in my willingness to accept all my inabilities as a mother (and a human being going through a lot of physical, mental, and emotional changes).

Continue reading “Update: What I’ve Been Up to for the Past Month”