Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Hero

Watch Yohannes Gebregeorgis, an Ehtiopian political refugee, came to the US as a librarian. He found there were no children's books in Ethiopia's main language. After writing one himself, he set up the nonprofit Ethiopia Reads and moved home to set up libraries and reading centers.

When the library allocated $1,200 for the purchase of Ethiopian books the following year, Gebregeorgis was unable to find any, because of prohibitive publishing, purchasing and importing costs in his home country.

So he wrote one. "Silly Mammo" was the first bilingual Amharic-English children's book, and it led Gebregeorgis to establish Ethiopia Reads in 1988. Using proceeds from book sales and grassroots book-a-thons, the nonprofit financed his efforts to bring children's libraries to Ethiopia.

In 2002, Gebregeorgis left his job and his home and returned to Ethiopia with 15,000 books donated by the San Francisco Children's Library. With them, he opened the Shola Children's Library on the first floor of his Addis Ababa home.

Or check out the CNN link HERE.

CNN Heroes: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact

See all the Top 10 CNN Heroes with musical guests Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and John Legen, striving to make the world a better place. . . .

"In this time of economic turmoil, it is such a relief to know that there are people like these heroes, people who care more for others than they do for themselves," CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper said.

The top 10 CNN Heroes, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from an initial pool of more than 3,700 viewer nominations, were each honored with a documentary tribute and introduced by a celebrity presenter. Each of the top 10 Heroes receives $25,000.

Tad Agoglia, Houston, Texas: Agoglia's First Response Team provides immediate help to areas hit by natural disasters. In a little more than a year, he and his crew have helped thousands of victims at more than 15 sites across the United States, free of charge.

Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Moved by the lack of children's books and literacy in his native Ethiopia, Gebregeorgis established Ethiopia Reads, bringing free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of Ethiopian children.

Carolyn LeCroy, Norfolk, Virginia: After serving time in prison, LeCroy started the Messages Project to help children stay connected with their incarcerated parents. She and volunteer camera crews have taped roughly 3,000 messages from inmates to their children.

Anne Mahlum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: On her daily morning jogs, Mahlum used to run past homeless men. Today, she's helping to transform lives by running with them, and others as part of her Back On My Feet program.

Liz McCartney, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana: McCartney moved to New Orleans to dedicate herself to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors move back into their homes. Her nonprofit, St. Bernard Project, has rebuilt the homes of more than 120 families for free.

Phymean Noun, Toronto, Ontario: Growing up in Cambodia, Noun struggled to complete high school. Today, she offers hundreds of Cambodian children who work in Phnom Penh's trash dump a way out through free schooling and job training.

David Puckett, Savannah, Georgia: Puckett started PIPO Missions to bring ongoing prosthetic and orthotic care to those in need. Since November 2000, he has helped more than 420 people in southeastern Mexico, free of charge.

Maria Ruiz, El Paso, Texas: Several times a week, Ruiz crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico, bringing food, clothing and toys to hundreds of impoverished children and their families.


Marie Da Silva, Los Angeles, California: Having lost 14 family members to AIDS, the nanny funds a school in her native Malawi, where half a million children have been orphaned by the disease.

Viola Vaughn, Kaolack, Senegal: The Detroit, Michigan, native moved to Senegal to retire. Instead, a group of failing schoolchildren asked her to help them pass their classes. Today, her 10,000 Girls program is helping hundreds of girls succeed in school and run their own businesses.

More than one million votes were cast for the CNN 2008 Heroes: A Special Report

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My First Micro Loan

I just finished my first micro loan transaction investment towards an entrepreneur in Cambodia--through Kiva.Org.

Khin Savun, 21, is a professional who decorates handicrafts while living at home in the Phnom Penh. Since 2003, she has been using beads and other materials to make flowers on women's clothes to earn a living and typically makes US$5 each day. Decorated dresses are a kind of Khmer traditional dress and people wear them during the Water Festival, P'chum Ben or Khmer New Year. It takes around 7–10 days to complete each dress and its price is expensive. Most of the people prefer handmade than machine made. She said she learned how to decorate from her mother and she started doing this business because she was not married yet. Khin's husband is a pig breeder making around US$6 each day. The high prices of rice, fertilizers, meat and feed for animals had made his family work very hard to support the family. He said the purchase price of rice dust, soybean and other stuff for pigs are double what he used to pay, so when he sells the pigs it is not balanced with the cost of raising them. This couple hopes the government will soon take action on inflation. Khin Savun would like to take out a loan of US$1200 to expand the livestock and grow rice. She believes the investment would bring her more profit.

Good Luck to Khin!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ten Worst Drinks in America

Best selling book "Eat This, Not That" came up with the
Ten Worst Drinks in America
, and boy are they frightful.

What most people don't know is that the biggest roadblock between you and the body you want isn't found at the end of a fork, but at the bottom of a glass. As a country we take in 21 percent of our daily calories from beverages and, according to the FDA, the average American takes in 82 grams of added sugars every day. That's 20 teaspoons, which contribute an empty 317 calories to our already calorie-saturated diets.

The worst ever drink ever award goes to:

Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake

2,310 calories
108 g fat (64 g saturated)
266 g

Let's look at America's Worst Drink in numbers:

73: The number of ingredients that go into this milkshake.
66: The number of teaspoons of sugar this drink contains.
11: The number of Heath Bars you would have to eat to equal the number of calories found in one Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake.
12: The average number of minutes it takes to consume this drink.
240: The number of minutes you'd need to spend on a treadmill, running at a moderate pace, to burn it off.

Read the full article

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Girl Effect

Studies show that educated women will marry later, have higher incomes, will have healthier and more educated children .

A woman will reinvest 90% of their income back to her family. A man will reinvest 30 to 40%.

Do something: send a girl to school, give her a micro loan, spread the word.

Watch the Girl Effect:

Click HERE for more info.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The State of Philippine Education

I was saddened with the state of the Philippine schools, especially the one featured in this Sine Totoo episode. First because the children of Masbate start their daily 7 kilometer, 3-hour walk to school at 3 in the morning. And when they do get to school, they are hungry and tired but brave dilapidated classrooms, with tattered blackboards, no electricity, school buildings that are about to collapse (if there is a school building to speak of), a lack of desks and chairs, books, and supplies for an average of 120 students in a classroom, the Philippines ranks 41 out of 45 in Asian countries in Math and Science.

Check out the video HERE.

Wouldn't it be great to raise funds and build a small classroom per village?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

!0 Clean Ways to Power the 21st Century

According to Ken Thar of Live Science, scientists are racing to perfect greener sources of energy to improve the environment and reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Some predict a hydrogen economy. Others say solar is the way to go. Wilder schemes involve sky-high wind turbines or antimatter engines. LiveScience explores the expectations, myths and realities of 10 top possibilities: solar, wind, coal, biomass (energy stored in organic matter), hydro-electricity, ocean thermal energy conversion, nuclear, hydrogen and oxygen fuel cells, and the controversial anti-matter energy.

Antimatter is the Bizarro twin of matter, made up of antiparticles that have the same mass as ordinary matter but with opposite atomic properties known as spin and charge. When the opposed particles meet, they annihilate each other and release tremendous amounts of energy as dictated by Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2.

Check them out at Power of the Future.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Here are some e-bike models I came across this week:

EZip Trailz Steel Women's Electric Bicycle reaches a top speed of 15 MPH and has up to 25 mile range with normal pedaling! For ages 13 and up, not to exceed 240 lbs. Clean, Green No Gasoline. Battery is included. $399.99

Dubbed the bionic bike, the Charger, like all ebikes, allows you to ride uphill, without having to be an olympic athlete. Sale price $799.

Canadian Entrepreneur, Peter Sandler, President of Therapy Products and Inventor of the E-V Sunny Bicycle developed the first all Solar electric bicycle driven completely from power derived from the Sun’s Rays.

The E-V Sunny Bicycle has light absorbing Solar panels built right into the Wheels, creating continual power from the Sun’s Rays, and maintaining a constant charge to the batteries. The bike is propelled by a 500 watt front hub motor.

The variable speed electronic controller drives the bike to speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour. Overall weight of the bicycle is 75 lbs. and comes with 17 amp hr. batteries and a built in battery charger.

Cost of the E-V Sunny Bicycle is $1295.00 and comes with a 90-day warrantee. The cost of the kit starts at $795.00, includes after sales service.

E-bikes, on the average, run 30% faster than a manual bike, with less effort. Plugging in a standard electric bicycle consumes will allow the bike to charge up to an average of about 9 amp-hours, or 216 watt-hours while consuming less than a dime's worth of electricity. This electricity, even if generated from a coal fired plant, would produce less carbon dioxide than a car would just starting up.

Friday, June 06, 2008

My E-Bike Dream

I have been obsessed with getting an electric bike lately. With the high gas prices, it is the best way to start disentangling myself from the fuel addiction. I wish to use the bike as a means of transport. But at this stage, I will need some help as I don't want to appear at work as a sweat ball. The e-bike will help me through the hills and back--a moderate work-out. It's like climbing an upward escalator, or walking on a walk-a-lator.

How wonderful if there were no cars, just e-bikes.

Well, here's a video of my e-bike dream come true. In my heaven, there will be e-bikes!

Watch it here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Planet Green

It is so exciting to realize that the our planet is shifting--in consciousness, that is. What used to be an excessive lifestyle is now old-fashioned. Measuring our carbon footprint has become a matter of responsibility and so modern. The smaller the impact we make on the earth in terms of waste and consumption, the smaller the footprint. Living simply is making a comeback and tilting the scales in terms of lifestyle.

And I say, yey!

The Discovery Channel has even devoted a whole new series to this emerging consciousness. Check out Planet Green--promoting a green lifestyle that respects our planet. From fashion and beauty tips that encourage less packaging waste to why we should wear garments made from organic cotton, green renovation, eco-friendly bars and restos-this channel is a refreshing venue for all those who wish to do something small and yet, make a difference.

I was so happy that our third-word practice of using a rag, instead of paper towels to wipe off spills, saves billions in landfill space.

With shows like Alter Eco, Stuff Happens, and Wasted, revel in all the information you need to live responsibly.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Visit 29-Day Giving Challenge

I came across this site, 29 Gifts.Com and I was challenged to to try it out. In this times of financial crunching ourselves, it has been a challenge to think of others who are more needy.

My cousin, R and I, had breakfast in Manila before I left. We discussed thinking and serving others as a way to widen our perspectives and think outside our own lives, which always seem smaller than what others have to endure.

So on May 20, a man standing outside of Walmart handed me a small spiritual newsletter:

"Please, won't you help me, ma'am? Everyone has been ignoring me all morning. I just need a one dollar donation."

"Sure," I said, handing me the dollar.

He said thanks in a deep and sincere way, like a light went on in him.

I looked back and the others did ignore him. I stayed for two minutes and not one pedestrian even looked at him.

Little did he know that his deep thanks lit up a light in me, too, inspiring me to be conscious of more opportunities to give.

Take up the challenge at here. It's easier than you think.

How shall we give today?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Family Imagines No Possessions

In this article in the New York Times, a family aims to give away all their accumulated possessions and "let the Universe take them for a ride" instead. They aim to be organic homesteaders in a movement called voluntary simplicity.

“It’s amazing the amount of things a family can acquire,” said Mrs. Harris, 28, attributing their good life to “the ridiculous amount of money” her husband earned as a computer network engineer in this early Wi-Fi mecca.

Watch them change everything about their lives as consumers and discover true values; finding out what life is really made of: Love and Happiness--at their blog, Cage Free Family. Read the full article here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In Three's

My dentist, Dr. Caboboy, told me what I already knew. When we go home to Manila, there are three things an immigrant does: visit the dentist, re-bond hair, and go for a facial.

Dental work is so ridiculously expensive here, with a filling going for $100 each, a crown for $300-plus dollars, and root canal treatments for more than $200 each. And that's at Western Dental (where I go), probably the cheapest in town--"pero hindi sosyal," said Dr. Cab.

And so if dental work here exceeds $900, better buy a round-trip ticket home.

Here there is no hair re-bonding like we know it in the Manila salons, run by Koreans. And there are Japanese re-bonding systems here, they are in the main cities and extremely expensive, like $750. (Almost a round-trip ticket home).

In the meantime, we color our hair from a box, and relax it with the African-American relaxing blend na ubod ng lakas.

When we lived in Pasig, we were a block away from Dr. Nazal's derma office, where a dermatologist will give you a thorough facial. There are no facials here. And Dr. Cab has to wait to pop her whiteheads (complete with steroid shot) when she takes her next trip home.

Well, she is in Philippines now--hopefully, doing everything we can't afford to do here in the land of opportunity. She said she missed the beach, barkada, and mountain-climbing.

"Doon, simple lang ang buhay kahit walang pera. After work, gimik with your friends," she said. "Dito, wala ka kayang maka-usap dahil sobrang pagod."

Friday, March 21, 2008

My 15.4-minute mile

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." - Emil Zatopek, 1952 Olympic Marathon gold medalist

(photo by A.G Pennypacker)

Just this year, I was inspired to run. I still don't know exactly why--maybe it was my (more senior) friend's story of his 4th year running the Bay To Breakers San Francisco Annual Marathon. I thought, if he could do it, maybe so can I. Also, since this has been a time for stretching the boundaries of my mind and spirit, why not also stretch the capacity of my body--strengthening muscles that I did not know I had.

Even if I seemed athletic (I played varsity volleyball in high school, exercised most of my adult life, and played badminton seriously), I was always attracted to the seeming peace and solitude of running.

And so, on a treadmill I went, one night, after failing to complete many spinning classes.

At first, there was pain everywhere--my shins, my knees, my shoulders, and my neck, even at my back. I did about a third-of-a-mile and gave up. I was sore the next day.

To get rid of the soreness, I ran again, tyring to go for half a mile. After a week, I was surprised to have run longer without much effort. Soon, I was running a mile in 16 minutes. My Bay to Breakers friends told me that when I break a mile, all the pain will be gone. And he was right! As if the body had to protect itself, the endorphins probably kicked in and I was running more than a mile--without even thinking about it.

I ran better and longer with music so I borrowed my husband's and put my own play list in it, complete with Ricky Martin songs. I also got headphones, for TV listening. Currently, I am running 2 miles in 33 minutes. (I walk 1-minute in between).

I bike to the gym, which serves as my warm-up. My heart rate is up at 144 and I hold on to 136-140 range while running. It also takes about 3200 steps in a mile (confirmed by my pedometer). I haven't run outside yet but I will soon.

I have let this 5k training tips become my guide:

5-Week 5k Training Schedule

Week 1:

Monday - Run/Walk 15 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 15 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run/Walk 25 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 2:

Monday - Run 20 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 20 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run/Walk 35 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 3:

Monday - Run 25 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 25 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run 30 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 4:

Monday - Run 25 minutes, Tuesday - Run 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run 30 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run 45 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 5:

Monday - Run 20 minutes, Tuesday - Run 20 minutes, Wednesday - Off, Thursday – Run/Walk 15 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday – Race Day, Sunday – Off

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Wear It

I have always been a casual dresser, much to my mom's frustration. But after getting hooked on my favorite shows now, What Not to Wear and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, and Project Runway, I just might have a chance for a stylish, more mature (but not old) wardrobe, instead of sticking to jeans and tops, circa 1980's.

Many people say I look young. Maybe they mean I look stuck in college--and sometimes, that is not really a compliment. There comes a time in one's life, where looking young is not applicable. Instead, looking stylish and professional, or someone-to-take seriously, and respectable--may be the look I have to go for.

Jillian was my favorite in Project Runaway Season 4. She had classic but feminine lines.

She was creative and fashionable and subtle.

Many of the make-overs in What Not To Wear and Tim Dunn said that they just didn't think that looking good can make you feel infinitely better about yourself, specially on the inside. The make-overs usually end up with tears, as they couldn't imagine that it is easy to look good and they have actually forgotten about themselves.

I always thought that beauty should come from within. But after watching these shows almost daily, I am inclined to think that we must SHOW that beauty if it is from within, and share it with others.

I always thought that beauty was intimidating. I am realizing now that it can also be an inspiration to uplift many who may need a lift. No use hiding a bright and positive spirit in plain clothes and a retreating personality. I also know that everyone has beauty. You just have to radiate it.

Remember, the rules are: no baggy sweat suits, accent the waist (or the smallest part of the body), fit is very important, and add a punch of color. Also have those 10 wardrobe staples: a dressy white shirt, dressy black pants, a little black dress, etc. (I don't know it all yet)--check out Tim Dunn's site.

And as one of the stylists said, "You cannot control how the world perceives you. You can only control how you are presented."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Use Your Superpowers

(photo by David Haggard of

I dreamed last night that we all had special gifts--superpowers, if you will. In my dream, these powers were high energy that we can use to lift others up, probably even save them.

I was compelled to write about what I learned from the dream. What a privilege to facilitate thought into word.

If you have beauty, use these powers to lift someone up. Hug someone, smile at everyone, ask what you can do to make their day beautiful like your gift. Lead them to see their own beauty, outside and in. If you are kind, help someone out randomly everyday. If you are smart, teach someone how to read or how to count or how to make a living. If you are musical, play music at your church or volunteer your talent to your church, just because. If you are wealthy, give to your favorite cause every month or start you own group to help out a cause. If you are healthy, give blood, give bone marrow, enlist to become an organ donor. If you are crafty, craft out your art to sell and fundraise for your cause.

Our superpowers can save the world.

How shall we use our superpowers today?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Oprah's Big Give

Oprah's new show, Oprah's Big Give, aired last week at ABC. Ten finalists from all over the US arrived in Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To win, each contestant must make dreams come true for total strangers and show the world that one person can make a big difference.

From helping out a widow and her two young daughters keep their home, to helping a special needs teacher secure a facility for her school, to scholarships for disadvantaged children, the contestants must find ways to help out these families in need, with only a $2500 initial fund.

The contestants came up with an average of $50k per collection. Find out who won this round and who went home. Check out the video here.

Also, if you have ideas on how to give big, share them here.

The show encourages us to think about what you can do in your neighborhood, in your town, in your family, among your friends. How you can touch someone's life? Come up with a fun way to raise cash or a creative way to give back without using money at all…and, of course, plan a big reveal.

Tell them your idea, and Nate just might show up at your door!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Counting My Blessings

I have counted my struggles. And so to keep balanced, I must remember to count my blessings. Actually, I always do--I just don't get to write it. I guess it's easier to write when struggling and just keep the bliss to myself.

Though it is still officially winter, it is like Spring here off San Francisco. This is the reason we chose Northern California in the first place. The weather is beautiful! A Spring-looking day just like this calls for celebrating blessings, indeed!

Recently, R and I had many blessed days. After bringing our youngest to preschool, we ventured out to have breakfast together at our local diner, Sylvia's Country Kitchen. Sylvia's is always full for breakfast and brunch. They also won the best in Antioch Award for Breakfast service.

What a treat for R and I to have their chicken and avocado omelette burrito. The serving could have fed three, so we just split and took home the rest (for another breakfast at home). The breakfast burrito came with two sides--silver dollar pancakes and the homemade coffee-crunch muffins I like. For $15, I think we did well, as we were stuffed and the food was delicious. (I have to tell my Tito S, who loves Denny's, to re-think his favorite breakfast place. And I have told Uncle J to hang out here next time).

Because we had such a good start, the week yielded even more blessings.

R and I attended our first Filipino wedding (cousin of his business partner) in the Bay Area. It was a simple wedding, where the groom marinated his own barbeque (they own Kadoks BBQ, very popular BBQ joint in that side of the penninsula) and the bride made her own kakanin (the most delicious and home-made maja blanca, leche flan, Biko, and kuchinta I ever had--and I don't even eat Biko!). The people were simple but very friendly and generous--they sent us home with lots of cake and kakanin for the kids.

The wedding ended at 4 pm and since R and I were all dressed up with nowhere to go, we explored the City and ended up in Ghirardelli Square with the tourists. We were led to the hip seafood bar McClintock and Kuleto's, enjoyed the ambience, people-watching, and the calamari and wine--and promised to visit the city as often as we could, lest we forget how beautiful it is.
(We also realized that we had a phone camera!)

I realized we aren't so financially tight anymore, or maybe I just leave the budget to God, and He always makes it work. I learned to loosen up and enjoy more things, which leads to other nice pleasures, and more blessings. I learned to appreciate R--all his hard-work and the way he likes to enjoy life. We are blessed to have some flexi-time to enjoy the pleasures of life. We may not have much, but we have time to stop and smell the roses. . .and the coffee for breakfast.

When you count your blessings, you think of more--our kids are healthy and happy, we get to bring them to school (together, sometimes), we get to meet nice and generous people, and most of all, I am certain that God provides.

Count, count, count and enjoy your blessings. They will lead to more. . .

Monday, February 18, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Did you know that February 10 to 17 has been declared Random Acts of Kindness Week?

I make a conscious effort to be kind. I hold doors open, specially for seniors. I have picked up stray animals and adopted them, I have helped strangers when my husband thought it was ridiculous or dangerous.

I have to work harder and do more kindness, even amidst our own struggles. And for this week, I will work at being kinder to my husband because sometimes I am too hard on him. . .

Do something kind today--and the challenge is not to let anyone know.

Here are some ideas from Acts of Kindness.Org:

Say hello, visit a friend, let another go first, forgive mistakes, share a smile, open the door, lend a hand, be tolerant, offer a hug, do an act of kindness everyday.

Have fun, be kind!

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Yummy Chocolate Education

It has been said that chocolate is "food for the Gods," and why not? Chocolate can be glorious when the experience is full and right--from the intoxicating rich, dark chocolate smell to the swirling of a heavenly confusion of decadence and the feeling of being in love, to the many health benefits it brings.

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that are known to protect the heart and lower blood pressure. It also contains theobromine, a mood-elevator. A study reported by the BBC indicated that melting chocolate in one's mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.

However, consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit.

Chocolate residue found in several jars from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras, from around 1100 B.C. is the earliest evidence to date of the use of cacao. The name chocolate most likely comes from central Mexico, although it may have been influenced by the Mayans.

Today, I met Analee Herman. Daughter of an painter, Herman is an artist herself, proclaiming her medium to be chocolate. She introduced me to the pleasures of handmade truffles and her new venture, Bella Luna Gourmet Chocolate Truffles. She has perfected 4 truffle varieties: Intense Chocolate, Merry Mocha, Raspberry, and Coconut.

Each ganache filling is made of fresh cream and dark chocolate whipped together and then rolled into melted chocolate and dusted with either chocolate powder of toasted coconut flakes. She makes them as ordered, without preservatives or wax, found in other artisan chocolates.

Each truffle was an experience. It is rich, yet it melts in my mouth ever so lightly, as if swirling gently around my palate, never overwhelming. Even my camera was having a good time!

Be careful, chocolate can be addictive. But then again, why not?

Call Bella Luna Chocolates at (510) 821-1718. They do only wholesale, corporate or bridal accounts. The truffles will make wonderful gift basket stuffers or Valentine's Day gifts. XOXO

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Waiting it out in marriage

Unhappily married couples who divorce are no happier in the long run than their counterparts who remain married. said researcher Linda J. Waite of Beliefnet. This is because nearly two thirds of the couples who are unhappy in their marriages, describe their marriage as happy five years later, while unhappy people who divorce are most likely to still be unhappy. This seems to be true with couples who stayed together even when faced with problems as serious as infidelity or drug use. In fact, the more extreme the unhappiness, the more likely the marriage was to turn around. Of those who rated their marriage very unhappy, 8 out of 10 had found success with the same spouse five years later.

So I am forced to look at my 17-year old marriage in the mirror. Our first years were tough from the get-go. We had a baby right away and then my husband was hospitalized for a heart condition. Shuttling between the hospital and my newborn was not easy, add to that a financial crisis that my husband endured (probably this was what got him sick in the first place).

The next years were easier. Hinged on the business success of my husband, we seemed content. We had our third child, we were able to travel. We also adopted our daughter during that stretch.

We migrated to the States 3 years ago and the hardships started all over again. My husband found a back-breaking job that he was not used to and then got laid off from an office job. We did well on year 2 but this year seems quite challenging as we are back to square one and no stable jobs.

Financial difficulty is the thorn of our marriage. This year, we had numerous arguments about money. But actually, it is never about money. It is always about principles, values, discipline, respect, and hard work--and how different my husband and I view these.

I can't deny that there were times, I wondered if we were better off separately. But then, I thought, we would be poor separately, so what's the point? We then decided to work at together and iron out our differences.

During the downs, my spouse is heavy, and I sure feel like he is dragging me down. There were many tempting downs when I thought anywhere would be better than with him. Let's just say he fell short of my expectations. But then, after 17 years, have learned to lower my expectations. And he is open to suggestions--which is great! Through all the ups and downs, we know there will be ups soon.

Beliefnet said that the couples actively worked to solve the problems-for example, they sought counseling. In some they simply waited out the problem-the children grew up, a spouse landed a job-and in some the husband and wife took responsibility for finding happiness in other venues than the marriage. Yet the researchers also point out that most of the couples that describe themselves as unhappy in their marriages thought of those same marriages as happy five years earlier-and likely would again. In other words, most marriages go through prolonged periods of difficulty, but if the partners are committed to commitment as well as to each other, they are likely to come out happy with their relationship as years go by.

Wait it out with your spouse. Unless he is a physical threat to your life, my cousin said that there's really nowhere to go. Should you divorce your spouse, did you know that chances are big that you will attract the same kind of man, thus, have the same problems all over again--this time, with hurt children and stepchildren, ex-in laws, and disapproving new in-laws, with money problems again for sure and alimony to boot!

I know of someone who would have been still married had she waited a bit more for her husband to get on his feet after his Master's Degree. I know of another who, if she knew the hardships of separating from her husband, would have turned a blind eye. Now, she has lost custody of her kids, and her proper share of their properties. I also know many who divorce their spouses, only to marry the same kind of personality again (and again, for some).

I'd rather take my chances with my kids and and not bequeath to my husband the responsibility to be happy and well-off, for those are my responsibilities to myself.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Midtown Lunch.Com

Attention all New Yorkers and would-be East Coast tourists, check out Midtown Lunch.Com, a blog about cheap lunches Zach Brooks discovers around New York City.

The site is almost 2 years old and has about 2000 readers daily.

Way to go!

Also of note is Not Eating Out in NY, where a Brooklyn-ite, passionate about food and cooking, realized that everyone in New York was serving up essentially the same things, under different colored awnings.

And then check out Freegan Kitchen.Com, where the Filipino custom of pagpag gives rise to gourmet meals from the dumpster. (Well, maybe not!). Watch their dumpster diving adventures and delights in this video.

Bon Appetit!

John Muir Community Health Mobile Clinic

For the underprivileged and uninsured, Saturday mornings at the Village Community Resource Center means free access to medical services and even medicines. Every Saturday, the John Muir Mobile Community Health Clinic faithfully rolls in and opens its van doors to adults and children who need urgent medical care.

A mother takes her 1-year old toddler in for asthma. An elderly woman seeks treatment for her back pain.

Catalina Estradi brought her 2-year old son, Ernesto, to see the doctor because of a lingering bad cough.

“I am here because of a sore throat,” said repeat patient and Brentwood resident Maria del Rocio Soriano. “They are nice and they treat me well,” she said in very slow and broken English.

On board today is John Muir Registered Labor and Delivery Nurse and qualified bi-lingual interpreter, Jackie Michaels. She welcomes the patients into the van and onto the designated exam rooms, where they treat an average of 20 patients a day, depending on the season.

“Winter is flu season,” says Michaels. “We held a flu clinic last month and gave about 200 flu shots.”

Michaels explained that the mobile clinic holds a staff of 4 volunteers (nurses and staff) and one doctor.

“Our services and meds are free,” said Michaels. “We are here for the working poor or the uninsured. We administer the urgent care that they need and refer them to the proper County health programs if they need it. We try to get them into the system, make sure that they get the follow through care that they need, and make sure that they don’t fall into the cracks.”

Hemo-dialysis Registered Nurse and volunteer Alma Pack quotes the Bible, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

A full-time nurse at the John Muir facilities in Walnut Creek and Concord and at the Sutter Delta Dialysis Center, Pack is delighted to help out the mobile clinic’s patients while sharpening her Spanish-speaking skills. She has been volunteering every Saturday for two years.

Pleasant Hill private practitioner and family physician Dr. Patrick Jolin has been committed to the mobile community clinic for six years now.

“Sometimes, it’s better here because I don’t have to deal with the financial side of things, like going through insurance and collection,” said Jolin. “It’s great yet humbling to help people that I know need assistance and to try to make a difference in their lives.”

Jolin enumerates respiratory infections, diabetes and high blood pressure care as the more popular ailments he treats and explains that they dispense limited urgent care, referring emergency cases to hospitals.

“I may be treating them, but the patients teach me a lot in terms of the struggles they go through in terms of health, without much economic resources,” said Jolin.

The John Muir Mobile Community Health Clinic comes to the Village Community Resource Center at 633 Village Drive, Brentwood, on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Call (925) 513-3107 for more details.