Every dream is worthy

My index finger landed on the cold, metallic surface, warm to my touch. My husband’s finger followed, and rested atop mine, giving me the added push. The usually light spring felt exceptionally heavy.

The button in view registers our combined force. He lifted his finger, mine, still wobbling on the trackpad, bearing the weight of my uncertainty. Do I really want to do this?

I slid the cursor away while still applying pressure. Not ready, not yet. My hand left the surface. Command aborted. 

Alright, deep breaths in. In, and exhale slowly.

Again. 

Applying pressure, again, with the same finger, I held it there for almost a minute before releasing the pressure in me through a scream, freeing my taut finger off its hefty duty, shaking out the tension in it.

A spinner appeared in response to its deed. There, I submitted my first book to Amazon for approval.

I had not considered the possibility of withdrawing or cancelling the request. Neither did I think that things on the Internet are not as “final” as being on the shelves in a brick-and-mortar store. I can still pull back any time. Not that I wanted to, but I have that option. It’s not a dead-end for me. And because I had not given myself any escape route, I was terrified by what I thought I had done—expose myself.

I was like a negative; the slightest exposure to light would be sufficient to incinerate me. I was like a squirrel, any chance of being spotted might leave me frozen.

But I had a bigger dream: to share a precious part of myself with the world, and hopefully call out to others who experience “squirrel-like” moments like me. My dream is worth the risk—the perceived risk of death by exposure. I can trust that the right ones will receive me, for I have put out my smoke signal. And the next step is to fan it so that more can come to notice it.

Debut Book Launch: The Weight of My Soul

I can’t recall how or when it started. Along the way of growing up and trying to fit in, I lost my way. I lost my ability to celebrate myself, to bask in my own joy and glory. Was it really that hard? My body clamped down, frozen. “Not safe.” That’s its response to me.

The old baggage I’m carrying,
the tales so stale, I’m tired of hearing.
My arms sore, aching
from exertion—just how much
am I working my muscles
to hold in that much energy?
The energy of excitement and glee,
wanting to just burst out
and scream,
“I FINALLY PUT MY BOOK OUT!
IT’S OFFICIALLY OUT ON AMAZON!”

There, I said it.

Months of labor, my milestone,
baring my soul in search of an answer
to my quandary in life,
to my existence constantly queried—
here’s a part of me,
raw, tender, nascent, deep,
waiting to be received.

Here’s my invitation:
I so wish to share this precious part with you,
will you celebrate with me?

Come, dance in the meadows with me.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.

Rumi

Love, nonetheless

Love shows up in the most unexpected places. Suffocating, oppressive, it was love nonetheless.

I received the proof copy of my book I ordered from Amazon KDP yesterday. As soon as the email of the delivery receipt entered my inbox, I grabbed my mask and keys, and went down to collect it. I was excited. I had been looking forward to it since I made the order a week ago. Things have not gone well with the printer I had engaged so taking this plunge to do up my entire book again single-handedly with Amazon is both exhilarating and daunting.

Opening the parcel and pouring the contents out, my heart was racing. To feel my efforts actualized into a physical form is a foreign experience for me. I’ve created designs before in my previous job, but nothing feels close to this. Just the night before, I had a nightmare of my book turning out to be a disaster, goes to show where my anxiety levels are with this.

There, the light turquoise cover with spatters of bright orangey-red. Yes, the orangey-red was the right tone! Hmm.. but the turquoise seems dull. It’s still not matching the color I had picked. I’ve got to change that. But it felt good in my hands, substantial. The print quality definitely surpasses the previous printer. There is hope. Flipping through the pages, I ran through to see how the interior layout and design turned out. My vision narrowed to the problematic areas that can be improved.

Wait, I was doing the same thing my parents did to me!

It dawned on me today that in my attempts and hopes to put out a good book, I had not taken a close look at it. I had not paused to admire, or even appreciated my efforts. All I saw was what it could be. All I thought of was how to bring it to its greatest potential.

Perhaps that was how my parents saw me as a kid. They saw all that I could be and tried their best to shape me to become that version of greatness. Both my parents and I know not about trust. Trust in the goodness of nature. There are two aspects to growing: nature and nurture. As children, we were being shaped and nurtured by our parents and environment. And each child has his or her own nature, which shows up as a disposition or temperament. My parents gave their best to nurture me but they did not trust the goodness in my nature.

Now, with my book, I too, tried so hard to craft it, not trusting the basic goodness it holds as one that came from me. The book is after all an extension of myself, one I poured my heart and soul in. Being caught up in shaping it and making it better, I had not been present to that. I picked up the proof copy each time to look for errors and ways to improve it. I was picking on it like how I experienced being “picked on” as a child. All in the spirit of love. It was suffocating. It was oppressive. I couldn’t be myself. But it was nonetheless, love. I was very much loved, and had not felt it.

True love requires presence. Presence to accept and hold that which is before us, as is. Not merely an idea or image of it in our heads. I picked up my book again, putting aside the designs saved in my laptop, the images of the other books on the bookshelves, and the many others in the book stores. I held it as if holding it for the first time, seeing it as a new book I’ve just received.

It looks pretty, I love the cover design. Is that really done by me? I turned the pages over, one by one, taking in each page with wonder as they reveal new poems to me. Oh, my heart. I’m touched by my own creation. It may be far from perfect, but it is enough. I trust that it will find its way to the right ones, the ones who are seeking like I used to. I trust that it will speak, whisper, to the forgotten souls.

Portal Unlocked

How I began my writing journey

Each time somebody asks me about my writing history, I’m stumped (just a little) and I chuckle before I recount my story of how I began my writing journey. It’s been one month short of two years. I still find myself in a state of disbelief, though it gets easier with each recount.

Was it a touch of magic? Perhaps.

My heart was touched by the right words from the right person. It softened and a portal was unlocked. (Some might say the universe had its plans.) That night, the dam broke, freeing tears held over decades. I was in an apartment in a foreign land all by myself. My husband (fiance back then) was a call (or eight hours) away but something in me knew—I had to undergo this ordeal alone. No one could walk the path for me nor cry on my behalf. I had to be the one to revisit the terrors in my life that were constantly haunting me.

There I was, on a couch in an unfamiliar room, pouring my heart out onto tissues and my notebook. Words flowed, fusing with salty sorrow. For the following two days, I cried and wrote, cried and ate, cried and typed, while walking the pier in downtown San Francisco. My virgin trip to San Francisco, a view of cerulean skies and beautiful sights through swollen, wet eyes. 

My very first poem was conceived. (Strip)

As I stripped away layers of armor and insecurity and duty, I felt my heart beat again. I was in touch with my pulse, again.

Since then, I have been writing regularly. A powerful healing practice, it has been an outlet for me to process my experiences. I wrote my past, my pain, my shame. I wrote to think, to feel, to release. Exaltations, elegies, declarations, and dreams, I inked every bit.

From catharsis to craft, this mode of expression helped me regain my voice. Now, I write to create space and spaces for repose, healing, and transformation.

Holding my tardiness with loving-kindness

Tardiness showed up in the helter-skelter path the pen took across these lines. Does it reveal the weight of my instrument or the speed of my thoughts? Or the flimsy stance I held towards writing on days my will took a blow? Or that it minded more to me how it looks than how it reads, falling through that ancient trap door once again. It’s old but it needs no oiling since I roll down its way ever so often, even before an inch of dust could settle.

This critical voice seems almost perennial, echoing the same old tune while employing antiquated methods in assaults and cajoling. Superior or worthless, it can’t quite decide its verdict for me. 

Who would believe this relentless force came from a place of love? I cracked open each doll to unveil yet another doll, and another… till I finally reached the littlest one to witness the love buried deep within. Perfect love manifested by imperfect beings that landed bruises on the heart of the young. With each bruise, one possibility shut.

A little girl bound her legs to stilts and padded her shoulders to pull that extra weight and scale the professional ladder. To protect the old bruises from hurting, she relied on scapegoats for the way she turned out, for her flaws and failures, and unfulfilled life. She kept going, reaching new heights, so she could steer away from the sense of worthlessness that pervaded the air she breathed. A poor attempt at adulting without truly entering adulthood.

Admission to adulthood requires responsibility and commitment to the Self. The word “myself” is essentially an ownership of self. A large part of growing up requires a reconciliation with our past. We make a commitment to ourselves: a deliberate and intentional choice to own our Selves and honor our Selves. This includes picking up our pieces and nursing our wounds. 

As I uncover each pure nugget of truth, I hold it with care and wash away my shame before it washes over my soul. I weep over the brokenness and mend it with loving-kindness. I’m on a journey of growth to reopen the closed possibilities one by one to move towards being whole again. The tardiness is mine. It is also a sign of labor: my sail through turbulent waters, and my ideas rioting against the grain of the paper.