All posts by Maria D.

Emergency Contacts

Last week, my son went across the world to study and my husband had major surgery. These events happened within days of each other.

I wanted to just stay in bed. There was this general feeling of sadness…like something was off. I couldn’t get a handle on everything going on around me.

So I did something remarkably out of character.

When people called to check on me, I didn’t say I was fine. I actually said, “I’m sad.” These people didn’t dismiss the feeling, but they just listened. It felt good to be heard.

When people called and asked if I needed anything, I said, “Yes, would you mind driving Elena to the hospital?” and “Yes, could you please find me a counter-height chair?” Each request was granted without hesitation.

It has always been hard for me to ask for help because I didn’t want to be a burden.  But, the last couple of days, I called on a small team of people who have assembled around my life waiting to help out, and I found that they were happy to help me.

I have always been everyone’s Emergency Contact.  If someone’s kid needs to be picked up from school or something needs to be done on a work day, I am THE person to call.

This week, I found out that I had Emergency Contacts, too.  They can pretty much do anything…except read minds.

Do you struggle with reaching out to people for help?  Why is it so hard to ask?

Let’s Go and Lets Go

I have 163 days left in my 40s.

My mantra for 2018 is “Let’s Go” with the apostrophe. In 2017, I lived a life of excuses:  I was too busy, too broke, too sick…the list was long.

With “Let’s Go!” as this year’s mission statement, my priorities become clearer:

  • Spend time with the people I love? Let’s Go!
  • Throw out all things in the house that I’m hoarding?  Let’s Go!
  • Get in better shape?  Let’s Go!

The mantra can be modified by dropping the apostrophe, “…lets go.”

  • Coz lets go of worrying about things out of her control.
  • Coz lets her children go without giving them the doom and gloom speech of all the bad things that can happen.
  • Coz lets go of toxic people and drama.

I was going to apologize for speaking in third person, but I’m letting it go.

I want to live in my 50s without making excuses or apologizing for choosing me.  In my 30s and 40s, I thought it was honorable to put everyone ahead of myself.  Everyone was fine, but I became more unhealthy and unhappy.

I gained 20 pounds.  I started medication for high blood pressure.  This isn’t how I want to live the next half of my life.

I am determined to spend these last 163 days working on the best me for 50.  LET’S GO!

I am so happy you all are still with me in 2018. What are your goals for 2018?  And what is your plan to get them done?

Security Alerts and Scammers

Last year I wrote three articles on this site. In 2015, I also barely wrote three articles.

So even though I LOVE what I’ve created on this site, I know it has been stagnant.

So imagine my dismay when I began receiving messages from a website security company. There was a scan on my account and a security alert went off.  There have been over 11+ messages, same guy, just different variations of the message.

Bottom line:  I need to call him immediately to make sure we get things resolved so that there is no disruption in service.

The messages sound serious and scary.

But, rather than call back, my first instinct is to google:

xxxx website security company scam

Terrible stories…scam…fraud…malware extortion…people spending hundreds of dollars…sites closed down!!!

But you can’t always trust the internet. So I texted my brother, who knows all computer things. “SCAM” was his reply.

But how do I stop the calls?  Do I just call them back?  I don’t really know anything about website security.  They can tell me anything, and I won’t know if it’s true or false.  All I know is that I cannot spend any more money on a website where I’m only eking out THREE posts a year.

I don’t sell anything here.  There are no pop-up ads or links to buy anything.  I am just a writer, “trying to make my way to the next stop.” (p.s. I’m still working on that “by line”)

It’s so hard to tell what’s a scam and what’s real.

Is website security as serious as when the IRS left me three phone messages informing me that they were filing a lawsuit against me?

Last week, I got two emergency messages saying, “this is from Windows Microsoft your windows license key has been expired all services has been suspended on your computer.”  Seriously, there were no pauses, just one run-on sentence.

If somehow my lack of action to this security alert really does ruin this website, then I’m going to take it as the final sign from God that this wasn’t for me.

But let’s see where this goes.  I’ll continue to research this thing.

Any thoughts on how to proceed?

Friends and Politics

This year’s presidential election leaves me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and afraid.

These feelings are not for the United States. I have faith that our country has enough freedom fighters and systems in place that it will be okay.

For me, these feelings surface as I try to understand how some friends could vote for a man who spewed such hate. It is easy enough to scroll past facebook “friends” and their political posts. But what I am having such a hard time resolving is how real friends, people who I love, could get past or ignore such hatred.

At the age of 48, just through natural attrition, I am surrounded mostly by people who love me and have my back. I have always been aware of political differences among my friends. Everyone has a right to vote for who they want. But there was an element of real hate in this campaign. And as it got more hateful, I began asking myself, how did I become friends with people who can so easily dismiss racism?

I am a Filipino immigrant, whose husband is a descendant of slaves, and whose children are bi-racial. In my hesitancy to speak up about anything controversial in daily conversations, did I give the impression that I had no opinion about race? Or that I (or my family) had never experienced any racism?

It’s always been too frustrating to have to explain why something is racist or offensive. When I hear comments like “people are too sensitive” or “all lives matter,” I can never find the right words. I always wish there was someone who was more intelligent or well-versed to explain that racism still exists. Racism is not just something manufactured by overly sensitive people who can’t get over the past.

It scares me that some people in my small community say they love diversity in one breath but also look forward to being able to “not be so politically correct all the time.” What can that possibly mean? Are people looking forward to freely saying offensive things again? Because it felt awful to be called a “chink” back in the day. I pray that’s not the direction we are headed again.

As a stay-at-home mom, I can easily limit my contact with the outside world. I could deactivate my social media accounts. I could surround myself with people who only think the way I do. But that cannot be the answer.

I have to have faith that these friends who love me, really do love me. I believe they are good people. Any difference of opinion really is just that…a difference of opinion. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I haven’t been vocal enough expressing myself when I’ve disagreed with the discussions on race. Maybe my silence gave the impression that I agreed…or worse, had no opinion.

So moving forward, I have to find my voice. I have to make it absolutely clear when something is offensive, hateful, or hurtful. I must speak out against hate. Now is not the time to be silent.


Sometimes It Snows In April

“Sometimes it snows in April,

Sometimes I feel so bad

Sometimes I wish that life were never ending

All good things, they say, never last.” – Prince


I sensed something was terribly wrong when my phone started ringing and buzzing with texts. I quickly glanced down and saw the word “Prince.” My heart sank. I prayed that it was hoax. His songs started playing on the radio:  Kiss. Little Red Corvette. Raspberry Beret. A death has been reported in Paisley Park. I turned the radio off.  By the time I walked in my front door, I was crying.

I have loved Prince for almost 30 years.

His music is like a personal soundtrack to special moments in my life.  Certain songs remind me of a moment or connection.  Certain lyrics always make me chuckle.

As a teenager listening to “Take Me With You,” I daydreamed that one day someone would sing that to me “I don’t care where we go, I don’t care what we do. I don’t care pretty baby, just take me with you.”  I remember my best friend Michelle telling me there was a secret message recorded backwards at the end of “Darling Nikki” and it completely freaked me out when she showed me.  Hear it here.

In college, my roommate Marina absolutely LOVED Prince. On Friday nights, Prince would be singing, “Hot Thang, barely 21. Hot Thang, looking for big fun,”as we got dressed to go out. Marina spent a whole semester learning Cat Glover’s rap at the end of “Alphabet Street.” Marina followed him to any nearby city he would perform.  She once brought him purple roses.

In my 30s, when my son became obsessed with Batman (the Michael Keaton one), he would dance around the room to “Partyman” and “Batdance.”  A couple of years later, I had tears in my eyes when my daughter tapped danced to “Musicology” in her first (and last) dance recital.

The “Welcome to America” tour almost put a strain on my marriage as I kept buying tickets every time a new show was announced.  First, I bought 2 tickets for Marina and me.  Then another night was added so I HAD to take my husband.  When Prince added that third night, I knew I had to go with my sister and cousin, both true funk soldiers.  Best concerts ever.  Prince performed in Madison Square Garden like it was a little club.  Everyone was singing and dancing in the aisles.

Last year when I trained for those 5K races, I trained to Prince’s new stuff, “Funknroll” and “Goldstandard.”  I became obsessed with adding new Prince pictures to my Prince Board on Pinterest.

Just this morning, Elena and I singing, “Starfish and Coffee” while getting ready for school. I was begging her to name her daughter “Cynthia Rose,” just so I can sing that song to her.  Who knew that in a couple of hours my Prince would be gone?

Rest in Peace, Prince.

I wish you heaven.

Nothing Compares 2 U.

Love is too weak to define, just what you mean to me.

prince collage

2 Things I Learned My 2nd Year (Not) Blogging

I have not posted an article in almost one year.

At first I was actively participating in a group for bloggers and sticking to a writing schedule. But I just couldn’t seem to write an article “good enough” for me. Group members were writing about surviving cancer, starting businesses, and saving the world. How could I share a post about the struggles of cleaning my basement?

I wasn’t really having any success with the things I wanted to write about. As an aspiring minimalist, I was struggling with the second layer of stuff to toss. As a gardener, I lost my enthusiasm when I found cat poo in the soil of my vegetable garden. And even though I really enjoyed running those 5K races, I did not have fun training and putting in the work.

As the weeks turned to months, I began to think maybe my website was just another phase. I didn’t like anything I was writing. Documenting my failures seemed too whiny. Writing about success seemed as unrealistic as posting only gorgeous selfies. And so I didn’t post at all.

I recently got an email reminding me that the renewal fee for my domain name was due. Did I really want to keep up this blog? After a lot of back and forth, I’ve decided to try for another year.

Here are the 2 things I learned (not) blogging this year:

  1. My fear is paralyzing. Is it a fear of failure or success?  Whatever…I have to find a way to move past it and just write. I will post and if you like it, tell me. If you don’t like it, tell me why not and offer advice on how to improve. I would love to hear either way.
  2. This is MY blog. Why am I so stressed? No one pays me to do this.  I have full creative control. I want to write good articles and establish a relationship with my readers, but it should be fun. It’s not that serious. So I will try to just write.

So, I’m back!  I’d love to hear from my readers who have stuck around.  Tell me, what’s new?

3 Things I Learned My First Year Blogging

To celebrate this blog’s 1st birthday, I’ve put together a list of the three things I learned my first year blogging.

1. I love working in my garden. YES, I stress out about what to plant, when to plant, and what bugs might eat the plants…BUT, I also love sketching new plans in my marble notebook, seeing buds peep out from the soil, harvesting lettuce for a salad, and sharing my “crops” with my sister. Starting my garden last Spring took a lot of time, but the whole process was so rewarding. I learned I really love to garden.

These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today.  Spring must be near!
These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today. Spring must be near!

2. I love trying to be a minimalist.  My house is filled with 16 years of stuff that I’ve bought, saved, or inherited. This past year, I started small with my closet. From there, I shredded old bills, letters, and kids’ school paperwork from several years. I’ve thrown away most of the “one-day-I’ll-fix-this” junk in my garage. My basement and garage are still filled, but it’s easier deciding what to toss. More importantly, I avoid bringing new junk into the house. I hope to show you the progress I make with my basement this summer.

3. I love taking time for myself again. When the kids were younger, I read their books, watched their shows, and planned their activities. Now that they are more independent, I love spending time on me. Cliché, I know.  But it’s really fun. I read (and finish) books. I watch scary or adult shows. We’re busier than ever, but now I feel good about making time for myself…and I feel healthy.

So…would I have done all of this anyway, without a blog? Possibly. But writing about my projects motivates me to actually follow through with them.

With each post, I get braver. This blog is scary to maintain. I easily talk myself out of new posts. There’s always that voice that whispers, “who cares???” I am constantly worried that something will crash and that the blog will just vanish into thin air.

But still, here we are, one year later.

As the blog grows, I will share better photos — thanks to the things I will learn from a photography class I’m taking.

Bojangles (March 2015) - the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.
Bojangles (March 2015) – the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.

I will also try to improve my writing using the tools that I’ve learned from this mini-course called, “Define Your Blog Voice,” by Daniela Uslan.  It’s quite a leap for me to join a facebook group and get feedback from strangers.

A special shout out goes to my sister, mom, husband, and kids who indulge me by reading and commenting on all my posts. I am also thankful for my readers who occasionally drop in to say hello.

Happy Birthday to! Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts with me!

Snow Day

The kids have a snow day today.

They got up late, brought their cereal downstairs, and began watching their new DVD of “Police Squad.”

As I listen to their raucous laughter, my kill-joy instincts kick in: Clean your rooms. Study for your mid-terms. Go out and shovel.

But this time I don’t start barking these orders. Instead, I make myself a cup of coffee and take in all the noise.

In two years, my son will be in college and the house will no longer have impromptu concerts or be this chaotic. As I schedule college visits and pay college test registration fees, I can feel my reign ending. Do I want to spend my last two years ruling like a tyrant?


But on this snow day, as I make my way to the basement to load another basket of laundry, I stop and laugh with them…who can resist Leslie Nielsen?

2015 Projects

Happy New Year! I am eager to share my first projects of 2015!

In my continued quest to get rid of stuff around the house, I found Peter Walsh‘s project 31Days2GetOrganized. I know I didn’t finish 30DaysofThanks. But these are 10-minute exercises that seem doable. Day 2 required removing items that don’t belong in the Master Bedroom. I dragged out a box of books, magazines from my side table, and a large bin of summer clothes. The exercise took less than half an hour.

I am also working on missions from the FlyLady. This week we are in the kitchen. Today’s mission was to throw out any plastic containers that were stained, broken, or didn’t have a match. I find it easier to do one simple task rather than to tackle a whole room at once.

On the fitness front, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and start a realistic workout plan at home. I am committing to 30 minutes a day on the treadmill.

To motivate myself, I am researching these two races:

The Color Run – 5K on May 23rd in Queens. A race where people splash you with color? I am going to see if I can put together a team to run with me. No pressure, just lots of fun. Right up my alley.

Diva Race – 5K on October 4 in Eisenhower Park. This race requires some running, but with a feather boa! How fun is that? Plus it’s later in the year and I’ll be really fit by then!

I am thinking of signing up for a photography class at the local community college. I’ve been taking some photos for the church website and I want to see how I can improve the pictures or better work my camera.

Here are some writers who help me stay motivated:

* My sister recommended Mastin Kipp and his posts about love and loving yourself. I follow him on Twitter and it’s like a daily dose of love and positivity.

* I’ve been a fan of Rachel Anne Ridge’s “Home Sanctuary” for a while. Her last post talked about 2015 being the “year to stop being afraid.” I always back off when I think that something bad might happen. As a result, there’s no progress. I want this to change in 2015.

* I’ve mentioned Courtney Carver before in my Project 333 post.  She inspires, encourages, and motivates me with her posts on minimalism.

Last year, I sadly said goodbye to an uncle, two good neighbors, and some really kind people in my church. On a happier note, I was able to attend a fabulous wedding and reunite with old friends, celebrate my 20th anniversary, and share special occasions with my family and friends.

Life is so precious. This will be the year I stand up to my fears. But instead of planning, and worrying, I will just start by starting.

I am looking forward to sharing my projects and hearing from you in 2015.

Let’s have a healthy, happy new year!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my readers!

It’s too late to write a post about how I struggled with minimalism and shopping for gifts. I wanted to write about my favorite ornaments and the stories that go along with them. And of course there’s a “year in review” draft sitting here, too.

But, as I wait for my coconut custard pie to come out of the oven, I know there is no time for any of that.

The new year always brings hope and excitement of what is still to come. Thanks for still hanging around.

Wishing you all a happy new year filled with blessings, peace, and joy!