Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Surviving Single Parenthood

The article below is my contribution to our office newsletter/ezine for the month of May. I want to share it with the readers of this blog, especially in case I have single parent readers. 


Parenthood is not a simple stroll in the park. Similar to a farmer who nourishes a seed to become a full tree or plant, the mother and father nurtures a child to become a responsible adult someday. However, sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances which push an individual to become a single parent. At this stage, the individual takes on the role of both the mother and father in rearing a child. The role is doubled, and so are the challenges.

Below are a few tips on how to live through single parenthood.

1. Have a good support system:
Being a mom or a dad per se is difficult. What more if you have to take up a double-role of being both. Having a good support system of family and friends whom you can trust does not only provide a single parent some moral support, but can also serve as an extended pair of arms and legs whenever the single parent has so much tasks in his/her hand.

2. Make and Find time for Yourself:
Too often single parents are very much occupied with work and raising their kids, that they have less time for themselves. Setting up some personal “me-time” allows the single parent to rest and recharge – thus feeling less burnt out. A single parent can also learn new skills aside from the work he/she has been used to. This would allow him/her to not only have time for him/herself, but also to improve him/herself.

3. Always be Prepared:
A bottle of water, some snacks, an extra pair of clothes, some tissue or napkin, hand sanitizer or alcohol, a small toy or book to keep the little ones busy. With kids around, being prepared is always a must for parents. But by being a single parent, being prepared becomes a sole responsibility. It is important that whenever you and your child leave home, the “essential stuff” (i.e. the items listed in the first statement) is always within reach.

4. Maintain a Positive Attitude:
Having the task to juggle work, paying the bills, taking care of the home, and solely raising a child can become overwhelming and can sometimes stress out any single parent. It is always important to have a positive attitude if you’re a single parent.  When things get out of hand, a single parent can maintain a journal just to have an outlet to vent out all the negative feelings.  Children learn from their parents. And we want our kids to grow up having an optimistic “can-do” mindset.

5. Live Within Your Means:
Part of being a single parent is handling financial matters on your own, whether it is paying the bills at home or shouldering your child’s education. It is an important for any single parent to learn the necessary budgeting skills, spending wisely, as well as making sound financial decisions to save for the future.

6. Spend Quality Time With Your Kid(s):
This is one, if not the most, important part of this list. Spending quality time with your son or daughter does not only meet the child’s need for attention, but it allows the single parent to have some meaningful interaction. This meaningful interaction would allow the single parent to learn more about his/her child and sometimes, even about him/herself. Quality time need not always be expensive and extravagant. A good chitchat over dinner, or some weekend at the movies or arcade, or picnic at the park are good examples.

To summarize, single parenthood is definitely not for the faint of heart or those who fear responsibility. A single parent should be able to have the compassion and tenderness of a mother, and combine it with the steadfastness and the discipline skills of a father. But the rewards have always been great. Being able to see your child grow up successfully and knowing in your heart that you were able to do it on your own, is a reward any single parent can be truly proud of.

Special Note:
The author of this article is a single parent to an 8-year old boy.  The article includes the author’s personal insights and take on surviving (and thriving) as a single parent.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Inked and Loving It

After 3-4 years of planning, researching, and waiting for the proper timing, I have finally crossed out another item from my bucket list. I finally got inked.
Last April 26, 2014, while my parents were enjoying their Marian pilgrimage in Europe, I mustered enough courage to finally get my first tattoo. It was a tattoo of my all-time favorite creature - the mythical phoenix. The tattoo was a colored one. It was about 5-6 inches in length and was placed on my upper back which spread a little along my spine. It was done by Ms. Katz Lorenzana at 55Tinta Tattoo Shop along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City.
Funny, but it really took me 3-4 years to plan for it. The first stage was thinking about the design. This was an easy step as I've always wanted a phoenix. Why? There are several reasons. A phoenix symbolizes resurrection - "to rise up from one's own ashes". I can proudly say that I am a survivor. I have been through several challenges in my life (personal and in my career) and was fortunate to survive it (with God's help of course). Another thing with the phoenix. This mythical creature is the highest form in my astrological hierarchy (i.e. Scorpion - Eagle - Phoenix). At the back of the phoenix was a Celtic sun. I have always been fascinated by Celtic designs, and just as the phoenix rises from its ashes, the sun always shines everyday.
Second stage in my planning was to research about the tattoo artist and a reputable tattoo shop nearby that can execute the style that I want. I was lucky enough to find a female tattoo artist – Katz Lorenzana - who's very good with line works and outlines, and very good in colors as well. I must admit that I was mesmerized when I first saw my tattoo design on the computer. I immediately loved how the colors worked together. And I loved it more after Katz executed it on my skin. There’s a difference between seeing it on screen, and seeing it on your own skin. And I loved both. Katz Lorenzana also has that light touch (i.e. in Filipino, we call it "magaan ang kamay") that made my 1st tattoo experience a non-traumatic one. I cannot say that it was totally painless. The longer strokes which hit the more bony areas (near my shoulder blades) made me cringe a little, but overall the 3-hour session was very bearable (bragging aside, I even dozed off during those times when the tatt was being shaded). To compare, my bikini/brazilian waxing sessions were more painful than my tattoo session. For the tattoo shop, I initially chose 55Tinta because it was near my home. I was a bit hesitant at first, because I had an initial impression that people in tattoo shops were snooty, but I was proven wrong when I went into 55Tinta. The staff was accommodating and friendly – from my initial email inquiry, to my 1st shop visit, and until the day of my tattoo schedule. I had several revisions of my design but they were professional and attentive to my ideas. It was like discussing my ideas with a friend. The vibe inside 55Tinta was also super A-OK. The shop smelled like fresh soap. One would think he/she entered a spa, instead of a tattoo parlor. The airconditioning was a bit cold, but hey, I would rather have it that way than no aircon at all. They also had this wide screen television and a wide array of video selections. My cousin and my friend who accompanied me did not get bored as they enjoyed watching videos during the 3-hour session. Pricing was also reasonable. The price they charged was worth the design, the size and the colors scheme applied to my tattoo. I inquired from another known tattoo shop, and the price they gave me was way higher than 55Tinta.
Now you may have noticed that I have mentioned “waiting for the proper timing” in my first paragraph. This is the toughest part. I have to wait for a couple of things. I have to wait till I have saved enough for the tattoo, as this is an additional cut to my already-constrained budget. And the biggest timing issue – waiting for my parents to leave for their pilgrimage trip in order for me to get inked. Yes I’m in my 30’s, have my own work, and even have a son. But in a conservative family like mine, having my uber conservative Dad around while I’m getting inked will be an added stress factor. I had to wait till they have finalized their travel pilgrimage plans and scheduled my tattoo session on the 1st weekend they are away. There is no other date but that date. Having my tattoo done last April 26 would allow 2.5 weeks for my tattoo to undergo healing, so that by the time my folks arrive (2nd week of May) my tattoo has already passed the critical stage of healing (i.e. 1st 2 weeks). Talk about “Patience is a virtue” and “Timing is everything”. What would I do once they arrive and discovered my tattoo? Perhaps, I’ll just smile. I’ve made more infamous decisions in the past so I think the tattoo would just be a venial sin as compared to the more grave ones I’ve done before. *evil grin*…>:-)
Overall, I can say that my first tattoo experience was an awesome one. I am also thankful to God (and St. Pio my favorite saint) as I also prayed to them to keep me safe during the tattoo session, and to please give me a high threshold for pain on that day. I have no regrets in getting inked. My design was meaningful to me, is well-thought of, not blasphemous nor offensive. The location is decently and discreetly located. And my intention for having one was more of a personal statement bound by commitment than just being a fashion or beauty mark.  :-)

(L) Stencil of the Tattoo (R) Finished product