Newsletters September 2023


Imagine a room full of people just beaming with pride and joy. A twinkle in their eyes, smiling from ear to ear, while animated conversations are poppin’, the laughter is laughing, and the buzz is buzzing. Charming little forget-me-not flowers adorn the tables, while DIY Pinterest inspired decorations and strings of pictures run across the room. Everyone is cheesin’ it up, taking cute pics next to their cute pics, as they point to their cute pics. You know exactly what I’m talking about. No, it’s not a graduation, no it’s not a birthday party, and no, it’s not a retirement party…although it could be LOL. IT’S GRANDPARENTS DAY, Y’ALL! Yes, we know the official Grandparents Day was September 10th, yet here we are celebrating on September 15th, because we can and because why not??

As the host greets the G-parents and gives them a lil’ opening speech on the national history and significance of this day, you can just feel the energy. Like, they’re all just so happy. Their grandchildren are not even in the room (because it’s not National Daycare at Work Day LOL), but you can feel they honor this role and rock the G-parent title proudly. Just the grandparent title alone, means you’ve done something great. You’ve raised responsible humans that now have their own little humans that you can do all the G-parent things with that you’re told not to do, then tell all your friends about it on Facebook, and take all the pics to save on your computer and phone screensaver. 

In honor of G-parents Day, our company, Total Resources Intl, wanted to remind the G-parents how much they are loved, adored, appreciated, and most importantly, how blessed they are to have the luxury of spoiling some children that are not theirs, and then be able to send those children right back to the portal from whence they came – their parents. I mean….I literally cannot wait to be a G-MA! Give me aaallll the baby fever without anyyyy of the responsibility. Am I right or AM I RIGHT?!

After lunch and dessert were eaten, all the games were played, prizes and paid days off were raffled, pics were taken, and they watched a video with endearing messages from their G-kids, we sent the G-parents off back to the portals from whence they came – back to work. But also, because they’re G-parents, they got to leave work a few hours early. Whatta vibe. We love a cute company who celebrates cute grandparents with a cute lunch and gives them a cute couple of hours off early. YAAAY US!  

Newsletters September 2023


Picture this… sitting passenger princess in a car with the AC at a perfect 73 degrees, sipping a 26 oz iced coffee, snacks are packed, the sun is shining, and life is good. This can only mean one thing! Besides pulling over every hour to use the gas station bathroom because you thought it was a good idea to get a 26 oz coffee… it’s time for a ROOOAD TRIIIP! I know sitting cramped in a car for hours on end is not ideal, but lucky for you we are staying at some charming California coast cities along the way! I am giving you the run DOWN on my favorite road trip UP the California coast. 

1st stop: Santa Barbara. Everyone knows the city by the beach 2 hours from LA (on a good day). Known for its beautiful Spanish inspired buildings, college town vibes, and for quickly becoming a food stop for most travelers en route to their final destination. Stay a few hours or a few days, enjoy the shops, and restaurants that run along State Street. 

2nd stop: Solvang. A cool Danish-style town with Danish inspired eats, including an authentic Copenhagen Sausage Garden with Bratwursts and beers the size of your head. They have a ton of wine tasting shops, as well as pastry shops to satisfy the sweet tooth. Stop by Solvang to stretch your legs for a few hours or stay a night. After all, those beers are the size of a small child and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

3rd stop: Cambria. My favorite sleepy seaside city! Staying at a hotel on Moonstone Beach Drive and waking up to the waves crashing steps away from your room, sitting on your patio with a coffee in hand on a crisp morning is UNBEATABLE. It has a small walkable downtown with wine shops, restaurants, and novelty stores. One of my favorite events during Christmas time happens in Cambria – the Christmas Market (a nod to European Christmas markets)! It begins after Thanksgiving and ends shortly after Christmas. There are thousands of lights, festive food and drinks, items for sale, and most importantly CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. Not too far down the road is Hearst Castle, a ticketed experience, but definitely worth seeing. You will need to buy your tickets ahead of time, and if you read my last article, you know the drill, people! We come PREPARED! I digress…the Hearst Castle pool inspired the Caesar’s Palace pool in Las Vegas and the interiors are unbelievably luxurious and over the top. Mr. Hearst spared no expense! And why would he?! We love a man with taste. A couple days here and then you’re off to the next stop…. 

4th Stop: Big Sur. So we are definitely hungry after that stretch of highway, right? Stop at Nepenthe, where the view is breathtaking and the food isn’t half bad either. Big Sur may be for the outdoorsy folks, but BEFORE YOU TRY TO SKIP OUT ON THIS…anyone can enjoy this gem. Camp in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, stay at the Big Sur Lodge, or for a really special treat, stay in a yurt at Treebones Resort. Big Sur is an absolutely gorgeous State Park worth visiting – even if only for the day. If you camp, this campground fills up 6 months or so in advance, so good luck! Some other well-known points of interest include McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, and Andrew Molera State Beach to name a few.  A full day or 2 is all you need.

5th Stop: Carmel-by-the-Sea. This town has cottage style buildings that give me an old English city aesthetic, with alleys that lead to small shops and tucked away restaurants. They have an incredible coast line and beach to sit and watch the sunset. If you’re into golf, this is where Pebble Beach is – a golfer’s dream and by the looks of it, you can see why. Or if you don’t want to spend $600 to golf, you can drive what is known as the “17-Mile Drive” and it’s STUNNING. Carmel is my go-to spot for a nice change of scenery when I want to get out of the hustle and bustle of LA County. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m basically 80 years old at heart, so some of you may find this city a little too slow paced. But if you need to relax and just chill, this could be a really nice place to park your butt for 1 or 2 days. 

This lil’ road trip is barely halfway up the California coast, but it’s a good place to start! Because let’s be real… if we are going any further, we are definitely flying. Flying into SF, renting a car, and going through Napa, Yountville, Mendocino, and other seaside cities is something I have been wanting to do for ages. I love a good road trip! It gives you the freedom to stop wherever you want, for however long you want, and navigate to places off the beaten path on your own watch. There’s so much to explore in our great state – we just have to get out there and go. As I always say… money will return to you, but time and experience never will….so, what are you gonna do about it? JUST GO!!!

Newsletters September 2023


When I was a toddler, I used to spend summers in Palm Springs with my Lola (in Tagalog this means grandma, but in my fam, we use it for great grandma). Every day, we’d walk to the classic car shop at the corner of her street. For some, this may be a simple stroll, but to me, it was an event. There I was, a chonky toddler (yes, I said CHONKY), wearing a t-shirt, diaper, and my Lola’s oversized heels… all dressed up just to go a block down the street. So, you could say my love for style came at a young age.

As I got older and started dressing myself, I could never leave the house without adorning myself with an accessory. I always had a headband, bracelet, necklace etc. and if I didn’t have something, I would freak out… well, not much has changed. Today, even if I’m just running to the store, I wouldn’t be caught dead in PJ’s, let alone without my nameplate necklace and some gold hoops. Because there is always an occasion for a good outfit. There’s always a reason to give yourself a moment to be a little or alotta extra. One quote to live by: “She’s doing the most, or he’s way too much, but why would you WANT to do the least?” – Janet Mock

I think it stems from having the best of both worlds growing up. I had over-protective parents that would never let me leave the house lookin’ like a hot mess, mismatched, or not color coordinated (we had “house clothes” – if you know, you know). But then I had a very free-spirited grandma that would let me run wild with whatever I wanted to wear. My sister and I had a whole closet just for dress up and we would have fashion shows in her driveway. Sometimes, I look at old pictures and can’t believe my grandma let me leave the house that way. But, I’m equally glad that she did. Between the two, they taught me this beautiful balance of always presenting myself well, while being as expressive as I want to be.

Speaking of my grandma… a lot of my style inspiration came from her, my aunts, and my mom. I would love to watch them get ready, doing their hair and makeup. When I got old enough, I would recreate my grandma’s look on my little cousin (yes, I burnt her head a few times with the curling iron… lol). We’d always do tight curls with a bold red lip, big diamond earrings, and use eyeliner to draw on fake moles/beauty marks. My aunts always had their own unique style as well. One, with all her bold statement jewelry and vintage dresses (my real-life R&B singer, like young Janet in Poetic Justice) and the other, in her effortless athleisure wear and cool band shirts (my real-life Sporty Spice). They made me want to have a band shirt and jewelry collection of my own. 

As far back as I can remember and even up until now, my mom is and always has been dolled up and well dressed (I mean, the woman can outlast me AND all my friends combined in a pair of stiletto heels). I remember going to the nail shop with her and wanting long red nails just like hers, or even just watching her blow dry her beautifully highlighted hair. I will never be able to get the vision out of my head of her reapplying her brown, nude lipliner combo after dinner. All I knew is, I needed to experience this level of beauty. I’m also inspired by the everyday person and enjoy seeing people dressed in their best. Sometimes, it’ll be strangers walking along the street, people I see on social media (men included), and even my close friends – yes, my friends are the flyest. Even when they don’t know it, each of them is inspiring me or giving me new ideas to bounce off of.

As a creative, I need multiple outlets of expression and getting dressed is just one of them. I don’t really like to put myself in a box of having just one certain look. One day I’m feeling streetwear casual, the next I might be serving Miss Frizzle, and the day after that, edgy pop queen. I try to refrain from telling myself “I’d never wear that or that’s not my style” because try everything once, right? People always tell me, “You could pull anything off” and it’s because I’m not afraid to. I’m not afraid to be the most overdressed or the weird looking person in the room. I also refrain from judging others and their style choices – because whatever works for them is what fits them best. Once you stop doing that or comparing yourself to others, you’re able to shine that much brighter. But no matter what your style is, as long as it feels right to you, DO IT. When I’m getting ready, I rarely like to ask people “How does this look on me?” or “Do you like it?” Because it’s not about how it looks, but HOW I FEEL. Even down to how I do my hair or what chonies and socks I put on – is an emotion. Sure, some days I’ll have on a pair of baggy jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers – and that in itself is poetic. Even when I work out, my gym outfit needs to be on point – because if ya look good, ya feel good. 

Self-expression and style are not just about the clothes. It’s from my head to my toes, literally. Since 8th grade, I’ve had every color (well, besides green), style, and length of hair. COVID was rough – let’s just say Lord Farquaad made an appearance, but we don’t need to get into that. My nails play a huge role as well, and coincide with whatever mood I’m in at that moment in the salon. My nail tech and I have a love/hate relationship because she says I always challenge her with something new and different. I never like to do the same color or design twice. And of course, as an artist, how could I not adorn myself with tattoos?? The truest form of my style is literally the art on my body. From Disney villains (because who doesn’t love a misunderstood character?), to a cowboy Chester Cheetah, to sexy ghost face, to a beautiful portrait of my Lola (who btw was the ultimate style icon). Even my room is filled with my own unique style and artistic expression. My bestie literally says it’s like a little museum because there’s so much to look at. 

At heart, I’m truly a collector and maybe that’s why I love to thrift so much. The thrill of finding that one piece out of a bundle of clothing feels like I’m adding something special to my collection. I guess you can say I surround myself with all the things I love and that make me the happiest. And I’m not saying material things are the way to happiness, but the love for yourself and the joy you feel inside, can transcend and be expressed outwardly. And sure, I have my insecurities about my body. There’s been MANY melodramatic mornings of not being able to achieve the exact look I had in my head. Those days usually start with “It’s not giving, I want more, I need something extra, or I wish I had this or that” but then I realize if I have to wish for it… it’s really not me. It’s not who I AM. I remind myself that I am everything I want to be and I have everything I need. 

I’ve also been completely blessed to be in spaces where I am accepted. To have friends and family that let me be who I am – no matter what I wear or how I look, they accept me. Sure, I’ll get a judge-y comment from my dad or grandpa, but that’s what they do, right? It’s important to find your people. To find the ones that hype you up on your best AND worst days. To find the ones that may not always agree with you, but they still understand you. They’re the ones that you can truly feel comfortable around and get as creative as possible with.

The easiest way to be unapologetically you is just by sticking true to what you love. And if you’re unsure of who that person is, or what you might or might not love, I suggest you explore. Take style risks and be bold in your expression! Don’t be a duplication because there’s only ONE you in this lifetime. You’re ONE-OF-ONE, baby! So, no matter what anyone says or despite how it makes someone else feel, in the end, it all goes back to how YOU feel… It’s all the things that make you feel good. Because let’s face it, life is rough and at least by being unapologetically you, you can face the days not only by looking good, but FEELING good too. And know that you can be proud that you are authentically 100% yourself through it all.

Newsletters September 2023


Disclaimer: I am a shy and introverted person who (if given a choice) would just listen to people talk instead of engaging in conversation (eek… especially small talk… the horror!). I am also emotional and Asian – the Filipino-Chinese type who grew up in the Philippines for most of my life. These are important things to remember as you read this article… or should I say… my story.

THIS IS IT! The most anticipated moment (in recent history) of my life. I’m going to meet my boyfriend’s parents! As that day came closer, I had sleepless and anxious nights of thinking and wondering… Will they or will they not like me? Will we get along? Will we find common ground? What will I talk about with them? How do I start a conversation? Who do I talk to more? What do I call them, tita and tito? Nooooo… maybe not. What should I call them? What?!? What should we bring to his family? What do they like? What if they are just so “American” and I am just so “Asian”? What if… What… What…? There were so many racing thoughts that finally culminated leading up to that day. Here we go…

THE DAY approached quickly. Time flies too fast. Before I knew it, we were suddenly boarding a plane for a 6-hour flight to Boston, an hour bus ride to New Hampshire… and we arrived! Or should I say I have arrived? I had tears in my eyes while being greeted, hugged, and warmly welcomed by my boyfriend’s father (IN PERSON! AHHHH!). Maybe, I was also teary-eyed because I watched my boyfriend being hugged by his mom so tightly.  I could see and tell how much he is loved and missed by his family.

Maybe, perhaps I was also missing my parents. While I hugged both of his parents, it warmed my uneasy heart so much that it calmed down (an itty bit). I just couldn’t stop smiling. CK (that is his name…yes, that is my boyfriend) made the introductions and off we went to have brunch in the oceanside town of Hampton, New Hampshire. During the car ride, his mama (as he loves to call her <3 ) was the one asking most of the questions while his father remained silent, you know, the “silent” type. Most of the time I was, of course, quiet (read the disclaimer) and thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe I was living in that moment.

While having brunch, his mama asked me what happened to my pink hair. Story time! I dyed my hair pink early on when I first met CK. As our relationship progressed, he would tell his family about me – the “woman with pink hair” whom he is dating (or should I say, “in love” with? LOL ;)). Apparently, during that time, he would send photos of me/us to his family!!! What’s funny is that before this trip, I scheduled an appointment with my hair stylist to consciously dye my hair to “ash brown” in order to look more “normal.” Well, hahaha! The joke’s on me! It turned out that they loved my pink hair and missed it! Oh, mama!

With our bellies full, we took a short walk along the beachfront and took photos (of course). Later on, we drove to Haverhill, Massachusetts where their old family house was where CK and his sister spent their childhood years. Now, it has been converted into rentals by his dad.

His parents showed me around and pinpointed places where CK used to play and such. It was so cute to find out that the property had two tall trees that started out very, very tiny.  They were used as Christmas trees when CK and his sister, Dawn were young. His dad planted them in the backyard after the holidays, and now they’re both taller than all of them!

NOTE: If you are not familiar with the East Coast state of New Hampshire – it is a tiny state that is connected to Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. If you live in border towns, everything is around 30-40 minutes away.

After a short tour, we finally took off to their current home in Danville, New Hampshire. If you think their old house has history… boy, oh boy… this current home is something else! It’s a whole volume of HISTORY BOOKS all rolled up in an afternoon tour! Their house sits on a property so big, we had to ride an ATV to tour it. The house itself bears so much history, my “nerd mode” activated. I eagerly absorbed all of the stories CK’s dad was telling me. From building the barn, the attic, and the basement… every nook and cranny of their home had stories to tell. At the end of the day, I told CK, “I thought your dad does not like to talk?! He talked to me the whole time during the tour!” CK replied, “That’s because he loves history and telling stories about things in this house. He especially likes telling them to you.” – Of course, I teared up so much when he said that, and even now as I write this… I felt fortunate to have his time, his knowledge, and his stories.

What a day it had been… and we have yet to meet CK’s sister, Dawn, and her family! She just gave birth to her son, Tanner, a month ago. He was also a big part of the reason why we decided to go home at this time because CK was so excited to meet his first nephew! Uncle CK was very excited! They finally came to the house and oh he is such a cute, cute, cute baby! Words are not enough to describe him! I noticed how very happy CK was, and how Tanner brought out so much love amongst each other. I also had the chance to touch and carry the baby! (Yay!)

The whole trip was so peaceful for me. Yes, I do think that “peaceful” is the best word to describe it. Perhaps it was the vibe of a small town place with green trees, land, and fresh air that evoked it, but I also think it is more than that. It is being surrounded by people who you know, feel love for, and being embraced and accepted by them. I am telling you… nothing could beat that feeling.

Fast forward to our last day… time to go back to the reality of Los Angeles, and boy was it hard to do. We stayed our last night at the Encore in Boston, so we could be within a close driving distance to the airport the next day. On our last day, his parents drove from New Hampshire to Boston to have brunch and then take us to the airport. When they arrived at the hotel, his dad gave me a surprise bouquet of peonies that he picked from their garden. Ohhhh… of course, I cried again! I loved the flowers, but I loved the gesture and the thought behind it even more. My heart was full. When they dropped us off at the airport, the final hugs were exchanged, tighter than ever. CK’s mom couldn’t help but shed some tears… and of course, so did I. I cried so many times recalling the events, I’ve lost count.

Looking back on the trip, all my anxiety was for nothing. His family not only more than accepted me, they embraced me with so much love and kindness. The feeling is indescribable. By knowing who CK is, it is a testament to seeing how his parents raised him and the environment where he grew up – I shouldn’t be surprised. My feelings prior to the trip were normal for someone who is meeting the parents for the first time. I realized that our cultural backgrounds were not a factor. It made us able to connect, share, and learn new things about each other. The greatest and most profound lesson I’ve learned is that nothing else truly matters when there is love. Love shared amongst us is worth more than anything.

For everything this trip represented, it meant answered prayers. Thank you, God.

I’ve never felt more at home, so I had to ask CK, “Can we stay here?”(Hahaha). His answer was, “No, Los Angeles is our home.” Oookkkaaayyy… but ya know you can never say never right? WE all know how life goes… 😉

Newsletters September 2023


In my first article about this 7 Days of Love challenge, there were a few questions I wanted to be mindful of as I went about my merry way to explore this topic. Circling back to these now, my answers before this mini journey are much different than the answers I have now. As cliché as it may sound, I do reckon I learned a bit from the practice of exercising love intentionally on a daily basis. I definitely didn’t expect this, but wow, love this for me.

What does love mean to you? 

Before: Love means sacrifice. Love means tolerance. Love means patience. Love means endurance. Love is labor. Love is unconditional. Whoa. I dunno about you man, but these all seem kinda Debbie Downer to me. Because love is also fun, romantic, adventurous, whimsical, and happy happy, joy joy – but those are just not the first things that popped into my twisted little head. Maybe it’s because I had three kids by the time I was 30. When I look back at old pics and videos, I’m honestly flabbergasted that I was rippin’ around with two kids by the time I was 24. I mean, that’s my daughter’s age now and she would never. And by the time I was 30, my youngest came tardy to the party, but he absolutely completed us. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing and NO RAGRETS ever. But, real talk… I did sacrifice a lot to raise them to the very best of my ability. My career, my twenties, my thirties, my forties, my career LOL…maybe this is why my idea of love was automatically associated with notions of sacrifice, tolerance, patience, and endurance. With three kids and two marriages, the struggle bus was up and running for many years, folks. But, my husband and my seeds are my people. My home team. My most favorite people in the whole world. They are my biggest life accomplishments and honestly, they make me look hella good. Shout out to my RIDE OR DIES. Gang gang!

Now: Love is intentional. Love means being present. Love means showing up. Love is trust and communication. Love is all-encompassing. To be clear, love has always been all these things to me. But, I now realize that THIS is how I want to show up in this world and show up for love. I want my love to be very intentional and I want others to know it and feel it. Love means showing up and being present for my peeps in all the ways – big or small. Yes, I will be there front and center at your graduation – maybe even early enough to save seats. And yes, I will make my famous macaroni salad for your party as well. I spent many years being so self-involved in my own crap, I didn’t think showing up for anyone else mattered. It was all about me and I was hiding. Like, how can I possibly be carefree and have fun at your 21st birthday Drag Queen Brunch when I’m drowning in puddles of turmoil?? My intentions weren’t to be selfish and self-centered – I was just going through it, gurl. So now, I’m extremely conscious of that and make all the efforts to undo that stigma and change the narrative of me being a flake. And I believe with that, comes trust. Love means being that trustworthy rock my people can lean into and depend on. Listening and holding space – without judgment, without projecting, without opinions. I may impart some words of wisdom and unsolicited advice, because that’s just what I do and can’t help myself sometimes. That’s that momma ish. And lastly, I think love means oozing and exuding an all-encompassing love that feels safe, secure, and feels like home. I want the light that God shines in me and through me every single day to reflect on the outside, because I feel it so deeply on the inside.

What makes you feel loved? 

Before: I definitely feel like expressions of gratitude, words of encouragement, and compliments validated me and made me feel loved. I mean, who doesn’t love to hear how great and talented and beautiful and loving they are?? Just saying LOL. Well, I’ve actually learned that there’s a ton of people who don’t share the same sentiment, so yeah. Just me, I guess!

Now: While gratitude, encouragement, and compliments are still lovely to hear, very much welcome, and still very much make me feel loved and wanted, I’ve achieved enough personal growth to not need those things to validate me. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’ll eat it up, soak it all in, and be absolutely grateful if it’s right here, smacking me in the face. But, I don’t need it because I’ve learned to do this for myself. Because I know I’m out here trying my best to show up, kick a**, and be my best self every day. Mmm kay, well most days because hormones, laziness, and perimenopause, ya know. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that it took many years to learn how to show up and love myself. To not let other people’s lack of gratitude or encouragement bring me down, and to not give their words or actions (or lack of) any power if they don’t serve me. I have a choice. To either rely on others to love me the way I need to be loved, or to love myself first. And know that loving myself first, will set the example for how others should love me. I’ve also realized that being heard and understood not only make me feel loved, but make me feel seen – which makes me feel like my most authentic self. I’ve learned this is super important to me. Thinking back to my childhood, I’ve always fought so hard to be heard and I’m sure it was annoying at times. Sorry, mom and dad – love you. But, my voice and whims of expression have always been my superpowers. I Am Woman, hear me ROAARRR. Don’t hate!

What do I expect to gain from this?

Before: Nothing. I honestly, wasn’t expecting anything from this challenge. I thought I’d just be documenting cute, noteworthy actions of love for all y’alls reading pleasure. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t anticipate any particular outcome. Letting go of expectations is another very valuable lesson I’ve learned to practice in the past few years. If you don’t expect anything, you don’t get disappointed. Don’t expect it, but welcome and embrace it when and if it does come. Don’t let your ego resist and allow you to push it away. Okay, I’m preaching now and that is definitely not my intention. Gurl, bye.

Now: With all of these revelations and ‘Eureka!’ moment life lessons, I do feel like I’ve unintentionally set some expectations for myself. I hope I don’t let myself down LOL.

1) Love those I love better. I would love nothing more than to gain better quality relationships, friendships, a more intimate marriage, and deeper connections overall.

2) Listen more and talk less. Even if I have this intense, innate need to be heard, understood, and seen, my desire is to listen more, talk less, and just be about it.

3) Be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, and even boss. I meeaaan, I feel like I’m pretty phenomenal already, but there’s always room for improvement. LOL!  JK JK, GOSH.

4) Find my passion and my purpose. Put my head down, work hard, play hard, pray harder, and (re)discover whatever it is that brings me joy and makes me happy. If it makes me some extra money too, I ain’t mad at it. I’m the only one who blocks myself from thriving in these streets and being my absolute greatest.   

SO THERE. I know it was called the 7 Days of Love challenge, but it was more like the span of a month or two or five – and it’s too late to rename now, sooo…. In the words of my son MA$EO in his Crossroads 2019 keynote graduation speech…. “If I can leave you with anything, it is two words: LOVE MORE.”

August 2023 Newsletters


“The best things in life are free…” or are they? There is probably much debate on this iconic lyric, and the word “free” can be a loosely used term. But from my personal experience, I can truly say… YES THEY ARE! The truth is, the power of a SMILE can be largely underestimated, undervalued, and often just brushed off these days. What people don’t realize is that a smile, the tiniest movement of our facial muscles, can move mountains, molehills and so much more!

I recall the years when people would always question, “Why are you always smiling?” or “Are you okay in the head? Why are you always smiling?” I found this surprising because for some time I thought I had a resting b*** face… hmmm… My replies would always be, “Why not? Why not smile when I do feel like smiling?” When I look at people, I certainly would prefer to smile than frown at them! Perhaps it is just my personality or maybe I am innately wired to smile. When I look back, smiling has always opened so many doors for me.

Because of my smile, it initiated and established long lasting friendships with people that I deeply treasure until now.  Smiling has victoriously helped me navigate the tricky and stressful job of dealing with suppliers, artists, VIP’s, and the demands of corporate bosses! With my love of traveling, it made meeting new people of different cultures and languages easier… and yes, even dealing with those scary immigration officers in foreign countries! Shopping in another country and bargaining has also become so, so, so seamless! A simple smile you say, huh?

A lot of who I am and what I have been able to do can be traced back to smiling – my own personal power that I wield without limit and remorse… wink, wink ;). All jokes aside, I believe it has also made the battle with life’s challenges easier – because somehow, even in the middle of my lowest lows, I still managed to smile. That tiny bit of muscle curvature sparks hope that things can be better.

I know some people are not as used to smiling as I am. Here are some FACTual reasons that any completely sane individual can relate to:

SMILING can make YOU feel happier!  When you smile, your brain releases endorphins, which are hormones that have positive mood-boosting effects.

SMILING REDUCES STRESS. Smiling can help relax your muscles and lower your heart rate, which can reduce stress levels. It ultimately saves you money on healthcare… which is a BIG PLUS!

SMILING makes you more ATTRACTIVE. AMEN! – People are naturally drawn to those who smile because it is seen as a sign of warmth and happiness.

SMILING can help improve RELATIONSHIPS. Smiling helps create a more positive and friendly atmosphere, which can lead to better relationships with others. (Hello! Save the drama for your mama!)

SMILING is HEALTHY. It’s been proven to have a number of health benefits. It helps to reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and even help to live longer. (Again, lower health care costs because living in America in 2023 is no joke).

And saving the best for last…
SMILING can make you look up to 10 years younger! That is 10 years worth of collagen, retinol, Botox, and all the Korean and Japanese skincare costs!!!! All for FREE. FREE! What more could you ask for?

Cue Janet Jackson…

The best things in life are free (yeah)
Now that I’ve discovered what you mean to me (don’t you know that)
The best things in life are free (yeah)

Now go and live your life with a smile… for you’ll never know the riches it can give you.

August 2023 Newsletters


*Hey Siri, play “Flawless” by Beyoncé*

…I woke up like this
I woke up like this
We flawless, ladies tell ’em…

You know the feeling… You’re walking down the street, personal theme song in your head, coffee in hand, on the way to work, and ready to conquer the day. You see yourself in anything that displays your reflection and check yourself out… other people checkin’ you out. You’re THAT girl/guy.

You got that main character energy and ain’t nobody gonna break your stride.

Look, I get it, there are some days you feel like you’re a supporting character to a friend that treats you like an on-call therapist, or a wing-person because they just can’t make the first move. Does it actually work to be a wing-person? I’m asking for a friend. There are also days (or moments) when your inner antagonist comes out until you wash it down with coffee…or cake. I love coffee and cake. They’re a dynamic duo in an elixir that magically transforms you into a pleasant human being. 

The main character is who the story is predominantly about. The main character is YOU. Your story is about living your best life. You can take control of your narrative by radiating positivity, confidence, and self-LOVE.

I know this is easier said than done. Believe me, I have my share of ups, downs, ins, and outs, but along my journey, I’ve found some ways that can help you shift and control your narrative.

  • Life is Beautiful – Find the beauty in the little things. Take yourself on dates. Do the things that make you happy. Treat yo-self.

    “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

  • Me, Myself, and I – Besides God, you’re the only constant thing in your life. You have to enjoy being in your OWN company. We can’t always rely on others to do things with us alllllll the time. That also includes breaking out solo from those girl group bathroom trips. Being comfortable with being alone and not feeling lonely becomes your superpower in life.

    “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

  • Learn to say “no” – Not many of us say it. Be clear on what you want to accomplish in your life. You have to set boundaries to enforce what you want to achieve. By setting boundaries, it shows that you respect yourself and demonstrate that you are the main character. It also radiates that you love yourself enough to work on something you care about.

    “I love you, but I love me more.” – Samantha Jones, Sex and the City

  • What’s wrong with being confident? – The answer is nothing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Confidence is attractive… it is also key. Know the difference between confidence and cockiness. Please don’t be too into yourself to the point of coming off as narcissistic. Nobody likes that. Don’t do that. Knock it off.

    “I don’t skate through life, David. I walk through life in really nice shoes.” – Alexis Rose, Schitt’s Creek

  • Do you, boo – Know your worth and stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace the things that make you unique (i.e. style, hobbies, etc.). The way you present yourself, how you dress… the things that make you… YOU. Know and recognize your value and what you bring to the world. When you step into that power, you’ll learn how to appreciate who you are – that is your main character moment.

    “The things that make me different are the things that make me, me.” – Piglet, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Being the main character of your life means being responsible for your own choices, actions, and well-being. The actions and decisions drive the plot that usually results in the most growth or change throughout the story.

    “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” -11th Doctor, Doctor Who.

You are the main character in the story of your life, put yourself first and take control of your narrative. OWN IT.

August 2023 Newsletters


First of all, let me start by saying it’s been an absolute pleasure letting you get to know me. I loved sharing our beginning, the foundation of our story – the who, what, and why so that you really get to know US. The company, the ministry, the people behind it, and all the good good in between. Now, let’s talk about the brand… the brand with the long name… the brand with a cross and dove in the logo. The best first aid brand you never knew you needed, until you actually needed it. So, then you went and bought it, in case you need it next time and now you can’t live without it…

Be Smart Get Prepared. That ME! Remember, I am the brand personified, wrapped up in a cute, stylized aesthetic that can actually help save your life. I’m a whole entire message, a mentality, an invitation to a lifestyle. Be Smart Get Prepared wants you to literally Be Smart Get Prepared and live your best life. Do all the adventurous things and take us with you! Let your kid ride that bike until the street lights come on (umm my age is showing, because I actually don’t know if this is a thing any more). Go camping with your family. Check off that cross- country road trip from your bucket list. Explore your fave hiking trail with your doggy dog. Do your thing on that 120-mile bike ride, rockin’ the spandex with your biking club.  We want this for you. We love this for you. Good health, an active lifestyle, peace of mind, first aid, and safety look good on you, sweetie. So, GO. We got you.  

Be Smart Get Prepared is the only first aid brand that designs kits to fit your lifestyle in multiple categories – Home, School, Office, Outdoors, Automotive, Sporting Goods, Emergency Survival, Marine, and even Farm. Our kits are designed with intention, have purpose, and each has their own little personality to boot. And the kit’s names…oh, the names! The names are guaranteed to catch your eye, reel you in, and then the totality of the kits speak for themselves. Oh, the places we will go!

Why wouldn’t you want Happy Wanderer and Hiking Buddy to be your besties on that family camping trip?

Don’t let your wounds stop you! Give yourself all the Tender Lovin’ you deserve. We’re big fans of self-love and self-care – cuts, scrapes, and even diabetic ulcer wounds included.  

ROAAADDD TRIIIPPPP! I’m sure you’ve never heard the question, Are We There Yet? on a road trip before….

Feelin’ a bit down and out after a medical procedure or surgery? Don’t worry, On The Mend is here to help and may even cheer you up.

Take a hike with your furry best friend  (hopefully a dog and not a person, LOL) and take Trails n’ Tails along for the ride!

Through the products, our legacy lives on. We want to connect, we want to engage, we want to fill in that gap to keep you safe when you need it most. Our goal is for Be Smart Get Prepared to inspire, educate, and encourage you to be proactive, instead of reactive. Healing wounds, saving lives, building schools, helping communities, rescuing helpless children, empowering people mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally – this is our legacy….and after 32 years, we’re just getting started. Be Smart Get Prepared, holla at ya girl!   

July 2023 Newsletters


Cue the music:

Wake me up before you go-go! *insert musical notes amidst head bobbing and slight dancing*

Off we go, as Wham’s iconic beats begin to blast on the car stereo. For me, 80’s music is just the perfect soundtrack for this perfect day as my boyfriend and I go to the beach via the winding picturesque road of Topanga Canyon to the Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH).

There is nothing like listening to great music while cruising and relaxing on the beach. As I give you some tips for today, indulge me as I share some beloved music from my childhood.

Yes, girls do just want to have fun (right, Cyndi?). While spending the day under the sun is not as simple as having Toto’s “Africa bringing you the mood, you must also bring the goods:

Plan ahead. California’s weather can be a bit bipolar (IYKYK). Check the weather forecast and make sure you pack accordingly. If it’s going to be hot, pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. If it’s going to be windy, pack a windbreaker or jacket. 

Know the beach rules. Some beaches have restrictions on swimming, sunbathing, and pets. Be sure to check the rules before you go so you don’t get in trouble. If you know me, or my boyfriend, bringing our dogs is a must!

Be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for rip currents, jellyfish, and other hazards. If you see something that looks dangerous, don’t hesitate to ask a lifeguard for help. Say NO accident-prone possibilities and any potential life-threatening events.

Stay hydrated. I CANNOT REITERATE THIS enough… drink plenty of water! A trusty Stanley 30 oz Quencher is my best friend. Bring sports drinks or electrolyte-rich foods to help keep you hydrated. If you’re like me and are in your 40s (and cannot handle hard drinking anymore), pack some White Claws. What a feeling!! Being’s believin’… woohoooo!!!

Protect your skin, over and over again. Before going outside, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wait for 30 minutes prior. Reapply every two hours or more if you’re sweating or swimming. If you love to tan like me, you can also add a layer of Australian Gold Instant Bronzer with SPF – not only does it smell good, it also gives you that beach glow <3

…and I’m walking on sunshine… oh ohh… and it’s starting to feel goooooddd… oohh yeahhhh

Wear comfortable shoes. Flip-flops are great for walking on the sand, but they’re not the best choice for walking on rocks or shells. If you’re going to be doing any exploring, wear shoes that will protect your feet. Bring a pair of trusty trainers for those off-the-path walks. Right now, Onitsukas are a godsend to my tired feet.

Bring a beach towel. This is a must-have for any beach day. You can use it to sit on, dry off, or even sit on while building a sandcastle. If you are like me, bring a waterproof beach mat so the pesky sand doesn’t make your life hard afterward.

Pack a cooler. Fill it with drinks, snacks, and anything else you might want to eat or drink at the beach. Okay, also bring some cheese and crackers (have you tried Triscuits?!). In addition, don’t forget about the beverages (maybe some White Claws? My personal favorite flavor is peach.)

Bring a first-aid KIT. Need I say more? For this trip, I brought my NO SPOOF, WATERPROOF kit to cover my beach needs.  This is ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA, in case of any emergencies. I always have a kit in my car and another handy one in my tote.

Have fun! That is the whole point of the day. Enjoy the company you are with, the place, the tunes, and the moment. Be present.

Relax, soak up the sun, and make some memories that will last a lifetime. Okay… Photos are a must… but really, enjoy the moment, will you? Also, I want to leave you with a few more tips to further your day…

Get there early. The best beaches can get crowded, so it’s a good idea to get there early to stake out your spot. Like Rocky… RISING UP… back on the streets… – if this beat does not motivate you to start your day bright and early, I don’t know what will!

Bring a book or some other activity to keep you entertained. If you’re not the type to just sit on the beach and relax, bring something to do to keep yourself occupied. Although playing Candy Crush (along with my boyfriend) on my phone has kept me entertained lately, it became more of a bonding session with him – done separately, but together… you know? I’ve recently read David Sedaris’, A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020). It made me laugh, think, emotional, and all sorts of in-between. I highly recommend this diary of literature.

Explore the area. If you’re not the type to only stay on the beach, take some time to explore the surrounding area because there might be some interesting things to see or do nearby. Topanga and its surrounding areas are a treasure trove for the uninitiated. Not only is it a nature lover’s paradise, you won’t run out of quaint places to shop, eat, drink, and just simply have a great day! …She’ll turn her music on you… you won’t have to think twice… she got Betty Davis eyes… – Topanga is very much like Betty Davis’ eyes now that I think about it…

Be respectful of the environment. Leave no trace of your presence at the beach. Dispose of your trash and be careful not to disturb the wildlife. – This for me is close to my heart – please, for the love of… DO NOT LITTER. Have respect for nature, other people, and just life in general. Clean up after yourself. As Sting sings …Every move you make, I’ll be watching you…Oh, can’t you see…

Whew! I know it seems like there are many things to take note of and get ready for, but really, the whole day has just been the best experience for me. It was the best because I love being in nature, spending it with people I love, and learning to enjoy life. Whether the small or the big things, it is truly a beautiful life. Sweet dreams are made of these… whom am I to disagree…

As we drove home, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up started playing on the radio… it felt fitting. At that moment, I decided that I’m never going to give up this feeling of being a child again such as harking on sentiments, childhood joys, loving nature, and experiencing life as it happens.

Signing off for the day, much love from my 80’s mixtape.

July 2023 Newsletters


I like smiling. Smiling is my favorite.

Things that made me smile this week:

1. Going to my local Starbucks and Sammi always knowing all of my orders by heart (shout out to Sammi!).
Also, when they have matcha back in stock! Ya girl LOVES her iced matcha lattes with EXTRA strawberry cold foam because no matter what people say, MORE is BETTER. YUM!

2. Greeting my boss and colleagues in the morning.
Hi Barbie, Hi Barbie, Hi Ken…

3. When Ayin (the snack queen) at work gives me snacks.
I will never go hangry again.

4. The sound of my colleague, Darlene’s obnoxiously loud shoes when she walks around the office.
Imagine dead silence and that sound being the only thing you hear. It’s FUNNY, ok?!

5. Every time my boss, Geolyn laughs.
It’s pure joy and CONTAGIOUS!

6. Singing along (loudly) to my playlist with the windows down while driving home after work… and getting stares along the way.
I go HARD on “Under the Sea,” accent included.

7. A huge Porto’s bag carrying my equally large order being delivered and handed to me by DoorDash as soon as I get home from work.
I have to treat myself because I love me.

8. After completing my usual 4.2 mile run.
It’s a way of running away from my problems.

9. Singing “Part of Your World” in the shower. I’m on a ‘Little Mermaid’ kick right now and living my best life.

10. Going to Yogurtland, grabbing a good amount of sample cups, sampling EVERY FLAVOR AVAILABLE (sometimes twice), and picking my usual every time.
I’m not even sorry! Hahaha!

11. Reading “Yours Truly” by Abby Jimenez.

Who doesn’t love hot British men in white, flowy shirts (that coincidentally get soaked)?? Swoon.

And Prince Eric… because he’s British and gets soaked in a white, flowy shirt too… you’re welcome…

13. When my coworker, Gina is not paying attention to her playlist that plays in the office and an “inappropriate work song” starts playing.
But when she does notice it, it would abruptly stop.

14. Friday Team Building Games at work.
The best way to start the best day of the week. Don’t get it twisted, EVERYONE is competitive!!

15. Every time I talk to my friend, Savahna (who lives up North). The sound of her voice instantly makes me smile.
It also helps that she’s HILARIOUS too.

16. Whenever I walk into a room where all of my friends are… everyone stops, screams my name, and greets me with the best hugs.
Main Character energy.

17. When I receive packages of stuff in the mail that I don’t remember ordering and pretending it’s Christmastime when I open them.
I lose track sometimes, so Merry Christmas to ME!

18. Facetiming my nieces.
They wanted to let me know that they can sing Encanto songs in both Spanish AND English… and made me listen to them sing both versions. They mostly made up some words in English, but I’m a supportive auntie.

19. Going to Disneyland with my cousins, theme dressing, and taking copious amounts of photos.
We’re THAT family.