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.”