Monday, October 31, 2016

Mama's regrets

Because it's All Soul's Day, I am thinking of my mother.

I think she'd be really proud of who I've become - and I'm not talking about career here as I don't have a career anymore. I think she'd be surprised at that part, too. I'm rather surprised at myself actually. I think I'm a good wife despite growing up with parents who didn't have a happy marriage. I think I'm a good mother despite being raised by an unhappy mother.

One of my last conversations with Mama was about regrets. She said, "If I were to live my life all over again, I'd never have gotten married. I wouldn't have had all of you but maybe that would have been better. I'm sorry." She was very sad when she said that and that's why I didn't feel hurt at all. In fact, all I felt was sadness for her.

When I was a teenager and started going on dates, Mama told me she regretted marrying and having kids. So it wasn't like her confession above was a surprise. She loved us but she always said that if she were to live life all over again, knowing what she knew, she'd say no to marriage and kids. I feel sad for her but grateful that she never walked away. Now that I'm a mother myself and massively relieved I don't feel what she felt, I feel sadder for her still. As a modern society, we shouldn't impose marriage and motherhood on women. On anybody! Mama loved us sooo much but maybe she'd have been happier without us.

Mama was unhappy with many things, mostly with Papa, and that affected our everyday life. She loved him, there was no doubt about that, but she regretted that love because it didn't bring her happiness. It also gave her children who never... I don't know. It's not that we weren't enough. I think we were just too much.

As I gain more experience as a mother, I empathize more with Mama. I appreciate her sacrifices. I feel her shame whenever she had to borrow money or groceries. I feel her desperation, her sadness, her misery, her complete exhaustion and bewilderment. I feel her fear and her fury.

I'm a mother, too, and this duty is no fucking joke. I love my kids, okay, but every day is tough. I don't know if it gets better but right now, with three small children and I'm forever running around feeding them, washing butts, picking up toys, yelling for them to stop hurting each other, not having time to shower or poop even, not having time to read books (my great love once upon a time), not having any time for my great love who is my ever supportive but neglected husband... I mean, motherhood just sucks the life out of you!

I'm still learning how to be a good mother and sometimes I fail, sometimes I'm selfish, sometimes I want to just curl up and sleep for 10 years. But I get up and do this mothering anyway because, to be honest, despite all my whining, I absolutely love being a mommy. I love it! I feel like I hit the jackpot of life really. And maybe that's why I complain a lot, to balance it somehow because I still can't believe how lucky I am. I have this irrational fear that the Universe will spot my joy one day and say, "Wait a minute. She's too blessed. That can't be right," and then strike me down, so I try not to be too smug so that maybe if I downplay my unbelievable luck - my husband and my children! - I''ll get to enjoy it forever.

I wish Mama had this joy, too. I really wish she had enjoyed it as much as I do. But you know what, I admire her completely now. I feel this enormous gratitude that despite her regrets, she always showed up anyway. She did the work, she gave her all, she never gave up. That's true love. And I love her for that.

Anyway! Something to think about if you're still single, ladies. And gentlemen, I guess. If you don't want marriage and parenthood, that's okay. It's amazing for many people (like me!) but it's not the be-all and end-all everyone insists that it is.

And then, for those of you who do feel trapped and yet you carry on serving your family and treating them with love and respect, thank you. Thank you for not walking away. May you find peace and joy in motherhood. God bless us all.

For further reading: I Don't Like Being a Mother. What do you feel about motherhood? 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blog Biz: 3 ways you can use social media to build your blog audience

When I started blogging 10 years ago, getting on anyone's radar was a dream. I only depended on someone stumbling on my blog posts to actually get some visits. That all changed when Facebook and Twitter exploded on the internet. Sharing posts means just a few extra clicks and reaching an audience is so easy now! I even told my students at my recent Blog Biz Blogging and Chika Workshop that it's absolutely impossible for anyone these days to say, "No one's reading my blog!"

As social media continues to advance and grow in popularity, bloggers have started using it to their advantage. It’s become a simple but effective way of driving traffic and strengthening a blog audience. From Pinterest to Instagram, there are countless social media sites you should be using to promote your blog. Using these sites not only engages potential readers, they make it easier to communicate with your loyal followers. But if you’ve only used social media for your personal life, you might be unsure how to use it to better your blog. So to help you feel less overwhelmed, use my three social media tips for bloggers.

#1 Use your blog name everywhere
When signing up for multiple social media sites, it’s vital that you use your blog name consistently. So the handle you use on Twitter should be the same on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, too. This can help to avoid confusion while also providing promotion to your blog. I've already started doing this by changing my Instagram handle from @francesasales to @topazhorizonblog.

Another benefit of doing this is that you are making your blog easier to find across multiple platforms. This is important as you start to establish yourself on both your blog and social media. Obviously, there may be instances where you are not able to use your exact blog name on social media sites. It might be taken by someone else or be too long, for example. That's why I haven't changed my Twitter handle to @topazhorizonblog because that's already 17 characters that will take up my tweets! In which case, you might have to experiment with alternatives that are as close to your blog name as possible.

#2 Promote other bloggers
While it’s important to promote your own blog content on social media, it can get repetitive for your followers. If you do this too regularly, it may even force people to unfollow you as a result. So mix it up by promoting the work of bloggers you admire. Focus on sharing the content of bloggers who create similar content to your own. This can add more variety to your feeds while still being relevant and interesting to your followers. 

A big possible plus is the blogger whose work you have shared may also reciprocate and promote your content. As you both create similar content, it’s likely their followers will be interested in reading your blog, too. This can give your audience a much-needed boost while also helping you forge positive online relationships. I can attest to this because most of my friendships today began with sharing of blog posts, comments on each other's blogs and Instagram pics, and then back-and-forth messages on Facebook. Et voila! I am now real-life friends with bloggers I used to just admire virtually!

#3 Make your icons prominent
If your followers aren’t able to find your social media icons on your blog, it makes it almost impossible for them to connect with you. So always make sure these icons are in a clear and prominent place on your blog. Popular positions are at the top and bottom of your blog homepage. Mine are at my sidebar. Just look to the right and then follow me!!!

You should also make it easy for your content to be shared by your followers on social media. This helps you earn more Facebook and Instagram followers while also increasing the number of visits to your blog. So make sure your blog content has a sharing capability that can be found and used easily. Mine are at the bottom of this blog post—please share!

And there you have it! My three little tips on how to use social media to build your blog audience. Social media and blogging go hand in hand. You just need to know how to combine the two effectively. So take what you have learned from this guide and start getting more clicks today.

If you want to learn more Blog Biz tips from me, sign up for my upcoming Blog Biz Blogging and Chika Workshop next month! I'm looking at November 17 or 18 (yes, a weekday!) at Bonifacio Global City. Follow my Facebook page for more details!

*image from Pixabay

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Big savings for my little boys with Security Bank's Junior One savings

This post is brought to you by Security Bank.

Hi mommies! Just wanted to share my latest mommy find—Security Bank! I've been meaning to open savings accounts for my boys for a while now but something always comes up and going to the bank to wait for my turn and fill up lots of forms, not to mention the traffic I'll put up with, just didn't appeal to me. So when a mommy friend told me about the online and home services Security Bank has, I signed up immediately when I opened Junior One savings accounts for all my little boys.

Yes, you can open an account online (click here). Or if you're a diva like me, you can try out their new Human Switch Kit service. Hehehe, no I'm not a diva! I really just wanted to review this new service and asked Security Bank if that could be my specific topic! Why? The Human Switch Kit means I can make the bank go to me instead!

Let me give you a step-by-step guide:
1. Go to
2. Click on Accounts on the menu.
3. Look at the bottom right of the page and you'll see a little window there that says these:

4. Click on that window and you'll get directed to the Human Switch Kit window.
5. Leave your name, number and email address, and indicate the branch nearest you.

That's it! You'll get a call or an email within the day and you can schedule the visit. We met at my home. This is Xyla. She brought with her the bank forms, and I was so grateful I was able to fill them all up (they were a lot) in the comfort of my own home, in the comfort of my house clothes, with one eye on the form, the other eye on my super kulit kids!

That's it! Xyla can't accept money so I still needed to visit the branch and deposit the money myself. She said I had two weeks to a month to do so. Because I was so busy, my schedule freed up after three weeks! I went to the branch with IƱigo and after just a few minutes, all three bank accounts had money. Hooray!

We opened a Junior One Savings Account for each of my boys because at .50%, the interest is higher than other banks. To open a Junior One Savings Account, you'll need:
1. One (1) valid I.D. of the parent.
2. One (1) valid I.D. of the child. In our case, we used the passports of the boys.
3. Birth certificate of the child if they are 5 years old and below and if they don't have I.D.s yet.
4. Initial deposit of P100.

That's it! I really loved the ease and convenience Security Bank's Human Switch Kit for opening the kids' Junior One accounts. Thanks so much for this service! Moms, if you're too busy to open a savings account for your kids or for yourselves, do try the Human Switch Kit service. They can go to your office or your home. They can go any time of any day (well, a reasonable time and day!). I highly recommend it!

For more information, visit the Security Bank website.