Thursday, September 27, 2018

7 lessons for working mamas from "An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring"

I just finished this lovely little book, An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring. It's a short biography of National Book Store founder, Socorro Ramos. And when I said it's a little book, I meant it's a short and fast read, written in simple language that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate.

I think if you're a mom looking for books to inspire your kids, this is a good pick. If you're a working mom looking for inspiration, then this is definitely something that can encourage you. I read it in an hour and I found myself highlighting passages and writing my thoughts on the margins—Yes, I write on my books. For me, when I do that, that's always a sign it's a good book!

Every chapter in this book tells the story of Mrs Ramos, lovingly called Nanay Coring—from her impoverished childhood, her whirlwind and enduring romance with her husband, and how she lived through the great war to how she built her business again and again and still remains to this day the massive force behind the country's biggest book store and stationery supplies chain.

Each title of the 14 chapters highlights what the Ramos matriarch wants us to learn from her life. Here are Nanay Coring's advice and life lessons:

1. Live simply.
2. Never surrender Corregidor. (You'll have to read the book to understand this advice.)
3. Remain humble.
4. Knowledge is power.
5. The more time you spend at the store, the more you know.
6. If you work hard, nothing is impossible.
7. Always be on time, if not early.
8. Never show signs of weakness.
9. Be known as a good person, not a rich person.
10. It takes time to build something.
11. Happiness is helping people.
12. Rely on your own gut feel.
13. Always pray.
14. Read more. Know more. Earn more.

Aside from those life lessons, I picked up 7 other tips from Nanay Coring. Here they are:

1. Remember what's important.
Nanay Coring was from her father's second family. She lived through the war. She saw her business fail several times. So even when she became massively successful, her values remained the same: Don't forget where you came from, and take care of your family. That's it.

Throughout the book, she constantly reminds her children and the reader to work hard but to not forget your husband and children. Eat meals with your family. Talk with your family. Go out and spend time with them. Being busy with work, Nanay Coring and her husband Jose only had Sundays free. So they used that time to reconnect with each other and their kids by going to church, eating lugaw and siopao at Ongpin, snacking on fruits, candy and tsampoy.

Unlike what we working mamas are told, it doesn't really take a lot of time or money to make an impact on our kids. We don't have to be with them 24/7, we don't have to be their sole caregiver, we don't have to take them on out-of-town trips every weekend, we don't have to give them "the best" a.k.a. expensive shit. I see this so often these days! Moms who over-schedule their kids or spend every single minute with them, or demand their husbands to jet off the whole family somewhere exotic every weekend or so "to make memories." How exhausting. How frantic. How mom-guilty.

Relax! Remember what's important! They need us to love them. That is all. We don't have to prove it so much. We just need to eat a meal with them every day, give them hugs and kisses, and make simple memories. My husband was lucky enough to come from a well-off family, but it's their dinner-time stories he tells me often about, or how their garden overlooked their school and their mom waited there, or their trips to the grocery. I hardly ever hear about their annual shopping jaunts to Hong Kong, even though as a girl from a poor family, that was what impressed me most. So keep it simple.

2. Don't call for trouble.
See my note there? Haha. How indeed! Also, since I'm very confrontational, I'm noisy and argumentative. In the time of social media, how do you keep quiet about your food, your trips, your shopping, your kids, your career, your political views???

So my takeaway here is don't ask for trouble unless you're ready for it.

3. Have integrity in everything you do. 
This isn't easy. Sometimes we really mean we'll do the job, attend the meeting, be at the event, pay the bills. But life happens. Traffic happens. The kids happen. But it should be our guiding principle in work, in parenting, in marriage, in politics, in EVERYTHING. Have integrity. Be true to who you are and what you value. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

4. Give people what they need.
Many moms ask me what business can they start so they can work from home. Many mompreneurs I know started their business because they needed something no one was providing or a product no one was selling, and they decided to just fill that space. I like how Nanay Coring also figured out that people sometimes don't know what they need and you have to tell them. Create your customers!

I love that advice because sometimes I have a great idea and then I think, "Maybe I'm the only one who needs this." But Nanay Coring is proof that marketing can be as simple as telling people, "This is my need, and this solved it. Do you want to try it out, too?"

5. Care for people.
Smile. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. Open doors for clients and assistants. Give your customers and messengers a cool drink. Say thanks.

6. Be proud of your work.
Whenever I feel guilty about being away from my kids, I tell myself to shut up. As a work-at-home mom, I'm not even away from them often. Once a week maybe, for 4-6 hours. That's not a lot so I shouldn't feel guilty for the time spent away from them, especially since that time was used for one or both of these reasons: (1) I earned money, (2) I refreshed my mind and spirit doing something I'm good at.

Many times in the past, when my kids see me tired from meeting a deadline, they say, "Mama, I'm going to work one day so you won't have to." And I always say, "That's nice, but I like my work. I like using my brain. I like making my own money. I like work a lot!" So now my kids don't equate work with bad things. They see that it's not easy but it's something I'm proud of, that provides for our needs, and that makes our comfortable life possible.

Except for when I worked at the Senate, I'm always proud of what I do, even when people sneered at it. And when you're a blogger like me, people are always sneering at you. It's so funny that when I tell people I'm also an editor and a beauty writer, they kinda relax into a strange relief: "Oh, you have a real job." Then when they find out my blog still makes more money than any other "real job" I hold, they protest again.

I refuse to be ashamed of my blogging. It puts food in my children's tummies, it's not corrupt, it's not stealing. So as long as you have a job that helps people and your family—whether you're a janitress or a CEO, be proud of it! Your children are proud of you! 

7. Do what you're best at.
Throughout the book, author Cecilia Ramos Licauco who is also Nanay Coring's only daughter, says that her mother wanted to be other things. Nanay Coring wanted to be a doctor. She also wanted to be a singer. Instead she became an entrepreneur and succeeded in it so massively.

The lesson I got there is we all have dreams and sometimes we can pour our whole lives into making those dreams come true, and sometimes we can allow life to tell us where to go. As a young girl, I was determined to make my dreams of becoming a magazine editor-in-chief come true. And it did! But as a mother, the latter is what's true for me. I had a job with crazy hours that demanded I wear stylish clothes and sky-high heels, I had babies who only wanted to breastfeed, and yayas who kept resigning. I couldn't juggle my dream job and my kids! So I let life take over. I became a stay-at-home mommy, I blogged about my boring/crazy mom life in the most raw and honest ways, which people seemed to like a lot. Blogging was so successful that—tada!—I registered it as a business.

I never dreamed of becoming a mom and a blogger, but those are what I am now. And guess what—these roles fulfill me more (and blogging pays more, too) than anything I've ever done before. So maybe when we as moms feel life is passing us by and our dreams aren't coming true, maybe it's time to look at our life, dream new dreams, and see how we can make this mom life work for us instead.

If you want to get a copy of An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring, it's available at all National Book Store branches. You can't miss it. It's always by the cashier! You can also leave a comment on this post and first one gets my copy! When I'm done with a book, I sometimes give it away. I wrote on this one, though, so if that doesn't bother you, then it's yours!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Here are 5 careers that involve remote working

While everybody wants a steady source of income for their daily bread, not everybody wants to work in an office every day. Many people thrive in a social and supportive environment an office provides while others need a space to properly focus on their work. When I was still a magazine editor, I went to the office to manage the operations, consult with staff, and meet with publishers and advertisers. But I went home to write and edit because I needed absolute quiet for those tasks.

If you also prefer isolation and silence to be able to work or you just can't find the energy to dress up just to work (like that lady up there haha), then you might be looking for a career route that offers the potential for remote working. Maybe it doesn’t even need to be entirely remote; perhaps you’d simply like the possibility of being able to work from home or your local coffee shop on the occasional Monday. If that’s the case, then you're in luck! There are soooo many things you can do from home, from a studio, from a co-working space, from anywhere you like! Here are some careers—from geeky to creative!—that often involve remote working.

Online seller
Sell anything! You bake? Sell baked goods! You love scrapbooking? Sell stationery, stickers and washi tape! You love shopping? Sell what you have and buy more to sell again! You like painting? Make greeting cards and sell them! You have a lot of junk? Sell them all! You can sell on Carousell, Lazada, Shopee, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Instagram. You can also build your very own beautiful online shop (this is still a dream of mine!).

If you speak more than one language, then this is a skill that you should definitely be using in your career. Whenever I check out Jobstreet or Linkedin, they're always looking for Mandarin-speaking, Japanese-speaking, and Korean-speaking anything! Because they need everyone they can find for all sorts of jobs—from masseuses and hotel receptionists to casino managers!

There are also so many remote working opportunities for translators. You could work for a translating company or simply translate web pages, books, and articles online. The point is that you have a highly valuable skill, and you don’t need to go into an office to put it to good use. In fact, you could even become a freelance translator. There are many opportunities in this industry.

Arts and Crafts
If you think this is just a hobby, then think again! I know that there are hundreds of fonts readily available online and in programs these days, but if you love calligraphy, you can make money doing wedding invitations and café menus. If you like macrame and knitting, make pot holders, sweaters, tablecloths and sell those on Instagram. You can give workshops, too! Everyone wants to learn a new skill or explore their creative side, so take advantage of this interest and make money from it!

Software development
Given that software development involves interaction with computers more than interaction with people, there are plenty of companies that offer developers the option of working from home. If you can submit your work via the internet then you don’t need to be in the office 24/7. It’s also a very stable career in itself. Businesses always need software developers or web developers to help them with the technical aspects of their operations. Technology is vital to the modern-day business. And the great thing about software development is that it applies to so many different industries. All businesses use computers or the internet in some sense (even if they just use it for the upkeep of their websites).

It all depends on the type of work that interests you. If you’re interested in the financial industry then you might even want to look into careers in that sector. You could look into Forex software development opportunities. Do some research if you’re wondering “what is Forex trading?” because it could be a very rewarding career option. The point is that it helps to know a bit about an industry, even if you’re simply going to be creating the software. You’ll be able to do a better job if you know what customers want. That’s something to bear in mind if you pursue a career in software development.

Another stable career that often involves remote working is writing. I'm a writer—I can confidently say that, yes, you can make a good living off words. There are plenty of different routes you can take with this kind of career. You could consider pursuing freelance writing. You can write articles for magazines and online news and magazines. If you like working with brands, you can write the content of company websites. If you have a marketing mindset, write press releases and ad copy. You can also write the speeches of CEOs and politicians. You can write e-books, real books, movie scripts, theater plays, comics. You can blog! The list (and agony!) is endless for us writers!

These are just 5 options and I made sure they cover different skills. Of course, all of these careers requires an entrepreneurial mindset. You’ll be creating your own business so be ready to deal with the government and pay your taxes on schedule (Taxumo helps me a lot!). The hassle of taking care of these government stuff is worth it, however. You own your time, you do what you love, and you make money, too!  

*This post contains affiliate links. Photos by @charlesdeluvio, @rawpixel, @taylor_grote from Unsplash

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Looking for fulfillment? Here's how to change your life 100%

Do you ever feel like there's something missing in your life? Maybe you feel like you're not doing enough or you're not experiencing life to its fullest. To be very honest, we moms really should rethink that feeling because with kids to raise, a marriage to keep, a home to run, and—if you're a working mom like me—a job to do, there's already more than enough on our plate and a huge purpose to live out. Let's tell ourselves every day that being a mom is a lot! 

But I know that awful feeling that life is passing you by. Or, more accurately, your life is being poured out to your husband and kids and you fear that you have nothing left for yourself. And you want something for yourself. I get it. That's why I insist on blogging even though I can't find the time and energy for it now that I'm so busy. I still keep going at it when I can because it's mine. It's my little space in the world—my thoughts, my voice, my convictions.

If you're thinking about how to make your life more fulfilling, there are several things you could do to be happier.

Find New Hobbies
Having things to do in your spare time should help you feel like there's more in your life that you can enjoy. Okay, moms usually don't have spare time, I admit. But if you look very hard, you can find little pockets of time you can devote to something only you can enjoy. Your hobbies can help you learn new things, meet new people, and perhaps even make things that you're proud of.

I love watching home shows on Netflix, for example. It's my new thing. And I'm picking up a lot of helpful information on tending plants, arranging furniture, design ideas, and even making your home earn money! I'll blog about this soon! 

Volunteer Your Time
If you want another way to make the most of your free time, consider finding a way to volunteer. There are lots of ways to volunteer your time to causes that you want to support. You can volunteer to drive the carpool. You can help out at your church events. You can hug kids at an orphanage. You can bake or cook food for the street kids. You can also use your professional skills to mentor students or new college graduates or help a charity or nonprofit.

You don't have to even leave your house to donate your time. I support World Vision. I don't have the time to actually go and distribute school supplies to our less fortunate students. What I do have is a blog and writing skills, so I help World Vision spread news or calls for help whenever they ask me to. It's just a few minutes of my time, but every time I finish a blog post about my World Vision advocacy and share it with my followers, I feel very good inside!

Travel with Your Kids
Okay, travelling with kids is not fun haha Moms find it very stressful because we have to book hotels that are family friendly, buy the cheapest plane tickets, plot out a child-friendly itinerary, look for restaurants that have a kids' menu. The list is endless!

But travelling is a great way to expand your children's world view and try lots of new experiences. In fact, minus the stress, I enjoy travelling with my kids because my old and jaded eyes see the world through their eyes and so I get a fresh perspective on people and life. And that's always a good thing!

Because travelling for a family of 5 can be expensive and stressful, I don't even plan on going to another country. I just bring the kids out to visit a museum, a park, a city out of town. We eat street food (on the street!) or check out a new themed restaurant. Whether your trip is near or far, you can always see and do interesting things. You'll meet a diverse range of people and see life from lots of different perspectives too—and doing this with your kids make it all the more meaningful.

Change Your Career
If you need to work to live, your career might as well bring you fulfillment. It's a big part of your life and your time, so it's worth making sure that you enjoy it. Some of the most rewarding careers can be found in the nonprofit sector, where you can do worthwhile work.

*Infographic Design By USC Online