Yelly Writes

Leitraot Abba

He left with a smile. And he made sure I knew that he heard me when I said “I love you Abba!”

My dearest miracle man is now healthy, whole, and singing his heart out in Heaven. I can just imagine the Hebrew conversations you’re having there.

My dearest Tatay, Dr Florencio-Isagani S. Medina, III, passed away today, 10 November, early in the morning Philippine time.

My Abba was a quiet man, but when he spoke he spoke with eloquence, and he spoke when it mattered. He was strict, very strict in fact, but he would spoil us too. He knew exactly when to do it. And when he did treat us, it was treating on a massive scale. He made sure we had everything we wanted. My Abba was a generous man. He was generous not only to his family and friends, he was generous with everything and with everyone – his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his in-laws, his friends, his neighbours, his colleagues at work, his students and even the man who sells us taho. He was kind because he knew what it was to live without, how it was to be hungry, and if he could help someone else not go through the pain, he would do what he could.

Abba, I feel so blessed to have been born into your family. I am so proud to be your daughter. I am happy that you are now free from the limitations of your body. But I will miss you so very much, more than I can ever say. Thank you for staying with us for 7 years. Thank you for enduring the difficulties your strokes brought on your body. You knew we needed you. You knew we weren’t ready to not have you with us. Thank you for everything. My heart is so full because you gave to us so beautifully and completely. You made sure we knew we were loved., completely, unconditionally and individually.

I love you forever Abbadabbadoo! I’ll see you later!

Yelly Writes

Tiptoeing around the why

I’ve been asking myself existential blogging questions lately.

I haven’t blogged for a while. I actually thought that I hadn’t written anything for a year.

Although the last thing I actually wrote was the eulogy that I’d prepared for to celebrate the life of my dearest Tita (auntie in Filipino) Margie, who passed away on 27 May 2021. I’d forgotten about that. But just like everything that has happened in the last several months, everything feels like a lifetime ago. That’s another blog entry altogether!

A friend asked me if I still blogged (which is what actually brought about this existential reverie) and I answered and said I still had a blog but I hadn’t written in a very long time. They said they didn’t blog anymore because they felt that blogging was something that interesting people did. I truly wanted to splutter and object and say that we’re all interesting people! But of course, I didn’t.

That conversation does weigh heavily in my thoughts these days. Am I just fooling myself into thinking that I have something to say? Is anyone else interested in the mundane banality of my extraordinarily ordinary life?

I mean I have opinions. I have all these ideas of food to cook and bake. I’ve got all these things that I want to do. I have photographs to share. But is blogging still a relevant platform? I used to have a massive reach when I blogged on a different blog-hosting platform (which weirdly enough the name escapes me!). I had so many people read my blog entries, comment on my opinions and just interact.

I guess with the explosion of social media, blogging and microblogging platforms compete for the attention of the many people who consume content online. And if you’re someone so ordinary like me, you tend to get lost in the content posted by more prominent personalities.

Then it leads to the question – Why then do I post my prose online?

That question has made me think. I guess I still want to share my thoughts. I’m still of the opinion that if I share what I think, somehow, somewhere, someone else will read it and smile (or laugh) because they’ll think that they’re not alone, that someone else in the world is like them.

Why do you still blog?

Yelly Writes

Back to basics

I haven’t written anything in quite a while.

It’s been an odd 18 months, I’m sure you’ll all agree. But unlike other (wannabe) creatives, I’ve procrastinated and I’ve stayed away from blogging. I’m not quite sure why. I’ve been busy with my real-world job and just learning to navigate the new world of Covidlandia.

I have been crocheting a lot though. I finally managed to finish my 100 poppies for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal British Legion. I’ve had a few people buy them from me already and I am so thankful! Please be assured that the poppies have come from a Covid-free environment (I test often as I travel to and from work regularly). If anyone wants one, please let me know and I can send you details of how you can help me raise funds to donate to the RBL!

I’m going to try to blog more often. Even if it is just to rant or share a random thing. This person’s writing muscle needs to be exercised!

How have you all been?

Yelly Reads

Just Read: The Daughters of the Dragon

Sometimes we see the news on TV, feel engaged and properly outraged at the injustice, and then promptly forget about it. This has been true for the issue that is the backdrop of the Daughters of the Dragon.

Anything that mentions World War II instantly hooks me, in particular, especially if it relates to the Japanese attempt to annex Asia. My grandfather was a World War II veteran and he survived the Death March in the Philippines and being a POW in a Japanese prison camp. My grandmother experienced the fear and dread that a soldier’s wife felt when trying to learn about the fate of her soldier husband. My father and his older siblings were children during the war and I remember the stories that he used to tell me about the horrors that he witnessed as a child. He had particular opinions about the Japanese and Korean soldiers that were in the Philippines at the time. And I must admit, I had prejudices when I started reading the book.

The Daughters of the Dragon, while fictional, deals with the very harrowing reality that the Japanese Imperial Army did physically and emotionally damage a lot of women by forcing them to be sex slaves during the war. I remember seeing news clips of the Filipino comfort women demonstrating in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila when I still lived in the Philippines. At the time, I was young and almost completely unaware of the extent of damage that the Japanese Imperial Army was wreaking on the whole of Asia, let alone the experiences of other countries. My view was very myopic because it was trained on what I knew about the Japanese from my dad’s stories.

Without going into spoilers, this book provides you with insight into the thoughts of a young woman experiencing the rape and physical abuse that all those comfort women went through. And although it is an uncomfortable read because of the topic, I found William Andrews’ writing very insightful. The way he conveyed the thoughts and feelings of the central character Hong Jae-hee was quite discerning. I found myself feeling alternatively angry, fearful, uncharacteristically helpless and very, very sad. The narrative wasn’t emotional. It felt almost matter-of-fact, but despite that, it didn’t feel antiseptic or dispassionate. The realistic description of the surroundings, the people and the kind of interactions allowed almost a cinema-like view of how the story unfolded. I struggled to put the book down and would find myself being awake at 1AM trying to finish “just this chapter”.

I’ve bought the entire Dragon series after buying this book because I wanted to know what happened next! But, also, as a result, I’m reading more about the plight of these girls – children really, who I now know have come from the Philippines, Korea (where this book is set), Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan. It makes me want to know more. It makes me wonder about the scars that my grandfather and grandmother hid from their children and their grandchildren. It makes me realise that the cost of war, of imperialism is more than the amount in currencies that are reported.

Onto the next book! I’m reading The Dragon Queen next!

Yelly Writes

Margie Concepcion L Osorio

In Filipino, we have a word for “big sister” – it is ATE (ah-teh). In several Philippine dialects, it is Manang (mah-nahng). We also have other words for elder sister, according to whether they are eldest, second eldest, third eldest, and so on.

In my mom’s family, there is an Ate, a Ditse, a Sanse and a bunso. My Lolo Osiong and Lola Gening had 8 living children – 4 boys and 4 girls.

The Ate in my mom’s family was my Tita Margie. Tita Margie was, to me, the paragon of all Ate virtues. Without any exaggeration, I’ve always felt that Tita Margie epitomised the perfect “Ate”. She took care of her family. She took care of my Lolo and Lola. She took care of her siblings. She was at least 10 years older than the second eldest girl and she took her role as big sister seriously.

Mom often recalled that her Manang Margie made matching clothes for them, my Tita Migen, my Mom and my Tita Bing. They had pictures of the three of them wearing matching outfits that Tita Margie had sewn for them. Mama always said that Tita Margie always insisted on all of them being turned out well, that she would sew them outfits if they had something important to go to. She was the same with us. She would insist we dressed up properly and dressed appropriately.

Tita Margie started sewing when she was in high school and never really stopped. I remember she would sew clothes for my cousins and me. I remember all the clothes she sewed for me. Her sewing machine and sewing kit were a never-ending bag of surprises and she created magic with needle, thread, cloth and her Singer sewing machine. Once, my brother Aryeh asked for a plane-shaped soft toy and Tita Margie, even though she had never made a toy like that before, gamely took the challenge on. That toy is still at home, in Don Jose, somewhere. Tita Margie always made things to last.

Tita Margie was the constant in my mom’s family…at least to me she was. She was always there for everyone – for her brothers and sisters, for her nieces and nephews. She was the head cheerleader for her family. She was proud of her siblings and their achievements and I know that in her own way, she made sure that her siblings knew that. She let them shine and she helped them shine.

Tita Margie always wanted the best for her family. She was the same with her nieces and nephews. In a way that was uniquely Tita Margie, she encouraged all of us to be the best we could be. She supported us in whatever way she could. She cheered us on but at the same time, if she felt we were behaving in a manner that was less than acceptable, she would tell us, in no uncertain terms. She had rules and she had standards. But she had a way of calling out bad behaviour that only she could. We may not have felt it at the time, but in hindsight, everything she did, she did in love, because, she always wanted what was best for us.

Everything she did, she did because she loved us. Everything she did, she did for her family. Her love for her family was in everything she did, in every word, in every deed, in every stitch, in every treat, in every gift.

I cannot imagine Manila without Tita Margie. I cannot imagine not seeing her cheeky smile and hearing her witty conversation. But at the same time, I am relieved that she is no longer in pain, no longer uncomfortable, no longer struggling to move. I am thankful that she is now healthy and whole, with my Lolo and Lola, with my Uncle Magni, Uncle Franklin and Uncle Wawell. I am thankful that she is now with the Lord. I am thankfully reassured that when the time comes, I will be with her again.

I love you Tita Margie.

Yelly Writes

Vaccine Day post-mortem

I got my first jab of the Oxford-AstraZeneca on Monday.

It involved a trip into the Colchester suburbs and finding the vaccination centre was the most challenging part. It was fairly efficient as they did have their list of people who’d signed up for vaccines to check against. They do say not to arrive too early because the vaccination centre I went to was a pharmacy with basically, a consulting room, that they turned into an inoculation room. There were appropriate social distancing measures and a lot of reminders. Of course, not everyone read or followed the suggestions to social distance and that is another post all together!

Calvary Road Pharmacy, Colchester

Today is Day 2 post the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and I can definitively agree with Her Majesty that the jab (itself) “didn’t hurt at all!” But the list of side effects after the jab that on the Gov.UK website is spot on. There are also leaflets on the Gov.UK website for the specific vaccines. I’ve added the links to the Gov.UK web pages below.

You need to make sure you bring or have the following to hand:

According to the Gov.UK website:

  • Your NHS number
  • A face mask/covering

I had with me (because I worry, over prepare and over pack, most times)

  • My mobile that had a copy of my booking confirmation number and confirmation texts
  • Hygiene kit which included: disposable face masks, hand wipes. and hand sanitiser.
  • My passport, in case I need to show ID.

I felt really unwell about 12 hours after the jab, headachy, muscle aches, joint aches (I was feeling every single second of my 44 years let me tell you!) feverish, chills and brain fog/confusion. But yesterday was a better day and whilst I’m still waking up later than usual and waking up to a fuzzy head, I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday. A top tip that I learned from others, if you can, take paracetamol, just before your jab so that the paracetamol is in your system already when the jab comes in and will help with the symptoms as soon as they start hitting. Of course, if you can’t take paracetamol before, take it as soon as possible, after the jab. Expect symptoms as soon as 30 minutes after the jab. A few of my friends in the NHS have even said they got symptoms sooner.

Apparently, you get a card that says you’ve received the 2 vaccinations. I’m not quite sure whether this is given at the first jab and the centre I went to just didn’t have them.

Just sharing and I hope this helps!

I’ve posted long and rambling video updates on my IGTV, if you’re interested in looking and listening to me ramble about my vaccination experience!

Yelly Writes

1 down, 11 to go!

January has always, in the past, been a very busy month for me.

I worked for a chartered accountants’ firm for nearly 7 years and since 2013, January was a running-around-like-a-headless-chicken period because we had personal tax clients who needed help filing their tax returns in time for the 31 January deadline. I hope you’ve managed to file your tax returns online yesterday! If you need a recommendation, send me a message and I’ll let you have their contact details!

I thought moving to Drinkaware was going to be a little less harried. To be fair, I think it would’ve been less harried because most of the leg work would’ve been finished towards the end of December. Of course, December 2019 was the first time the world started hearing about the virus that we now know as Covid-19 and it was the holiday period before this novel virus became a pandemic.

I don’t think I would’ve written 2020 off as a non-starter. True, it was a year when I yelled, “Stop the world! I want to get off!” and, quite literally, life as we all know it, paused! The words “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. However, it was a year of firsts and a year where we were all forced to learn about ourselves and learn about our personal limits. And as I always say, when there is learning, it’s an environment that I thrive in!

Enter 2021. We’re all still in the midst of a global pandemic (isn’t that the right way to phrase it, surely a pandemic is already global?) and it looks like we haven’t come out the other side yet! We’re still social distancing and it seems like we’re not learning the lessons that we should’ve learned after 2020 (or at least, a small percentage of the population seem to have completely ignored the infection control lessons – I’m ignoring that particular soapbox for now!). The light of the end of this dark tunnel is that we now have effective vaccines in circulation. There is hope. There is definitely something to look forward to.

It’s the First of February! I’m relieved to have survived January 2021. It feels like it’s been a year…or maybe it was just me!

Here’s to all of us who have come out of January still smiling! Yay us!

Yelly Writes

Please…

I’m sitting at my work (from home) desk bawling my eyes out.

I was watching the news and a woman who hadn’t had the chance to hug her father, who was in a care home, was finally able to after months of waiting. This was all thanks to rapid testing now made available to care homes so that relatives can visit their elderly loved ones. I’m so glad that people are able to visit their parents now. I’m so envious that they’re all now able to hug their parents. I so miss my mum and my dad. But I can’t go home to pay them a visit yet. Not whilst cases are still high in the UK. Not while there is a risk that I might bring the virus home.

My parents (and aunties) are older and obviously very vulnerable and at risk, especially my dad, who has survived multiple strokes. As much as missing them is a physical ache, I am aware of the risks that visiting them presents.

Everyone, please. Please could you think of those of us who cannot go home because we run the risk of spreading infection? Please could you think of those of us who cannot hug our parents? Please could you think of those of us who cannot care for our parents physically, even though we are desperate to, because we cannot travel home. Please think of us. Please put yourselves in our places. it’s not only the daily freedoms that we miss. We miss our families too.

I’m making sure I do my part so that I don’t contribute to the possible infection transfer so that the restrictions come down. I hope others do their part so that we all are allowed to enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted, so that we are able to be with the ones we love, our families and our friends.

No man is an island.

Never has this been more true and more evident. We’re all in one massive pond. Whatever makes a ripple in the water that surrounds me, will make ripples in the water that surrounds you.

Yelly Writes

Start of the week

Well, that’s half the working day gone!

I’m trying to figure out when I should go and get stuff but I’m thinking it should be soon. It doesn’t look too lovely outside with the rain threatening to come down. I need to go to the supermarket to buy stuff, I think!

One thing that’s been a constant these days is my daily to-do list. I know! There are so many articles saying to-do lists are the death of productivity. I disagree. If I don’t have a list, it kind of feels like I’m not working towards a purpose.

A few months back, Sara Tasker had Nir Eyal on her podcast (it’s Episode 82 and they’ve got a follow-up episode as well!) and I learned something nifty from Nir Eyal that has revolutionise my time control. He said that people should schedule their time in time blocks and to allow yourself time for yourself (I’m paraphrasing very liberally here!). I find that allowing myself time to faff is time well spent. That way, when I do get distracted and go off-piste then I don’t beat myself up with a stick that usually grows exponentially because my conscience will always go heavy on the emotional self-flagellation.

Excuse the chicken scrawl but I did want to share a picture of what I meant (if you want to see what my day looks like, let me know! Haha!). My next target is to learn to properly time block…to actually set time deadlines. It actually scares me because I’m worried that if I add another element to my workday scheduling, the restrictions will trap me into immobility. BUT baby steps. I need to actually grow into this habit. It is my goal to consciously be kind to myself.

What do you do so that you keep on track of things? Please share them with me in the comments!

Yelly Writes

Insta-validation

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is listening…if anyone actually reads my posts or if they’re just looking at the pictures. I’d like to think I have interesting things to say. But sometimes when people don’t write comments or react to your posts, it’s hard to gauge whether the content you put out is relevant.

I like writing as much as the next blogger and I like to think that they way I express my opinions can be entertaining. But when you are met with radio silence, visions of tumbleweeds rolling in the dust fill my mind. I’m constantly asking myself if I’m actually reaching someone.

One voice in my head says, “Yeah well, you don’t blog often enough for people to pay attention!” This is true. Everyone says that for your content to have traction, in this oversaturated social media environment, you have to post not just meaningful content, but you have to post regularly. Even though I know this, a small part of me thinks that somehow I’m reaching someone.

And then days like Saturday happen:

@yellywelly on Instagram

Thank you so much! You made my day! You know who you are.

I know that my chilli belly pork recipe is, by far and away, the most active of all my posts but I rarely hear from people who actually try the recipe. To be thanked for sharing a recipe that I actually tested several times before I posted it on my blog means the world. It’s actually galvanised me into action. It is the elixir vitae to my inertia! I am hoping this sustains my writing drive. I’m glad to know that my virtual “Yooohooo! Anyone out there?” was heard and someone, sight unseen, has replied “Yep! I hear you!”.

Please leave your comments! My “I’d love to hear from you!” pronouncements are genuine. I really would like to hear from the people who read my blog. Besides, if you’re someone I’d rather not hear from, you’d know it!