disclaimer: this is an immensely emotional post. for all of you new to the blog and need to catch up, please read this first.
one year later
1593148758430874 tears shed and counting
349853898208 tissues used and counting
50+ anxiety attacks
a continual state of numbness and feeling surreal
and that is just me.
not including my sister, my family or his family. just me.
how do you even start a post like this? my heart is in all sorts of places. on one hand, i want to just stand here and go back a year and stop time right before this happened. on the other hand, i want to freaking throw confetti all over the gaddamn place for making it through this awful year. it’s so hard to believe it’s only been a year. yet, so hard to believe how quickly time flew. i remember feeling how long and drawn out days were right when it happened. our entire family just felt endless days of shock and sadness. the days leading up to this anniversary, for me, were filled with great sadness. i just kept thinking about how exactly one year ago, how different things were and how happy we all were. oblivious to the traumatic event that was about to happen.
it’s still surreal.
it still hurts like hell.
there is no guide or manual on grief. there is no timeline for grief. grief can consume you one minute and another, you have the strength to control it. you can be fine for a week and one phrase from a song can tear you down. grief is like when a person loses their arm or leg and they still sometimes feel sensations where it use to be. grief is a phantom limb. a year later, my sister has the strength of who knows what on the outside, but trust me, i’ve seen the tears and just the agony of having to go each day without him in her life anymore. a year later, my entire family, including myself, puts on a strong face, but inside we are still crumbling and picking up these broken, horridly broken, pieces. but we are keep on keeping on.
i have forced myself to be strong. i now have the strength i never knew i could have. i just had to be. for my sister and for my family. i think because the world still turns, we all were all forced to just keep going. and that’s the thing about the world, it just moves on so easily. right when he passed, there was an outpouring of support and love. and as days went by, some of that disappeared and people forgot. i don’t blame them. life does have to go on. it also showed true friendships- whether in real life or just through social media. i can honestly say their words and love pulled me through some real rough days. you know who you are and i love you all so much for it. thank you so much.
i really debated how to write this post. i didn’t want to be too much of a debbie downer, but at the same time, i always try to be real on here. and i’m still not in a happy place. i know i won’t be for a long time. i don’t think people understand how hard it is, to not just deal with losing someone close to you so suddenly and unexpectedly, but also watching your very best friend in the entire universe, your sister, go through that loss. it’s a lot to deal with. it’s a lot to juggle. it’s a lot of heartbreak and pain that’s insurmountable. and i know this post is mostly how i’m feeling. my sister’s feelings can’t be put into words. people have asked and i can’t really answer.
one year later. and we’ve just about started to realize this is our new normal. life without mikey. we still try to have happy moments, although the air is still heavy with sadness. we don’t try to sit and wonder why anymore because the anxiety becomes overwhelming. we try very hard to keep our eyes focused and forward. ultimate breakdowns are more sparse. the tears are still there though. the ache will never leave.
i think there have been two shining lights throughout all of this. before all of this happened, my mum never liked animals. she never understood why we had dogs and cats as pets. which is why the only pets i was ever allowed to have growing up was fish and a hamster. she never touched a dog in her entire life, up until last year. his passing away meant that my sister would become the sole owner of their dog, Cleo. however, given my sister’s insane residency schedule, she wasn’t able to give the proper care for Cleo. so Cleo came to live with my parents. one year later, my mum pets Cleo with her entire hand, rubs her belly with her foot, makes rice and boils chicken specifically for Cleo only, frets about staying out too long during dinner and we need to hurry home to Cleo, and basically just spoils Cleo rotten. Cleo also has developed a major attachment to my dad. as soon as he comes home from work, she never leaves his side. she even keeps him company while he works in the study downstairs some late nights. it’s truly heartwarming to see. it’s given all of us so many needed laughs and smiles. thank goodness.
the other shining light is it’s really shown me a lot about myself and my strength. yes, i have those who have really stepped in to make sure i was ok. but more importantly, i’ve done it on my own. i’ve handled it on my own. i’ve had to take care of my sister while handling my day job, this blog, picking up a front desk job so i could be healthy and work out for free. in other words, i’m hustling my ass off despite all this grief. in some ways, it’s the best way to work through the grief. by keeping excessively busy, i have no time to really think about what is happening. but it’s taught me a lot about myself. and while overall it still causes me great sadness, i have to say i want to high five myself for somehow getting through this year in one piece (at least on the outside).
one year later. it still hurts. it’s still numbing. it’s still overwhelming. it’s still hard to get out of bed some days. it’s still hard to breathe.
but we’re adjusting baby steps. learning how to live each day with this new normal. until something like this happens to you, you can’t really understand or appreciate the meaning of “life is short so don’t take anything for granted”. we don’t let the small things get to us anymore. we just can’t. we argue less because we just should. and when we do argue, at the end, we still say “i love you” cause you really just never know. we just appreciate life in a very different way now. and i have to say i get irritated when others complain or whine about something petty. some days, i just want to yell at them. but at the same time, i would never wish upon them what we’re going through.
regardless though, i still want Mikey back. i still miss him more than he will ever know. we all do. i still thank him for all he did for my sister. for showing her how it feels to be truly loved. not many people can say that. i still thank him for giving the gift of Cleo to my parents. i still thank him for giving me strength. but it doesn’t take away the fact that i still wish he was here. here with my sister. here with my family. here with his family.
anyways, this was a much longer post than i anticipated. thank you for sticking through. thank you for so many kind words throughout this past year. thank you for still coming to this blog every day. just thank you so much for everything.
and to Mikey, wherever you are,
we miss you so and we love you so.
we’ll raise a glass or two of Guinness for you this weekend.
three years later. this day still gets to me.
the feelings i felt and the overwhelming sadness balanced with the overwhelming of happiness of what we did together for Japan after will never ever leave me. to this day, i will still excitedly talk about what we accomplished altogether. and i’m still in disbelief at times at how in two and a half weeks we surpassed any of our expectations.
you kind of never forget natural disasters of this magnitude where the damage is eternal and physically scarring not just for the people, but for the land and the culture forever. we’ve all seen the images and the video footage before. but the horrifying feeling of seeing that 30 foot wave knock entire ships into shore and in a matter of few seconds, pull thousands of lives into the massive ocean. it just never leaves you.
i am thankful for community as i spoke about in this post. thankful to have friends like Lucia and Henny from Utterly Engaged who immediately jumped to action with me and started For Japan With Love. despite the melancholy of the event, i still have to giggle at how doubtful we were to raise $5,500. in fact, we were so doubtful, we almost made our initial goal $3,500.
every year, i will write these number out again and again. it’s the only way to emphasize that every little helps. but in just two and a half weeks, we raised $66,733 from 1407 individual donations and we had 1200+ bloggers involved with the blogger day of silence. we owe it to the power of social media but more importantly, the power of community. we would never have been able to pull it off without your help. this further triggered a SF benefit a month later and with the help of Floral Theory, Blu Bungalow, Lovely Little Details and Bustle Events, our end total for For Japan With Love, was approximately $74,000.
one of the reasons that also helped this community raise that amount was having a great organization to donate to and believe in. we picked ShelterBox because of what they do. each ShelterBox contains the daily living essentials from utensils to blankets and pillows to coloring books for kids to a tent that houses about 10 people or an entire family. each box is about $1,000 and so by raising $74,000, we were able to help 74 families or about 740 people.
takes your breath away doesn’t it?
however, at the end of the day, this post isn’t meant for gloating. it’s to showcase just how beautiful human beings can be. that a horrifying tragedy like the Japan earthquake and tsunami can bring so much kindness and compassion.
my heart still aches for the losses that day and the days after. i will always remember this day and think of all those affected closely to my heart. and i will always be ever so thankful for everyone that donated and helped spread the word. there will never be any words close to describing how i felt or still feel about For Japan With Love.
take a moment today and join me to remember those lives lost and those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
in remembrance. 3.11.11.
let me start off by saying that my blog is nothing without the work of many talented people, more specifically the work of photographers. that’s not without saying that the work of wedding planners, stylists, florists, invitation designers, and more aren’t important. but let’s face it, without the photographer, who’s going to capture those details and above all, the moments that not only the couple will want to treasure but also, the vendor who wants to be proud of the work they’ve done. this blog has and will always support the work of wedding photographers first and foremost. everyone else loves the details and that’s totally fine. it’s just not my jam. i firmly believe in their work and their talent and will always genuinely support them in any way i can. i take great pride in the fact that their work is on my blog and even greater pride when i see them on a bigger name blog or a magazine, making it rain somewhere somehow, etc. i am always humbled and thankful that they send their submissions to me and they value my blog enough to want to be featured on here. there are many a times when i squeal in joy and can’t wait to feature their work. i take great pleasure when i see readers clicking through to the links of featured photographers. i’ll be honest and tell you my blog will never guarantee inquiries or bookings, so the smallest action of clicking through to photographers’ portfolios or blogs is a great joy to me.
nevertheless, the BEST part of my blogging for the past four plus years has been the genuine friendships i’ve created through this blog. i am always so happy to say that more than a solid handful of wedding photographers who have been featured on this blog are my real life friends as in we hang out outside of the blog and don’t just industry talk but life talk, learn from and help each other out. many of them have truly been there for me, especially the past few years. For Japan With Love (where we raised $64,000 in 2.5 weeks) and For Philippines with Love (where we raised $19,052) are living proof of what happens when we support and help each other out. both happened because we all came together as unified individuals for one simple cause and belief- to help others in need. and on a more personal level, when my life came to a serious halt last summer when i lost a family member suddenly. a lot of these wedding photographers and other wedding industry folks were there for me through phone calls, text messages, cards, emails, etc. i don’t think they’ll ever know how grateful i am for their words of encouragement and support. it just goes to show how important a community is. without one, i know i can’t function both on a professional and personal level.
this past weekend, i got to go to Photo Field Trip (brainchild of Jess Cudzilo of The Define School, Whitney Chamberlin of Our Labor of Love, and Justin Lyon). the ultimate goal was to provide an intimate setting where photographers could just jive and learn from each other. and even though i am not a wedding photographer, i was just bloody excited to go support friends that were teachers and/or panelists and just to savor being among so many creatives. another perk would be meeting some of the photographers. who have been on here for the first time, in real life. (and let’s not forget another excuse to throw confetti.) that was what was important to me and to just be around the community that i genuinely supported and was proud to be a part of. there was a bit of an uproar when an initial class schedule went out and people were frustrated that some classes weren’t offered. i was slightly disappointed with the reaction, granted that in my mind and the organizers’ minds, they just wanted to provide a place where we could all be at the same time. Jess, Whitney and Justin worked hard and catered to everyone’s needs. they did a mighty fine job of it and everyone calmed down.
then came the actual weekend. i was just so happy to get to see all my friends in one place at one time. it was so needed for me on an emotional level. this was the first time many had seen me since Mikey passed away and essentially the first time, they got to physically hug me. an added perk was meeting photographers in real life for the first time. it rained the entire time, but that didn’t stop many of us from attending classes, talking to others and getting to know each other, and more importantly, to dance with each other. i was super proud to hear friends speak their hearts and put them out on their sleeves. even more excited to hear all the great feedback about my friends speaking. by the end of the weekend, everyone felt fulfilled and hearts exploded. oddly enough, a lot of them had skipped classes because they just wanted more one on one time with each other and could not do that in a class setting. people far more enjoyed the downtime, the spontaneous campfire gatherings and bike rides to the beach.
i hope if anything came out of this weekend that attendees learned the importance of community. we can’t work without each other. and we work best if we all come together and essentially just being around each other is key. sacrifices and compromises will always have to be made. but at the end of the day, it works out because birds of a feather flock together.
and so to my friends, old and new, i’m so glad i got to hang out with you all and just be with you guys the entire weekend. i miss you all so much already.
a lot of confetti was thrown. a lot. i even pranced around in a tutu. AND threw confetti. those that were there will be finding confetti in their hair, clothes, suitcases, and underwear for days…even months. they also bore witness to me being at my happiest and that’s when i get the chance to throw confetti. for reals. but yeah, thank you to all for such a great weekend and putting up with my confetti craziness. i hope you’re prepared for it next year.
if you know, you know. and if you don’t, well it means “Throw Confetti Or Get The Fuck Out”. and it’s my life motto and i like yelling it when i’m extremely happy or extremely mad. so deal.
sidenote, you could also say it means “Think Community Or Get The Fuck Out”. hey hey hey. see what i did there?
ok no but really guys. community. let’s try to live it and breathe it more.
headed off this morning to this
can’t believe this weekend is finally here!
so excited to see and hang out with old friends and meet new ones face to face for the first time!
and you know there’ll be confetti involved.
i’m bringing 57 film canisters of confetti as well as 15 push pops of confetti so be prepared to get showered not just with rain, but confetti!!
the above is only a snippet of the amazing work that has been on the blog the past week. originally on my instagram.
MY BLOG LOOKS BLOODY BRILLIANT BECAUSE OF YOU WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS!
so thank you so so much. i’m so overwhelmed by the response over this week. i’m so happy with the genuine love everyone’s shown for each other’s work and how proud each photographer is.
thank you from the bottom of my heart for sending your work in. keep on sending it in this year. i can’t wait to see your 2014!
and to those who missed out this year, you guys better send images for “best of 2014″ end of this year!
also sidenote, you may have noticed some additions to the side bar. a quick explanation:
i am not a full-time blogger. i have a day job that i actually rather like and enjoy. i count my lucky stars that i truly enjoy this job. it keeps me challenged and i’m constantly growing AND more recently, i am swamped at work and honestly, sometimes have difficulty balancing it all. this blog is first and foremost my hobby and my creative outlet. i get asked a lot if i’ll make it full-time. i don’t know. maybe. not anytime soon. my fear is i won’t love it as much when there’s finances involved and the pressure will get to me and i won’t enjoy it as much. plus, my friendships with everyone on this blog have been beyond genuine and so filled with love. i don’t want to ruin it because at the end of the day, i just like blogging and showcasing wedding photographers. that’s it. that’s all.
with that said, having no time to maintain ads and sponsorships, i also want to be an open book with everyone. my blog doesn’t have the readership like the HUGE wedding blogs, and it has a smaller, but strong following which i am so lucky to have. therefore, i have to admit i would feel like i’m cheating vendors if i asked them to be a sponsor or an advertiser on this blog. i know they wouldn’t mind sponsoring, but my goal is to always get them inquiries and bookings. and knowing that my click throughs wouldn’t guarantee them that and my dedication and attention to them wouldn’t be enough because of the day job, i’m doing something a little bit different.
i’ve reached out to some of the photographers who i have followed the longest and supported me the longest and posted them on my sidebar. it’s just my little way of saying thanks. if you’re interested and want to learn more, please email me!
again, thank you always to those wedding photographers who submitted. thank you to all the readers who do come to this blog every day to check out the amazing imagery and give wedding photographers some love (shoutout to A Crimson Kiss for always commenting). here’s to 2014 and i can’t wait to share some of the amazing work lined up for you all in 2014!
at the end of 2012, i was so ready for a new year. fresh out of breakup and a heart was mending, a fresh new year was what i needed. it started off grand with new friendships and trips that included new york and hawaii. and of course, wppi where the above radtastic people gathered for a vow renewal and two bags of confetti were thrown. photo credit goes to Shoda Love.
come end of springtime, it was really looking up. day time work was going so well, blog was going well, friendships strengthened and gained. homecomings and farewells. engagements and weddings. but nothing ever prepared me for what was to come. just when everything was smooth sailing, the wind was knocked out of me on a summer morning. and from there, 2013 became my worst year yet.
if you’re a follower of the blog, you already know what happened. if you’re relatively new, you can read it here. but that was my defining moment of the year. and it definitely was not one you typically want to remember a year by.
nothing ever prepares you for a loss. and when it’s sudden like our’s, there truly are no words. it’s very surreal. if you ever chat with me in person, i put on a brave face and am able to talk about it. but you have no idea how much it hurts inside. until you experience a loss like this, you truly have no bearing of what “life is short/life is fragile”. additionally, one of the worst and most frustrating feelings ever is losing a loved one and seeing a loved one lose that person and there’s nothing you can do about it. i would never wish this upon anyone.
while this year was and is greatly overshadowed by this grief, there were many a tiny beautiful moments that were a greatly appreciated distraction. dinners at the encarnacions, g-hangs with the #tcogtfo crew, random meetups with wedding industry friends, new friendships, for philippines with love, and obviously all the confetti throwing. but more than ever, my full time job was truly a blessing and i’m more than thankful to have a supportive boss. you can’t say that often. work has allowed me to be with my sister and work remotely from our san francisco office whenever i needed to after everything happened. it has meant so much to me and my family to be able to do that. you don’t let go of things like these and you put your whole heart working for it. i’m lucky i enjoy what i do and to have a supportive team too.
i’m also more than thankful for the blogging family i have. for the past four years, wedding photographers have entrusted me with showcasing their talent and their gorgeous work. for that, i’m more than grateful and work every day to reiterate the importance of a wedding photographer. this blog will always emphasize that. but more importantly, shoutout to the major outpouring of support from everyone. thank you for being so understanding with so many hiatuses this year and the delays with responding with emails and putting features on hold while i dealt with my family. many people didn’t know what to say or do. just being there for me and holding me up via hugs or words was more than i could ask for. so thank you.
this year has been filled with such heaviness. however, after something like this, it’s easy to see the joys in the little things and moments. i still get annoyed when people complain about their little problems when in fact they should just be grateful that they are living and breathing and that they are surrounded by their loved ones. sometimes i just want to yell at them and say “you know what? i’ll take your situation if it could bring him back. so just shut up.” i hope people learn never to take anything for granted in the year. just appreciate and be genuine about all things.
so as you can imagine, i’m ready for 2014.
while i know this sadness is going to carry through to the new year, there are many things to be excited about still. always excited about the blog and what it brings. excited for the “best of 2013″ collection that will be revealed the week of January 6th! there are a couple of gatherings to be over the moon about, several trips here and there, but more importantly, my sister will be moving down with me as she starts a new chapter in her life come June.
i know this sounds awfully pessimistic of me, but after the year i’ve had, i’m not jumping up and down or throwing confetti for the new year. my optimism has greatly depreciated after the events this past year, but i know i have the emotional strength of a lion. i’m just going to take it day by day. and i’m ok with that. after all, you really just never know what is around the corner.
so hug tighter and kissed your loved ones more. be angry with them, but still say “i love you” right after.
life is short. life is fragile.
wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
good riddance 2013, hello 2014.
as i sit here, i count my blessings that i have a bed, food, water, and electricity. my mind wanders to those in the Philippines with none of that. i can’t even imagine.
honestly, i feel a little defeated that the media isn’t helping make the help that the Philippines need more visible and heard. but it doesn’t meant that i’m not going to stop trying. instead of my regular scheduled post, today is my post is for For Philippines with Love.
in remembrance of those lives lost in the wake of typhoon haiyan and this post is raised in hope for those still alive and holding on to whatever faith they have that things will be ok again.
how does having a Blogger Day of Silence help? well when we did this for For Japan With Love, over 1200+ bloggers got involved and i significantly remember when i went to bed the night before, we had raised $28,000 and four hours later when i woke up, the amount was $44,000. so oh yes, it helps for sure. every little helps.
so please if you can, donate.
but more importantly, take a moment today to think of those in the Philippines.