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Life

Life-learned lessons, relationships, marriage, faith, lifestyle, and everything else in between.

Filtering by Tag: wisdom

Time Capsuling - A Fun Way to Set Up New Year Hopes

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Write down your hopes (not goals or resolutions) for 4 aspect of your life, put it away, and read it 1 year after. Free hand-lettered printable included.

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On The End of The World, Cheesy Instagram Captions, & Pampering Myself

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Ever since my blog kinda took off commercially about a year ago, I have developed this strict posting schedule for my blog and social media accounts. I love it, I think it has helped me to maintain my quality, and it has proven to work because I have been getting a lot of opportunities because of my consistency. But as much as I love doing this, I felt so overwhelmed last Friday. I know I said I love to hustle , but with the blog and the store and everything else in between including parenting and marriage, I have been stressed out without even knowing it.

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I still do work here and there, but I have not been blogging and posting anything on social media for a few days, just because I kinda felt I needed a break from it all. I felt sick of cheesy instagram captions, promoting stuff, and writing stuff I sometimes don't mean. And I realized that....

Sometimes you need a break from doing what you love. 

So I'm so grateful that I was given some really good resources by my family at Gateway Stewardship last week. Especially the Present Over Perfect book on the left in the photo above.

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Since last week, I've been taking some time off from blogging, social media posting (except for work), so that I could just be. I used to feel as if the world will end if I do not post something in a day, because I'm going to miss these great opportunities for not having a social media presence that day. Like my blogging career is going to fall apart and I'm going to miss out.

But you know what I've learned?

Life goes on. The world keeps spinning, and we just gotta keep on livin'. 

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And just when I decided to have some rest and take a break, I received a Pamper Pack from one of my favorite brands, Patchology. I didn't want to just take photos of it and post about it. I waited, I made the most of it, and put meaning to it.

I felt so spoiled, though. Got a journal that says 'Live it Up', a love note from the Patchology team, and that pretty sleep mask with lashes and everything :)

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This Flashpatch Eye Gel is to be put right under our eyes at 5 minutes before you put our make up on. It plumps and smoothes our fine lines while soothing, and brightening our under-eye area. I put it in the fridge the night before to give it an extra cooling sensation.

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Didn't have anywhere to go yesterday but that's okay. Just gonna pamper myself and chill.

Next, I gave myself a little massage with this EOS Berry Blossom body lotion which proceeds will be donated to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center throughout this month since October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It's 100% natural with ingredients like shea butter and avocado oil. It's not sticky/greasy, and it smells so good! Elegant, feminine, but not too complex and overpowering. Most importantly, it's for a good cause. Imagine how many lives we can touch just by pampering ourselves with it :)

Next, of course I sat down, enjoyed my cup of Teh Tarik (Malaysian tea latte), and read my new book by Shauna Niequist.

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And you know what I found? It's okay to leave behind a frantic way of living. It's okay to not follow your tight schedules and step back a little. It's okay to live simply and not always to be on top of everything at all times.

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Here's a little quote featured in the book from a poem by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese:

"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on you knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on."

Simply beautiful. I'm not there yet, but I know that my journey to a more intentional, soulful, and simple living has just started.

I hope you will get on board with me too :)

 

Stop The Bullying. Spread the love.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I didn't really plan to write about this until yesterday when I was reading an article and found out that October is the National Bullying Prevention Month. We have so many good causes being campaigned and celebrated almost every month here in the US. However, beside human trafficking and child sponsorship, bullying prevention is one of the very few that are truly dear to my heart. Just like many of you, I have experienced bullying when I was a child. However, sadly enough, I had to experience it until as recently as 6 years ago, when I was in my early 20s.

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With the social media and advanced technology these days, it's so easy for people to voice their opinions about others without even checking the facts or filtering their thoughts first.

I experienced cyber bullying a few years ago due to a horrible mistake that I had publicly made in my workplace. I owned my mistake, I had apologized for it and made amends with all parties involved and damaged by the incident. Even though it was really hard, I had decided to gather the shattered pieces of myself and start over. But women around me were not all excited for me. And I get it. What I did was wrong. But it was none of their business either and it did not validate their being mean to me.

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Many of them trash-talked me on social media, deliberately looked the other way whenever I said hi to them, and they never really got over being mean to me until months and months after.

I don't know what is it about women, but we tend to feel threatened when another women are doing something good for themselves. It's as if they're when they start doing something good for themselves, we ask ourselves "But what about me?" - as if that person is better than us. Better according to whose standard? Don't we realize that we are all works in progress? We tend to compare ourselves with other women, and either beat ourselves up for not having what they have, or beat them up and bully them for our own insecurities.

Why the negativity? Why the hate?

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So today I'd like to encourage you to love others, be kind, be supportive, without being a doormat. You can be selective when it comes to choosing the right friends, because some people are just not worth your time and energy. However, when it comes to being kind and friendly, we can do that to all.

Feel free to pin or share these images I have created to encourage y'all to be kind to others and listen to these songs that might encourage you too :) If you'd like to campaign the anti-bullying cause in your community or at your kids' school, reach out to organizations like Bee Friendly, Pacer, or Stomp Out Bullying and be part of the solution.

***

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXoZLPSw8U8]

Love how she talks about loving yourself despite what people tell you. A beautiful and powerful music video too.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOcLz3YJGCc]

Life might throw your heart to the ground, but the heart of life is good. Love the lyrics, very encouraging. One of my all-time favorite pick-me-up songs. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ism8dBjxKvc]

I am not the mistakes I made, what my family did, or the color of my skin. I am light. India Arie slays as usual in this song.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVXlTxY_Wk]

This awesome dude is my cousin! This song talks about a little songbird who stopped singing because 'those girls and their circles' talked about her. But then the song went on to encourage the songbird to never stop singing. So beautiful.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTrt6FFuqdA]

This song is to encourage you to embrace your flaws and all the bad things that might have happened to you because they have only made you stronger.

On Losing Sleep & Chasing Dreams

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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" I lost sleep so I wouldn't have to lose my dream" - Group 1 Crew

I love this quote above by Group 1 Crew that talks about how this rapper spent sleepless nights working on a beat machine when he was younger, to create music and make his dreams come true.

I am not a rapper but I find this line to be so relatable.

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I originally wanted to start an e-commerce business so I don't have to rely on this blog to make an extra income. Plus, I was just so tired of the pretentious nature of the 'influencer industry', so I wanted to lay low and just blog for fun, not for money.

But then God kept on opening doors for me and my blog, and in the last couple of months, I have been blessed with opportunities and partnerships that have given me access to get free food, free tickets, and some extra money.

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So I embraced it. Doing my best to maintain the quality of my contents, without selling stuff to you guys all the time. Do it in a tasteful way, and yada yada yada. And this is time-consuming!

Now I have invested all of my money to building my store, so I have to do all that I can to make money from it! And so came the stress to do photoshoots, marketing, packaging, pop up shops, etc.

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To cut cost, I've decided to do my own photoshoots, even though I am not a professional photographer. I don't have a fancy DSLR so I have to rent one every once in a while and invite friends to support and model my stuff.

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This chick you see in the pic above is Emonne Markland. She is an author, a speaker, a TV producer, and most of all she is a mother and a wife. We met through instagram. She invited me to her Leave Your Beauty Mark coffee connect last year and she's been very supportive ever since! I find that genuine love to be rare, and I am grateful to have people like her in my life.

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It's not easy to maintain my relationships with people though (my family included). I get so busy all the time, my mind gets so occupied with my to-do lists that I can't even think about what I'm cooking for dinner or saying hi to a friend I haven't seen in a while.

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See the photo above? I woke up like that. Like a junkie with bags under my eyes lol. What can I do, I only got 4 hours of sleep!

But why do I do this, really. Are we struggling that bad financially? Can't I just get a 'normal job'?

Well the answer to both questions is NO, my friends. My family isn't going through a financial crisis, although J's surgery back in July was a big hit for us. I just really, really want to contribute to the household income with whatever I can do. I just like to hustle. It's just in me. And if doing what I love can bring us some extra money, why not?

And a 'normal job'? No way. I do not want to be chained to a portioned vacation days. I want to be there for J whenever I want and can although I feel like I haven't done it well enough after being a 'stay-at-home mom' for 3 years now.

Because while most people work from 9 to 5. Moms work from wake to sleep. 

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I believe this chaos is only for a season, though. I believe that I will eventually learn to manage my time better, to let go of some projects that are too time consuming, and to put my family first.

Because like this candle says in the pic above : "Light your home, light the world".

It all starts from home. And whatever I'm chasing won't be any good if I don't put my family first. Hmm...

 

*Item details : Starling Project Vanilla Hemlock Candle | Mozdeb Pretty Thoughts Journal & #Momstruggle Bag 

*behind the scene photos by Vanessa Espinoza, who was also modelling for me. 

The One Who Time Travels Through Stories

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I'm super excited about this month's heroine. She is a dear friend of mine who seems to know just the right thing to say at the right time. She founded this community called Openseat, press play and watch the video before you read this article :) https://youtu.be/EVF9wkmzj54

She is a queen in the her own right, a storyteller, a speaker, and most of all she is a wife and a mom. This is Queen K. Smith :)

You describe yourself as a story teller. How did you get into it? Why are you so passionate about it?

I grew up in a very community centered culture in Cameroon, West Africa. We must have coined the phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child,'' lol! One of my fondest memories was when the whole family, 18+ of us (yep you read that correctly!), would gather around the fireside and listen to stories from the elders. My father was an incredible story teller; I guess you can say like father like daughter. I remember being captivated by stories at a young age. Those stories allowed me to time travel, and every time a story was told I felt something different. It didn't matter if I had heard the story before. I pulled courage and inspiration from the moments shared.

During some of the stories I held my breath during the conflict and exhaled when hope was about to break through! Now as an adult nothing has changed. I still marvel at people and their stories and I still love eating with people I meet. I want to know where they have been/where are they now/ and where they are going. As a story teller I get to take you on a journey (without paying for airfare lol).

A lot of people write stories, but not many are good in telling them. What makes the two so different?

I know some amazing story tellers, I honestly think everyone I encounter is a story teller. When I do I share, I do so with intention to build and not to destroy. A good story in the wrong environment does not accomplish anything. A great story teller paints a visual picture that will not appear if he/she is disconnected from their audience and merely just sharing an experience.

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Do you personally feel like stories could make an impact in people's lives? How has it helped you personally?

Girl yes! Stories are up there with chicken tacos with avocado! Stories help encourage, reveal, teach, to pass knowledge and they help us other understand others. I have personally learned from other people's story to avoid mistakes. I have personally helped others uncover their story and their core. Stories often times bring clarity and wisdom. 4

 To you personally, what makes a good story?

Truth and Authenticity makes a great story. The key is to not make your story look like someone else's.

 

 You are a mom. Have you always wanted to be one? 

Always!! I come from a huge family and I have dreamed about having a football team as well, jk. We have a beautiful 2 year daughter that I prayed for. I think she looks like me, that’s my story and I am sticking to it lol. Everyone thinks that she looks like her dad. I love my family.

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Do you tell stories to your daughter? If yes, what's her favorite story?

I sure do and I go all out.  She is two and I can already see in her eyes that she thinks I am dramatic. She has the beginner's bible with stories about Jesus for children; we thought that was perfect for her to learn about Jesus, the ultimate story teller.

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The cool thing is that most of the stories are the miracles Jesus performed, I want her to dream big. She loves all those stories.

 If people want to listen to your stories, where should they go?

I get to do Story Telling at our Open Seat Community and different conferences/events. One upcoming event in particular will be at the Miss Africa Texas Pageant this Saturday in Plano, TX. I also have a YouTube channel under the name, Queen K Smith. I have some upcoming stuff that I am going to doing specifically geared towards stories. Be on the lookout, you may visit my website and subscribe for upcoming activities and events.

A Picker-Upper from the Fixer Upper

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Every once in a while, we need a little picker-upper to get through the day. I am grateful that last week, I found it at a pretty unlikely place, a bakery. Not just any bakery, it's Magnolia Flour! If you're a fan of the hit TV show Fixer Upper like me, you would have this place on your bucket list for sure.

Every corner of this place is pinterestable and instagrammable, owners Chip & Joanna must really know their market very well.

For a full picture of what it's like over there at The Silos, click play and watch the video :)

https://youtu.be/2JjlshfW27U

 

I had been planning to come here for a while, but the Texas heat and the 1-hour-and-40-minute drive was holding me back. Last week however, I spontaneously decided to go on a mini roadtrip with J and visit it.

I am just so inspired by their story. We might look at the glitz and the glam that surround them today, but we don't know the struggles that they had to go through in order to get where they are now.

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They have been doing what they're doing since 2003, but they didn't get their reality show until 2014. That means there was an 11-year gap there, where they were building their marriage, family, and business together while no one was watching. They have kept that genuine love and work ethic throughout the years, so when the spotlight is on them, they stay true to what they believe in and uphold.

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I looked at everything they have built and thought to myself, "I can do this. If they can, I can. Mr.Man and I can." Seriously, I think we all can if we're committed to our journey that is set for the both of us and not worry about others.

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We can't do it ourselves though, we need to surrender it all to God. Because what good is an empire or a palace if God isn't in it?

We tried the bacon and cheese biscuit + lemon lavender cupcakes and went home with happy bellies. Sweating though, because it was super hot that day.

Next time, let's wait for the weather to get cooler before we do this, J ;)

 

What I Learned from J's Recent Surgery

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

When I first became a mom, I didn't want to believe when people told me that no matter how careful you are in taking care of your kid, no matter how thick you bubble-wrap them, accidents happen. Because that's just how life is. Bad or unfortunate events happen in life. Well, an unfortunate event happened to J back in January. I was trying to get my New Year's resolution going by working out at the gym in my apartment complex, and I brought J with me. Why did I bring him? Because I brought him last year, when I was training for a 5K run, and he did fine. He enjoyed watching the cartoons there, he would play with his toys, I mean it wasn't a problem at all.

But this year...It's a different story. Why? Because he's almost 3. He was more curious about equipments around him, and he ended up sticking his left fingers under the treadmill I was running on. Yeah, it was pretty bad. Blood was splashing everywhere.

So that brought us to last Wednesday, when he had a plastic surgery that will enable him to extend his fingers again. Because they got burned really badly.

Instead of throwing a pity party, whining and complaining, I have decided to jot down what I've learned from the incident :

  1. You don't have to bring toys to the hospital. They have tons. (Especially Children's Medical Center!)

2. Your spouse might be as stressed out or as anxious as you are. So try your best to not cause drama. Keep calm. 

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3. When eating at the hospital cafeteria, don't go for the Asian selection. Always go for the popular, Western selection. 

4. Nobody can replace you, mom. Not even dad. Not even the kindest nurses. So please, be there for your kiddo. He's prolly scared and confused.

5. What you do today might and will affect your kid(s) tomorrow (or years after), not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. 

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So please, do your best to put their wellbeing first. And when accidents happen, have grace for yourself and others. And have faith! Things will get better :)

Have an awesome weekend y'all!

Burning Bridges

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Have you ever felt like you could remember how a certain event in your past made you feel, without remembering the exact details of the event? After a few years of being a 'sane human being', I sometimes wonder how on earth do I still struggle with the thoughts of my past. My past was not that 'bad', to be honest. I wasn't a prostitute and I thankfully have never been abused or anything like that. But from time to time, I find myself having flashbacks about the many things that might not appeal to me anymore, but used to feel so good in my younger years.

I call them my toxic thoughts. It's like there are a million little bridges in my brain that connect me to them.

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But I know I am not alone. We all have those bridges that connect our experiences, feelings, thoughts, and emotions to each other. Some are good, some are toxic. That's why we have our good and bad habits, right? In fact I think, habits are formed by these bridges! You go over the bridge everytime you think of that one thing that you want to get/feel/achieve on the other side of the bridge. Maybe this is how an addiction develops as well.

I'm no expert in neuroscience and brains, but I was blown away when I heard a cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf spoke about these bridges last year at a service I attended. The scientists call them 'neural pathways'.

You know what's cool, though? You can change them. You can alter their directions to everything good, true, and lovely instead of those toxic, destructive, stupid things.

So here's what I'm trying to say. I want to set my toxic bridges on fire.

I know it's gonna take time, but I hope to get rid of these million bad bridges as I grow daily. And hopefully, I can build the new, good ones in the process.

I hope you're ready to burn yours too.

 

 

 

*photo by Ana Gabriel & Muhammed Fayiz

A Mother's Promise

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Whenever our toddlers scream and throw a tantrum in public, our natural response as parents would be trying to calm him/her down and sometimes even apologizing to people around us for the inconvenience that the loud noises have caused. We feel embarrassed, often because it makes us look like bad as parents. Or at least that's what I usually think. What is it about being parents that makes us we feel so obligated to have kids that do not embarrass us? Why do we have to look good anyway?  Aren't the other parents dealing with the same things too?

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I remember how I used to set crazy goals for J, like getting potty-trained before he turned 1 or speaking 2 languages by the age of 2. Why? Because I wanted him to 'make me proud'.  Don't get me wrong, determination is good, goals are great, but if you've come to the point of forcing them to your kids before they're ready, you better check your motif :) Why do we them to advance so much?  To make us look good? Some parents do this until they're kids are grown!

In my case, it was simply potty-training.

Last year, I was so desperate to get him potty-trained by the time he turned 2  over the summer, that it frustrated the both of us. He just wasn't ready! After a few months of battling over the potty, I've finally made peace with it and tuned out all of the negative voices that said, "No he's ready, you're just too lazy" - in my head.

Today, I am content with the fact that he is not yet potty-trained at the age of 2.5. I know that every kid is different and mine will be ready whenever he is. Some might be interested in getting potty-trained at the age of 11 or 18 months old, and some don't. So why compare? Why get insecure?

In the words of one of my favorite speakers, Nancy Houston :

Your children are not here to make you look good.

Ouch! True this! They are their own person, with their own sets of skills and purposes on this earth. They are here to grow, love and learn - and we ought to remember that and respect that. Oh little J, I'm sorry for the way I forced you into things just to make me look good. I love you just the way you are. And I promise to remember what you are here for.

To remind me of my #MothersPromise, I've printed out this cute photos and framed them for his nursery :)

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We are planning to try potty-training him again before he goes to school this fall, but until then, I know that J is well taken care of in his comfortable, hypoallergenic (y'all know how sensitive his skin is), high-quality Pampers Premium Care diapers. I love that the fact that it's got a wetness indicator, unique absorb away liner, extra absorb channels, and that it's breathable inside & out! No sogginess and rashes for my bebe :) You can get them at your local Walmart or here at walmart.com.

Check out this video and don't forget to subscribe to my youtube channel :)

https://youtu.be/qGGLqc068Jw

 

How about you? What is your #MothersPromise? Feel free to share your thoughts!