Finding Happiness During Transitions

Finding Happiness

Happiness is precious because if I do something every day that makes me happy, then situations will be easier to resolve. Being happy is the top priority because it gives me confidence and a positive outlook. When life gets busy, it is easy to forget about happiness. Reminding myself and taking action on what I truly want will bring me joy.

I recently went through transitions with my job and relationships with people. It was overwhelming because there were so many expectations and responsibilities. I thought opening up to everyone would be helpful, but it was draining. I listened to people’s opinions, but I did not set boundaries to protect my feelings. My friends and family tried to help, but some do not know the whole story because we do not talk regularly. 

Taking On New Responsibilities 

In December, I received a promotion at one of my jobs with a conversion from a temporary to permanent employee, more hours and responsibilities, and became an accounting associate. I was happy for this opportunity because it was my next step in my career, and I learned to manage a heavy workload. When I have job interviews in the future, if companies question whether I can handle the workload, I have the experience to answer their questions and concerns.

Before the promotion, I was only doing social media, and then I was designated to take on most of the accounting responsibilities. The six-week training for accounting tasks was an adjustment. I also work accounting 25 hours a week at SJSU, so working around 50 hours a week at both jobs was daunting. It means doing double the accounting work. With my disability, transitions take longer to get used to because I use more energy to control my muscles and spasticity. 

During transitions, it is nice to sit by the fire and destress. Figure out how to incorporate the new changes in my lifestyle.

Social Life Under Stress 

My job transition happened during the holiday season. Spending time with family and friends that I do not talk to often and talking with new people during a stressful time was exhausting. I was not ready to talk about things I was going through. I felt pressure doing well in my promotion and pleasing others. It got to a point where the weight was too heavy and I needed to make changes.

Happiness With a New Routine

After the training and learning the tasks, it got easier because I created a new routine and managed my stress levels. I started to do daily workouts, walking on the treadmill, or hiking. I ate less sweets and more fruits and veggies. This healthy routine gave me the energy to do my work and extra activities. I took a little break from scheduling calls, except for the people I talk to weekly. I can let my guard down with certain people who understand all aspects of my life. They can specialize how they can support me. 

With the others I don’t talk often to, I have to enjoy the time with them without telling everything at once. They can help in certain aspects and everyone has their capacity. They might be going through something too, so I have set boundaries even with the people I live with. When I reach out to people again, I have a different mindset and avoid topics that unsettle me.

Sometimes I have to take a step back and figure what makes me happy and do what feels right. The contrasting opinions from people will cloud my mind and I will get stuck. Building my mental fitness will help filter my thoughts and I can overcome each challenge.

Thoughts of 2020

“In Her Shoes”

This year, I had to adapt to many new changes, take risks, and let people accept me. I found a group of impressive women who welcomed me with open arms and adjusted to the way I communicate naturally. In September, I became a member of an organization that empowers women called “In Her Shoes.” I finally found a sisterhood that shares similar values and aspirations as I do. I was able to open up and share my input right away because they are eager to hear my opinions. I hope my readers will attend In Her Shoes upcoming virtual events because I want you to experience an incredible organization. 

“In Her Shoes” is having a Virtual Event on December 8th, 6-7:30 pm. The event will have professional speakers that will discuss work-life balance, mental health, and what we learned from 2020 that we carry over to 2021.

Click Here to Register to this Virtual Event! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/catalyze-the-new-normal-achieve-work-life-balance-tickets-129105358603

Before the Pandemic 

My life was hectic, and I was only going through the motions without reflecting and taking the proper actions. I was busy at work, always out after work, and I did not want to go home. Every day, I was either with co-workers, personal aides, coaches, personal trainers, and friends. The social life helped me cope with daily stresses and made me avoid facing conflict. I would have constant distractions, so I did not want to worry about not being in the place I expected to be.

I was going through job interviews, waiting to get a promotion for one of my jobs in July, was planning a big 21st birthday for my best friend, upcoming college alumni events, and traveling. These plans disappeared, and I struggled for the first few months of the pandemic. 

During the Pandemic 

Since we can only do outdoor activities during the pandemic, I have been going to many hikes and beaches.

Being alone in my room all day was my biggest nightmare because I like being around people. My nightmare came through. I could not go to work, gym, or socialize with people. Some days, I did not have much work, and it made me restless. However, the best part of working remotely is the SJSU staff zoom parties. I am starting to form connections with the other departments that we did not get to in person because we miss each other since we are not on campus anymore.

I can do more activities with my best friends since we have the free time. We went to Capitola Beach, Stanford Dish Trail, and parks. We ended up celebrating my 24th birthday in my backyard.

Finally, I spent good quality time with my best friends. Since I do not have social interactions, I schedule weekly FaceTimes with my friends. It made me open up so much to them, and they helped coach me to express my feelings to my family and friends. I did not know how to approach people to let them get to know me. I was distant from my sister for fifteen years, I finally told her my feelings this year, and we have gotten closer. It will take constant work, but I should not be afraid to talk it out with her. My birthday recently passed, many people reconnected with me. Even though they are not consistent, I have to make an effort to keep the relationships. People go through changes in their lives; they can not always be there for you, but give them a chance when they come back to you. 

I reached a turning point with my best friends. Recently, I got to open up about all my feelings and what I’ve experienced all my life. People with disabilities are conditioned to don’t share their feelings with others because people usually ignore or interrupt us. Society taught us to be intolerable with one another and not able to express ourselves. We need to make time for others. My best friends love me for who I am, and they helped to tear my walls so I can express everything to them. They only want the best for me and let me love and care about them so much. 

For the New Year

As we enter 2021, I learned that I have to upfront with my feelings and open up to others. I should not be afraid to talk about my disability to avoid judgments from others. My disability is the best part of me, and people should not discredit it. It makes me unique and impactful, so I have to provide awareness as much as I can.

Managing Multiple Situations at Once

Managing Situations

The waiting game causes stress. I want to show that people with disabilities have to deal with tough situations when they are bombarded with many things at once like we all have to do.

Thinking of all I have to do. Hiking and exercising are great ways to relieve stress. 

Job Search Program

Starting in August, I was debating on continuing on my job search. I wanted to continue with a company that helps me with my job search because I provide advice to their clients and participate in the job club discussions. I enjoy giving my insight. I was the only one with a disability in the workforce, and I provided my experiences to give their clients hope. In contrast, I did not want to continue because I hadn’t had an interview since March, and there were fewer job postings.

Reconsidering Studying for CPA Exams

Mid August, I was talking to my friends; one of them passed 2 of the 4 of the CPA exams, and another one was applying for graduate school. It made me reconsider studying for the CPA exams again. Even though I stopped studying for it last year, I am in a different place right now; I have a new joy for learning, and having my CPA license will help me get a higher position in accounting. However, I put studying on a little hold while focusing on my interview. 

Getting an Interview

When I received an interview at another department at SJSU, I decided to continue my job search. I prepared for a couple of hours for the interview, and the interview went well. They were the most accepting interviewers, asked over fifteen questions, and were patient while I type my responses. I was glad I continued with the company that helps with job searching because it was closing business, and I ended on a high note. I was hopeful that I would get a full-time position. Until the executive director at one of my jobs wanted to do an urgent zoom call.

Sometimes life is like a dam when it is time to release, water comes out all at once. When the time comes, you least expect your things will come in place.

Busy at Work

In one week, there were many changes at the nonprofit, and positions had to be reallocated. So the executive director requested that I can have more hours and responsibilities. At this time; I have been waiting a week for the interview response, busy closing the month in accounting in SJSU, and working on the newsletter because the marketer left at the nonprofit. A few days later, I accepted the extra hours because I had the feeling that I didn’t get the SJSU position. I was right; SJSU emailed me the next day that it pursued another candidate.

My Decision 

I have been stressed and confused for a few weeks. I was unsure of the endpoint, but I got clarity at the end. I did not receive a new job and received extra hours at my current job because I need time for my projects. Currently, I am writing my memoir, working on starting my online business, studying for the CPA exam, doing my job search, and writing these blog posts. I can’t say there is certainty with all these, but they are my dreams I want to achieve. There will be glimpses of failure, but I have to continue and let in the support of others.

My Advice To How You Can Approach Your Goals

Sometimes you might feel like you are drowning in life decisions, and you have to ride them out. You will be pulled in different ways, and do not want to do something, but you should because it may come handy in the future. Do not fear to work on things because you might not get it now, but you will at a later point. At least work at something similar to your goal, and it does not have to be what you initially imagined.

Handling Expectations

Sedona- Expectations

Upbringing

My family is interracial; I am Filipino, Swiss, and Japanese. My dad is Swiss and Japanese, and he had a simple upbringing and was not close to his family. My mom grew up in the Philippines, and her family migrated to the U.S. My grandparents did not have much money raising five kids. Since being a low-income family, my mom and aunts became successful in healthcare to give their kids a better life. My extended family shows love and care by pointing out positives and negatives and highlighting my strengths. I am from a rich neighborhood that is safe and feels like a bubble. My peers only cared about status, intelligence, and money. My upbringing led to high expectations.

Zip-lining in Baguio, Philippines. Have to wear extra protection and bravery to get through expectations. 

Low Expectations

Going to school as a kid with physical disabilities was complicated. I only have physical disabilities, but people questioned my intelligence. Educators had the lowest expectations of me, and some of my aides did not have my best interest. They said I wasn’t smart enough, and wanted to hold me back. They portrayed me as a person that I was not. I only had a few teachers and aides who believed in me. They made a positive difference in my life. 

High Expectations

My childhood confused me because I had low expectations from the schools and high expectations from my family. I was also learning how to do things with my disabilities. Even after I graduated from college, my family encouraged me to get my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license and get a high paying job. I know it comes from a great place. However, there are so many factors that I did not achieve that role. I studied for the CPA exam while having two jobs. I was applying for full-time positions at the same time. I submitted 100 applications for over a year. For people with disabilities, you must have a deep connection with the employers, and the employers have to be open to differences and can vision you working for the company. I felt the connection when two companies hired me, and I worked there for two to three years. I went on many interviews, and I did not feel connections with any companies. Many people expected that I should get a high paying job right away. I felt guilty and embarrassed that I did not get a new job.

Hidden Garden Steps, San Francisco. You have to take one step at a time and enjoy each step of your staircase. There will be times when you will climb up and other times you need to take a step back— give yourself room for development. 
Your end goal is the top, but you have to keep climbing.

How to Handle Expectations? 

Career/Job — Even though I have many expectations, I pass through, and I follow my path. I enjoy helping college students and people with disabilities for my jobs. I didn’t want to leave for a full-time position that might not be the best fit. In the future, I will probably get a full-time job at my current job at SJSU or another company. 

Family/Friends — I even felt hesitant to let new people and family in. It’s hard to put in the effort and don’t get the same back. I can only trust a few people, and we can be ourselves around each other. I can have others in my life and be okay that I am not as close to them. The best thing is to try to get along.

Proud of My Disabilities

By celebrating Disability Pride Month in July, I wanted to tell you why I am proud of my disabilities. I wouldn’t be who I am without my disabilities. I became fierce, brave, smart, curious, loving, outgoing, bold, and motivated. I am a well-balanced person because I enjoy helping others, working, spending time with friends and family, staying active, and doing self-care.

Pismo Beach, CA
Dreaming & Reflecting at Pismo Beach, CA

Who I Wanted to be

While learning how to accept my disabilities, I had many restrictions and limitations during my childhood. These made me claustrophobic because I felt trapped. Then I started to have realistic dreams and goals. I wanted to be intelligent, stylish, outgoing, and funny. I hoped to get my college degree and have a stable job so I can support myself. I always wanted to work. I wanted a squad of close friends. My parents did everything to make me successful, and I want to give them the support back. For a long time, I never thought my dreams would come through until I believed in myself. I jumped into good and bad situations. Bad situations taught me to get through things when I faced with conflict and discrimination. This bumpy road taught me how to stand up for myself.

Skills with Disabilities

My disabilities make me excel in my life. I enjoy consistency planning and organizing. Because of my speech impairment, I have to read people to see their tolerance to differences. With each person I encounter, I have to adapt my way of teaching them to communicate with me. I have a great intuition because I can sense what others are feeling.

Currently, I am taking steps to follow my dreams. Dreams are not one-stop, and that is it. You have to maintain what you want. I am fortunate that I have my bachelors degree, two jobs, and close family and friends. I got what I wanted, but it takes work, patience, and effort to maintain your dreams. There are moments of happiness ever after, but you have to face the tough times of reality too.

Times Square, New York
Times Square, New York is fulfilling, bright, energetic, and happy. People often dream about coming here, and it’s breathtaking when they are in this atmosphere.

How to Power Through?

Having pride in your disability means being proud of who you are. Disabilities are an extra ingredient to someone’s life, which the person has to adapt as anyone else would. People with disabilities do things differently, but that is the way they feel comfortable.

You might have a hard time getting a new job or navigating different types of relationships. If you keep pushing for what you want, eventually you will get it. Maybe you don’t get it, but you can take different avenues to get you to your end goal. Your career, all your relationships you have, and your bucket list do not need a timeline.

Lifestyle of Fitness

Fitness

Benefits of Fitness

It is incredible to go to the gym and feel like an athlete. Gym members complement your hard work and how strong you are. Outside the gym, you have the strength to conquer your daily routines and unpredictable situations. Exercising helps you form endurance for a long day of working, doing chores, and having a social life. Fitness is the healthiest stress reliever because you can let it out on your workout while gaining muscle and maintaining or losing weight. It also gives you confidence because it feels good when you see the outcome.

Video of my workouts

Steps of my Fitness Journey 

People who evaluated my physical disabilities put limitations on me. In my past, I could not concentrate on my studies, got tired easily, and needed help on everything. I did not have the stamina to do many activities. I resolved this problem by making fitness part of my lifestyle.

I always had an athletic and competitive side in me. I like winning, cheering, and having fun. When I was younger, I watched my sister and cousins’ volleyball and soccer games. I enjoyed seeing their fire in their eyes and having great teamwork. I got along with people on sports teams. During college, I hung out with students in baseball, wrestling, volleyball, and soccer. They appreciate my physical uniqueness and strength of my disabilities. We currently motivate each other to stay fit and active.

49ersfit- San Jose, CA. My friend placed 7th at NAIA National Champions for Women’s wresting in 2019

CrossFit became part of my life during my sophomore year of high school. My physical education professor included and motivated me by believing I had the similar abilities as my peers. We just had to modify the workouts and he bought me adapted equipment. We spent time making sure I had the right form, my peers were interacting with me, and he pushed me so hard. This was the first step in falling in love with fitness.

The Gyms

My fitness journey has been great. After I graduated from college, I joined a CrossFit gym for a year and had a personal trainer monthly. Once my trainer said, “I like to challenge you because I know you can do it.”  After a year, I switched to 49ersFit because the gym was lively, fun, huge, and had so much equipment. The staff members got excited to greet me and sometimes they would yell my name while I workout. The gym was my happy place by listening to loud music, having intensity, and getting stronger.

My Workout Routine

In September 2019, I became a participant for a strength training study for people with cerebral palsy at San Jose State University. For a couple of months, I met with my student personal trainers twice a week at my gym. They say that I am the best type of participant because I am consistent, always ready, have a positive attitude, and do not make excuses. While working hard at the gym, we pretty much laugh the whole time too. For the past two years, I have been working out three times a week and go on hikes and walks when I can.  

Montalvo TrailSaratoga, CA

Fitness is amazing for everyone. It can be as simple as walking in your neighborhood or working out at home. Fitness should be part of your lifestyle. Your body will last longer and have more energy. It also makes you keep in touch with your community by keeping active together. Go sweat, get sore, and feel the burn.

Building Strong Relationships

Maui beach- 2018

Why is it hard to form relationships?

People with disabilities experience social barriers because people without disabilities are scared to communicate with them. It starts when children with disabilities get pulled away from their peers. Children with and without disabilities do not know how to connect. The barrier continues when they become adults. People feel uncomfortable being seen and impatient with people with disabilities because it affects their reputation. The solution is inclusion and embracing their strengths and social goals. 

As a child, I did not know how to form relationships. I got frustrated because people showed impatience with me. I became popular a few times, but it slowly faded away because people stopped talking to me. I am very social and needed a different approach to engage with people. I felt lost not having strong relationships. I had to do trial and error to find people who will accept and embrace me. I went through many people and had some disappointments. We did not form the foundation to build relationships and grew apart. It took a while to learn how to express myself and people did not let me in. I ended up finding people who naturally accepted me, and I could be myself with them.

Santana Row- San Jose, CA.
Santana Row- San Jose, CA.

My success…

I focused on building strong relationships with people. I found my best friends during my last two years of college through being involved on campus. We wanted to be in each other’s lives as soon as we met. They observed how I handle situations with my disabilities. They knew the nature of my disabilities before we started hanging out. They are easy-going, super supportive, patient, understanding, and sincere. We overcome challenges, and we push each other to be our best. My best friends support me in different ways and are strong individuals. We enjoy going to restaurants, campus events, parties, shops, walks, parks, and movies. 

Easter 2019
Easter 2019

I met my first best friend in 2005, while we were in the fourth grade. We went to each other’s birthday parties and worked on school projects. We were not close in the beginning. We became best friends in our junior year of high school because we started to have similarities. We focused on academics and worked out doing Crossfit with our coach. She studied abroad for college, and we still talked a few times a week. We went on adventures and spent time together during her breaks. I visited her abroad. Throughout the years, we went to parties, restaurants, group discussions, beaches, karaoke, cities, hikes, and malls. She experienced my journey since 2005, and she supported me along the way.

Tips on Building Strong Relationships with People with Disabilities

People with disabilities should be admired for their personalities, characteristics, and abilities. Do not be judged by the books of their covers. Some relationships take time and extra effort. People without disabilities can build relationships with People with disabilities by volunteering and engaging in the communities. People without disabilities will miss out on unique, creative, and smart individuals. They need to be patient and have an open mind. People with disabilities surprise them and this makes people without disabilities grow too.

Profession & Education

City View

Profession 

Entering the workplace with disabilities is challenging. You are becoming a part of a work environment where your coworkers might not encounter people with disabilities. Also, you have to adapt your workstation and job responsibilities, so you can be efficient and comfortable in your job. People with disabilities should form great relationships with their supervisor and HR personnel because they will help advocate for better acceptance with diversity in your workplace.

My Home Workstation
My Home Workstation

Education 

Getting an education with disabilities can be discouraging and there is a common assumption to people with disabilities cannot handle a full course. You are the only one who can decide your educational path. A small private university is great if you want a specialized way of learning and get your degree quickly. It has a community feeling, makes you a well-rounded person and you are well supported. A public university is beneficial with a lower cost of tuition and you can focus on a degree. Some universities are impacted, and class sizes are larger. It might take longer to get your degree. A community college helps you save money and find which profession that suits you. However, it’s good to have an educational plan to transfer to a university because you might stay at the community college longer than expected.

Menlo College 2018 Commencement
Menlo College 2018 Commencement

Building work experience 

You have to start somewhere. You can volunteer or work an entry-level position. You can work with kids and the elderly. Be an office assistant or receptionist. Work at restaurants, stores, libraries, and nonprofits. If a higher education is not for you, these jobs are a way to build your resume and get experience for a better job in the future. 

Personal Experience 

I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting at Menlo College in 2018. During college, I volunteered shelving DVDs for the local library, preparing taxes for low income families, and assisting at a nonprofit. For work experience, I was an accounting assistant for a nonprofit and tax intern for an accounting firm. I was part of the student government and an orientation leader on campus. Currently, I am an accountant assistant at a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find jobs called Project Hired and an accounting clerk at San Jose State University.