Help Me Take the Lamaze Childbirth Educator Exam!

Friday, September 15, 2017

This past May, I opened my independent doula business. My birth work is invested in ensuring that all people have access to quality birth support - I offer my doula services on sliding scale and hope to create free/reduced cost classes in the future.

To expand my supportive services, in June I took a Lamaze course to become a childbirth educator. The Lamaze certification exams are coming up in November, and I am raising money to be able to afford the exam costs. Please donate at my YouCaring page. Here is what you'll be contributing to:
  • $225 dollars (plus fees) for the Lamaze childbirth educator study guide
  • $380 dollars (plus fees) for registration to the November Lamaze childbirth educator exam
  • $700 dollars to offset my living costs as I study - for that month, I am working with only 1 birth client so I can focus on getting prepared for the exam, which covers 1/2 of my expenses
If I can raise the exam costs alone, I can expand my ability to teach in the community! You can also choose to support me in offering free/reduced cost services year-round by donating on a monthly basis to my Patreon page 
Your monetary investment directly impacts community access to labor and birth services. By investing in me, you allow me to offer quality care to a greater number of people as a doula and educator. 
Thank you for any and all contributions, even if that is just sharing my fundraiser! Feel free to contact me at with any questions/concerns/words of support.

Protecting My Time

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A weekend ago, I pulled out my folding table and declared it a "weekend of silence." I wanted to focus on my writing and have some introvert time, which is hard to come by in my life. Particularly as someone who is often caregiving for others to the max -- I mean, do you know what it means to be on call and go to a client at 4am after being awake until 2am? -- carving out space for myself sometimes feels impossible. And yet I still think I have it easy in comparison to my clients with their new babies and people I work with who have to hustle even harder than I do. There are always people who have to do more with less and are routinely more badass than I am about it.

But those comparisons just remind me that protecting my time is immensely valuable. And I wanted to write about the topic because I am genuinely so bad at it.

This post less an "if you just do these 5 things, you'll have all the time you need" and more of a "here's a firm reminder that you need to protect your time" no matter what you use it for. I tend to think that we all bow to the pressures around us, fall off the horse and then get back on it, wiggle around a little, fall off, get back, etc. And in some ways I think that is really beautiful - it is a true opportunity to push ourselves further.

I know that I have found a process that works for me, after so many experiments. This past weekend, I chose to listen to it fully (and that truly was a choice that had to be made!)

On the first night, I revamped my white board (really a green board). It used to just be a long long laundry list of tasks that were very vague and most of the details were kept in my head. So the first thing I did was get very specific. I gave tasks a rating scale of how much effort they would need, and I put even little things like 'email this person' up next to 'write an essay draft'. It's now organized in 'To Do', 'Doing', and 'Done.' And it gives my nerd heart a little thrill to watch as things move progressively over to the right.

And then I just forgot about it.

I tend to be that person who has to dump everything out of my head before I can let go and make space for the real work to be done. If it is in my head, it's buzzing. On the board, I can go sit at my folding table and paint until the words come (and yes, I paint and knit and consider it all part of my writing practice; doing something tactile really settles me into that work).

The second morning, I woke up without feeling anxious. Because I really did give myself permission for whatever needed to happen to make my writing process feel grounded. Intuition guided me to nap or to break out the sticky notes or to change locations so I could focus better. I made sure that the dishes were done and that all my materials were laid out in advance.

On the third day, it was the eclipse. I chose to go be with people I care about and watch it happen - historical event, you know? - but I also drew the energy I needed. Social interactions for me can be draining or they can refill my cup, the difference being the choice I made to participate.

On the final night, my client called me and that marked the end of my self-focused time. Back to the world. But back to the world with the confidence that I could always create that space again. Next weekend, next month - preferably not next year! My next big step will be to take some concentrated time away to take what I learned about my novel this weekend and flesh it way out.

For now, here was my board at the end of the weekend:
If you'd like to read a snippet of some of the things I worked on, consider subscribing to my Patreon to gain access to a newsletter with extra little goodies (and sometimes drafts of my work!)

I'm Back! And Launching my Patreon

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm back! The last you heard of me, in late February, I was setting out my goals for the coming months and trying to strategize how to use my limited time/resources. I thought that I would be able to get a blog post up monthly and planned for my next one to be in late March - March and August are about the same, right?

2017 has been a year to shake things up. I've started my own independent doula business and am coming out of the woods with my novel project. I committed to training for roller derby and actually feel (sort of) confident on skates. I've got a lot going on, but that also means I've got a lot to share! So, in hopes of returning to that goal I set out months ago, I'm returning to a regular writing practice at this space.

I'm also launching my Patreon campaign today! Many of you may already know what I do, but in case you're new here or just want to hear my voice, I've made a little video for you. Bonus: you get to see my cat photobomb me at the end. Enjoy the video and watch this space for more words to come.

'We Are Irreplaceable' Collaboration & Writing Elsewhere

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's been dead silent around here for the past couple of months; I've been working on a couple projects that have taken me further away from my messy blog. I've also gone through two bouts of illness this winter (remarkable for someone who doesn't get sick often!), seen two babies born in my doula work, and transitioned out of one job and into another. Someday I'll get around to recapping everything in its full rich detail, but for now I'll put down a roundup of the collaborations and writing I've been doing elsewhere around the internet:

My long-time friend, the brilliant artist Jess X. Chen created these two posters using my face as a model and collaborated with me on the caption text. They are for the #nobannowall protests that occurred after the immigration ban earlier this month. They are available for download at justseeds.

'To Allah we belong and to Allah we return’ is a rough translation of the dua said at someone’s death. Blessed is this temporary cycle. We are part of a long lineage, a history of others who have dreamed us into being (as Walidah Imarisha puts it in the introduction to Octavia’s Brood). We are ourselves complete and also part of this larger whole and while we are impermanent, we are irreplaceable. Remember that you have the hands of ancestors at your back, and the duty to dream of the generations ahead of you.

I've written a piece called 'Life After' about the Tr**p election and what it means for us as vulnerable populations. Check that out at Fragments Magazine.

The Theo Westenberger Estate blog is featuring a piece about my experiential research process from my time in Bangladesh -- it's called 'The Accordion Exercise' and talks about some of my novel-writing process.

Finally, next month I will be in NYC working yet again on the lovely Feminist Zine Fest! If you're in the city, please come through and support independent writers and art-makers from across North America. More info at our website and Facebook page.

A Couple Failures

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A terrifying red mushroom that appeared in my yard and collapsed partially under its own weight.

Allow for me to give a detailed account of the things I didn't do this past month:

I didn't make it to 50,000 words this NaNoWriMo;
I didn't meet my personal fundraising goal for Project As[I]Am to put out another issue;
I got a dramatic injury and didn't go to my first derby practice league meetup;
Due to the same dramatic injury, I did nothing for Thanksgiving other than binge watch TV shows;
Much of my work felt like it got away from me.

All this... and nothing major happened. There was no fiery explosion. My airbags didn't even inflate.

Too often I hold on to a lot of self-judgment about not meeting my own (admittedly very high) expectations. For a few months now, I have been skidding along on my own efficiency - I am incredibly good at working and getting things in on deadline, even if it means that I'm working up to the last minute. But this month was riddled with more than the usual ebbs and flows in productivity. I first got a cold, then another one. I got a tailbone injury which had me unable to easily sit upright.  And, of course, you know what else happened last month. The secondary trauma response that fired up in me post-election was as searing as the tailbone pain, radiating outward in waves. There's a reflection to be written about that sometime - I'll add it to my already tall stack of deadlines.

I got particularly anxious this month when I started feeling like the things on my plate were piling ever higher. I would have a day when I could get back to my usual productivity and then crashed completely the next. I started using a goal-setting calendar app that gives you reminders and there would be 5-7 sitting on my home screen all day everyday. What a guilt trap.

But I also found myself relying on the oft-repeated advice to be gentle and kind to oneself. No one is clamoring to read my book. No one needs me to speak on a panel or facilitate a workshop (though I'd gladly take the gig). No one is blowing up my social media about when my next piece is coming out. Though it may sound like a cold comfort, I was reminded that there is a kind of luxury in not having a completely public life.

Instead I've been relishing smaller behind-the-scenes victories like working with my first doula client in over a year. I've been doing the #100RejectionsChallenge and submitting far more often than ever before. I have been truly absorbed by good literature and lectures, particularly this one by Sheila Heti. Paradoxically, all those reminders on my phone are helping me remember what I really want to be doing rather than just moving from task to task like an automaton. In that way, I am setting a solid foundation for myself while the world around me is shifting in so many perceptible and imperceptible ways. It's time to be safe and take the best care that we can.

Support Project As[I]Am & Keep Me Accountable this NaNoWriMo!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A widget of my NaNo completion stats; if you want more details, check out this link.

To donate, you can subscribe to our Patreon and become a monthly donor or, for one-time donors, go through our PayPal.

It's the start of National Novel Writing Month and I'm going to dedicate my messy 50,000 words towards completing a draft of the novel draft I have been working on concertedly for the past year.

I also devised a way that you can keep me accountable to that goal while also supporting Project As[I]Am, the online Asian American arts and activism publication that I work on (see the silly video with my cat in it above -- forgive me for not looking fully into the camera!).

For every day that I complete my NaNo benchmark goal of 1,667 words, I am asking for your support in donating $3 (or more) to As[I]Am. You can check the widget up top to see my progress. By the end of the month, I will not only have made my word count goal, but I will have also earned enough to produce the next issue and podcast. Check out the one we've got up, "Our Greatest Resource," in case you haven't already.

If you don't have the funds to donate at this time but want to support us with a skill and/or promote to your friends, that is more than enough as well -- get in touch with me on Twitter or via email.

A Year Ahead; A Year Behind

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If you haven't already done so, I highly encourage you to check out the "Our Greatest Resource" issue just released at Project As[I]Am. It features love letters, poetry, visual and audio art about the world we want to create. You can also hear our editors speak on the issue in our audio letter -- edited and hosted by me!

A quote I saw on the wall of a 5th grade classroom - "It's about progress, not perfection" in a loopy calligraphy script.

It was my 25th birthday yesterday and I had a bad cold (of course). It turned my brain foggy at work; it was a relief when finally I got to my three days off and could sleep in.

In my last post, I talked about creative drought. Somehow, while I was in the middle of it, a few public readings fell into my lap. I performed at Subdrift (a South Asian open mic that has come to Seattle) and read a piece of the novel draft for the first time in a public forum. It was fairly low stakes since it was an open mic, but the positive feedback really enlivened me. I read another draft piece as part of the QTPOC Artists of Color (volume 2!) book launch reading last night.

There's an effect called response-shift bias that I've learned while doing evaluation work. People come into a training feeling relatively confident that they know the material, but by the end they realize how much they don't know. So they rate themselves as having less knowledge than when they walked in the door. That's the place that I've gotten to in my research -- I've been anxious to begin new parts of the draft because it feels like there's a wealth more to do. What kind of bats would be in that tree? What is the archetypal trickster animal in that region? Where can I put in this detail without disrupting the flow? Elena Rose (who also read last night and co-edited the volume), described this process as "cat-vacuuming"-- when you're looking for more things to do to put off the actual project.

The past several years I've spent hopping from thing to thing, collecting experiences and research and deciding where to focus my energies. Years of discovery. I feel like this year, however, is one of depth rather than breadth. Not to say that discovery is over forever, but for now my desires have shifted away from acquiring a bunch of new skills to tunneling deep into the behind-the-scenes work. You may not see me a lot this year -- I'll be poking around at a few invisible behemoths, trying to see how big they are by feel -- but I'm sure that you'll hear a great deal about how it's all going. For now, I'm going back to my ginger tea and ruminating.