2018 | The Year Of Guts And Glory

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

 If I have one thing to say to 2018:

2018, what a ride you've been! You took me places where otherwise I would have never been.

I have been saying it every year now, it seems like for the last few years, including last year (2017),  this year felt like a blur. (Didn't they say that about getting older? I prefer to say that I am having so much fun!)  2018, though, really felt like my days and months were on steroids. It went by fast, really fast.

2018, personally has put me to a test. Not just one, but  a battery of tests. It has tested my endurance and strength. I has pushed me beyond what I was comfortable to put myself through. But 2018 kept on hurling those challenges at  me. Me being me, I took every single one on. To be specific about what I am referring to, in 2018, I have taken on the challenge of public speaking. It has always been a big part of my career. However, it has taken me across the nation on four different states on a much bigger scale that I am used to. With the podium being the only sense of protection that I had against my fears, I delivered my heart and soul. Every single presentation was challenging. No one knew that I also cried my heart out weeks and months on the church pew before these appearances. Every single one was a success but when I thought it was over, the invitations kept on coming. The biggest test was the big one in November, I walked to the stage like a girl on fire because I told myself that that was the only way to go -- a woman conqueror. A conqueror of her doubts and fears. A woman who has nothing to rely on but  my faith. I prayed for angels to sit with the audience and stand by the walls. I claimed the stage to be a Seat of the Lord's Mercy where He held my my hands. I was beyond terrified but people could only see this confident female with stories of journey and success to tell. And in His glory, not mine; all of Him and none of me, I delivered to a standing only room of 350 people. This has been the biggest crowd that I have presented to. And we brought down the house. And once again, He never failed me.

This is my personal story of 2018. My guts and glory. Fear and deliverance. Doubt and faith. Exhaustion and rest.

2018 has been a great year. It was packed. There were  so many memories of travels that I never expected to take. The first 6 months were extra exhausting while my parents were visiting. There were the challenges of taking care of them in their old age as strong and youthful as they are. However, there were hospitalizations to deal with. (My dad went to the hospital followed by Mr Sweetie).  Despite all of these, I would never trade these  precious times of  togetherness  for all the rest in the world. With my mom and dad's visits always bring the family closer.

Here are the other highlights of 2018:

1. Travels Across The US


I traveled to four US states this year.  Two of those trips were planned. One happened randomly and the other one was unexpected. The first travel of the year was a history-filled trip to Philadelphia.  It was for work but we turned it into a vacation when Mr Sweetie flew in to spend few days with me. We ate delicious Amish food, explored where the founding fathers have trodden, and enjoyed a snowstorm in March! It was a very memorable trip. It was a joy to see Mr Sweetie being like a kid finally setting foot at Pat's and Geno's (Philly cheesesteak meccas) and running up the stairs  just like Sylvester Stalone has done in Rocky movies.

At Royal Sonesta Hotel where I stayed


I went to New Orleans in June. It was another work travel. Just like with Philadelphia, the plan was for Mr Sweetie to join me after my presentation. With  the flights and hotel reservations already in place, few weeks before that, Mr Sweetie had to be admitted to the hospital where he stayed for a week. He came back home for a month-long recovery. He could not join me on this trip as he was unable to travel. New Orleans served to be a place of sleep and respite as I have been so exhausted with his recent health scare, and being his care taker. He was so disappointed but we are hoping to go together again. I am also planning to post all the wonderful photos that I took during my trip. 


Chicago happened unexpectedly. In July, I was asked to join a meeting in Chicago. Chicago was not up on my list but I had a fun time exploring this Windy City. I enjoyed a nice "me time" weekend in a new city that I have never been to.


Never in my wildest dreams had I thought of visitng this  a small town in Upstate New York. It was different -- the architecture and East Coast small remote town feel...It was a unique experience. The highlight for me was experiencing real fall for the first time in my life. And it was unforgettable! (I wrote so much about it here and here.)

2. Health and Healing

At the end of May, Mr Sweetie had to go to the hospital where he ended up staying for a week . On top of having to go to New Orleans for work, these were really trying weeks.  The most important thing was his fast healing and recovery. I am grateful that God gave me the strength during those times, as well as the love and support of family and friends in the form of delicious meals, flowers and well-wishes.. Our friends and family are amazed at how fast he healed. He has recovered completely and back to good health. 

3. 50 Years of Love

My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary in January. This is the reason for my parents' visit in December. They stayed until end of June. The blessings of my parents in their old age is something that I am so grateful for year after year. We had so many family lunches during their visit. My dad was hospitalized a couple of times but the Lord has healed him. 

There are still a hundred, if not a thousand more blessings this year than I could ever count. The Lord is always faithful and His love never fails. I am grateful for:

1. The blessings of my family. My heart is full when I get to worship with them every Sunday. And after church, they feed me delicious Filipino food that my SIL and brother cook. I am grateful for my two sisters -- my baby sister and my sister-in-law. I am very thankful to see my nephews and niece grow up to be challenging tweens but they bring us so much joy. And my two year old nephew who is at his cutest. (Memorable family moments: NYE in Reno, Nevada with mom and dad, and entire family and many summer backyard parties at my brother and SIL's house in San Jose, Sunday lunch dates with my parents and nephews which are rare now that they becoming more independent.)

2. My life's partner, Mr Sweetie. Every Saturday is fun with our brunch at home tradition and date nights. Even though our date nights in 2018 have been really casual and laid-back, (no fancy dinings), I am very happy and I prefer them that way. As we get older together, we get stronger and happier together. This year has been a test with his health but we made it through together. (Memorable moments: Amish breakfast in Philadelphia, eating at an Irish Pub while it was snowing also in Philadelphia, happy hour by Lake Merritt, fall brunch and pumpkin patch, Bier Garten in Oakland, hosting Christmas at our suburb house.)

3. Having BFF in my life. Life is so much happier because of her. We both enjoy the same things. We celebrate each season together. Our San Francisco BFF adventures are always fun. We are looking forward to many more adventures in dining, wining, museum visits, culture and foodie experiences in 2019 as we had in 2018. (Memorable moments:  Lots of SFMOMA visits including seeing Magritte, her post-birthday lunch at International Smokes and exploring Transbay Terminal for the first time, holiday wine and cheese at the Ferry Building, my post-birthday lunch at the Ferry Building (always!), Christmas market and tree at City Hall.)

4. Old friends and newly found ones. As I get older, my friends have also become my family. I know that they are friends for life. And friendships are an investment of time and love. Despite our busy lives with our careers and raising a family, I am really happy to have had many delicious lunches with amiga mejor and celebrating birthdays together. I am glad that friends stay as well such as KS who despite retiring, our friendship continues on and we had fun lunches in 2018. It was a treat to see Agnes and her husband. Alice is my college friend whom I have last seen as a young adult. It was a short, surreal and sweet reunion. And I gained two new ones -- Alice and Steph. Alice and I used to know each other many years ago as acquaintances, now we are becoming good friends. And my best girls always, A, J and BFF. I missed our yearly trip to Napa Valley in 2018 but our holiday dinner was as festive as ever. 

5. Our warm home, jobs and simple life. Each evening as I go to bed, I am very thankful for the warmth of our cozy home with its roof and walls that shelter us from the elements, but also the warmth that love brings. We strive to live a simple life but full of gratitude for the abundance of delicious foods that I also get to share with friends at work and those who are hungry. With the Bay Area becoming more expensive to live in each day, we are grateful that we are blessed with wonderful jobs, kind co-workers and a comfortable living. As we are being blessed, we hope to be blessings to others as well.

6. Being part of a church family. For years, I looked for and prayed for a church to belong to. I am amazed that I have been going to my church for 4 years! Looking back, my goals in previous years were to go to church every Sunday as it was a struggle at first being an hour drive away. Now, going to church is part of my week and life.

Simple Joys and those "things in between"

1. Cooking and baking -- As I planned for 2018, I got to cook the following:  pizza (yes, now we do  not need to pizza delivery!), Dragon Noodles, steamed dumplings and tarts using puff pastry. I baked Snickerdoodle cookies and Country Apple Fritter Bread for the first time. (I hope to post the recipes for these #2019goals.)

2. Being healthier -- We have overhauled our eating habits after Mr Sweetie's hospitalization. Gone were the pastas, sugary carbs, etc. We stopped ordering Chinese food and pizza delivery. Well, not completely but they are more treats now than part of our diet. I, myself, have really eliminated processed meats from my diet.  He lost weight. I lost 2 but gained them back during the holidays. Ha! Ha! At the very least, I maintained and not gained more since last year. I also finally went to get physical therapy this year.  They helped but my chronic back pain continues to be a challenge. 

3. Personal favorite 2018 memory -- There are so many this year but I love looking back to my birthday day trip in Napa Valley. It is Mr Sweetie's birthday present for me. It was an overcast day but I remember how cozy it had been. I love that I got to eat what I wanted on my  special day which was fried chicken and donuts at Boon Fly. Ha! Ha! It was followed by a pastry shopping spree at the world-famous Bouchon Bakery where Mr Sweetie got me pastries. I also like to look back to my three days of "me time" in New Orleans where I explored, read and ate beignets everyday.

Before I say bid 2018 adieu, I also want to remember a dear friend who has gone Home in March of this year. We miss him every single day but find comfort that he is well with the Lord and that I will see his friendly face again but without the pain.

I cannot thank the Lord enough for this wonderful year that was overflowing with blessings. This year He has manifested His love and presence in our lives during the toughest moments of illnesses and challenges. He provided guidance and helped our family heal with the threat to our loved ones' togetherness.  I pray that the Lord continues to bless us this year so we can also extend His blessings to others.


2014 : "The Mom And Dad Year". 
2015:  "The Year of Exhaustion". Great memories of time spent (but also very exhausting!) with my mom and dad before they went back to the Philippines in the middle of the year.  
2016: "Mexico Cruise"
2017: "San Antonio Texas and Las Vegas"
Cheers, 2018! Welcome, 2019!

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