Blogging Again: Slowing Down and Taking It All In

My last post was about our Kidstarter Curious Curriculum journey –shared shortly after the launch in Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschool Conference held in September 2019.

After taking a 2-week break with an unforgettable trip to Spain and Portugal, I was back, ushering the Christmas season, attending to the growing Kidstarter Curious Curriculum community, and leading both Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands and Homeschoolers of the Philippines Community.

The Courtyard of the Maidens in Alcazar, Seville, Spain

Then comes 2020.

2020 I said was going to be different as I start shifting from homeschool advocacy commitments to finding my path in the health/medical field. You see, despite really opening myself to the possibility of letting go of this passion and possible profession, the pull to still find my place in health service did not want to disappear. I have sought the counsel of my PGH batch mates, family members and friends. I have gone through a “Finding Your Purpose and Significance” retreat, more personal soul searching and read books of Simon Sinek (Starting and Find Your Why) —and could not seem to simply let go of the medical side of me.

The areas of Medicine that I was always drawn to ever since my UP College of Medicine days were Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Family Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. I got married on my 2nd year of Medicine and knew that kids were eventually coming so I had to make adjustments. Soon after graduating Med School, I found myself expecting our first baby during my review for the Board Exams. Haha.. wondering if that is why my eldest is on his road to becoming a doctor too. Was he primed even prenatally?

Life did not go as expected. We were expatriated to London for my husband’s work and then 3 more kids came along. A rigorous residency program was truly out of the question—and I found myself so at home with motherhood and eventually homeschooling, I really had to put my hopes in furthering my Medical career on hold.

As I homeschooled our 4 children, and took on the teaching role seriously and passionately, more and more moments made me realize that I was indeed where I needed to be— a frontliner for my family taking 1st row seats in the unfolding of the growth and development of our children. I was there. Sometimes too much, at a fault– but I was there. And those days will never truly be a life on pause or on hold. They were LIFE itself and it was painfully beautiful. What made it even more special, I knew, I was in the center where God, my Creator, wanted me to be. Chin up, head held up high, you are where you are meant to be.

We released out last son to regular school in 2018, and that gave me more time to truly figure out what I wanted to do–to sort of pick up where I had left my Medical path. I was now coming into the full decision with a resume of 17 years of homeschooling, experiences in speaking/training other parents in home education, heading HAPI, herding a flock of 26,000 members of homeschooling support group on FB (which has now increased to 36,000) and simply being a passionate learner seeking and reading up on areas that I needed along that path of 17 years. Through those years, I also became more aware and open to a holistic approach to health— focusing on physical movement, incorporating rest and relaxation, utilizing non-medical forms of stress management, use of aromatherapy and healthy eating.

I finally found myself attending a certification course in Functional Medicine in 2019. At the end of the course, I was more convinced that IFM’s approach was resonating so much more with my view of health.

With my new friends from Life Science and Christ Commission Fellowship with one of our AFMCP2019 speakers
With my UP College of Medicine-PGH batchamte, Dr. Cristina Sioson-Magat, a dermatologist who also practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. She was my seat mate for 5 days. Her presence was such a booster to do this for 5 days, and yes, to pursue this non-conventional approach of health together.

I came to a conclusion that my space in the medical field will not be as a system or organ specialist but in truly rekindling my love for health in—holistic prevention and health education, and in finding ways to make it practical, doable and sustainable for every client/patient.

So in February 2020, I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Integrative Nutrition Coach 6-month accelerated coaching course( I thought to myself, “I was going to step down from HAPI and would definitely have all the time to study“).

Then life again did not go as expected again, life for all of the planet went awry.

Covid-19 became global and reached our shores. Oh yes, that was after Taal Volcano erupted, affecting the entire South Luzon.

HAPI was even able to have a HAPI homeschool leaders meeting last Jan 18, 2020 in Fully Booked and we were so excited for a series of meet ups for 2020. Then the National Homeschool Day in March 3, 2020.

In a matter of two weeks from then, the world was on lockdown with all families needing both homeschooling support and health/medical services in the form of online consults, public health protocols, one-to-one consults, village wide health initiatives—- No wonder I never got to log-in to blog again. And that was on top of 6-month accelerated cause, I couldn’t back out from.

With a supportive family and household staff, I pressed on from wrapping up my 6 remaining months as HAPI President (June 2018- June 2020), providing information to various news/media/educational outlets needing help to spread the word about homeschooling to attending to the the demands on preschool homeschooling through our program called Kidstarter and even starting my own youtube channel to create short videos about homeschooling (that was actually to help address the recurrent questions sent to me/ posted online).

We’ve seen a lot of the capabilities of people on a lockdown, and my, my, we are truly amazing and creative members of humankind!

Let me, as my own personal checklist, write down what I have had to learn to be able to accomplish what COVID-19 was demanding me to do:

  • Conduct a live “How to Homeschool” seminar via FB Live with Bryan and Mico Sadorra of Soli Deo Events Management.
  • Participate in a local and global homeschool conference!
  • Do live and pre-recorded talks in various platforms; Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, Zoom!
  • Conduct small and big group webinars with children as my assistants!
  • Record self for on-demand online seminars
  • Do simple tricks with images, animations for presentations
  • Create better google and jotforms
  • Use Quick Time to screen record and create a audio file (a podcast!)
  • Edit audio and video files using I-Movie and Splice
  • Create a Youtube channel
  • Create live talks on our closed group in Homeschooler of the Philippines
  • Create Covid-19 Call to Action videos and health protocols for villages.
  • Use Streamyard, Beelive
  • Collaborate with BusinessWorks Inc and Anthony Pangilinan Group for more exciting, interactive and high impact webinars!
  • Attend some health webinars to keep updated on Covid-19 and to earn CPD units.
  • Organize a fund raiser for frontliners and for Visions of Hope Foundation
  • Dye my own hair! Do group exercises using Zoom, have a 50th bday on Zoom!
  • Clear and declutter, attack our attic and all rooms of the house! (this was part of self-care! haha)

The list above is not meant to boast. It is a collection to help me appreciate what Covid-19 forced me to learn (skill wise).

Regarding my Nutrition program, I would watch/ listen to my course modules during exercising and during breaks in between meetings, or on Sunday mornings when everyone was still asleep.

Yesterday, I opened my email and received my digital certificate as a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach! What I loved about this course is how it presents Health and Nutrition in a very practical and personalized manner. Though my medical training has given me the knowledge and skills to engage and help “patients,” the approach of integrative nutrition and health coaching has equipped me to look at patients/clients as a individuals, and that their health decisions on a daily basis are function of many dimensions as they live out their lives and their roles. Coupled with my training in Functional Medicine, I have now a different outlook and approach in seeing people who need help with health concerns, it so much more empowering, intuitive and “healing.”

Certified, Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach! Batch 2020!

When I signed up for this certification course, I was thinking of scientific health period. As I progressed, I realized that the psychology of coaching and practical tips are all applicable in other areas behavior modification such as parenting and homeschooling. I was surprising myself when I could here IIN coaching principles being voiced out as I conducted webinars or joined panel discussions on home education.

Last August 13, 2020, I joined a round table discussion organized by Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Rizalino S. Navarro’s Policy Awareness Center for Competitiveness on Education During and After Covid-19 where various education stakeholders (government, private schools, our state university, NGOs and yes, a homeschooler!) gathered to discuss the educational challenges and opportunities presented by Covid19. Here is the policy paper drawn out from this discussion, Let me share the conclusion:

“The roundtable discussion offered an opportunity for different stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, school administrators, representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organization, and the Department of Education, to discuss the responses being done to address the challenges faced by the education sector at large while mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
At the micro-level, the experiences of parents, students, teachers, and school administrators were shared in order to have a glimpse of the situation on-ground. At the macro level, the responses of the Department of Education, non-governmental organizations, and private school associations representing bodies were shared to give a broader view of the challenges faced by the education sector and how they are being addressed. The Department of Education and its partner organizations remain resilient and highly motivated to cope with the challenges presented by the crisis.

COVID-19 has forced a seismic shift in the Philippine education landscape. The role of parents in education is much more significant and more emphasized. However, one of the challenges is making the home environment conducive to learning. Additionally, the socialization of students is hampered by the limited interaction with their peers and teachers, but their interaction with family members can substitute it. Parents will be close collaborators and partners of teachers in the learning process of their children. The delivery of education in terms of curriculum and instruction has to focus on what is essential.
A holistic approach to address the issues in the education sector has to be implemented. The challenge now is for different stakeholders to take an active part in order to contribute to the solution and to support each other. As the country restarts the economy and ensures that public health is a priority, it must also ensure that learning continues. While there is a call for the country to heal as one, it is also equally important that students learn as one, and make sure that no teachers and students get left behind.

Policy Forum Note No. 2020-04, AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competiveness

As we closed, moderator and AIM Professor Jamil “Jammu” Paolo Francisco, Ph.D encouraged all to go back to essentials of education in a macro and micro level, to seize the moment and start doing what we should been have done education-wise to support all kinds of learners in various situations so we could have been better prepared for this grand scale learning disruption, and reminded all (with his economist mindset) that in any disruption, there are losers and winners, and now more than ever, there is an urgent call/challenge, for “winners” to support the “losers” to spring back to action. For winners, to come to the rescue. Let us not put a good crisis to waste.

So there. Long post but I felt I needed to touch base due to this blog’s silence. On the family front, 2 sons graduated from highschool (Level 12 and middle school (level 8) and we now have 2 college students, my husband started a new job, and our pet Boo turned 3 years old.

Really hoping from here, I can come back to some rhythm of writing regularly!

Now, let us see where the Lord takes me I continue to press on in His Service. I know HE is and will be faithful.

Wow, this was fun. Missed blogging !

Genesis 31:49

It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.”

2 thoughts on “Blogging Again: Slowing Down and Taking It All In

  1. What an amazing journey, Teacher Doctor! So blessed to watch and learn so much from you past two years of homeschooling our child.

    Now, on to our path to health and wellness for ourselves, our families and others. Keep writing, Donna!

    Jhoanna Reply

    1. Awww thank you Jhoanna! Yes, health and wellness. SO glad to be partners with you in this as well. Much love to you and your family.

      donnasimpao Reply

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