One of the Forgotten Things About Starting a Start-Up

When R2R was starting, it was kind of a side hustle for me and for our other co-founders. Jumping into entrepreneurship is exciting and nowadays, romantic. People will tell you to just go for it, just do it, jump and make the parachute on the way down. And to some extent, those are true. 

But there is another truth that is not as emphasised (or known) by our well-meaning cheering squad. 

One of the most common questions I get asked when I give talks in provinces or schools is “how can I be an entrepreneur and support my family?”. Most of the young people who ask this are breadwinners of their families. They would love to jump into building an enterprise they are passionate about, but don’t have the bandwidth, capital, or even free time, to do so. Most of them have to get jobs with regular income straight out of college to help support their families and younger siblings. Our responsibilities may be different, but the concerns are somewhere along those lines too. How can I start an enterprise while making a living/supporting my family/paying for rent/paying for the bills/saving for the future/etc.?

Yes, jumping all-in into entrepreneurship is not as easy when you are “adulting” in life.

So here is one of the things that don’t get talked about or emphasised as often when people talk about entrepreneurship: If you want to eventually start your own, one of the best jump off points will be organizations (that you believe in of course!) with bosses that support side hustles and entrepreneurship. You can work part time or full time, learn on the job, and contribute, while still having some time and flexibility to start something you are passionate about. 

I was super fortunate because my bosses during my first job (Program Assistant for the Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program of Ateneo School of Government) were so supportive when we were starting R2R at the same time. 

I still showed up for work every single day and even during the weekends when needed. I commuted like crazy rain or shine, and showed up in the office (mostly) on time (those were the days when traffic was not yet as bad as it is now, but it was still stressful). But even if I kept full-time hours, I did not feel censored or stuck. 

My bosses talked to me about career options, social entrepreneurship, R2R, and they even indulged my once-a-quarter (or maybe even more frequent than that) soul-searching consultations. I worked on R2R stuff right after work, during the night, and some weekends. I got my full Millennial on with my bosses, but they remained patient, kind, and encouraging. When I decided to leave after about a year to go full time in R2R, they were not just happy for me, they became our advocates too.:) 

I got my full Millennial on with my bosses, but they remained patient, kind, and encouraging

Without their support and guidance, it would have been extra challenging for me to work full-time on R2R with our co-founders. I would have also starved in the process – or lived exclusively on cup noodles (well, not the entire time because some of my friends adopted me – that’s another story for another day!). 

But of course, while my bosses were super kind and supportive, I also had to do my share. Here are some of the lessons I have learned when keeping a full-time job + starting a side hustle that you eventually want to transition to a full-time thing: 

1) Don’t shortchange the company/organization that supports you and provides you with the flexibility to do your side hustle/passion project. While there may be times when your mind will be filled with possibilities for your side hustle, always be present (physically and mentally), responsive, and give your 100%. A good work ethic does not just apply to your side hustle/passion project.

2) Maintain good relationships with the people you have worked with. 

3) Inform your bosses and the people you work with, about your side hustle especially if you expect it to take more time to do. Supportive bosses will help you figure out a good schedule that works for both of you. Stick to this schedule! 

4) When it’s time to leave your job, be decisive so that the company you are working for could immediately move forward, and do a proper turn-over

5) If there are things that your previous job would need from you weeks, even months after your resignation, be generous with your time and talent. Generosity goes a long way and will definitely be remembered and appreciated! 

6) Before you start your own company, figure out how you can build a great culture and a supportive environment that enables others to pursue their passions too! It will not be the easiest thing, especially when you have critical priorities and your company needs focus. But it could be done in baby steps, starting with flexible hours, creativity days, one-on-one sessions with your team members, and other small initiatives that could enrich your company and encourage your team. 

Starting something is not just dependent on the entrepreneur’s grit or hustle.

I have read hundreds of pages of books and blogs about being an entrepreneur. There are tips about hustling, being gritty, not giving up, focusing on the mission, and other really sound advice. But starting something is not just dependent on the entrepreneur’s grit or hustle. New things, including start ups, are nourished by an enabling environment with nurturing mentors and leaders. It is important to identify them, seek them out, and engage with them.

I would not be here without them. 

So here is a shoutout, a long-overdue thank you, to the mentors and leaders who made it possible for us to get this far.:) Thank you Fr Ben Nebres, Dean Tony La Vina, Arnel Casanova, and Harvey Keh! 

Why Finding Your Passion is Not Enough

Warning: Venn Diagrams ahead 

When I was younger, I thought that I really wanted to 1.) graduate with honours, 2.) get a high paying job in a multinational corporation, 3.) climb up the corporate ladder, 4.) go for an MBA or further studies, and 5.) build my own company to be my own boss. In that order. And that is a perfectly good path. I know lots of people who are on this path and they love it! But I came up with this roadmap not because I felt passionate about it, but because I thought that it made the most sense.

See, I did not have the connections, inheritance, free flowing allowance, or the luxury to figure myself out and eat, pray, love. Nope. Earning a stable income was not a personal goal, it was a requirement for survival. Literally. So early on, I conditioned myself to choose the most stable and less risky path.

But life happened during college and utterly disturbed me. Ateneo’s “Men and Women for and with Others” happened. Philosophy, Theology, Socially Oriented Organizations, and Gawad Kalinga happened. I started reflecting and discerning a lot and realised that this is what I really want (that dark pink area in the middle):

The Venn Diagram of finding the passion you can pursue in life 

Slide1

I got incredibly fortunate to find this in R2R (Rags2Riches, Inc.) almost right after college, while working as Program Assistant for the Ateneo School of Government’s Youth Leadership & Social Entrepreneurship Program. I stuck to one thing for 8 years. And I love it! BUT. That is not what this article is about (I’ll write about that in the future). This article is about identity and about how doing what you love (or having your own pink area in your Venn diagram) is not equal to finding or defining yourself. I wish I knew this earlier. I mean, I knew this conceptually, but concepts are easy, living them is harder (guess the Hamilton song reference). 

Note to self: Your passion and the company/business/activity that manifests it, are parts of you. Do not get lost in it.

For the first few years (and until now), the company was growing, surviving, and learning. It needed my focus and dedication. I thought I could not afford to do anything else. I mean, sure, I went on vacations, watched a lot of TV, watched TED talks, joined some workshops and events. But mindshare-wise, I did not allow anything else in. No side hustles and no unrelated intellectual curiosities. And to a certain extent, that was okay. I deeply believe in the company’s mission after all and we were trying to solve a social problem that we were passionate about. It truly deserved focus and dedication.

But this is what happened to me: I focused on my work in R2R and unintentionally made it define me. I never allowed myself to feel that I deserved credit for anything in R2R but at the same time, I did not know what I was good at (or good for) without it.

After a few years of this kind of mindset, my Venn diagram looked like this:

The Venn Diagram of Getting Lost

Slide2

It was incredibly lonely to be that little dot lost in that big wonderful thing. And yes, it looks like a pimple too (haha). For good reason. My situation was not helping the big wonderful thing that I love.

I stopped learning, listening, and growing outside of the work I’m passionate about. And that did not help the work I’m passionate about.

How did I realize all these? Well, for one, I was no longer curious and could not remember the last time when I was. I was no longer fascinated or impressed with anything. I would travel for work but won’t have that wide-eyed wonder anymore. I would meet really interesting people but I won’t be interested.

Because I got too caught up with what I love doing, I forgot how to appreciate it or anything outside of it. I became almost like a snob who thought that I knew it all, and I have been there and done that. Yet strangely enough, at the same time, I felt inadequate and undeserving. What a weirdo.

It all caught up with me about a few months ago (or maybe creeping up since a few years ago) when we had to go through the biggest challenge that we have ever faced in R2R (another story for another time). At the same time, I got pregnant. These two huge milestones shook me. This combination was new to me. Because I lived inside my own mental solitary confinement for so long, I suddenly did not know how to move forward. I was not able to practice the mental and emotional agility that comes with opening up to the world. So the feelings of inadequacy came back. I repeated the vicious cycle.

But instead of drowning in it this time, I decided to get out of it. I am going to be a mom (thank you mommy hormones too, I think you helped)! And R2R’s challenge is about to become its biggest breakthrough! I could feel overwhelmed, but I should not drown, and I must not stop.

So recently, I started opening my world again to the different areas in my life that needed to grow. Instead of being a little dot (or pimple) within my passion, I am my own person with a bigger purpose and my passion has a life of its own too. I am part of it and it is a part of me. And this kind of relationship enriches us both (come to think of it, same principle applies for other kinds of relationships). It kind of looks like this now:

Slide3

I think doing what you love is still important. It is one of the best ways to live. Yes, still look for that pink area in your own Venn diagram. It will be challenging, and it will be worth it.

But your personal WHY is bigger than that area and even bigger than your passion – so find a WHY that transcends the roles and encourages you to express and manifest your purpose in every aspect of your life.

Yup, I’m ending this with a cheesy video that relates to this whole article.. 😉 If you have not watched the movie yet, you should! OR, just watch this clip. No spoilers here (I think). 

 

Life Hack: My 5 Question Guide to Shopping with Intention

A few years ago (maybe about 4 years ago?), I decided that even if my work is fashion-related, I won’t be too fashion conscious to the point of stressing over what to wear every day (and obsessing over not repeating clothes ever). I did not want to spend my life, or at least my mornings, looking through a closet full of clothes but still conclude that I have nothing to wear. This meant that every single piece I own should be intentional. So I told myself that I won’t buy trendy and flaky fashion on a whim, I’ll be more conscious of where I buy and why, and I’ll have clothes that I could repeat over and over again (and mix and match with each other) with pride and joy!

It was not easy.

It was not easy partly because I don’t like shopping. I usually know what I want in a store, I make a beeline to where it is, then buy it if I like it. I never liked browsing around. I do that in bookstores. Because shopping was (still is) such a chore for me, there were times when I got too lazy to fit clothes (which is a mistake!) and end up getting stuff that don’t fit well. So I do end up with a few pieces of clothes and shoes that I bought without much thought (or without fitting) or I got as gifts, but are not really my style (or don’t fit well too).

After a few years of trying (selling clothes, selecting only the pieces I love, sticking to a colour palette, etc.), I finally found a formula that works for me. I wrote this in my personal journal a while back and keep a copy of it in my Notes so I could use it as a guide every time I shop.

Before formulating my 5 questions, I identified the following first:

  • Where do I spend the most time in my life? My answer: R2R office, events, meetings, family gatherings 
  • What styles of clothes will fit these appropriately? My answer: business casual, smart casual, casual, some dressy outfits but not a lot 
  • What’s my colour palette? My answer: neutrals, stripes, and a few pastels (I made a Pinterest board for this that I can refer to when I need to shop)
  • Most recent question: Is there anything I would like to try or experience in the next few months that would need a few more items in my wardrobe or I should consider for my current capsule wardrobe? My answer: I’m pregnant and I would like to do pre-natal Pilates/Yoga! I won’t buy any maternity dresses so my wardrobe should fit me until after I give birth AND I also need some work-out clothes/shoes 

 

So here are my 5 questions before buying that dress/top/bottom/shoes:

  1. Is it in my colour palette? If it’s not, will it fit my colour palette? 
  2. Will it match at least 5 things I already own? – this is a tough one! I usually imagine 5 of my favorite tops or bottoms before buying another top or bottom to make sure that the one I’m about to buy will look great with most if not all of them. I also imagine the bags + shoes I already own with the whole configuration.  
  3. Can it be dressed up or down? – a defining criteria for me because I need the clothes to be as flexible as possible! 
  4. Is it of great quality and fabric? – I check the stitch count and quality of fabric 
  5. Is it made in a sustainable way? – As much as possible, I choose brands that are known for more ethical practices and higher quality fabrics (so they are not disposable)  

Bonus: Can I use it for the new experience I’m going through? In my case, pregnancy! 

Do you have more tips and questions you ask yourselves before buying something? I would love to learn from you too! =) 

9 Reasons Why I Started Blogging Again

1) I have finally recovered from my previous blog trauma called Multiply – guess what my username was? PAXANGELUS. WHY. 

I used to have a Multiply blog that is so well updated with all kinds of random ramblings. I talked about politics, love, life, religion, movie reviews, and everything in between. But my favorite (NOT) parts of this blog were my “blind items” and passive aggressive posts about my crushes and some people I know. CRINGE. Before Multiply closed down (THANK GOODNESS), I saved all of these entries and secured them in a multiple password protected and authenticated place that I alone could access and read, in case I just want to beat myself up or laugh at my younger self. And no, I am not yet ready to share all of them again. hahaha 

So yes, I was traumatised with my own younger voice. I feel like a Tita cringing at the status messages and posts of her teenage niece. I did not want to write in public again because I was afraid that I will go back to these after a few years and find out that I was not as smart as I thought I was. 

Like this particular passive-aggressive entry:

PaxangelusMultiply

Before I saved this, I edited all of the blog entries to be private (thus, the “for you” note) because I just could not risk anyone else copying them for future blackmailing purposes! And to my three friends who commented, why didn’t you tell me this was a bad idea?!


But recently, I realised that even if I still cringe every time I read my past entries, I should accept them as part of who I am and what made me who I am today. We all have pasts that we are not entirely proud of (right? right? Come on!), but these should not keep us from moving forward and being better.

OH! and I also realised that my past blog entries were meant to be just cathartic. And to a certain extent, personal blogs that are written for catharsis could provide insight and value for others. But I thought that I should expand beyond unintentionally providing value. So now, instead of just having this blog for cathartic reasons (that is still part of it!), my intention is to also learn, contribute, and create valuable and useful content. I have lined up a lot of entries for the next few weeks and even months and proud to say that none of them are blind items or passive aggressive entries! I’m so proud of myself. haha 

2) My twice a month personal emails to R2R advocates

So recently, I have been writing personal emails to our R2R advocates. When we first started doing this, I was kind of hesitant because I thought I would run out of things to say or share. But we are a few months into this now and my mind is still overflowing with stories and new ideas! I’m sure there will be times when I’ll experience some blocks, but as long as there are people, little things to be thankful for everyday, and small victories to celebrate, we’ll not run out of inspiring stories. 

3) Traffic and erratic internet access 

Cheers to finding silver linings! Because of our terrible traffic situation, I find myself on the road longer. And because of erratic mobile internet, I could not answer emails/work/get on calls efficiently while stuck in traffic. Luckily (?), I have audio books and podcasts (all downloaded for offline listening) and my journaling app works great even when offline! So lots of time on the road + erratic mobile internet = lots of time staring out the window, listening to books and podcasts, and getting hit by lots of ideas that I could immediately record in my journal (Day One).

4) My Day One Journal 

Thanks (?) to traffic and erratic internet connection, my Day One is filled with random thoughts, status messages that I wanted to post but did not, and some pretty cool insights that surprise me too when I read them again. I realised that I could be really weird & incoherent, but at times, I make sense. haha

5) Mocha Uson Blog

I know, I know! Okay, hear me out. I have never read her blog thoroughly and I would not repost her blog entries as “credible news” and examples of “authentic journalism”. But like it or not, she has a voice. And she’s not shy about reminding anyone who would listen. And so I thought, if Mocha Uson could blog, anyone should be able to. In fact, more people should! I know a lot of amazing people who are smart, insightful, thorough, and objective, who could make some noise too. If we have people who contribute to the chaos, we need more people to contribute to the clarity.

6) Mar Roxas, the travel and food blogger

His blog is seriously adorable. And he’s a Tito, with Tito jokes and all.

While I was overthinking and second guessing myself and everything I put out into the world, he was confidently incorporating corny puns and jokes into his captions and sentences. I don’t want to be a boring Tita when Mar Roxas is a funny Tito. Please.

7) Arriane Serafico 

I still sometimes can’t believe that we’ve been friends for less than 5 years (according to Facebook though, we have been Facebook friends since May 2010! What?!)! This woman inspired me, ate with me (but like, 10x faster), listened to me, and planted crazy ideas inside my head (the good kinds, sometimes). We have been through a LOT, traveled together, slept on one Hello Kitty bed for a few nights, and shared personal stories of hardships and hope.

And now, she’s venturing into something she has always been great at: teaching and empowering others to achieve their personal goals! I could attest to how great she is when it comes to this and would recommend her class to anyone who would like to set meaningful goals and design their lives!

Being her friend has been very inspiring and her go-getter vibe is infectious! So here I am, go-getting (if there is such a term – there should be)! 

Arriane_Serafico

Screen grabbed from: arrianeserafico.com

8.) Our R2R Team & Artisans

Working with a group of inspiring people with amazing stories is just rejuvenating! We talk about weird and mundane things too, but a lot of our conversations are also enriching and thought-provoking. We talk about our artisans, advocates, positive impact, sustainable design ideas, love (yes!), politics (oh, you should hear us!), creativity, innovations, and many more. Some of my Day One entries are based on our conversations too. So in a way, I’ll be sharing the behind-the-scenes of a social enterprise with a group of passionate people talking about world-changing ideas!

9) And finally, my conversations with my husband


My husband Mark is pretty smart. That’s an understatement actually. He has this natural curiosity & interest in others that I wish I have too! I’m learning!

Fortunately for me, I get to talk to him a lot. We are almost always together every single day, and we have the same values and hopes for ourselves, our family, and our country. I am always learning when I’m with him, which means that I’m always learning.

A lot of the things I log on my Day One came from my conversations with him. We talk about philosophy, ideas, innovations, theology, psychology, the best Tonkatsu place, super heroes, Rags2Riches, Hapinoy, inequality, politics, lyrics of songs that he always messes up, travel, our upcoming baby, and anything and everything we can think of (and we have really itchy minds)! 

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Hihihi #Kilig 

So there! Because of all my “influences”, here are some of the topics to expect from my blog:

  • Ideas – I’ll “give away” some ideas that I hope to see in the world one day
  • Travel stories
  • Life Hacks – mommy stuff that I’ll learn as I go along, productivity hacks I have tried (and worked for me),  and other tips that I could not think of right now but I’ll learn in the future
  • Art stuff – art that inspire me, art I made, etc.
  • Behind-the-scenes of R2R
  • Insights on life, love, some politics, philosophy, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and more!

6 Preggy Tips for the first 6 Months

I sometimes still can’t believe that I’m 6 months pregnant! This is my first time so I’m definitely not an expert in anything. Being the control freak that I am (yes, I admit it), I was very uncomfortable with not knowing things. HUHUBELLS.

I am thankful to my mommy friends who messaged me, answered my weird questions, and just supported me through this very confusing yet exciting time in my life.

So compiling the tips from my mommy friends + my measly 6 months experience, I have put together 6 things I have learned so far so that 1.) I don’t forget for my next pregnancy, 2.) I could possibly help other moms-to-be who are as clueless as I am (or as I was), 3.) My son could read this in the future and appreciate me even more (haha Hi Miguel Joaquin!)

1.) Choosing an OB GYN – this was more tricky for me than I expected. I have NEVER visited an OB in my life. It was part of my “challenge list” last year especially when we started planning for a baby towards the end of last year but I never got to it because a.) I was scared, b.) I was scared so I made myself believe I was too busy.

See, I’m not afraid of many things. I am not afraid of heights, snakes, spiders, the dark, cramped spaces, repeating patterns, eating alone, strangers, public speaking, etc. But I have (had! More on that next time) a debilitating (and borderline irrational) fear of needles and medical procedures.

So when I was looking around for an OB, I asked my friends these very specific questions: “Will she inject me?”, “Will she do pap smear right away?”, “Do I really need trans vaginal ultrasound?”. I did say my fears were irrational!

When I met my first OB, she was a bit dismissive of my fears and was really no-nonsense. I’m sure that works for a lot of people, but it did not make me feel at ease. My second OB was the complete opposite! She acknowledged my fears but thoroughly explained why I needed to go through all the medical procedures for my baby. She was patient, kind, but also very direct. I found my OB soulmate!

When choosing an OB, I realised how important it is to be confident and comfortable with the doctor, and not just to have an OB for the sake of needing one. Pregnancy and giving birth, especially for first time moms, could be overwhelming and scary. It really helps that the doctor you see every month is someone you look forward to seeing, who can answer your questions, acknowledge your fears, and could patiently explain things to you.

2.) To Maternity Clothes or not to Maternity Clothes – thanks to Bianca Gonzalez-Intal’s blog post on Pregnancy Must-Haves, I was a bit more informed and confident about my choice to not get any Maternity clothes. I also arrived at that decision because I really really dislike waste and things that don’t last a long time (like maternity clothes that I’ll only be wearing for a few months in my life – yes, even through multiple pregnancies if ever). Even before pregnancy, I maintained a very streamlined closet of pieces I absolutely love. I only have a few pieces on rotation and they all come together well. I don’t waste time staring at a closet full of clothes and say “I have nothing to wear”.

But the reality was that my tummy was growing, so of course, not all of those clothes (um, like crop tops) could stand the test of the next few months. I had to set aside budget and strategically shop for clothes that will fit my growing belly and will still fit and look great after giving birth.

Luckily, I found great brands that I LOVE! My criteria – 1.) I could dress them up or down, 2.) They are comfy and could fit and even flatter my baby bump, 3.) They could be used when breastfeeding, 4.) I could still wear them with joy and pride after giving birth and getting back in shape, 5.) Great quality and workmanship, 6.) BONUS (we need more options!) if they are made using sustainable materials, support causes, adheres to fair trade standards.

A few of the brands I love (price range for most of the blouses and dresses PHP 900 – PHP 4000):

Elin.ph – they specialise in Maternity and Nursing clothes that are stylish and flexible enough to be worn even after pregnancy! My must-have here is the foldover leggings. I got them and wore them during my first trimester (so hardly any bump yet) and they really look like your ordinary leggings. Now that my bump has grown, these leggings are still my best friends (I got a few pairs). I could wear them with tunics or long blouses without looking frumpy.

Anika – this talented young designer (Anika Martirez) designs and makes clothes that are easy, breezy, and light. She does not specifically design for pregnant women but this pregnant woman (and the baby) LOVES her pieces!

Uniqlo – I love the straight cut dresses with pockets and the midi dresses that I could wear with or without a belt depending on my bump!

Harlan + Holden – So I just recently found out that this is a Filipino company! If I knew that earlier, I would have shopped there already! At least I know now. Their pieces are easy to match, easy to wear, and still very stylish. And it seems like a lot of their pieces could fit the bump too!

3.) Mommy Snacks – I love snacking. When I got pregnant though, snacking was no longer just a nice-to-have, it became a requirement. And because I kind of grew up eating a lot of the bad stuff (cup noodles, high MSG snacks, dirty ice cream, street food), I found it really hard to eat the healthier stuff. As in I feel deprived and sad every time I choose a banana over cup noodles. But I choose the healthier alternatives anyway because of my baby. So when I got introduced to Mommy Treats through The Parenting Emporium, I felt like I won the lottery! Their snacks are REALLY good, and not the “It tastes good for a healthy product” token kind of good. They are really delicious! AND, they are calorie controlled and have ingredients that could help increase milk supply.

If you have more tips and brands for healthy (but delicious, please consider delicious) snacks for moms and moms-to-be, do comment below or message me through social media (any, except Twitter, I still can’t get the hang of that).

4.) Traveling while pregnant – I am really lucky to have a relatively easy pregnancy. No recurring morning sickness, no cravings, no headaches, and no dizziness. Even before we found out that we were having a baby, I already had 2 US trips scheduled. Mark and I were very cautious so we visited our OB to get clearance for the trips. Both OBs we visited were not concerned about the trips after examining me and the location of the baby in my womb (among other things that I can’t explain as well as they did).

The first US trip was okay because I was with Mark and a few other entrepreneurs, thanks to our PLDT Be the Boss Award (R2R was a finalist for social entrepreneurship). But the second trip was a bit concerning as I was going to travel alone.

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No jumping for me!

I gathered all the tips I could from mommy friends like Patty Laurel-Filart, who I bombarded with lots of travel questions (thanks Patty!). Here are a few tips for those who plan to travel while pregnant:

  • Get clearance from your doctor! Better be safe especially when you have a more delicate pregnancy
  • Wear comfy clothes and comfy shoes that you could easily move around in
  • Choose an aisle seat – very important since you’ll be making frequent trips to the restroom
  • Bring snacks! If you don’t like airline snacks, bring comfort snacks that are healthy and delicious (yup, very important to me)
  • Ask for help, especially when traveling alone. Even when my bump was not yet too obvious then, I would ask strangers to help me with my bags. People are generally more protective and caring when they find out you are pregnant. =)
  • Don’t forget to bring all your vitamins + just-in-case prescription from your OB in case you get sick abroad

5.) Eating for two – Don’t eat for 2 full sized human beings! haha I know it goes without saying but lots of people around you might remind you that it’s okay to eat more (a lot more) because you are eating for 2! My OB reminded me that while it’s true that I’m eating for two, the other one I’m eating for is very small. My son does not need that extra rice. I also don’t need that extra rice. You don’t want a super big baby that is hard to push out and you don’t want to gain the extra pounds that will be harder to lose after the baby comes out (not to mention the other health considerations when gaining too much)

6.) Handling advice (solicited and unsolicited) – Another tough one! Lots of well-meaning people will be giving you advice once they find out that you are expecting. It means that they care for you and there were things that worked for them that they want to share with you. It is easy to get overwhelmed, guilty, and anxious with the deluge of well-meaning tips (like this blog entry for example!). But when all is said and done, it is still your pregnancy, your journey. You could listen to advice, read all the books, attend all the seminars, and google everything (another tip: google does not have all the answers), but if you feel inadequate or anxious because of all the standards you feel you have to reach as a new mom, your journey will be a tougher one. And it may not be good for you or your baby. So make sure that you follow the advice that makes you feel at peace, happy, and at ease! Listen to your body and your baby! You guys are in this together after all. =)

Good luck to all of us!