Category Archives: Inspiration and writing

It’s the beauty in her words…

I find it strange yet familiar on how such a young lady embodies such an old soul. Her silence bewilders me as she sits in solitude. I can almost discern her thoughts but she is elusive.

Then her words speak volumes so loud, it’s powerful. I feel her written reflections that echo in my mind, and I thank God for the wonder she brings into my life.

She’s my daughter…

“I am not a look,
I am a feeling.
You will feel my presence
before your eyes
even catch a glimpse of my face.
I am the warmth in your heart;
the glow that leaves you breathless
I fill your corners with comfort.
You will grow used to the feeling
of my love harboring the gaps of your soul
but I can never be enough.
I am the emptiness you feel
the hollowness, wounds left naked
as I fade away.
You will feel me as I leave
The light I had once warmed you with
will grow cold.
The physical embodiment of my soul
That was once intertwined with yours?
Will break away.
You won’t feel me anymore.
My warmth, my love, my soul
the things that had once fed you
have gone.
Now the only place I can be found
is in your insomnia
as you lay awake; searching for me in your thoughts
The only place I can be found
is in your memories
and in the bittersweet throbs
of the heart I once tended to;

By Lisette S. Vasquez
Copyright ©2017 Lisette Vasquez

I may be biased, but she’s just a beautiful and talented young writer.


Surviving and the In-between

It’s been a while since my last post…and a very long while with my writing project.

My kids seem to need me more as they grow up, especially on how to survive life in general. So they will always be my top priority, and I’ve put aside my writing for the time being.

Trifold Book Report on ASDUntil now.

Since it’s the end of Autism Awareness Month, I decided to write a post about my son. He’s 10 years old and I have not told him about Autism Spectrum Disorder, or that he has it. I didn’t want Ray to think he was “broken” or “flawed” because of his condition. I only wanted to explain his “uniqueness” to him.

For this school year, Ray must do a book report on different book genres assigned for each month. There is a different theme for each report to make it interesting for the student. For the month of April, the assignment is a trifold book report on a disease that includes information that will teach others about the disease.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach Ray about Autism Spectrum Disorders, especially for Autism Awareness Month.

Now just to clarify, ASD is not a disease. It’s a group of developmental disorders that can cause difficulties in communication, socialization, interests and behaviors. The book I used to help Ray with his report is:

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (and Their Parents) by Elizabeth Verdick & Elizabeth Reeve, M.D.

Survival Guide for Kids with ASD and Their Parents

This was a wonderful book for Ray and I to read together. The book is a guide for kids with ASD and their parents. It gives strategies for communicating, making friends, and succeeding in school. My son struggles with these issues, and he will be able to use this book when he has questions or needs help on a topic like facing challenges, symptom management, social skills, “stims,” handling feelings, how to relax, or resources. The guide was definitely helpful for me to break things down to Ray’s level of understanding. If he receives anything positive about doing a report on this book, I hope he learns that even though he is “different,” he is still “unique.” His diagnosis doesn’t define him. Autism is just a part of him. It’s a his way of being and how he experiences the world. I hope Ray knows that he has the potential to live an awesome life!

Helping my son do the trifold book report on ASD was a terrific learning opportunity for me and Ray. I was able to see how much he’s grown, the improvements he’s made, and the pleasure of understanding this remarkable boy. The experience was enlightening and it inspired my follow-up poem for Black, White, and In-between written last year on the post For Autism Awareness…

I wrote the poem for my son and my original intention was to write a follow-up poem to infuse a sense of hope. I may have gotten sidetracked, but here it is a year later.

Dedicated to Ray


It’s the in-between I view his charm
I see humor
It’s a giggle, a smirk, a glimmer

It’s the in-between I feel his tension
I see fear
It’s a fidget, a stutter, a tear

It’s the in-between I notice his strength
I see endurance
It’s a spark, an excitement, that makes a difference

It’s the in-between I sense him fading
I see frustration
It’s quiet, an absence, no communication

It’s the in-between I recognize potential
I see possibilities
It’s imagination, creativity,
and no limits to his capabilities

It’s not as simple as black or white
But the in-between to shed some light
It’s persistence
To love with openness, understanding, and acceptance.

By Lisa Malabanan-Vasquez




For Autism Awareness…

Dedicated to my son…

Black, White, and In-between

He sees himself in black and white
Rarely any colors in-between
He doesn’t know what they mean
But he’s still trying

He sees the sky in black and white
No shades of blue
Or different hues
It’s just day and night
But he keeps trying

Autism_Awareness_by_thisfleshavenged black and white

He sees the world in black and white
Sometimes he’s in fright
Fears the darkest of night
Like there’s no end in sight
Can’t take the colors when it’s too bright
But if it’s a question of might
He’ll keep trying

He’ll try to see between these fixed colors
The white of light
The black of night
To the in-between of gray
Where he seems to stray
But the longer he stays
More colors come out into the warmest of day
Then fades in a cold way
So he’ll keep on trying

Hope he finds those bright colors to help see
himself, the world, the sky
As he grows to reach the utmost high
And take in all that gleams
Just to reach his dreams

He’ll say…

There are many things I don’t understand
There’s much from me that life demands
But I can do some things
Like smile, sing, and dance
I won’t give up, so give me a chance
If you give me acceptance back,
Then I’ll do better than white or black

I’ll solve this puzzle that’s a part of me
Even if the pieces are all you see
I’ll show more colors of the in-between
To shine brighter than red, yellow, blue, or green
I just know there’s a light, an end in sight
But it’s not as simple as black
Or white

By Lisa Malabanan-Vasquez

Support  Educate  Advocate  Love




Weird is Cool

My son recently mentioned that one of his favorite songs is “Cool Kids” by Echosmith. He was singing the song while I was driving him home from Karate class one evening. The lyrics struck my core. Little Ray identified with the words of the song and I suddenly feel his pain.

I feel Ray’s struggle to “fit in” among his peers, in society, and in life. He didn’t seem particularly sad about the reasons he likes the song. Then again, I didn’t ask why. I already know he’s the odd one out.

Ray may have a few friends that talk to him or play with him. Sometimes his classmates invite him to birthday parties. But kids don’t ask him for playdates or sleepovers often. My son is what people call “weird.”

We all want to fit in and be likeable. Yet society has already labeled the norm. There are rules on how to behave, or what the public considers as proper and decent in appearance and upbringing.

For Ray, these rules aren’t always easy. His Autism is mostly strange to kids and even some adults. I think ASD makes Ray unique. It gives him a quirky personality, and nothing is ever boring when it comes to my son.

Oddly, I relate to Ray’s experiences. It’s a constant battle to please everyone, although we just can’t please everybody.

Hopefully, the criticisms, put-downs, and letdowns do not deter Ray from overcoming life’s challenges. I hope he takes each discouraging experience and changes them into a strengthening lesson of life.

Or, maybe I do because I need to.

Think positively. A sad or negative situation may feel like it happens almost all the time. But sometimes a happy event is waiting to surprise us. Just as Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

It sounds so simple to leave a dismal incident behind and pursue brighter opportunities. Though it’s harder to take the initiative and open the door.

In my case, I definitely need to think positively when it comes to writing. The determination to write something good, something memorable, something moving, and something worth buying is my present struggle in life. Some people will like my stories and some will hate it. I’ll just learn from the critics, and turn the negatives around to make my other stories better.

Possibility Quote

Nothing in life is easy and I understand this hard reality. I remember telling one of my beta readers the reason I started the Dia-Matic Keys project. Simply, I’m challenging myself to see if I can finish it. I want to show my kids that having aspirations are worthwhile.

This is my unique way of leaving advice on how to get through life’s trials and tribulations to my children. So don’t be afraid to dream. Life is scary, yet it’s also an adventure. I hope my kids will enjoy the fictional stories and learn something from them. As a writer, I wish that others would too.

In Ray’s case, some kids don’t like him. They don’t know my son. But some kids like Ray once they get to know him better. Those few friends help him feel good about himself. Ray needs these little triumphs to boost his self-esteem and live his life the best way he can.

So in the end, “weird” could turn to “cool.”

Have you dealt with life’s struggles? Was “fitting in” difficult? Or, have you empathized with the “weird kid” and helped him or her feel like they belong?

Harmony – James’ Movement

I’ve been quiet for the month of August and there’s a good reason. My second installment of the Dia-Matic Keys Series needed editing and copy-editing after a few revisions. The copy-editing took longer than expected. I wanted to enjoy what was left of the summer with my family.

So I want to thank all my beta readers, and all the wonderful musicians who gave me insight about playing the bass. Without your advice, I could not have shined the much deserved spotlight on James.

Shutterstock image 92659966

Shutterstock image 92659966

Everything seems to be falling apart for James Roberts. It’s time for Dia-Matic Keys to record their debut album, yet there is no band to record one. A bad decision affects the group and James pays the price. Everyone depends on him to save the day. But what happens if he can’t even save himself?

James is the bassist and leader of Dia-Matic Keys. Of course, being a strong leader means taking on responsibilities. For every action, there’s a consequence. Right now, nobody in the band wants to follow him. When James makes a difficult choice to sacrifice love for a chance at fame, the group’s recording contract is at stake. Elle no longer wants to be part of the band, and James is at fault. Without her, there is no Dia-Matic Keys. Relationships and friendships are about to end if he doesn’t make amends. James must fight to redeem himself, especially to Elle.

Secrets and betrayal are dividing the group. James struggles with his own fears, desires, and loyalties to prove his worth as a leader, a brother, and a friend. Will he gain the band’s respect once more? Can James win back Elle’s love?

It’s been a long journey to discover James for the amazing character he really is. So I hope you want to get to know him as well.

Harmony is now available:


It’s a “Family Affair”

It’s my family reunion!

Umali Family Tree

I’m excited, tired, and nervous at the same time. The excited part is self-explanatory. I’m tired from cleaning the house for a family luncheon this Friday. My nerves are getting the best of me because my mother requested that I do the “welcome” speech at our family reunion dinner tonight.

Public speaking? Ugh!!!

I don’t have any cool ideas for my speech. I haven’t met half of my relatives. What am I going to say to them? “Nice to meet you! So how are we related?” Next comes the small talk.

Have I mentioned that I don’t like public speaking. I’d rather scribble my thoughts on paper, or typing my words on a smart phone, tablet, or laptop is even better. Anything but a speech. I get stage fright. As soon as I see strange and/or familiar faces staring back at me, my mind freezes. The sound of my voice is embarrassing, and I’ll start to stutter.

public speaking fear

Besides the obvious fear of public speaking, the mere thought of it prevents me from doing a welcome speech for my family. It’s hard because I want to speak on something other than a family tree or ancestry. My relatives will be reintroducing/introducing themselves to one another anyway. I’m certain that everybody will have fun during the dinner. Telling everyone to enjoy the night is kind of “blah-blah.”

Then I was watching my kids swimming and playing with each other. I’m thinking…it would’ve been nice if they had met my grandparents. Their great-grandparents passed away a very long time ago. My memories of them and my great-aunts are vague, especially of my grandfather. He is the eldest of the Umali Family. But I do remember the funny moments vividly.

Memories! I’ll use that as a theme for my speech. I know the topic isn’t original, but my memories are the only way I can relate to all of my relatives. It’s also a chance to relay the point of my speech: getting to know the ancestors I haven’t met.

If my mother was a public speaker she’d be the one to welcome all of you. Since she’s not, the job has been left to me. I won’t be able to look at everyone because I suffer from stage fright. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep my eyes down for now.

What can I say about the Umali Family? I’ve had the pleasure of knowing three of them. Lola (grandma) Coring was the first one I met, then Lola Nene, and finally my Lolo (grandpa) Celo. I never got a chance to meet the other two brothers, but I’m sure they’re just as wonderful as their older brother, and their sisters.

When my mother asked me to do the welcome speech, my first thought was “OMG! I hate public speaking.” Then my second thought was worse. I didn’t know what to say for my speech. I didn’t have enough time to get to know my Lolas, and I didn’t have a lot of time with my Lolo either.

All that I remember was Lola Coring showing me how to make stinky Ginisang Ampalaya (Filipino vegetable recipe). “If it isn’t stinky, it won’t be good.”

Lola Nene showed me how to make curls in my hair with a bunch of bobby pins. “Your hair won’t be curly if you don’t leave it in while you sleep.” It actually works if you don’t have long hair.

Lolo Celo tried to convince me that his farts smelled good, just like food. “I’m telling you, it smells like Chicken Adobo!” (Filipino recipe)

Then I realized my memories are a great way to say something about this remarkable family. Just look towards one another and share a favorite memory of your parents, Lolo, and Lola. Get to know your family through the eyes of the person who’s sharing his or her story.

So now I’m going to look out to all of you just to say welcome Umali, Salvacion, and Ondoy Families. Laugh a lot with each other, enjoy your moments together, make more amazing memories. That way, your children can pass on a fond memory of you.


My speech is short and simple. I know it’s not mind-blowing or creative, but when I speak, I’ll be uniting everybody in the Umali Clan for one special night. That’s a good reason for me to face my fear, by standing in front of a bunch of people, and say into the mic: It’s a family affair…welcome!

Hugs and Kisses over Hits and Misses

What about cries and spills? No way! Sometimes it’s easier to “take a chill pill.” LOL.

I’m talking about nursing. As my tagline says, I’m also a Professional Registered Nurse. So in honor of National Nurses Week, I’m dedicating this post to all the wonderful RNs out there.

I must admit that when I started out in this profession, it wasn’t all wonderful. Not everything smells like roses. In fact, I received a lot of nicks and scratches from the thorns. There were many times when I just wanted to stop. I didn’t even want to stop and smell the roses as a way of coping. I just wanted to stop being a nurse altogether.

Working in New York City at the time didn’t make things any easier. The Big City is tough. I am this little person, under five feet tall. This tiny, insignificant, new nurse in a fast-pace and sometimes harsh environment. If I wasn’t careful, I got lost and engulfed by the cold reality. I burned out quick.

Then one day, an epiphany came to me. I learned how to care.

This realization helped me in understanding what it really means to be a nurse. It’s not enough to just show up for work because of staffing shortage. Being a nurse means:

You will never be bored.
You will always be frustrated.
So much to do and so little time.
You will step into people’s lives
And you will make a difference.
Some will bless you.
Some will curse you.
You will see people at their worst –
And at their best.
You will never cease to be amazed
At people’s capacity for
Love, courage, and endurance.
You will see life begin – – and end.
You will experience resounding triumphs
And devastating failures.
You will cry a lot.
You will laugh a lot.
You will know what it is to be human
And to be humane.

-Melodie Chenevert, RN

This is an awesome poem about a great profession. She says it best. I let all the frustrations, unappreciation, and failures bring me down. I questioned my choice in life instead of learning from the work experiences. I had to truly step back, take my time, and accept why I studied nursing in the first place.

My life’s calling wasn’t a mistake, it was a blessing.  In realizing this, I evolved into a better person. Not only did I learn to do my best from the patients, I also learned from my colleagues, nurse managers, and interdisciplinary teams. Most importantly, I learned to use those learning experiences to become a caring nurse.

I used my heart and soul to interact with my patients. With that human element, I gained insight into what it means to care. Care about what I do and for those I care for:

  • C compassion and competency
  • A attentiveness and advocacy
  • R responsiveness and responsibility
  • E empathy and evaluation

Without that emotion and understanding, I wouldn’t be able to do the other part of my tagline: write about my experiences.

So I’ll take the hits of a busy schedule. Accept that I missed a couple of things only to learn from it, and get it right the next time around. Offer a kiss on the cheek for a patient’s victory. Give a hug when a patient is in need of one. Lend my shoulder when a patient cries. Clean up the spills simply because a patient can’t by themselves.

And as for that chill pill, I won’t give it to a patient because it sounds easy, I’ll give my care instead. As for me, I can always use one, especially after a hard day’s work. But I’ll take a “thank you” from a patient anytime 😉


Turn up the Bass!

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question in the guitar community, “What are the main reasons for being a bass player?”

I received a variety of responses ranging from the humorous, to the practical, to the soulful. To better understand the reasons, I listened to various genres like Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop, Blues, Latin, Reggae, Metal, and Rock, mainly to pick out the bass lines. I have yet to check out Classical.

Discussion in Guitar Community

Discussion in Jazz Music Community

It wasn’t hard for me to identify the low and heavy pitches, but I had to focus on the different styles of playing the bass. The more I listened, the more I found myself with a deep appreciation for bassists.

The bass is a member of the rhythm section. The bassist locks in with the drummer to create a “groovy,” or “head-bouncing,” or “foot-tapping,” or “swaying side-to-side” rhythm. The bass player not only provides the rhythm, but also lays down the harmony. In fact, he or she has two important functions for a song.

The bass is one of the easiest instruments to learn, with the most common being 4 strings (E, A, D, and G), yet it can also be the hardest to master. The bass is versatile. You can play the root notes, to chords, to arpeggios. Or, you can use diverse styles like slap, pop, palm-muting, double thump, two-handed tapping. Those walking bass lines or complex riffs, while linking the harmony to the rhythm, as well as, improvising is difficult. A good bassist just makes it look so easy.

I notice that bassists are often overlooked compared to the lead guitarist or drummer (another member of the rhythm section). But a solo performance makes a profound impact, whether it’s a fast and syncopated rhythm or an intricate and funky sound.

Of course their frequent spot on the side near the drummer, instead of center stage, doesn’t mean they’re not a star. Some bassists are lead singers in a band, such as Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Geddy Lee, Sting (who are great songwriters). Some are notable for their craft like Charles Mingus, John Entwistle, Cliff Burton, John Paul Jones, Bootsy Collins, Flea. The solo artists who inspire like Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, Michael Manring. Let’s not forget the beauties such as Carol Kaye, Kim Deal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Kim Gordon, Esperanza Spalding. I’m missing so many other honorable mentions but I don’t want to sound long-winded.

So why do this short research on bass players. I needed to brainstorm.

I need some type of inspiration to write about my favorite one (he’s fictional). I want to make him awesome, just like a bassist must play perfectly for the song’s progression. I also want him to impress, just like a powerful buildup of a bass line that you can feel. Most of all, I want my character adored since I’m shining the spotlight on him.

Bassists will always be in demand, simply because they are one of a kind.

Thank you to everyone in the music community for giving me your insightful feedback. For those initially reading my follow-up post, list your top reasons or favorite bass players and I’ll check them out.

The Many Faces of Fear

It’s been a couple of weeks since October past. Besides work and other obligations, I spent a lot of time watching Halloween specials with my daughter. We are big fans of Ghost Adventures Crew. Basically, we enjoyed scaring ourselves silly about the unknown and unexplained.

My daughter carved this humorous pumpkin

My daughter carved this humorous pumpkin

Many people celebrate this yearly festivity of pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, costumes and costume parties, playing pranks, telling scary stories, watching horror films, or visiting a haunted attraction. This time of season is the start of me getting fat from candy and the upcoming winter holidays. The overindulging scares me for obvious reasons: I’m vain about my appearance.

So why do I like getting scared around Halloween? What is the allure of horror movies?

I don’t do well with horror films. The thought of evil or demonic stuff bothers me. Perhaps I relate to the frightening causes which lead to the unthinkable.

I’m not talking about the gruesome murders or terrifying hauntings. I am referring to fear in general. This is a common emotion felt by everyone, and not just around the Halloween season. The dark, sickness and disease, loneliness, failure, losing control, regret, falling in love or out of love are some examples that make others afraid.

Maybe not telling someone a truth from fear of hurting his/her feelings or not seeking an unbiased opinion from fear of a negative answer, growing older, rejection, switching to an unfamiliar setting or being uprooted from a comfortable environment is scary for most.

Having to face my own demons is a great fear of mine. I can’t run away, these demons will chase me forever if I don’t confront or conquer them. I’m afraid of the examples mentioned above, especially regret and failure. Nobody wants to live a lifetime full of regrets, and no one wants to feel defeated.

Change is stressful, and refusing to adjust is damaging. This can often lead to regret and defeat. If one doesn’t acknowledge a change, this can result in despair. I have recently experienced another setback in my life. It’s an ongoing problem that doesn’t have an easy solution. Yet I must resolve the issue and deal with the consequences.

Life has its share of wonderful moments, but on the downside, it is full of stress. Living is stressful because it’s hard to simply survive. How one deals with the bullshit determines one’s quality of life in my opinion.

Some things may never change. Someone may never return a favor or express gratitude. Not everyone feels any obligation to follow the same values or morals I believe in. Not ever hearing the words “I’m sorry” from the person who hurt me the most is an unsettling reality. That fact is a major disappointment, but a person can’t change somebody who doesn’t want to. So why dwell over it.

Change is inevitable, it’s a part of life and growth. If one allows for an adjustment, the transformation and results are often positive. Never mind about that someone who remains stagnant. I should not let a person’s shortcomings affect me, or bring me down. Live in the present and look forward to a promising future. Letting go of a painful past helps in healing a tortured soul.

I hope to live a full life, yet I’m sad about having a handful of regrets. I can’t alter my past mistakes, but I refuse to be defeated by them. Embracing life’s changes, and accepting the fact few people won’t change is part of facing and defeating my demons. It’s a step towards resolving the conflicts inside my soul.

Life may be stressful, but it might become easy if I just live it for myself.
~ Robert Brault ~

~ Robert Brault ~

I hope sharing this bit of my reality helps you out and thanks for reading. Since many of my posts are music related, I want to end with a song. Imagine Dragons has one that I particularly connect to. It’s called “Demons.” Enjoy…

What are your fears and have you conquered them?

Turning it Around

The world is always revolving and life continues with each passing day. I can’t imagine not living a day to the fullest, yet every so often, a negative experience threatens a positive outlook.

How do I turn a negative into positives? What does one do to overcome a defeat? I’ve procrastinated about writing and revisions. I thought this was due to the writer’s block, but it’s not. I’m sure everyone deals with a decrease in imagination, a hindrance in creativity, a loss of inspiration in his or her own way to get through it.

The procrastination is a result of my personal demons. Dealing with self-doubt is a constant demon of mine. It’s the lingering fear that my next project won’t be as good as, or better than my first piece of work. I am very aware of the fact we can’t please everyone. Yet deep in my subconscious is a pestering desire for approval.

I’m human, and it’s natural to seek acknowledgement and praise. Let’s face it: we all want a pat on the back for a job well done. Of course, the letdown of disapproval and criticisms makes it difficult to acknowledge and move on. Similar to a fall, most people get up and brush off the dirt, some cry until help arrives, others will sulk until someone kisses the boo-boo and then everything is fine.

It’s not easy to brush off a negative comment. For me, the remark hides in the recesses of my mind, only to appear at the worst possible moment to drag me down further. Like a demon taunting me, “You’re not good enough.” The laughter and ridicule echoes in my head, and grows louder with each teasing word of “fail” mentioned.

Again, I’m looking for that evasive light at the end of a dark tunnel. I’m mustering the strength to rise up after a fall. Earth is still revolving and my thoughts are swirling along with it.

I can’t please everyone. Instead, I’ll aim to satisfy my need for expression. So I decide to just write. What better way to evolve just like the world around me. I’m acknowledging my fears and discovering ways to face them. I am refocusing on the goal of writing for my family, the original inspiration for this journey as a writer (even if it’s part time).

 “Speak to me, when all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through
Move along
Move along”



It’s probably coincidental or perhaps it’s not. Many concerts were airing on AXS TV this past weekend. The All-American Rejects’ performance was the first I viewed. I’ve always had a soft spot for musicians, but Tyson Ritter (vocals, bass, and piano) motivated me to watch the rest of the show. AAR performed without fear of “boos” from the crowd.

Tyson Ritter made me giggle with his sense of humor in between sets. Now the music is drowning out the demons inside my head. The riffs and hooks are stomping the negatives into the ground. I’m still standing as the encouraging lyrics urge me to “move along.”

So I’ll turn my frown into a smile. I’ll make a light to get me through the end of a dark tunnel. I’ll get up from a fall; who cares if my clothes are stained with dirt. I’ll take the criticism and work hard to do better each time. I may not get a few pats on the back, but maybe I’ll receive a couple of thumbs up instead.

The world is revolving, life is continuing, and I want to change my low points into turning points.

(Go on, go on, go on, go on)

How do you deal with negativity? How will you keep evolving?

Thanks for reading and enjoy the song.  

%d bloggers like this: