For most of my childhood I grew up not quite fitting in with any particular crowd. I looked Asian but my last name was “Keeler”, a very Caucasian (aka White) surname. My father born and raised in the Philippines with mixed European heritage served in the American Army. My mother born in California, her parents emigrated from the Philippines and her father served in the American Army. I spoke only English, I was extremely tall for a Pinay (Filipino female) and most of my cultural beliefs were American speckled with Asian traditions. I took off my shoes whenever I entered a home, I ate rice with almost every meal, I called older women and men auntie or uncle out of respect, and every party had the celebratory chicken adobo, pancit and lumpia. But I longed to discover and identify with the other parts of me that were being created in America.
Being Different Builds Character For me growing up Asian American meant at times struggling with my identity and finding inner peace. Not quite fitting in with one particular group made me try even harder to explore who I was, engaging in creative activities (dance, music and writing) and putting myself out there every time I changed schools. In being different I realised I could fit in with any group and ultimately was an advantage not a disadvantage. I learned to adapt from a very young age. As an adult this helped me when having to start a new life, transferring to university from community college, and later when I moved from Los Angeles to London. Even though I didn’t know anyone at first I was able to make the most of and enjoy my situation. I can see clearly now these experiences were completely instrumental in creating the person I am today. From my hardships to my triumphs I’ve been able to cultivate an awareness and compassion that helps serve my clients and students today, as a wellness coach and yoga teacher.
Filipinos are known to be loyal, hard-workers, and very hospitable. And that’s exactly who my ancestors were, my parents are and how they raised me. My American upbringing instilled me with strong values of ambition, being outspoken, and manifesting my own destiny. These values have served me well and continue doing so as a mother of two, entrepreneur, and expat living in London. I am so grateful for my mixed background; it makes me diverse, interested, interesting and above all stronger.
Each Generation Has Their Unique Journey My mother would tell me how my grandparents insisted speaking English rather than Tagalog (Philippines’ main dialect) to her and four siblings, as they were Americans. How difficult I thought it must have been for my grandparents immigrating to a foreign country for a better life. If I thought I had it tough what must have it been like for them? My ancestors sacrificed so much to be American citizens and I am so grateful for what they endured.
Growing up my parents constantly reminded me that being a ‘Heinz 57’ (a person born mixture of at least 2 different races) was a beautiful thing and to embrace all those parts of me – Asian, American, White, tall, brown-skinned, every part. From a young age I recognised life was not always easy but could be experienced more sweetly. By changing the way I looked at things, the things I looked at changed. If I wanted to manifest a beautiful, fulfilling life I had to see myself in that beauty and being fulfilled. I didn’t know it then, but I was aligning with my true authentic self. And when we do that, magic happens as our positivity and energetic vibrations multiply abundance in everything we do.
Now raising Asian-American-French children in London I sometimes wonder, ‘what will their experience be’? But then I remember every generation has it’s own unique life lessons and spiritual treasures to pass on. My children will have their own unique journey and I will be there every step of the way honouring it as they unfold.