JENNA Sto Tomas-Zantua‘s story
CHANGING PLANS, TAKING CHANCES, AND FINDING MY TRUE IDENTITY
Pronounced as Halu-Halo, which means “mix-mix,” is a popular Filipino frozen dessert made up of a hodgepodge of ingredients you stir and the result is an uber refreshing snack that’s perfect for a hot summer day.
While the Halo-Halo may seem to an outsider, a bizarre-looking dessert, for me, it’s a beautiful creation sent from dessert heaven.
I’m sorry if I’m making you think about food right now. I swear it’s unintentional. I only wanted to share this one dessert that I think represents so much of the mixed culture that I grew up with as a Filipino.
In fact, the Halo-Halo itself is much like my country’s history – a true melting-pot of pre colonial matriarchal society with Chinese, Malay, and mixed Asian influence marked by a long colonial history with the Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese, way of life and thinking.
A distinct blend of culture and tradition indeed. And while it’s good that as a Filipina, I can adapt and relate to many types of people, it was also a constant battle of finding my true identity as a woman of color living on the other side of the world…
THE BIG MOVE
Probably my biggest life decision was moving abroad over four years ago.
My husband, who is an international school teacher suddenly got a job offer to teach in Russia. At that time, I was a restaurant business owner and on the side, doing HR consultancy with corporate clients.
I had a full time job. I was also a new mom.
I had just given birth to my daughter when the opportunity came. To make things more complicated, we just purchased a house a few weeks before all of this happened.
There was only one question in my head: Am I ready to make this big move?
Did I get scared?
Did I think about what could happen to us?
Yet, it was also one of those rare moments where you just feel it deep in your bones – I knew it was the right thing to do for us as a family.
I knew just how drastic our lives will change the moment we leave – whether it’s a bad or a good thing, I would have never known if I didn’t take the risk.
It was a gigantic leap, a new, exciting, and scary adventure, so to speak.
For the next two years of our life abroad, I devoted myself to the art of becoming the best most outstanding stay at home mom I could ever be.
I learned how to cook many cuisines. I taught myself Russian and Cyrillic. I learned how to operate the washing machine (so just for context; it was always the laundry shop that did our clothes so this was something new to me).
I cleaned the apartment (not my favorite thing to do). I was also breastfeeding and taking care of the baby. Life was busy but good even though it was cold all year long.
But life had other plans for us too..and after two years, it was time to move on to another country – this time it was Panama, a place so much farther away but quickly became home for us.
I adapted to the pace of living in a new city with a landscape that very much resembled Manila.
I settled into our new apartment, found out where the park is, the grocery, a coffee place, and also enrolled in Spanish class.
I also found a nice local daycare where my daughter can easily learn Spanish and be with other kids.
On my daughter’s first day in school, I found myself at home with literally nothing to do, and then suddenly, I realized that for the first time in a long time – I could go back to working full time.
Things were changing again, time for a new plan.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
I am grateful for being able to have an expat lifestyle where moving from one country to another is considered “normal”. I had gotten so used to things changing that I no longer feared the thought of change and instead; I welcomed it.
However, there’s always my friend and enemy, FEAR.
The one who constantly whispers the cautions, the what-ifs, and the doubts. Where do I find the courage to forge my path? How do I even begin?
All I knew then was I had a strong desire to find this new identity or maybe a new endeavor that will light up and awaken my sleeping entrepreneurial spirit…
Wanna know what happens next?
Watch out for my chapter in the Empire Life Book, Redefine, launching Jan 2021!
You will be able to find the rest of her story in the Empire Life Book, Redefine, launching in Jan 2021!
Jenna Sto. Tomas- Zantua is a digital ex-pat living in Panama. She is an online business consultant that helps women founders with brand positioning and strategy to build, systematize, and maintain profitable online businesses. She is a director of Operations, certified online business manager, brand copywriter, digital marketing geek, amazing cook, tough mama of one, fiercely loyal friend, and wife to Steve Aoki’s (better-looking) doppelganger…
…also a badass female entrepreneur and founder of Digital & Boundless™, an online company that provides topnotch strategic marketing, operational systems, and tech implementation support for impact-driven small businesses. Digital and Boundless™ wants to leverage technology, automation, systems and processes that help women entrepreneurs grow their online business with ease and less overwhelm.
She hopes to see more women-owned businesses grow and thrive in the big, exciting, vast, and sometimes scary, online universe.
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