My World Pulse Journey Began With One Story

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted March 7, 2019 from Philippines
One Story Made Me A Someone from No One

Change starts with a story, and the story that changed my life was an encounter with a typhoon. 

When my friend Dyan invited me to join World Pulse, I initially thought I wasn't qualified. Who would listen to a stay-at-home mother whose world revolved around the life of her husband and children?  

But a storm came. It was not as fierce as typhoon Haiyan, the strongest super typhoon recorded in the world, but it was still destructive and very frightening to me.

At the height of the landfall while I held my two sons around my arms, uncertained if we would survive the storm's wrath, I realized I could not face death without writing my stories.

On December 2017, I wrote my first World Pulse entry, and it was about surviving that storm.

First of all, I did not expect I will be receiving comments full of empathy. I even sent a copy of that piece to a literature professor and asked her to read it so I can revise it and submit it as an entry for local online writers publication. But she replied, " if I have time, probably I will read that by the end of the year".  That was January.

Prior to writing on World Pulse, I received a chat message insulting us for moving to Tacloban City, the hardest hit by Supertyphoon Haiyan. (My husband is involved with the livelihood rehabilitation here.) It's our fault, that was the gist of his message. Probably, that was how most people thought when they heard about our storm experience. So empathy from my World Pulse sisters touched me and my family. I thought, "Wow, they cared."

A few weeks later, I received an email and a private message from dear Corine, World Pulse editor. She thought my story was "powerful", thus, I got awarded as a Featured Storyteller. That meant my story got more coverage, and more readers. As a result, I received more encouragement! 

The $100 honorarium was my first "earned money" since I became a stay-at-home mom. 

I was a reluctant writer, with very low self-esteem. Being a Featured Storyteller, together with my sisters' empathy, slowly built my confidence in writing. It felt great to be encouraged! So I went beyond my encourager assigments to give uplifting feedbacks to my sisters. 

I wrote more stories and encouraged more sisters as I typed from my cellphone while my husband and sons slept at night. I unexpectedly won two more story awards later. It made me cry with joy. 

 Last month, I received an email invitation from Dawn to join the World Pulse Board Meeting. During the videocall, I couldn't hold my tears as I was given a chance to speak with Jensine, the World Pulse team and the Board. I was only a nobody, but World Pulse recognized my humble contribution to this online space. It was truly an honor. I couldn't sleep after that call. I was so happy! 

 Then recently, I was invited to be among the World Pulse Ambassadors. How humbling can this journey be? Imagine, It all began with one storm story.

To Jensine, Corine, Dawn, Hannah, Jill, Olutosin, and the whole World Pulse Team, I'm writing this on my cellphone (while my husband and sons are asleep) with tears falling from my eyes. I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving a stay-at-home mother like me (who is raising a son with special needs  and another toddler) a chance to change the narratives of my story.

Being in this online community, I dare to dream again.

How can I not give my best to World Pulse? When with the little that I have done, you've shown recognition. With the little efforts I've made, you've shown appreciation, trust and validation. I've never felt so loved and valued. All because of that one story, and you've brought me here today as if I am living in a dream. This is such a beautiful reality!

 Thank you so much! I love each one of you! And what a blessing to be celebrating International Women's Day with Queen Stella here in our country! 

To the rest of my sisters, thank you for sending love, virtual hugs, prayers. Thank you for your encouragements. Your comments uplift me during my challenging times; your stories inspire me a lot to strive harder and become the best version of myself. I am so blessed to be connected with you all. 

I honor each of you. Happy International Women's Day! 

(P.S. I will be reading your stories after our IWD event and will be sending love and encouragements.)

This story was submitted in response to Change Starts With a Story.

Comments 24

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Tamarack Verrall
Mar 07
Mar 07

Dear Karen,
You brought tears to my eyes with just your Title, and increasingly tears and joy reading through the progression of power you have grown into through our wonderful World Pulse. It is so true, such wise and loving details have been put in place and continue to be created by our brilliant Board, Team and with the special touches of each individual, as brainstorming continues to foster yet more growth, and as those of us active continue in so many ways to feel heard, loved and supported for our contributions. Your story touches me deeply in my heart and gives me joy for what World Pulse has done for you, and also reinforces a thousand times knowing that World Pulse works this way for all of us. Thank you for the beautifully written description of how profoundly this network supports us all.
With love in sisterhood,

Dear Sister Tam,

Awww. You're so sweet. I couldn't enumerate all your names ob that post, but you are definitely one of those I treasure. Reading your encouragement brings tears to my eyes again.

You're one of the pillars of World Pulse, and it is what it is today because you show up and care. Thank you so much.

Yes, everyone including the Board is supportive here. What a safe space for women indeed!

Happy International Women's Day, dear Tam. It's March 8 here already. Hope you have a memorable IWD!:)

Dawn Arteaga
Mar 07
Mar 07

I second Karen's comment that Tam is one of the pillars that makes World Pulse what it is -- and so are you Karen!!

Jill Langhus
Mar 07
Mar 07

Aw, Karen. You've made me teary, too:-) You're such an awesome, empathetic person. Never, ever a nobody! Thanks for the inside scoop. It's awesome to be your friend, sister, and acquaintance...truly:-) I'm honored to know you. And, our community wouldn't be the same without you, your stories, and your ever-loving, insightful commentary.

Happy IWD dear!!! Hope you have a great, and memorable day, which I'm sure you will!

Aww, Jill. Thank you.

My heart is just full of gratitude that I am here. These past days, I have been inviting friends to join World Pulse. I want them to feel the online camaraderie we have here.

I'm honored to know you and your journey, too. Happy IWD! I'll help you with the encouragements after our event. Yay! Excited to read stories.:)

Jill Langhus
Mar 07
Mar 07

You're welcome, dear:) Very nice:) Can't wait to meet them.

Thank you!

Dawn Arteaga
Mar 07
Mar 07

Karen, this is such a moving post. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really don't feel deserving of the gratitude you've shared -- you are the one bringing the inspiration and the hard work to the table. I get the easy job of celebrating how incredible you are! Such big hugs to you and your whole family.

Aww, you made me cry, Dawn. You deserve such gratitude, of course! You make yourself available when I have questions inspite your hectic schedule.

Hugs to you and your wonderful family, too!

Wala Lut
Mar 07
Mar 07

I was invited ,too.
But, in Yemen with war I was not able to be on time bec .elecricity was cut.
It is a great story.
By the way,
Do u have organazation here in Sana'a that help me to find a job here and could travel outside Yemen as a reprenestative of it ?.

Would u assist in that?.

Thanks alot.

Hello, Wala,

I’m sorry you have to endure war and loss of electricity. :(

I have no organisation in Sana’a.

Please regularly check the Resources Page to see if you can find a opportunity there whether in a form of a training, fellowship or scholarship that you can apply for.

Maya Iwata
Mar 07
Mar 07

Thank you for sharing your story! It is so important for women who may not yet see themselves as Changemakers to understand that their voice is important and contributes. And oh my gosh, you celebrated IWD with Stella- I love these global connections made first online then become in-person. :) As a parent myself, I so appreciate you sharing how you carve out time after folks are asleep to use the World Pulse mobile app. Thank you for sharing your story, I'm sure you are inspiring others with it. Thank you for being you.

Mar 07
Mar 07

Hello Karen,
It’s so heart touching post ! You are so sweet, I remember when I first posted my story, you were the first one to comment it with your kind words and I got tears in my eyes for a little while...beside I noticed that you are a strong woman like so many others of world pulse community. Keep it up !
Happy IWD 2019 !
Thank you.

Hello, Zoélle,

Thank you for adding me on Facebook and for reading my World Pulse journey. You are sweet, too! I could tell by your first post.

I’m glad you like it here because we like you here. Happy International Women’s Day!

Hello, Maya,

Yes, Stella celebrated IWD with us! I met her for the first time; I got starstruck! Haha.

We introduced World Pulse to women who survived natural disasters. We emphasized how important for them to tell their stories.

Oh, thank you for your empathy and appreciation. I love World Pulse!

I treasure your encouragement so much! Happy International Women’s Day, Maya! Thanks too for being you.:)

Obisakin Busayo
Mar 07
Mar 07

Wow!! You are wonderful my sister and I feel so priviledged to be your sister. We honour you too so much Karen. Sending you BIG HUGS and warmest Love!

Hello, Sister Busayo,

I want you to know you inspire me, and the honor is mine to call you a sister.

Thank you for the hugs! I hope one day I could really embrace you in my arms. May God grant that desire.

Online hugs for now!
Happy International Women’s Day!

Wala Lut
Mar 09
Mar 09

Thanks alot for nice comments.
But, in war activists for women are raped and killed..

This is terrible, Wala. I know words are too cheap and couldn’t find solutions for the fate of women in your country. Please keep writing your experiences on World Pulse. You pen is powerful. You might be able to find people who can help you while doing so.

I’ll continue to hold you in my prayers.

Adriana Greenblatt
Mar 10
Mar 10

Karen, oh my goodness, your writing is so powerful, you truly do have a gift and are making such a difference by owning and sharing this gift with the world. I am just floored by your candour, authenticity and courage--this is inspiring!! I hope we do meet in person one day soon, and in the meantime, know that I am sending so much love your way from our own snowstorm here in Montreal!!!


Hello, Adriana,

Thanks for reading my story, appreciating my World Pulse journey and my writing. You’re so sweet!

Oh, no, snowstorm! I’m sorry about that. Kindly take care of yourself there. Weird because we are having an El Niño in this side of the world. It’s hotter than the usual temperature we used to have approaching summer.

I think it’s easier for you to get a Philippine visa than I would a Canadian one. Please do message me when you want to visit our tropical islands. It would be a nice break from cold Canada.

Hugging you back!


Adriana Greenblatt
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thanks Karen! I will keep that warm invitation in the meantime keep writing sister....see how profound your impact is on here!!!


Aww. Thank you for your kind words, sister! I can always feel your positive energy. :) You bring a lot of encouragement to our sisters, too. Thanks for being here.

Paulina Nayra
Mar 11
Mar 11

You write well and speak convincingly, too. If I wasn't a WP member yet, I would sign up to World Pulse after hearing your story. You made it easy for women to express themselves, to confide in a larger community and assured them of a safe space for women. Well done my sister!

Thank you, Ate Pauline. I’m humbled by your kind words knowing that you are a great writer and a very articulate public speaker.

I learn a lot from your leadership and from the activities you’ve facilitated. Thank you for everything, Ate! You are such a blessing! :)