Monday Musing – Back!

MondayMusingsLogoA full week of silence is not only unacceptable but sad.  I have been trying very hard to be consistent with posting here, but juggling two corners of the web has been a bit of a struggle along with trying to keep two Etsy shops going.  I am trying to get back into a workable rhythm that will allow me to work all this multi-tasking seamlessly, but I haven’t quite settled into it just yet.  Trying.

They said when you don’t know what to write, it helps to revisit old habits and one of the things I’ve missed doing is writing under this banner, and to think it’s one of the easiest things to write about because it is a hodge podge of topics popping in my head as I write.  Anything goes, so they say.

UntitledThe return to Etsy.  So in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been busy setting up the return of two of my stores.  One has been my longstanding jewelry storefront, and the other, a fleeting foray into paper goods which I am now populating with handmade cards.  That’s GothamChick and PaperKrafts, respectively.

It isn’t all that difficult bringing GothamChick back up and running — primarily because I have the stocks to populate the store with.  PaperKrafts has me creating and posting simultaneously, and while it’s sometimes a mad rush to produce the items, photograph, edit and post, I’m enjoying putting out my handcrafted cards out there for people to hopefully buy and use.  It has also allowed me to revisit and use long forgotten art supplies I’ve had all this time, along with my Paper Flower Garden project I have been just drawing and cutting the last couple of months.

Coming up: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I’m happy and at the same time a bit frazzled by the fact that we are now entering the last quarter of the year.  2017 is just around the corner, and there are three major holidays coming up.

Halloween basically still figures as “major” because the boy is only 12 (and still thinking about a costume) and I live in a neighborhood where trick-or-treating is taken seriously.  Last year, I wore a costume and managed to surprise myself and not just a few trick-or-treaters with what I came up with, and I had vowed to do a costume this year.  After much thought, I think I’ve come up with something acceptable and I really should get started on pulling it together soon.  (Blog post coming.)

Thanksgiving is an “evolving” holiday for my boy and I, given that we are in the midst of a major transition in our lives.  I’m trying to make it low key given that, but it doesn’t mean we will not celebrate.  “How” is the bigger question — but there’s time to figure that one out.

And finally my favorite holiday of the year is coming, and again, during a major transition.  Last year, I promised Angelo we will really decorate this time, and I’m beginning to feel the pressure right now, but this should be a breeze.  I’m all excited just thinking about it!

Those Mondays that make you wish there was a third day to the weekend.  I almost didn’t want to get up until I remembered it was a work day, and I had promised myself I will try to make it to work early.  (Which, of course, didn’t happen despite my best efforts.)  The past week has been a tough one to handle in many respects, and I am really putting in the effort to try and take things as they come, without letting them weigh me down.

So I’m making a major push to get motivated and stay motivated so that I don’t lose my way.

There are just so many things going on in the background and I am trying to stay positive by shutting out the negative or the unknown.  It isn’t easy.  I think it’s human nature to worry and give in to anxiety — even if neither one actually helps us in any way.

Again, trying.

 

 

Opening school year blues

With the first (almost) full week of classes officially done, I guess you can say we’re back into the swing of things.  From school supplies to new backpacks and the routine of waking up the now seventh grader in the house, I know that summer is over.

Every year we have a ton of paper to fill out, and I just finished doing this year’s batch last night.  It makes me wonder if it won’t be easier for them to just ask if anything in the student’s  information has changed, but I realize now that would mean for missed information and a nightmare keeping up with around a thousand students annually.  Why am I complaining?

Out school supplies now come from each teacher, and while it is easier because you get a shorter list (which doesn’t include crayons or markers anymore, thankfully!), it can be difficult when the major subjects require a separate ring binder each.  I was so reieved to see two ask for composition notebooks instead, and one even asked for just a section of a binder.  Children complaining about back ache is not a good sign and speaks of the load they carry on their still growing spines!  For my part, I try to use the lighter binders to help ease his load.

School opening bluesThis year, he’s taller and his shoulders are beginning to get broader.  A hint of a moustache is already showing on his upper lip.  His voice cracks when he talks excitedly and now gets pitchy.  At around 5 feet tall, his shoe size is a whopping 9 1/2 and still growing.  (The dad has big feet.). His hands are no longer smaller than mine and I can feel the difference those few times when he reaches out for mine to hold it in his.  Still, I see a hint of “my little boy” in his eyes and voice when he utters “I love you, Mama” ever so affectionately from out of the blue.  I am praying that he never outgrows that part of him.

So the homework routine has started and kickstarting the new school year has been a bit of a challenge but we’re getting there.  Even he is aware that it’s a totally different ball game, and it requires adjusting anew.  There’s the usual check in at the end of the day and the constant reminder to get his backpack ready for school the following morning.  I sound like a broken record reminding him about keeping his keys and his bus pass in his backpack at all times.  Phone always charged 100% ! Turn on the ringer when you get home (!!)  Put away  your socks… and the list goes on and on.

It’s a routine that I both love and cherish for the special bond that brings us even closer.  We have done homework via the phone, facetime, texting and of course, me in the kitchen counter, and him on the dining table.  He knows there’s always the kindle app when he needs a book, and I’m trying to get him used to figuring out homework before calling out to me.

He has grown up.  A lot has changed.  He’s the same that he’s not.  My “tween” is almost a man, but I’d really like to keep him where he’s at for as long as I possibly can,  before I have to start looking up at him when scolding him.

Here’s to another school year.. let’s see what lies ahead.

Those Facebook Memories

I don’t do Facebook as often as I used to for several reasons, and I don’t usually catch much there given the number of friends I have racked up through the years.  While I am going to seriously trim that list at a future time, I have to make do with what I am able to catch when I open the app on my phone or those few times that I actually open it on my PC.

Don’t you just hate and love those Facebook memories that keep popping up? Love them for the warm memories they bring, and hate them for reminding me about how I looked and was so different years ago– I am truly happier with the older and better me now.   Sometimes being reminded of how our feelings and life in general have changed can be both good and bad.

But I was struck by how something I said 7 years ago has changed meaning from black to white. Definitions have evolved. Feelings have changed. The world is now so different. “Family” then is so different from what it is now. But while I thought I was happy then, I realize now that I am in a happier and better place.

Those Facebook memoriesOne thing those Facebook memories do for me is show me how my little guy has grown.  I have those pictures tucked in my virtual or hard drive somewhere, and I do gush and turn misty-eyed occasionally when I see him as a baby or a toddler, or even as a grade schooler… He HAS grown.    For those moments, I am grateful to Facebook.

The Daily Post: Mirror

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirrors

I call them glass canvasses.  They are like a dynamic blank screen that projects the world outside depending on the time of day.  I have a couple right by my place of work in New York City along the periphery of Bryant Park, and I have a few random shots that I took of a side mirror while in a car or of a reflection against a moving bus.  However, when I read the prompt that was posted last Friday just this Monday morning, I knew right away which photo I would post for this photo challenge .

Whenever I am in Manila, I take a lot of random photos while moving from place to place in a vehicle.  Street smarts in Manila dictate that shipping out your phone on a busy street would be a neon sign blinking “snatch me”, so I grab what shots I can in the safety of a car.  Sometimes I do get brave and do it while waiting on the sidewalk, but this was a shorter visit.  

This is the new Zuellig Building along Paseo De Roxas Avenue in Makati City, situated right where the old Mandarin Oriental Hotel used to be.  (Photo taken with my IPhone6, August 22, 2016).  My photo does not do it justice, but it encapsulates memories of this particular trip home in its reflection of clear blue skies during a trip that saw a lot of rainfall and cloudy days.  That’s home.

And the BER Months are here again..

The Philippines purportedly has the longest Christmas season which officially begins during the first “ber” month: September.  Christmas carols start playing on the radio, and Christmas decor start popping up in storefronts, and soon, in the streets and building facades all over.  That’s something I truly miss about home.  This goes on way past New Year’s with the Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of the year following January 1st.

While there are festivities and decorations here in New York, they are very neutral and muted compared to the “Christmas everywhere” feel back home.  First, not everyone celebrates Christmas here in New York — and with everyone trying to be politically correct about holidays and other sensitivities, the attempt at being festive falls short unlike back in Manila.

I am looking forward to a different kind of Christmas this year, although I am almost wary of making definite plans that far.  I am waiting on a life event that is still hanging in the balance to date, and until that comes to pass, everything remains a hope.  I had promised my little guy we will really go all out with the decor this year, but I had made that declaration thinking everything would have settled down by now.  It hasn’t.  So there..

I have always been big on Christmas.  Even when there wasn’t much to celebrate with, I celebrated it.  For one reason or another, my Christmas celebrations here in New York have not been as consistent.  It’s time to change that.  One time we were having our mother-and-son talks a couple of months ago, he asked if we could really decorate for the holidays.. as in REALLY.   I will never forget how my boy’s eyes lit up when I said yes.  That’s a promise I have to make good at.

It was chilly this morning as I walked to the bus stop.  I made a mental note to gather my sweaters and jackets now that the temperatures are dropping as we go into fall.  The coats?  Not quite there yet.   I just love the way the seasons goad us on to move forward, reminding us that nothing stops the world from spinning round and round.  That no matter how life may deal us a blow here and there, or how we find ourselves stumbling through each passing day, the world will keep turning and won’t stop spinning to give us time to regain our footing.  It’s up to us to pick ourselves up and keep going.

 

 

#16in2016: An update

16in2016 (2)So at the start of the year, I had written a list which, if I’m not mistaken, I haven’t really revisited yet.   It was something I wanted to be able to focus on, so much so that I created a page for it on my navigation bar.  It seems I haven’t really gone back — hence, this check in.   (That is, unless my search button is failing me miserably by not turning up the posts I’m looking for.)  With half the year done, I think it’s about time I revisited what I had written down there and just do a quick check of where I’m actually at.

First of all, I’m not going to make excuses.  I already saw at least one that is long overdue and still dormant (read: nowhere near done), but that is the point of going back to the list for a quick check.

Secondly, I’m just doing a random update once again just to check on my own progress and remind myself I had set these goals at the start of the year.  While there are posts that

1.  Read six books.  I am still struggling to read the first of the six but hope to get going once done.  Why the struggle?  Time?  My eyes?  (Of course, there is no excuse when you are not reading a hard copy, but the one I’m struggling with is one.)  I have not quite given up on this and will hopefully chalk up at least one by the end of September.  I have one classic to read with my little guy for the summer reading assignment, and that should count for one.  Maybe.

2. Plan my trip to Boston.  I have already coordinated with my friend that this will be a day trip.  Lunch in Boston?  That would be nice.  Targeted for the fall.

3. Learn something new via an actual class every quarter of 2016.  “Every quarter” was a bit ambitious, but I have attended one beginner sewing class and am about to enroll in the next class for the fall.  It’s a continuing learning experience working the sewing machine, and there’s the jewelry class on stringing that I am hoping to enroll in as well. (Too many classes!!)

4.  Watch at least 1 concert.  I have long given up on the Billy Joel concert I had hoped to catch… and this is not really one of those “Musts”… nice to have or do but not necessarily a dealbreaker.

5.  Go to the gym at least once a week — and maybe even earn a locker!  (Go 10x the previous month and you get YOUR OWN LOCKER the following month.) … next!

6. Lose another 10 lbs at least by April this year.  (Lost over 20 in 2014 and maintained my weight in 2015.)   It’s now August and I have gained and lost and gained and lost, but haven’t quite hit anything below the weight I had plateaued at. (Sp?)  I am just glad that I am able to get back into shape although I haven’t been as earnest about it as I had hoped to be.  I will say it again, I am a work in progress.

7. On positivity: Get the ball rolling on the Thank You Postcard Project – I just revisited the Instagram account I had set up for this and am seriously rethinking the project.  While one component of the undertaking which is my Paper Flower Garden has grown exponentially in the last couple of months, the very core which was a postcard project has been frozen in limbo.  I haven’t quite given up on doing it as I had originally intended to execute the project, but I am thinking I will need to rethink the whole thing to make it work this time.

8.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again.  This has been a year’s effort which has been thwarted by other undertakings that occupied my weekends.  I’m thinking that with the new sewing class on Saturdays, I might actually get to squeeze something in finally.   Perhaps restudy my old Fur Elise piece which I brought home with me or finally get to learn the “To Make You Feel My Love” piece I bought online.  Trying!

9.  Work more earnestly on my craft blog.  I have been trying to write more but have not been as earnest as I should be.  There is a lot riding on the craft blog with my plan to repopulate the shop and to do other projects related to it, so I have been trying to be more prolific on that side of the web.  Trying is still the operative word but at least it’s not as dead as it used to be.

10. Work on creating one piece every week, whether for sale in the shop, a gift for friends or to wear myself.  Travel and other projects have sort of slowed me down but I am getting ready to get crafting again.  I don’t think I’ve been that off the track with the one piece every week goal, but the fact is that I’ve been busy creating personal pieces rather than for the shop which is both good and bad.  At least I’m starting to create again, but with the holidays creeping up on us, it’s about time I started working on the shop more earnestly.  Also, a recent order (yay!) sort of work me up from a deep slumber reminding me I do have a shop I need to attend to!

11. Leave one pre-loved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read. I had hoped to choose the books and leave them out, and I will definitely do this by the fall.  I have been trying to get rid of the things I don’t need anymore, and this is definitely something that I want to do to get my books off to others who might appreciate them more.

12. Write one long hand letter or card every month.  This is the easiest so far!  Done, done and done!

13.  Start a new Art Journal.  I just found my art journal stashed away in my hiding place and just about ready to fall apart at the spine.  I still have a few pages left and am so determined to finish the current background pages, but I will definitely finish this before starting the new one.  First, I want to find the right book which will not fall apart like this one did — it will mean searching for an older, sturdier book in the coming weeks.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month beginning March.  The recent trip home saw me bringing a lot of things to give away and I have made major progress in this front.  There is still much to destash, and I am constantly sorting the ones to be given away.

15.  Write poetry again.   I have only done it once but I did put pen to paper and managed to write what was, on the outset what seemed to be a sad and heartrending poem — but which, in the end, actually rides on a high note that says I will be a better person after all is said and done.  While I would normally share my writings, this one remains too private and personal for me to share at this time — but I am so happy that I have opened my heart again to write anew.  It has been such a drought all these years — with nary a poem written until I found my voice again.  To have actually started writing again is already a giant step — to have finished the poem is actually quite an accomplishment in itself.  More to write soon!

16.  Celebrate my birthday by doing 50 feel-good deeds.  I haven’t been keeping track but I will do an update on this as well.  It’s an ongoing project, and it’s been moving on quite nicely, although I haven’t really been keeping tabs.  Oops. .. Some of it I have lost track of, but I will try and see where I’ve gotten with what I’ve done so far.

Not bad, don’t you think?

My summer thus far

Weeks of silence.

I have  been here and not here.  I just came back from two and a half weeks in Manila which was both long and short at the same time.  If I don’t seem to make sense as you read this post, blame it on the jetlag.

I landed just before midnight on Tuesday and was safely home after 1am the following day.  The trip is long but I’ve been doing this almost yearly the last 15 years.  It isn’t so much the butt ache that the long haul flight is, but more the pre and post heart ache of returning and leaving the land of my birth that makes a bigger impact on me each time.  This is going to be a yearly summer sojourn as the boy prefers to spend his summers with the cousins — foregoing the more festive and shorter trip home over the holidays.  This is already his second summer spent there.  We haven’t even gotten over the Jetlag yet and he is already asking to spend more time in Manila next year.  
manila

Business commitments and projects hanging over his head  made it difficult for the dad to schedule their departure.  He brings the boy down and the deal was for me to bring him back.  Last year, the boy spent seven weeks in Manila, departing right before the Fourth of July holiday just as school ended.  Two weeks with his father and then a two week lull spent with my family and cousins on the other side.  I arrived and spent three weeks with him and my family before we flew home together to New York just in time for the school opening.  This year, we decided to bring him back two weeks before school opens so that he can adjust back more easily.  Four days since we arrived and he and I are still heavily jet lagged and working as if we were still on Manila time.  I’m doing okay– he’s going to be fine.  

My summer has been about two trips across the globe to join and celebrate bestie Donna’s 50th with her family in Fiji and this one in Manila.  I can’t complain.  I usually would be happy with local trips and just one long splurge back home, but the golden year celebration paved the way for the two trips to warmer climes.  It’s not something I’m looking to do every year– but I am happy I gave it the effort to make it happen.  Besides the obvious personal treat to have more sun and fun with people who mean a lot to me, taking these trips are part of a transition to a new world that is taking shape right now.

Trips on the local side are also transforming into something different from the usual family vacations we used to take.  I am hoping to take more solo trips in the future, although my first day visit to Boston is still in the works.  (I am hoping to pull this off by the fall to visit my friend, Doctor Lisa).  One trip at a time.  My ability to travel is changing but not being curtailed, but it is a big adjustment I’m trying to make slowly.

Many years ago at a random hair appointment at a fancy salon in the city, the stylist who did my hair then planted an idea in my head about taking trips on my own.  That isn’t exactly something I had ever considered since moving to NYC in 2000 to start a family, and even when she mentioned it, it wasn’t exactly something that I thought I would ever think of doing.  But that was then.  My world is changing in ways that now make that thought actually appealing and maybe a necessity. and Fiji was the first such trip I took.  

This summer is a summer of firsts in that respect.  To actually be able to think about a vacation without my little guy is a bit of a stretch..and I did it!  I guess knowing bestie Donna was going to be there with her family really helped a lot. 
Fiji

Even during the trip home, I didn’t go about it as I normally did in previous years.  I didn’t plan for anything specific except that weekends would be saved for the family.  Secondly, I wanted to make a deliberate effort to see people I had many trips ago meant to see but never did for one reason or another. Instead of scheduling meet ups weeks ahead by announcing my arrival, I chose to stay quiet the first four days to maximize time at home, then I sent out the messages.  Some fot responses, and those that were met by silence, I simply dismissed as a result of people just being too busy.  Other friends I waited to say hello, and others I simply just didn’t have the time or resources to meet.  I kept things simple and scheduled from day to day.  I have never really been one to expect a grand asalto, and even coffee or a drink would suffice.  I was deeply touched that my godson and his wife even flew in from Cebu where they are now based to see me.  And friends from way back indulged my simple requests to have my favorite treats.

One thing I had to do this trip was to plan my expenses properly due to budget constraints.  Where I would normally pick up the tab, I had to opt out of for practical reasons.  I even decided to forego my usual craft haul shopping — something that wasn’t really difficult to do, given how I still have a ton of supplies here in New York.  I did look around for local handmade fabric for my sewing projects, but the rains were not much help in getting around.  

All in all, it has been a productive summer for me.  I can even say at this point that I can safely put a dot to the sentence of summer 2016 without feeling like it just passed by uneventfully.  I am still not quite where I had hoped to be in terms of the year-long goals I had, but I have certain obstacles in my way I have no control of.  I’m not sweating it.  I think I did pretty well even, compared to Summers past.  

I’m sort of in between phases in my life which seems to be quite a long winded refrain I keep coming back to— but that’s the truth.  So I have been doing new things and shedding practices of the past, trying to move forward each day.  This summer might yet be unique if only for that– as I hope that I will have crossed fully to the next phase by the time the seasons bring me to this time next year. 

In the meantime, summer is not yet totally over.  Let’s see what happens the next few weeks as we head into fall.