17 in 2017

And so we’re on year three!

I started something in 2015 which saw me going back and forth to a list I had written at the end of the year before (2014).  I didn’t want to just write the so-called New Year’s Resolutions that often get broken or forgotten at the very least.  It was a list of goals I wanted to accomplish — from the mundane and ordinary to first time things I wanted to do.  I did periodic updates and tried to be guided by that list, and while I didn’t quite get to successfully accomplish all of them, having the tasks served as a reminder of my focus for the year.  So here is this year’s list, partly taken from the previous year’s.

1.  Read six books. – Take two.  Just finished last year’s second book which, I guess, I’m counting as my first for 2017.  While I had promised myself I wouldn’t get any new books until I had sufficiently gone through my current stack of books, two colleagues had recommended one written by a former CEO of the company I work for.  So yes, I am into that now, and I am just so stoked by how the reading seems to be getting on at this point.  I might actually do better in 2017 if I keep up this pace.  (#6BooksIn2017)

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – Last year, I had specified Boston as a destination, only to find myself flying all the way down under to Fiji to meet with my high school BFF, Donna, who also turned 50.  I met up with her and her family and we had a grand time just catching up and celebrating together.

Although I am planning a vacation with her again sometime end of the year, I’d like to make a simpler plan closer to home, but outside the immediate environs of New York.  So anywhere outside the tri-state area will do.  One trip, that’s all.  Keeping it simple and open ended like that is easier to aim for.

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  I already know that I want to learn how to properly knit, and I am just trying to find the time to actually do this over at the Lion Brand Yarn Studios here in Manhattan.  I would also like to learn another language, but not have to pay for it.  (Yes, I’m being a cheapskate, but these classes can be expensive!)  And there’s the Intermediate sewing class which I skipped as the third installment of classes last year at MoodU over at Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan.  As you can see, my learning calendar is in pretty good shape, so it’s all a matter of really getting down to it.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  Exercising.  What’s that again?  LOL  No more excuses, and hoping to give it more effort.  I had better luck with the weight control last year compared to the year before that, except that the trip to Fiji and all those full breakfast buffets made me gain 10 lbs.  The good news is I have a better grip on the weight loss effort, so I’ve been able to lose the weight.  The downside is, I have failed to break my plateau (which is top secret!) and I am hoping that I finally get to do that in 2017.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  A New Yorker for almost 17 years now and yet I cannot boast of being a Central Park regular all year round.  And note that I have always worked within walking distance of the park, although it’s a good 20-25 minutes away from my Midtown perch.  I keep missing Spring when it’s supposed to be the second most colorful season of the year.  To some, it actually IS the most colorful, but I am a fan of fall.  I have done winter two years ago, and although it was at the tail end of the season, it actually snowed.  I am a regular in the fall, and one summer, I couldn’t go beyond the periphery because it was too hot, but I WAS there.  I have been wanting to do Spring all these years — maybe this year, finally.

6. Crafting reboot.  Crafting calendar.  This is one area where I am having quite the jumpstart with me sorting out my supplies and actually creating new designs.  

I have been crocheting winter accessories since late last year and have so far NOT bought a single piece.  All my hats and scarves and now fingerless gloves are my own handmade creations. The leather gloves and fabric scarves are all from last season.  I haven’t even used my blanket scarf yet.  

I have been rediscovering my beads and freshwater pearls and am having such a spike in creativity.  Hopefully, this will translate to items for posting in the shop.

7. Destash more systematically. It has always been difficult for me to throw things away, so last year, I came up with the idea of destashing by giving away things I no longer use.  

I’ve set aside a box where I will put away the things that I want to give away and label them accordingly.  To make it a conscious effort as well, I am going to record what I actually give away.  I’m going by the simple rule of thumb that if I  hadn’t used or touched something for a year, I will find someone who can make better use of it.

8. Finish the Gift of 50 and begin the Gift of 51.  Sometime before I turned 50 in April, I wrote about doing 50 good deeds.  I have to sit down and list what I have already done so far, and while most will be repetitions (like literal gifts in the name of #GiftOf50), I have certain tasks to complete which I hope I can help to complete it.  And of course, I turn 51 this April.  Hence, the next list.  

I want to be able to do more as. I get older and be more deliberate about it, rather than just keeping a rule of thumb of being kind to others.  Kindness is an abstract concept that we need to see more concretely.

9.  Write more.  

For starters, I want to set a goal of posting once a week in the blogs.   (Which is principally this one and my craft blog.) I know I might be giving people the impression that I write a lot, but I am often hit by the disappointment of finding too long a stretch between posts.  I am trying to approach this with more discipline, and at the same time weave it into my other social networking efforts to boost my internet presence.  No, it’s not a late blooming need to be a media celebrity — I just want to maximize my brand as a small business with the Etsy Shops (GothamChick and PaperKrafts), and hopefully get some revenues rolling in.

Work on my other social networking accounts by doing scheduled posts at least once a week.  Am I spreading myself too thin?  I think not.  I can write, and I have something to write about, and I’m trying to explore other avenues to grow as a writer and an entrepreneur.  I’ve found that online presence is integral to self-promotion, and I have passed up so many opportunities that might have been economically viable if I just went about it with my marketing savvy.  (Yes, once upon a time, I was into marketing and advertising.. public relations included.)

Resume my handwritten projects.   2016 came and went with nary a post in my art journal which caught me by surprise when I opened it to begin writing again.  It never even occurred to me that I had not written anything there at all.  I have to admit that I am one of those people who still prefer to write things long hand.  While typing things out allows me to keep pace with transcribing my thoughts as they race through my mind — there is a different creativity spurred by the literal written word.  One thing I hope to do is carry tiny notebooks made from scratch paper that I can pull out of my bag and write on wherever and whenever the inspiration hits me.  I tried it with post its and it didn’t quite work.

Bestie Dino also suggested that if I meant to write my book (an ambitious project that has been burning in my being for ages now..), I should keep my handwritten drafts.  So keep them, I will.  That’s why I’m trying to keep the scratch notebooks a decent size so I can eventually compile them into bound material that I can keep for posterity.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  – That means 52 pieces for the year.. easily doable!  I might even start something here or on my Instagram account with #GothamChickOnSnailMail.

11. Finish my art journal, begin a new one. –  Like I said, I was surprised and saddened to see that I had NOT written anything in 2016.  So surprised because I had basically pulled that art journal together in 2013, but had written the bulk of its content in 2014 and 2015.  I have at least the first two months of the year to put into what’s left of the current journal and then I can begin the next.  I’m even thinking of actually doing a loose one and then “binding” the pages together later, creating a journal from scratch.  The first one was an altered book which was an experiment of sorts and a first for me, but it is now falling apart.  I will end up rebinding it anyway, so why go through that again if I can pull a journal to write on using recycled materials?  (#ArtJournal2017)

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  I have friends who constantly tell me about new places to try and visit… I keep hearing about things to do or goods to sample.  I have a separate account on Instagram under the banner of @GothamChickShopper which I had put up specifically to make product recommendations and all that.  A blog exists somewhere under a similar banner inmy main account, but I really haven’t done much.  (Writing here has been such an effort as it is, so I thought Instagram would be easier to maintain.). 

But we keep wanting to do all these things without even really trying and suddenly, we find ourselves losing time and we end up with the “want” being just an “afterthought”.   I want to have more of the “done that” instead.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  I am a postcard collector and I’d like to think I take good photographs.  Of course I’m biased.. but one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to actually be able to make my own postcards — as in printed and not handmade — as a means of taking my postcard collecting a step up.
14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I have always had a love affair with lighthouses, and not only in postcards as one of my collecting interests.  There was a time when I took vacations when we would seek out lighthouses in the area and actually visit them.  I don’t remember now when the last time was that I saw one or visited one, so I think it would be nice to actually aim to visit one this year. 

I have visited the famed Montauk lighthouse many times, but there are several near me I can actually aim to see in person soon.  This should be one of the simpler ones.

15.  Encode my poetry.  I started writing poetry at age 7, and I have surprisingly been able to keep the scraps of paper and assortment of notebooks and journals I had written them on.  I even brought them here to New York during one of my trips returning for a vacation in Manila.  They show the evolution of my penmanship, the maturing of my inner voice, and the change in writing style and depth.  From pencil scribblings to typewritten compilations, I have them tucked away.  

Encoding them into a private website or maybe even a public one will take time, but I want to start doing that this year.

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts.   A blog friend recently left a comment after visiting and was so surprised that I was still writing.  We have never met but used to be part of an unofficial community of Filipinos who blog at a personal level.  I enjoyed reading about their hobbies, life events, and day-to-day rants and raves.  It was all about the writer writing what he or she wanted.  I found out he’s reviving his blog which makes me happy– and I look forward to that and more.. but that’s another post.

As a blog reader, I try to steer clear of blogs which have a commercial slant, because then you find yourself reading advertorials and soft sell pitches which can be educational and entertaining, but aren’t my cup of tea.  

I like learning about and getting to know people in their writing.  Visiting a blog, to me, is like visiting a very intimate part of the writer that is usually not as obvious even when you are standing next to each other.  I should really browse more.  

I also enjoy the entertainment that Instagram brings and as I try to grow my own following, I’m trying to discover more Filipinos in that social media platform and go back home via their posts. 

I haven’t quite decided if I will revive my blog roll, but I am thinking of that.  (again, that’s another blog post!)

 17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  This is a very personal cause close to my heart, because it is a cause my mother has pursued time and again.  She hails from a small town in Bulan, Sorsogon in the beautiful southern province of Bicol.  She was born and raised there but had to leave early on to work and help support the education of her two younger brothers.  

I had the chance to visit several times in my youth, but I haven’t back in ages.  She now lives there and has built a modest home I hope to one day visit.  Every year, she would throw a simple party for the children and try and get them a new outfit for Christmas.  This can be a hundred or so children of different ages.  For many, it is the only time that they get to attend a party where they eat some spaghetti and a ham sandwich, and maybe some candy in a loot bag.  When she was still earning, these parties were funded from out of her own pocket.  These days, she solicits (mostly from us, her children) and still comes up with a simple celebration, although she has missed the last two Christmases.  Maybe this year, we can bring it back.

So there goes this year’s list.  A tad ambitious but hoping for at least half.. 

Here’s to an even brighter and better 2017!

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The Gift of 50 – an Update

So the new year is upon us and my 50th year on this earth is more than halfway done.  Time to do this more systematically, so in the following weeks down to the first week of April, I’m hoping to do a report on the specific tasks I have set out under this banner.  I had written about the idea rather haphazardly in February of last year, and then I had updated this as of the 13th of April.  There are already a few I had sent out and done, but which, I have not been able to write about.

As I write this, I actually have around 4 in the works, and I hope to send out more after the weekend.

Back in February, I wrote:

We always underestimate our ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.  And I think that we have to start thinking small and doing things that are easier but not any less impactful than the millionaire philanthropists out there who can change tides in one fell swoop.  A simple greeting in the morning can change the way someone’s day turns out.  I know it has worked for me, so I imagine it can mean something to others as well.

I know it sounds so cliche to say that we can all make a difference.  But we actually can.  And I think we’ll all be more successful in doing that if we start thinking about the everyday things we can do and do them more often.

There is a sense of purpose that goads me into actually doing this, and sometimes, just seeing a smile on someone’s face is enough to keep me going.  Knowing that something I want to discard can actually make a difference in someone else’s collection makes me stop and put that something aside.

I still can’t help but wish I could do more, and in time, I will.  There is always the next year.. let’s take care of this one first.

This blog has a page dedicated to this topic for regular updating.  I haven’t been too good with that but I’m trying to keep up and catch up.

16 in 2016: The Final Report

I had long ago resolved not to make excuses for not being able to deliver.  I used to be so hard on myself that I refused to swear or make promises I knew I would have a hard time keeping.  So I tried, and I learned along the way.  Just days to the weekend and the end of 2016, here’s the final tally before I put up 17 in 2017.

I did find it useful to have this list of goals to guide me through the year, and while I did not accomplish much from the list, there were a lot of other things that I managed to chalk up as a point towards doing something.  I wouldn’t consider the list a total failure.  On the contrary, it was a good list to go by, and to aim for, and I’m pretty happy with that.

1. Read six books. How many books did I actually manage to read?  One.  And even if I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, I’m actually still not quite finished reading it yet.  (Oops.)  I owe five more on this, but I will stick with 6… who knows?   Reading Never Let Me GoAt least the good news is that I’m still reading and that I managed to chalk up at least one book.  I have a half dozen others lined up, so all hope is not lost.  And yes, this makes it back on the next list, and I’m sticking with 6 again.  I am always optimistic that I will find the time to get to my book pile and actually get my reading list going.

It’s not even about getting more books because I do have the books!  It’s more about finding the time and the energy to constantly move from page to page and chapter to chapter, and hopefully eventually, from book to book.

2. Plan my trip to Boston. While I had started the year thinking I’d do my first trip alone to Boston, a bigger trip actually took its place with my first ever solo vacation to meet up with BFF Donna and her family in Fiji, so I guess you can say I just went a notch higher with this one.
Another day in paradise... @warwickfiji @warwickhotels #warwickhotels #warwickfiji #DinnaDonnaAt50 #GothamChickInFiji #FijiAdventures #filipinosInFiji #pinaynewyorker #PinayNewYorkerInFIJI #BarangayJimenoPlusOne #FIJImeno #FijiPinoy

Traveling is something that I wish I could do more.  But when you think about the cost and the effort in terms of setting aside time out of my vacation bank, it’s not an easy plan to execute.  Plus, there’s the problem of my little one.  (Well, not so little one anymore, but still..)  School calendars can be quite the challenge, even when I’m not taking him with me.  It means timing vacations so they don’t coincide with any major projects or tests.

On the drawing board is a similar plan towards the latter part of 2017, somewhere in the same direction, not necessarily heading home.  I’m thinking I will plan a day trip or two as well.

3. Learn something new via an actual class every quarter of 2016.  Two classes in two quarters.  Not bad.

So there was the beginner sewing class, followed by the intermediate sewing class, both at Mood University over at Mood Fabrics.  There is a third Advanced sewing class which I decided to forego because I wanted to create another coat, and maybe yet another, so I’m putting the next class on hold until maybe summer 2017.
Mood U NYC sewing class

There is a lot beyond sewing that I want to get on with, so I’m hoping to make a more realistic goal of doing another two classes for the year, including perhaps a language class.  Maybe.

4.  Watch at least 1 concert. This was a little harder to pull off.  First, I completely forgot about it.  Secondly, I was torn between trying to organize something I can do with a friend (or two) or maybe, as one list suggested, do this on my own.  That should be an interesting option if I do go alone.  We’ll see.

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.) Epic fail.  And I won’t waste space or effort writing about this… (crawling away..)

6. Lose another 10 lbs at least by April 2016.  (Lost over 20 in 2014 and maintained my weight in 2015.)  I did lose it but after gaining 10 and lost it again and gained it again and shed it.

Rather than bore you with the details of my perpetual dieting efforts, let me just say that I’m ending the year in not so bad a place — just where I started, at a good weight, but unable to lose further.

This time last year, I had gained at least 5 lbs from all the holiday bingeing.  (Not sure about the spelling.. but you know what I mean.)  I think I’ve managed to get a better grip on it because despite the parties and the cocktails and the occasional weight gain, I’ve managed to cut the gain before it went out of hand and work towards going back to my usual.

I’m there and hoping to push that further down, and who knows.  I might yet achieve this coming April what I had set out to do the previous one.

7. On positivity: Get the ball rolling on the Thank You Postcard Project. The greatest difficulty I had with this task is I have been unable to concretely define what it is that I want to do with it.  I had started the postcards, even carved out a site, but this was before I got heavily involved with Instagram, and I’m thinking now that I would want to keep that supported there instead.  Do I do a fundraiser?  Send out random postcards?  Set up trades?  I am hoping to finish figuring this one out the first quarter of the coming year and finally get it going.

8.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again. – I guess I just wasn’t too focused or keen on this, but it is still a thought in the corner of my mind.  I had even bought piano pieces.  Still a good goal to shoot for.. so let’s see.

9.  Work more earnestly on my craft blog.  – Considering the long haiatus that the blog had suffered from the last couple of years, I think I’ve done better in 2016, but hope to do better this coming year.  I am actually drafting a post as I’m writing this, and I’m actively crafting for personal use even if not for the shop.  The traffic on the site is still pretty sad, but I’m hoping to have that pick up with more relatable craft posts (do those even exist?) and better social media marketing.  (Effort is key.)

Unlike this site which is all about me, myself and I — the other site has a focus I need to better develop, and a media calendar will actually help.  I will also try to spotlight the many creative things I find myself doing throughout the year that are just ordinary but might be useful for others.  (i.e., recycling?  repurposing.)

10. Work on creating one piece every week, whether for sale in the shop, a gift for friends or to wear myself.  – I’d like to think that creating again has helped, but I’ve tended to go and sit for extended periods of time with longer lulls in between, and create maybe 3 to 5 pieces.  I’m also looking at the weekly goal as a tad too much pressure, so I’m trying to figure out a more reasonable calendar to go by.

11. Leave one pre-loved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read.  – I have resolved to choose my 12 books for 2016, then leave them out in the open all together in January.  I might even incorporate a game of sorts into this by announcing on Instagram and Twitter, where the book will be.   It’s all about getting those books out there, instead of letting them accumulate dust in my shelf.  It’s even harder now that the shelf has been taken over by a geeky 12-year-old’s collection of action figures and graphic novels aka comic books.  I’m being edged out!

And here’s one for  you — you’d think I’m destashing so I wouldn’t be one to grab a book left out for others to take somewhere in the office — because I can’t even read the books I already have, but this was by a famous author so why leave it there?  (I know… maybe one or two of the three should go with the 12 that will hopefully find a home.)

12. Write one long hand letter or card every month. –  Again, the chance to make up for this one means 12 letters going out with my new year’s greeting card.  Need to list the 12, then write the 12 letters.

13.  Start a new Art Journal.  – While I had hoped to finish my art journal first, I think I have to earnestly work on beginning the next one soon.  I have learned from the previous book and have to go on a quest to find the right book that’s sewn together instead of glued together like the more modern hardbound books everywhere.  I wouldn’t mind something a bit bigger as well.  And of course, I need to bind the first book properly as it’s now busting out from the seams.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month beginning March.  I had hoped to do better with this but have been so bad beyond one major destash when I went home to Manila (a lot of postcards and other ephemera found other homes..).  I refuse to count the preloved clothes and accessories that I had brought or sent to my family as well, because that’s something I do every year.

I think I have to start by identifying an initial list and making sure all that is given away.

15.  Write poetry again. – This was a big success personally, even if I ended up writing only one poem.  It was so deeply touching that I have chosen to keep it private for now.  But at least I can fearlessly proclaim that yes, I did it.

16.  Celebrate my birthday by doing 50 feel-good deeds.  So this is the reason I’m tagging myself a “golden girl”, because I truly am.  I am still in celebration mode and have actually had some measure of success with this particular part of list.  I am not sure that I can make an actual list of 50, but the deeds I have done in the name of that banner have been ongoing and will hopefully be something I will be happy with when 51 comes knocking in April.

It’s not really anything out of the ordinary, but I’ve made a point of trying to go the extra mile, and being conscious of doing something extra generous as I go about my day.  I’m going to tweak this a bit for 2017 and keep at it.

So there’s my 16 in 2016, and like I said at the beginning of the post, I’m pretty happy with where I landed.  It wasn’t so much that I was able to tick off a lot off of the list, but having the list and trying to work with it has taught me a lot of things about what I wanted to do and how far I’ve come.

More than resolutions, they were plain and simple goals that I set out to accomplish.  Watch out for the next one for 2017.  Happy new year!

 

 

 

Holiday workaround

Last Christmas, (No, I didn’t give anyone my heart as the song goes..), I had promised myself and my little guy that we would really celebrate and decorate for Christmas this year.  The past two christmases before that (in 2013 and 2014) were spent differently and not in our usual way, and I wanted to set things right eventually.  I had hoped it would be this year, but it wasn’t to be.

It was one of those things that you expected would come to pass but did not.  So here we are where we were last year, and I am making the same promise to my little guy for 2017.  Keeping my fingers crossed that next year will see it happening.

So my holiday card, I have decided, will be a new year greeting.  Last year, my boss received a holiday card from one of his fellow Board of Trustees member in one of the more popular children’s non profits he is involved with, and besides the usual greeting, there were a dozen or so blurbs giving an update on the sender and his family.  I thought that was a nice way to reach out to friends and family and sort of give them an update on what’s been happening in my and my little guy’s life.  I am working on that card already.

While I had planned on putting up an extra robustly decorated Christmas tree this year, my tree, as it happens, just went up this previous weekend.  Precious lesson learned was that yes, I could actually bring down the box it down from the attic and not fall and break my neck.  I found the lights and put them on the tree.  I had enough to make it look festive enough sans the Christmas balls so we decided to leave it at that.

I had hoped to create holiday lanterns in the Filipino tradition, but again, it didn’t happen.  Next year, yes!

I thought I had planned things out well enough that I had even created a craft calendar.  Again, life interfered with getting much done according to how I had planned it, but I’m just hoping for better luck keeping with it next year.

The Bryant Park Winter Village Christmas Tree 2016

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and I love the decorating and celebrating and just soaking up all that Yule spirit.  New York tends to be a more sedate Christmas experience (compared to over-the-top festive Manila)  because half the town celebrates Chanukkah (hence, the sea of blue and menorahs everywhere).   Still, there is the neutral and more pagan side of the holiday that sees our beautiful city getting into the spirit of things with all the trees around.  

While part of me is being held back from getting into the full swing of things this year, Christmas is Christmas to me for many reasons.. and it will always be my favorite time of the year, holiday workaround or not.

Merry Christmas to you all..

My weekend 

Midday Shadows in NYC. Awestruck and speechless.. thinking about the things and people I miss, but missing them all in a good way-- with happy thoughts and memories and promises of more. #nyc #mynewyork #mynyc #manhattan #midtown #midtownmanhattan #newyI started writing this post Friday but had early on decided it wouldn’t be a “Friday Five” post.  Yes, that’s me, pretending to go against the norm.

The previous week had seen me working hard and I was mentally and physically exhausted as my weekend began.  So this weekend was all about more planning and getting ready for yet another long week ahead.  I was hoping to put up my Christmas tree (– note that the goal was to put it up, not decorate it yet), but that didn’t happen.  I have been trying to decide on my Christmas card (to make or to print?) but I have the idea but have a lot of refining to do on that end.  I had hoped to find and finish some jewelry pieces (for me, and to give as gifts) but I had gotten so wrapped up watching “Westworld” and catching up on “This is Us” that you guessed it, I didn’t quite get to even beginning.

I had been lugging my book in my tote all week but only to move less than a dozen pages, and I said to myself, there will surely be time to read this weekend — and again, I was wrong.  Sometimes we start the weekend with all these grand plans and find ourselves nowhere near getting to any of those things we thought we would be able to do.  I used to feel so disappointed, but I have learned that lists, at most, are for guidance.  Weekends are supposed to be a time to chill, and chill, I did.

We’re counting days to 2017 and I’m kind of sad to see 2016 go with so many things still up in the air… I have to move in one direction or other, not out of necessity or desire to, but because the world is just moving faster than me.  And it’s not about pushing or being pushed– life just doesn’t stop for anyone.  So while I don’t always move in the way and towards that which I want, I try to keep moving and to keep going.

So I went down to the city to do some errands and get my week started early this gorgeous Sunday.  For once, the bus was not rerouted, and we actually made it in on time.  And for the first time in many weeks, I got my fromage (cheese) dinner rolls from Madison Kayser.  Happiness that was under $2!!  I would have wanted to sit down and have my French Onion Soup, but I didn’t have the time.  I really didn’t have much time for everything I had wanted to do which would’ve required a day and a half but I got to do enough to make it feel like real “me time”.

I guess that’s the reason why I don’t feel like the entire weekend flew by with nothing accomplished.  I was able to spend time to do some things that were solely all about me.  That makes for a weekend well spent — and a productive one, at that– for me.  Hope yours was, too.

Monday Musings: Brussel Sprouts, etc.

Monday musingsTrying to get the ball rolling without reinventing the wheel, so to speak.  Back to my old staple Monday post of short blurbs that don’t necessarily focus on any particular theme.  I try to list 3-5 (or more) blog worthy thoughts that would make for a paragraph or two, but not quite a whole article.

Early start.  My Monday started out rather early at past 4am when my body clock (or the extreme heat in the room) woke me up.  I have a small fan beside me which is usually off and I switched it on and tried to go back to sleep without much success.  Perhaps it was my subconscious mind reminding me I didn’t turn the alarm on my phone on, or I could just be plain excited to start the week.  I loved the long weekend but sometimes a staycation tends to wear you down.  I did get a lot accomplished so I am happy, and I’m all set for the week ahead.  Besides, I always enjoy the quiet and the stillness of a sleeping house.  It actually helps me to focus on centering my thoughts and starting off the day on a more balanced footing.

Brussel sprouts, my new fave.  I was one of those kids who would refuse to eat vegetables but was forced to.  As I grew older, I developed an acquired taste for certain flavors, but I knew I would never be a vegetarian.  While I try to stay conscious of my friends’ dietary restrictions, I also tune in to likes and dislikes when I get the chance to dine with them.  Earlier this year, a friend turned me into loving brussel sprouts when I was deciding on my birthday luncheon menu.  I only had two sides, and brussel sprouts became one of them. I got hooked.  So this weekend I cooked up a meal of fillet mignon steaks and picked two sides from the grocery deli — one being the roasted brussel sprouts.  Even with no frills, it’s a filling flavorful dish to accompany any entree.  I swirled it in the pan juices of the steak to heat it up and it certainly made for quite the delectable pair to my choice cut.  Try it!

Slouchy beanie crazy.  I have a full post on this in the works on my craft blog, GothamChick, but I have yet to finish it.  Sometimes, waiting for the right graphics can really delay me, but I’m trying to get this going.  I’m on beanie number 4, this time for Jared, the son of girlfriend Lisa, and I am planning to start on beanie number 5, number 4 for me.  I finally have hair long enough to pull it off and I like the way a slouchy beanie will keep you warm without the threat of hat hair!  I’m currently adjusting needle size to the yarn used, and while I have been undoing stitches all the way to the beginning, it’s an easy enough pattern to adjust and play around with.  Temperatures are dropping and rising in NYC these days, so I always have my hat and gloves in the bag just to be sure I’m all set.

Reading on.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have been so bad with my goal to read 6 books this year.  I am still crawling through my first book, which was one of the gifts I got in April.  I’m hoping to finish “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro in the next couple of days and get that list moving, even with just little steps.

Another post to start the week off right.. keeping my fingers crossed I can keep this going..

Thankful (2016)

I have been floating around the web but not really quite here to finish a post.  I look at my draft box and see a slew of articles in the works, but none quite good enough to publish just yet.  So don’t be surprised if one day you find 5 or so posts published one after another.  There are as many and more in the works.  This time around, I am promising to hit “publish” in one sitting, graphics or no graphics– with on-the-spot edits.

I have been writing, but life in general has been grabbing me in so many different directions I have had a difficulty focusing.  Well, apparently, save for the annual thanksgiving post I usually get to write.  It helps that I had an instagram post on this which has inspired me to just expand on that, if only to keep with tradition.

I have never really been big on Thanksgiving, and being where I am right now at this point in my life has put major celebrations on hold — at least until that time when I can move on to the next phase unencumbered.  But while we don’t really celebrate this in my home, I can say for a fact I do celebrate it in my heart.

I have always been an advocate for everyone taking the time to stop and appreciate the blessings that one has in their lives.  I think a lot of people live in a perpetual state of unhappiness or sadness (two different things!) because they refuse to do just that.  One of the lessons of recent years I have taken to heart is that acknowledging that which you have will help you get over that which you don’t.  And here I speak both of material and non-material things, and yes, even people.

I skipped writing on Thanksgiving day itself as I got messsage after message greeting me with all these well wishes.  For all the messages I got, thank you.  The most heartwarming was the one that said “when I count my blessings, I count you twice.”  There are those people who shower us with so much love and affection that their very presence gives us reason to be happy.  And truth be told, sometimes a simple acknowledgment is all it takes to give that person a hug back.  For that hug to the heart, I am most grateful.. because that lets me know that though much is left unsaid, I am special.

And although I give thanks for having him in my life everyday, I am forever grateful that I have my (not-so) little guy to hold my hand.. who can hold me shoulder-to-shoulder now as we walk and who always looks at me with such love and affection, saying “Mama, you’re so sexy!”  

I am thankful for the scale that tells me I’ve been good (yay!) — ready to move ahead and try to push myself further to break my constant plateau.  Two vacations this year to Fiji and Manila made me gain over 10lbs each time, and trying to push that down back to my usual weight has forever been a struggle, and I’m happy my efforts have paid off.

Everyday, I am grateful for the family that may be on the other side of the world but whose love is just a heartbeat away.. for friends who make me smile and who assure me I’m okay right here where I am.  I have been lucky to have the right people in my life right now — who, even when we don’t see each other or keep constantly in touch, are always there.  I have selfies and photos galore, snippets of laughter and twitchy noses in my mind which surface time and again to remind me I have much to be thankful for.  People who will pop in with a sweet hello or a morning text with a virtual hug — which always helps me start my day right.  Or a simple “GM” before getting on with their own respective crazy days.

Being so far away from home (Manila) used to be so heavy on the heart when the homesickness crept in, but the past months have found me meeting new friends and reaffirming old friendships — making my place on this side of the world just a little cozier.  Be it through the sewing classes or through drinks or lunch, we connect and stay connected.

I celebrated my 50th birthday in April with a dozen guests who were the people who truly mattered– and who made my birthday a meaningful celebration.  It started a yearlong celebration of thanks for all that I have and continue to be blessed with at this point in my life.  There were those who weren’t here but who meant as much, if not more.  Their presence in my life continues to keep me going, even if they are just there– in my heart.

And I am grateful that there are people who have touched me in a myriad of ways that have helped me to know myself better– be it for words that were said, experiences shared, or simply for walking in ever so casually and changing the colors in the frame just by being in it.  For those simple acts of kindness like a message scribbled on a piece of paper,  or a warm and tender touch to say I’m okay, I say thanks.  It has made the ride more fun and interesting, and has given me something to truly smile about even if only but for a fleeting moment.

I am grateful for each day that promises me a new beginning, no matter how chaotic my world may be at any given time.  In the silence of each morning as I wake up before everyone in the house does, I try to frame it as a fresh start to try and make things right, or to continue to go on with whatever is good in my life.

And although I wish I had more time and energy to write, I am thankful for the gift of words to say thank you to those souls who make my otherwise ordinary life simply fabulous by being a part of it… I know I am blessed many times over, and every day I live I try to cherish that which I have and let go of the things I can’t and don’t– Thanksgiving or not.