Sunday and moving?

I like Sundays. I don’t have to rush through breakfast and I can actually sit here at the breakfast counter and relax. And blog.

I am seriously thinking of moving this blog to another server or upgrading — and both options pose challenges. I’m pretty happy with the free platform but I’ve noticed that I often get a message that the server is busy and my site is unavailable. Another problem I’ve had is that Chrome seems to detect malware or a virus when I try to put a linky to my site on one of my favorite blogs to broadcast an art journal entry — which probably means some people are also getting a warning when they try to access my site. I am seriously considering paying for my space here on the blog server but I am wary about continuing to have problems even after that. Dilemma.

I have tried migrating the blog, but with 2,000+ posts, the server is unable to pull the .xml file that will allow me to ” bring” everything to the next platform. Hmmmmm… While I am mulling about these decisions, I’d like to give my now 7 readers the heads up to please access the blog through it’s domain, pinaynewyorker.com which should bring you to wherever the blog should move to. (IF it even moves.)

So maybe I’ll stay put for now.

I have a busy Sunday at home as I try to put a semblance of order to my working space up in the attic and here in the living room. I am going to be sorting through some of my things, particularly old postcards to give away and trade. We also got a shelf of sorts to “house” my crafting supplies. I just wish that Angelo is not actually coming down with something because he was a little warm (but not even a slight fever) and nursing a cold this morning. No school for us Monday and Tuesday because of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I wouldn’t want him not feeling well through what would be one of the rare long weekends between now and Thanksgiving in November.

Time for me to start working in the attic. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of my watercolor collage garden.

Watercolor and ink: Flowers

Scraps and My "Happiness" Journal: A Happy Life

I hate throwing away paper.  In fact I’ve been rather careful saving the bits and pieces of My Altered Book (a.k.a. My Happiness Journal) that I’ve been cutting out.  They might come in handy for “repairs” or do-overs, or I might need them for a totally unrelated layout.  Paper is paper.  When I like working with a certain “surface” or texture, I will save even the cut-outs.

I have painted flowers on such scrap papers with watercolor, drawn and defined them with a sign pen and then cut them out.  The idea is to use these flowers (most of them cartoon-like and whimsical) as embellishments for the “happy” pages of my book.  While I was doing these flowers, I was rather pleased with the way they came out and I am seriously thinking of doing a video of how I produced these embellishments.  Nothing so out of the ordinary, but rather a video for non-artists like myself to show that hey, we CAN do this, too, even if we don’t have the skill and talent of those artists whose works and layouts we drool over.

I even finished a card that is now on its way to my dear, dear friend P.  Watercolor background, and a collage of layered watercolored flowers.

Hand-painted card for P

One thing I’ve learned is that it helps to browse these great pages and look at the beautiful layouts of the real artists for inspiration.  While I cannot duplicate nor equal those masterpieces, they show me what colors I can look at working with, what styles I can try — and then render them in my own way, crude as it may be.  I try not to pressure myself about producing masterpieces — I just have fun.  (I know, it’s so cliche and sounds so “American Idol” like. LOL)  And I AM having fun.  Seeing my book progressing and the layouts taking shape one by one is very fulfilling, and that by itself helps to bring a smile to my face.

The Happiness Journal is a good way to force one’s self to look for optimism.  I end up browsing at least once a day for a happy or happiness quote I can add, and when I find one, I scribble it down or work on a layout that will represent it in my happy book.  At the end of the day, you find yourself remembering those positive thoughts and it actually stays with you.  No matter what happens that upsets that positive energy as your day unfolds, or when something allows frustration to creep into your heart, the “happy” exercise stays.  And at the end of the day, there is that time when I browse the pages yet again.  Even if it’s to paint another page a special color and do a certain layout, or just so I can see if the pages are holding up, the happy vibe stays with me.

I haven’t had the chance to do much today except “retouch” a few things I’ve already put in, and stamp one layout with a floral border.  I brought home a word art “block” I rendered in Microsoft Word with very elementary word art and I want to slap it on to one of the pages to get the journaling going.  Perhaps before the night is over.

Bits and pieces.

The pages are a work in progress simultaneously.  I am even skipping a whole set of pages to work on another layout first.  I have groups of pages all relating to one layout, and yet in those pages, you will find different entries.  (Eventually, that is.)  Time to sleep…

Happy thoughts

I seem to have found a new routine which sees me writing on the bus.  I’m getting the hang of typing on the iPad and then posting later in the day.

Bryant Park - 13 Sept 2012
Bryant Park - 13 Sept 2012

Gorgeous weather in New York today.. makes me smile and look forward to the rest of my Thursday with optimism.  It helps when I go in armed with a cheery countenance because it helps me to deal with whatever challenges come my way.  And it’s going to be a busy day… and there are moods to tiptoe around.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life - Happy ThoughtsMy Altered Book is already working its magic as I opened it to my “Happy Thoughts” page.  I tried to think of other things that make me happy for additional blurbs on a “captions only layout I’m working on.. I managed to put two in yesterday: “How can you go wrong with CHOCOLATE?” and “Sleep in”.  While on the bus, I thought of “Butter Pecan Ice cream” and “Make up”.  (Made me smile again….).  And just now, “Paris”.  (That thought literally made me pause… and smile.)
I realize now that that is the essence of being able to go back to the “happy” in one’s life — it helps remind you that you have been blessed so many times to have felt happy.  And that is a gift in itself, in good times or bad.  I’ve decided I will do random layouts of “Happy thoughts” to reinforce that.  Both the creating and reading parts help me to focus on the positive, from the mundane to the profound.  We often tend to forget the things that brought a smile to our face, or that gave us that warm and fuzzy feeling of joy in our hearts. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a food we crave and love, or something else in our every day lives that lifts our spirits up.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life - All about my Little GuyI work on bits and pieces of the altered book, sometimes putting things in place permanently, and sometimes playing around with the layout by temporarily affixing the embellishment on the page.  On the layout to the left, the picture is already pasted (isn’t he gorgeous?) but the caption which I printed out on brown paper bag scraps is being held to the page by some teeny-weeny masking tape.  I keep going back to this page and see my bundle of joy smiling at me.  That is reward enough.

I want to go about my day today with a smile on my face and a light heart.  I am vowing not to let myself get aggravated by anything inconsequential.  Well, I will try. =)  (Trying to be reasonable here.. Life happens..)

And life goes on…

I’m on page 73 of My Altered Book and I’m starting to write on the first 4 pages of the book.  I want to make my happiness journal a “no-pressure” journal which means I am not stressing out to work from finished layout to finished layout.

My Altered Book: A Happy Life : Words of Wisdom on HappinessFor example, one spread is on WORDS OF WISDOM on HAPPINESS where I am compiling quotes on the subject of happiness.  the other layout is one I’m working on with Angelo as the subject matter, because who else has brought such happiness into my life?  (Even just that thought brings a smile to my face.)  I am working on these layouts simultaneously and will be starting a third.  So each page is a work in progress, just as the book is one.

The outer cover of my book now looks grubby, and I suspect that I will end up doing a temporary  cover over the masking tape.  I am constantly handling the book and it’s always in my purse.

Downtown one week afterI started an Art Journal Every Day layout yesterday on the subject of 9/11 which I just feel I had to because of the significance of the day to me personally.  It is a loss that will forever be felt in New York, even if one didn’t suffer a personal loss.  The experience of that tragic day is enough to stir feelings of grief, one I will always carry and feel strongest on this day.

Everyone speaks of healing but there is really no set formula on dealing with grief or with pain.  We each cope our own way.  Just like the events of that day affected us in different ways.

It is perhaps a relief that after 11 years, the way we reemember is now more solemn and personal than ever.  Politicians were not allowed to speak at this year’s ceremony which is befitting.  This day of remembrance should be about the people who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed by that loss.  I didn’t watch.  It felt heavy on the heart as it is.  Today I will scan the newspapers for my usual collage postcard.  But these postcards will be different because not only do they chronicle the events of yesterday, tbut more importantly, they will bring me back to the memories of Sept. 11, 2001.

We will never forget…

Downtown one week after

View the full album here

Every year, I write a post on this date remembering the events of September 11, 2001.  We shall never forget those who perished, and we shall continue with the healing.  Not pointing fingers at anyone, not blaming anyone — not judging our brothers and sisters for their beliefs and condemning them for the atrocities committed by a deranged few.

We have since learned many lessons that we must continue to teach our children for generations to come so that they may not be forgotten.  So that the loss of the lives of those who perished may mean something more than names etched on a memorial.  Let the lesson live on…

Dark days

There are evenings when I end my day feeling emotionally defeated after I reflect upon how it had gone. I’ve had an okay Sunday more or less.  It’s just that my temper had gotten the better of me a couple of times. All’s well now, but I feel I could have done better given the situation that came up. It’s a thought that draws out a big sigh from deep within my heart. More so because it involves Angelo.

I try. Sometimes I think I actually tend to spoil him. I try to set some limits but often find myself bending backwards and losing in a battle of wills with my little guy.

The boys are out playing tennis and will be picking up pizza for dinner. So I’ve had time to decompress while I tried to catch up with my newspaper collage postcards. I am trying to breathe in the stillness with just me and the TV.

I had gotten so used to being able to vent and having friends to speak with at the touch of a button online or via text. Even my dear old Globe promo text mate has been silent since the unlocked phone which carries my Globe roaming SIM conked out on me. Circumstances have made me opt to just deal with it all, on my own, for the last two months or so. Others would say it helps not to muddle my thoughts with me just listening to my inner voice. I pray, I draw… and I thnk I have gotten better at being by myself through the past couple of months.

The absence of what is familiar and comfy forces one to think with more clarity. I bear no ill-will. Sometimes friends need space, and putting that space between doesn’t mean the end of a friendship. It just means that at this point in time, there is a need to stay away. I have no anger in my heart. I have been blessed with such great friends and I am forever thankful that they continue to bless my life with their presence. But there are just times when I have to be by myself.

It’s just that days like today make me think and wonder if I have to go outside of my current comfort zone and reach out again.  Then that feeling of wanting to be alone and needing to be alone comes over me again.  Am I trying to do too much on my own? The little guy is back, watching TV while resting his head on my shoulder as I tap away. We’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.

Life IS less complicated when the only voice I listen to is mine. I’ve learned to be self-reliant and more definitive about the path I choose to take. Most days, I get to bask in the “happy” longer and the sad thoughts pass more quickly. I just don’t like hearing my angry voice, more so when it is directed towards the one person who gives me reason to keep going.

It does get lonely at times.  It would’ve been lonelier with my “old” self.  These days, I find that the silence of just being helps me more.  Besides, I have gotten used to the thought that my closest friends are all in Manila (with one in Australia) — oceans away. After 12 years of being a New Yorker, I still get all mushy with that thought, but the fact that those friendships have withstood the test of space and time have been a source of huge comfort through the years. And one of the lessons that the distance has taught me is that they are always here in my heart.

And they would know what I mean about wishing I didn’t hear my angry voice. They are there when I need them. They are there even when I’m out here, thinking on my own.  I can hear their voices in my heart.  My voice, though, rises above everyone else, and that’s the voice I hear clearest.

I hear that voice saying that though I might not feel like I’m okay — I WILL be okay.  That though there are those who chose to leave and no longer be a part of my life or who chose to aggravate me rather than help, the ones who matter are those who chose to stay and continue to stay.

Another week begins tomorrow. Another day is here… Goodnight, my inner voice says — go and rest, Dinna.

Tornado warnings and Nilagang Manok

A tornado warning for Queens.. well, the rain came and went (and it was strong rain, mind you…) and I didn’t even see the SMS warning until it was over!  No tornado on my side of Queens although one made it to shore in the same relative area.

I was kind of hoping my headache would be gone by the time I woke up this morning, but while it hasn’t (unfortunately), it has diminished somehow.  (Aleve, don’t fail me now!)

Woke up and fed everyone, did my usual pancake breakfast for one, and I sat down to write a penpal letter for one of the swaps I signed up for at Swap-bot.com.  After vacillating between writing it long-hand or typing it, I finally wrote it while sitting next to the boy.

My Altered Book: Layout in Progress - Purple YamI’ve been so inspired doing My Altered Book that before and after chores and errands, (like the Nilagang Manok for the mother-in-law), I’ve been working on more pages layouts.  I just completed doing a full acrylic paint background before sitting down to hopefully finish this post. I’m around a dozen layouts ahead of the actual pages I’m journaling on.  This way, I can write more spontaneously when I start writing.  (I’m rambling.)

Saturday evening and kind of floating here and there.  I’m also trying to further organize my postcards yet again.  At least I’m seeing the surplus cards either going to other collections or being converted into artist trading card blanks.  I just found some theme park postcards of Hershey Park and I’m wondering if anyone in my groups actually collect rollercoasters which was a unique but popular collecting category from a long, long time ago.  (If anyone is at all interested, please e-mail me at postcardmailbox@gmail.com)

I found postcards of St.Petersburg (Russia) and am still vacillating between offering them for trade or keeping them.  That happens a lot but I’m trying very, very hard to keep to my collecting interests.

The postcards from the Philippines have started arriving! =)  I’m all excited.

I just haven’t had the chance to photograph them.  Thank you to all who have been sending them in.  I can’t wait to get the rest.  (More are on the way!)  I’ve been getting some nice postcards from all over the world — even of maps and lighthouses which I am really into — but those coming from Manila are always more special.

I need to hit the sack now and get ready for the rest of my weekend.  Sunday’s minutes away!

First day of school, etc.

I took a day off Thursday because it was the first day of school and (1) I had to walk the boy to school as his Dad is on a business trip to Singapore, and (2) I still would’ve gone to bring him in to sort out the classroom and new teachers and help him lug all the school supplies.  In previous years, I had opted to take a half day or just come in late, but yesterday, I decided I’d cut the stress and just take a day off.  Wise decision.

We walked hand in hand to school and as always, it was a fun walk for me as I relished holding my little guy’s hand.  He is very tactile and expressive like me and loves to walk arm in arm or hand in hand.  He’s all excited about school which is good.  I’m starting to have discussions about outfits and attires for school, though, and just this week, I got an “I’ve got a rep to protect, you know” with a grin from the boy.  He’s growing up too fast!

I had lunch with my new friend, Elaine, which I will write about in another post.  I got to work on a few things and then I had a personal mishap of sorts which caused me to have very little sleep last night, and I had to resort to some major contingency planning.  So I am at work with a headache (for lack of sleep) and not functioning 100%. I ‘ll live.  The good thing is it’s Friday, and I can probably make up for the lost sleep tonight.

My altered book is coming along nicely.  Finally, a title: A HAPPY LIFE.

I have finally found my “happiness” journal which I’ve read about and have been hoping to start.  Many encourage that we keep one because it is a good go-to book for those times when life presents us with its biggest challenges.  So you chronicle the “happy” to help you during those times when you are not or when you find yourself facing one of life’s challenges.  My now favorite author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia fame suggests that for inner balance, she recommends keeping a journal for moments of happiness as well as sadness.

My Altered Book: Title Page: A HAPPY LIFE

Speaking of which, I’ve momentarily or for a bit now, set aside my “WHAT DO I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT?” writings.  But even if I no longer answer that question on a daily basis, I know the focus of my answer has shifted dramatically.  I will still write when an answer hits me, but right now, I have my sights focused on other things.  (I  can only write and draw so much!)

Artist Trading Cards, etc.

I’ve been cutting up extra freecards (of which I have quite a lot!) into the denominated size of 3.5 x 2.5 inches with my paper trimmer, and have been creating sets of backgrounds, much like I did with my mail art postcards.

I have a few that have been gessoed over, some have been pasted with used brown paper bags and book pages, and tonight, I tried to do watercolor and acrylic paint backgrounds straight on the matte side which is the side you are supposed to address and write your message on. Those pieces are currently drying. I did them in between cooking the rice, frying the petite fillet and heating the roasted potatoes on the stove. Ha! I’m just happy to have had the chance to put together a home-cooked meal for the family which even my usually picky mother-in-law liked.  It’s not that easy to serve her up savory dishes when she has her diabetes and heart condition. We try.  I’d have done more if I wasn’t feeling under the weather. I’m ready to do my first batch of Artist Trading Cards.

And I have my altered book resting on my lap right now. I just can’t stopp myself from going page to page even as I have yet to start with the dedication which I will work on tomorrow.

Except for photographing and sorting postcards in my collection, I did manage to keep away from trading or dealing with the trade like I had promised myself yesterday. I had dropped off quite a bunch of postcards at the post office Saturday with the majority of the cards heading for the Philippines.

I’ve found it very heartening that people are now into postcard trading even if it feels different because of the preference for cards being sent postmarked. Back in the day when I was actively collecting, I preferred to get my cards in an envelope.

With new online projects like Postcrossing where postcard trades are randomly assigned on a pay-it-forward basis (it is not an exchange but rather, participating means you will get a postcard from someone else you don’ t know), I see more and more people participating more for the experience of the exchange rather than seriously collecting postcards. As for me, I am happy to have received noteworthy additions to my maps, lighthouses and Philippine postcard collection. (I am still eagerly awaiting the postcards from the Philippines, which, given the literal snail’s pace that the postal office moves at, should be arriving in my mailbox any day now.)

I’m still trying to learn the basics and rudiments of ATC trading.  Unlike postcards which can be bought to add to your collection,  ATCs are traded.  Postcards are usually chosen, too, by the intended recipient and traded for something the sender prefers.  ATCs may be traded blind, meaning with no agreement as to which piece or pieces will be exchanged.  Swaps can also be of multiples and are sent to and then sent out by the swap host.

Well, I’m still a long way away from trading — give me a couple of days more.  For now, it’s cutting and creating…cutting and creating.

We never stop learning

Minutes to midnight and I’m back.  I thought the steak fajita would help, along with some Magnum afterwards, but nope, I didn’t quite get any help with the pain and discomfort beyond this feeling of happiness that filled my stomach.  Well, one part happy and feeling okay is better than all the parts of Dinna feeling all crappy. =)

And I got a very nice surprise from the boys after they left me at Michael’s to troll the aisles and get my pick for the week while they played at Dave & Buster’s.  I actually finished quicker than usual knowing what product I would get for my 40% off coupon for the week along with the acrylic paint colors I wanted to add to my supplies.  The lines were not inordinately longer than the usual “long”, and while I tried to sit and wait by the park bench inside the store (presumably there for the other waiting husbands or kids while Mom does her craft shopping) —  they were taking forever.  I ended up standing up again and grabbing  something else (using the smart coupon on my blackberry instead of the printed coupon I used the first time around), plus additional acrylic paints which were 40% off this week (you can’t beat that!), and still there was no sign of them.   Finally they pulled up by the entrance and I got in the car, and Angelo excitedly handed me a surprise present (and there was no occasion) — a new Michael Kors leather wallet… Speechless.

After that, it was Target.  I had no more energy to go anywhere else, and I would have even skipped Target, but I needed to get Angelo’s supplies for the coming week.  The growing boy eats a boatload of cereal and the current snack of choice: Rice Krispies.  Of course by the time we got home I realized I forgot to buy one important grocery item for the coming week: burger patties.  (The carnivore my son is has forsaken bacon for all beef burgers.)  The truth of the matter is that he prefers the ones from Pat LaFrieda of FreshDirect so I am not totally without recourse.

I tried to do some newspaper collage postcards to add to my Flickr album as I put Angelo to sleep, but all I managed to do was to finish one and I couldn’t quite get moving with the next.  I just wasn’t into it.  I gave it up and opted instead to browse the internet for images and videos about Artist Trading Cards and Mixed Media Art.  (No more postcards for me at least until Monday, I promised myself.)  When I went to pick up my album URL and I visited my Flickr Photostream, I was so amazed that the link I had submitted to the Art Journal Every Day linky list on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s blog had brought so many views to the graphic of my latest Art journal entry I wrote about below.  But what totally bowled me over where the words of artists — real artists — who hopped into my Flickr set based on that link and left a comment.  It totally made my day.  These are the people who teach me and inspire me to continue to aspire to create.

I always try to find something new that I learn from day to day.  The moment we stop trying to learn is the day we wilt away and die.  Even in the little things that don’t seem to matter, we learn.

Two nice surprises for the day — how can you beat that?  I know I should be so lucky.. sometimes I wonder why they keep coming when I am not deserving.  Then I remind myself to just take it as it comes — enjoy the moment before it passes — and move on.