Wishful thinking to be great at something I’m not good at (30 days of blogging prompts 17)

I have to admit that this is one of the things I had a hard time arriving at an answer for, only because “great” got me stumped.  I wanted to think of something profound, and then it came to me clear as day after I had drafted around a half dozen posts for printing for this journal swap.

So what is the thing I most wished I were great at?  The key words for me here are “thing,” “wish,” and “great at”.

Drawing.  I may drift close to artistic, and crafty as a bee that I am, I so envy those who can draw faces and figures and grab a pencil and sketch as if they were drawing in a trance.  I wish.

I’m not killing myself over this though, because my lack of rendering skills has been more than compensated for by my skills in painting a picture with my words.  But one can dream…

My Top 3 Hobbies and why I love them (30 Days of blogging prompts 23)

According to Webster, a hobby is : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  So what are my pursuites outside of the regular day-to-day that I engage in as a form of relaxation?

1. Collecting postcards.  I have been collecting postcards since I was in my teens.  I had known of postcards since I was a young child, but I never really started collecting until I got a postcard from a friend in highschool who had moved to California in 1985.  Totally unconnected, I started with the International Young Service (IYS) which has now closed its doors.  The IYS was an international student penfriend service which matched young people from around the world for a minimal fee.  This was before the onslaught of the internet, when snailmail was the best way to reach someone overseas.

I signed up for some penfriends and my penfriends from Hong Kong (Clara Mok) and the Netherlands (Jolanda Spronck) sent me tons of postcards not only from their countries but from their travels in particular.

Over the years, my collection has grown and it even made it here to the US before I did.  A heavy shoebox full of them made it to New York after the traditional pamanhikan and I carried the rest when I moved here.  I collected postcards and swapped through organized groups after getting here, but after Angelo’s birth in 2004, my collection only grew when I purchased postcards during our travels.

I would buy postcards from places we visited, mail it back addressed to Angelo, chronicling our trip along the way.  I always travelled with address labels ready and stamps in hand.  That way, I only needed to look for a post office.  When the places we visited had an abundance of postcards, I would sometimes send back 20 postcards.  I regret that I didn’t do this for Manila until the last 3 or 4 of around 8 trips in the last 10 years.  But it’s something I do regularly now.  In fact that particular facet of my collection is over 200 postcards strong now.

I started collecting postcards because it gave me a window to worlds I thought I would never get to see.  So I collected from everywhere, hoping to have a taste of the different cultures.  When I started to grow my collection here in the US, I started focusing more on lighthouses and maps.  These two continue to be my primary collecting interests.  Then I started to find vintage Philippine and New York postcards.  Another additional item to collect.  And when I fell in love with Paris during my two trips there in 2005 and 2006, that became a collecting interest, too. 

2. Collecting Starbucks mugs.  This is a collecting interest that started when I moved here to New York in 2000.  My first Starbucks mug was a purchase on sale after Valentines 2001.  It wasn’t a city mug — but a valentine themed mug which I treasure to this day as the mug that started me collecting.

Starbucks Valentine ClearI haven’t purchased a mug in a while but I do get city and country mugs.  I’m covered as far as the Philippines is concerned except that I don’t have the latest Cebu (although my brother has already gotten one for me), and I think there is now a Tagaytay mug.  Friends who know I collect mugs have brought me some from the most unlikely places like Prague.  I’ve lost track of the collection because I have some that I have yet to wrap in plastic and put up on te space between the ceiling and my kitchen cupboard. 

To date, a conservative estimate of the collection puts it at 150.  Many of them are in the attic but that’s something I hope to take care of before the year ends.  I will re-wrap those that are still up on the kitchen space and then add everything.  I have a catalogue of some of the mugs on my flickr account.  I have had offers for some of the unique ones.  $200 for a holiday mug…!  Unfortunately I only had one of that mug, and even at that price, it wasn’t worth parting with.  It even made it all the more worth keeping.

I like collecting starbucks, not just any mug, because it has a certain quality to it — even if I’m not addicted to the coffee but I do like certain “flavors”.  (People who have shunned starbucks for the taste fail to see that they have different offerings.)  I don’t really want to get just any mug either because even the dollar store has hundreds to offer.  I’d run out of space and what would be the point in that?  Like my postcard collection, I enjoy seeing the collection grow, although I don’t go crazy buying from overseas just to add new ones.  Neither have I really traded mugs although that would be something I’d consider.  The cost is just too prohibitive, and I’ve had a special Osaka mug sent to me which arrived all broken up.  (My friend forgot that that priority mail box will be tossed around on its way here.) 

While not all my mugs are from my travels or the hubby’s trips, each mug has a “story” to tell, so they are always more than just mugs to me.

3. Jewelry making.  Some people will think that pulling pieces together is as easy as getting a string of gemstones or pearls and then working with them with wires or string.  My creative process is a little slower than that when I’m trying to figure out a piece.  Sometimes even when I’ve figured it out (like my promised necklace for Lou), it takes me time to call a piece good enough to send or sell.  Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.  “Good enough” is never good enough.  It should be better than that.

I find a certain fulfillment in completing a piece, wearing my own creations and when I get to sell one, there is a sense of reward not only monetarily, but compliment-wise.  I used to be shy telling people I made  a piece, but now I acknowledge the compliment with that admission coupled with some pride.  Not boasting, mind you, but when I’m walking outside and someone says something about the polymer clay necklace I’m wearing, I stop and smile and say thank you.

I like to be able to wear pieces I know I won’t spy elsewhere.  There are pieces I’ve seen sold by the department stores or my favorite clothing shops, but when I go to scrutinize them, I find the materials are all acrylic.  I like plastic when it is not pretending to be the real thing — like some acrylic beads I purchased dirt cheap at a clearance sale which makes no pretensions to being glass crystals or pearls.  But when I see a piece that shimmers but does not have sparkle of glass or crystal, I get turned off.  Maybe it’s just my crafter’s eye.  I hold the piece and jingle it in the palm of my hand and then I know if it’s glass or acrylic.

In a world where the way I dress is dictated by the business norm, my accessories are one thing where I can show some individuality without risking raising some eyebrows.  So I like wearing my polymer clay chain necklace which others have mistaken for a special kind of wooden carved chain.  (Mango wood?  No.. it’s polymer clay in copper).  My rose quartz cross pendant has received compliments but I am thinking the swarovski crystal version will do better.  (Although I haven’t worn the latter so I haven’t had the chance to “test” it.)

 
Work in progress: Cross pendant with Rose Quarz and Swarovski Crystals
Jewelry crafting is the hobby that affords me the chance to continue to learn new things.  It’s not just acquiring an object to call my own, but I like the way the hobby has pushed me to continue to research things and improve on my skills.  Sometimes I worry that my eyesight is going when I can no longer thread a needle as easily — but I charge that to age.  (Time to get the eyes measured and evaluated for glasses, I guess.)  Creating something from raw materials and seeing a finished piece and wearing that piece over and over again is reward enough.

 

Looking ahead.. 5 years, 10 years, 15 years… (30 days of blogging prompts 22)

Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

I don’t want to over think this post because it’s about the future.  Who knows what the future will bring?  Between last year and now, I have had quite a struggle getting from one point to the other and I really want to dwell more on the “now”.  One thing I have learned is that we can always dream about how the future will turn out, but in the end, much of it is out of our control.  The only thing that we can really control is how we react to whatever life throws our way, or what we make out of what we are given.

I always try to look forward with optimism, no matter what has happened or is happening in my life.  Optimism, as I had written, doesn’t necessarily mean that one is whole and unbroken or happy.  It is constantly looking forward and knowing and believing that things will get better.

I read from a young blogger’s space (Julienne) that she knows everything happens for a reason, but she wishes sometimes she knew what that reason was.  I want to tell her that the reason is not always that obvious, that in time, it will be revealed.  I believe that.  I also believe that if we have faith, we know that God will take care of us. 

My plans no longer go beyond a couple of months at a time.  I move forward as time passes.  Right now, the farthest I can see is the end of the year.  Trips planned.  Friends to see.  Milestones for Angelo.  It’s my birthday on Tuesday but I haven’t quite planned about that either beyond taking the day off and making a date with my little guy to go and spend time in the city, have lunch at the local Outback and the highlight of his trip to Manhattan: visit the mega Toys R’ Us in Times Square.

I’d like to think I’d live to a ripe old age and as I said, like Betty White, still have my head all straight even when I am old and gray.  But the truth of it is, we really don’t know what life has in store for us.  We all hope to live long and see our children grow old themselves, but my view of growing old has had a drastic overhaul given how life has snatched away a friend or two too soon.  At least I know I’m planning for at least until the end of the year.. living life a day at a time.

IN FIVE YEARS:

  • I’ll be 52 years old.
  • Angelo will be in high school
  • We’ll be preparing him for college.
  • I’d still be working (maybe for the same company or another company by then?)
  • I’d finally be able to string pearls.  (Still learning.)
  • I’d still be blogging.
  • I’d be better at my crafts.
  • I’d have a substantial inventory in my store and I’d be starting to think about retirement (in 10 years?)
  • I would have finished my 100 voices project. (and maybe a second installment?)

IN TEN YEARS

  • I’d be 57 years old (and hopefully still healthy and whole.. my family has a history of cancer.)
  • I might’ve opted for early retirement if I were still with the same company at age 55.  (Although I doubt it.)
  • I’d probably be working on an actual business besides work, preparing for retirement.
  • Angelo would be 19 years old and probably in college, hopefully still living with me.  (We’re trying to bribe him this early to stay at home.
  • I’d have finished a second installment of 100voices(this time of not-so-ordinary people).

IN FIFTEEN YEARS

  • I’d be 63 years old and hopefully still alive.
  • I’d be working a post-retirement part time job or be managing a full-time business.
  • Angelo would be 24 years old and either working or studying and completing a graduate degree.

Super Me (30 days of blogging prompts 21)

If you could have 1 superpower, what would it be and what would be the first thing you did with it?

It’s funny but whenI think about how to answer this question with reference to me, I think of Darna.  =)  (To the uninitiated and the younger generation of Filipinos, in particular, Darna is a local superhero.  She was a young lass who swallowed a stone and transformed into a super woman of sorts, Filipina style.  She flew and had superpowers that helped her fight off giants and other supernatural villains and villaineses like Valentina, the Filipino version of Medusa.)

Me, Darna? 

My superpower of choice would have to be superstrength.  Or flying.  (I just can’t make up my mind.)  Would one go with the other?  Not necessarily but I’d like to think they do.

And what would be the first thing I’d do with it?  I’d fly around the world and just look at this earth from outerspace.  Maybe fly home to Manila nd back — superman style.. or as I’d like to think about, just like Darna.  (minus Ding — he has school.  LOL)

My 3 passions (30 days of blogging prompts 8)

I had originally written this post long-hand for my Shared Journal Experiment swap, photocopied the pages before sending off the journal and then misplaced the photocopies. Hence, the delay in posting..

1.  Motherhood.  (A common theme in everything about me.)   I married late (age 34) and suffered 2 miscarraiges before my son was born when I was 37.  Maybe I would have had more children if I married younger, but I am happy with my number one guy, Angelo.  He is, literally, the light of my world.

People always say that parenthood changed the way one looks at life, and I cannot agree more.  For the last 8 1/2 years, my world has been rocked by this little tyke who brings out the best in me.  His very presence makes the world a brighter and better place.  He is my anchor.  Because of him, I know I can go on and on and on.  (Like the energizer bunny.)

I never thought I would end up raising a family here in the US.  I had grown up in Manila where we had nannies and house help.  Here in the US, I did it all by myself after my mom returned to Manila when Angelo turned three.

We do homework, I cook dinner, bathe him and tuck him to bed.  I pull together snacks and do homework checking before he leaves for school.  I am very hands-on, although not by choice.  If we were in Manila, I’d have help.  But I cherish the thought that I know every inch of his body.  So when I see a bruise or a scratch, I know.  Even if it means getting all exhausted at the end of the day, his hugs, kisses and profession of love are more than worth it.

Seeing him very good-antured and always cheerful is comforting because I know that when he grows up, he’ll be fine even when his Dad and I are gone.  I want to show him how to be a good parent so that hopefully, he’ll be the same if not better when he has his own family. 

Motherhood has given me purpose.  I try to give it my best but I know I am far from perfect.  We always say we try to be better than our parents were, but I cherish the lessons in parenting that my parents taught me as a daughter.  They weren’t perfect either, but they tried very hard, and I owe them who I am today.  I don’t look back at the pain, I look back at what I am today and I know I’ve made them proud.

I hope my son will say the same thing when he is older.

2. Writing.  I have always loved to write.  Even in grade school, I wrote stories and dialogue in an unstructured way.  I wrote tons of poetry until around 12-15 years ago.

Even when I worked, I wrote press releases and materials which saw print, but never under my byline because they were treated as generic press releases.  I ghost-wrote articles and always dreamt of seeing myself published.

On the personal side, I have always longed to write my stories — that is why I blog.  I am being tempted to write to earn off my space on the blogsphere, but I’ve noticed it loses the character of my tone.  It’s not the same.

Words have always come easy to me.  I write spontaneously but I do edit along the way.  I don’t overthink my writing — much of it comes from the gut.

I am hoping to get a writing project off the ground sometime in this lifetime to write profiles for 100 ordinary people I’m entitling “100 voices”.  It was originally supposed to be a joint effort with my BFF who writes well, too, but that idea fizzled out.  But I still want to write it.  I  want it to be about ordinary people.  The bagel vendor at my corner.. the maintenance guy.. the barrista at my coffee place, etc.  Like me, everyone has a story.

I’ve done bios and write ups about people so many times in my previous life, but I want this to be a different slant.  I want it to be about something different that makes us unique from one another.

Maybe one day.. The thought that I am still thinking about it gives me hope that I will get to do it — as I said, in this lifetime.  I hope to come up with stories that touch others the same way other stories have touched me.

I go more for the non-fiction type of writing because that is what I do.  I marvel at the fertile imagination other writers display and I have never really gone that route because I am afraid that my ideas might just end up copying others and then the comparison would be made.  (One fear I have is that my work will always have a “better” to its “mediocre”.)

I can go on and on and on … writing is my best outlet and form of expression.  Even song-writing, once upon a time.  But that would take forever to write about again.

3.  Crafts.  My top three passions were not difficult to narrow down, but I just hope I’m not sounding all self-centered because I don’t have a cause I’m championing.  I am after the greater good, and I believe that starting off with a better “Me” will lead to a better world.

I’ve always been doing crafts when I wasn’t writing.  So I’m grateful to Swap-bot because they got me into Artist Trading Cards (ATCs), Mail art< zines and now journals.

I also continue to try and get better at my jewelry making although I am far from being an artisan.  I always say I’m a crafter more than I am an artist.  I’ve been making jewelry for almost 4 years now and I see a marked improvement in the design and style of my crafting.  It’s a never-ending learning process for one.  (PERSONAL MANTRA: I learn something new everyday!)

I resisted polymer clay for the longest time but now it’s one of my favorite crafting materials to work with.  I also like experimenting with other materials and look to crafting not just as a form of relaxation but a way to create for myself and earn as well.  I usually create pieces and wear them to see the kind of reactions the pieces get.

Motherhood, writing and crafts.  They keep me forever on my toes, and I hope they’ll help me to grow old graciously and whole.  These are the things I pursue with a passion that stay with me whatever my state of mind is, or whatever challenges come and go.  They have stayed with me through the years, and all, except motherhood, have been part of my entire life.

Feedback on Feedback.. and Pinay New Yorker thanks you

I know I’ve always said I write for myself.  (Selfish but honest reason, in truth.)  I told cousin M that I have thought about monetizing the blog and trying to write more in line with something that would kick up the readership but it has torn me and ruined my writing focus.  Besides, I don’t have the time to even update my affiliate accounts at this point. However, it heartens me to see my viewer ticker moving up, thanks to WordPress’s stats.  I see a general picture of views vs. visitors, and the countries that have “popped in” .  I have to be honest, it’s gratifying to see people straying into my space, even if perhaps it was but a cursory glance. I wish I could bloghop as much as I used to, but work is getting busy (yes, I’m staying put).  I do “walk around” the blogsphere but have a hard time leaving comments because of software that block certain “pictures” or “fields” and I have to figure out which is which.

But this post is about Feedback on Feedback.. something which I used to do more promptly, but again, time is something I haven’t had much of lately, more so since I’m on the homestretch over two projects due next weekend.  I guess my request for people who visit to leave me a note sparked these three comments which have warmed my heart and spurred me to keep on writing.

JJ stopped by a few days ago and commented on one of my 30 days of Blogging Prompts posts: My Dream Job and said:

Hi! I have been reading your posts for quite sometime now, and I find them interesting. I chanced upon your blog many months back when I was trying to “search” or find information on what I would later find out as a common friend of ours, Pia K. It’s been ages since I last saw her in high school so I was wondering how she is. If you do get a chance, please do say HI.

I, too, lived in Manhattan, on the Upper East Side, in the late 1990s before moving to the Bay Area in 2000. To this day, NYC is still the best place for me and would return in a heartbeat. I try to visit as often as I can, the last being Christmas 2011.

I do enjoy your posts. Very candid. Personal. Best wishes, and happy birthday.

JJ

And the Pinay New Yorker says:

JJ, thanks for the visit and I will try to stop by when I get the chance to roam the blogsphere every now and again.  I am so envious about your son making it to Bellarmine!   And — talk about a small world..!  Pia K is a very dear friend… I will write about that via e-mail one of these days.  One thing I have found very gratifying with the kind of conversations I’ve had in this blog is that it has connected me with the most unlikely people I thought would walk in..

Thanks, again, JJ..

It takes some effort to leave a comment and we oftentimes read someone’s blog but leave without saying hello.  Not that it’s required, but if you enjoyed reading something or found yourself reacting to something that was said, every blogger who has their comment function on will agree that it is gratifying to read someone’s reaction to something you wrote.

Then a fellow member, Maricar, at Swap-bot stopped by and left a comment regarding my post, Five Strenghts and Five Weaknesses and said:

Found you through swapbot.. i am a filipina living in the emerald isle. nice blog. (mara76)

And the Pinay New Yorker (who goes by GothamChick on Swap-bot) says:

Mari, thanks for letting me know a fellow swapper’s been here.  I, too, try to find fellow-Filipina swappers on the site.  It was a postcard trading friend from Manila who brought me into swap-bot, too. (curiosakat)  Hope to bump into you in one of the swaps…thanks, again.

And finally, one of those comments that just makes you stop a while to take a deep breath, take it in and you find yourself smiling for that connection.  Clarita wrote in response to the same blog prompt:

I wish I had your motivation, resilience, strength, vision, patience, bravery, intelligence and much more when I was your age. I am too old now and all I could do is just dream of what I could have been. Sometimes I think we all have our own paths and I am walking on mine and its getting short now.

I read your blog and other Filipina blogs and I am so proud of all your achievements. I seldom leave comments but I thought this time its an exception. I wish you the best in all your endeavor.

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:

I am honored with the exception you afforded me by letting me hear your thoughts about the things I’ve written.  Thank you.  Your comment actually touched me in a different way much too profound for me to write about.  It’s one of those things where I find myself wondering if that was the universe talking to me again through you. 

Maraming salamat, po.

 

 

 

 

 

My Dream Nest (30 days of blogging prompts 19)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

We all have our “wish I could live ….” places and often find ourselves drifting to that place when we dream of easier and carefree days when we can do whatever we want to do, and be who we want to be.

I have listed my three favorite cities as Manila, New York and Paris — in that order.  And the truth of it is, after having visited Paris twice (and still dreaming to go back for just a vacation sans the pressure to walk around and see the sights every waking hour) and living in New York for almost 13 years now, my dream nest is still Manila.

Quiapo as seen from the Isetan parking building

Although I now call New York my home, I still dream of how it would be if I were living in Manila instead.  That might seem unthinkable for those who dream of making it to the United States and making a life here, but you always end up missing the familiar taste, sound, smell and feel of what has been home for three quarters of my life.  Even as I established myself here in the big apple, I wonder how it would be if I were raising Angelo in Manila.  He’d be going to La Salle or Ateneo (although La Salle would be the Dad’s preference), and I’d be working.  I’d be close to Mom and the siblings… life would be “easier” because I wouldn’t be cooking, washing dishes, and I’d have someone who can do the groceries for me.  Or I might be an entrepreneur with my dream store I’ve already named in my mind, “Art & Postal Love, etc.” (a stationery/paper crafts store).  It’s a project my sister and I are hoping to do in the next 12 months, with me gathering the goods here for sending to Manila for her to sell in our store.

Before Angelo came, I dreamt of retiring in Manila.  But now that he is growing up and we actually kid around about when he has his own babies and Mommy is old and needs help going to the grocery or the mall to go shopping, I know that “retirement” will be here taking care of his babies. =)  That is a pleasant thought that wouldn’t be such a bad trade off for living back in Manila.  Maybe I’ll do what some senior citizens do on this side of the world, living part of the year in Manila but still calling New York their home.  That is many, many years away, though.  I am nowhere near retirement, and my son is just turning 9 this May.

As I see Angelo growing right before my eyes, the dream is becoming more and more a dream in the real sense instead of getting closer to becoming a reality.  It’s something to think about but not pine for — and I’m okay with that.

New York is home now and will be for a long, long time.

Five Strengths, Five Weaknesses (30 Days of blogging prompts 13 and 14)

When I’m making lists for a blog post, I try to make the list first and then elaborate afterwards.

These are two successive prompts that I will try and cover in one post because they are connected in a way.  I have to admit it took me a while to complete the list although I had been lugging around a sticky with two or three of the items until I finally completed it.  I don’t know if it was harder to come up with the strengths or harder to admit the weaknesses.

MY FIVE STRENGTHS

1.     Determination to achieve my goals. I set my sights on something and I work for it.  I am not easily deterred.  Even in the face of challenges that would cause others to give up, I have always been headstrong in going for something I wanted.

I’m a staunch believer in the saying “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”  I went through law school at an expensive university at a time when my family had suffered a crippling reversal of fortunes but I persevered.  I worked while studying, beginning with being a newscaster for an FM radio station.  When young legal eagle hopefuls now ask me for advice about law school, I tell them you need to want really want to be a lawyer to survive the challenges of law school. 

Working for one’s dreams or goals is a must to achieve them – it is not enough that we dream, we have to work towards that dream.

2. Resilience in the face of failure, disappointment and frustration.   I guess related to possessing that kind of determination is resilience — or the ability to get up again after a fall.  

 While I take disappointments to heart, I never let it stop me from picking up the pieces or at least trying to pick up the pieces.  I am able to grieve without wallowing, and move forward even if my wounds are still healing.

 Most people think that this means I’m unstoppable or unbeatable.  The truth is, moving forward doesn’t mean that one’s spirit has not been broken.  I believe that is the spirit of resilience.  It’s being able to go on no matter how many times you get hit, or how many times you fall.

To me, it’s being able to smile even when deep inside you’re crying.  I had long ago come to terms with the fact that the world will keep on turning no matter what happens to me.  And I know that there are many others who depend on me like my son, my friends, and my family.  I cannot just abandon them in the midst of my own heartache or pain. 

3.  An inner calm in the face of challenges. I used to panic easily and get frazzled by unexpected problems that might lead to derailment.  I used to worry even before the problem exploded which, I have learned, doesn’t really help one to tackle it better when it does come in a level-headed manner.  So when things do go wrong, one thing I’ve learned through the years is that it’s very important to stop and calm your mind, and see the bigger picture.

 I’ve been fortunate to have had jobs that allowed me to train for “life.”  Executing major projects where a lot depended on its success, which literally meant it was my job on the line.  Things did go wrong on occasion, and I’ve learned my best lessons about working through the bumps in the road of life in the ways we worked around those problems. 

 4.  My strong faith in God.  I have never been shy to wear my religion on my sleeve.  I have always had a very personal relationship with God, and have always believed that whatever good graces and blessings have come my way came from Him.  During my lowest moments, I have always looked to God for hope and strength. 

It is an unshakeable faith that He will never give me anything I cannot handle, and that things happen in His way in His own time.

5.  Being THE Eternal Optimist.  I had a hard time coming up with the fifth strength but it all came to me as I finished writing about the first four.  I ask what it is that makes me strong – it has to be my belief that things can only get better, even in the face of utter failure or imminent doom.

I try to keep my hope or expectation of the positive on the pragmatic side, though.  I haven’t quite gotten to that kind of desperation where one pins your hope on luck or fortune tellers. 

Hope or optimism is a strength when you are able to see the positive in things even when everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong.  It has enabled me to keep going during my most trying moments.  When everything is failing, then the only other thing that can happen is that it stops.   Then you get a reprieve, and you are given a chance to recharge or regain your composure.

When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.     

And just like the unshakeable faith I speak about, it is a belief in the God who loves and nurtures and takes care of his children, no matter what.

MY FIVE WEAKNESSES

1. My bad temper.

One thing you wouldn’t want to see me doing is going crazy mad. I have to admit that my temper is something that sometimes gets the better of me. Perhaps it’s the Aries side of my personality — Ares, the God of War, they said rules my stars. But even when I was younger, I was prone to emotional outbursts. I have been trying to curb that through the years and while I have somehow succeeded in doing so to some extent, there are still times when it rears its ugly head.

It helps that I’ve had good exercise as far as biting my tongue. I have always been outspoken but the years that have passed have made me more careful in speaking my mind out. Even when a thought or idea pops up, I try to keep myself from just blurting it out. I have learned the art of processing it first and then refining or deleting it from my thought cloud altogether. Age.

I have become calmer, and better able to hold the anger in. But anger is something that eventually seeps out, and when it does, it gushes in torrents and you’re going to wish you didn’t see the crazy evil me that suddenly attacks with fangs and all. I wish I didn’t get to see that evil side of me.. anger tires me now.. physically. And it gets more and more difficult to shake off the aftertaste of the effort one puts into such an emotional outburst.

2. I am generous to a fault. I know that generosity can cut both ways and sometimes I think that I end up giving too much of myself and my time and resources to things that matter to me, and more importantly to people who mean something in my life.

I remember when I first moved to New York from Manila in 2000, (and actually even to a large extent up to now), I would enter a store and see things that aren’t for me, but for my brothers or sister or mom or dad. These days it’s automatic for me to shop for Angelo first (and almost always), but from way back, I’ve always wanted to give.

One thing my mother missed dearly after I left was the fact that at the end of the day, I’d usually have a box of some treat or other to bring home to her. We refer to this as pasalubong in the vernacular. Even if I just came from the office, I’d make a quick sweep of wherever I am before I go home and bring her a snack.

I always try to help and when I do, I give it my all. (I think I took the admonition to give until it hurts to heart quite early on in life.) My parents had introduced me to charity work early on. They both came from very humble beginnings and wanted to share their blessings with the less fortunate. And I learned from them that help isn’t always financial. Sometimes you can help ask for financial assistance for others when you can’t give the monetary assistance yourself.

I chalk this up as a weakness and not a strength because I have often ended up giving too much. More than materially, emotionally. At the end of the day, there is nothing left, and that emptiness can hurt. I keep telling myself there are times when I should be more selfish. While we are constantly told to be selfless, we need to remind ourselves that we can’t forget about the “me” so that we can get to the “we”.

Again, I try. I know that much of my frustration, pain and disappointment is caused by all this giving. I have left my heart empty in the process, and it’s that emptiness that throbs with hurt.

3. I am a very emotional person. For someone purportedly with a “good head on her shoulders,” I still cave in to my emotions when my brain should be having full reign over my faculties. I have managed to be less sensitive, but I still tend to give more weight to my emotions rather than to my rational side when making decisions. I believe I’ve managed to gain better control in the past few years, allowing me to mask my true feelings better. I am a very transparent person and that can be quite a challenge oftentimes, but when needed, I can completely “steel” my heart.

It has led to my undoing many times, but even then, I do not apologize for giving vent to my feelings more to my rational side. There are many things in life which are not ruled by numbers or exact definitions — there is a lot of grey out there that we have to weed through.

Often, it makes me quite easy to sway towards giving in, although I would not always equate giving in to forgiveness or forgetting.. which brings me to my fourth weakness.

4. I find it hard to forgive and forget.

I can bear a grudge for a lifetime, notwithstanding how I feel about something or someone.

In a sense, I guess, it’s the “emotional” me —  clinging to the hurt and the pain in my heart.  I know I shouldn’t, but I oftentimes have to struggle against the urge to be vindictive even if only in my mind.

I usually tend to just ignore those who have hurt me or who, I feel, have done me wrong.  My heart has a way of distancing itself from those who caused me pain.

I am only human.

5. I tend to procrastinate and cram. Story of my life.. from law school to the swaps. I think I’m doing better time-wise now, though. It is definitely a luxury I cannot afford, and something I can correct more easily.

Two blog prompts out of the way… =)

My Dream Job (30 days of blogging prompts 7)

My current job:  Executive Assistant to one of the top officers of a Fortune 500 Company.  Long hours but pays well.  Great benefits.  Top of the food chain as far as admins go.  Working in the middle of Midtown Manhattan.  Bus stop across from my building a plus.  Doing something I like to do: Taking care of people.  Love all the technology that cames as part of the set up.

My dream job:  To be my own boss to be able to afford to invest in a business where it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a healthy bottomline.  (In short, I’d like to be in a position where earning a profit doesn’t matter.)

That’s why it’s a “dream” job.

I want to put up a retail store somewhere in the Upper East Side where I can sell one-of-a-kind pieces from the top fashion designers of Manila.  And on the side maintain my own craft room or craft cave where I can have all the fancy materials to create — my personal art, my jewelry, without having to worry about the day job that pays the bills.

I’d love to be able to spend the day on a regimen of creativity — and in between worry about what I would be having for lunch or where, and get all the creating done before Angelo gets back from school.

I want to be able to write without clocking myself and making sure I do it during my lunch hour or at the end of the day.

Reminder to self: Buy lotto.

—–

So I’ve been trying to speed up the layouting.  I have less than two weeks to complete all the blog prompts and assemble the book. I’m getting there.

I just finished another Artist Trading Card set of two to trade away, and I have my first “zine” or mini-magazine to pull together for sending out on th 28th.  I am not too worried as I have a ton of articles/materials to pull from here.  I’ve even done a mock layout of my pages already. 

Meanwhile I have a splitting headache yet again.  Aleve has been no help. I’m hoping I do better tomorrow.  (I hate relying on the meds to deal with the pain.)

Next week, I turn 47.  No sense being coy about the birthday — I never wanted to make a big deal about it, that’s all.  And 47, unlike 46 suddenly feels much, much older.

I’d like to write more about that and the overbearing shadow of chalking up another year in this world but my eyes are not cooperating.  (Age again..ha!) 

Celebrating birthdays has always been a big deal to me, but no one has really made a big deal of celebrating my birthday.  Maybe that’s the reason why I’m so hung up on celebrating others.  Not anymore.  The only birthday that really matters now is someone who’s turning 9 in May.  I watch him and I can’t help but marvel at how much he’s grown.

His greeting, among all other greetings, is the one that matters the most.

PS.  My blog stats has been moving up dramatically but I only hear from the usual suspects (namely Lou…)  — I would appreciate a squeak from the others who come by.  Do say hello..

Two of Three people who have influenced me (30 days of blogging prompts 9)

This is tough and easy to answer at the same time.  When I look at who I should give credit to for being a big influence on me, I would immediately exclude my parents who are a big factor in molding me into the person that I am.  To me, they are a given in the mix of my upbringing and existence, so they are not sources of “influence”.

Instead, I would look beyond the immediate — those are the forces or the people whose energy and very existence have swayed us one way or the other.

Growing up, my father’s sister, Auntie Lydia, had practically raised us.  She used to be a member of a religious order ( a nun), but she had to request for dispensation to leave because of several afflictions that befell her.  She had cancers one after the other, managing to survive 21 or so operations.  Talk about a living miracle.

Auntie Lydia was the one who exposed us to fairy tales, spoke to us in English (which irritated my mother no end because she was afraid we wouldn’t be able to communicate with our grandma, her Mom), and taught us to be prayerful and to always be observant of good manners.

She and I were particularly close. She admonished me to avoid speaking slang English ( so no “gonna, wanna, etc.”, taught me about the saints and our religion, and was basically a second mom to me.  She passed away when I was in my twenties.  We were so close that I couldn’t bear the thought of thinking about moving to the US because she wouldn’t be able to come with me.  Her athritis always made it difficult for her to stay in a cold room, much less live in a cold place.  I remember she would tuck us to bed and make sure we went to sleep, but she would sleep outside the room because she couldn’t stand the airconditioning.

She taught me to keep some space, no matter how tiny between me and my closest friends, as  she would always say “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  She encouraged my talents but told me to remember to cling to humility.

I still hear her “voice” or see her face at the back of my head from time to time, goading me on, encouraging me to move forward.

The second person I can think of is one of my favorite former bosses who taught me to have a good work ethic, and who showed me an elegance in writing while I was trying to hone my own skills.  I had worked for her father, but I had essentially been under her direct supervision.

I learned paragraph styling and business writing from her.  How to structure your business proposition to make it sell.  She always told us to do our work well or not do it at all.

I looked up to her because despite her fiery temper, she had a very sweet side that made her open to showing her fondness for the people she worked with.  I had the highest respect for her as a boss, a writer, a mother, a daughter.  She was not afraid to recognize talent and industry in the people who worked for her, and she made me feel I was good at what I did.

I would not have left that job if it wasn’t for that respect for her.  Certain circumstances had influenced me to decide to seek other employment, but I took the lessons I learned from her to heart to every job I took afterwards.

I am still thinking of my third person… to follow soon.