Thank you postcards are here!

First of the batchWe’ve all heard it said that we should count our blessings and see how fortunate we are rather than dwell on the glass being half empty.  One of my favorite singers from back home even wrote a song — a Christmas song, at that — about counting one’s blessings instead of sheep.

I’ve been trying to get this project off the ground for a bit now, but I had been momentarily distracted from doing it sooner.  I never stopped production, though, as I have been constantly producing the bits and pieces making up the postcards.  Before the week ended, I had finished no less than 6 pieces, ready for mailing.  (One each reserved for Raine and Kat back in Manila.)

I want to do a test run of the postcards’ integrity as a mail art piece before launching the project.  (Pia, and anyone else interested to be part of the test run, please e-mail me your address at gothamchicketsy @ gmail.com and I will send you one as a test piece.)

Each postcard will be numbered, signed and documented on the project web site.  I am still trying to decide whether I will use a generic scan code for the project (which, I already have) or if I will generate one per piece (which seems daunting as it is!).  The postcards are already in my Flickr gallery for you to view and I will write a blog post on the first set in my craft blog, Gotham Chick before the weekend is over.

I actually almost don’t want to let go of the first set because I really, really like the way they turned out.  I particularly loved how the antique book pages sprayed with ink and then hand-lettered with the “THANK YOU” on the front, embellished by pieced paper flowers and for some, by dried rose petals came together.  (I love rose petals, what can I say..).  I’m still debating about whether or not I will do the edges in gold acrylic paint.  (It not only “frames” the piece but also provides a third sealant on the glued paper.  This had also been a signature of mine when I used to do mail art and artist trading cards.)

So what’s the whole point of the project?  The test run is really very different from what I’m trying to do with the Thank You Postcard Project.  For the test run, I thank YOU.  For the project, I want to help you thank someone else.  (At least that’s how the project has shaped up.)  Is it a social experiment of sorts?  In a way, yes.  But plain and simple, it’s just a pay-it-forward kind of project to help spread some good will.

It MIGHT yet finally get off the ground!

All excited this Halloween Friday, and hoping I can get the back layout finalized.  If not, I can always doodle and zentangle it for the first set.  They are, after all, the very first pieces going out.  Now, which one to keep?

Sliding back to normal

Manhattan SunsetFor the first time in a while, I woke up at past 6am Tuesday morning instead of the usual four-ish no alarm clock wake up call. Although it meant losing out on a headstart to the day, it felt good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed my body clock is easing back to a more reasonable morning schedule, because I don’t know how long I can last the 4-4:30am rise-and-shine-silent-alarm it’s been forcing upon me.

Or maybe I’m just getting older.

It could also be that it’s my body’s way of rebelling against all the stress I’ve been deluged with the last year or so.  Maybe.

But Monday night was rather pleasant, and I did stay up late.  So Tuesday saw me sliding back to normal.

These days, I am careful to label things as “normal” because I feel like I have somehow lost sight of it.  In a sense, I feel as if everything has just changed so dramatically.  From white to red, from blank to a full slate.  When you go through a life-changing experience, your perspective of how things are and your sense of reality are altered by the sum total of the  jolt or series of jolts you are subjected to.

I was reflecting on how different the sun seems to be shining these days compared to the very dark days of a year ago.  That was the time I was so full of anger and pain that if I were a color, I’d simply be black.  A dark, dark and endless black.  There were times when I would be simply walking and I would find myself suddenly enveloped in a deep rage.  I got reacquainted with chest pains that made me cough.  The anger and the pain were just too great that they manifested themselves in a very physical sense.

I still see hints of the darkness but I think I have a better grasp of how things have gone and are going in my life.  I have adjusted focus and now try to dwell on moving on and discarding the negative energy, and building on the positive.  I look for little bits of “happy” instead of trying to chase after the big dream that might not be my reality (or future) after all.  As BFF Fe would say, I’m kinder to myself these days.

I’m not as quick to react now.  And of course, that can be both good and bad — but I take a moment to evaluate things and think before I speak.  One disadvantage of having the gift for gab is that on the negative end of the spectrum, one is often caught saying hurtful or damaging things that can no longer be taken back once spoken or published.  (Don’t you hate how the internet has no “delete forever” function?)

My “normal” has since changed definitions — but it’s a state I’m trying to aim for.  Eventually.

So I go on with my personal art, chronicling my life in my altered book via art journaling, writing here, taking my online classes and making plans for the near future.  (Next week is near enough.)  My “normal” now is to be more outgoing and not be so quick to turn down invitations from friends to have a life between work and home.  It’s about putting myself first where I used to put everyone ahead of me.

It’s about finding a new perspective with which to see how sidewalks can lead to alleys of adventure if you let go and not try too hard to always walk in a straight line.  Sometimes you have to take an unfamiliar turn and just follow your instincts, and maybe you might discover something new, something to smile about.

All that on the way to normal.

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings: And Jonathan said hello

One of my dearest and oldest friends just chimed in this morning after I had sent him messages on Viber and Facebook asking about how he was.  He had appeared in one of my dreams (which, superstitious as I am, I take as a call or nudge of sorts from the universe), and I sent him the usual “How are you?  Hope all is well.. dreamt about you” kind of e-mail.  It took him a while to respond but I was relieved to hear things couldn’t be better.

He’s probably one of the few guy friends I have who have known me for decades and still know everything that is current about me. Well, almost.  Our lives make it hard to catch up in real time, but when we do, we update one another as if we just spoke yesterday.  He was also one of the few friends I saw during my last trip home in December 2013.   He is not only one of my closest friends but has been designated my personal lawyer and executor.  (Reminder to self: Finish that holographic will.)  We never miss each other’s birthdays because we were born just 2 days apart — so when he greets me, I greet him.  It has become a race of sorts as we try to beat each other to greeting the other one when our birthday month comes.  So how can we forget?

He was there during the most painful time of my life where I didn’t know where else to turn.  When I shunned seeing most of the other friends I would have run to, the one guy I called straight from New York was Jonathan.  There are certain people who we know will catch us when we fall, no matter how long ago it was that we last spoke with them.  They will always be there.  Jonathan is one of those people in my life.

His counsel is one I value not just because the advice he gives is deeply thought out and deliberate, but because I know I will always hear it straight, coming from him.  No matter how the truth may hurt, he will give it to me but with the gentleness and compassion of a brother at heart.  I remember around the time I was hoping to settle down just over 15 years ago, I had gone out with him and our usual group of boys from college — half of who were already lawyers like him and me, and others equally successful in their chosen careers.  I was seeing someone who seemed to be “the one” but was not quite nestled in my comfort zone the way I wanted him to be.  Jonathan never met him, but when I told him about this one who made my eyes twinkle, he flat out told me this guy was no good for me in plain and simple terms.  (The reason for which I will keep between Jonathan and I.)  And that was that.  It was like the truth was revealed and I took it as just that: the truth.  As bull headed as I can be, the truth is not always something I take to hearing kindly, more so when it runs contrary to what I hold it to be.

But not from Jonathan.

Happy to hear that all is well with you, my friend.  I have missed you but you are always in my heart.  I hear your voice and laughter in the background when the memories come, more so when I feel alone and needing your counsel.  There are so many things I want to tell you, and in time, I will.  Very few people know the whole story and because you do, no explanations are necessary.  You know because you know my heart.

So maybe we will get to do a joint birthday celebration next year, even if belatedly.  And we can laugh and drink and catch up then..

 

Early (but not THAT early) on a Sunday morning

I don’t know if it’s because I slept half exhausted and still in pain that I managed to beat my 4:00-4:30 am body alarm.  I woke up at past 5am this morning.  So I crawled out of bed around 5:30 and turned on the espresso machine.  I’ve been working on my RSS link here and I’m afraid I still didn’t get it right.  (RSS Expert advice most welcome.. please leave a comment or e-mail me at gothamchicketsy at gmail.com)

I just want to curl up and spend the rest of the day in la-la land, or in bed just puttering around.  I have never been one to sleep all day.  There’s something about the sun hitting my eyes — even when I’m asleep — that wakes me up.  The thick drapes in the bedroom don’t help — it seems I’m just wired that way.

Even when I was younger and I would come home in the wee hours of the morning, my body would promptly give me a kick in the behind and wake me up when the sun started to shine.  I have learned not to fight it.

I attempted to start something with polymer clay last night after not sitting in my craft corner for what feels like ages.  Then I realized that the handle to my pasta machine is not where it’s supposed to be.  A search through my area while watching the episode of Blue Bloods that I missed didn’t produce the yellow colored part of my contraption, so all I managed was to condition some antique gold clay.  I had bought some embossing plates I am dying to use — but I cannot until I can run the clay through the machine.  So that didn’t get very far.

Of course, BFF Fe was online (Viber) and we did our usual “Good morning there in New York” and “Good evening, Manila.”  Our conversations usually revolve around traffic, the hearing postponement of the day, the plastic flowers (or some such) in the Judge’s sala or the client who just won’t follow his/her lawyer’s advice.  Or she talks about Mia, her nephews and Dodong.  I talk about the commute into the city, the characters I work with, my make up, and all those other things that make up my world here, 10,000 miles away.  Today was short and sweet.  She’s exhausted, too.

The last few hours of the weekend and I don’t really have anything planned beyond mass in an hour.  Maybe I’ll make nice with my bed again. =)  And tomorrow, a new week begins.

 

 

 

Looking to the heavens

Lovely Saturday in Times Square: everyone takes pictures from a horizontal view.. Try looking up some time -- straight up!  #lookingup #timessquare #ny #mynewyork #mynyc #skyscrapers #vertical #frontcam #anotherview #beautifulday #sunnyspringdayinnewyorkI was saying goodbye to BFF Fe last night after our regular chat when a message from Facebook jolted me with the news of an old friend’s passing.  There was a request not to use social media to comment or publicize it, so out of respect for the family, I cannot dwell or mention who it was or who she was to me.  But I was deeply touched because I was one of half her list of friends who got the invite to her wake and her funeral in Manila.  There will be a time to write about that when the family allows me to.

For now, I bow my head down in prayer knowing she’s at peace and no longer in pain.

I wanted to post this status update publicly on my own FB page, but I was afraid that I would get too many queries and bring attention to someone’s passing.  So instead I sent this to my dearest friends in private, and I’m sharing it here.

“Today is a day for me to reflect on the friendships and the people who have come into and gone out of my life as I learn of others moving on and others coming back and bouncing back. All I can say is thank you to those who have blessed my life with their friendship through the years. To those back home, I miss you all and wish you were but a phone call away and we could meet up in Makati or The Fort or some such place. I thank God for bringing each and every one of you into my life — no matter how brief, or how long, or far back. Please stay in touch… I will try to do the same.”

And to my friend from waaaaay back — no matter how brief our elementary years were, and how we were brought back together in recent years because you stumbled into my little space here, you will always be remembered and tucked away in a special place in my heart.  I will always remember how I visited you in yours as you chronicled your battle and separately, as you wrote about your family adventures.  More importantly, I will never forget your infectious laughter and unbroken spirit even in the face of all that you bravely fought.  Rest in peace, my friend.

 

 

A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.

Monday Musings (Random thoughts on another day I woke up before 5am)

It’s still pitch black outside even if it’s already 10 minutes to 6:00.  I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep after waking up at past 4am and crawled out of bed to brew my morning cup.  My brain is still trying to wake up all it’s circuits so I thought I’d just write up a list of disparate thoughts which, I hope, I can or might develop into a full blown post somewhere along the way.

Monday usually finds me feeling like I’m floating from the weekend to the rush of the new week.  I do look forward to the start of the week and the thought of Monday as a reboot to the weekend just ended helps get me on my way.  I wish there was a third day to the weekend, but then at the same time, I often find myself wishing the work week itself was 6 instead of just 5 days. (I know I’m blabbering, but I make no apologies because it’s a Monday — an EARLY Monday morning.)

Facebook  (and my BFFs mom) yet saves my day (and pulls me out of the hole) from a missed Cindy Lauper concert promised to BFF Fe some moons ago..  We all make promises.  I try not to.  More so when I know there is a good chance I won’t be able to keep it, because I not only hate to disappoint the person I’m making a promise to, but worse, I disappoint myself.

I had an unplanned trip home in March 2012 (right after the Christmas visit of December 2011 and before the last trip this December 2013) and it so happened that Cindy Lauper was playing in Manila.  I promised Fe we would go, but we didn’t.  And I know she’s felt bad about that since .  But over the weekend she posted something that sort of saved my neck (although not entirely).  I’m sorry, Peps… even if you say I need not apologize.. I am.  I knew you were looking forward to that concert and a promise is a promise.  For whatever it’s worth, I have never enjoyed attending and dancing at a concert like I have with you — remembering that Side A concert we saw courtesy of you-know-who way back when I saw a lot of concerts and fashion shows.

Moving to New York in 2000 — (and I’m suddenly hit with “Wow — it HAS been THAT long!”) — I have always been content with the lifestyle choice I made when I started working here — until now.  Knowing what I am and what I had accomplished before I moved here, and then taking that giant step back to adjust to my new life in New York, I wonder if I had not short-changed myself in embracing the “family is the reason I came here in the first place” bit in choosing the career path I took.

In many ways, I realize now that that choice was noble and pure and is still true in my heart (and all I have to do is look at the boy who unabashedly proclaims his love for me at every turn) — but I wonder if that choice had boxed me into a role and persona that was much, much smaller than the real person I am.  (That’s a thought for me to ponder, and not meant to be answered here.  Monday.. musings.. get it?)

I have come to realize that while ACCEPTANCE does not exactly equate to FORGIVENESS, it does help to push one forward to go past what one has no control over.  I’ve always been an “I will fix this” kind of person.  I don’t know if it’s arrogance or simply my bull-headedness about being able to control things  and not letting things control me.  For the past year, I’ve been grappling with a festering wound within that I have somehow managed to tuck deeper in my heart in a vain attempt to simulate healing.  People ask me how I’m doing — I say I’m okay.  Not exactly better, but I’m okay.  That, in itself, is already “acceptance” in a sense — knowing where I am and where I’ve landed after the rollercoaster ride of the last year.

I had forgotten how I had missed school and my plans of taking on a course in History until recently, and over the weekend, when I embarked on a new journey of learning.  Procrastination has been a close companion even in my younger years.  Once it clings to me, it is so hard to shake it off.  Not too long ago, I had enrolled in an online history course via podcast from YALE, and while I was sooooo excited at the start, I never went beyond the first lecture.  Over the weekend, I got a new recommended course, this time from ColumbiaX, and I am actually excited — VERY EXCITED — to hit the books again.  (You should see my eyes twinkling at the thought.)  For all the years I spent with the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres (nursery to high school), the giant minds that helped shaped my once-sheltered brain to think more broadly at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the Philippines, and the most challenging years at the Ateneo School of Law with the Jesuits — one thing I missed the most when I got here was studying and learning and the challenge of reading and pulling together my own thoughts and analysis from a textbook.

I had even seriously thought of auditing classes at NYU (which is why I get their course catalogue every year), but then, I never had the time.. or couldn’t make time.  Thanks to technology and everybody’s rush to be at everyone else’s fingertips, it’s a totally different classroom now, and I can be in it whenever I want to be in it.  So excited for this one!

Some things we lose cannot be replaced — like the 5,000 or so photos on my iPhone (which aren’t on my cloud) — but I can always keep taking photos and immortalize future memories in the next handheld I get.  It wasn’t so much the loss of the iPhone 5S which was part of the technology trove I get from work — but it was all those photos that I snapped away from blog graphics to pictures with my family and precious selfies of my funny guy and I.  The iPhone is being replaced this week — and I’m not complaining even if there’s a company freeze on upgrades to the iPhone 6.  But I cannot help but cringe at the thought of all the photos I lost, and the “notes” in the journal section where I had stored bits and pieces like my morning dose of the Serenity Prayer.  (Which, after a year of saying it every day in the morning, I have yet to memorize.)

It wasn’t such a total loss because a good batch of them made it to my Flickr account, and at least 300+ are on my Instagram feed.  Still.

There were a ton of photos of my altered book which was meant to document the “bare background pages” to the finished journaled layouts which are now in limbo.  Thankfully, my Thank You Postcard Project photos are actual scans of the postcards, so they were not on the iPhone.

I have somehow gotten over the initial disappointment, but it only serves to remind me that I should have backed up the files instead of relying on the fact that my iPhone and I were joined at the hip.  That is, until it fell out of my purse and into someone else’s hand.

6:55 and my day has to move on now.  I have indulged myself enough as I waited for the sun to start rising, and it’s slowly creeping up over New York City.  That doesn’t mean I can just linger here.. which I wish… but cannot.  It’s Monday, after all.  Hope you all have a good start of the week.. I know mine has gotten off to a very good one.

Friday Five – the Turnaround

The week has been long but nice.  One of those weeks when a lot happened but didn’t necessarily wreak havoc on my sanity and health.  There were a lot of moments that saw me smiling.  There were a lot of happy moments.  Plenty enough that the usual worries were but a hum in the background.

Here’s my progress report:

1.  Cut my flower embellishments for my Thank You Postcard Project.  Done!  I can’t stop making them, though, so there’s more to cut.

2.  Finish the polymerclay earrings I had put together three weeks ago.  Life was just too hectic, but will do this weekend.

3. Paint the multi-window page I had cut out o f my altered book.  Just have to keep going.

4.  Mail the letter to GINA!!!    Now have to write another..

5.  Start photographing my Starbucks mugs again.  This weekend?

My weekends come and go, mostly unplanned.  I’m very spontaneous in that regard.  I look at weekends as a flowing 48 hours that are rarely planned in advance.  For example, I’m thinking about breakfast but I’m not fixated on planning for it.

I just want my “Michael’s” fix, and I make a mental note of my shopping list.  I think of what treat I will indulge in, and then I keep my fingers crossed the sun will come out and I’ll have more things to smile about.

All I’m thinking about is maybe creating a piece for myself, but here’s next week’s Friday Five.

1.  Send out two prototype Thank You Postcards for a test run.

2.  Finish the polymerclay earrings I had put together three week ago.

3. Continue to paint the multi-window page I had cut out of my altered book. 

4.  Write Donna a letter.    

5.  Start photographing my Starbucks mugs again. 

I’m exhausted but “happy” exhausted.  I feel like I had done a lot.. between the elevator rides, a department luncheon that was a big hit, and trying to keep the department happy, I’m totally bushed.  But again, I feel good.  I know the boss was happy (which was what mattered), and I feel I accomplished a lot.

Here’s hoping everyone has a good weekend wherever the weekend finds you.