Back to the keys

#ArtJournalEveryDay: cut out of Venus by Botticelli on an altered book page..  I've been listening over and over to Adele's version of "TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE" and I have been totally inspired by its haunting and sweet melody.. Thinking of my little guyI have been listening to Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s “TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE” over and over again, thinking of my big boy.  I’ve found inspiration in its haunting yet sweet melody, and today I made a decision to purchase the sheet music and look up rehearsal studios near my place of work so I can learn the piece.

Lots of flats but that never really intimidated me before, and the piece looks and sounds easy enough to learn.

I’ve been meaning to hit the keys again over time since I got here but I have never really gone beyond planning to find a rehearsal studio for starters.  I have even brought home some of my piano workbooks and pieces from Manila the last few times I went home for a visit, but they’re tucked away somewhere in the attic.  (Have to find them!)  I started taking piano lessons when I was 4.. stopped when I hit high school briefly and then started again before I went to college.  It was because of my basic understanding of piano and later chords on the organ (yes, the one with the foot pedals) that I was able to easily learn the flute and teach myself how to play the guitar.

For the longest time, music has been present in my life only through the music of others.  I would occasionally tip the keys back home, or when I saw a piano here somewhere at some party perhaps.  And at the back of my mind, I always said I’m going to find a rehearsal studio, get a room with a piano and sit.  I think I’ve finally found the proper motivation with the right piece, the great voice of Adele bringing this Bob Dylan classic to life, and a personal reason to actually learn and maybe sing the song one of these days — even if only to myself.. in some rehearsal studio in Midtown Manhattan.  Soon.

Falling in love with new beginnings all over again

The skies as they looked before all this snow came.. Falling in love with new beginnings all over again.  No matter how difficult a challenge lands on my lap, I know that I can always pick up the pieces again and start over if I fall or don't meet my goal

The storm has passed.  Posted on Instagram today:  The skies as they looked before all the snow came.  Falling in love with new beginnings all over again.  No matter how difficult a challenge lands on my lap, I know that I can always pick up the pieces again and start over if I fall or don’t meet my goals.  Even the night which comes upon us is tomorrow’s promise of another day.  #startoftheweek #startingover #newbeginnings #challenges #wordsofencouragement #positivity #optimism

It’s a difficult time — and I am deathly terrified but I know I can make it.  I have to make it.  I always said it’s important to take baby steps and in time, I will get to where I want to go.  I will be what I want to become.  I will achieve the goal I have set out for myself.

Midweek that feels like the start of the week — can’t wait and see the sun tomorrow.



Skipped the snow

EmpireState2Jan2015No matter what they say, I miss my iPhone camera.  I haven’t been on Instagram because I don’t have the app, although I think I can manage an upload or post via the blackberry if I put my mind to it and the app I downloaded.  Unfortunately, the company software doesn’t allow s to go into the Instagram website because it’s an uploading site.

So there was just rain but no snow.  (Hooray!)

I couldn’t resist last night.  Q10 in hand, I snuck up to my favorite corner of our top floor and saw this.  It’s just about capturing the moment and not letting it get away.  We do too much of that — letting the chances we get or the opportunities that are given to us slip by.  And once it’s gone, it’s gone.  The next one that comes along, chances are, will never be the same again.  The good thing is, it might be even better.  Might.


Monday Musings: Expecting snow yet again

It’s a few minutes past 6am and I have another 15 minutes to let the color mousse in my hair set in — it’s one of those mornings when I have to multitask between breakfast and other routines.  So I thought I’d sit here and write a post in the meantime, and since my brain is still in weekend mode and unable, as yet, to write a full post, let’s do our Monday Musings bit: a collection of snippets I pull together on Mondays.

A good breakfast is having a favorite treat: like giant sesame balls.  I just love sesame balls — or buchi as we call them back home.  I have an Asian grocery a short drive away which has a bakery in house which makes them in this humongous size.  As in tennis ball size!  The only problem is that the Sunday lunch crowd usually grabs them early on, but I was there around 11am yesterday and I managed to get 3.  So I had one for lunch, another for an afternoon snack/part dinner, and one for breakfast today.  Yummy!

So to keep on my weight loss journey, I always switch a treat for a meal or make up for it with extra physical exertion.  That way, I don’t overload on calories and sabotage my fitness goals.  I’m a little disappointed I have plateaued yet again, but I am proud to say I haven’t gained weight despite the occasional indulgence.  This, of course, means that I will have to go on the “shock phase” of my diet yet again to regain my footing and hopefully break through the plateau I’ve hit.

I am thankful for another week — even if they said we’re expecting rain and snow yet again, specifically today.  Everyone back in Manila and in most parts of the world which don’t see snow are so awed by it.  It IS quite a sight when it is falling, more so when it’s a glowing sky above and the snow starts to really accumulate in a thick coat on the ground and everywhere else.  Until you have to walk under it and get to work in the slush or slippery ice. And worse, when things like your iPhone falls on the soft snow and you don’t even hear a thud.  (And it is never returned to you, of course.)

Yes, I lost another phone — and I’m waiting for the replacement.  It’s back to the good old reliable blackberry for me, in the meantime, which I carry anyway as a backup.  The iPhone 5s was on the Good app which was good, but which had to be prompted to refresh unlike the blackberry which keeps refreshing as the mail comes.  The good news is, I’ve been told that the iPhone 6 actually runs on Outlook which should be much, much easier.  (We shall see.)

Again, I hate the hassle of losing almost 2,000 photos on that phone, just when I was about to back it up, having learned from losing thrice that much in pictures the first time I lost one.  (Lesson learned!)

It is heartening to see France uniting against violence in the midst of the terrorist attacks of last week.  I didn’t quite see it but heard about it in the news, and I am sure that the newspapers will be awash with coverage of the weekend demonstrations with the French coming together to show their solidarity as a country sans religious distinctions.  That, to me, was a triumphant declaration that violence will never be tolerated, and that there is a lot of good in humanity out there — no matter how deep the hatred may lie in certain factions of society.

It shows me there is hope that peace will prevail, and that the hand of violence will always be slapped down shackled, if need be, by the voice of the majority.

Of course as a New Yorker, I cannot help but fear that the same things might happen here.  I hope not.  Let this be the one and only incident of such a nature.  That is my prayer.

Well, time to get ready for work.  I hope everyone stays safe.  Let’s say a prayer for those who lost their lives on both sides in the tragic events that occurred in France last week.  Paris is, and will always be, one of my favorite cities.  I hope to one day go back and walk your streets again..

Remembering Paris: one of my rare personal photo treasures -- taken many years ago with a shot from one of the clocks within the Musee D'Orsay showing the Louvre across the Seine.  One day I'll take that third trip to Paris yet and maybe take a better sho

One of my favorite shots of the Louvre from one of the windows outside the clock of the Musee D’Orsay.


Friday Five: Keep it simple!

#FridayFiveSo it’s back — and I had actually posted this Thursday night on my Instagram account.  For those who just stumbled into my corner of the blogsphere, My Friday Five is a list of doable tasks to be done during the weekend or the week following.  I started doing this intermittently last year and hope to bring it back in 2015.  For this week’s Friday Five, here’s my list:

1. Write letters.

2. Finish 2015 graphic.

3. Put away extra Christmas cards and wrappers.

4. Create one piece of jewelry.

5. Pick five items to destash and give to someone else.

Make your own and you might find yourself more focused. Keep the list simple and choose things that you actually intend to do. Make the tasks achievable. The list is there as a scorecard and a reminder of what you have set out to do. Even if only one gets ticked off the list, you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you go back to it day before the next Friday5. No pressure! It’s there to keep you focused on doable tasks.

#lists#ThingsToDo #personalscorecard #keepjngyourselffocused #tipstofeelgoodaboutyourself #accomplishingthings #stayingontrack #reasonableexpectations #thingsyoucanactuallydo #keepitreasonable #suggestionsforabeyterYOU  #pinaynewyorker #blog #penandink #sprayink #bloggraphic #friday5 #choosetoliveyourlifeasyouwantto #takecontrolofyourlife #alteredbook

Happy Friday, everyone!

Five things to be thankful for (at the start of the year)

Work in Progress: my altered bookI try to write these lists as spontaneous as I can — without thinking if I can help it.. I just think they come out more naturally and more honestly that way.

1.  Caramel — my favorite confection of all..

2.  Warm hugs from my little guy who rushes down the stairs to open the door for me every time I arrive, giving me a hug and helping me with my bags, and making sure my slippers are all set on the floor — needing only for me to literally slip my feet into them.

3.  Laughter and swollen noodles..

4.  A large cafe au lait in lieu of lunch..

5.  Friends who will bop me in the head when I need a good smacking, and who will pat me on the back when I deserve it.

Looking back: 14 for 2014

2014Here’s a reprint of my list in 2014 with comments added on how I fared sans the preface.  I actually didn’t ever go back to this list during the year (which I hope won’t happen to my #ThingsToDoIn2015), but it’s refreshing to look back and chime in now that the year it was meant to be for has ended.

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it.

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

Done.  Although it took me a while to actually live it, I took these words to heart beginning the middle of the year when I would have normally just given up.  There were setbacks that would have ordinarily made me pull back, but instead, I reminded myself I WAS IMPORTANT, TOO.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it.

I have to work on this this year, as I barely got off the ground.  Hence, it’s making a come back in this year’s list of To Dos.

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order.

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

Work in progress!

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there.

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

There are many things that 2014 taught me, and while I had the best of intentions writing what I had written above, things turned out very differently.  And yet, as I mentioned in one of my year end posts, I have learned to give forgiveness — more for my benefit than the one forgiven — and it has been instrumental in helping me move forward.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise.

I had a moderate degree of success in this regard but I intend to keep working on it in 2015.

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop.

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

I tried.  I guess there were just too many distractions in 2014 that kept me from focusing clearly on things beyond myself, and I am hoping that having regained my footing at this point in time, 2015 will enable me to reboot the store.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record because this is the one “resolution” or “to do in the coming year” that has appeared year in and year out on my lists.  It has been frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to even get to a level of “can do” or “will do” but it is a forever wish to be able to just immerse myself in reading as much as I can.

I’m hoping the History courses and the required readings, some of which are good non-fiction and not necessarily textbook materials, will actually help me move on and accomplish reading the six books for 2015 I’ve set as a goal.

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013.

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

While I did a lot of personal art compared to 2013, 2014 saw a lot of “starts” that are still ongoing and will hopefully find fruition and conclusion in 2015.  This has been a true source of comfort and therapy, and I hope to continue with my altered book (now including 2015), and maybe even begin a new one sometime in the year.  I’m taking it a page at a time, and I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made.

Again, I say I’m not an artist.  I’m a crafter.  No pressure.  It’s all for my own self-expression.

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

While my Five things list has wallowed in limbo and has popped in and out throughout the year, I’m going to start a weekly reminder on my calendar to make sure I stop and write that list sometime during the week in 2015.  

I can, however, say I have made strides in being more thankful, even if my Thank You Postcard Project is still in the works.  I have made a pronounced effort to thank others directly by way of a note, an email, a text message (particularly during Thanksgiving), Instagram, a phone call, or a longhand letter when I can.  

And I don’t just say Thank you — I write a note explaining why I am saying thank you and what it means to me.  Sometimes it freaks people out, but I’d like to think I’m paying it forward.  I know how it is to be appreciated and acknowledged, and I’m hoping it spurs the ones I thank with the grace to thank others who make a difference in their lives in return.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.


11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

I tried raising money for my mother’s annual Christmas party for the poor folks in her hometown of Barangay San Vicente in Bulan, Sorsogon, but the effort came a little late.  I promise to do better in 2015.  However, I did send my contribution which was enough to cover the party and allow the children a decent holiday party.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew.

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

Done.  He did much better in the 2014 tests which was a relief, but I have fallen greatly behind in teaching him cursive writing.  (Project for 2015!)

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

I tried to do something towards the end of the year but my life has been constantly in flux.  I have put this on my 2015 list again and will hopefully be more successful and deliberate this coming year — actually accomplishing something.  Watch out for my updates so we can keep track together.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end.

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

I have tried and continue to try.. and will keep trying.  Sometimes we want to think that we can easily do something we so badly want, but our human nature intervenes and keeps us from doing just that.  But my faith has never waned, even when my heart was ready to throw the towel in.  It has kept me going through all the challenges I faced in 2014, and it is what I’m looking to to keep me moving forward this coming year.


So how did you do against your list, if you had one?

Thank you, 2014.. Hello, 2015!

Thank you, 2014, for the lessons learned, the challenges and the joys, and the reminders that I am so blessed.  That no matter how much hurt came my way, I had much more to be grateful and thankful for when calm finally found me again.  And while the storI have been trying to sit here and finish a post to welcome the new year, but I have been lazy throughout the holidays and have been writing in stops and starts.  Now the rendering of word art, however, has been a bit easier, and I have three to four works in progress I hope to finish today.

I needed a new ‘THANK YOU’ graphic and I suddenly remembered I had this gorgeous handmade paper from the Philippines which I had bought some years back which I still have half a sheet of.  Sometimes you just have one of those things you keep saving, and before you know it, they are no longer the same or are not of any use as you had originally meant to keep them.

I am trying to get into 2015, but things keep pulling me back to 2014.. so like most things, let’s do baby steps and say thanks to the year just passed, and say hello to the new one that has just begun.

I’d like to save my “Thank you, 2014” post for the “other” blog where all my thank you’s are meant to be posted.  (It has been languishing in limbo the last half of 2014, but I promise to jump start it before January is over!)

So, hello, 2015!  

For starters, here’s a list (not of resolutions that we end up breaking anyway!) of things I hope to do in 2015.  For brevity and to make my life a little simpler and the goals more achievable, I’m keeping it short.  No write ups, just a list.. and let’s see how I get on with this as the year goes.  (I just found my 14 for 2014 list, but that’s another blog post altogether.)


1.  Read six books (one every two months should be doable)

2. Take a trip to visit old girlfriends from SPCP/SPCQC — on my own — so that’s either Boston or California.

3. Do another craft fair and learn new techniques.  (Visit one, not sell in one.)

4. Take my little guy to ComicCon 2015.  (A request that was made just today and which Mommy committed to make happen.. note to self: buy tickets early!)

5. Take at least one actual class beyond online.  (Yes, Elaine.)

6.  Watch at least 1 concert — hopefully Billy Joel’s at Madison Square Garden.. MAYBE day after my birthday.

7.  Watch at least 1 play or musicale on Broadway.  (Yes, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from where I work and I didn’t watch any last year.)

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

9. Lose another 10 lbs at least before April.  (Lost over 20 in 2014!)

10. Tweet/Instagram at least one positive thought every week.  (I thought “everyday” would be too big a commitment to make.)

11.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again.

12. Spend a Saturday a month, on my own,just roaming NYC or some other place nearby.  (Do something “only in New York”..)

13. Leave one preloved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month.

15. Write one letter long-hand every month.

So let’s see where this list goes.  I just went over last year’s list and I don’t think I did too bad against that one.  But as I said, I’ll get to that in another post.

Happy new year, everyone.. Let’s try to make this a “happy” one, indeed, whatever “happy” may be for each of you out there.