Off key

There are days when you know everything is supposed to be okay, but you somehow feel like your life is out of sync.  Much like how my two hands would play as if they belonged to two different bodies whenever I hit the keys for the first time, after years of not playing.  (Lightbulb reminder: Find a rehearsal studio to actually play at – still up in the air.)  It would take a few pieces or minutes to eventually get them to hit the keys in unison to make music.  Then it all  comes back.

I keep hearing about being “more than okay”, but things feel different.  I know.. I’m overthinking things.  We all go through rough patches, and then we hope for the best and pray that we bounce back.  Or if we don’t, that we actually land somewhere better.  It’s not exactly “bad”, but it’s not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of phase.  And like all phases, it passes — not just quickly enough.

Sometimes life likes to throw surprises our way — and no matter how prepared we may think we are (“been there, done that!” — I tell myself), there are still bits of news that will catch us off guard.  I say I’ve gone through this before — I lived through it and have survived — and I will do that again.  So I am not at all being smug when I say I’m good for all the experience I have tucked under my belt… Some well meaning friends are asking how I am doing.. am I okay?  (Let me throw back the line at you now, “More than okay!”)… No matter how self-assured that may sound, I am actually wondering if I am trying to convince myself I am.  Or maybe I am, indeed.

So how do I cope during times like this?

I think about the things I should be thankful for.  Like earlier today, I fell in line at my favorite bakeshop at the corner, Breads Bakery over at their Bryant Park Kiosk.  Every morning, I usually get off my ride (the ever dependable QM5 Express Bus from my part of NYC) right in front of it or just a few feet away.  I am usually good with resisting the temptation, but on days when I can’t shake it, I give in and plod my way to the order window.  It’s a choice of cheese straws (yum) or the feta bureka (yum yum) as a breakfast treat.

I fell in line and was approached by this friendly and harmless looking young lady who chatted me up and — hold your breath — offered to pay for this morning’s purchase.  Now I had my heart set on two burekas for lunch — and that was $5.  I asked her, “For real?”  And she said yes with a smile.

Then she handed me this card which said:

THERE’S GOOD ALL AROUND US IF WE JUST LOOK FOR IT.  Let’s open our eyes, and our heart.  And let’s See. Good. Daily.

There’s actually more blogworthy material on that business card size piece of good she handed me, but I think it deserves its own post.. later.  But the long and short of it was, she did pay for my purchase, and even posed for a picture which I promised to post on Instagram to plug their effort — but the picture didn’t come out well, and I would hate to have such a bad picture of her for all the world to see. It just didn’t do her justice.

Apparently, this was all part of a commercial shoot for a lens company, Lenscrafters, and they had wanted to interview me for a short clip — but I was in a rush to go to work.  I had already crossed the street to my building when one of the production assistants came with a pro forma release form of sorts which I filled in and signed. I told them they better tell me if I’m appearing anywhere!

But it wasn’t so much the 15 seconds of fame I might possibly end up enjoying or being given at a later time.  It was the feel-good treat on a terribly cold autumn day in New York City.  I got my burekas free, and someone made me smile.  #SeeGoodDaily

How often do you get a breakfast treat from a complete stranger?  That was one big “Thank you” I owed the universe.

I go back and look at pictures that bring me back to happy times.  No matter what they say, pictures have a way of reassuring us all is well — we are blessed — and in short, we are more than okay.  What more can beat a visual reminder of how much better we truly are compared to how we are imagining our world might be?  (Writing that last line somehow made me feel silly for even feeling this way right now.)

Perhaps it’s just the needy, whiny me.  (Shrinking into my chair now and feeling guilty of being a brat.)  I really shouldn’t be complaining.  I have been telling myself that over and over again… and it helps ease the anxiety, and it reminds me of how I have been so lucky to be where I am, and to have the people who are in my life today.  One of the more remarkable lines I had come across in recent days is that we should stop feeling bitter about the ones that we lost, but instead be grateful for those that we have.  (Or something to that effect.). How true.

And those pictures and the feelings that go with them serve to remind me that I have much to  be grateful for, and there are so many happy thoughts and memories tucked in there somewhere.

I self soothe with my drawing, sewing and my crafting.  Drawing has been such an escape.   My Paper Flower Garden is a continuing project, but even that can get tired and old.  There are times when I don’t feel inspired or motivated, and when that comes upon me, I put my pen or my scissors down and I let it go.  Putting pressure on myself will only serve to defeat the very purpose of the exercise, which is to calm me down and just bring me to a quiet place of bliss.

I have been sewing and my coat is almost done.  (Yay!)  There are nights when I stay up late redoing the stitching over and over again until I get it right.  Yes, my seam ripper is my bestfriend now.  I’ve gotten so adept at working with it that I can now systematically undo a full side of a garment I had painstakingly sewn with a few nicks.  I am getting to know my simple sewing machine better, and soon, she’ll be a bestie like my seam ripper.

As for my crafting, I’ve been trying to get my materials sorted so that  I can start creating not just new pieces for myself, but for the shop as well.  (I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.)  I have actually started working on a brass metal stamping that I have glued onto a base fabric to bead and embellish.  I’m thinking “statement piece” necklace, but I have been busy experimenting on the base fabric.  (Felt to stiff interfacing to maybe faux leather.)  Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to figure out the design beyond the focal of the whole piece.  That’s taking a bit of time.

Trying not to resort to comfort food but my spirit has been broken.  Considering the food I’ve eaten outside of what I am allowed, I have actually done pretty well in keeping my weight gain minimal and manageable enough to get back on track more easily.  Still, I can’t be complacent about it because gaining is always easier than losing it.

It doesn’t help that there’s chocolate within reach, and that there’s the “Pancakes for dinner” alternative.  I have tried not to be too liberal with the leeway — I have struggled to get back to my lowest weight, and I want to break that barrier before the holiday food binging begins.

Aromatherapy to bring the happy thoughts forward.  I’ve always been a fan of sweet and fruity scents.  I like milky and “clean” smells — scents that bring back memories of fab times and fab people.  Do you ever find yourself associating certain scents with people you have spent time with?  I have.. and I do.. I don’t don perfume regularly but always slather on some lotion or body butter, and the scent or formulation I use at any given time are usually associated with how I feel or want to feel on any given day.  There are times when I just don’t care and the moisturizing matters more than the scent that lingers on — and there are days when I put a favorite scent on to just put some “happy” into my day.

I go “Lipstick girl”.  I have always proudly declared myself a make up lover / addict, and I used to saunter down the make up section of Rustan’s back home, just to ogle the palettes and displays of the various brands.  Be it in a drugstore or in a department store or Sephora, make up continues to have a soothing effect beyond description.

It’s like entering a candy store.  I just can’t have enough.

I have, however, significantly held back from binging on make up — for now — but only because I have more than enough in my stash.  I keep my lipsticks separate because they are determined by my color scheme for the day and the overall look I’m trying to achieve.  So I would fish through my make up box and look for the lipstick purses and just go over them and inventory my stock.  Yes, that makes me happy, knowing I have this shade and that.. in this form, be it matte or glossy — liquid or stick.  Other people go for shoes.  My comfort go-to in the pretty-me-up department is plain and simple lipstick.

We all hit a rough patch every now and again — it’s how we deal with our own demons that determine whether we let it drag us down or we up and go and move on.  I always choose the latter but it isn’t always done in a snap.  Like most things, it takes the willpower to bring “happy” or a semblance of it back into your day when everything seems to look bleak.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to get yourself there and out of the darkness.  Then you can sing in tune again, and dance in sync with the music.

 

 

I am Important, too

The Daily Prompt: Value

I am trying to keep up with the daily prompts from The Daily Post to be more consistent with posting here.  There are just times when my head is so full of other things that it is difficult to sit down and write something coherent.  I try not to work too hard at it.  If it comes, it comes.. and while there are days when a silent spell takes my space over, there are times when the words just flow freely and I am just always here.  The prompts are supposed to help make that happen.  I try.

One of my favorite hashtags in my Instagram account is #YouAreImportantToo.  We go about our lives prioritizing things according to their importance to us — and oftentimes, we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of the list.  I guess it doesn’t help that we are basically raised on the concept of being selfless, or at least trying to be.  So we put everyone else ahead of us on the list, until the whole town is up above us.  If we were all on a totem pole, you find yourself at the base, with everyone else sitting on top of you.  And there you are carrying that load.

And yet, common sense tells us that you have to be strong enough to carry all that weight.  To be able to prop someone up, you have to have the strength help carry that load.  To help others, you must have the capacity to do just that which means you have to be in a good place yourself.

How often do we hear ourselves saying that we can wait our turn?  Or that they can go ahead,  and we can be last?

We all have our hierarchy of what is important to us, and that denominates our value system.  Where do you figure in that heirarchy?

I used to do just that — putting everyone else ahead of me, until I came to the realization that not only did that impede my helping the ones I wanted to help, but it greatly diminished my self worth.  Everyone was more important — I was supposed to put myself last, and for the longest time, I did.  Until I witnessed how someone showed me how wrong that was by thinking the same way.  It took me a painful experience watching someone put his happiness last, and knowing I was tied to that happiness, find myself the last priority.  And that was my wake up call.

I shed the martyr complex and told myself I was more important than last place.  That while I cannot be priority all the time, I deserved some importance, because I mattered. I had to start with me.

It was important for me to acknowledge that I was part of the equation and that I had to take care of myself in order to be strong enough and be able to do what I wanted for the other important people in my life.  It wasn’t a matter of who was more important, but more of valuing one’s self just as much if not more than others.  You cannot stand strong for others if you do not believe in yourself.  You cannot be there for others if you do not take care of yourself.

We put such importance on the other people who matter in our lives, and we often fail to give ourselves the priority we deserve in the pecking order of things.  Being selfless is a good trait, but not to the point of sacrificing our self worth.

I learned the hard way how important it is to give myself my due.  I’ve gone long enough thinking everything and everyone was more important than me and I could put myself last all the time.  When everything else was said and done, I felt like I lost, having deprived myself to make way or give way to others.  So others could have their fun, have their cake, their piece of the pie — I stood aside.

I have come to realize that I have to be in step with my efforts to take care of others by taking care of me.  That I have to leave some for myself, even if I just take a bite and give them the rest of the cake.  It helps me to help others better.  And to paraphrase the Golden Rule, it helps me to keep things in perspective where it comes to doing unto others what I would want them to do to me.  When what you feel and when your happiness and well-being is important to you, then you are better able to help others with theirs.

So it pays and helps to always be reminded that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, TOO.