Feedback on Feedback from M

I have been meaning to respond, but that is taking me forever and a day. So before this “gets away from me” and I am left with a half finished post, I thought I’d share with you a heartfelt and most heartening shout out from one of my 34 readers. The email below is unedited and cut and paste from his original comment.

Before you read on, I just want to say it’s emails like this that makes me feel I am doing something beyond feeding my need to journal online, and write for myself. That maybe– just maybe– I am helping someone else and paying forward what good has come my way and spreading positivity and love around.

Response coming soon.. promise.

M wrote:

A glorious new year to one of the most influential people who helped me change my life and shape my inner self 4 years ago. You pushed me to become the person that I am today, and for the person that I will become in the future.

It’s been a while, Attorney. I have countless of things to thank you for, but I think there’s going to be a perfect time for that (fingers crossed). Right now I just want to tell you how much I appreciate everything you said here in your blog including your personal message to me, and that all the things you said about life (law school in particular) were on point. It kept me moving forward even in roads I never thought I could possibly survive. So thank you. Thank you so much for bringing out the best in me. It’s been years since I read your blog and right now I could only wish that I should’ve visited this during my times of struggle. To bring you the good news, I’m now in my senior year in law school, a full-time regular student, still in San Beda Mendiola, struggling to have the best of both worlds since 2014 (full-time work and school so I could afford my fees). You really made a huge impact in my life (and you still are). Among others, I pray for your happiness and good health this 2018. Should the stars align soon, I hope I can help you publish your inspirational book for lawyering hopefuls in our country. You are truly a gift, a gem given to this world by our ‘big boss’ above. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!!!

My inner fire burns again: huge, fiery hot, in crimson red! same as what I had when I went through my 1st year in law school like an eagle diving to get his prey with absolute precision without dropping his focus!”

Thank you, M.

More posts like this one on trying to become a lawyer or thinking of being one can be found in the Lawyer Wannabe tab on the header menu.

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So that was 2017

This is one of those posts that’s more for my benefit than for any reader out there, because it’s an annual self check I’ve been doing annually.

For the last couple of years, I had picked up the habit of writing a list of things as the year rolled out which I hoped to do in the coming 12 months. There were years I managed to go back to the list before the year ended, and at times the list just lay dormant. 2017 was one of the latter.

But I like keeping this lists in the hope of setting goals for myself for the rest of the year, and no matter how minimal my success has been, I like seeing how hard or how I hardly tried. It’s by no means a hard and fast goal as you will see in the progress report below. Reading it now, much of it will stay with 2018’s 18 things to do, with a few minor tweaks. There is always the hope that I will be able to have more success this go around.

1.  Read six books.  I want to beat myself up over this because I have the books, both electronic and hard copy. It’s really finding the time to read that stumps me. I am hoping that I can actually do more than my goal of six books this year.. let’s see.

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – Sydney in September. Last year, I had specified Boston as a destination, only to find myself flying all the way down under to Fiji to meet with my high school BFF, Donna, who also turned 50.  I met up with her and her family and we had a grand time just catching up and celebrating together.

Although I am planning a vacation with her again sometime end of the year, I’d like to make a simpler plan closer to home, but outside the immediate environs of New York.  So anywhere outside the tri-state area will do.  One trip, that’s all.  Keeping it simple and open ended like that is easier to aim for. I made it to Sydney in September and managed an overnight stay in Manila on the way and back. Other than that, I’ve stayed pretty local but looking forward to doing this when the weather starts improving. We are at below freezing temperatures as I write this!

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  I already know that I want to learn how to properly knit, and I am just trying to find the time to actually do this over at the Lion Brand Yarn Studios here in Manhattan.  I would also like to learn another language, but not have to pay for it.  (Yes, I’m being a cheapskate, but these classes can be expensive!)  And there’s the Intermediate sewing class which I skipped as the third installment of classes last year at MoodU over at Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan.  As you can see, my learning calendar is in pretty good shape, so it’s all a matter of really getting down to it. – This is one item where there was no movement at all so I guess it’ll have to be in 2018.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  Exercising.  What’s that again?  LOL  No more excuses, and hoping to give it more effort.  I had better luck with the weight control last year compared to the year before that, except that the trip to Fiji and all those full breakfast buffets made me gain 10 lbs.  The good news is I have a better grip on the weight loss effort, so I’ve been able to lose the weight.  The downside is, I have failed to break my plateau (which is top secret!) and I am hoping that I finally get to do that in 2017. This is a work in progress.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  A New Yorker for almost 17 years now and yet I cannot boast of being a Central Park regular all year round.  And note that I have always worked within walking distance of the park, although it’s a good 20-25 minutes away from my Midtown perch.  I keep missing Spring when it’s supposed to be the second most colorful season of the year.  To some, it actually IS the most colorful, but I am a fan of fall.  I have done winter two years ago, and although it was at the tail end of the season, it actually snowed.  I am a regular in the fall, and one summer, I couldn’t go beyond the periphery because it was too hot, but I WAS there.  I have been wanting to do Spring all these years — maybe this year, finally. – I always see the edge of Central Park from Avenue of the Americas but sadly will have to admit that I visited the park only once, towards fall, when my friend Lynda visited from PA. I have been tempted to go as the temperatures dropped, but alas, I failed. another one making it to the 2018 list!

6. Crafting reboot.  Crafting calendar.  This is one area where I am having quite the jumpstart with me sorting out my supplies and actually creating new designs.

I have been crocheting winter accessories since late last year and have so far NOT bought a single piece.  All my hats and scarves and now fingerless gloves are my own handmade creations. The leather gloves and fabric scarves are all from last season.  I haven’t even used my blanket scarf yet.

I have been rediscovering my beads and freshwater pearls and am having such a spike in creativity.  Hopefully, this will translate to items for posting in the shop.- While I didn’t do too well with following my craft calendar, I have been able to work on reorganizing my materials and continuing with the crafting . My shop has been an area of focus and I’ve been seeing an uptick in sales compared to the long lulls between sales in previous years. I hope to continue to pick up the pace and get more crafts done.

7. Destash more systematically. It has always been difficult for me to throw things away, so last year, I came up with the idea of destashing by giving away things I no longer use.

I’ve set aside a box where I will put away the things that I want to give away and label them accordingly.  To make it a conscious effort as well, I am going to record what I actually give away.  I’m going by the simple rule of thumb that if I  hadn’t used or touched something for a year, I will find someone who can make better use of it. I think I did quite well in this area and I’m hoping to continue in 2018. Yes, even if parting can be heavy literally. I’ve managed to set aside old kitchenware that I don’t and won’t use, as well as other things I think others can make use of.

8. Finish the Gift of 50 and begin the Gift of 51.  Sometime before I turned 50 in April, I wrote about doing 50 good deeds.  I have to sit down and list what I have already done so far, and while most will be repetitions (like literal gifts in the name of #GiftOf50), I have certain tasks to complete which I hope I can help to complete it.  And of course, I turn 51 this April.  Hence, the next list. – The gift of 50 was a huge success but the 51 part sort of stagnated. I am reworking this for 52.

I want to be able to do more as. I get older and be more deliberate about it, rather than just keeping a rule of thumb of being kind to others.  Kindness is an abstract concept that we need to see more concretely.

9.  Write more.  

For starters, I want to set a goal of posting once a week in the blogs.   (Which is principally this one and my craft blog.) – I have to work on this one, more so since my blogging has been severely curtailed because I can now blog only via my smartphone. I was absent from this space for over a month towards the end of the year so I need to work out my editorial calendar.

Work on my other social networking accounts by doing scheduled posts at least once a week.  – I have redistributed my focus and have had better success with this one in 2017. I just have to keep at it.

Resume my handwritten projects.   2016 came and went with nary a post in my art journal which caught me by surprise when I opened it to begin writing again.  It never even occurred to me that I had not written anything there at all.  I have to admit that I am one of those people who still prefer to write things long hand.  While typing things out allows me to keep pace with transcribing my thoughts as they race through my mind — there is a different creativity spurred by the literal written word.  One thing I hope to do is carry tiny notebooks made from scratch paper that I can pull out of my bag and write on wherever and whenever the inspiration hits me.  I tried it with post its and it didn’t quite work. – No art journal for 2017! Horrors! I think I spent too much time trying to make up my mind about the form. I think I will go back to simple doodles this time.

Bestie Dino also suggested that if I meant to write my book (an ambitious project that has been burning in my being for ages now..), I should keep my handwritten drafts.  So keep them, I will.  That’s why I’m trying to keep the scratch notebooks a decent size so I can eventually compile them into bound material that I can keep for posterity. – Again, form. More on this in 2018.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  – That means 12 pieces for the year.. easily doable!  I might even start something here or on my Instagram account with #GothamChickOnSnailMail. – I think I will fulfill this quota for 2017 and 2018 together by first quarter of 2018. I didn’t really write much but have a couple to do now..

11. Finish my art journal, begin a new one. –  Like I said, I was surprised and saddened to see that I had NOT written anything in 2016.  – I am definitely starting a new one in 2018.

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  I have friends who constantly tell me about new places to try and visit… I keep hearing about things to do or goods to sample.  I have a separate account on Instagram under the banner of @GothamChickShopper which I had put up specifically to make product recommendations and all that.  A blog exists somewhere under a similar banner inmy main account, but I really haven’t done much.  (Writing here has been such an effort as it is, so I thought Instagram would be easier to maintain.).

But we keep wanting to do all these things without even really trying and suddenly, we find ourselves losing time and we end up with the “want” being just an “afterthought”.   I want to have more of the “done that” instead. – @GothamChickShopper got off the ground but still needs work. Getting there.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  I am a postcard collector and I’d like to think I take good photographs.  Of course I’m biased.. but one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to actually be able to make my own postcards — as in printed and not handmade — as a means of taking my postcard collecting a step up. -one for 2018

14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I have always had a love affair with lighthouses, and not only in postcards as one of my collecting interests.  There was a time when I took vacations when we would seek out lighthouses in the area and actually visit them.  I don’t remember now when the last time was that I saw one or visited one, so I think it would be nice to actually aim to visit one this year.

I have visited the famed Montauk lighthouse many times, but there are several near me I can actually aim to see in person soon.  This should be one of the simpler ones. – Success! I actually visited 2 in Wollongong, Sydney.. happiness!!!
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15.  Encode my poetry.  I started writing poetry at age 7, and I have surprisingly been able to keep the scraps of paper and assortment of notebooks and journals I had written them on.  I even brought them here to New York during one of my trips returning for a vacation in Manila.  They show the evolution of my penmanship, the maturing of my inner voice, and the change in writing style and depth.  From pencil scribblings to typewritten compilations, I have them tucked away.

Encoding them into a private website or maybe even a public one will take time, but I want to start doing that this year.- I am proud to report that I have actually started with this and what’s more, I’ve started writing poetry again..

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts.   A blog friend recently left a comment after visiting and was so surprised that I was still writing.  We have never met but used to be part of an unofficial community of Filipinos who blog at a personal level.  I enjoyed reading about their hobbies, life events, and day-to-day rants and raves.  It was all about the writer writing what he or she wanted.  I found out he’s reviving his blog which makes me happy– and I look forward to that and more.. but that’s another post. – will try harder!!

17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  This is a very personal cause close to my heart, because it is a cause my mother has pursued time and again.  She hails from a small town in Bulan, Sorsogon in the beautiful southern province of Bicol.  She was born and raised there but had to leave early on to work and help support the education of her two younger brothers.

I had the chance to visit several times in my youth, but I haven’t back in ages.  She now lives there and has built a modest home I hope to one day visit.  Every year, she would throw a simple party for the children and try and get them a new outfit for Christmas.  This can be a hundred or so children of different ages.  For many, it is the only time that they get to attend a party where they eat some spaghetti and a ham sandwich, and maybe some candy in a loot bag.  When she was still earning, these parties were funded from out of her own pocket.  These days, she solicits (mostly from us, her children) and still comes up with a simple celebration, although she has missed the last two Christmases.  Maybe this year, we can bring it back. – This is still on my list and I hope to do a good one for 2018.

Dream and Live the Dream

I am happy to welcome those legal hopefuls who manage to stumble into this space in their quest for answers or enlightenment, neither of which I claim to offer — but I am happy to share my two cents’ worth based on personal experience.  Some queries I end up answering straight away in an email, and others I try to postpone for a blogpost here. While some end up unwritten or unpublished, there are topics and questions that I just have to share.  How many times do we find ourselves reading something that we identify with, because we hear our voice in another person’s story?

Several weekends ago, this came my way. Reading it before my morning cup of coffee and being fully awake would’ve normally merited only a cursory reading, but it came out so loud and clear that I read it from start to finish right there and then.

“I am N, a  24 years old probinsyana who found her way to Manila in her pursuit to be in the legal profession. I stumbled upon your blog through searching online about the feasibility of working and studying law at the same time. That was the first post I read from your blog. It inspired me so much that I started to work on my application at ALS.

There are many things that I have to consider in my pursuit to become a legal eagle. One, is the financial stretch. I also came from an Ateneo school in the province but my legal pursuit is something that I do not want to be my family’s financial responsibility anymore as my single mother is already old and gray. And so, I am currently on a job that pays me 20 thousand a month with the pressure of achieving a monthly quota not to mention the almost three times a week fieldwork.

I’ve read in your post that you encourage us the hopefuls to try to apply in different schools as well, I’ve thought of UP and PLM but my heart really belonged to the Ateneo. And so, I applied for jobs nearer in Makati and eventually got an offer to become a compliance officer somewhere in Ortigas, the pay is 50% higher but the risk of giving up my current job to embrace an altogether different job with no assurance yet that I’ll be accepted in the Ateneo scared me.

Now, I find myself in the crossroad and the what ifs. I know deep in my heart that the l am meant to pursue law. But it feels like with all the moves that I can possibly make to get there, the risks are too high. I do not have a safety net in case things don’t work out the way they should be, and that is the main reason why up to now I have not made a career move yet.

Chasing a dream is not only challenging but sometimes a lonely road to take. Reading your blog kept me from focusing on why I decided to endure this job and live in Manila despite a comfier life back home. To be admitted in ALS in itself is an almost impossible feat for me; taking into consideration my finances and TOR. But the thing about dreams is that when it hits you, it hits you hard.

I hope to hear from you, Atty.

Kind Regards,

N”

And the Pinay New Yorker says..

This reply took a long while and for this I apologize. I have always been careful Ispeaking about life in general because I am aware that it reaches a deep note within those who read what I write here. But here I am.. and here goes..

I have always said each of us has our own story to tell, and while I do not judge the way emails are written or how a message is conveyed, there is much that is said by the way a legal eagle wannabe writes me. I told N that this was one of the best emails I have received, for being clear, to the point and well written as a whole. It is by no means perfect, but if you’ve gotten this far in reading this post, then you know what I mean.

The pursuit of a legal education is by no means an easy ride, and the only way to truly survive it is to really want it so badly you will fight to make it to the end– literally. There are many obstacles along the way, on top of the very demanding curriculum in whichever school you choose. To make it, there many sacrifices one has to make.

I was a working student through most of law school. It was not easy traveling around the country and juggling schoolwork and case loads with all that, along with a 9-5 job when I was in town. My work-life balance was non existent but I knew my priorities. I was working not to work and build a career, but to see myself through school. So the paycheck was relevant, because it allowed me to pursue my dream.

Switching careers or jobs is never an easy choice. But you have to consider that a job offer means the hiring party saw potential in you. Sometimes, the most unlikely field choices turn out to be life changing moves that bring us closer to where we want to go. Or, and I say this with caution– the switch makes us see a different picture altogether, pointing us in a totally different direction.

I know that you would’ve made your choice by now. I know, too, that is likely that you chose to stay. If you ever come across such an option again, I would grab the higher pay. Law school is a very expensive undertaking even if you can borrow books, get hand me down reviewers or have the time to live in the library to study there in person. It is not only an intellectual and emotional investment, but more importantly, it is an economic one.

If you ask me, work in any shape or form is a distraction from school. If one has no choice but to work and study at the same time to pursue law, then let’s make the distraction that work is, worth the aggravation. Goose the one that pays more. You don’t want to be saddled with the rigors of work on one hand, and the expense and mental weight of memorizing and reading all those books and cases on the other. To make it, you have to make it clear that work is just the means to get to your dream.

And again, the choice of school matters not just as far as which one is the best. You have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and see what works best for YOU. Not what works in the eyes of your family or in your view.. but what actually works for you.

Schedule wise, financially, standards (QPI be damned), location. If Ateneo can work and granting that you do make it, then go for it. But if it doesn’t, the Ateneo is not the only road to making your dream come true. Being a working student means being able to make both schedules work. It means working with half the time a full time student has to study– and cramming everything into what pockets of time you find. It also means working on finding a way to make the expenses of law school fit into your budget. And I’m talking about every day expenses, not even the tuition fee.

I can feel the heaviness on your shoulders as they sag reading what I am writing here. I am not trying to discourage you– I just don’t want to sugarcoat the situation because it is far from a joyride. If it is a lawyer that you want to be, then you focus on that dream and everything else will have to be a means to get to that. There will be a lot of stumbling blocks and wrong choices made. But if you are focused on that dream, you will be able to pick yourself up from each fall and keep going.

Choose your schools and take the entrance exams. Let’s see which one(s) accept you and then you lay down your options. Look at things objectively from all viewpoints. Do not let the financial consideration be your only parameter. What if Ateneo accepts you? What are the other options open to you?

I wasn’t the only working student and you will not be the only one. There were even others who were working and who had families to take care of. Dads and moms. And it wasn’t just in the Ateneo. Other schools offer executive classes which mean going to school Saturday and Sunday. I have many friends who are now teaching in non-Ateneo schools and they are imparting their Ateneo and UP legal wisdom in schools like Arellano and FEU. Those students should be proud to be learning about the law from these distinguished lawyers– and I say that not because they are dear friends from even before law school, but because I know the length and breadth of their expertise and legal experience speaks volumes of their worth.

Again, look at what works for you. After all is said and done, it will be your choice, your dream.

Ps. Related posts can be found in LAWYER WANNABE where there is a list of previous articles on the topic.