Crafting, Work and Life in general

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I realized that January was creeping away from me when I started looking at February for scheduling things at work. That first month sure went by so fast that I didn’t realize my last post here was in the first half of the month. And we are off..

I’ve been busy at work, busy with life, and trying to get the craft projects going. For the most part, I’ve been trying to get myself better organized — a project I began before the year ended. As always —- be it in organizing my closet, my make up or my craft supplies —- it is just so hard to let go. But I’m trying.

As we all await our turn to get vaccinated, I have come to terms with the fact that at 54 and not being a front liner, I will have to wait a little while longer. So my life in the midst of this pandemic has remained pretty much the same: still working from home, being vigilant about wearing masks, and practicing social distancing as best as I can. I have also adjusted a bit more by being pragmatic about my pining for travel — I have sort of resigned myself to the fact that none of that is happening this year. If I’m lucky, maybe towards the end of the year. Otherwise, realistically, I really cannot picture myself going on any long journeys until at least 2022. So be it.

My days continue to be spent at home. I think I’m doing better with defining my work hours. I try to log off at 5:30pm, then I get ready for my evening walk and brave the cold. And yes, even the snow. My streak remains unbroken since I vowed never to go under 10,000 steps. 165 days. I am amazed at my own determination not to falter, even when I feel exhausted at the end of the day and all I can do is walk briskly. This might not mean anything to those who hit the gym religiously at a given cadence during the week, or who fiercely jog and sprint through the air without a sweat. For someone who has always been at odds with the concept of physical exertion, the mere fact that I have kept my daily walks a ritual this whole time is a personal accomplishment.

I have to admit, though, that the weight loss has been a seesaw the last couple of weeks. I know — the excuse of holiday binging is no longer applicable, but I’ve managed to gain back 5 lbs below my prepandemic weight that I had so valiantly lost in the third quarter. I’m trying to get back on track — and not add any more weight. Somehow, my resolve has not been as firm as it used to be, and for that I am not making any excuses. I am not content with being happy that I had managed to lose the over 15 lbs I gained with all the baking and the cooking I experimented after the lockdown. I have to keep at it to reach my desired goal. So I plod on.

I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself. The last couple of weeks have seen me being restless for hours in bed before I finally find sleep. There are days, though, when I do manage to plop my head on the pillow and drift off without a care. I keep reminding myself that I should try to end the day earlier instead of waiting for the stroke of midnight to get on with my evening routines. It doesn’t help that the 16-year-old has to be chased to bed! And yet when I think about these little “problems”, I have to pause and remind myself I am fortunate that this is all I have to deal with.

One of these days, I will write about the things this pandemic has taught me. I have learned a lot — even beyond my space here. Sometimes a lightning bolt hits me in the mind or in the heart, and I find myself in the midst of a realization — and it sticks.

Sometimes the thought snowballs in my head and I say to myself, I knew that all along but just refused to admit it to myself. And I pause again and let it sink in.

I am busy these days working during the day like always. Then at night, I sit with my boy and we have dinner while watching a favorite show. After everything has been put away and the dishes have been washed and I have freshened up, I fiddle with my craft projects. Sometimes, I write a postcard or a card or letter to send out.

I’m getting into crystals and trying to study more about their properties as sources of energy. Very interesting considering they have always just been gemstones to me. Pretty little things to work with. I have found some new suppliers from mainland China which has encouraged me to research more about crystals and their properties, while at the same time goading me to explore new ways to work with undrilled stones. Lots of avenue to experiment on doing just that — and I am all excited!

Crystals and my creations

I’ve been thinking about picking up the crochet needle to make another beanie or two, but I have enough in rotation right now — all made by me in the last 24 months, so I don’t really need any. It’s just that I keep seeing my yarn stash and I know those can be put to better use. The good news is, even with yarn sale after yarn sale at my beloved Michael’s, I have strongly resisted the urge to grab any more given my untouched spools.

The art journal for 2021 has been languishing in the prep stage — but I am not worried about that. I have at least two signatures left over from what I prepared for the 2020 journal, so once that gets started, I will keep going. That was such a gratifying journey, memorializing my year in pictures and words and what have you. I want 2021 to even be more creative and different — there is just so much to write about.

Time to pause and hit publish on this one, before it ends up staying in my draft folder again. Words wasted are thoughts lost.

21 for 2021

Every year, I’ve reworked the previous list of goals for the new year after reporting on how I fared in trying to keep with what I had written for the one just ended. 2021 will be very different if only because 2020 changed so much in the way we did things due to Covid. So with the restrictions that we are now faced with and the adjustments we must make in our new reality, I must tweak this year’s list drastically to adapt.

Just another one of the many ways that we all must live differently now. One thing that I know I will not change is try to work through a list of goals for the coming year, and yes, 21 for the year 2021 — no more, no less.

1. Read six books. Believe me, I am trying. I started several books in 2020 but never finished one. I think I’ll go back to the old school way of reading one book and not beginning another until I finish it.

2. Learn something new via an actual class. With everything going virtual now, this shouldn’t be difficult. I’m still working on my language classes but those are more of self study and not really a class. I might have something new to report before the month is out and cross this off my list.

3. Continue exercising and dieting to take better care of myself and reach my original weight goal which is currently 10 lbs lower than my post holiday weight.

4. Visit Central Park all four seasons. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to visit once after a snowfall this winter, and get to the other seasons finally. It’s a bit harder trying to get this particular task done, but despite the restrictions and the fact that I’m hardly in the city, it is actually one of those that I think I can finally accomplish this year.

Central Park Summer 2020

5. Crafting: Organize my supplies and try new methods in jewelry making and personal art. Continue my Art journal. Last year was very productive in this respect and I’ve found new inspiration to create different pieces for the shop. On a personal level, my success with the art journal has further inspired me to continue it on to 2021 with a totally new journal. I’ve immersed myself with inspiration from artists I’ve encountered and followed and continue to learn from in the process. As I have tried to get organized, I’ve discovered that I have my supplies all mixed up everywhere and it would really just be easier if I could sort them out.

2020 saw me documenting my year in an art journal, and what I have come up with has inspired me to continue with the journey in 2021.

6. Continue to find a new home for the items that I no longer have use for, but which can be of use to others. I learned some valuable lessons in being able to destash with more purpose in 2020, which I hope to continue to do in 2021. I’ve found two groups to share these things with — one in my neighborhood and the other across the boroughs of New York City. I’ve always hated throwing things out and it was a good feeling to get rid of some of the things i needed to dispose of, while at the same time helping others.

7. Work on the Gift of 55. Ever since I turned 50, I have tried to prepare gifts to give away to coincide with my birthday. It was a way of celebrating myself while giving to others. In connection with the lessons I learned in destashing items in 2020 as mentioned above, I think I will focus on something more meaningful in 2021 as I turn 55. That means 55 acts of kindness to celebrate. I will start working on this sooner rather than later, as April is just around the corner.

8. Keep writing. I think I’m off to a good start with three posts in three days. The problem is in keeping the momentum going. I am trying.. I have started some new writing projects and actually see myself making progress as the weeks go. There’s been a better focus on writing these days, what with everything that’s been happening around me in a social and personal level.

9. Keep writing those letters. I started writing people randomly during the last quarter of 2020. It has been a gratifying and heartwarming experience hearing from the people I’ve written. Beyond the Christmas cards, there were letters that actually made it out of my writing box. And I already have around a half dozen letters waiting to be written. I know that I will surpass my goal of writing one card or letter a month, so I am not going to put a minimum. I will just keep writing and sending those letters and cards out.

10. Get the podcast on the air. One of the projects that I got all excited about during the first months of the pandemic was getting a podcast on the air. I had the title, a friend so generously provided me with original music in different cuts to use, my niece rendered a graphic for the show and my first three shows were cast with guests that had so readily said yes. And then work and life got in the way, and I didn’t want to just broadcast haphazardly. I’m focusing on this anew if only because I have since thought of another half dozen topics to broadcast and people to feature. It’s a project halfway to done.

11. Buff up stocks in the Etsy Shop. One thing I found rather surprising was the traffic I was getting, and the actual sales made during the pandemic. I wish I had the time and the energy to post more actively, but a newfound interest in raw materials to use for my pieces has sparked new inspiration. Still not quitting the day job, but this is definitely getting a new focus from me.

12. Sew at least one coat / jacket before spring, and another before winter. I see my sewing machine and I sigh in frustration, regretting that I have yet to finish another coat since I did one for my sewing classes at Mood University way back when. I have the materials.. I have cut up fabric ready to be sewn into masks. There was a time I went (a bit) crazy buying fabric on sale — and they are all neatly stacked and stored in my bins. Waiting to be sewn into something I will wear. Two pieces, minimum!

13. Fix my attic. I have a huge storage space that has stacks of boxes of stuff that need to make it to the waste bin. I’m thinking the best way is to devote an hour every month at least — in increments of 15 or 30 minutes, just to move things around. I’ve managed to do some tidying as I pulled out the Christmas tree and decorations for this year — and there is a semblance of order in one corner, but there are other corners that need touching. And I will get to that this year.

14. Sort my postcard collection. Going through the things that had lain hidden in boxes and bins through the years has made me rediscover postcards in my collection. I’ve already started gathering the ones that really have no room in my collecting interests and have started giving them away. As I go through my boxes, I’ve started sorting postcards, photographs and greeting cards randomly, leaving the actual organizing of the three bins for another time. The postcard collection, though, needs particular attention, and I’ve already begun the work.

15. Catalogue and photograph my Starbucks Mug Collection. I haven’t really had any major additions to the collection in 2020 but I managed to add maybe a half dozen mugs. I used to have enough room above my pantry in the kitchen to display them in two rows, but the space has since run out. I also need to “rewrap” the mugs that are still there due to the soot from the stove. (Yes, I packed them well, so they are not grimy on the inside.). Most of the collection is now in boxes in the attic, waiting to be displayed. I’m working on figuring out the best way to display them maybe in the dining room, but I just thought they were better off in boxes until I can find a nice way to showcase what I have.

16. Put my family photos in an album. I know that with most photos now digitally stored, the hard copy photos I managed to bring to New York from my trips home are all the more priceless. I have them in a box and mom had brought me a nice archival photo album I have yet to use. This year, I will get those precious photographs into that album.

17. Create the wall art I’ve been meaning to do the last year or so. I actually have two items I am hoping to create but beyond the main board I was hoping to put these works on, I haven’t really done anything. Even just one for this year will be great. I am rather reluctant to share more details beyond this, but should I finally get it done (hopefully this year!), I will share the final work in this space.

18. Finish, frame and hang a cross stitch project featuring Our Lady of Perpetual Help that I started more than 16 years ago. Long story…first, I must find it to start work on it again.

19. Set my affairs in order. One thing that 2020 made most of us do is make us face our mortality and the uncertainty of the future. I keep saying I will write my will and do my living will — but beyond identifying my emergency contact and giving immediate instructions to that friend, I haven’t really been able to set this down properly. So on my 55th year on this earth, I will.

20.

21.

As you can see, I’m publishing this list with two still up in the air. This might take a bit longer for me to decide, so instead of waiting to complete the list, I’d rather publish now and get on with the year. (Another thing that 2020 has taught me — take care of what you can take care of now, instead of letting the task linger on undone.)

While some of the things I wrote above are more “guideposts” instead of actual goals, I’m actually optimistic I will get half of this list done. (Fearless forecast.). Wish me luck!

Saturday and the week that was

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The first week of the year is just ending and I think mine went pretty well. Busy at work, back to the grind, but in a steady kind of way that was not rushed or overly chaotic. It was not exactly just any other week with the events that unfolded in the Capitol during the middle of the week. That one was a very sad event for me.

Audible sigh.

As someone watching from the sidelines during that day, I felt troubled and worried for the people who were trapped in the building. I feared for those tasked with protecting them. I shuddered to think about the Covid superspreader unfolding with only one in maybe 15-20 people wearing a mask. And I was sad for what the world was seeing as they watched events play out. I prayed for peace.

Things have somehow simmered down but tempers are still flaring. We can only really hope for the best. It seems to have been a wake up call for many politicians — and the leaders who have been tasked to be our voice. Let’s hope they pick up the lessons to be learned from what happened instead of fanning the flames higher.

My screen grab from tv coverage of the Capitol Seige
Screen Grab while I watching events unfold on television

Beyond that, the week was fine. I started off rather slow as the boss took the first day off. I noticed there were a few people that had actually taken the week off instead of hitting the ground running after the holidays. That’s a thought.

My two week holiday (well, almost.. because I worked here and there — for a bit) was long enough to help me get ready for the start of the year. I rested, I did chores, slept in, and enjoyed the spirit of the season. It was not short to make me wish for a day or two more, and not long enough for me to want to wish it was Monday already. I had a good holiday.

Work has been normally busy, so no rest for the weary, but I am grateful to still be working.

I started off the year with a boatload of optimism. Cautious, though. I am well aware that the Covid surge is raging, and while life seems to have almost returned to a sense of normalcy, it is farthest from anything we did or felt this time last year.

So this morning, I gave myself the extra hour or so in bed like I usually do on weekends. I browse the news headlines, checked my emails, look at messages and just enjoy the warmth of my bed. I take it slow and relax. Sometimes I go back to sleep — although that is rare. I saunter off to the kitchen, weigh myself and begin my day.

Sunny but cold today. Breakfast was Egg and tomato hash — one of my weird food faves. My mom always used to ask why I wouldn’t add onions — the usual scrambled egg variation we grew up with. Simply because I like the taste of egg and tomatoes and banana ketchup which I had. Happiness.

I had a list of errands to run which I am ticking off in my head as I write this.

– Stop by the cleaners to drop off some coats for dry cleaning.

– Wash some of the large crochet projects I had done in 2020 which were used — but hardly — before I store them away.

– Maybe head off to the Michael’s around 5000 steps away to grab more storage bins to continue organizing my craft supplies.

– Disassemble the boxes that carried items that arrived over the week for disposal.

– Put away the christmas decor. (My son had actually taken off the tree decor, but I need to organize them into the storage boxes that are up in the attic, and then take out the lights.)

– I have postcards and letters to write.

– Begin my 2021 Art journal. (Excited about this!)

Looks like my weekend is spoken for. Between today and tomorrow, I have my work cut out for me.

Well, the chores are waiting, and I have to head out soon if I am to get out the stuff I need to drop off to the cleaners. The sun is shining high but I can hear the wind blowing fiercely. The temperatures are hovering between almost and below freezing. Here’s to a peaceful and productive weekend for everyone.

Closing out 20 for 2020

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Last year, I vowed that I will not wait as long as I did in January of 2020 (ended up publishing the original post on the 20th), and instead write my next list earlier in the month. But of course, before I can do that, I am obligated to give an update on how the previous list went. (Plus, I don’t have the avatar for 2021 yet.)

I started this list a couple of years ago and even gave it its own spot in the navigation bar above, where you will find the previous lists. As I had written before, this is a list that hasn’t changed much but which I like to keep to sort of give me some guideposts for the coming year. I don’t like making resolutions — I prefer to be specific and set goals. There’s a few staples and an addition or two- just tweaking the list a bit to adjust to the times. Rather than elaborate on each attempt or success, I’ll spare you the agony of reading through my excuses and simple focus on the things I actually did.

1. Read six books. – Epic fail, although I did begin reading maybe 3-4 books. Totally needs work.

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – I was actually planning a day trip, if not an overnight at least, and then the pandemic hit. End of story.

3. Learn something new via an actual class. This one is a work in progress, although I have been taking lessons via Audible trying to learn another language. Marginally a success in terms of the effort, but nothing completed by the year’s end.

4. Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight. MAJOR SUCCESS WITH THIS ONE. (You can see how proud I am of being able to claim this!). I gained 15 lbs during the first half of the confinement of the pandemic in 2020, lost it and another 5 lbs below my prepandemic weight (another yay!).. and now, while I continue to be a work in progress, I am walking 10000 steps everyday and eating better. The weight loss has been thwarted by all the holidays the last couple of weeks, but I can confidently proclaim that I am taking better care of myself now. This is something which I hope to continue into 2021.

5. Visit Central Park all four seasons. Two out of the four seasons was better than last year’s, and I am on track to try for all four this year. The fact that there was a long period of time when I confined myself to my home impacted the spring. I made it there during the summer but totally missed out on fall. And Winter, well, one of these days.

Central Park Summer 2020

6. Crafting reboot. I think one of the things I am most grateful for during our home confinement was that it gave me time to hone my sewing skills in creating masks, and then I found new ways and materials to work on for the shop. Surprisingly, there has been traffic and sales despite the pandemic. I did shy away, though, from other crafts that entailed longer periods of time such as crocheting or knitting. My art journal has flourished and I am raring to start a new one. All in all, it has been a very productive year.

7. Destash more systematically. When I wrote about this originally, I was really thinking of smaller items to destash — like books and shoes, etc. During the last quarter of the year, I’ve actually parted with at least two boxes of clothing and other household items that were otherwise still useful but just gathering dust in bags or boxes. Or I had kept because I thought they might be of use some day — things like those left over pieces from glass sets and plates that were somehow forgotten when we switched to another design. They have found a new home somewhere. Even the coffee table that predated my arrival here in the US has found its way to the dumpster in our community, and who knows, someone might’ve found use for it and taken it home. I will write about this another time because it was not just more space that I got in return, but a sense of goodwill towards others. Happiness.

8. Work on the Gift of 54. This one totally got eclipsed by the pandemic. So there were no gifts to give away to celebrate my 54th birthday. Maybe for the 55th, I might go local after having found a facebook group that caters to New Yorkers in need. Fingers crossed.

9. Write more. I always think of this as being able to write more regularly — and I have to admit there were periods of silence again here in my corner. But on the whole, I think I wrote more this year and I’m not going to beat myself up for not having done more.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month. I was able to send the letters out, but mostly during the end of the year, instead of at the frequency I had aimed for. One thing that the pandemic has made me realize is that we have forgotten how to communicate on a more personal level through the mail, and I will continue writing in 2021.

11. Rebind my art journal, begin a new one. I actually found another art journal I had completely forgotten about, predating the altered book that I had meant to rebind. This is something I hope to do the first quarter, including the art journal I began in 2020 which I will end soon to make way for another in 2021. This was a very fulfilling exercise for me, because I have always wanted to continue expressing myself in my personal art — with all the fold outs and the lettering and all my scribbling.

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it. Again, eclipsed by the pandemic and the restrictions it brought upon us. However, I did manage to continue to find new things to sample, but not quite in the same frequency I had hoped. I’m probably going to let this go this coming year given the restrictions and safety concerns about actually going out and about.

13. Publish a postcard set. One day soon.

14. Visit at least one lighthouse. This was actually part of the trip I was planning during the earlier part of the year. Maybe in 2022.

15. Encode my poetry. Totally forgot about this.. but again, a maybe.

16. Visit more blogs / IG accounts. The point was to read other people more. Epic fail. I did visit one or two but nowhere near the one a month I was hoping for. I need to be more methodical about this.

17. Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente. My mother hails from a very poor community in Sorsogon in the province of Bicol and I was hoping to do a holiday if not a start of the school year fundraiser. Again, derailed by the pandemic, but in my heart and mind.

18. Watch a live show or concert once a quarter. Another time when Broadway reopens, and the concert halls let us in again.

19. Undertake some home improvement projects. Work in progress, but not totally sidelined by the pandemic. I am excited to continue with the work my son and I have started for a new look to our home.

20. Rework the Etsy shop. I have started creating pieces again even as I write this, and I am thinking of new designs to put in the store. It was most heartening that despite the pandemic, there was traffic and actual sales. Imagine how much more if I could just get into a rhythm about producing new items to sell.

So now that I have written my final update on last year’s list, I can work on writing 21 for 2021 — hopefully before this coming weekend. (That gives me 5 days.. plenty of time.)

A third on the “Yay!” Side wasn’t too bad, if you ask me. I will have to let another third (or even as much as half the list) go due to the expected restrictions that will continue to be with us in the light of our new Covid reality, despite the vaccine. So my 2021 list will probably have a totally different thrust — or focus, and I am hoping to put the ones I will take out back in 2022. Maybe.

Goodbye, 2020 !

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It’s the second day of 2021 and I am just now, saying goodbye to the very eventful and different year just ended. This is all about my 2020 — the year that marked such moving changes in the way we all lived, and continues to do the same in the new year. As a fitting goodbye that I can speak to, this is all about what the year was for me. It touched us in different ways, some good and some bad, but everyone was moved in one direction or another by all that transpired.

My son and I were thankfully untouched by Covid, and for that I am grateful. There were the brushes with positive tests from people my son had interacted with, but his own tests always returned negative. It has taught us to be mindful of our interaction with others — and although the anxiety it brought upon was unwelcome, it was enough to get us to be vigilant about protecting ourselves.

I have managed to make working from home actually work for me, and although my company has moved return to office plans from January to May, I am not raring to go back to the office anytime. We adapt. And so far, it has worked well, even when my boss had to return to work in October. I am lucky that she herself insisted I work from home, and that we will keep the arrangement as long as we can for my safety and my son’s.

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The pandemic that claimed so many lives has actually made me take a harder look into how I’ve been keeping myself healthy. I walk my steps everyday now, and while the holidays has thrown a curve ball into my diet, I know that I’m on the right track. As one of the people considered “at risk” for being over 50 years of age, and one who has pre-existing conditions like asthma, everything that has happened has given me pause. You have to stop and think what needs to be done to keep yourself safe and healthy. The masks can only do so much, and your body can only take so much as well. This is one of the positive things that 2020 has given me.

I regret that I was not able to go home in 2020, and I honestly don’t see myself crossing the seas anytime soon. It just feels like it’s too much of a risk to put myself and my son in, and there is so much that it entails on both ends of the journey. I can force it if I wanted to, but I don’t. An audible sigh just escaped my lips, and my thoughts were interrupted for a second or two there.

Not being able to travel this year to see my Mom is actually the biggest loss I have felt as a result of the Covid pandemic. I know that this is almost insignificant compared to the lives lost, and the loved ones they left behind. I consider myself fortunate that this is all that I have to sigh about. We will be able to travel again. While I am not counting on this being anytime in the near future, I know it will happen, and I will get to see my family again. I can wait. For all the excitement the thought brings me, I shudder to think that I might be the one bringing them more harm than them doing the same to me, so I will wait. I tell myself: in time.

One thing that I did more of was talk to my mom via video calls — even just to say goodnight or good morning, and have her see that we are well here.

So much has changed in the way we live. I have had the chance to go to the city occasionally the past couple of months, and nothing is the same. So many businesses have shuttered their space for good. Many have lost their jobs. While there is still a stream of people and the occasional tourists (yes, they are still there..), there is such a pronounced thinning of the usual crowds.

I find myself fortunate to be in a state that enforces mask wearing inside establishments. A sign by the door will always greet you saying you cannot enter without a mask. New Yorkers, for the most part, have taken to wearing masks as part of their daily attire. You will still come across people who sometimes wear it below their nose or on their chin or not at all — but rarely. People will usually put it up on their faces when they see someone approaching. That, to me, is a matter of respect for others. It’s not all about what you think, or the discomfort of it all — it’s about being mindful of your neighbor. After the thousands of lives lost in the earlier part of the year when we experienced the worst of it in the big apple, New Yorkers have learned that prevention is key.

It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn. We experienced grocery shortages — and just recently, a second wave of the disappearing toilet paper and other essentials hit us, but things have settled back to a semblance of normal. Back in March, I felt the panic when I saw the meat section practically empty. My grocery delivery had shortages even of the most basic items like diet soda. I succumbed to my own version of hoarding but quickly let it go. If I had rice, cereal, snacks for my son and some canned goods in my pantry, I felt a sense of security. In the beginning, I did not venture out of the house except to get essentials every 3-4 weeks. I relied heavily on contactless delivery. Then we relaxed. When the fear of the virus settled and numbers in New York went down, we let go of the gloves and just kept a bottle of sanitizer in our pockets handy.

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I went from season to season with most of my usual wardrobe unworn. I went through my closet and realized I had more items than it could hold so I started to weed things out. I didn’t quite go the Kondo way, but I went by the simple rule of asking myself if an item was something I’d wear again. There is a second round in the offing. I also stopped shopping for clothes, save for the activewear I needed to go on my walks, and only because I really never had any. For the holidays, I bought one dress to wear. This winter was the year I was retiring some of my winter coats which had served me well the last four to five years. I was planning on sewing coats and buying one more, but all that has been put on hold. My winter coats are still here, and I have really not worn them outside.

I discovered an entire world of New Yorkers who are down on their luck and asking for the most basic necessities. I joined a Facebook group focused on New Yorkers and there was just such an overwhelming sense of need. I did my part and helped a handful — something I will write about separately. I shared this with my son to show him the reality of an existing problem that was magnified and made worse by the pandemic. But while the local government tried their best to continue to help despite the pandemic, there is only so much that they can do.

Free food is available for all New Yorkers. I remember walking past the school in my area which is the main distribution hub for meals for kids from 7:30-11am or so, and from 11-1:30pm for anyone at all who was hungry. The lines were long — partly because of social distancing — but people needed to eat. That was a jarring reality for me because I live in a predominantly middle class neighborhood. But people’s circumstances have changed and have been affected by the closure of schools. So I no longer found it surprising when I saw the state delivery of a crate of food good for a few days to one of the doorsteps during one of my walks. You even have the option for Kosher, Latino, or regular food. (There might be more, but those are the only ones I had heard of.).

Hotels in the city were turned into homeless shelters to prevent them from cross-contaminating one another in some of the communal dormitory type dwellings. It was that bad that even the Lucerne, one of the more upscale hotels in Manhattan, was turned into a men’s homeless shelter. It created quite a stir among local residents — dividing them sharply between those who were tolerant, and those who wanted the men moved elsewhere. Only in New York.

I think I did pretty okay in 2020. My days were busy with work most of the time, and they were long days, too, but I am not complaining. I work full time — with full benefits. My son has been doing remote learning this whole time, and I think he’s adjusted to it and has actually been doing well.

There were times during the year when I felt the stress of all that was taking place around me take its toll on my peace of mind. I resorted to meditating and lulling myself to sleep using sleep casts, and I continue to have difficulty sleeping sometimes. “Okay” did not mean not being affected — I just coped better than most and I think I managed to adjust to the demands of this whole “new normal” that we find ourselves in. I managed to work around the restrictions we faced — and found my work around. I talked to family and friends. I wrote in my journals. I wrote here.

I am grateful for that.

I managed to continue crafting through it all, working on my art journal. I started sewing masks feverishly but have stopped the last 6-8 weeks to focus on my jewelry making. I am getting ready to start sewing again, though.

I cooked and baked.. gained and lost the weight. I’ve tried to put a semblance of order to my supplies and crafting in general. It kept me sane and distracted. It got me here.

As we begin a new year, I am full of hope for a better one after the challenges that 2020 brought our way. I am cautiously optimistic — and still taking lots of caution in going out into the world beyond my doorstep. Whatever it is that 2020 brought our way, it is far from over. I am praying for continued good health, peace and love. I think I had a good measure of all of that in 2020 — just asking for a bit more for all of us in 2021.

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