One day soon

Life has been pretty hectic of late. Or maybe it just feels that way because we let ourselves indulge in the imagined bliss of summer when the days are longer, and we get this feeling of things moving just a bit slower. Now that that’s over, the pace seems to have picked up again.

I find myself looking forward to weekends not for any plans of partying or of doing something exciting– but rather because weekends mean being able to sleep in. That simple a luxury I crave!

Sleep. I miss you so much during the week, so much so that you are the highlight of my weekends. But Saturdays and Sundays are supposed to be so much more. So I find myself browsing shows to watch, places to visit. Exhibitions to see. Or simply chilling in a corner enjoying a leisurely lunch. Alone. One day soon.

For the longest time, I felt like I had lost out on many options because I don’t drive. Oh, I do know how to. My dad had sent me to driving school when I turned 18 and I was ripe to apply for a driver’s license — and it was during those driving lessons when I realized that driving was not my thing. I would need my own highway because I scare too easily and would swerve automatically in the opposite direction if another driver cut me. I didn’t want to endanger others, so I politely said no to driving and the car that went with it.

Here in New York, more so in the city, everything is accessible via public transportation. I have dared to go to places and parts of the city I have never been to before, armed with just the instructions of which buses or trains to take. But when it comes to places that need driving, i have found that Uber or Lyft is not always a choice.

But I refuse to let go of the idea that I can still go to places I would otherwise have been driven to, on my own.

Traveling alone is suddenly appealing for the adventure it offers a golden girl like me. I don’t really go on vacation trips except the annual trip to Manila and a side trip to another place or country along the way. My son usually travels with his dad, and he’s not too keen about traveling with Mom without a car. That doesn’t mean I can’t do it on my own.

Planning a tripI’m already planning a day trip in the coming weeks. There are places I’ve been to that I want to visit again, and new places where I want to explore and try new things. Traveling alone appeals to me because I need not worry about where to eat where my boy’s picky palette will find something agreeable. I wouldn’t be constantly thinking of things to do that would make a destination exciting and thrilling for a teenager like I usually do when he and I are out on the town. I can focus on what I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy going out with my son. It’s just that “him and I” takes a bit more planning than just “me”. I do relish the conversations and the laughter and how he would put my arm around his waist as he puts his arm on my shoulder. As he is almost a full head taller than me now, I fit rather snugly under his arms with room to rest my head on his shoulder if needed. He has grown. I used to hold his hand and lead him around. Now he takes me and leads the way. We are quite the pair.

But then there are times when it’s just me. A consequence of the uncoupling that happened not too long ago. And just as I carved out an identity for myself as I shook myself free of that matrimonial bond, it has become clear to me that there is more to me than the mother I am to this boy.

I pause and let that sink in. He is 15 and soon will be 25 and then 30. I cannot wait until after he has chosen the life he will live for me to learn to live mine. One day, I will see him less and less. He will have his own family. And while I will always be here for him, and without a doubt, he will be there for me– I need to carve out my world beginning now that I can choose how I want it to be.

I don’t want to be that old lady who makes do with what she has. I want to be that woman who chose to build her world into what she wanted it to be. And I want to go and see places. I want to make new memories, even if they bring me back to where I had been before.

No matter how near or far you’ve come. there’s a sense of exhilaration when you’ve reached your destination. I crave that excitement of knowing I have arrived and can do what I came here to do. Shopping in the mall, or exploring a town or revisiting an old favorite place.

That thought brings a smile to my face.

I know where I want to go. There’s a place I’ve been longing to return to even if I’ve been there three times before. I am curious to see how revisiting these places I went to would feel now that I’m a different person and I see the world with a different lens. I’ve been researching how to get there and plotting my day. What do I with the few hours I get to roam.. what do I bring? Where do I go?

I am not quite there where I can explore on my own and stay the night or the weekends just yet. A day trip seems adventurous enough for starters. I will get there. I hope to one day do a cross country journey by train .. or maybe hop from state to state by bus. Not quite there yet– but I’m going to get there.

For now, I will do that day trip and maybe take you with me on my one day adventure. Soon.

#10daywritingchallenge Day 2

This post is Day 2 of the #10DayWritingChallenge. Below are related links to this blogging list.

10 Day Writing Challenge

Out of Focus

Sewing Decisions

Fridays be like

Slow Saturday

Getting back up on your feet again

Autumn Monday

Taking it easy

When you fail again

Self love

 

Out of focus

Today was one of those days that didn’t quite start out as I wanted it to. It’s the middle of the day and I should be preparing my lunch of half a slice of Brie and walnuts, but instead I am trying to release some stress by writing here.

So how did my morning go? I hustled the 10th Grader to get ready to catch the bus to the city when I got a frantic text from the boss before I could leave the house. I had to pause and concentrate and replied and finally walked out — then I realized halfway through to the bus stop that my phone wasn’t in my purse when I walked out the door. I sent the boy on his way and went back to retrieve my “lifeline”, relieved that the boss’s tech woes were over.

I caught the next bus, breathed deeply and started to get ready to do my morning bus routine. (Paint my face). There’s a good half hour between my stop to the last pick up, and the last passenger who got on the bus at the last stop started screaming. He was clearly upset. I was too far back in the bus to make anything of what he was blabbering about but he got our attention. Worse, he made me nervous. It appears someone accommodated a fare swipe, and another passenger grudgingly gave up her seat so he could sit alone. It was already jarring enough when he behaved the way he did getting on the bus, but he kept ranting throughout most of the trip.

I figured there were enough men on the bus to subdue him if he started getting physically disruptive, but my main concern really was that the bus driver would pull over and refuse to keep going which would put a major dent on my morning time table. (And forget that it’s UN week in New York which makes for traffic stoppages and major gridlock on my side of town!). It was the driver’s prerogative to interrupt the trip if he felt threatened in any way, and I am glad he decided to charge it to another New Yorker having a bad day.

My usual five minute ride from exiting the Midtown Tunnel to my stop at Grand Central took all of a half hour not even midway through. So I got off the bus two stops ahead and walked. I was still late. At this point, I was just praying that no more mishaps or curve balls would come my way.

And just as I was ready to make my routine stop to say a prayer at a church I pass, I got a text from the boss on an urgent message I needed to make sure was received and acted upon. I was late but I was working. And I got the job done.

My morning was not any less hectic than usual. I had a birthday present I had brought for one of my closest friends at work. This year, I was ready with a card and the gift– I just needed the gift bag and the tissue to wrap it in. I could’ve postponed for later in the day but I wanted to do something cheerful and positive. I am fortunate to work in a place where everything is just a literal hop, skip and a jump away.

I picked my gift bag and tissue and wrapped my present in one layer, layered the bottom with tissue and then inserted two more sheets for flair. I always loved wrapping presents. Wrapping gifts has always been a favorite part of the holidays for me. Nowadays, we do shortcuts with the gift bag but I am happy to jazz that up with my own touch. I needed some cheer.

The morning rolled off rather eventfully but with no major glitches. Still, these little things have sort of rattled me into being unsettled. I’m hoping writing will help calm me down to that level where it will no longer be a throughly bubble at the back of my head.

I am usually not so easily sidelined by the unexpected, but one after the other coming in one morning can be a stumbling block. The good thing is I have my ways to get back up on my feet again and keep going. I am trying.

I am focusing on the positive and digging into my bin of happy. Breathe in, breathe out. Just another day..

Out of focus

#10daywritingchallenge Day 1

This post is Day 1 of the #10DayWritingChallenge.  Below are related links to this blogging list.

10 Day Writing Challenge

Out of Focus

One Day Soon

Sewing Decisions

Fridays be like

Slow Saturday

Getting back up on your feet again

Autumn Monday

Taking it easy

When you fail again

Self love

Paying closer attention

The 10-day Writing Challenge

I read somewhere that you need to write even when there is nothing to write. Or something like that.

And with how my writing has been going in stops and starts, I thought I’d set a goal of doing a 10-day writing challenge. The goal is to write and publish 10 posts here in the next 10 days. (Ambitious, right)

Not for lack of anything to do, but I know how difficult it can be to muster the words and ideas to complete a post– and how complacency can actually silence your voice. It is a high pressure goal in setting just to see if I can do it, and what will come out of it. I want to push myself to the limit and stir up my creative juices.

Writing has always been a part of who I am– be it in letters, poetry, stories or random musings here. Sometimes, even my Instagram posts have a mini essay for a caption. My pictures have stories behind them, just as they tell a story within the frame. And more often than not, there is a need to relate those stories, even if only in hashtags and blurbs that make sense only to me.

Our words paint a picture in the reader’s eyes. My words, to me, are like paintbrushes that make my thoughts, memories and ideas come to life. It is how I share a deeper part of me with you.

At first, I thought I’d list down the topics to write about, but then it occurred to me that that would curtail the attempt to let the words flow spontaneously. No rules. Just words. 10 posts in 10 days.

Here’s to 10 days of being spontaneous, and of marshaling the words to bring you into my world.

Below are the 10 posts that were published as a result of this personal challenge posed to myself:

Out of Focus

One Day Soon

Sewing Decisions

Fridays be like

Slow Saturday

Getting back up on your feet again

Autumn Monday

Taking it easy

When you fail again

Paper and pen

WritingI have been hearing a voice in my head prompting me to take paper and pen and write.  I don’t quite know what about, but I was told by a friend that if I were to write a book (ambitious!), I should do it on paper.

I don’t know if I’m writing to get the juices flowing for my dream to get published to become a reality — or is it simply another love letter to an older me in the not so distant future.

Maybe.

I used to journal longhand, back in the day when blogging was just in its infancy.  Or maybe even its toddler stages.  I have at least two books (or even three) I had written longhand in — and a third which was a Christmas or birthday present from the ex — once upon a time when he answer to the label “husband” or “honey”.  Then I stopped journaling, only to resume it around a decade later.

But before that, I went online and wrote.. took photos and wrote.. and I am still writing.  Not quite as much as I had hoped, but at least there is that conscious effort to write again.

My return to written journaling was spurred on by my discovery of art journaling.  I picked up a hardbound book and altered it with drawing and color and used it as my canvas.  This coincided with a very tumultuous time in my life which meant there was so much I needed to write down.  Although I have always said I am not an artist, I managed to create an altered book with my own version of artistic expression, filling the embellished pages with journaling over a period of two years.  Then my life somehow settled — some — and the upheaval subsided into a quiet calm.  I came to the end of my altered book.

I have tried to kick start my art journaling several times since, but with no success.  And yet I know I will keep trying.

So here I am now, pen in hand and almost to the third page of my first story.  I feel like that in itself is quite an achievement.  These days, I go with a joyful “yay!” to celebrate joy & Triumph.  And with a smile on my face, I know I am back into my love affair with paper and pen.

Gratitude

Grateful for another week with much accomplished.. for being good at what I do and loving the work I do.. for weekends with my little guy at home when I can do what I do best: being a mom.. grateful for the things and people I have in my life right now that assures me I am in a very good place.. I am more than okay.

#gothamchicksays #empirestatebuilding #mynewyork #mynyc #manhattan #nycsunset

#onmywayhome #weekend #weekendishere

Daily prompt: Gratitude

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.

 

The Daily Post: Mirror

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirrors

I call them glass canvasses.  They are like a dynamic blank screen that projects the world outside depending on the time of day.  I have a couple right by my place of work in New York City along the periphery of Bryant Park, and I have a few random shots that I took of a side mirror while in a car or of a reflection against a moving bus.  However, when I read the prompt that was posted last Friday just this Monday morning, I knew right away which photo I would post for this photo challenge .

Whenever I am in Manila, I take a lot of random photos while moving from place to place in a vehicle.  Street smarts in Manila dictate that shipping out your phone on a busy street would be a neon sign blinking “snatch me”, so I grab what shots I can in the safety of a car.  Sometimes I do get brave and do it while waiting on the sidewalk, but this was a shorter visit.  

This is the new Zuellig Building along Paseo De Roxas Avenue in Makati City, situated right where the old Mandarin Oriental Hotel used to be.  (Photo taken with my IPhone6, August 22, 2016).  My photo does not do it justice, but it encapsulates memories of this particular trip home in its reflection of clear blue skies during a trip that saw a lot of rainfall and cloudy days.  That’s home.

In Photos: Looking Up

Photo Challenge: Looking up

Way before I arrived here in New York City, someone told me that there was that running joke in these tourists walking around Manhattan.  Barring the obvious about only tourists wearing shorts in the summer, they’re the ones who keep looking up.  They are always awed by the concrete jungle that this part of NYC is, whether they are from another state or another country.

When I started on Instagram not too long ago, I found upward looking shots as a creative way of showcasing the obvious.  It was a different way of making the ordinary stand out.  More than that, it literally showed my world from a different perspective.  Much like stopping to smell the flowers, many of us here tend to forget how there is much to be awed by if we stop looking at what’s street level and looked up instead.  There is a totally different world many levels above us.

Below is a compilation of some of my #LookingUp posts in answer to this photo challenge.

The view from my bus stop this cold, cold early evening in NYC. #lookingup #ny #mynewyork #myny #manhattan #42ndstreet #midtown #ilovenewyork #onmywayhome #thebigapple
May 19, 2014: The view from my bus stop this cold, cold early evening in NYC. #lookingup #ny #mynewyork #myny #manhattan #42ndstreet #midtown #ilovenewyork #onmywayhome #thebigapple
#LookingUp #SomewhereInTheFlatIrobDiatrict last week while waiting to go to #dinner. It's always good to look at a different view every once in a while. It refreshes your #perspective and gives you a new way to appreciate things.. And appreciate the peop
#LookingUp #SomewhereInTheFlatIrobDiatrict last week while waiting to go to #dinner. It’s always good to look at a different view every once in a while. It refreshes your #perspective and gives you a new way to appreciate things..
Looking up: once in a while you have to look up to put things in its proper perspective. #mynyc #mynewyork #lookingup #perspectjve #ilovenewyork #midtown
Looking up: once in a while you have to look up to put things in its proper perspective. #mynyc #mynewyork #lookingup #perspectjve #ilovenewyork #midtown
#Lookingup: running late for brunch but almost there .. Of course, had to stop and snap a pic of the #EmpireStateBuilding. #sunny day today so grab your piece of #sunshine, #nyc ! #Manhattan #mynewyork #mynyc #ilovetheempirestatebuilding
#Lookingup: running late for brunch but almost there .. Of course, had to stop and snap a pic of the #EmpireStateBuilding. #sunny day today so grab your piece of #sunshine, #nyc ! #Manhattan #mynewyork #mynyc #ilovetheempirestatebuilding
#GlassCanvas: #perfect #sunnyDay in #Manhattan. Such a #gloriousfriday it is! #weekend #Friday #NewYork #newyorkcity #skyscraper #glass #glassfacade #lookingUp
#GlassCanvas: #perfect #sunnyDay in #Manhattan. Such a #gloriousfriday it is! #weekend #Friday #NewYork #newyorkcity #skyscraper #glass #glassfacade #lookingUp
#LookingUp from #lutrellstowncastle on a #sunnydayInDublin. We'll be back here #Wednesday for #funandgames and #dinner with the team. #ireland #Dublin #workcanbefun #loveWhatYouDo #GothamChickInDublin #sightseeingInDublin #castle #castleindublin #beckha
#LookingUp from #lutrellstowncastle on a #sunnydayInDublin. We’ll be back here #Wednesday for #funandgames and #dinner with the team. #ireland #Dublin #workcanbefun #loveWhatYouDo #GothamChickInDublin #sightseeingInDublin #castle #castleindublin #beckha
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC: Looking Up - We always have a grand time visiting here #Washingtondc #smithsoniannationalairandspacemuseum #lookingup #space #nasa #museum
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC: Looking Up – We always have a grand time visiting here #Washingtondc #smithsoniannationalairandspacemuseum #lookingup #space #nasa #museum

Giggle, giggle

Daily Prompt: Giggle

We have a term for the giggly in Tagalog: bungisngis.  It’s that penchant to giggle at the slightest provocation, usually denoting a cheerful countenance.  Someone who is easy to smile or laugh, lighthearted and cheery.  That comes to mind when I think about “giggle”.

We giggle when we are amused, thrilled or nervous.  I believe it’s a natural tendency for laughter to find its way out of the deep core where we usually keep it hidden.  Like one of my former law professors used to say, “in the deepest of our hearts.”  It comes out during that one moment when we actually let ourselves go and allow the imp or the child or the easy going part of us out.

Amused.  Remember those times when you just can’t let a guffaw out or when it isn’t quite that funny but more amusing?  We stifle the laughter and instead let out a giggle.  Like a child.

I cherish the moments when my now almost 12 year old giggles like the child I wish he would always be.  When I hear that deep and hearty sound of delight and laughter that literally racks his body with a deep and sincere laugh if there was ever such a thing.

It’s almost laughter but not quite.. Yet it resonates from within.

Thrilled.  Girls gush and giggle.  There was a time when just hearing our crush say hello or call us by name would lead to a giggle when he was out of earshot.  Or those times when we shared our secrets with our bestfriends and we would feel so over the moon that we let out a bit of the warm and fuzzy in our tummys by letting out one.

Nervous.  I have a tendency to be giggly when I’m nervous — but nervous in a good kind of way.   The giggles come out between sentences, awkwardly punctuating those pauses in the conversation or as one tries to mask the unease.  A lifetime ago when I was younger, someone kissed me and it felt weird and awkward and in my immaturity and girlish impishness, I giggled.  And I guess he found it weird that I did and that didn’t get followed by another one of those.  Nerves.  Why does giggling make it easier?

Finding my voice again

Daily prompt: Voice

I believe that we all have our own individual voice, and that each one is uniquely and distinctly our own.  We are born with it but are not always in touch with it.  Some even don’t know that it’s there.

It’s that part of us that speaks to the world about who and what we are.  Sadly, sometimes this voice is muted or suppressed and drowned out by other voices around us.

I have always been loud.  As in booming.  While I may seem to be shy at the start, it’s only because I don’t go in announcing myself to the world.  I’m the one you see making her way around the room introducing herself to you and the rest, one at a time.  I can speak to you or the group — and you will hear me very distinctly.  Even in the midst of the collective noise of individual conversations going on in a disjointed chorus, I can raise my voice and halt that chatter to silence.

I was raised to defer to authority, and I would be the one raising her hand to be heard– not the one who just shouts from the back of the room.  When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have been encouraged  to find my voice and speak with confidence.  I was taught to not be afraid and to have my voice heard when necessary.

So I learned how to say no when I wasn’t up to agreeing to something.  If I had a contrary opinion, I would not be one to be intimidated for holding an unpopular view and I would make my point heard.  I sold myself as a candidate to crowds of people.  I won speaking competitions and college student council elections.  I confidently made business pitches to sell ideas.  I found my voice both in the audible and physical sense.  You “heard” me even just by “seeing” me.  I wasn’t the flamboyant one, but I stood out as an individual in a crowd.  It wasn’t so much about colors or hairstyles– it was because I walked with a confidence that made people listen when I needed them to.

That voice helped me to make my way through law school.  It helped me to move around the corporate world after.  And it helped me to make the move to this side of the world because that was what I wanted.  

Yet somewhere along the way, my voice started to fade.  At first, little by little.  Even I didn’t notice it. I didn’t speak up as often, I would just follow other voices.  And then one day my voice just wasn’t me anymore.  I told myself it was me adjusting to my new life.  I didn’t realize, though, that I allowed my voice to be silenced, and I mimicked the voice of another whose approval meant the world to me.

But there is something about suppressing the voice within that eventually sees it struggling to be heard again. Events unfolded and I found myself clearing my throat and searching for that booming sound within.  I never really lost it– I had just let it be buried in the din of others shouting above mine.  I screamed to break free and silence fell, and the collective noise ceased.  When all ears were on me, I declared, “I am back.”

I stopped listening to the voice that tried to mold me into something I wasn’t.  The only voice I listened to was mine, and I had missed that.  I had missed being who I am because I was too busy being someone else.  Lesson learned.  

And everyday, I smile as I hear my inner voice telling me, “I am back.”