Grateful (#5ThingsToBeThankfulFor)

Long weekends get back at you the day when your week officially begins, and mine started today.  Tuesday = Monday.  Forgot to reload my metrocard so there I was fishing for coins on the bus.. solution found: paid off a fellow passenger for a swipe.  Terribly cold day in New York City, and bundling up meant I felt the heat enveloping me and I was just feeling hot.  It went to my head, and my morning got off to a rocky start.

When things aren’t turning out the way you wish they would, it’s always good to try to steer your way towards something positive.  I thought I’d start by counting my blessings today, sort of as a natural pick me up.  A second cup of coffee might not work – so I’m improvising.

Another list?  I’m trying to resist the urge but I do have my “Five Things to be Thankful for” here.  I had fun with my new app, DrawingDesk, which has been a little testy but has been a refreshing graphic application on my iPhone to help me spice things up here.  Pardon the roughness of the scribbling but I’m too cheap to spring for a stylus.  That’s my fingertip doing the writing, but I’m pretty happy with how that turned out.  (Finally settled on one that was good enough after over two dozen attempts.)


Gratitude is something that we very rarely indulge in – but which is something we would do well to make a habit of. (#gratitude)

Top of my head:  I’m thankful for being a “Medium” (size) now, for hot coffee that I can drink iced, for twitchy noses, a long weekend that allowed me to sleep til 9am (!) and pancake breakfasts that I missed and will begin missing again.  (Back on the diet!)

I see the sun shining brightly outside but the temperatures are unbearably cold.  Snow is forecast for the weekend, and I’m already thinking of the supplies I will need as I have no intention of heading out beyond my immediate neighborhood.  After 15 years here and seeing mild to wild winters, I am not such a fan of snow anymore.  (More so in the aftermath of a snowstorm!)

But I’m not going to start complaining now.  Trying to stay positive by basking in the feeling of being blessed.

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

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

1.  Caramel — my favorite confection of all..

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

3.  Laughter and swollen noodles..

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

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


Sometimes colors just come together in an unexpected way at the moment you least expect it in the most unusual place.  #mynyc #mynewyork @onmywaytowork #manhattanskyline #ontheLIEWhen we were children, our parents always admonished us to say “Thank You” and “Please”.  Even now, I do the same to my 10-year-old.  And yet when you look at how we go about our day, there are many things that we don’t say “Thank you” for.  There are a lot of people we don’t get to say “Thank you” to. Sometimes, we crave to hear a simple word of appreciation and we get nary a thanks, when that would have made a world of difference.

This got me thinking the last couple of days and I’m deep into a “Thank You” project.  It’s still in the works so let me leave it at that.  I just find it to be one of those little acts of kindness that can literally mean so much and change the world.

Call it a means of paying forward the blessings I have and continue to be blessed with.  When the challenges seem to be piling up, the best remedy I have come to discover, is actually LITERALLY counting your blessings.  There is so much that we should be thankful for.  And yet as we go about our day, there is so much — and there are so many people — who go unappreciated.  More often than not, we do acknowledge the significance of whatever it is we ought to be thankful for, but we don’t always say it or express our appreciation outright.  How great would it be for someone to send us an unexpected “Thank you”!

I’m pulling together such a project, and I’ll write more about it when I have it in place.

My Thursday feels more like a Friday because of the Fourth of July weekend.  I am actually looking forward to recharging and getting things done — even if we’re not really going anywhere special.  I am also trying to do my Fourth of July weekend differently this year, because the past years have been non-events or days I would rather forget.  So between trying to make ‘new memories’ and trying to forget the bad, I’m trying to focus on other things.  (Like my “Thank You” project.)  Plus, Mother Nature has been pounding us with rain and pummelling us with nasty winds.

Last year was nice because my BFF Donna from Australia was in town.  And yet so many things happened, half of which I didn’t come to find out about until much later, which makes it one of the holidays I am not looking forward to.  So I try and count the positive — trying to keep my outlook bright and praying for the resolve not to give in to negativity.

If you ask me, I’d just like to be by some poolside or beach, sitting in the shade (I am not a sun lover), sipping a cocktail or two, and sleeping the day away.  It’s not even 11pm and I am already raring to hit the sack, so to speak.  Soon.

Still I wish you all a Happy Fourth of July — this great nation is celebrating it’s birthday and toasting the freedom we enjoy today.

Five things to be thankful for

It’s Sunday evening and like every Sunday in my daily readings from Kerygma Family, I look back at the blessings of the previous week.  I was sort of sidelined by a bad infection which threatened to take over my immune system but I made a strong come back after resting it away at home.  No fever, but my neck ached liked crazy due to swollen lymph nodes.  I’m okay now but still exhausted — so I’m trying to take it slow.

Tonight, I’m thankful and happy about…

1.  Finally some good temperatures that are not in the teens and which actually allowed us to go out with jackets but no scarves today.  (40s!)

2.  Getting Angelo’s science project going.  (We conducted the experiment but still have halfway to go with his partner, Ryan.)

3.  Finding a ring I had misplaced.  I wear three rings daily — and I take them off when I do my chores.  One, somehow, found its way to another bin away from the two, but they’re a happy threesome again.

4.  Family lunch at Waterzooi, a place we used to visit and went back to again.  Loved their Baked French Onion Soup (upper right picture in the collage below) and shared Alan’s Paella Moules Frites (bottom pictures).  Ended up eating Angelo’s burger, but I’m not complaining.  The promise of doing things differently.. keeps me hopeful.
Food trip: Waterzooi Belgian Bistro fir lunch and Banana Nutella Crepe for snacks on Super Bowl Sunday

5. Completing my “HOPE” multi-page layout for Art Journal Every Day in my altered book.

Art Journal Every Day: Hope Multi-page Layout (pre-journaling)This one was done quicker than I had thought it would be, although I’ve had to retake the layout graphics over and over again because of changes to the drawings. The journaling pretty much stayed as is, then I had to blur them out.  I’m happy to be able to work consistently on journaling no matter how short my window to work on the pages may be.

I’m now working on another multi-page layout, “BELIEVE”, but will write a feature on “HOPE” before I post anything on any other work in progress.

Another week and another month ahead… can you believe January has ended?  And yes, we’re officially into the Year of the Horse which is my year although my element is Fire…  That only means I’m turning 48 (because I’m certainly not turning 60 YET)… another year.

Thankful and happy, and feeling blessed I am.


Five things to be thankful for

1.  A warm and cozy home to go into when the temps outside dip down to 27 degrees.  (Thankfully, we didn’t get a ton load of snow again.  Just another regular winter snowfall sometime this afternoon.)

2.  Instagram.  18 followers.. my most popular posts are a series of photos I’m tagging #jeepneystories.  Come and take a look and let me know what you think of my photos.

3.  A nice dinner of tuna sashimi and shrimp tempura with rose wine.  I’m trying to be good with the diet… tuna shashimi at 1 pt each and 2 shrimp tempura.. plus a glass of wine.  Life is good..

4.  Getting on with my altered book and Art Journal Every Day project.  Finally drawing and writing again.  (Writing more about it at Gotham Chick.)

5.  Watching “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” with my boys.  Makes me miss Tom Clancy.  I’m sure he left a ton of story ideas that will see more of his genuis on the big screen.  I love Chris Pine as Jack Ryan and I’m keeping my fingers crossed he will come back for the next installment.  I would love to see him do the succeeding ones eventually.  But the even more intriguing thought for me is if they will ever do John Clark who is my favorite Tom Clancy character of all.  I totally enjoyed  seeing Kenneth Branagh who, it turns out, was also the director of the movie.  I have long been in love with this Knighted Englishman from the moment I first saw him in one of my forever favorites, “Much Ado About Nothing” some twenty years ago.  (Which he, again, directed and starred in.)

I have around two hours more to go before I hit the sack and I have a corner I want to attack and weed out stuff that needs to be disposed of.  I’m on my second cup of tea and hoping to write another post before I hit the sack in a bit.  I hope everyone is having a good weekend, too… despite the cold for us here on the east coast…

We should all count our blessings.

Five things I’m thankful for

I know this is something I should be doing more of: thinking of the things I should be grateful for, but life happens.  (Another list I would do well to write about: Things I should be doing more of!)

1.  Friday… (That is why I greet everyone in the office a happy Friday!)

2.  Power — and by this I mean electricity.  (I have “REVOLUTION“, the TV series to thank for that newfound appreciation of something so commonplace in our 21st century lives.)

3.  Pan de sal — it brings me back “home”.

4.  Another pound lost… self explanatory. (HA!)

5.  Seeing my niece, Andreanna, wearing a pretty, pretty dress (or dresses) from Ninang.  Priceless.

Happy Friday, everyone!

What a simple phone call can do

There are times when we want to be “there” for someone but cannot be there for one reason or another.  There are just instances when try as we might, we cannot accommodate a friend’s urgent request.  We try to accommodate but cannot, and on the other side, we try to understand.  Then there comes that one break where we are able to call, and that call makes all the difference.

I got such a call today which brought a flood of emotions out when it came.  It was both a relief and a semi-missed opportunity to reconnect and ask the questions I had meant to ask.  I somehow got caught between that feeling of being caught in the warm embrace of a friend and being shrugged off by someone you had meant to be one of the people you would find yourself running to in times of need.  But sometimes expectations and reality don’t meet.  That’s a lesson I learned the hard way the last couple of weeks.

I asked and I received.  Sometimes they say that the worst thing that could happen is that you be ignored or that you get a “no”.  Today, I got a “yes”.  Not quite the “yes” I wanted, but a yes nonetheless.

I am still kind of at a loss but grateful nonetheless.  I am trying not to expect anything beyond this gesture of kindness.  I have barely 36 hours left in Manila and I am hoping that I will find more gestures of kindness coming my way.

Tomorrow, perhaps.

Waking before sunrise to a message from up above

I stirred at a few minutes before 3AM Manila time on Wednesday, realizing my cellphone did not ring when I had expected it to just before midnight here and noon in New York.  Angelo’s coming home midday as it’s Parent-Teacher Conference day in New York today.  So I stood up, freshened up and then dialed via ever reliable SKYPE.

I miss my boy.  I would have taken him with me if I had the budget and if he weren’t going through the prerequisites of First Communion like First Penance.  Besides, it’s not like two weeks is not going to set him back academically, and I don’t want to chance that on a whim.

I had not intended to doze off but my eyes were heavy with sleep when I set up the laptop and lay down beside it, cellphone on hand so I can hear it when Angelo does a missed call.  But I guess I was tired and totally out of energy after a most draining meeting with the people I was supposed to talk to on my family’s behalf tonight.

I tried to keep reminding myself I should stay positive as I tried to block out all the thoughts and feelings that have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart the past couple of weeks.  I had to shoo away all the negative energy to emit the right kind of aura that will hopefully give me some edge.  I had dressed for the occasion in a pant suit that was not too corporate nor too casual.  I was made up but not in my custom fashion — this was not the time to lose my eye liner but I made do with mascarra.  (This may seem trivial to some, but taking on the look is something I feel is very important when you are going to sit at a table to negotiate.)

My lawyer friend arrived first.  We caught up (I had been one of the secondary sponsors at his and his wife’s wedding, another classmate,) and we tried to strategize without overly thinking what it was we wanted to say.  Having him there beefed up my confidence.  I wasn’t among strangers.  This was a friend.

Then our opposing party arrived, lawyer present, too.  As luck would have it, the lawyer they brought was someone from my legal alma mater which they must’ve found an awkward advantage for us — and all it took was a simple, “You look familiar.  Did you go to Ateneo?”  As we were wont to do, batch mentioned and common friends’ names enumerated.  Bingo.. I felt the heavens were smiling down on me.  My lawyer-friend-classmate and I shared a look and I knew he was thinking the same thing.  Not that we automatically thought she was on our side, but at least we knew she would be one to play fair and speak upfront.

The conversation was calm but emotionally draining, because there was a lot of tentativeness and vacillation on the part of the other party.  We had made our offer, it was refused, and we needed to get a counter offer we could react to.  This tug-of-war took almost an hour, landing us somewhere near a possible counter proposal which, understandably, could not be arrived at right there and then.  But at least we had our lawyers exchanging numbers and agreeing to communicate to each other whatever it was they arrived at, so that it can be communicated to the parties, and hopefully a document drafted for signing by all involved very soon.

I had to bare my soul in a manner of speaking explaining where my family was coming from and what financial dilemma the refusal of the counter offer has plunged us into, and what challenges we are facing given a new proposal.  It is by no means a small figure we were negotiating over, but it was not something we could not work towards raising.

Even before I sat down there, I prayed.  I asked God to guide me and give me the words to say.  He had taken me back to Manila despite all the odds and despite previous plans not to or to do so later in April perhaps.  Things happened which drastically changed my time table, and while getting me here started to become workable, in many respects, it had come with a lot of obstacles along the way and at a price. (Soul of Christ, Sanctify me.. Body of Christ, save me.. Water from the side of Christ, wash me…)  I almost felt defeated thinking of all the things that had happened the previous weeks and that have been happening lately, and I just closed my eyes thinking there must be a reason for everything.  I almost said out loud, if this is what it would take, I understand why it has cost so much.

(I had to pause just now, close my eyes and try to shoo away the knot forming in my chest.  Too early for tears.)

I had texted out a request for prayers, for the prayers to be sent my way, but after we walked out of the restaurant and headed home, all that I could say was “Thank you.”  Even if I didn’t get a reply to any of the messages, I know that people heard and people prayed.  I have always believed in the power of prayer, no matter which God one prayed, too.  As Fe always says, it’s the energy of the universe, and the universe is listening.

My task is not quite finished yet and we have a second and possibly third meeting set before I leave.  It looks now that although I wanted to leave for New York over the weekend, it’ll have to wait.  One of the meetings set is for Monday.

I wanted to just plop down in the front seat of the car, but we had to head home and relay what we had spoken about to my sister and my mom whom we left in the house.  While recounting it and relaying what had transpired to them was a task in itself, explaining things related to our home to my mother is an emotional obstacle course because I have to  be careful what I say and how I say it.  She has spent many sleepless nights over this dilemma — in fact when the other party asked why we didn’t have her with us, I told them in a calm voice that everytime they spoke with my mom, she spent many sleepless nights after and she wasn’t one to take sedatives to calm her nerves.   I had to try very hard not to hint at my displeasure at their callousness for my mother’s feelings the way they had been talking to her in the previous negotiations which was relayed to me by my siblings — I was, after all, supposed to be the one trying to placate them and trying to convince them to give us a reasonable counter offer.

I still feel like I’m carrying half the weight of the world on my shoulders, and trying to sort things in a heart already beaten down by other burdens the past few weeks.  (Passion of Christ.. give me strength..”)  And I have to remind myself that life goes on when I go on that plane ride back to New York where I will have to face other challenges waiting for me on that side of the world. ( “Hear me Jesus, hide me in Thy wounds so that I may never leave Thy side..”)  I would normally want to stay and extend, but there’s a boy whose warm embrace is like God’s personal assurance to me that all will be well.  Every day he asks me when will I be coming home.  One week, I told him today.  I said midnight on Wednesday next week, I’ll wake him up and I’ll be with him already. =)

I tried to start a blog post here last night just before I lay down before midnight but I was beaten down.  I only had enough strength to set up the gadgets that will enable me to connect with Angelo when he called, then sleep took me over.  When I woke up this morning, I found two “messages” that were messages — but not quite — waiting for me.  First was the knowledge that someone I thought might have totally been ignoring me was still listening in a distant way.  I knew because I saw that there was a glimpse taken my way — even if nary a word was said.  Second was yet another “Godwink” from a comment from a stranger… thank you, WI.

Wi wrote in response to Rainy Tuesday in Manila below:

I just prayed for you and will continue to do so. Good luck.

Like I always do, I returned a thank you for an e-mail trace back, and again, like a few days ago with Shay, it wasn’t the original comment which brought the tears out but rather what she said in response to my note that just convinced me my message to the heavens was received, and God was telling me that He heard.

In a strange way, I heard someone else saying what Wi had told me in her comment — someone in particular I had asked for prayers from, and to whom I texted a simple “Thank you” last night after I stood up from the negotiating table.  Even if I didn’t get any replies and I was thinking perhaps my messages were being ignored or deleted, Wi’s comment to my mind was the universe telling me the messages were received, and the prayers sent.  Or at least I’d like to think so.

Hear me, Jesus..”… I feel as though there are just too many petitions I am asking of God at this point that I don’t know which one to prioritize over the other.  I am almost afraid to ask that one prayer be granted at the expense of another equally important petition weighing heavily on my heart.  At this point, all I can say is I offer it all up to Him for Him to do with as He pleases… what I might want most might not be what He may want to give to me… ever.. or just not yet.

As a friend would say, Inshallah.  Another would say, “In God’s time..”… and Fe would say, “The universe is listening.”

I’m headed to Baclaran today for my personal devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  I am almost sure the tears will come again — the hymns and the faith of the masses who raise their voices up to heaven never fail to move me on an ordinary day, what more on a day like this when I feel Jesus talking to me, and I feel His arms around me in a warm embrace.  Have to make sure I brought the tissue and the shades in my purse.

Fe is away on a trip to Dumaguete this morning, so I will go about mine without my emotional crutch here by my side.  I can already hear her saying “You’re doing fine.. Be kind to yourself.”

One week left.  I have promised myself to make the most of what’s left of my trip as my returning any earlier than the end of 2013 is very unlikely.  I might not even return until 2014.  I have to finish my notebooks soon, write on my cards, pack the rosaries I brought home to give away.  I have to make sure all that I brought reaches their intended recipient. I have to leave with all my paperwork taken cared of, powers of attorney signed.  I have a baul  (chest) of pictures and old letters I’m still looking for which I hope to find and go through before I leave.  I have already tucked away the postcards my sister reminded me I had always intended to take back to New York in one of my future trips — I told her the postcards will have to stay and wait for another trip in the future.  I can’t take them back with me just now.

It’s still dark out and I know half the city is already stirring.  Some people are already making their way to the LRT trying to avoid the morning rush.  I have to start my day soon, too.  Day one of 7 and counting..