Organizing this corner of the web

30daysICONI know I should’ve done it sooner, but with another journal/blog prompt project coming up, I finally put up a 30 Days of Blogging Prompts page which is a subpage of Journal Prompts which you will find on the menu up in my navigation bar. 

I successfully completed the printed version but just now realized I did not get to post all the entries I meant to post online. I’ll try to do that in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to complete my first 20 of an online swap off of a hundred ideas/prompts from swap-bot. That’s the swap requirement but I’m hoping to do more.

Why all these blog/journal prompts? It helps to make “spontaneous” even more spontaneous by “steering” me in a different direction from what I would normally take. It challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone and try something new. And it comes in handy when I’m in a creative rut. I can just pick up a prompt and move from there.

There’s only so much that one can write and squeeze out of one’s thoughts based on a day-to-day existence.  It helps me draw out something else beyond the feeling of the moment, whatever that may be.  Others do it through drawings, I do it through words..

So I might yet finally finish one of my Journals on  Journey soon, as I think I’ve come to a “size” that I’m comfortable with.  One of the most difficult things for me to decide when creating a journal from scratch — as in literally putting the book together — is deciding how big or how small or how compact or thick it will be.  I was at Barnes & Noble over the weekend and I was almost tempted to grab one of the smaller notebooks..  I stopped myself only when I get reminded I can actually make one of those. =)

Tonight I have to keep busy with something else, but at least I’m starting to get organized here.

Video Reveal: 30 days of blogging prompts journal for Swap-bot

I finally found the time to edit and create the final video reveal of my 30 days of blogging prompts journal which has already made it to my partner.  The next thing is for me to organize the posts in this blog according to the prompts — at least for the ones that I actually published.

I am keeping a copy for myself and have two photocopies on hand.  I’m still thinking about whether or not I should offer that as a give away.  (Now who would even want to read all that about me? LOL)

Enjoy!

Love Language … Huh? (30 days of bloggins prompts 28)

This is one prompt that made me go “hmmmmmm” several times. Hmmmmmm, indeed.

So I went online and tried to google “LOVE LANGUAGE,” and while I am not certain I got it right, I landed on a page (www.5lovelanguages.com) where they had identified 5 love languages:

Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Receiving gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch

 I would have to pick Physical Touch as my love language, being a very tactile person and all who is not afraid to touch others.

No matter how I go to words to express what’s inside of me, and how easy it is for me to actually talk about my feelings, I express my fondness for others through touching.  I also like being held and touched in an affectionate way, because to me it is a deeper connection beyond just “knowing” or “hearing” about how someone else might care for me.  So I do the same and touch others to show them I care.

Me — Misunderstood? (30 days of blogging prompts 20)

What do you think people misunderstand the most about you?

Through the years, I’ve learned that I’m THAT person that you either love or hate.  No middleground — I seem to have either an endearing or repulsive personality, depending on whom you ask.  Which is just fine.  I have come to accept the old line that you can’t please everyone.  So I’ve long stopped trying to do that.

For those on the negative end of the spectrum, I’d like to think that the misunderstanding stems from the fact that people sometimes (or oftentimes) take offense with my strong tone, and my ability to separate the personal from the professional.  When it’s work, I put on a different hat with the end game of getting things done.  I’ve learned to grow a thick skin at work given the very strong personalities my previous bosses had, so I guess you can say I’ve taken to mastering the skill of not taking things personally.  When I take charge, I can get really bossy.  Others like that, but most people don’t like being bossed around.  (Not even by their own bosses.. that’s why they’re where they are and I am where I am at.)

Those people who don’t get the chance to know the non-working or non-bossy me, usually tend to label me with “B” in neon letters, and as humans do, tend to return the tone.  And I don’t take that personally, but that just means we’re not meant to be anything but co-workers.

There are those who are cowed by the bigger personality and never see the girly, funny, sweet and very sensitive side of me.  There was a time I’d kill myself trying to win those people over, only to be frustrated and racked with self-doubt.  That was the very young, inexperienced me.  After years of running after people who I felt disliked me for misunderstanding me and failing to see the real Dinna, I came to terms with the fact that there are just people who don’t like you — period.  And those people who can’t see the real me aren’t worth the effort to chase and convince.

I have had a colleague or two who had become very good friends, but who, when I put on my working hat and I say no to take great offense.  Or who when I tell them off for something that needs correcting thinks it’s a personal attack and there goes the former intimacy we shared as friends. The lines get blurred, and there comes in the misunderstanding.  There are the few gems, though, who know when it’s work and when it’s not.

I can have a “tone” which sometimes people get overly-sensitive to.  I remember back when I was still in school, an ex-boyfriend took offense when, in the middle of a spat, I commanded him to “sit”.  One word:  “Sit.” I remember the look on his face — and later he said I made him feel like I was treating him like a dog.  Okay, he was overly sensitive — but it’s one of those situations where people think I’m playing Hitler.  LOL

Even at home, sometimes I’d say something in a forceful tone or a higher or louder voice, not meaning anything or not being angry, but it’s taken to mean that way.  Picture the volume or bass tone suddenly switching from one side of the switch to the other — misunderstanding resolved.

Maybe I’m not trying hard enough to pause and think before I open my mouth.  But I make no apologies.  (That is not to say, though, that I don’t apologize when warranted.)  I’ve become less friendly although I still smile a lot.  I just choose who I chat up or who I choose to befriend.  Friendships take a lot of work, like any relationship, and there are the souls who make the extra effort to get to know you better.  They are those who go past the misunderstandings or the wrong notions.  They are the ones who ask if maybe there’s another side to you besides the one whose fangs and horns they saw.  (I do have a halo tucked somewhere although I often forget where I hid it. =)

Misunderstood?  Yes, more often than not.  But I’ve stopped trying to explain myself to the world — only those who deserve the explanation get it from me.  Not everyone may like me, but I know those who truly matter love me.

Memories from my childhood (30 days of blogging prompts 20)

I’ve always considered myself to have been lucky to have had the childhood I had.  It was not a perfect childhood but I can say it was a happy one.  We were not really rich, but we were comfortably well-off.  Enough for my siblings and I to have gone to some of the best schools back home down to  college, and for us to count summers in Baguio and trips elsewhere among our fondest memories.  We never went on vacations overseas unlike our really rich peers — but we never really wanted for anything. 

For me to write and describe 3 significant memories from my childhood is not a difficult thing to do, but choosing only three is the tougher task, but let me try.

1.  When I was in kindergarten, we were invited to dance on Channel 5 after someone (presumably one of the parents in the audience) saw our group perform a dance to “Jesus Christ, Superstar” in school.  I remember dancing and being the “star” among around 10 dancers, so dear old Auntie Lydia dressed me differently to stand out.  Picture midriff (sp?) and shorts complete with bandana on the head.  (I’m trying to find a picture…)  My first taste of performing… which sort of gave me stage fright but which I really enjoyed.  Also my first taste of feeling like a “star” — which, thinking back now, did a lot to boost my self confidence, even as a child.

2.  Father – Daughter date: Ten Commandments.  I think this was when I was 7 — I just remember that Dad and I were the only ones who went because he thought my sister (then 5) and brother (then 3) were much too young to sit through the three-hour grown up movie.  We bought pears from a fruit vendor outside (my first time to taste them then…) and we sat there, just him and me.  Quite a departure from our usual family movie dates.  I liked those times dad and I went out on our own.  We did this a couple of times more  and each one was special.  It was  during those times I truly felt I was a Daddy’s girl.

3.  Summers spent in Baguio.  I cannot remember when we started going on long vacations in Baguio, but I would say it was probably when I was around 5.  Mom and Dad hauled us off to Baguio and left us there in the care of Auntie Lydia, returning during the weekends.  We would usually stay for three to six weeks, returning to Manila just before school begins. 

We went on picnics, spent nights huddled in bed sans the airconditioner, just enjoying the summer days before school began again. 

Not that I don’t have any jarring or mind-blowing memories but “significant” to me would mean something that meant a lot to me or had somehow laid the foundation for who I am today.

Window to my soul (30 days of blogging prompts 27)

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

My eyes.  Although they usually have huge eyebags under them, I think they are the most expressive part of my body and the one least susceptible to attack from my fatty cells.  (HA!)  I have also been fortunate to have had an actual crease in my lids although most Asians have straight eyelids.  (Difficult to describe but some people actually undergo plastic surgery for them to have the same effect.

End of story.  That was quite easy. =)

I’m on the homestretch of my 30 days of blogging prompts and can’t wait to send off my book.  I’m just adding the titles and tags and pictures to accompany the posts.  I’m hoping to start writing the last prompts tonight and finish tomorrow so I can wrap it all up.  I’m also almost done with my Book of Treasures.  I think I’ll take a break from the swaps for abit after this.

In My Memory – Five things I hope to be remembered by (30 days of blogging prompts 30)

I wish to be remembered as :

…a good mother.  75% of my life revolves around this one human being who has made such a huge difference in my life.  My anchor, my one big love, the reason I’m still around no matter what.  I hope when that day comes he will celebrate that special bond he and I share, and will continue to share until I breathe my last.  Funny, but sometimes as we fool around, he pretends like he’s been shot and in the throes of death and he will start closing his eyes and speak in a weak voice saying “Tell my mother I love her..”and he’d play dead.  Then open his eyes again and utter another line.  (He’s a funny boy, what can I say?) 

… someone who had a way with words.  Words have always been a precious means to express my thoughts and feelings and have been my solace and reward through the years.  Others do it with pictures, I do it with words.  I hope that someone will remember me for that when I am long gone, published or not.

…a good and loyal friend.  Some of my dearest friendships have been tested through time and others have succumbed to the age-old fact of “growing apart”.  I hope that my friends will be kind and remember the good and not the bad.. because for those who count as one of the few true friends I have, I have tried to chalk up more “good” than otherwise.

…someone who lived her life to the fullest.  Even now I encounter people who say “sana”.  (I am hard pressed to find a literal translation to this beyond “I wish I did..”)  I have my own “I wish I did..” lists which fall under the category of “what ifs” but I have found that “what-might-have-been”s are part of what is unreal — it’s a thought.. that’s all that is.  No sense in dwelling on thoughts when you have reality unfolding.  So I live my “now” the way I’d like to live it within the boundaries of what is possible and doable.  I tried to  break out of my boundaries and fell flat on my face — so lesson learned there.  There are always boundaries that we set or are set for us — but having those boundaries does not stop us from living life as we want to. 

I craft, I draw (even if I’m not an artist) and I try to express myself in words.  I write here on this blog with a shameless declaration that whatever I write here is meant for my own selfish benefit.  (I like seeing my words on print, for one.)  I tried.. I continue to try and I will die trying.

Life has been good to me.  I always try to appreciate the good instead of dwelling on the pain.  I remind myself every day that every morning I wake up is a new gift I must be thankful for.

…someone who was kind and who had a good heart.  I know that I am far from perfect — I have a bad temper, I can be really messy (always surrounded by creative chaos), very stubborn– I am human — but I’d like to believe that I try to live my life with the same tenets I’m trying to teach Angelo.  I hope that I’ll be remembered for having had A heart — and a good one at that.

My family and I — Then and now (30 days of blogging prompts 24)

Describe your family dynamic from your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

I grew up in a very close knit family, but both my parents were busy running a family business.  I was the eldest of three children born successively (1966, 1967 and 1969) so we were all playmates.  We were also room mates.  We did everything together even if my sister and I went to a private girls’ school, and my brother went to an all boys’ school.

DSCF1870We always ate our meals together and played with each other.  While our parents were busy, we were fortunate enough to have had a paternal aunt who was a former nun stay with us through most of our growing up years.  (Our Auntie Lydia was Sister Eduviges with the Oblates of Mary, and also makes an appearance in another list for this journal project as one of three people who have influenced me.)  She took care of making sure that our nannies fed us, bathed us and got us to bed on time.  She would help us with homework, read books to us and took us out on movie afternoons when Mom and Dad could not.

Despite being busy making a living, we had our routine of going to movies and dinner out on Fridays.  Saturdays were spent at home or roaming the shopping center (not quite the malls that sprouted in later years).  Sundays, we went to mass, then headed to lunch or dinner, depending on which mass we attended.  Religion was a focal point of our family life.  During the Rosary month of October, we would pray the rosary together (usually without my Dad, though, who would still be out of the house before dinnertime), and we could each lead prayers based on memory.

Filipino families are very conservative and the word of your parents was law.  We were not allowed to talk back, and we followed our parents wishes.  There were parents who did not spare the rod, so to speak, when called for.  We continued to be respectful even as we grew up, and there was always a healthy deference to authority even as the children became adults themselves.  In our culture, parents and children are never equal.  Parents were always a source of love and authority.

My mom would sometimes get the chance to actually take care of us herself, and she would scrub and bathe us in a way our nannies routines often paled in comparison to.  We had a cook but she would take to the kitchen for certain special dishes.  It was, however, not the norm.  As a couple, my parents had their marital spats, too, and one thing I was not appreciative of was that while they were never physically abusive towards each other, they did a lot of verbal tussling and would often involve having all three of us in front of them as an audience of sorts.

Birthdays were always an occasion to celebrate, and so was Christmas.  We held many parties in our home, inviting extended family.  My mother was painfully shy but was a great party host, making sure her table was overflowing with good food — not just regular dinner or lunch fare.  Christmas saw relatives and friends knocking on our door to partake of the christmas spread and to get their holiday gift which was usually some cash in an envelope.  My parents showed us that family always meant looking beyond just the five (and later 6) of us. 

Growing up, I was close to my mom, but we always had that Mom-Daughter dynamic where I was always obligated to follow her.  I have to admit that there was some resentment, but none of us rebelled against authority like some others who resorted to shennanigans with their peers, resorting to drinking and the usual dalliances with drugs and parties.  I grew up closer to my Aunt.  If I had a problem, I would go to my Aunt, not my Mom.

My current set up is very different because I am basically on my own taking care of home and family.  While both the hubby and I work in the city, we have pretty regular schedules that free up the weekend.  So work, in general, does not interfere with quality time with the family. 

Unlike my upbringing where I had Auntie Lydia and the nannies through the years, I am very hands-on with Angelo and housework for lack of househelp.  As a result, I get to interact with Angelo directly from the cuddling to the serious business of homework and life in general.  We have our weekend routines, too, which revolve around family.  We do our errands together, usually setting aside time to do our “own thing” during the weekdays more often than not.

I know that the disparity between the way we were as a family when I was growing up and the way I’m raising my family now is largely because of the locale where I was and where I am now.  It makes a big difference, though, in terms of how much closer I am to my son than I was to my parents.  I guess the absence of other parties beyond parent and child has helped me relate to Angelo in a deeper sense.  In a literal and figurative way, there’s just us.

I plan my schedule around when he needs me.  I’ve been invited to after-work drinks and sometimes girls’ night outs but have had to decline and rush home because Angelo was waiting.  I do my errands in the city during my lunch break so that I don’t have to spend an additional 20-30 minutes later in the day instead of hopping on the next bus to take me home.

As a parent, I try to instill the same healthy respect for authority in Angelo, and he is by nature, an obedient boy.  He is very good-natured and always mindful of not offending others.  Perhaps it’s also because I’ve reminded him time and time again that he needs to think of other people.  I try to instill in him a respect for others, and more importantly, a respect for his parents.  Sometimes he would kid me by saying he wants to be my friend — my response to that is simply I can be his friend but I’m going to stop taking care of him, making his meals, and being his Mom.  And without batting an eye, he’ll say he’d rather have me as his mom.

I try to define the roles in a positive but firm manner.  In that way, he knows that he has to obey what we say.  I am fortunate that he doesn’t talk back to us, and once he sees that my voice is starting to take on.

While I am not overly involved in school, I make it a point to be on top of his homework and school load.  My parents attended all events and caught my performances but homework was Auntie Lydia’s turf. 

I’d like to show my son what an extended family is, but beyond his paternal grandmother living with us, he is always a vacation away from his other (and favorite) grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins back in the Philippines.  That is one thing I wish I could give him — the feeling of being part of a bigger family.  To make up for this, I have tried to keep him connected with them back home.  In a sense it has made his interaction with them even more special.  He knows that he needs to cherish and make the most of time spent with them, because of the actual distance separating them.

I wouldn’t say my family dynamic then or our family dynamic now is better or preferred — they both had their pros and cons.  But I guess the fact that my siblings and I turned out to be responsible adults who cherish those memories and try to build on them for our own families now only goes to show that part of that remains with us and will be passed on to our children.

Wishful thinking to be great at something I’m not good at (30 days of blogging prompts 17)

I have to admit that this is one of the things I had a hard time arriving at an answer for, only because “great” got me stumped.  I wanted to think of something profound, and then it came to me clear as day after I had drafted around a half dozen posts for printing for this journal swap.

So what is the thing I most wished I were great at?  The key words for me here are “thing,” “wish,” and “great at”.

Drawing.  I may drift close to artistic, and crafty as a bee that I am, I so envy those who can draw faces and figures and grab a pencil and sketch as if they were drawing in a trance.  I wish.

I’m not killing myself over this though, because my lack of rendering skills has been more than compensated for by my skills in painting a picture with my words.  But one can dream…

My Top 3 Hobbies and why I love them (30 Days of blogging prompts 23)

According to Webster, a hobby is : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  So what are my pursuites outside of the regular day-to-day that I engage in as a form of relaxation?

1. Collecting postcards.  I have been collecting postcards since I was in my teens.  I had known of postcards since I was a young child, but I never really started collecting until I got a postcard from a friend in highschool who had moved to California in 1985.  Totally unconnected, I started with the International Young Service (IYS) which has now closed its doors.  The IYS was an international student penfriend service which matched young people from around the world for a minimal fee.  This was before the onslaught of the internet, when snailmail was the best way to reach someone overseas.

I signed up for some penfriends and my penfriends from Hong Kong (Clara Mok) and the Netherlands (Jolanda Spronck) sent me tons of postcards not only from their countries but from their travels in particular.

Over the years, my collection has grown and it even made it here to the US before I did.  A heavy shoebox full of them made it to New York after the traditional pamanhikan and I carried the rest when I moved here.  I collected postcards and swapped through organized groups after getting here, but after Angelo’s birth in 2004, my collection only grew when I purchased postcards during our travels.

I would buy postcards from places we visited, mail it back addressed to Angelo, chronicling our trip along the way.  I always travelled with address labels ready and stamps in hand.  That way, I only needed to look for a post office.  When the places we visited had an abundance of postcards, I would sometimes send back 20 postcards.  I regret that I didn’t do this for Manila until the last 3 or 4 of around 8 trips in the last 10 years.  But it’s something I do regularly now.  In fact that particular facet of my collection is over 200 postcards strong now.

I started collecting postcards because it gave me a window to worlds I thought I would never get to see.  So I collected from everywhere, hoping to have a taste of the different cultures.  When I started to grow my collection here in the US, I started focusing more on lighthouses and maps.  These two continue to be my primary collecting interests.  Then I started to find vintage Philippine and New York postcards.  Another additional item to collect.  And when I fell in love with Paris during my two trips there in 2005 and 2006, that became a collecting interest, too. 

2. Collecting Starbucks mugs.  This is a collecting interest that started when I moved here to New York in 2000.  My first Starbucks mug was a purchase on sale after Valentines 2001.  It wasn’t a city mug — but a valentine themed mug which I treasure to this day as the mug that started me collecting.

Starbucks Valentine ClearI haven’t purchased a mug in a while but I do get city and country mugs.  I’m covered as far as the Philippines is concerned except that I don’t have the latest Cebu (although my brother has already gotten one for me), and I think there is now a Tagaytay mug.  Friends who know I collect mugs have brought me some from the most unlikely places like Prague.  I’ve lost track of the collection because I have some that I have yet to wrap in plastic and put up on te space between the ceiling and my kitchen cupboard. 

To date, a conservative estimate of the collection puts it at 150.  Many of them are in the attic but that’s something I hope to take care of before the year ends.  I will re-wrap those that are still up on the kitchen space and then add everything.  I have a catalogue of some of the mugs on my flickr account.  I have had offers for some of the unique ones.  $200 for a holiday mug…!  Unfortunately I only had one of that mug, and even at that price, it wasn’t worth parting with.  It even made it all the more worth keeping.

I like collecting starbucks, not just any mug, because it has a certain quality to it — even if I’m not addicted to the coffee but I do like certain “flavors”.  (People who have shunned starbucks for the taste fail to see that they have different offerings.)  I don’t really want to get just any mug either because even the dollar store has hundreds to offer.  I’d run out of space and what would be the point in that?  Like my postcard collection, I enjoy seeing the collection grow, although I don’t go crazy buying from overseas just to add new ones.  Neither have I really traded mugs although that would be something I’d consider.  The cost is just too prohibitive, and I’ve had a special Osaka mug sent to me which arrived all broken up.  (My friend forgot that that priority mail box will be tossed around on its way here.) 

While not all my mugs are from my travels or the hubby’s trips, each mug has a “story” to tell, so they are always more than just mugs to me.

3. Jewelry making.  Some people will think that pulling pieces together is as easy as getting a string of gemstones or pearls and then working with them with wires or string.  My creative process is a little slower than that when I’m trying to figure out a piece.  Sometimes even when I’ve figured it out (like my promised necklace for Lou), it takes me time to call a piece good enough to send or sell.  Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.  “Good enough” is never good enough.  It should be better than that.

I find a certain fulfillment in completing a piece, wearing my own creations and when I get to sell one, there is a sense of reward not only monetarily, but compliment-wise.  I used to be shy telling people I made  a piece, but now I acknowledge the compliment with that admission coupled with some pride.  Not boasting, mind you, but when I’m walking outside and someone says something about the polymer clay necklace I’m wearing, I stop and smile and say thank you.

I like to be able to wear pieces I know I won’t spy elsewhere.  There are pieces I’ve seen sold by the department stores or my favorite clothing shops, but when I go to scrutinize them, I find the materials are all acrylic.  I like plastic when it is not pretending to be the real thing — like some acrylic beads I purchased dirt cheap at a clearance sale which makes no pretensions to being glass crystals or pearls.  But when I see a piece that shimmers but does not have sparkle of glass or crystal, I get turned off.  Maybe it’s just my crafter’s eye.  I hold the piece and jingle it in the palm of my hand and then I know if it’s glass or acrylic.

In a world where the way I dress is dictated by the business norm, my accessories are one thing where I can show some individuality without risking raising some eyebrows.  So I like wearing my polymer clay chain necklace which others have mistaken for a special kind of wooden carved chain.  (Mango wood?  No.. it’s polymer clay in copper).  My rose quartz cross pendant has received compliments but I am thinking the swarovski crystal version will do better.  (Although I haven’t worn the latter so I haven’t had the chance to “test” it.)

 
Work in progress: Cross pendant with Rose Quarz and Swarovski Crystals
Jewelry crafting is the hobby that affords me the chance to continue to learn new things.  It’s not just acquiring an object to call my own, but I like the way the hobby has pushed me to continue to research things and improve on my skills.  Sometimes I worry that my eyesight is going when I can no longer thread a needle as easily — but I charge that to age.  (Time to get the eyes measured and evaluated for glasses, I guess.)  Creating something from raw materials and seeing a finished piece and wearing that piece over and over again is reward enough.