Busy with Life

A note from Pinay New Yorker: I had actually finished writing this post Monday, and here I am hitting publish on a Friday.. yes, THAT busy!

I’ve been meaning to write but didn’t realize I haven’t been here a month. It’s a personal disappointment for me that despite all the things I can and wanted to write about, I haven’t taken the time to stop by. I actually started writing a post longhand last Friday, but now have to find that piece of paper and continue writing jr here. Hopefully the remainder of the year will see things taking a turn for the better.

Can you believe that fall is here? It’s the entry of the “ber” months which is the start of the Christmas season for folks back home in the Philippines. Not quite here in New York where we have Halloween and Thanksgiving ahead of my favorite holiday. Plus, we don’t all do Christmas here with the diverse faiths and beliefs so strongly present in New York.

I’ve been busy with transitioning to not having the son around the house, now that he is in college — somewhere not too far, thankfully. I’m actually doing a whole lot better than I thought I would, but it is still a process adjusting. All I know is that I am one proud mum.

He had known what field he wanted to pursue ever since he was in middle school, and he landed his number one choice as he got accepted to all the colleges he applied to. I am very excited for him as he embarks on this new chapter. It hasn’t been without any bumps, however. He is beginning to assert himself and I have to constantly remind myself that the boy is now an adult. But the heart remains the same — and to me, that is quite an accomplishment as a parent. We have our new routine of our daily check in — and calling mum or replying to my texts when he reads them is taking some adjustment, but we’re getting into the rhythm of it.

The postcards have been set aside for the moment, but a big postcard date on October 1 has gotten me back to it for the moment. (More on that on another blogpost— hopefully.)

What’s front and center for me beyond my usual work and motherhood has been my newfound passion as a content creator. (Meaningful pause.). I started to focus on my online presence a difference way beginning in June, and I’ve been seeing the world through a different lens since— literally.

I will leave it at that as I begin this Monday with the optimism of anticipating a productive and good week. I count my blessings and I am in a good place. I hope you are, too, as you look around you and see what good there is, instead of the burdens that weigh you down. Have a fab week ahead.

Bryant Park

BRYANT PARK has always had a special place in my heart because it was a park I frequented when I first arrived in New York, 22 years ago. In fact, I saw it before I even set eyes on Central Park. For the last 14 years or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked first, right across from it, and the last 6 years, literally a hop, skip and a jump away from it.

My countless videos and photos of the park is partly what encouraged me to get on YouTube, and below are two recent clips I’ve uploaded of it. A third went up based on clips from earlier this year when the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain froze again. (That’s a video for another blogpost, but you can hop on over to my channel to view it here.)

I often find myself passing through the park when I need to get my ride from the express bus stop on its Avenue of the Americas side, and even seeing it from a distance evokes a feeling of calm and a sense of home. Within the first few weeks of my arrival here in the US, I would come to the city and stay in the park and go around while waiting for my companion going home. I also spent hours in the New York Public Library fronting it, accessing the internet through their public terminals. You used to be able to use one of their units for 30 minutes each day, as long as you had a valid ID. (Now the library has a “reading room” where you can park at one of their many tables and access the WiFi for free, but using your own device.).

So there were many days when I’d linger in front of the library or stay and sit in one of the many benches, chairs and tables in the park.

I shot my favorite video of all time of a 6 year old Angelo holding a tube of lipstick as a microphone in the park one summer day– which, to this day, warms my heart no end.

I’ve sat across a former boss during one of the toughest times of my life, who gave me one of the best advice I continue to treasure and live by. Sitting across from each other in one of those tables, she told me to make sure that whatever I do or decide in my life should be something I would be able to explain or defend in my son’s eyes.

I’ve walked arm in arm with a friend, all googly eyed, after lunch at Bryant Park Grill, and to this day, he remains a dear friend. I’ve sat in one of these benches with my best friend, Donna, the first time she visited me here in New York. So many memories through the years of relatives and friends I’ve brought to this oasis of calm in the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan.

You can guess by now that these will not be the last videos of Bryant Park that I will take and post. I’m already excitedly awaiting the winter village and the next time the fountain freezes again.

As we YouTubers say, please don’t forget to like and subscribe!

A late weekend

(This is a late post but wanted to publish it anyway since it’s been a while since I’ve been here.. )

We’ve been given a respite from scorching temperatures the last couple of days, and I’m hoping saying that doesn’t jinx it. The power of words, as some say..

It’s been a rather busy week for me, both personally and professionally. It was one of those weeks were I really felt I earned my paycheck, but not begrudging the fact that I do have a job. I was busy in a good kind of way. It reminds me of a conversation I overheard a few weeks ago in the cafeteria at work, when someone greeted another associate pleasantly with the usual “How ya doin’?” with a heavy hearted “Surviving..”. And it was only Monday! If I ever got to that point, I’d seriously think of looking for a new job. I have been fortunate to be one of those people who actually look forward to Mondays, even if I wish there was a third day to the weekend. This week, we actually got that extra day with the Fourth of July.

I didn’t have any special plans and just stayed home. Plus, I still feel easily fatigued these days, even if my mild bout of Covid ended two weeks ago. I am relieved that that’s all I’m feeling. So I don’t push it. I walk when I can walk — and I only aim for the minimum steps required and not pushing the usual 10,000 steps. As advised, I am listening to my body.

I’m also starting to prepare for the son’s move to college in a few weeks, as the fall term begins. I know he’s all grown and I see a man now where I used to cuddle a boy. Still, the idea of him being away for extended periods of time on a semi permanent basis is something I am still trying to wrap my arms around. Fortunately, he is actually going to be less than an hour away. It’s just that there’s no straight commute to his college of choice, and his Dad and I thought it would be part of his life’s education to actually go through the experience. So I am letting go. But first I need to get myself ready for that day.. getting there, a day at a time.

I’ve also tried to grow the YouTube channel, but subscribers are a tad harder to cultivate than racking up watch minutes. I just try to remind myself that this takes real work, and I have to invest my time and energy to make it grow. (so please subscribe if you haven’t yet! )

Please subscribe to my channel. Thank you!

My weekend officially began Sunday — and I’m finishing this post on my way to the city to watch The Kite Runner which is on a limited run on Broadway. (I’d provide a link but being that it’s a limited run, you will end up with the dreaded dead link..). I had subscribed to the daily alert to rush tickets on the TodayTix app— and I got lucky enough to get a seat to today’s matinee this morning for less than $40. My original plan to attend this month’s Metropolitan Postcard Club meeting had to give way to my vow to watch more shows on Broadway. This is already my third after American Buffalo, which I had second row seats to at the Circle in the Square theater, and Kenny Loggins’ “Still Alright” at the Townhall which was a night of stories and songs, just almost a month ago. (a separate Blogpost coming on these shows.)

It’s been a good couple of weeks that have seen me settle down to a calmer time. I’m getting more clarity on many things that have been on my mind the last couple of weeks. I hope you’re in the same good place where you are.

In my prayers

I had started writing a post over the weekend on a totally different topic when, after three paragraphs or blocks, I decided to hit delete and start again from scratch. I’m listening to Himig Heswita as I’m drafting this — and I guess that’s what sort of brought me to a more spiritual slant. (Eternally grateful to the Jesuits for their gift of knowledge in law school and music.)

Sometimes I think about writing and as much as I am dying to put the words to paper, I resist and postpone it for when I can sit and focus on it. That usually means it never gets written — because time has been precious and hard to find. Even blogging has been quite the struggle for me. I have always said how I wish I could write (and read) more. There just isn’t enough time to write all that I want to say.

Just like today. I wanted to write about a conversation over sushi and sashimi last Friday, and how I left that luncheon not just with a happy tummy. I walked back to my perch with a heart that was full. I am struggling with the words to put that together in a coherent post for now— so it’ll have to wait another day.

Then I remembered the husband and wife T and T and prayers. (Reminder to self: letter to T and T. Or even just T. )

Today I write about prayer. I start praying when I walk out the door, as I make my way to the bus stop (which is approximately 6 minutes away) at a leisurely pace. What do I pray for? I reaffirm my faith with The Creed, and then I follow a simple combination of prayers. I used to pray the rosary as I walked and ended it on the bus, but my prayer life has not been as devoted as that in years. Walking out the door with the son has also meant postponing the prayer for when I walk into the church on 43rd, because I end up talking him through what the day will be like. There are times when I put the earphones on and I start listening to the God Minute and I tell him I’m praying, in which case we walk in silence to the bus stop.

Still, I feel like I could pray more and do it with more heart.

Praying

I walk into Church and I stand at the back, mass or no mass. Like I wrote in a post not too long ago, I have a list of friends and relatives with health or emotional challenges I pray for by name. The cousin afflicted with cancer.. my bus driver friend with the tumors that they can’t operate on but which he gets treatment for each month. My siblings, and of course my mom. The mom of a friend who is also undergoing treatment. The grieving bestie at work who recently lost her Dad and has her medical issues. A friend back home who lost his grown son last year. My grade school friend who is trying to overcome cancer. A friend I never met and who found me through this space, fighting cancer for years now. A fellow postcard collector who is battling cancer in a land so far away from home. (I have postcards to write and send!) The friend of a brother trying to live through being HIV positive back home..

So no, I don’t pray to win the lotto — I am too busy trying to remember the ones that need to be on my list. I do pray that I be a good person each day — even if I know I don’t always succeed. I pray for a good day at work.. and then I have a very short list of two people I ask Him to keep safe here on this side of the world, besides my number one guy, the son. I pray that He bring the right people into my world— and to keep those who are not meant to stay, away from me. I pray for those praying in Church with me that very moment..

Sometimes, I do an express version of the list when I’m running really late. I start walking out before I get to the end of my petitions. I figure He would understand. I make the sign of the cross and walk out to start my day. And there are times when I just stand there in silence, not saying anything at all. I am just there — present.

I always remember to be grateful. One of the many retreats I attended in my younger years at St. Paul told us that praying is not just all about asking. It is also about thanking Him. And I thank Him for each and every day.

Last night, as I slept, I spoke in prayer to my older brother who died at birth. My life would be so much different had he lived to be the head of the family now. Four years my senior, he would’ve taken on the cudgels of making the decisions and of moving our brood this way or that. I never knew him growing up, but he would visit me in my dreams where he manifested as this person or other, but I was always aware he was not in the land of the living and he was who he was. And I always cried each time, more so when he hugged me. I was tossing and turning and doing my usual evening prayers. I called out to my “Kuya” (older brother or male relative), I whispered I was good and could handle my troubles for now, and I told him I wanted him to help my sister first. She needed him more than I did. I asked that he let her feel his embrace. Finally, I asked him not to visit me in my dreams because I would end up crying again like I always do. I know he heard me.

Prayer, really, is a matter of faith. And I have always been grateful that I was able to discover it early on in life. It has kept my footing steady when I would have otherwise stumbled and fell. It has helped me get up those moments when I lost my balance. It has kept me going through the good and the bad times.

So today I pray that He keep my heart steady.. and that He doesn’t let go of my hand. Amen.

On Motherhood and all the love I never thought I could muster in my heart

My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. I tried getting pregnant at age 35, after marrying at age 34. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to wait, but my then husband and I had agreed we would only try for a baby after (1) I was gainfully employed and (2), we had a place of our own.

It took us just under two years to get both done. Two miscarriages preceded my full pregnancy, so it was a roller coaster ride seeing it to fruition. When I finally made it past the first trimester, I did all I could to make sure this one made it through to delivery. I even refused an amniocentesis for fear that the pin prick puncture of the amniotic sac would lead to a miscarriage. And more importantly, we told our obstetrician even if we found out there was something wrong with our baby, we would still see it to full term.

Eighteen years ago today, I was induced to deliver and finally held my infant son in my arms after 15 minutes of active labor. After delivering a 9.5 lb., 21.5 inch baby, I became my obstetrician’s poster child for normal delivery. It wasn’t easy battling the gestational diabetes and all the other complications of a late pregnancy, but determination and prayers got me to the finish line with no issues.

The boy is now 18 years — a legal adult in some parts although New York pegs the age of majority as 21. He is a grown man now, almost a full head taller than me, with fingers longer by almost an inch when we hold our palms face to face.

He still calls out “I love you, Mum” from out of nowhere, and would sometimes knock at my door as I’m about to sleep and ask for a hug, bending down to rest his head on my chest. When I walk in the door at the end of the day, he calls out and asks if I need help, meeting me at the door of the stairs to carry my bags up the steps.

We’ve gotten into a somewhat funny dynamic of him calling me when he thinks I would be on the bus already, asking where I am at, and what time I will be home. I have kiddingly asked him if he’s my dad with the tone he takes..

There was one night I went out, and I found him dozing off in the living room when I came home at past 2am. I asked him why he didn’t go and sleep in his room, and he meekly said he was waiting for me.

While all is not perfect in our world— he is a teenager, after all — I’ve been lucky to have raised a caring and sensitive child who has respect for his elders. Sometimes I find him pushing the envelope, but when I push back, he knows better than to nudge again. More importantly, during those moments when he knows he was in the wrong or that he had offended me, he knows to say sorry and make things right.

Sometimes, I look at him when he’s deep into a game or as he strums his guitar, or as he eats the dinner I cooked with such gusto — and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in seeing this human being in front of me. And the love I feel is just beyond words.

My world has always revolved around him — so much so that I chose to stay here in the US instead of going back home when my marriage fell apart. When we were finally uncoupled, the world I rebuilt had him at the center of it all. And he still is. It’s just that he is entering into a new phase of his life— stepping out into the real world and pursuing his dreams. And that impending departure has me reevaluating things and the way I see the future.

I’m trying not to hold on to him too tightly to pull him back— because I know I cannot do that. So as much as that is a day I fear, I know I love him enough to let him go and conquer the world on his own. And while I would give anything to be right there with him every step of the way, I know that the best I can really do is just be here, ready to help when he calls out for me.

I have always told him no matter what he chooses, I will find a way to get him there. And yes, even if that means he ventures farther out and further away from me, I will even hold his hand to show him the way.

One of the moms whose reflections on Mother’s Day today resonated with me reminded us that a mother’s love knows no end— and time and again I have known that to be true. It may be the toughest job in the world, and for all the heartaches and obstacles that came my way, I would do it all over again to have this light in my life. Without skipping a heartbeat, I would say yes to going through it all, all over again.

This Mother’s Day was his birthday. And like I tell him, his coming into my life was the best Mother’s Day gift — ever.

Motherhood

On Facebook, I wrote:

“Happy birthday to my one and only forever love, who came into my world 18 years ago. I am blessed every single day with your love and presence in my life. I am always here for you and will just be here ready to support you every step of the way. Know that mama loves you always— even when you talk to me like you’re my Dad, asking me what time I’m going to be home(!).

And don’t forget our acceptance speech when the time comes for you to go up that stage— a reminder that at age 17, I told you never to underestimate your abilities and say you will probably not do anything great enough. You have already surprised us at this young age, what more when you go out there to conquer the world. Happy birthday, Anak. Love you more… always.. in all ways.”

On Pause

I’ve been busy working on my closet today.. sorting the scarves, putting away the winter wear, thinking of what to keep, donate, and throw away. I’m not quite at the “what sparks joy” question yet— that’ll be later for the more difficult decisions. I decided to take a break and write.

The last couple of days have been difficult as a mistake I made more than a week ago caught up with me. To put it mildly, I was caught with my foot in my mouth. While I’m tempted to write about it and pour my heart out here like always, I think I’ll do it differently this time. I’m drafting THAT post and leaving it in my draft folder, with a reminder to return to it six months from now, and write about it then.

Joy, grief, remorse and relief on pause.

It’s still very much a work in progress, and much as I’d like to get to the “end of the story” sooner than later, I feel a need to let this one write its own ending before I write about it. I’m still processing it and getting to that point where I can say I am back in a good place. There are happy thoughts associated with this whole business after all. I’ll wait for that time when I can write it on a more positive note.

On PauseIt hasn’t been all that difficult, truth be told. There have been realizations, sighs of relief, and a general sense of moving forward. Friends have been supportive and yet not short on calling me out where it was needed. The universe, the friends and even the Big Guy up there seemed to be saying the same thing: this wasn’t yours, so move on. I am trying.

Things that happened in the last 24 hours have served to remind me how lucky and blessed I am. In the midst of moping and whining about my loss, I realized others are going through so much more. I suddenly felt selfish for focusing on my heartache. Perhaps it was a way for the universe to course correct — or simply put, remind me that it just wasn’t meant to be. And at the same time, the universe showed me that I am still whole and continually blessed.

Let’s see where I am in six months when I unpause.

I do wish I could pause the memories from coming when I’ve found my footing. Thankfully, there aren’t that many to count as yet. That is a relief. Each day has brought me a step closer to “okay”. I’m using emoticons again, for a start. And keeping my heart in check, reminding myself, “Accept it.” In time..

When the tide changes

My body clock has been off lately. Last Wednesday, despite having slept closer to 2am, I was up just after 5. Thursday, after sleeping a few minutes after midnight, my body beat my alarm clock by around a half hour. Still, I didn’t want to get up. It was one of those days where I wanted to just curl up under the sheets and stay in bed. But I knew I had to get ready for another workday.

Deep sigh.

My heart was heavy instead of the slight giddiness I woke up with the last couple of weeks. Something I asked a friend has caused some trouble that I am afraid I cannot now undo.

So the tide has changed. I somehow found myself caught up in my own undoing, saying and doing something that has caused this huge shift in my world. (I literally had to pause and absorb that statement.)

Don’t you just hate it when you do or say something that you wish you could rewind to before it happened, and just edit it out of your day? I’ve been there many times. I wished so hard that the universe would straighten it out, but there’s no denying the shift has occurred.

I never thought the sudden absence of the emojis in the usual texts would change the color of the conversation in such broad strokes. From black to white… from warm to cold… and that was that.

So I just stand on the shore with my feet sunken in the sand. I watch the waves splash at me and pull the sand away from my feet as I sink deeper. But I stay put and fight it. I’m waiting for the tides to switch back — holding on for as long as I can and closing my eyes wishing for that to happen. But it doesn’t. The universe is unmoved.

Someday, I’ll walk away and not look back. And perhaps then, I’d be able to say I’m okay. For now, I’m not. That’s just me being honest about it. I am praying for the grace to accept what has come to pass and to be able to move on knowing it wasn’t meant to be.

Changing tides

On turning 56 and other updates

I meant to write this post on the weekend I turned 56, but too many things have been happening that I haven’t caught a breath since, and it’s been more than 20 days.

Turning 56

It feels good to be 56. I see the wrinkles on my face and the wisps of white popping up in my temples and other unexpected places, but I can deal with all that. It’s called aging gracefully. I know I don’t look my age and I always say it’s Asian skin. (Thanks to the melanin!). It might also be because I’ve learned to embrace the passing of the years with acceptance, and a desire to enjoy life as best I can. I am in a happy place, even if a million dollars would make me happier. I could shed not just a few pounds, too, but I’ll take the pound or two that just loves me so much it refuses to leave me.

My not so little guy is actually a man now, getting ready to conquer the world and leave his mum’s protective embrace. Give me a little more time to come to terms with that as I watch him enjoy every meal I cook, or as he hugs me tenderly from out of the blue. And well trained that he is, he still calls out “I love you, mum” in the middle of his video game, guitar playing, or whatever he may be busy with. How he has grown.. how he has changed and stayed the same. If there is one proud accomplishment I can lay claim to, it’s raising this wonderful human being. Motherhood has made the passage of time easier to contend with when you see the heart in this human being you gave birth to. He is always his mother’s son— whether he’s here beside me or somewhere else being his own person. I will let go.. in time.. not just yet. So he plays the guitar and I sing “Yesterday”.. it’s our song not because of the lyric or what the song says, but simply because we can actually pull off a performance from start to finish and be proud of it. (Waiting for him to learn the other songs within my range..)

The son gifted me with two new books I requested. One was a book by former President Obama and Bruce Springsteen which, although I wasn’t a fan, was a bibliophile’s dream acquisition even if unsigned. And there was the paperback of one of my forever favorite authors, John Grisham, Rouge Lawyer. Reading has been such a welcome escape. He still owed me the dedication and birthday card. I have always been very sentimental with the birthday cards, more so from those who need to go out of their way to get one, and write from the heart. For those revealing words, I am truly grateful. And the Starbucks mug from England is a welcome addition to my collection. I always feel special when people remember I am a collector and bring me a mug home from their travels

So I laugh harder and louder. I greet everyone with a genuine optimism and joy — like I really mean the “good” when I said “Good morning.” I had a real smile on my face instead of the usual half-smile that went with the perfunctory greeting. I’m trying to learn more about hockey and trying to understand the men in ice skates and what they are all trying to do. I hang tight with the sudden u-turns but let my heart swing with the car— I don’t fight it. I try to set the pace with a gentle tug as a reminder that I take smaller strides and I don’t walk as fast. I listen but weigh the words— I watch from the distance, almost afraid to take it for what it is. In many ways, this golden girl has been jaded many times over, but not jaded enough not to enjoy the moment. There are just those moments that are meant to be savored as part of “now”, without regard for what comes tomorrow. I am happy.

Life, in general, has been busy. I feel like I am watching my days unfolding in very unexpected ways— and I’m discovering new things that have sparked joy. It was ironic that one of the best birthday presents I received actually came from someone who didn’t even know it was my birthday. It was very spontaneous and honest and raw. Who knew? Sometimes those little surprises that the universe springs upon us are the most impactful.

I feel like the universe is steering me in a certain direction that I am wary of heading towards, because of the choices that need to be made. I have always been open to the many possibilities that are out there, and I have learned to keep expectations and standards reasonable. I will take joy in any shape or form it comes in, and relish it while it is there for the taking. All I know is that I am listening to and watching how the universe is unfolding.

It was a happy birthday. I am smiling even now as I look forward to more surprises from the universe, like the ones that have come my way and have been a warm hug to my heart. I close my eyes and say a prayer of thanks. As a favorite verse says, “I know He hears. I see His sign, the ancient promise of His love.”

I give thanks. I sit in silence and listen. I just take it all in with gratitude and appreciation for all the good in my life. They have given me the strength to face the challenges and the pain with a firmer resolve to make it to another day.

I find myself in that point in my life where I’m thinking of the future. Perhaps it’s Angelo’s leaving for college. Perhaps it’s just that I have put off so many things for so long that they have caught up with me. And I’m wondering if decisions made before should be reconsidered and thought out again. In time.

Those Unexpected Encounters

I have been blogging for 18-19 years now— having started when blogs started to blossom. I had an “online journal” before the blog and I think I managed to move some of my earlier posts to my new space. I did start on another platform, and I eventually moved a majority of my blog.com posts to WordPress when I made my home here.

Through the years, I’ve “met” people who bumped into my corner of the blogosphere and said hello. I have received countless emails from the lawyer wannabes with their questions and reactions to my posts here. (That’s the reason those posts have their own page in the navigation bar on top.). Some have since become lawyers, thanking me after many years and telling me they made it. My heart is full.

There are those whose blogs became favorite stops for me — and who, although we have not met, feel like old friends as we follow each other on social media. (Paging the Two Jeromes)

I know I’m not killing it readership-wise, but I’m happy having my space here, being able to write what I want. No pressure. Full artistic freedom. The interaction with my readers being an added and very heartwarming plus.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet some of the people who have read my blabbering here. Thrice. And I count those three readers now as friends.

The first was Jeanne who I bumped into in my then PinayFRANCOPHILE blog which no longer exists. She was a Filipina living in Paris with her son, and we managed to meet in Paris during my second visit there in 2004. We lost touch for a bit but reconnected on Instagram a few years ago and manage to take a peek into each other’s lives through our posts. (Thank you, social media!)

Second was Lou from the Midwest who used to have a blog on Multiply where I maintained a mirror site. We met each other when she visited New York, and then again when Angelo and I were in Chicago for a cousin’s wedding. She and I and have tried to keep in touch via email. I have a standing invitation to see her next time in Baguio where she now lives. Knowing how she’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from my pledge of a pilgrimage to Manaoag each time I’m in the Philippines, I can’t wait for the next time I get to fly home and maybe sit down for a quick lunch with her, even if I have a standing invitation to stay a night or two. I am aiming low to keep expectations at bay, but can’t wait.

The third is Elaine, a fellow New Yorker who I first met when she was pregnant with her first child 7 years ago, and who is a very dear friend now even if we don’t get to see each other often. She originally found me by doing a random search for Filipinos in New York — and the results point to my spot right here. (Go and try..) Sure, life does get in the way and sometimes there are long silences in between our almost everyday connecting when we do manage — but like I told her this weekend when we finally got to grab lunch and spend a few hours together, friendships take a lot of work, and I appreciate that she’s been there through all these years.

With Elaine last Friday

I don’t really think aboutwho is reading when I write the words that make up the posts I publish. I do know there is someone reading — and it’s a conversation between the writer and the reader, even if I don’t hear your reaction to the things I write. And when I do get a comment which is few and far between, I get the affirmation that there is someone out there who somehow was able to relate to what I said. And there, the conversation begins.

Those who have been reading my posts here from way back have a sense of how my life has changed through the years. I have always worked hard to be truthful and honest, without giving too much away. (You will hardly see a photo of me in my posts, for one..) As someone told me, the stories bring them “there” — wherever it is I’m at.

I am grateful for the friends I have found. From what started as just my ramblings, I have reaped the rewards of friends who have stepped out of the imaginary pages of my space here, giving more than I would have ever thought possible just by putting my thoughts and feelings into words. Unexpected encounters in a most unexpected space — for which I am eternally grateful. Who would have thought..

There are several others who had floated in and drifted away just as quietly as they walked in. Those encounters, no matter how brief, validated my presence here. Just like in real life where we meet people and see some of them leave — some for good, and some for a brief spell only to come back again, ready to give us that hug when we meet up. Those who have found my world in words here have done the same. Some continue to read no matter how far apart my posts may be, and some have moved on — and that’s okay. I enjoy and cherish what’s here now — and I am always grateful for whatever I had, but never regretting that which I don’t have anymore.

So if you have the time to send me a note, you can either leave a comment here, or drop me a line at pinaynewyorker @ gmail dot com. Let’s get a conversation going..

Journaling in 2022

My Art Journal 2022

I returned to Art journaling in 2020 as a means of keeping my head straight in the thick of the pandemic. I let the juices flow and did sections instead of filling out the pages chronologically. Although I have yet to bind the different sections together and there are some unfinished layouts, in my mind and in my heart, those pages encapsulate what my year was all about. For all the challenges that the opening salvo of covid dealt us, I know I came out with more than what I lost that year.

I began 2021 by working on the first layouts starting with the fold out pages of the year which I traditionally do. And that was that. The year flew by and no art journaling for me. While I’m not too happy with that, all I can say is “Life happens.” And it did.

Towards the end of 2021, I heard from a friend from far away who is nevertheless always close at heart. Many years my junior, she and I shared a passion for art, jewelry making and postcards. She is one of the few people on my very short list who I try to see whenever I land in Manila. Long story short, she proposed a journal exchange. Many years ago, I left Manila with a mini journal from her which is now tattered and all worn because I used to carry it in my purse. I was more than willing to do this with her.

So that makes for two journals I will be working on this year.

For my main personal journal, I have decided I will keep my 5″ x 7.5″ page format from 2020. As one of the more challenging tasks was deciding on the format, I think I’ll keep to the recycled folder or card stock I used, more so since I’ve drifted more towards painting my backgrounds. And it was simple enough to cut other paper to size to fit in it. Settled. Like I did in 2020 where I did a summary of 2019 at the start, I will use the 2021 fold out for this purpose.

My shared journal 2022For my shared journal, I’ve decided to use this handmade paper and journal from Nepal which I have several of. I absolutely fell in love with this journal when I stumbled upon it at Barnes & Noble. I liked it so much that I bought 2-3 more besides the one I had started a gratitude journal on many years ago. (Which I actually rediscovered when I was looking for my spares..). So the idea is she’s writing on a journal I will reply to later, and I am starting mine. I will leave space or pages for her to write on later, after we exchange journals– whenever that may be. It’s like a conversation in our heads on paper, with a longer response time intended. And the next time we meet or sooner, we exchange journals again.
My shared journal
Journaling is a very personal thing to me because there, I can chronicle my day and my feelings and thoughts freely. I have often gone back to my questions and musings at a later time, usually finding a different and better insight into either what I had gone through or what I am going through. It’s a journey in words and images.

I’m starting the year with a determined effort to set aside time and focus to actually get back to this — and I’m hopeful that I will be able to do more than I did in 2021.