Friday Five: Yay!

Friday5

So, okay, this is much delayed.

Life happens.  I’m not apologizing, and it’s another weekend so I’m feeling all chipper.

I tried to write but I seriously did NOT have the time because my real world had me in chains all week, slaving away.  But it’s Friday!

As always, we start with the updates based on the last list that appeared here two Fridays ago:

1.  Sort the fabrics I picked up from Brooklyn over the weekend.   Done!  I’ve even managed to wash a few sets just to make sure that they are good to go once crafted!

2.  Write five topics to write about here and in my craft blog.  I actually managed to complete this for both blogs, but while the idea was that the “drafts” would help me move forward with the blogging, I haven’t been able to hit the pace I was working on.  Still, it got me posting, and there’s a new post for each site.

3.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and actually write about it.   I have the books, just haven’t had the chance to list them down.

4. Pull together at least one “care package” from the things I hope to destash and send out.  So I’ve been “cleaning up” but have pleasantly rediscovered things I had made and bought over the past two years which I had misplaced.  So yes, I got the one care package started, but haven’t sent out.

5.  List 10 things in the “turning 50 good deeds” to do.  I didn’t quite hit the 10 but managed to write 6, and wrote about it here.  In addition, I have created a page with the post title, Gift of 50,  (see navigation bar on top please) to keep the updates on one page.

I think that wasn’t so bad — even if it took all of two weeks to actually make progress.  Again, I’m not killing myself over this.  So for this weekend, here’s my Friday Five:

1.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and write a blog post on it.   I might even start drafting this this afternoon.

2. Care package work-in-progress send out.  One of the sets I have to hang on to, but I think I can actually pack the second and send off before next Friday.

3.  Plan the big five-o celebration.  I’m very big on celebrating birthdays and “big” doesn’t actually mean a huge party — I just want a table of friends to toast the big day.  And it’s right around the corner!

4.  Find the loose postcards I want to work on and actually set aside time to get this project started.  We’ll start with identifying a box they can all go into and then I will write about what I hope to do with them.

5.  Draft a craft project calendar.  I’m trying t plan for the year and get things on track — scheduling christmas cards ahead of the holiday season so that they actually get sent, for one, this time around.

It’s been a very busy week work wise and I cannot be more grateful that it is finally Friday.  It’s been one of those weeks where I was too tired at the end of the day to focus on anything else but catch some much needed zzzzzzs.  But the week is over and there’s finally time to recharge and relax.  Tomorrow.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Grey Saturday

I started writing this midday Saturday at almost 1pm, in my PJs and I have gone from shoring up my village (yes, PinayNewYorker/GothamChick plays Clash of Clans! — as GothamChick), watched an episode of The Brink (my HBOnow subscription has been dormant the last 4 weeks!  Wasted money!)  and I’m trying to decide on how big that afghan I’ve been working on should be.  (Note to self: This part of a handmade project should be determined/decided before I start the first row of stitches.)  I’m also trying to see how much yarn a pullover I’m making for myself will need (something I failed to do with the afghan), and I’m trying to figure out if I will brave the chilly temperatures outside to get some “taking care of me” stuff done.  No trips to the city for me this weekend — that much, I’ve decided.  Not with this kind of weather.

But — I am here, and I am happy to be tapping away on the keyboard.. Writing has proven to be quite the best outlet for me, be it longhand, via art or through this little corner of the blogsphere.  And I’m trying to catch all the bits and pieces racing through my mind before I completely forget about them.  Little thoughts.. big ideas.  Don’t you hate hitting a eureka moment and then losing it midstream?  It hits you in the quiet moments how you should have taken the time to stop and ponder.  And maybe the thought would’ve developed into something bigger.

Week in brief.  This one’s a mixed bag.  It’s been rather challenging and not without its surprises.  (My 11-year-old locked himself out the other day, leaving his keys IN the house — so Mom rushes home.  Thank God for understanding bosses.)  It’s also been a time of reflection.  (Need to do an entry for my “What do I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want?” journal.)  Sometimes I feel I need a reality check when I get carried away.  (Someone always reminds me about reality by texting me his version of “News Flash, Sister” bits..)  Disappointment and frustration have a way of bringing us down to earth.  This ship has touched the ground.

But it’s a week with its gems.  One thing I have learned in the recent past is that you really have to focus on the positive and bask in that — and like another friend said, we make the most of what we have.  And we did.  And I am happy.  I tell myself I should be so lucky.  It may seem most days that I could be surrounded by better people, but I count the ones who make me smile and I think I’m in more than just a very good place.  I’ve always been that person who won’t stop herself from getting a treat.. I get dessert when I want to — I am not deprived.

I look at the pictures I take these days, and the sadness and anger are no longer evident. (Either I hide them better or maybe they no longer dominate my psyche.) And I’m happy to be back to Medium — and these PJs I’m wearing had languished in my closet for ages because I bought it before I had my boy, and I couldn’t fit into it the last 11 years or so.  Well, sometimes, I did.. that’s why it stayed in the closet.  But it had been tucked into a far away corner and I just rediscovered it recently — and am wearing it again.  Reason indeed to be happy! I count my blessings and I think about the things that are weighing me down — and maybe it’s the age or just experience, but I can let go much easier now.

Weekend plans.  I’m in the thick of trying to put some order into my world.  So more organizing, more crafting, and again, laundry.  (I would rather do one big load every other weekend than do it every week.)  I need to get moving with the letter writing, although I think I wrote some fabulous birthday messages this past week.  I am trying to get ahead of some important dates coming up.  I would like to think that receiving something in writing other than an email or text message greeting still counts for something.

I’ve managed to repair some jewelry / accessories that had broken through time, and while Saturday has come and gone with nary a new piece created, I’m still hoping Sunday will be the day for me.  I’m seriously working on reopening the shop again, but I think I need a new header piece.  I am continuing to work with my crocheting and am getting on with the projects.  But that’s for the other blog where I discuss my crafts.

It has gotten chilly in New York and it’s that time of the year again when we have to wear layers.  I’ve dug into my closet to bring out the sweaters — and my summer clothes will have to be tucked away higher or deeper inside until it gets warmer.  We’ve started wearing coats again… still on the lighter side, but we can hardly go out now dressed in summer clothes.  Chilly!!

Weekend thoughts.  I am looking forward to Monday but I wish the weekend was longer this time around.  (A real pause followed that sentence.)  And yet on second thought, I think I would want it to end so that the things that keep bouncing around in my brain can fall silent in the din of work and being busy again.

I have a half dozen wishes in my head.  A friend who just celebrated a birthday made a wish after blowing the candle on his birthday cupcake.  I always wish birthday celebrants whatever it is their heart desires.  Rather than zeroing in on something specific I wish for them, I think that to wish that they get that which they wish for is the better gift.  If you want another piece of cake, I wish you that.  If you wish success, I wish you that.  If you wish to have more “me time”, I wish you that.  If you want dessert this time around even if you don’t like sweets, you get it this time because it’s your birthday.

I’ve always been big on birthdays, and those who have known me a long time know that I make a big production of greeting friends and family, even if it is a belated greeting.  It is always a good reason to celebrate the day someone came into this world — even if the celebrant is not big on birthdays.  WE celebrate them!  And I’ve always said that birthdays have no do-overs.   Milestones or not, we should make it a point to celebrate the occasion.

I greeted a friend a week late on FB and she responded back.  At least I didn’t get lost in the flood of greetings that came her way last week.  Even a short greeting is good.. the point is — as we say in the vernacular — you remembered.

Speaking of which, I keep hearing this piece playing in my head — “Remembering.”  A friend had introduced me to Avishai Cohen not too long ago, and it’s a very relaxing yet dramatic tune that I keep hearing in a loop.  The last time I listened to this, I found myself in a different kind of blissful heaven, and after listening to it, I’m sure you’ll agree and find yourself there, too.

 

Counting the days yet again

I’ve been hoping to write a post here for ages but it has been a very busy past couple of days.  When the opportunity came, I opted to work on the Gotham Chick post first because that blog has been badly neglected and I feel bad about it.  I am trying very hard to jumpstart that corner of my webspace but life and work and life again get in the way.

Soon.

You know how you wish you could tick off even just half your list of “to do’s” and then find yourself unable to even write that list?  It can be paralyzing at times.

These days I just want to space out.  I have been thinking of hopping on a subway line and taking it from end to end over and over again.  But I don’t have the time.  I used to feel that way every time I got on e a long-distance bus ride — I just kept wishing I could just keep going without stopping.

In between ordinary chores like washing the dishes or just putting the dry ones away, I think about taking a trip some place on my own and just “disappearing” into a sea of tourists or like travelers.  Some place new where I’ve never been before.  I wish.. but I can’t.

I sit at my craft corner and start organizing the beads hoping the inspiration to create would come but I get stumped.  Time seems to be dragging its feet one minute and then slipping by too quickly in the next.

I want to jump to May.

This time of the year hasn’t been very good for me because celebrations have been non-celebrations for the longest time.  What should be Happy moments turn out to be numb if not sad.

I had to pause after that last line.  A half smile forms in my face and I try to remind myself I have been blessed.

Someone’s been telling me I have won.  That I should be happy because I have won.  Yet I am reminded of those Pyrrhic victories which were indeed wins but which were achieved at a terrible, terrible cost.  These days I often have to remind myself the reason for why I fight for what I fight for.  Sometimes I stray into a gray area and I find myself looking for some sense of balance which I shouldn’t be looking for — because I should be viewing it from another perspective.

I have to remind myself of the reason why I am where I am.  I have to remind myself of the choice I made and why I made that choice.  Forget about the ones that caused me pain and sadness. I look to the one who has given me my greatest joy.

Another pause.  This time I smile.  A real smile.

There are many things I dread coming to pass these days.  Birthday being one of them.  I get hundreds of greetings thanks to the automatic reminder feature of FB, but I don’t quite get all the ones that really matter.   And much as I would love to respond to each and everyone, I never quite get around to doing it.  (Too slow, I know.)  It’s not so much that I’m turning another year older and I am getting old — but all the “happy” associated with birthdays ring hollow to me more so at this time.  I used to hear people wanting to sleep through Christmas or whiz by their special day for some reason or other — and I never quite understood what was wrong with these people.  Now I understand why.

And remembering certain things associated with past birthdays — more so last year’s — makes it really hard to look forward to this coming one.  I’m tempted to say that after everything that had taken place, I cannot go to anything worse.  It can only get better as they say.  But I had said that of my life in general over a year ago, and 2013 proved me wrong.  It did get worse — so now I try not to tempt fate by proclaiming a hollow optimism after the storm.  I have learned that the pragmatic thing to do is actually just brace for whatever else life throws my way — be it good or bad.  More than hope for something, I need to pray and pray hard I must.

I am trying to count my blessings.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or unappreciative of the breaks life has thrown my way.  It’s just that I’ve fallen very hard the last two years, my knees are still smarting from the deep cuts — and the aches and pains haven’t quite gone away.  Who was it who said scars make you beautiful… they are reminders of how strong you are… they probably were looking at someone else’s scars and did not suffer that kind of a fall themselves.

Spare me the birthday greetings — not because I don’t like getting them — but because I’d rather ask for your prayers.  I’m two years shy of the next milestone agewise, and I would like to think I’ll be at a much better place then than where I find myself now, whether or not things do get better or things get worse.  (Does that make sense?  It does to me.)

I have realized a lot of things more so in the last six months which I sometimes wish I didn’t uncover or have to face.  We sometimes find that illusions or the way we’d like to believe things are are safer than the truth that they mask, just under the surface.

I want to go on a short trip to this resort hotel and book a room and just lay there in bed, staring at the ceiling.  To feel how it is to be there in that place..  and to just see the sun rise outside my window.

I want to believe in me again the way I did before my illusions about my world were shattered to bits.  Sometimes that is the hardest because I am my own worst critic.  I wish the pain would go so that “happy” can have room and reign again.

I am trying.

Even as I count the days to one of the occasions I dread — for many reasons, in many ways.

Saturday Update: Trying to ignore my body

I already had an inkling I was coming down with something last night when I lay down to sleep. My throat felt funny.  So I put one of my tubao handkerchiefs around my neck and crossed my fingers.  All the handkerchiefs I use are tubaos which my sister, Ofie, had given to me years ago upon my request.  They are very colorful handwoven local fabric from the far south of the Philippines.  Around 2 trips home ago a friend had gifted me with two scarves of the same material which I wear in the spring and fall seasons.  I just needed something to keep my neck warm even as I slept.  True enough, I awoke with my throat hurting.  I’ve managed to control it thanks to throat spray, but I’m feeling weak and still not sure I’ve managed to conquer what seems to be an allergy or infection.  It hasn’t quite progressed from bad to worse, so I’m optimistic Monday will see me feeling a whole lot better.

I tried to ignore my body’s plea for rest, but I ended up taking some short naps.  I had to take care of lunch but hardly ate any.  I didn’t get to do anything much beyond organizing my papers.  Not good considering I haven’t quite finished my DECORATE A JOURNAL swap, but I’m practically there. 

I had planned to do a photo tutorial on using distress stains and inks, but by the time I had enough energy to do anything creative, it was already dark.  Here are the tags I had produced last week for sending to a swap partner for the Quote Prompt Mini-Journal #3 swap over at Swap-bot

Swap-bot: Quote Prompt Mini Journal #3 (b)
 While the more colorful side was distress stained manila folder, I used one side of a fancy decorated paper napkin for the back to make the three tags cohesive as a set.  I know you can’t see from the pictures that the back was made from paper nakpins, and it’s because of the “wrinkling” effect of having used mod podge to glue it onto the backside of the tag, along with an additional layer of gold acrylic paint, sealed with a final layer of lustre or glossy mod podge.  As always, I painted the sides on both the back and the front with a gold border.

Swap-bot: Quote Prompt Mini Journal #3 (a)
 I’ve fallen greatly behind on my card making but have ramped things up tonight by creating some interesting stenciled backgrounds.  (Finally experimented with some stencils bought over the last couple of weeks.)  Here’s an interesting take on using paper scraps to create a basket-weave effect.  This was my first attempt at this idea and I simply tucked a heart paper clip on the lower right hand side for accent.  What do you think? Handmade card: Basket weave paper scraps & heart paperclip

I attached the basket-weave paper piece onto an existing card and sent it on it’s way to P.  (Which, I hope, has made it to the other side of the world.)

The speed of the postal service sometimes catches me totally off guard which is a pleasant surprise.  It used to be that I automatically presumed it would take two to three weeks to get to Manila, but these days, I get an acknowledgment after 7 days.  At a time when people think the post office is slowly rendering itself obsolete, it is heartening to see that it has tried to keep up with the demands of the times in competition with technology.

I have so much of these paper scraps that I can make a whole book out of them if I wanted to.  I hate throwing away paper.  (Which, to the chagrin of my housemates, means piles and piles of them.  I am trying to organize..!)  I intend to use more of them in my future projects just to make sure that they are put to good use. 


I am also all excited about my new “toy”, a birthday gift of sorts to myself.  I got this Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine which I found to be cheapest at Amazon.  I have used it only a bit since I got it but the possibilities are endless.  I’m almost tempted to take it out of the box again tonight (and it’s almost 1am) and try my hand at creating a few flowers.  (My dies are basically of flowers at this point.. that will change in time.)  I am already excitedly planning my niece, Andreanna Lux’s invitation for her first birthday, and that’s not until September!  Ha!

This just as I’m reaching a swap burnout point which I”m trying to avoid.  I think I’ll go back to creating for myself and creating for the store again, hopefully.

With Cousin M’s wedding just two weeks away, Angelo and I are excited.  (He’s flying using his Dad’s 50,000 miles which is a real treat.  He was so excited to attend his first “wedding” ever.  I can’t wait.)  I really have to create the necklace I had meant to wear with the dress I have yet to get.  I zeroed in on this simple yet very elegant three-fourth sleeve lace dress but no one seems to have it in the color/size I wanted… sigh…still searching.  I’m just excited to be with family.  I am more excited about being escorted by my littled guy in his dapper suit.  What I am really looking forward to is dancing with him as he is my favorite slow dance partner. 

In a few weeks, my little guy is turning a year older.. and another very special guy to me who prefers to be referred to as my special gay — Nikky — is turning another year older.  28.. 28 years ago a family friend knocked on our door and handed him to me.  And we were bound for life.

Birthdays and weddings.. I love them for the pillars they provide to our existence as human beings.  They help us measure time in a more personal way beyond calendars and dates.  Those dates take on a different meaning when attached to something or someone who means something to us. 

Time for me to head on to bed.  I hope my throat doesn’t torture me tomorrow when I wake up.

PS. Almost forgot that I got a most pleasant surprise from Cousin M.  A belated birthday gift which would have been timely had not my own schedule at work prevented me from meeting up with her sooner — some chocolate cheesecake which were totally to-die-for!

 
Chocolate Cheesecake from Cousin M
 
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My Dream Job (30 days of blogging prompts 7)

My current job:  Executive Assistant to one of the top officers of a Fortune 500 Company.  Long hours but pays well.  Great benefits.  Top of the food chain as far as admins go.  Working in the middle of Midtown Manhattan.  Bus stop across from my building a plus.  Doing something I like to do: Taking care of people.  Love all the technology that cames as part of the set up.

My dream job:  To be my own boss to be able to afford to invest in a business where it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a healthy bottomline.  (In short, I’d like to be in a position where earning a profit doesn’t matter.)

That’s why it’s a “dream” job.

I want to put up a retail store somewhere in the Upper East Side where I can sell one-of-a-kind pieces from the top fashion designers of Manila.  And on the side maintain my own craft room or craft cave where I can have all the fancy materials to create — my personal art, my jewelry, without having to worry about the day job that pays the bills.

I’d love to be able to spend the day on a regimen of creativity — and in between worry about what I would be having for lunch or where, and get all the creating done before Angelo gets back from school.

I want to be able to write without clocking myself and making sure I do it during my lunch hour or at the end of the day.

Reminder to self: Buy lotto.

—–

So I’ve been trying to speed up the layouting.  I have less than two weeks to complete all the blog prompts and assemble the book. I’m getting there.

I just finished another Artist Trading Card set of two to trade away, and I have my first “zine” or mini-magazine to pull together for sending out on th 28th.  I am not too worried as I have a ton of articles/materials to pull from here.  I’ve even done a mock layout of my pages already. 

Meanwhile I have a splitting headache yet again.  Aleve has been no help. I’m hoping I do better tomorrow.  (I hate relying on the meds to deal with the pain.)

Next week, I turn 47.  No sense being coy about the birthday — I never wanted to make a big deal about it, that’s all.  And 47, unlike 46 suddenly feels much, much older.

I’d like to write more about that and the overbearing shadow of chalking up another year in this world but my eyes are not cooperating.  (Age again..ha!) 

Celebrating birthdays has always been a big deal to me, but no one has really made a big deal of celebrating my birthday.  Maybe that’s the reason why I’m so hung up on celebrating others.  Not anymore.  The only birthday that really matters now is someone who’s turning 9 in May.  I watch him and I can’t help but marvel at how much he’s grown.

His greeting, among all other greetings, is the one that matters the most.

PS.  My blog stats has been moving up dramatically but I only hear from the usual suspects (namely Lou…)  — I would appreciate a squeak from the others who come by.  Do say hello..

Sunday schedule

I am going to try to get some “sorting” done amongst my craft supplies and my postcards, hopefully, so I am vowing to write here for no longer than an hour this morning.  (Tick, tock, tick, tock..)  I would like nothing more than to laze away in bed with the laptop, but I have a ton of things I only get done on the weekends, because week days get too packed with the distraction of work.

The headache is better… it is HOT again in New York, though, so I am seeking refuge in the bedroom where the cool air from the night’s airconditioning makes the morning more bearable.  I’ve been hit by allergies, though, so I am sniffing away again.  (Allergy meds to the rescue!)

I spoke with my Mom last night.  We don’t do that often enough, I realize. I think I’ll try to do it more often.  She’s telling me I should stop sending her black shoes — how about beige or brown.. =)  Now you know where my fettish for shoes came from. HA!

My Art Journal Every Day backgrounds were sitting in a folder under the laptop so I was reminded about moving forward on that.  Last week, I had one entry I posted to my facebook account but wasn’t able to post here because I had difficulty getting into the site from work (during my break!) because they are now using quota time for personal sites.  =(  Not happy.  It prevented me from going bloghopping myself, except for sites like mine which have their own domains tacked on.  (i.e., Pinaynewyorker.com and Gothamchick.com)  So I missed out on my daily dose of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer until the evening when I accessed from home.  I do have a technical remedy but it will mean not doing it from my desktop which shouldn’t be too much of a hassle if I can find the time to move away from my little corner of a desk at work.

But back to my unposted Art Journal Every Day entry — it’s also a little harder this time around because it’s speaks to a very emotional topic for me which is my Auntie Lydia, an older sister of my Dad —  a lady who stood by as a second mother to me in my formative years, more like a governess of sorts although I wouldn’t call her that.  (My mom was mostly attending to our business, so Auntie Lydia was there making sure the little things were duly taken cared of.)  She made sure we spoke English at home, had our homework done, that we were all in bed at a reasonable hour, and that we were always well-mannered, be it on the table, when meeting people or when speaking.  She used to  be a nun who had to leave her vocation due to one cancer after another hitting her — and she managed to survive to past 60.  She’s been gone more than 20 years now, but she is always a part of me.  I should really leave the post about her when I finally put up the entry.

(Momentarily distracted by the next post on Gothamchick.com)

July and August are turning out to be very emotionally ridden for me because of Dad’s birthday and death anniversary, Auntie Lydia’s birthday, and at the end of the month comes my older brother’s birthday and death anniversary.  Isn’t it strange that birth and death can bring such opposite forms of celebration or commemoration but which nonetheless strike such a cord in our hearts?  Yet at the same time, it reminds me that they are forever with me.

I have a friend on Facebook to whom I had sent a message of condolence and prayer as she celebrated her niece’s first year death anniversary.  I did not get a response — but I had expected that.  Grief is so uncanny in being forever present.  It doesn’t have a deadline or an “expiration date”.  They say you never really get over it.  It’s just “there”.  You just learn to live with it in a better way — even if the pain doesn’t dissipate or get any lighter.   Like most things that bring pain to me, I try instead to dwell on the positive — the happy memories.  I told her I was praying for her and her niece’s family.  I left it at that.  I don’t expect conversations about grief to be a real exchange.  It gets painful, even for me.  I just had to send my well-wishes, show a little kindness.

But even for those who are still living and who poke their head into that room where we sit quietly with our memories and who evoke only pain, sometimes the “happy” is not enough to keep the pain away.  Perhaps it’s an emotional defensive reaction that too much pain eventually transforms into anger, then we go numb.  When that comes over me, I close my eyes and I shut a door in my heart.  Then I remind myself to move on to the next room.

In the beginning, thoughts about my Dad used to do that to me.  The pain and the anger were too much that I didn’t even know how I got so close to tears and I’d have to take a deep breath to stop myself from giving in.  But eventually, it subsided.  Now I just miss Papa.  Two years after he passed on, I know that dealing with the anger and the hurt is an exercise in futility except when you hope to weed it out and bid it farewell.  It brings me nothing but bad memories, so I stick instead to his laughter, and the earlier years when there was more joy.  When we were father and daughter.

We deal with grief in different ways.  I blog… I do my art.. I dream about those days when Papa made me feel like I was THAT special to him.  I hear myself telling my half-sister that we have to make allowances for Papa’s shortcomings.  He loves us but he just didn’t know how to love us the right way.  I hear my voice and I take those words to heart.  And I realize that I had the good fortune to see Papa’s better side — that during those years when I resented him for being with my half-sister and her mom, he had actually been a better father to me.

I miss him dearly, despite all his shortcomings.. despite the pain.  I sometimes wish that he was still here.  I wish I could talk to him, but the upside of him being on the other side is that now, I can talk to him wherever and whenever.  (No need for a phonecard.)  Like right now.