I am Important, too

The Daily Prompt: Value

I am trying to keep up with the daily prompts from The Daily Post to be more consistent with posting here.  There are just times when my head is so full of other things that it is difficult to sit down and write something coherent.  I try not to work too hard at it.  If it comes, it comes.. and while there are days when a silent spell takes my space over, there are times when the words just flow freely and I am just always here.  The prompts are supposed to help make that happen.  I try.

One of my favorite hashtags in my Instagram account is #YouAreImportantToo.  We go about our lives prioritizing things according to their importance to us — and oftentimes, we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of the list.  I guess it doesn’t help that we are basically raised on the concept of being selfless, or at least trying to be.  So we put everyone else ahead of us on the list, until the whole town is up above us.  If we were all on a totem pole, you find yourself at the base, with everyone else sitting on top of you.  And there you are carrying that load.

And yet, common sense tells us that you have to be strong enough to carry all that weight.  To be able to prop someone up, you have to have the strength help carry that load.  To help others, you must have the capacity to do just that which means you have to be in a good place yourself.

How often do we hear ourselves saying that we can wait our turn?  Or that they can go ahead,  and we can be last?

We all have our hierarchy of what is important to us, and that denominates our value system.  Where do you figure in that heirarchy?

I used to do just that — putting everyone else ahead of me, until I came to the realization that not only did that impede my helping the ones I wanted to help, but it greatly diminished my self worth.  Everyone was more important — I was supposed to put myself last, and for the longest time, I did.  Until I witnessed how someone showed me how wrong that was by thinking the same way.  It took me a painful experience watching someone put his happiness last, and knowing I was tied to that happiness, find myself the last priority.  And that was my wake up call.

I shed the martyr complex and told myself I was more important than last place.  That while I cannot be priority all the time, I deserved some importance, because I mattered. I had to start with me.

It was important for me to acknowledge that I was part of the equation and that I had to take care of myself in order to be strong enough and be able to do what I wanted for the other important people in my life.  It wasn’t a matter of who was more important, but more of valuing one’s self just as much if not more than others.  You cannot stand strong for others if you do not believe in yourself.  You cannot be there for others if you do not take care of yourself.

We put such importance on the other people who matter in our lives, and we often fail to give ourselves the priority we deserve in the pecking order of things.  Being selfless is a good trait, but not to the point of sacrificing our self worth.

I learned the hard way how important it is to give myself my due.  I’ve gone long enough thinking everything and everyone was more important than me and I could put myself last all the time.  When everything else was said and done, I felt like I lost, having deprived myself to make way or give way to others.  So others could have their fun, have their cake, their piece of the pie — I stood aside.

I have come to realize that I have to be in step with my efforts to take care of others by taking care of me.  That I have to leave some for myself, even if I just take a bite and give them the rest of the cake.  It helps me to help others better.  And to paraphrase the Golden Rule, it helps me to keep things in perspective where it comes to doing unto others what I would want them to do to me.  When what you feel and when your happiness and well-being is important to you, then you are better able to help others with theirs.

So it pays and helps to always be reminded that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, TOO.

 

Finding my voice again

Daily prompt: Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I blog because..

I have tried to stay regularly involved with The Daily Post  which is really helpful to bloggers like me who are trying to improve on their skills on the web — be it photography, writing, web design or networking.  I haven’t been able to post as regularly based on their prompts of late, but I definitely recommend that you pay them a visit if you are not familiar.

I am subscribed to the daily prompts and the idea is to write a post and tag yourself in a comment following the post, so that you and other like-minded bloggers can give their two cents’ worth on the subject matter.  There are times when the prompts are very easy to write about like today. The question is, Why do you blog?

.. it helps me to chronicle not just my every day, but the thoughts and feelings that visit my mind and heart, and doing so enables me to see the world around me more clearly.  I have been blogging for 11 years now and it is always a journey to go back to older posts or even last week’s.  Be it to remember or look back or relive something that had come to pass, my life in words has been a way for me to reflect on what I have and what I once had.  Those times I look forward and instead dwell on what I want to do or plan to do, writing about how those plans are going or have changed keep me on the path I want to take.

.. I like to remember the things that made an impact on my life — people, places, things and feelings.  It can be something as simple as a beautiful sunset that just had me mesmerized at the end of the day.  Or the imposing Manhattan skyline that I say goodnight to as I head home.   They remind me of where I am and of how precious it is to take the moment to stop and look and just breathe.  I write about them or use that snapshot as a reminder of that moment, and even if I don’t go back to that post until years later, when I do, the feelings come back and I get to relive that happy thought or awesome point in time I just said wow.

.. I believe that we all learn from one another, and my experiences and thoughts can help someone as other people’s words have helped me.  I get many inquiries about law school and dreams about being a lawyer — proof of which is that my most read posts are those relating to this topic.  That was one big part of my life that I had lived through and had left behind, but whose lessons have enriched me in ways beyond learning about the law.  I am happy to have helped others who had questions that needed answering — perhaps a simple prod to go after one’s dream like I did.  I have met people in real life who have stumbled upon my little corner of the blogsphere, and I have been enriched with those interactions in ways I cannot count.

.. it helps me think out loud, and listen to my inner voice better.  That’s the reason why one of my most robust categories in this blog is “Just Me Thinking Online”, which, as of this writing has 365 posts under it.  It really is as random as it sounds — it’s not about anything in particular — just me speaking my mind out.  And I think we often forget there’s that inner voice inside us.  We often fail to listen to the one authority on us that we should really pay mind to: ourselves.  We get caught up with listening to everyone else but the heart that matters — because we think we should be last.  One of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned in the recent years is that that is one of the biggest mistakes we can make: to forget that we should take care of ourselves, too.  We have to trust that we have the inner wisdom to know what is best for us, even when it’s not that easy a thing to do.

I have always said that I blog for very selfish reasons — I blog for me, myself and I.  That others find my words worth reading is a nice pat on the back, but it won’t stop me from writing as I write now, or prod me to go in another direction.  There is writing just to write– and that’s why I’m here.  That’s the reason this blog has existed and will continue to exist for as long as I can spew out the words that find themselves online.

Daily Prompt: Good Tidings

DAILY PROMPT: “Present-day you” meets “10-years-ago you” for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

It’s cold this Saturday but I’m warm and toasty at home.  The sun is shining outside but then I know that’s a pretty deceiving scene considering I need a sweater indoors.  I’ve always been a “hot climate” person.  After all, that’s what I had been raised in back home.

I had to take care of a few things for work this morning but found myself drifting here before handling any of the more serious things in life like my online class, maybe my art journal (finally on the multi-page layout I’ve been dying to start working on) and homework.  (Not mine..)

DSCF8166Ten years ago, I was a new mother, marveling at this wonderful boy I was given in May.. I had already gone back to work, my mother was here helping me take care of my bundle of joy, and everything was DIFFERENT now that I had that other life depending upon me.  Not just as a food source (I breastfed him until he was 2), but because I had another reason for existence.  I had someone else to take care of, and that was all that mattered.

That would be quite an experience seeing me then even as it is an experience thinking back now after all that has happened.  Were the guys at The Daily Post thinking of me, I wonder, when they thought up of this prompt?  Of course not!  But another one of those prompts from the universe that is just so apt.  (Or as we would say in the vernacular, “swak na swak!” LOL)

I would sit across from the me 10 years ago who would be ordering a Skinny Decaf Cafe Au Lait.  Present day me would be holding a cup of the latest sweet drink concoction, still skinny, but no longer Decaf.  In an espresso store, I’d ask for a double shot.  The me 10 years ago would have very short hair, thinner than I was now (the effects of having had to diet to keep my gestational diabetes during pregnancy at bay).  I’d look tired but I’d be glowing… happy in a naive sort of way — but not harassed or haggard like most new mothers were.  She would have a bigger smile than me, but my smile would come from deeper within than hers would.  So shall we…

THE MOST CHALLENGING THING in your life will come nine years going forward — although you will think the worst would have come a year earlier.  Lesson learned: Don’t ever think the worst has come to pass just because you thought your whole world fell apart at one juncture in your life.  That might just not be the big explosion you thought it was — something worse might come along.

There will be some very painful lessons learned, but you will survive them a better person.  That little boy you now cradle in your arms will be your anchor, and his love and devotion will hold you up.  Hang on to that.. that is all you need and that is what will pull you through.

Do not ever doubt your strength.  Your first challenge made you think you were not as strong as you thought you were.  The second will prove to you that you are far more resilient and stronger than you ever thought possible.  You will be surprised by your capacity for hate and forgiveness at the same time — and you will see you were wrong to think you weren’t as big a person as you actually are.  Embrace who you are and never doubt yourself!

Trust your instincts and try not to give everyone so much benefit of the doubt.  That will be your undoing.  If your suspicions are aroused by some act or thing or other, act on it immediately.  Do not sweep it under the rug.  Sadly, those people who you thought were better than you are a notch below in reality.  You give people too much credit.  You should give YOURSELF more.  Hang on to that and you might have an easier time weathering the storm than I did.  But the good news is, you WILL make it through.

THE MOST REWARDING THING that will ever come your way just entered your life.  That little guy will love you like no other.  His devotion to you will be the envy of even his father.  All the love you give and pour into that little person will come back to you in immeasurable amounts and unending waves.  He is worth all the sacrifice you will ever find yourself making and I know you will never hesitate to put him first above everything and everyone else, even your own happiness.

At the end of it all, when the chaos quiets down, you will find that he is your best reward and the best thing that ever happened to you.  And no matter that there will be times when you doubt that you are being a good mother, you will know later on that you gave it your 200%.  You are a good mother and will always be one — and the best part of it is he knows it.

Ten years from now, you will realize that his entry into your world changed your life in more ways than you ever thought, not always for the better — but those changes were beyond your control.  Not everyone and everything looks at his arrival the same way, and do not get angry with yourself for not having seen things unfold sooner.  Everything happened for a reason, and the universe has a funny way of unveiling the truth.  When that happens, hang on to the one truth that will forever hold you up — that young life that you gave birth to is the best thing that has happened to you.  And that will make up for whatever else comes to try and steal the thunder from that gift.

THE MOST FUN THING you have to look forward to will be going to places you never thought you will ever go to.. Paris twice (with a side trip to Chartres on your own!), Brussels and Brugge, Orlando almost every other year with your little guy.. and don’t worry about missing ‘home’ because you will go home almost every year in the next 10 years.

In the grand scheme of things, you will have a good life in the next ten years.  Even at its worst, the fact that you know where to run and what to do will make it look like just another one of those bumps in life, though in reality the earth swallowed you up and you almost drowned.

Never let go of who you are.  Do not let the conventions of life force you to change who and what you are inside.  Do not let others mold you to be a person that isn’t true to your real self.  Do not wait for ten years to pass before you find yourself again — hang on to it because it is what will pull you through when others try to take your and your son’s happiness away.  You’d be surprised at how tough a fighter you can be — but then you should already know you are a formidable opponent in any field — more so where your son’s happiness and future are concerned.

I’d be lying if I said you won’t have any regrets 10 years from now — because there will be many.  But once all is said and done, you will still say you would have done it the same way if given the chance for a do-over.  That little boy is all that matters.  You wouldn’t be where I am today if others were not as heartless and selfish — I wouldn’t be smiling from across the table reassuring you you will be fine — if you weren’t able to overcome all that heartache and disappointment that came your way.  Just remember when they do that even those who hurt you will bring something better into your life later on.  Their selfishness will make you appreciate things in life a little differently, and will steer you in a different direction that isn’t all that bad after all.

Welcome the new things that come into your life.  Hang on to the fearless person you have always been — even as those around you try to put YOU in shackles.  You are one strong woman and you will see that work to your advantage at the worst of times.  You will make it — because you are stronger than everyone thinks you are — stronger than even you think YOU are.

Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done!

Daily Prompt: Our ten-minute free-write is back for another round! Tap away on whatever comes to mind, no filters attached. (Feel free to edit later, or just publish as-is).

A note from Pinay New Yorker: For the past couple of months, my posts here have been very spontaneous and I have not been participating in any of the things going on at The Daily Post, a community of bloggers on this platform.  A quick search shows that my last attempt at being a part of their Daily Prompts was in April yet with this post.  It can only mean that either I have been so prolific and not wanting for any blog prompts, or I have been too lazy to try and write with a set standard or parameters.  (That’s the rebel in me.)  In any case, I have been trying to “get back” to writing with the community, and looks like this will get me somewhere — this time.  So the clock has been set — 10 minutes… let’s see what we come up with.

I just downed two tablets of pain relievers because I have a nasty headache rearing its ugly head somewhere at the back of my brain.  It isn’t quite there yet, but I know it’s coming.  Give me my meds!

It’s been a rather quiet morning — although not for want of anything to do, but more because the boss is away.  There is a lot I need to catch up on, and I’m trying to tick things off my list.  The end of the year is always busy for us, until we all go on holiday.

This year is different because I know I’m not going home, “Home” being 10,000 miles away where Christmas begins in September and ends with the Feast of the Three Kings second week of January.  (Yes, we have the longest Christmas season ever.)  I have started thinking of my Christmas card which I have made every year — well, except for last year.

Pause.  There are times when I get stumped and this is one of those times. 

Looking back to last year, except for the fact that I surrounded myself with the love of family and friends back in Manila, it wasn’t much of a Christmas for me.  Part of me was being torn by anger and hate, and part of me was being crushed by a life-changing disappointment.  Yet at that time, I found the greatest strength in the people who have always been there for me.  The same people who have rejoiced with me when I found myself in a good place held my hand and saw me through the worst of times.  My annual holiday card was the last thing I was thinking of.

This year, my holiday card will be one of the things I want to bring back.  Yes, I will make it again.  I don’t know yet what design or which way I will go.. what colors or what symbols I will put in.  Do I do mixed media or a plain photo card?  And it hits me that I have Thanksgiving to worry about first. 

And again, I go back to last year’s.  There wasn’t much to be thankful for… and I didn’t even bother to cook.  We had a good thanksgiving lunch, though, at a fancy place up in Long Island.  I think I’m going to go that route again.  (Makes my life easier.. and easy is always better.)

I don’t like that I don’t have Manila to look forward to this Christmas, but I’m fine with that.  Part of my “journey back” in the last year has been to try and regain my footing, which, I think I’ve had some success with.  I am more upbeat about the holidays this year than I was in 2013, and that, in itself is a good thing. 

Life goes on, they say.. and I’ve gone through the last 12 months with a better understanding of that phrase.  I’m here, am I not?  And here is where I am staying.

 

Fast forward to “peaceful” and “happy”

DAILY PROMPT: If you could fast forward to a specific date in the future, when would it be?

Fast forwardI don’t have a specific date in the future because I don’t know just “when” I will get to where I want to get to.  I do know I want to get there.

My world is nowhere near the kind of calm that would enable me to open my eyes each morning with a peaceful thought.  I wake up in the oddest of hours in the morning, and I think of the reason why I am waking up when I should be lost in slumber.

The ceiling over my bed is becoming my focus spot even in the darkness.  I don’t see anything.  No color, no darkness.  I see white.  And it stays white.  I used to drag myself out of bed half-awake still intoxicated with that bliss that takes you over after a restful sleep.  I miss that.  I wake up — wide awake, eyes open and I am “up” even before I pull myself out of the bed.

I grab my phone and blackberry and saunter out of the room.  I start making breakfast.  Because it’s winter, it is still dark outside.  I find the darkness to be my friend at this time when the silence helps me to get my bearings so early in the day.  I move slowly.

I try not to open the TV until I’ve gotten my groove after preparing Angelo’s water jug which I fill with ice and then water to the brim to “semi-freeze” it.  That’s the way he likes it.  I grab the snack of choice (fave of the moment) and put it in the ziploc bag.  For now, that’s pretzel.

My mornings are full of sighs and empty thoughts.  I pray.  I start with the Serenity Prayer.

I’ve subscribed to Kerygma’s Daily Readings.  I try to do this early in the morning or when I find a moment of “peace” at work.  It helps that I don’t have to lug my Didache anymore.  All the scripture and reflections are literally at the palm of my hand.

Then my day begins.  And then it ends.  And it goes this way over and over again, punctuated by moments of anger, pain and just numbness.  I want to get to that point when the anger will just be a momentary flash.  When the pain will just be a memory.  When the numbness disappears.

I don’t know how far ahead in the future I must look to to find that point where I would fast foward my life to.  I cannot even think of April right now which is just weeks away.  I just want to sleep through it and have it be  over and done with.  I’m thinking maybe I’ll take a trip alone someplace.  Then I think not.  Again, the numbness takes me over.

I’d like to get to that place again when opening my eyes in the morning means looking forward to another day.  When it ceases to be another day I must pull myself through.

I’d like to get to that place when I feel good about life again.  When the uncertainty has lessened for I know it will never be truly gone.  When I can walk with a steady gait instead of faltering through the hills and valleys I pass or know I will pass.  When I am not overwhelmed by the sense of loss I feel now for things, time and opportunities that have been taken away from me by someone’s evil designs.

I want to get to that point when I cease to be evil myself.  When I get to that sense of being okay with the world as it is, whatever the state of my world may be.  When the thought of ruining someone no longer appeals to me or appeases my anger.  When forgiveness finally settles in my heart and soul.

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight? Neither.

I am a little delayed writing what I wanted to respond to as far as the Daily Prompts are concerned, so you will possibly see two coming in a span of 24 hours.  I have been busy and while I was itching to write here, I just didn’t have the energy or the time.  So here goes..

Daily Prompt (from The Daily Post):   When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?

I have never been one to back off from confrontation — until some life lessons I learned in recent months which saw me change my game plan drastically.  I don’t think it was because I had suddenly changed my way of thinking about the workings of life in general — I just lost the energy and the spirit to be “confrontational”.  There are things that happen to us in the course of our lives which alter the way we react to things.

My answer  would be a little “off” because while I would normally walk straigh in, I don’t.  And yet, I don’t head for the hills.  My answer to the prompt, unfortunately, is not clear cut.  It would’ve been 18 months ago. 

Not anymore.

I’ve learned that there are times when just standing still in the midst of chaos will minimize your injuries.  Running in any direction — whether towards or away from the melee — is not a guarantee of safety.  And there are times when you just find yourself glued to the ground you’re standing on — unable to move even if you wanted to.

I choose to be still.  To just stand where I am.  To get hit in the chaos if  I get hit, or to just avoid the rush of the crowd in any direction. 

For the most part, it works for me.  Now.

Perhaps it’s age that has made me more accepting that confrontation can be a costly means of dealing with a situation.  Perhaps it’s the losses that have made me realize that the victories are not always worth the energy it took to achieve the win.

Someone had once told me tha even I didn’t do anything, things will fall into place.  In an ironic and yet very real way, they have.  After the chaos, I stood where I was, not moving or wanting to go into any direction.  And everything became still.  I found myself alone — the rowdy crowd gone — the noise settling into silence.

Fall into place, things did.  I watched the world go on with me standing where I was.  In watching, I learned to be quiet so I could listen.  And I learned a lot from what I saw and what I heard.  In many ways, being still helped me to move forward.  Even when at times, I felt a painful nudge on my shoulder from someone walking past without a care.  Or when I got run over by a bulldozer who didn’t bother to swerve.

Was there a time I wished I had done the opposite?  Perhaps.

I wish I had stopped sooner.  I wish that instead of plunging head on and confronting a situation I was forced into — I instead pulled back, or I instead just stood still.  But that is all wishful thinking now.  I went forward and it cost me all the energy and spirit I had.  So now, I stand still.

If I had done that – stopped sooner before so much damage had been done —I’d still be as gungho about confrontations as I used to be.  I wouldn’t have the wisdom of the life lessons I learned in the last year or so, and I wouldn’t be standing still, watching the world go by.  I wouldn’t be listening as intently as I do now — because I’d still be preoccupied with having myself be heard instead of hearing what the world was telling me.

Yes, things did fall into place.  I found my place under the sun.  And this is where I stand.