A walk in the park

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I have always been the laziest person when it comes to exercise. I used to joke that you’d have to pay me to get me to exert effort one way or the other. The thing is, I’ve been trying to find ways and means to stay fit — both mentally and physically — and staying in my safe corner and not doing anything beyond moving about in my small apartment was not going to cut it.

Panic hit me when I realized I was putting on weight with all the baking and cooking and inactivity. I used to clock a decent amount of steps even if it was short of the modest goal of 10,000. I have usually weighed this much only after coming back from a trip from Manila, because of all the delicious food that I couldn’t resist gobbling up.

The diet has always been in the plan, but I knew that if I were to make it work faster and more efficiently, I had to get off my butt and do something about it.

On Monday, I willed myself to don a decent attire to walk. Just walk. I grabbed my phone and tied my hair, put on my mask and off I went. I live in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood where the air is fresh and the streets and sidewalks are clean. There is even a stretch of green in a park just a block away from me.

My first outing saw me walking the long way to the neighborhood grocery. I gave myself a half hour as I did it before dinner, and the clouds were threatening up high. It was nice to actually find myself having the energy and the courage to walk out in public without a determined effort to accomplish any specific task. For the past few weeks, I would only venture out to do the groceries, the laundry, and last week, to get my hair cut.

It felt good. It was pleasantly cool, but by the time I made it to the grocery, my heartbeat was definitely elevated and I felt a light sweat forming on my back. That made me proud. I actually did it! I exercised! I made it to the grocery just in time as it started to drizzle. I picked up some ingredients for a diet soup I wanted to try out, then I walked briskly back before it rained hard.

The next day, I ended work at a decent hour and quickly changed again and walked out the door, this time determined to go to the park a block away.

Walking in the park
I found a starting point and counted how many steps it took me to go around the path surrounding the field in the middle. There was a decent crowd of others walking either leisurely or jogging / running around. There were some who were walking their dogs, or accompanying children who were biking or having their time in the playground.
Walking in the park
The path around the field was not level which made for some elevation at certain parts — I walked.. determined to keep going as far as I could — and I made it to three rounds. I had the Handmaid’s Tale on Audible keeping me company. I don’t know why I decided I wouldn’t listen to music — that I would instead listen to the book that was in my queue. It was me, myself and I, wrapped up with walking the path and listening to what was on my phone.

As I felt my legs starting to feel the strain, I left the park and I decided to walk further on to a grocery on the other side of the neighborhood to pick up some fruit and non fat milk, and then I walked back home.

Neighbors I met along the way thought I had gone to work since I was lugging a shopping bag. I proudly told them I had been to the park and had just stopped by the grocery on my way home.

I made it to my second day with an hour’s walk. I surprised myself with that accomplishment.

Today, I decided I would try to go in the morning, taking advantage of the fact that I’ve been waking up just after 6am of late because of the earlier sunrise. It took me a while to drag myself out of bed, but I changed and walked out with purpose and headed to the park again. My legs were still achy — but I figured the best way to get rid of the strain was to keep going. More pain! After one round, though, I decided I would combine the routes of the last two days and headed back the long way, looping through several blocks I had not walked previously.

I listened to some podcasts as I had finished the audio book, making a mental note to download my next “read”. I am not really a podcast person, but listening to two episodes of something I picked up from The New York Times, I think I’m going to start exploring more. I am quite late to the game, I know..

The park had a haze and smelled of crisp grass and morning dew. You could hear the birds in the stillness, with a few stragglers here and there making their way around the park like me. I was alone, but not alone.

I liked that.
Walking in the park
The park benches beckoned, but I couldn’t give in or I would end up sitting there until my time was up, and I wouldn’t have accomplished anything except stare at all that greenery with no steps clocked.

The mask, I have to admit, makes it a little harder to exert effort. But I couldn’t take it off. There were people huffing and puffing ahead of me or heading towards me, and I couldn’t risk it. Plus, the norm nowadays is to give those without masks “the look” — and I would be the last one to invite that air of disdain — so I comply. I actually managed to do it!

Almost an hour this time, as I had to be conscious of making it back home before 9am, so I can log in and begin the day’s work. I thought I deserved a treat and headed to the neighborhood Starbucks. Nitro Cold Brew in hand, I walked home. (All of 70 calories!)

My legs are a bit sore.. but I think I’m feeling better. And what’s more, I feel great. I actually did three days straight — and I’m hoping I keep this up in the next few days.

I like how I know that I’m doing something good for my body, but more so for my mental health. I am “opening up” to the world at my own pace, in my own way. We cope in different ways. This is how I do it — with a walk in the park.

While on the bus..

…I decided I would attempt to write a post after I unsuccessfully tried all week long.

It’s been a busy and heavy week.  I have had a pretty good start of the year overall, but it had to hit a low point at some time. It’s not the worst of the worst or the lowest of lows, but it’s one of those weeks where I am happy to say it’s over.

Well, almost.
Yes, #weStillHaveSnow! #OnMyWayToWork this #Friday.. #happyWeekend! #nyc #ny #mynewyork #winter2016
Yes, we stil have snow around us, and walking through the snow laden pavement back home actually feels like walking through a frozen hallway.  I have actually stopped wishing it away and just decided it is best to wait for Mother Nature to melt it down.  Then I heard we might actually get more snow and of course, the reality of it is that winter is hardly over.

I have been trying to strike a balance between staying cool and letting my emotions go.  Holding my anger in has always been a struggle, probably because I am a true child of Aries.  But I try.  For the most part, I know I have had better success the last year or so, probably because the lessons I have learned have helped to train me to not so easily give in to letting the anger get the better of me.  But we all have our breaking point, and much like we find ourselves cheating on a diet, we sometimes end up forgetting our resolve not to give in to our weaknesses.

I am human.  I am passionate and given to letting my emotions get the better of me.  And I know that doesn’t make it any easier– but I think I’ve mellowed down quite a lot.

I no longer pounce — I usually hold my thoughts and feelings in and I process through it before opening my mouth.  I have tried to get past the pain and the anger that had long been simmering inside me.  I try to remind myself how far I’ve come..  That I am in a better place.. That I am better off without those people who chose to walk out of my life or who had decided to keep their distance.  I have respected their choice, and I pray they respect mine.

A year ago, I decided I wanted a new life without having to live knowing my existence was an inconvenience being tolerated..  I can only imagine the insults and hours of laughter and amusement others enjoyed at my expense.  A friend tells me I should stop being considerate and think of that — because why should I care about taking a step back instead of throwing a punch when they have been kicking me black and blue behind my back for the longest time.  As I find myself digesting that I am torn between anger and sadness.  I haven’t quite made up my mind about whether I will throw the punch or just sit it out just yet, but it has given me pause when I think about what to do next.

I dread moments when thoughts like that envelop my heart.

My usual escape is to run a list that make that all seem small in the grand scheme of things.  I have pictures I go back to which bring a smile to my face.  I have snippets of things that happened or happy moments etched in my mind.  And while I am not in the happiest place on earth, I am in a pretty darned happy place.  I have surrounded myself with people who know and understand me and who don’t require an explanation from me when I do something silly or create something just beyond fabulous.  I laugh harder and I see my son laughing harder as well.  We look at each other with a sense of partnership that speaks in a language he and I understand.  I have learned to look to the happy memories instead of wallowing in the pain of the heartaches that may still linger in my heart.

It’s a glass half full.

Getting off and jumping into the last day of the work week.  Happy Friday!NYC this Friday!

Sliding back to normal

Manhattan SunsetFor the first time in a while, I woke up at past 6am Tuesday morning instead of the usual four-ish no alarm clock wake up call. Although it meant losing out on a headstart to the day, it felt good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed my body clock is easing back to a more reasonable morning schedule, because I don’t know how long I can last the 4-4:30am rise-and-shine-silent-alarm it’s been forcing upon me.

Or maybe I’m just getting older.

It could also be that it’s my body’s way of rebelling against all the stress I’ve been deluged with the last year or so.  Maybe.

But Monday night was rather pleasant, and I did stay up late.  So Tuesday saw me sliding back to normal.

These days, I am careful to label things as “normal” because I feel like I have somehow lost sight of it.  In a sense, I feel as if everything has just changed so dramatically.  From white to red, from blank to a full slate.  When you go through a life-changing experience, your perspective of how things are and your sense of reality are altered by the sum total of the  jolt or series of jolts you are subjected to.

I was reflecting on how different the sun seems to be shining these days compared to the very dark days of a year ago.  That was the time I was so full of anger and pain that if I were a color, I’d simply be black.  A dark, dark and endless black.  There were times when I would be simply walking and I would find myself suddenly enveloped in a deep rage.  I got reacquainted with chest pains that made me cough.  The anger and the pain were just too great that they manifested themselves in a very physical sense.

I still see hints of the darkness but I think I have a better grasp of how things have gone and are going in my life.  I have adjusted focus and now try to dwell on moving on and discarding the negative energy, and building on the positive.  I look for little bits of “happy” instead of trying to chase after the big dream that might not be my reality (or future) after all.  As BFF Fe would say, I’m kinder to myself these days.

I’m not as quick to react now.  And of course, that can be both good and bad — but I take a moment to evaluate things and think before I speak.  One disadvantage of having the gift for gab is that on the negative end of the spectrum, one is often caught saying hurtful or damaging things that can no longer be taken back once spoken or published.  (Don’t you hate how the internet has no “delete forever” function?)

My “normal” has since changed definitions — but it’s a state I’m trying to aim for.  Eventually.

So I go on with my personal art, chronicling my life in my altered book via art journaling, writing here, taking my online classes and making plans for the near future.  (Next week is near enough.)  My “normal” now is to be more outgoing and not be so quick to turn down invitations from friends to have a life between work and home.  It’s about putting myself first where I used to put everyone ahead of me.

It’s about finding a new perspective with which to see how sidewalks can lead to alleys of adventure if you let go and not try too hard to always walk in a straight line.  Sometimes you have to take an unfamiliar turn and just follow your instincts, and maybe you might discover something new, something to smile about.

All that on the way to normal.

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings (Random thoughts on another day I woke up before 5am)

It’s still pitch black outside even if it’s already 10 minutes to 6:00.  I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep after waking up at past 4am and crawled out of bed to brew my morning cup.  My brain is still trying to wake up all it’s circuits so I thought I’d just write up a list of disparate thoughts which, I hope, I can or might develop into a full blown post somewhere along the way.

Monday usually finds me feeling like I’m floating from the weekend to the rush of the new week.  I do look forward to the start of the week and the thought of Monday as a reboot to the weekend just ended helps get me on my way.  I wish there was a third day to the weekend, but then at the same time, I often find myself wishing the work week itself was 6 instead of just 5 days. (I know I’m blabbering, but I make no apologies because it’s a Monday — an EARLY Monday morning.)

Facebook  (and my BFFs mom) yet saves my day (and pulls me out of the hole) from a missed Cindy Lauper concert promised to BFF Fe some moons ago..  We all make promises.  I try not to.  More so when I know there is a good chance I won’t be able to keep it, because I not only hate to disappoint the person I’m making a promise to, but worse, I disappoint myself.

I had an unplanned trip home in March 2012 (right after the Christmas visit of December 2011 and before the last trip this December 2013) and it so happened that Cindy Lauper was playing in Manila.  I promised Fe we would go, but we didn’t.  And I know she’s felt bad about that since .  But over the weekend she posted something that sort of saved my neck (although not entirely).  I’m sorry, Peps… even if you say I need not apologize.. I am.  I knew you were looking forward to that concert and a promise is a promise.  For whatever it’s worth, I have never enjoyed attending and dancing at a concert like I have with you — remembering that Side A concert we saw courtesy of you-know-who way back when I saw a lot of concerts and fashion shows.

Moving to New York in 2000 — (and I’m suddenly hit with “Wow — it HAS been THAT long!”) — I have always been content with the lifestyle choice I made when I started working here — until now.  Knowing what I am and what I had accomplished before I moved here, and then taking that giant step back to adjust to my new life in New York, I wonder if I had not short-changed myself in embracing the “family is the reason I came here in the first place” bit in choosing the career path I took.

In many ways, I realize now that that choice was noble and pure and is still true in my heart (and all I have to do is look at the boy who unabashedly proclaims his love for me at every turn) — but I wonder if that choice had boxed me into a role and persona that was much, much smaller than the real person I am.  (That’s a thought for me to ponder, and not meant to be answered here.  Monday.. musings.. get it?)

I have come to realize that while ACCEPTANCE does not exactly equate to FORGIVENESS, it does help to push one forward to go past what one has no control over.  I’ve always been an “I will fix this” kind of person.  I don’t know if it’s arrogance or simply my bull-headedness about being able to control things  and not letting things control me.  For the past year, I’ve been grappling with a festering wound within that I have somehow managed to tuck deeper in my heart in a vain attempt to simulate healing.  People ask me how I’m doing — I say I’m okay.  Not exactly better, but I’m okay.  That, in itself, is already “acceptance” in a sense — knowing where I am and where I’ve landed after the rollercoaster ride of the last year.

I had forgotten how I had missed school and my plans of taking on a course in History until recently, and over the weekend, when I embarked on a new journey of learning.  Procrastination has been a close companion even in my younger years.  Once it clings to me, it is so hard to shake it off.  Not too long ago, I had enrolled in an online history course via podcast from YALE, and while I was sooooo excited at the start, I never went beyond the first lecture.  Over the weekend, I got a new recommended course, this time from ColumbiaX, and I am actually excited — VERY EXCITED — to hit the books again.  (You should see my eyes twinkling at the thought.)  For all the years I spent with the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres (nursery to high school), the giant minds that helped shaped my once-sheltered brain to think more broadly at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the Philippines, and the most challenging years at the Ateneo School of Law with the Jesuits — one thing I missed the most when I got here was studying and learning and the challenge of reading and pulling together my own thoughts and analysis from a textbook.

I had even seriously thought of auditing classes at NYU (which is why I get their course catalogue every year), but then, I never had the time.. or couldn’t make time.  Thanks to technology and everybody’s rush to be at everyone else’s fingertips, it’s a totally different classroom now, and I can be in it whenever I want to be in it.  So excited for this one!

Some things we lose cannot be replaced — like the 5,000 or so photos on my iPhone (which aren’t on my cloud) — but I can always keep taking photos and immortalize future memories in the next handheld I get.  It wasn’t so much the loss of the iPhone 5S which was part of the technology trove I get from work — but it was all those photos that I snapped away from blog graphics to pictures with my family and precious selfies of my funny guy and I.  The iPhone is being replaced this week — and I’m not complaining even if there’s a company freeze on upgrades to the iPhone 6.  But I cannot help but cringe at the thought of all the photos I lost, and the “notes” in the journal section where I had stored bits and pieces like my morning dose of the Serenity Prayer.  (Which, after a year of saying it every day in the morning, I have yet to memorize.)

It wasn’t such a total loss because a good batch of them made it to my Flickr account, and at least 300+ are on my Instagram feed.  Still.

There were a ton of photos of my altered book which was meant to document the “bare background pages” to the finished journaled layouts which are now in limbo.  Thankfully, my Thank You Postcard Project photos are actual scans of the postcards, so they were not on the iPhone.

I have somehow gotten over the initial disappointment, but it only serves to remind me that I should have backed up the files instead of relying on the fact that my iPhone and I were joined at the hip.  That is, until it fell out of my purse and into someone else’s hand.

6:55 and my day has to move on now.  I have indulged myself enough as I waited for the sun to start rising, and it’s slowly creeping up over New York City.  That doesn’t mean I can just linger here.. which I wish… but cannot.  It’s Monday, after all.  Hope you all have a good start of the week.. I know mine has gotten off to a very good one.

When a young heart grieves

My 10-year-old is grappling with a very personal loss. A house fire had claimed the lives of two young children, one aged 11 and another aged 5, and the older one had been a very close friend of his. They had known each other since kindergarten and had been classmates throughout except for 2nd and 5th grade. Last year, they proclaimed each other as best friends. My son has a very wide circle of friends, but his friend John was sometimes made fun of for being bigger and a year older than most of the kids.

I liked John. He was always nice and was courteous. I knew his mother, too, having seen her in many of the school events when both Angelo and John were in the same class.  In the coterie of wannabe friends of my little boy, he was one I didn’t mind having around him.

I came home to a letter from the school giving instructions on discussing the topic with the children, assuring me that they, too, were dealing with it in crisis mode. Angelo looked fine for the most part. He told me had cried when they broke the news to the class – and that he had refused to make something for John’s mom, as that was probably too emotional for him. The Dad finally arrived from a business trip and had started to ask him about it but he turned to me and started to tear up, shaking his head, telling us he didn’t want to talk about it. I quietly signalled the Dad that Angelo was not up to talking just yet. 

How does a 10-year-old deal with such a loss?

He woke up this morning looking okay. There was still something about the fire in the news, but he nonchalantly just mentioned to me that it had been mentioned in passing. I look at him and I wonder what’s going on in his mind and his heart.

I have been fortunate to have raised a sensitive and compassionate boy. Easy to laugh and carefree, very sociable and at times shy. He has my heart, I think. (And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. =) I never lost a bestfriend who was in my life at the time of her passing. Once, Lilay went to heaven, but at that time, we had long been out of touch because she started a family and I was in college. Still, I felt that loss very deeply and it brought tears to my eyes. (And I don’t cry very easily.)

I’m trying to see if we can go to John’s wake so that they can say a proper goodbye. I just think that would be important for Angelo given the loss of such a close friend.

The thought of losing my child is heart-wrenching even in the hypothetical sense. Imagine losing the two most precious boys in yours. I pray that their mother finds strength to overcome and deal with the grief of losing her babies. How do you deal with such a loss? I am at a loss for words.

Grieving, they say, never really ends. You just learn to cope with it better.  I still grieve for my Dad who passed many years ago.  When I “talk” to him, I find myself lost in an emotional pool that usually ends up with me crying.

It’s still too early to tell how good my son is coping with his grief.  I just know it’s best to let him be and let him process his emotions.  If he needs help, he’ll call me and then we will talk.

Last night as we lay in bed, I told him to say a prayer for John — he is now with Jesus, I told him.

False Starts

I have been trying to blog all week long with no success.  I promised myself this one would be different and would actually find itself on the blog before I hit the sack tonight.  It’s midnight.  If tomorrow weren’t a work day, I wouldn’t mind staying up and puttering away with my polymer clay or the earwire hooks I’m hammering into shape.  But since there IS work and I’m sort of tired, this will be short.

Going beyond a sentence or two or a paragraph at most has been a struggle all week.  I find that strange considering I keep hearing words in my head as if I were writing a post in the middle of just about every quiet moment I have — be it when I’m walking to the bus stop (after prayers, of course) or when I’m washing the dishes.

The week has gone by so fast.  Can you believe we’re almost halfway done with July?  It’s not really all that much of a surprise considering all I have to do is look at my boy and I see time flying past me.  Before we know it, it will be 2015.  Before that, I would have celebrated milestones again.  Another one is around the corner.   Saturday is my father’s birthday and in a few days, his death anniversary.

I had to stop a moment there.  When I write a post here, I usually go on and on and on and edit later.  I write very spontaneously.  But there are topics and there are thoughts that make me draw a blank.  Like his birthday and his death.  Change topic.

Welcome to my garden:  Work in progress - pieced doodled paper flowers for #thethankyoupostcardproject.  Draw-cut-paste.. Repeat.  Trying to come up with at least 20.  We don't say "Thank you" enough.  Say it with a postcard.. Soon! #doodledflowers #persoI feel like I’m in the middle of projects but still making progress.  I have no sense of urgency in completing anything, though, probably because I feel my life and much of what drives me, is on hold.  It’s a little tough to explain — it’s that feeling of just being floating still.  Not moving in any direction, but not grounded either.  Like a freeze frame.

Paused after that thought again.

I still have much anger and pain I’m trying to rid my heart of.  Prayer has been my solace.  I ask that it be lifted from my heart — but I guess I’m only human.  So I try to channel my energy positively into creating.  I try to think of gratitude instead of misery.  I count my blessings.

There are still many times when I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, but it doesn’t feel as heavy when I trust in my God.  Faith has been such a blessing.  It gives me hope even when all hope is lost.  There will be tomorrow.  And then after that, another day… and another..

And there is my little space here where I can write.. and remember.. and write to remember at the same time.  I still look forward to the day when I can come back to these words and hear myself say that “That was back then… I made it through that and here I am..”  When you hit the lowest of lows, it can only get better.

I try not to be jealous of those who seem to have it all.  I remind myself I am blessed just as many times over if not more — just in different ways.  I have green grass on my side of the fence, too…

And my bed beckons.  I want to have an early start Friday so I can get home sooner, too.  Today was nice.  I spent the day in the city with my boy.  I want more of those but I end up not being as productive at work — but it’s well worth it.

 

 

Friday Five — We’re making progress

I know it’s a Saturday but I wanted to enjoy yesterday’s Fourth of July holiday.  (THAT felt like a real Saturday to me!)  Long weekends are precious when you work the weekdays.. even more so now that school’s out and Angelo is trying to enjoy the rest of summer.

I did manage to move on with last week’s Friday Five and I’m hopeful that next week will even show more progress.  So how did I do?

1. Finish the letters I had started and mail them off.. – This one will hopefully get ticked off the list or reported on with some amount of progress next week. I have my stationery!  (Created by yours truly.)

2. Create a new ‘Thank You’ card for the Etsy shop. Done!
Thank you cards for the etsy shopSelling on Etsy is a whole production even if it’s on a one-woman-business-scale like mine. You have to put the extra effort to create a full customer experience, and as a buyer on Etsy myself, I’ve found great satisfaction in receiving a proper thank you even if it’s just a short hand-written note scribbled on the receipt printed off of the system.  I chose 6 of my own photographs and produced a 3×4 print out on one side and a blank back with a paper background for me to write on.  It’s going to serve as my calling card cum thank you card until this batch runs out.

3. Continue art journaling and finish at least an additional layout at the end of the book for future posts.… As you can see it’s partially done — and I think the more important thing is that I’ve picked up my art journal again.

4. Finish the items already started and keep creating!   I have been sidetracked by a new method I’m trying to learn — hammering wire.  But I have continued creating during the week.

5.  Start doing mail art again.  This one got off to a good start, actually, and I’m trying to kick off a postcard project that will use the mail art I’m creating.  For now, I’m dealing mostly with backgrounds but hope to show what I’ve been doing in a short film to show maybe in a week or two.  (No promises.)

The coming week will hopefully give me more time to continue the creating.  I hate to admit that the creative juices have been flowing to distract myself from other pressing issues.  I don’t want to think that it is escapism, but rather my own means of coping.  I am thinking.. I am praying.. I am trying to work out the things that are crowding my head and my heart.

Art — even my own — has proven to be quite the balm my soul needs in times like this.  We all have our coping mechanisms.  These are mine.

I want to keep growing as a  person no matter what obstacles there may be.  I want to continue to be optimistic about life.  I am trying very hard to keep moving forward no matter how that may prove to be quite the struggle.

Here goes this week’s Friday Five:

1.  Write the letters and mail them.  Before I left for home Friday, I made sure to pack my stationery in my tote.  I have those letters to write!

2.  Keep posting in the Etsy Shop and keep the Etsy Group going!  I had been designated by the Etsy system as team captain for being one of the more senior members of the Fil-Am Etsy group.  That means creating treasuries (lists of products/stores you might like given a theme) and trying to get more Pinoys whether here or in Manila interested.

3.  Destash my supplies and magazines.  I want to be able to get rid of the things I o longer needed and to oroganize what I have and need.  I continue to do that with my jewelry making supplies and am making progress on that front.  Every week, I want to be able to feel like something had indeed moved.

4.  Box the clothes that Angelo is no longer using.  I have the box, I have the clothes, and hoping to put them away this weekend.

5.  Kick off my Thank You Project.  I wrote about this earlier here and have been trying to get the project started, although not officially off the ground.  It ties up many of the other things I’m trying to do like doing more mail art and going on about postcards — but I’m trying to do it in an organized fashion.  (I even have a blog ready to kick off with separate from this one.)  It’s one of those “pay-it-forward” kind of projects which involves doing something simple and hoping it starts a bit of good going.

That’s it for my Friday Five.  I have a headache that’s been bugging me since breakfast and I am getting ready to do lunch.  I don’t think I’m going to go anywhere.  My bed beckons.  (Yes, in the middle of the day.)  I don’t really feel like heading off anywhere either.

But lunch must be taken cared of.  (Spaghetti for the mother-in-law… I don’t know what the boys are up for.  They’re out doing errands.)  I hope to try some more hammering during this afternoon.. and maybe boxing (number 4 up on this week’s list.)

Moving on with the list…

 

When the memories come a-haunting

There are times when having a good memory doesn’t serve me too well. I tend to peg events, things and people to dates – and when that date comes around, I relive whatever it was that had happened then – good or bad. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a happy memory. It’s more difficult dealing with the memories that actually bring back painful or hurtful things, or negative emotions like anger.

I know, I should let it go. I wish it were as easy as that, but it isn’t.

Some things get better with time. But there are pains that stay with us and linger and fade into the darkness, only to resurface at a time not of our choosing.

May 2013 wasn’t so bad — but sometime in the latter part of the year, I realized a couple of things and found out it wasn’t as good as I thought it was and that was that.  And while I am glad that May is almost gone, it’s not quite out the door yet. And I’m trying very hard to push the heaviness in my heart away. I don’t always succeed. At times it feels like it’s a never-ending struggle to float up to the surface and grab some precious air. It still suffocates me.

Miami.  Chicago.  I was in the latter in May, but I’ve never been to the former.  And I probably never will go.  Again, that’s that.

The good news is, I’ve been hit by a creative energy that has seen me making something out of all this.  I’m coming up with new designs and pushing myself to create more and to do things out of my comfort zone for the shop.  Some of the pieces I’ve created are screaming for me to wear them which isn’t good because I want to put them up for sale.

I’ve been pushing myself to work out.  I might even start that story I’ve been writing in my head, finally.  (As if I have all the time in the world to write!!)  For the most part, I’ve succeeded in keeping the angry thoughts away, but it doesn’t numb the pain.  How I wish I had a switch we could flick like a TV remote which would choose that which we remember.  But I can’t. 

At least not for now.

Art Journal Every Day: I will overcome

Art journal Every day: I will overcome

I finally found an app that will help me blur the journaling around the actual layout after searching high and low in the app store. Thank you, Photo Blur!

Can you believe the layout above began with the pages below?
Art Journal Every Day: original layout before journaling

I’ve been trying to spend a little time each day working on multi-date layouts (where I put a sentence or two about a given topic featured on the page) or in completing actual journal entries.  I just finished working on a multi-page layout and will begin another one, and I can’t wait to see how that progresses and turns out after I am done.  It’s very refreshing to see something which I thought was already “done” get totally transformed into something different once I finish working on it.

I like the way I have made it a routine to pray, journal, pray, journal, pray, draw.  And then when I can, I try to get some reading done.  The downside is I haven’t had much time to write the cards and letters I have been making a mental list of, and neither have I been good with the e-mails.  I am trying to structure my time in such a way that I make a habit of beginning my day with my usual prayer/s and then I try to get some reading done if I wake up early enough.  (Today was a struggle, though, because I didn’t get up until almost 7am!  I know I should’ve straddled out of bed at 5:10am when I woke up..but I was summoned back to bed, and it was too tempting not to catch some more sleep before the day began.)

At lunch time, I try to catch up on my daily readings from KerygmaFamily if I haven’t already done it by then.  And if I still have time, I write on one of two journals that preoccupy me in real time writing.

It takes me time to finish a layout but I try to be good about it.  There are times when the journaling is done for the day but it takes me a day or two more to finish the actual page.  I like seeing the book taking shape… I find it so inspiring to even just glance at it on my desk without opening it, seeing its many colored pages.  I like that someone who can’t even draw a face without the help of tracing an outline can come up with this.  It’s something very personal that shows me what I am becoming and where I’ve been. 

My first layouts in 2012 were mostly symbolic without much journaling, but these days I find a greater need to write.  Sometimes in ways only I can understand.  I layer writing over writing and then just trust that I will understand it if I ever go back to it.  Otherwise, I am happy with the way it has come together.  It doesn’t need to be read, it only needs to be seen as a whole.
Instagram Buzz
I posted this on my Instagram with this caption:

Art journal every day: I will move on – I started doing #artjournaleveryday in 2012 when I first bumped into @balzerdesigns, Julie Fei-fan Balzer’s website . To this day, she is an inspiration to me as a non-artist trying to come up with personal art. She has generously shared her comments and techniques. I recently returned to #artjournaling using my #alteredbook which had lain dormant for most of 2013. This year, I promise to take better care of me and focus on myself while taking care of others.

I got the biggest surprise of my life when Julie left a comment and made my day. She truly inspires and makes a difference in so many people’s lives.

And Yolanda has passed..

First, thanks to all who reached out asking if the family back home is okay.  I am thankful to God that they are.  The storm has passed.. Yolanda is off to some other parts.  My brother was in Cebu and my mother was in Sorsogon (in Bicol) at the time the storm hit.  Everyone else was in Manila.  My brother and mother got hit tangentially but did not suffer the indescribable damage that the province of Tacloban had to deal with.  We are blessed.

Secondly, I’m back.

Thanks to JJ for his comment asking me how I have been.  I have been “around”, but the urge to write wasn’t there.  Suffice it to say that I went back to longhand writing in a journal when I could find reason or the inspiration to write.  When I needed to write, I wrote elsewhere.  We all have our secret place — I have mine.  There, I write not as the Pinay New Yorker.. I write as someone who doesn’t have a ‘real’ identity you can walk up to on the street.  There I can be angry or sad without fear of unburdening my heart.  Yes, that’s my secret place.

Third, I can’t believe that autumn is here in it’s full glory.  It’s the season that I find both hopeful and sad.  Hopeful because the leaves change colors into beautiful shades of fire, as if taking a final bow at the end of a fashion show to the applause of a totally captivated audience.  Sad because it’s nature making way for the cold and dark of winter.
Autumn 2013: Central Park

I sought solace in “silence”.  I didn’t think I’d be able to bear writing and editing myself so heavily so I said, why write at all.  Hence, the one month haitus from this space.

But life goes on.  I’m trying to go on.  I have gone through the last month in stops and starts.  I am trying to define my direction, and while I have been accused of wearing my heart on my sleeve and writing about everything and anything happening in my life in this blog, I will not be denied my voice in this space where I reign as Queen.

Yes, that’s me — the Queen.  (That thought made me smile…)  And the Queen has her private space where I need not fear censure.  So here, I can write about what the Pinay New Yorker is all about.  Here, I can try to aim for a sense of normalcy in my now highly abnormal life.  It makes me hopeful that there will be a “normal” again.  It makes me think this, like everything, will pass.

Blogging has always been a means of coping for me.  No matter how I try to edit myself and how I try not be too honest here, I know it comes out.  And I like being able to go back to those times when life was teaching me a lesson so I can reteach myself that lesson.. that is one major function of blogging to me — the account of how my life has gone from day to day eight years ago or yesterday helps me to go forward from today.  When I am in need of courage, I go back to those times when courage was aplenty.  When I need to be cheered up, I go back to the fun times and the good memories I wrote about.  Even this post will one day be a source of  “learning” and reflection for me.

And Yolanda is gone… that makes me hopeful.  I am heartbroken by the devastation she had wrought upon my home country.  I had visited Tacloban once — 20 years ago.  It wasn’t quite as urbanized as it is now, but I remember its people and its sights and sounds.  The people of Tacloban are a kind and happy people — life is a celebration to them.  They are always dancing — they love to party.. they are always full of hope.  It is my hope that even if there is not much cause to celebrate in the midst of their hardship and grief, they will find reason to dance again sometime soon through our help.

The world is watching… and the world is reaching out.  It brings us all back to the innate goodness of man.

Taken from The Huffington Post, here’s how you can help:

World Food Program.  WFP has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online.

The Red Cross.   Emergency responders and volunteers throughout the Philippines are providing meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter.

The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts.

AmeriCares.  The relief organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies.

World Vision.  The organization is providing food, water and hygiene kits at the evacuation centers. World Vision was also still actively responding to last month’s earthquake in Bohol, which luckily was not struck by the eye of the storm.

Salvation Army.  100 percent of all disaster donations will be used for relief efforts and “to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.” Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online.