Gratitude

Grateful for another week with much accomplished.. for being good at what I do and loving the work I do.. for weekends with my little guy at home when I can do what I do best: being a mom.. grateful for the things and people I have in my life right now that assures me I am in a very good place.. I am more than okay.

#gothamchicksays #empirestatebuilding #mynewyork #mynyc #manhattan #nycsunset

#onmywayhome #weekend #weekendishere

Daily prompt: Gratitude

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.

 

In Photos: Looking Up

Photo Challenge: Looking up

Way before I arrived here in New York City, someone told me that there was that running joke in these tourists walking around Manhattan.  Barring the obvious about only tourists wearing shorts in the summer, they’re the ones who keep looking up.  They are always awed by the concrete jungle that this part of NYC is, whether they are from another state or another country.

When I started on Instagram not too long ago, I found upward looking shots as a creative way of showcasing the obvious.  It was a different way of making the ordinary stand out.  More than that, it literally showed my world from a different perspective.  Much like stopping to smell the flowers, many of us here tend to forget how there is much to be awed by if we stop looking at what’s street level and looked up instead.  There is a totally different world many levels above us.

Below is a compilation of some of my #LookingUp posts in answer to this photo challenge.

The view from my bus stop this cold, cold early evening in NYC. #lookingup #ny #mynewyork #myny #manhattan #42ndstreet #midtown #ilovenewyork #onmywayhome #thebigapple
May 19, 2014: The view from my bus stop this cold, cold early evening in NYC. #lookingup #ny #mynewyork #myny #manhattan #42ndstreet #midtown #ilovenewyork #onmywayhome #thebigapple
#LookingUp #SomewhereInTheFlatIrobDiatrict last week while waiting to go to #dinner. It's always good to look at a different view every once in a while. It refreshes your #perspective and gives you a new way to appreciate things.. And appreciate the peop
#LookingUp #SomewhereInTheFlatIrobDiatrict last week while waiting to go to #dinner. It’s always good to look at a different view every once in a while. It refreshes your #perspective and gives you a new way to appreciate things..
Looking up: once in a while you have to look up to put things in its proper perspective. #mynyc #mynewyork #lookingup #perspectjve #ilovenewyork #midtown
Looking up: once in a while you have to look up to put things in its proper perspective. #mynyc #mynewyork #lookingup #perspectjve #ilovenewyork #midtown
#Lookingup: running late for brunch but almost there .. Of course, had to stop and snap a pic of the #EmpireStateBuilding. #sunny day today so grab your piece of #sunshine, #nyc ! #Manhattan #mynewyork #mynyc #ilovetheempirestatebuilding
#Lookingup: running late for brunch but almost there .. Of course, had to stop and snap a pic of the #EmpireStateBuilding. #sunny day today so grab your piece of #sunshine, #nyc ! #Manhattan #mynewyork #mynyc #ilovetheempirestatebuilding
#GlassCanvas: #perfect #sunnyDay in #Manhattan. Such a #gloriousfriday it is! #weekend #Friday #NewYork #newyorkcity #skyscraper #glass #glassfacade #lookingUp
#GlassCanvas: #perfect #sunnyDay in #Manhattan. Such a #gloriousfriday it is! #weekend #Friday #NewYork #newyorkcity #skyscraper #glass #glassfacade #lookingUp
#LookingUp from #lutrellstowncastle on a #sunnydayInDublin. We'll be back here #Wednesday for #funandgames and #dinner with the team. #ireland #Dublin #workcanbefun #loveWhatYouDo #GothamChickInDublin #sightseeingInDublin #castle #castleindublin #beckha
#LookingUp from #lutrellstowncastle on a #sunnydayInDublin. We’ll be back here #Wednesday for #funandgames and #dinner with the team. #ireland #Dublin #workcanbefun #loveWhatYouDo #GothamChickInDublin #sightseeingInDublin #castle #castleindublin #beckha
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC: Looking Up - We always have a grand time visiting here #Washingtondc #smithsoniannationalairandspacemuseum #lookingup #space #nasa #museum
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC: Looking Up – We always have a grand time visiting here #Washingtondc #smithsoniannationalairandspacemuseum #lookingup #space #nasa #museum

Giggle, giggle

Daily Prompt: Giggle

We have a term for the giggly in Tagalog: bungisngis.  It’s that penchant to giggle at the slightest provocation, usually denoting a cheerful countenance.  Someone who is easy to smile or laugh, lighthearted and cheery.  That comes to mind when I think about “giggle”.

We giggle when we are amused, thrilled or nervous.  I believe it’s a natural tendency for laughter to find its way out of the deep core where we usually keep it hidden.  Like one of my former law professors used to say, “in the deepest of our hearts.”  It comes out during that one moment when we actually let ourselves go and allow the imp or the child or the easy going part of us out.

Amused.  Remember those times when you just can’t let a guffaw out or when it isn’t quite that funny but more amusing?  We stifle the laughter and instead let out a giggle.  Like a child.

I cherish the moments when my now almost 12 year old giggles like the child I wish he would always be.  When I hear that deep and hearty sound of delight and laughter that literally racks his body with a deep and sincere laugh if there was ever such a thing.

It’s almost laughter but not quite.. Yet it resonates from within.

Thrilled.  Girls gush and giggle.  There was a time when just hearing our crush say hello or call us by name would lead to a giggle when he was out of earshot.  Or those times when we shared our secrets with our bestfriends and we would feel so over the moon that we let out a bit of the warm and fuzzy in our tummys by letting out one.

Nervous.  I have a tendency to be giggly when I’m nervous — but nervous in a good kind of way.   The giggles come out between sentences, awkwardly punctuating those pauses in the conversation or as one tries to mask the unease.  A lifetime ago when I was younger, someone kissed me and it felt weird and awkward and in my immaturity and girlish impishness, I giggled.  And I guess he found it weird that I did and that didn’t get followed by another one of those.  Nerves.  Why does giggling make it easier?

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.”

Black and White

Daily Prompt: Contrast

I have always thought of CONTRAST as a “black vs. white” kind of thing.  To me, it’s about night and day.  Two distinctly opposite sides or ends of the spectrum.  Clearly delineated.  No blurred lines.  No grey.
Contrast daily prompt

In my every day, I look to that as a way to focus or get me “centered” when I feel like I’m losing my footing.  I think about the happy and focus on that being present in my life, and I tell myself it still outweighs the sad.  

I have always believed that everything  has a good and a bad side and one reinforces the need for another.. And it makes the bad necessary or we would never really get to appreciate the good.

Daily Prompt: Secret

Blog graphicI haven’t participated in the Daily Prompt in a bit, but I’ve had some pingbacks due to some recycled prompts that have appeared in the previous weeks.  I thought I’d give this a stab and then hit publish.

There are times when I feel the urge to write but then I am lost between feelings and questions and ideas racing through my head.  It doesn’t help me to come up with a coherent post, so it’s during those times when I try to calm all that activity in my head by doing something deliberate.  Like writing a post based on the daily prompt.

Today we have a one-word prompt: Secret.

For some reason, the word resonated with me and here I am typing away.  As spontaneous as can be.  Just writing.  For the sake of writing.

We all have parts of us that we want to keep secret from the rest of the world.  I’m not talking about those things that some people who are in our circle of trust know but which the others don’t.  It’s that part of us that only we know about ourselves.

That’s a little difficult for me because I’m basically an open book.  I don’t hide my emotions very well and I tend to be transparent.  What you see is what you get. After everything I’ve been through, any former attempts at civility or propriety have been forgotten when it comes to being brutally honest with how I feel and what I am thinking.  But I have learned to temper that with a more pragmatic approach to things that tend to prick at my persona — I no longer pounce like I used to. I now tend to sit back, let it sink in, maybe let it pass, or slowly formulate a response.  I am not quite as spontaneous like I used to be.

So I no longer get mad or angry as quickly as before.  But I no longer edit myself as much as I used to once I allow myself to react.

And yet I wish that I wasn’t so easy to read or that I wasn’t so forthcoming about things.  There is this part of me that I want to tell the world about, but which I cannot because I have chosen to do that anonymously.  There is a part of my story that I want the world to know, but I cannot write it under my byline nor have it link back to me — at least not for now.  I feel that anonymity will serve me well if I am to write as openly and honestly as I want to.

There I was thinking of the appropriate pseudonym.  Something “me” — yet not easily connected to me.  When I finally found one, I felt like it was a stroke of genius.  It wasn’t obvious on the outset, but then a connection could be made when you saw the name.  I am dying to blurt it out here but I cannot.

That is a part of me that will remain secret for until the time when I feel it is time for it not to be.  I have been struggling to write that secret out, but I have it all structured in my head. It’s like a half finished canvas that I want to unveil but cannot.  At least for now.

It’s that artwork that you wish you can lay claim to, but out of deference to people who matter to me, I cannot.  So if people rave, I will just listen in silence.  Until it’s time to let the secret out.

Sometimes a name can embody more than just an identity.  This one does.  This one will.  And that’s a name that will remain secret until such time that I think I can reveal it.

 

Repost: Daily Prompt: “Sorry, I can only help one person at a time”

I don’t usually rehash posts and repost but this prompt reappeared on The Daily Post, and although it’s two years old, I think it’s worth sharing again.

Daily Prompt: Sorry, I’m Busy..Tell us about a time when you should have helped someone… but didn’t.

I know the prompt is about not having helped someone at a time when that other person needed help..but this prompt appealed to me for a totally different reason.   It’s not that I have always been ever ready to extend help when requested or when there is an opportunity to do so.  I have had my own failings in this department.

However, when I read the prompt this morning, it hit me from a different angle.  There was a time when I was the one on the other end — the one that got the cold shoulder, the one who was brushed off.

It feels like that was a lifetime ago, twice over.  I find it ironic that the most painful brush offs were from people I least expected it from.  Two people who had become a very big part of my life.  One who, for many years, shared everything I had — and when it was my turn to ask, I was told there was a difference in wanting to help and being able to help.  There I was the one in need, and this person made out to be the victim.  So that was that.

The second most painful was when someone told me that very line — “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  It rings hollow now when I try to bring myself back to that point in time when I heard that first.  Perhaps my heart has been steeled by the realizations that followed.

I have long since realized that people can make you feel important and make themselves believe you matter to them, but when the rug is pulled from under you, they scurry away because to be there would take too much of an effort from them — and there are other things that are far more important than you.

Imagine if  the higher power we look to for our faith told us the same thing — then we would be a miserable sea of broken people.  But that is exactly what sets Him apart from us who are frail of spirit and weak of heart.

“I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  Cowardice shielded by dramatic words.  That it sounds good doesn’t make it right.  Neither does it make it true.  In truth, we help many people, half of them by choice, half of them by chance.  The ones we turn our backs on, however, are always a deliberate choice.  We choose NOT to help them.

Whatever faith we hold in our hearts, we are all taught to be kind to others.  When we choose not to be kind, even when we convince ourselves it’s for the good of the majority — we go against that very grain of kindness.  It does not justify turning our backs on those who need us.  More so when we turn our backs on those we promised never to shun or set aside.

At the start, remembering being turned away was painful.  For a time, there was hope that I misheard it, or that perhaps there would be a realization along the way.  But I was the one who eventually came to realize that when others choose not to help, there will always be those who will.  Kindness can come from the most unexpected place — from the last person you would expect would understand and just hold your hand.

I hope that I will have the werewithal to never utter those words.  “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  I wouldn’t want to say that to someone already downtrodden and carrying a load on their shoulders — because it would be like saying “I can’t help you because I’d rather help someone else.”  I hope I’ll remember to say “I want to help but I can’t.. not now.. not in the way you need me to.. but let’s see how I can in another way.”

I wish them well.  I know they know I made it through the storm — and with the help of others, I’m still here.  There is a lot of good out there — even if we don’t find them in the people we expect to find it in — kindness will find its own way.

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: When I was Sixteen…

DAILY PROMPT:  Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.

.. I was a senior in high school full of hopes and dreams about going to college.  My biggest problem was landing in the “right” university, and the second was not being self-conscious around the boys.

.. I had a prom date in mind but as luck would have it, he already got invited to a different prom (another school) on the same night.  I was hoping he would invite me to his prom but one of his bestfriends had to take one of twin girls and they wouldn’t be allowed to go out if he didn’t take the other one.  (So much for us going to the prom on either side.)  But he did drop off a rose at my house on the day of the prom with no particular reason or dedication.  Just because..

.. I got rid of my eyeglasses and started to notice boys and had a blast attending parties even if I had a midnight curfew.  I had lost a lot of weight the year before and enjoyed dressing up.

.. I saw the difference between the La Sallites and the Ateneans and while I had good friends from both sides of the fence, so to speak, I found that the La Sallites were more sociable and gregarious — sealing the fate of my son-to-be. (Of course, I didn’t realize I might possibly raise him here in New York.  But had I raised him in Manila, his fate would have been sealed as I ended up marrying a La Sallite anyway.)

.. I wrote poems and I composed songs.  I wrote our graduation theme song and our corps hymn.  Don’t ask me where the creative juices went.

.. I was happy.  Of course, there was the usual teenage angst I had to deal with but I was not overcome by it.  I think I managed it pretty well and emerged from those teen years only mildly scarred (if at all).

.. I was comfortable and to some extent, pampered.  I didn’t know that I would have a difficult decade ahead but my optimism in my youth and my sheltered upbringing notwithstanding, I made it through.

.. I like ‘me’ when I was sixteen.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.