Daily Prompt: Never been mellow? Me?

DAILY PROMPT: After a long day at work or school, what are your favorite ways to wind down and decompress?

I work 5 days a week, and I usually don’t end my day until closer to midnight.  I do get a chance to unwind an hour or two (if I’m lucky) before I finally go off to bed after the dishes and the food left over from dinner have been taken cared of.  It’s Friday and I’m trying not to overthink the prompt, so let me just enumerate the things that I do to wind down, spend some “me” time, and just chill.

1.  I catch up on my favorite shows, and actually stop whatever I am doing to watch if I can.   From its inception to last night’s episode, SCANDAL has been a staple of my Thursday night.  It’s just about the only show I can watch an episode of over and over again, one after the other.  (Think about repeating a song on your playlist over and over again like one extended loop.)  I love Shonda Rhimes, what can I say.  And I love Olivia Pope and Kerry Washington who plays her all the more.  Criminal Minds, Elementary and Grey’s Anatomy along with NCIS (who doesn’t love Mark Harmon?) can be watched on demand.  (Thank you Time Warner Cable!)

2.  I pick up my tools and I try to create a piece or experiment with my beads.  I know, I’ve been talking about this a while now.  And while I haven’t quite picked up the pace, I’ve started to re-organize, expirement again (project of the moment is wire-wrapping which I am having a ball with!), and I’ve relisted some items in the shop.  (Even managed one sale.)

Art journaling: zen tangled face3.  I write/draw an entry into my Art Journal, or do a background further on in the altered book I’ve been using.  Two projects in one.  I try to write a sentence or so everyday although sometimes, I don’t have the energy even for that.  Last night, I scribbled a line.  It’s a line a friend had shared with me.  Gives me pause to think even when I’m just doing the lettering or fonts without actually scribbling an entry.

I like the way my art journal has evolved because now I dare to draw faces, and I am getting more disciplined in doodling — so much so that I actually make an effort to stay within the rather strict zentangling guidelines of sticking to “official patterns”.

But it’s the daily exercise of actually getting something down on the pages of the journal that provides me a release.

4.  I play slots online — but only for free, never for pay.  There’s something about the rolling of the slots that I find relaxing.  Maybe it’s hypnotizing me into playing some more?  I never click on the purchase credits, though, and I wouldn’t dream of gambling.  I just like going through the motions even if there is actually no monetary reward involved.

I’m not really a highly-strung type of person except when I’m upset.  No matter how busy life may get, I coast along and take life as it comes.  Emotions are a different thing, though.  When it gets rough and I am on the verge of whatever, I pray.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Daily Prompt: My daily toil

Daily Prompt: How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?

From my first job as a radio newscaster back in the early 90s while trudging through law school to my current job, I must say I’ve been very lucky to have acquired the skills I did along the way.  I’ve gone after the jobs I thought suited me well, got paid well for them and have jumped into the rat race and out and still feel quite happy where I am.

So there — I do look forward to work and I’m proud of it.  I toil five days a week as the Executive Assistant to one of the top honchos of a Fortune something something in its field.  I’ve been on the so-called Executive floor for 7 of my 10 (now almost 11) years with this company, and I’ve had the pleasure and honor of serving three top executives during that run.

The current boss is considered a rock star in the company and I’ve been lucky that he rocks as a boss as well.  We had a rough start almost three years ago, but we’ve gotten into a very good rhythm that makes me look forward to Mondays and doesn’t see me craving for the weekend by the middle of the week.  I work long hours, yes, but I consider that part of the job description, and I do get paid well for the trouble.  Of course I wish I was paid more, but in this economy, we should really count our blessings.  I do get the occasional call from recruiters looking for executive assistants for c-level executives like the ones I’ve partnered with, but it’s a little tough beating my current work arrangements given the way the market is.  (Too much competition from equally qualified jobhunters who can dive salary-wise, so we always hit a snag when I tell them what salary range would make me jump ship.)

I must admit there are days when I miss not having to dress up for work and being able to go with jeans on an every day basis — not that I have to look like a fashionista, but there is a certain dress code I abide by.  (More so on the floor.)  I also think of moving up or doing something else, but then I have to think long and hard about plunging myself into a career again — chasing after deadlines, stressing over projects, and working even longer hours.  I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

My boss doesn’t even know I have a law degree — something I don’t need to proclaim as I do my daily duties.  I’ve said time and again, it’s always easier to “dumb down” rather than try to appear wiser or smarter than you really are.  It’s like being exceptionally good at the easier job rather than constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to more challenging things.

I like that the world won’t stop turning if I decide to go on an extended vacation to Manila — and that there are no projects that I need to stress over while I take the morning off to watch my son perform in school.  And yet I’ve distinguished myself as smart and good at what I do enough to know that I have earned the tag “hard to replace” considering “indispensable” is not exactly true of anyone in the workforce today.

I’m fortunate to have the latest gadgets to help me perform my job well — from an iPhone 5S to whatever else I need to be an effective assistant.  Plus how can you argue when the view I see outside is this gorgeous portrait of the Manhattan midtown cityscape..?  I should be so lucky…
Happy Monday, New York!  23 floors above my usual view.  Cold but not quite as cold as we thought it would be. Good morning, everyone! #ny #nyc #newyork #manhattan #mynewyork #happymonday #goodmorning #ilovenewyork #cityscape #monday #mgviewfrom23 #nypl #

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: My Hero then

DAILY PROMPT :  When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?

Funny how, at 47, I still have memories of when I was 5 and even 4. So even if this is a lifetime away, I still remember.

My hero… it’s not all that difficult to think about. When I was 5 my life revolved around the grown ups around me and what characters I came across on our black and white TV set. I had Popeye the Sailor man who tried to make eating spinach appeal to me — but we don’t really do spinach in the Philippines. Yet he always saved his precious Olive who was a girlfriend and had a baby. Was that the first iteration of media talking about single parenthood?

I watched Popeye over and over again, memorizing the theme and waiting for that moment when Brutus the villain gets his due and Popeye knocks the day lights out of him. That’s when Popeye gets his can of spinach which, mind you, he pops out of a can and then devours with gusto. And he suddenly grows muscles and saves the day.

He was two-dimensional compared to the superheroes of today and his story lines were silly by today’s complicated plots. He was a kid’s hero– the one you outgrow. It was back in the day when cartoon characters did not have to be deep. It was a time when they were easier to understand from beginning to end.

They were silly but easy enough to understand. When my now 9-year-old used to watch episode after episode of Spongebob, my son delighted in my befuddled expression as I tried to figure out the show.

Popeye was simpler and easier to understand. He’s still my hero.

You have taught me well

Daily Prompt: We can be taught!  What makes a teacher great?

A few days ago, one of my favorite teachers from grade school celebrated a birthday. She had taught hundreds of young girls during her years teaching in St. Paul College of Pasig where I spent my elementary years. Batch ’79 was the last batch forced to seek another branch for high school because they started building a high school year by year after.

Mrs. Milagros Mercado was my sixth grade teacher. I have been fortunate to have had some of the best mentors during all my years in school, as far back as elementary to the time I walked the august halls of the Ateneo School of Law. They all contributed in some way to who I am now. Whatever my brain has digested and tucked away through my 47 years on this earth was sparked or molded by others’ thoughts and knowledge. To all of them, I am eternally grateful.

It is difficult to answer the question “What makes a teacher great?” because each teacher is different.  Some dazzle us with their sheer brilliance, and some have that uncanny ability to pry out the best in us that we never thought was there in the first place.  Some drive us to the lowest of lows and torture our souls only to have us find ourselves looking back at that experience as one of the better lessons we ever had. In my mind, I have a list of the various teachers and professors who touched my life in one way or another.  They may not remember me, but their imprint on my life will forever be there.

Mrs. Mercado has a special place on that list — but more so in my heart. The best way to write about her and what she had done for me is to say it to her straight by way of this blogpost, so if you will — please indulge me.

“Dear Mrs. Mercado —

I had posted a greeting on your Facebook page last year (if not the year before that) and greeted you a happy birthday, knowing you probably will no longer remember me. After all, it has been over thirty years since the year we spent together with you as my homeroom teacher, or “teacher-in-charge” as we termed it back then. I was one of forty-something students in your sixth grade class.

I was eleven going on twelve at the time, with a lot of insecurities and confused thoughts, seeking a means to unburden my heart. My parents were both busy with the family business, and I needed a sounding board to help me through. I don’t recall how it started, but I started writing you. I don’t remember what I wrote, only that it was about my own hurt and pain, and I wrote you long letters on a regular basis.  My letters were scribbled on stationery, sometimes on sheets of intermediate pad paper — and I poured out everything I couldn’t verbalize into those words that found themselves on paper.  You gave me a chance to express myself without fear of recrimination — and I did it without having to worry about looking you in the eye and being judged for how I felt or what I said.

You were there although I felt that strongest as you stood in front of the class teaching us. It meant so much to hand you those letters and to simply know you were reading them. In many ways, you taught me to face my fears and insecurities by acknowledging them in those letters.  Because of you, I can write about the way I feel with honesty.  And for that, I am a better person.

You taught me more than science — you taught me about reaching out to others.  You showed me the power of words in an abstract and yet very real sense.  You made me feel somebody really cared — and that was reassuring enough until things got better.  And they did.  And I became a stronger person.

Thank you, Mrs. Mercado.  You have taught me well.

With deepest gratitude — Dinna”

Daily Prompt: In the Spotlight

Daily Prompt: NAKED WITH BLACK SOCKS – Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?

I used to join (and win) extemporaneous speaking competitions in high school, so you can see that “stagefright” is something I’m able to handle rather well.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t have any, I just overcame it somehow.

They would give us the topic minutes before we were asked to deliver a speech, then we were judged, and the winner for the year level went on to the inter-year.  I won those, too, even when I wasn’t the most senior contender.

I was asked to emcee various programs in school and no matter how many times I had done it, there were butterflies in my stomach each time.

I like connecting with people when I’m on stage, so while others pretend there’s no one there, I actually find someone or something to focus on and connect with.  I turn it into a conversation so I don’t feel alone under the spotlight.

If I hadn’t left Manila where I was into Public Relations and Advertising, I would’ve sought out jobs where I would be speaking on behalf of companies or individuals either in person or in writing.  In fact, I had volunteered in jest to be such for one of my dear friends who is dreaming of one day heading the government agency he is a part of… one day.

We just have to find our voice — and once we find it, own it, and it will come naturally.  Stage fright or no stage fright.

Daily Prompt: I, the Rock

Daily Prompt:   Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?

Most people view me as a strong person because I do have a strong personality. The two, however, don’t equate to the same kind of strength. The former is someone who can face any challenge or withstand any trial and still remain standing tall. The latter is someone outspoken, assertive, confident (sometimes overly) and at worst, pushy. I know I’m all of that and I have never apologized for being who I am.

I’ve had my share of ups and downs with the “downs” driving me to what seemed like a freefall that had no ending in sight. In some ways, I’m still in one — but I’ve learned to just go with the flow, hoping things will fall into place eventually.

I try to be helpful when people come to me for assistance — in whichever way I can. I know I listen well. But when I am caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, I don’t hesitate to ask for help. I’ve always told my siblings, we are blessed in that no matter what challenges we face, we have always been able to find a means to overcome.

I have been blessed with friends who are equally if not even more selfless — and I have always believed in the power of prayer. At my worst, I had sought out friends to say a prayer for me, believing in what I had been taught since childhood about the power of prayer. I have never been one to bottle it all up inside. So yes, I do ask for help when I need it.

Even the strongest among us will eventually need another’s assistance, but sometimes pride gets in the way. Those who know when to ask for help instead of playing the hero or martyr are not any less stronger than those who take on the whole world. On the contrary, I believe it takes more guts and strength of character to ask for help when one needs it.

Yes, I know when to ask for help, and I do ask knowing that I will not always get the assistance I asked for. I always say, the worst that can happen is someone says no. Then I move on.

Daily Prompt: Getting life right

DAILY PROMPT: In the comedy “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray experienced the same day again and again, stuck in a time loop until he got the day “right.” What day would you choose to repeat until you got it right? Do you think it’s ever possible to get life “right”?

I’m ending the second day of a long weekend, and while Monday has yet to come, I’m already wishing it was only Saturday.  I’ve taken it easy and not pushed myself.  I even napped twice today between breakfast and a lobster lunch, and after.  I’m making a mental note not to do lobsters for a while because it ends up to be such a big production in the kitchen, and the clean up is the most difficult.  (Lobster off the grocery list.)  It’s just that FreshDirect had them on sale, and I’m such a sucker for sales. LOL

Back to the daily prompt.

I cannot think of any particular instance or day that I had to get right or wish I had gotten right, not for lack of those “I wish I had done that differently” kind of day, but because there are quite a few and I don’t know which one to pick.  I’d like, instead, to focus on the second part of the prompt which is “Do you think it’s ever possible to get life “right”?

That, to me, is a deep question that can be answered in a thousand different ways.  Make it a million.  It takes a giant step back for us to see whether or not we got life “right”, and being our worst critics, we often find ourself answering in the negative.  But I beg to differ.  I think life — OUR LIFE — is what you make of it.  It’s what you do with your lemons — do you put them in water in a vase and just use it as decoration or do you make lemonade?

“Right” in this sense is what is right for us.  Others may think that I had made a mess of my life or that I had made bad choices, but it’s what I did with those bad choices that I believe answer that question.

It’s like picking your fight according to what you think you can handle at any given time in your life.  It’s about whether you press on or give up.

I’m the ultimate queen of the benefit of the doubt and I say that no matter how bad our decisions have been or whether or not we ended up landing flat on our faces, it’s how we dealt with those disappointments or frustations that define whether or not we got life right.

Again, that’s just me.

I wouldn’t want to go back again.  There was a time in my life when I would foolishly entertain those “might have beens” or “should haves”.  Whatever is done IS done.  Whatever has been lost IS gone.  Even the intention to make up for something can be moot.  So I bow my head and just let life go on.  I accept things as they come knowing I had brought myself to be where I am, and whatever consequences I suffer because of my mistakes in the past, I must just take in.

Yes, we can get life right.  It’s accepting that we got it right that is the bigger challenge for many.

Daily Prompt: 15 Credits and all the buzz of school

Daily Prompt:  Another school semester will soon begin. If you’re in school, are you looking forward to starting classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

I have been out of school for almost twenty years now.  My classmates from law school are all over the place — one is a Mayor, one (or maybe even two) are lawmakers, several are very successful lawyers.  The same goes for my college friends.  And in high school, we just celebrated our Pearl jubilee this year.

I have always been happy in a classroom, even during that brief period during my freshman year when I was besieged by a momentary lapse of confidence during my first semester at the state university.  (I looked around and wondered what made me deserve to be in the same space as these “scholars”, forgetting I had earned my place beside them.)

I spent some of the best years of my younger life in college where I found some of my closest and dearest friends who still are dear in the present time.  But those friendships have been enriched by the years that have passed, and those tried and tested friends have continued to be a part of my life.  I learned more about life during those years in Rizal Hall and those life experiences carried me through what would be a very challenging couple of years after I left college.  More than just making me part of the real world — being immersed in a very liberal and diverse academic community — my way of thinking and viewing school and life as a whole changed dramatically.

I sat in classes where the author of the required book reading was the professor.  History was no longer just a narrative of events but an analysis of the emergence of a counter-consciousness that leads a class to resort to upheaval to effect change.  I couldn’t completely shake off the sheltered life that saw me being brought to and from the university by a driver , but I learned to challenge the limits imposed upon me by my parents.

Law school proved to be even more challenging because I suddenly found myself having to work to help support my education.  By then I was commuting, trying to juggle work and school, yet somehow I made it.

When “work and school” became “work” alone, I started to actually miss the routine of lugging my books and reading and sitting in a classroom.  It didn’t quite hit me as hard, though, until I moved here to New York in 2000.  It wasn’t so much all the fun times with the friends and the people that came and went into my life during those years.  I find myself missing the challenge of reading and getting into the very core of a concept or subject matter, reading about it, fleshing it out and feeling enriched by that knowledge.

(Audible sigh)

As a mother of an incoming fourth-grader who was born and raised here, I feel a real need for me to educate myself about American History and have started listening and viewing an “online lecture series” sponsored by Yale.  I have thought about physically attending a class and perhaps enrolling for audit courses, but finding a way to carve out real time for it is out of the question.  I guess I have to stick to e-learning for now.

Yes, I do miss school.  I miss being in a classroom.  And my brain cells are all raring to get at it if given the chance to get back to work on text books and tomes again.

Daily Prompt: Three of Ten – Saturday Morning Buzz

Daily Prompt: Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write!

Words: Saturday, morning, sunny, quiet, buzz, weekend, chocolate, postcards, thoughts, way

I know.. not that wild a title — and really, not a wild set of 10 words to choose from.  But I’m trying to “push” myself to write on this lazy, sunny Saturday.  I just realized it’s already noon.  I keep thinking “morning” — but it’s noon already.  (Just prepared lunch for the mother-in-law who wants to take us all out to lunch.)

My normally quiet place that buzzes with the TV or DVD is a little busier with some workmen replacing the shingles on our roofs.  Our unit had its turn yesterday — they’re doing the ones across the courtyard today.  I guess that’s where “buzz” came in.

I am halfway done through with my online grocery shopping.  We used to think it was more expensive, but when you go down to the last cent and factor in convenience, delivery, and most importantly, quality, it helps.  It’s just that they don’t carry all the brands I need, and there are simply those brands I need to get at cheaper prices at the wholesaler.

I’m thinking about the things on my plate this weekend.

1) I have two swaps I need to finish for swap-bot.

2) I have Andreanna’s owl picture frame magnet with the magnet I got glued to its back hanging from my fridge door in a sort of experiment.  I’m hoping the 3/4 inch diameter circular magnet will hold it, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed.

3)  Snail mail: Letter to Gina, card to P.

4) I want to create a piece for myself and for the store.

5) I need to do the cold wash delicates I can’t wash with the jeans and other clothes that have those dangerous zippers that can rip a hole or what not in them.

Sounds like  a lot.  I have approximately 36 hours until the weekend is over — let’s see how far I go.

We got stuck in traffic last night no thanks to a fire on the 59th Street Bridge.  We ended up snaking our way out of Manhattan — with the usual 20-minute drive out with traffic turning into a two hour delay.  Thanks to the traffic, though, I was able to finish the blog post preceding this and promptly published it when I got home.  (Hence, no five-minute blog posts.)

Saturdays are usually reserved for errands after lunch.  I’ll make a guess it’ll be Bobby’s Burger Palace — or maybe not.   In any case, I have to start getting ready.  Even that takes time.    So what have you been up to this Saturday?