Off key

There are days when you know everything is supposed to be okay, but you somehow feel like your life is out of sync.  Much like how my two hands would play as if they belonged to two different bodies whenever I hit the keys for the first time, after years of not playing.  (Lightbulb reminder: Find a rehearsal studio to actually play at – still up in the air.)  It would take a few pieces or minutes to eventually get them to hit the keys in unison to make music.  Then it all  comes back.

I keep hearing about being “more than okay”, but things feel different.  I know.. I’m overthinking things.  We all go through rough patches, and then we hope for the best and pray that we bounce back.  Or if we don’t, that we actually land somewhere better.  It’s not exactly “bad”, but it’s not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of phase.  And like all phases, it passes — not just quickly enough.

Sometimes life likes to throw surprises our way — and no matter how prepared we may think we are (“been there, done that!” — I tell myself), there are still bits of news that will catch us off guard.  I say I’ve gone through this before — I lived through it and have survived — and I will do that again.  So I am not at all being smug when I say I’m good for all the experience I have tucked under my belt… Some well meaning friends are asking how I am doing.. am I okay?  (Let me throw back the line at you now, “More than okay!”)… No matter how self-assured that may sound, I am actually wondering if I am trying to convince myself I am.  Or maybe I am, indeed.

So how do I cope during times like this?

I think about the things I should be thankful for.  Like earlier today, I fell in line at my favorite bakeshop at the corner, Breads Bakery over at their Bryant Park Kiosk.  Every morning, I usually get off my ride (the ever dependable QM5 Express Bus from my part of NYC) right in front of it or just a few feet away.  I am usually good with resisting the temptation, but on days when I can’t shake it, I give in and plod my way to the order window.  It’s a choice of cheese straws (yum) or the feta bureka (yum yum) as a breakfast treat.

I fell in line and was approached by this friendly and harmless looking young lady who chatted me up and — hold your breath — offered to pay for this morning’s purchase.  Now I had my heart set on two burekas for lunch — and that was $5.  I asked her, “For real?”  And she said yes with a smile.

Then she handed me this card which said:

THERE’S GOOD ALL AROUND US IF WE JUST LOOK FOR IT.  Let’s open our eyes, and our heart.  And let’s See. Good. Daily.

There’s actually more blogworthy material on that business card size piece of good she handed me, but I think it deserves its own post.. later.  But the long and short of it was, she did pay for my purchase, and even posed for a picture which I promised to post on Instagram to plug their effort — but the picture didn’t come out well, and I would hate to have such a bad picture of her for all the world to see. It just didn’t do her justice.

Apparently, this was all part of a commercial shoot for a lens company, Lenscrafters, and they had wanted to interview me for a short clip — but I was in a rush to go to work.  I had already crossed the street to my building when one of the production assistants came with a pro forma release form of sorts which I filled in and signed. I told them they better tell me if I’m appearing anywhere!

But it wasn’t so much the 15 seconds of fame I might possibly end up enjoying or being given at a later time.  It was the feel-good treat on a terribly cold autumn day in New York City.  I got my burekas free, and someone made me smile.  #SeeGoodDaily

How often do you get a breakfast treat from a complete stranger?  That was one big “Thank you” I owed the universe.

I go back and look at pictures that bring me back to happy times.  No matter what they say, pictures have a way of reassuring us all is well — we are blessed — and in short, we are more than okay.  What more can beat a visual reminder of how much better we truly are compared to how we are imagining our world might be?  (Writing that last line somehow made me feel silly for even feeling this way right now.)

Perhaps it’s just the needy, whiny me.  (Shrinking into my chair now and feeling guilty of being a brat.)  I really shouldn’t be complaining.  I have been telling myself that over and over again… and it helps ease the anxiety, and it reminds me of how I have been so lucky to be where I am, and to have the people who are in my life today.  One of the more remarkable lines I had come across in recent days is that we should stop feeling bitter about the ones that we lost, but instead be grateful for those that we have.  (Or something to that effect.). How true.

And those pictures and the feelings that go with them serve to remind me that I have much to  be grateful for, and there are so many happy thoughts and memories tucked in there somewhere.

I self soothe with my drawing, sewing and my crafting.  Drawing has been such an escape.   My Paper Flower Garden is a continuing project, but even that can get tired and old.  There are times when I don’t feel inspired or motivated, and when that comes upon me, I put my pen or my scissors down and I let it go.  Putting pressure on myself will only serve to defeat the very purpose of the exercise, which is to calm me down and just bring me to a quiet place of bliss.

I have been sewing and my coat is almost done.  (Yay!)  There are nights when I stay up late redoing the stitching over and over again until I get it right.  Yes, my seam ripper is my bestfriend now.  I’ve gotten so adept at working with it that I can now systematically undo a full side of a garment I had painstakingly sewn with a few nicks.  I am getting to know my simple sewing machine better, and soon, she’ll be a bestie like my seam ripper.

As for my crafting, I’ve been trying to get my materials sorted so that  I can start creating not just new pieces for myself, but for the shop as well.  (I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.)  I have actually started working on a brass metal stamping that I have glued onto a base fabric to bead and embellish.  I’m thinking “statement piece” necklace, but I have been busy experimenting on the base fabric.  (Felt to stiff interfacing to maybe faux leather.)  Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to figure out the design beyond the focal of the whole piece.  That’s taking a bit of time.

Trying not to resort to comfort food but my spirit has been broken.  Considering the food I’ve eaten outside of what I am allowed, I have actually done pretty well in keeping my weight gain minimal and manageable enough to get back on track more easily.  Still, I can’t be complacent about it because gaining is always easier than losing it.

It doesn’t help that there’s chocolate within reach, and that there’s the “Pancakes for dinner” alternative.  I have tried not to be too liberal with the leeway — I have struggled to get back to my lowest weight, and I want to break that barrier before the holiday food binging begins.

Aromatherapy to bring the happy thoughts forward.  I’ve always been a fan of sweet and fruity scents.  I like milky and “clean” smells — scents that bring back memories of fab times and fab people.  Do you ever find yourself associating certain scents with people you have spent time with?  I have.. and I do.. I don’t don perfume regularly but always slather on some lotion or body butter, and the scent or formulation I use at any given time are usually associated with how I feel or want to feel on any given day.  There are times when I just don’t care and the moisturizing matters more than the scent that lingers on — and there are days when I put a favorite scent on to just put some “happy” into my day.

I go “Lipstick girl”.  I have always proudly declared myself a make up lover / addict, and I used to saunter down the make up section of Rustan’s back home, just to ogle the palettes and displays of the various brands.  Be it in a drugstore or in a department store or Sephora, make up continues to have a soothing effect beyond description.

It’s like entering a candy store.  I just can’t have enough.

I have, however, significantly held back from binging on make up — for now — but only because I have more than enough in my stash.  I keep my lipsticks separate because they are determined by my color scheme for the day and the overall look I’m trying to achieve.  So I would fish through my make up box and look for the lipstick purses and just go over them and inventory my stock.  Yes, that makes me happy, knowing I have this shade and that.. in this form, be it matte or glossy — liquid or stick.  Other people go for shoes.  My comfort go-to in the pretty-me-up department is plain and simple lipstick.

We all hit a rough patch every now and again — it’s how we deal with our own demons that determine whether we let it drag us down or we up and go and move on.  I always choose the latter but it isn’t always done in a snap.  Like most things, it takes the willpower to bring “happy” or a semblance of it back into your day when everything seems to look bleak.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to get yourself there and out of the darkness.  Then you can sing in tune again, and dance in sync with the music.

 

 

Gift of 50

Over the previous weekend’s Friday Five, I had set out to write 10 of the 50 good deeds I hope to do as part of my 50th birthday this year.  Yes, I am 50, and I think I have a lot to be thankful for through the years.  2015, in particular, has found me appreciating all that I have been blessed with despite all the bad breaks that have been thrown my way.  In the bigger scheme of things, I think I have been fortunate to be who and what I am.  So in celebration of all the good in my life, I promised to do 50 good deeds — and not the regular kind of good like donating your used clothes to a clothing drive, but the kind of good that makes someone else feel better.

Others choose to celebrate their birthdays with the less fortunate– well, I plan to do that, too, but I think the everyday people in our lives deserve a break or two in a less charitable kind of magnanimity.  Like maybe this or that person would appreciate a simple gift just from out of the blue.   To start things off, I thought I’d try to list 10 such deeds I hope to do just to get the ball rolling.  (Unfortunately, I ran short by four..)

(1) Have you ever thought how that person who serves you your made-to-order sandwich in the cafeteria or deli would feel if you handed him a $20 tip?  Ha!

(2)  Or how that pretty young lady who rings up your sandwich order at the chain deli across the street would feel if you handed her a pair of earrings and bracelet in a nice gift box?

(3) How about leaving a tray of earcandy just for the taking in the office pantry, just because?  (I know I would take one and I make my own!).

(4)  I know there’s this lady at work who wears a different scarf everyday no matter what the season is.  I’ve chatted her up because of it, and I am planning to gift her with one of Narda’s handmade/handwoven scarves from Baguio — one of the scarves I bought during one of my two trips to Manila last year.

(5)  I’d like to try and get to know someone I work with but am not social with like some of the new assistants in my department, or someone I have seen on the floor but have never interacted with besides a perfunctory hello or how are you.  One a quarter?  Not just sit down and talk but actually pay for the meal.  (Okay, I’m not going overboard with this one..something casual and light..)  I already know who I’m inviting out for the first getting-t0-know-you meal.

(6)  There is someone I work with and have known for years who, I know, is undergoing medical treatment right now.  It wouldn’t hurt to send her words of encouragement but not letting her know it’s from me.  Sometimes it is awkward to accept help from others, even from friends, at a time when you feel most vulnerable, so I will respect that need for space and step back but step up to let her know someone’s rooting for her.

44 more to go.. although one or two of these can count as 3-4 such gifts..  Random listing with links to any related posts will be found on a page so entitled.  (Please check out the navigation bar.)

We always underestimate our ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.  And I think that we have to start thinking small and doing things that are easier but not any less impactful than the millionaire philanthropists out there who can change tides in one fell swoop.  A simple greeting in the morning can change the way someone’s day turns out.  I know it has worked for me, so I imagine it can mean something to others as well.

I know it sounds so cliche to say that we can all make a difference.  But we actually can.  And I think we’ll all be more successful in doing that if we start thinking about the everyday things we can do and do them more often.

Have a good week ahead.. that’s the soon-to-be-50-year-old wishing you one!