Preloved and parting

I am a self-confessed pack rat, and I’m trying to change that.  It’s not only a move to get more organized, but I’m at that juncture in my life where I find myself having to reevaluate what I want to keep and let go.

Being in the process of a major life change, I have made up my mind to change as much of what I can to start afresh, and keep only that which is essential to the real me.  So much has happened in the last 3 years (going on 4) that I find a physical need to actually change my surroundings to get rid of the old and move forward.

Some of it is a necessity being that I have changed sizes in the last couple of years, and it doesn’t pay to wear something that looks frumpy even if you have only worn it a couple of times.  It’s time to make room for the new, beginning with my closet.

I used to be the type who would keep something even if in an obviously bigger size because I told myself, it fits– why get rid of something I can wear?  But coming across the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” which wouldn’t work for me, I was reminded of how I had so many pieces I hadn’t worn or touched in some time.  They have been relegated to the darkest corner of my tiny closet, collecting dust, unworn.  While I am nowhere near paring my wardrobe down to 37 or so pieces (I have a dozen skirts at least, for one!)– I recognize a need to declutter and find a new home for those pieces that are still wearable, just not by me.

During my trips home to Manila last year, I took the bigger clothes and left them for others.  My luggage came back with outfits in my current size and style.  I send a balikbayan box home occasionally and have already sent more, but I haven’t really systematically gone through what’s left here with me.

They said the rule should be to sort between keeping and giving away.  Generally, anything you hadn’t worn in a year should go — whether they are too big or too small.  I have read that keeping something in the hopes of “shrinking” back into a size that’ll see it fitting you again isn’t being realistic, unless you are already just a teeny weeny bit away from being able to wear it again.  I have a couple of those I keep because of the brand or the original cost of the item.  They went into the “giveaway” box this time.

Obviously, there are the pieces that have just gone out of style.  The thing is, what might not be fashionable here might be wearable back home, so I folded those suits and made sure to pack them in a plastic bag with the matching trousers.  There are t-shirts that have some sentimental value or other — such as shirts from the companies I had worked for in Manila which I wear to bed during the colder months.  Even those have gone into the donation box.   In the summer, I wear cotton nightgowns from the tiangge in Greenhills which also need to be sorted.

I must say the act of actually putting any piece in the “to give away” box has been a source of relief– as if I was “shedding” or saying goodbye to an older, former version of me.

I wore this loose fitting shirt over the weekend which I bought the summer before last.  It was a size bigger than what I wear now from that particular store.  It still looked good on me but it hung very loosely over my frame, like one of those shirts that was good to hide under.  If I could get that same shirt in the smaller size now, I would get it, and if they had it in a different print even back then, I would’ve gotten it.  But it is way too big now.

So I put it with this weekend’s laundry and washed it, and as I was straightening it up after drying, I made a decision to say goodbye to it.  Instead of hanging it back in my closet, I folded it and put it in my giveaway bin.  Another preloved piece which I know can make someone else feel as good and comfy as it did me.  Taking it out of my closet signified a commitment to stay healthy and be healthier, and not giving myself the out to slide back and gain weight again.  It was also an acceptance of the me that I am now — more confident and comfortable in my own skin, hitting the age of 50.

I wish it was easier to sort through everything and make the decision to let something go.  I tend to be very emotional about what I have and own.  There is always that thought at the back of my head that I might regret the decision later, forcing me to take the safer choice to just keep it — “just in case.”  I used to tell myself, “(but) I might want to wear that sometime some place.”.. or “I might lose enough weight to fit into that again.. ”  (Which has never really happened because I planned it.. but rather because I lost weight with other things in mind.)

This time, though, I’m determined to shed as much as I can — to make room for an even better and healthier me.  Four suits packed, so many shirts and pants set aside.  Parting can be difficult but can be a literal sigh of relief.. It actually is a very tangible unburdening that can help one to focus on letting things go.  Parting this time, is nothing sorrowful — but on the contrary is literally sweet joy.

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.