Monday Musings: Summer

Monday musings in paper and inkThis was really meant to be last week’s Monday post but I got busy working on my new section avatar. I am actually trying to work on it still, but why postpone the post for the graphic?

I usually try to begin the week with a post listing a set of blurbs which are like snippets of what’s running through my head at the start of the week, instead of writing a full blown post. Sometimes one or two actually get written as a full entry later on, but I like the mental exercise of putting shorter paragraphs together without the pressure of developing the idea running through my head. It’s like a mini-workout..

I don’t remember now what I had hoped to write so let’s try to pull this Monday’s mini headlines forming in my head.

Weekend work around. I don’t normally work on weekends unless I have to or am requested to, but yesterday, I purposely set aside time to get started on a document I hope to work on some more today. In my mind, I wanted to manage my stress levels by not having to start from scratch on what are usually hectic Mondays. I set a time limit of sorts and told myself I will only do this task and only this. And I stuck with it. As soon as the task was done, I didn’t linger and shut down. I resumed my weekend. And in more ways than one, I think that helped. I’m on the bus and just got to the city and while I already got some emails that means it’ll be me grabbing coffee and then working away, I have one less source of stress. I’m at east a half hour ahead with the work I completed– and that gives me some breathing room. The important thing is, I didn’t spend the weekend working. I just completed a task.

Sometimes you just need to go with the flow. This Monday was busier than busy but I tried to just go with it and not fight it. I was writing stickies in my head . Reminder(s) to self.

Choosing to be nice. Salad line. You walk towards the end of the line where an acquaintance is waiting her turn. Now I try not to be presumptuous when in a social/work environ such as the cafeteria. So I don’t say hello figuring she was busy on her iPhone. She gets her turn and I get mine and between the two helpers trying to pull our orders together, I know she knew it was me. Still no hello. I go about my business and I walk to the dressing where we were practically face to face. I respect her choice not to be sociable and to pretend like we don’t know each other. Sometime it’s better that way. I’m not mad at her but she just became a statistic in my “not nice” list of people. Wouldn’t it have been just easier to be nice instead of putting so much effort into not being?

Former bestie at work now totally avoids me even when his work means I’m one of his clients. Friendship and professionalism are not the same. You may lose the friendship but you always have to maintain a certain work ethic where you work. I don’t like everyone I work with but I always try and do my job as best I can, no matter who is on the receiving end. I choose to be nice.

I treasure the happy times. Last week, I afforded myself an indulgence and went for a coffee break treat and a lunch adventure. It was a very busy week but I had much to be grateful for. So even when some things didn’t quite pan out the way I had hoped they would, I just kept replaying the “happy ” in my mind, and the truth of the matter is, it was way more than whatever negative moments came my way. I had a warm big hug to the heart and I hold that close and just bask in the warm and fuzzy.

I’m exhausted but I’m smiling at the thought of the warm and fuzzy.. and I know I’m probably making sense only to myself, but that’s why I write.
57th Avenue. Looking towards the west side

Friends that are gold

Down in #BryantPark this lovely, lovely day.. #LookingDown from #41floorsabove .. #myNYC #mynewyork #nynewyorkcity #NewYork #NewYorkCity #manhattan #midtown #midtownNYCI am a very sociable person with a wide circle of friends.  I’m one of those people who wouldn’t be lost spending an entire day with people I have never met, because I would be comfortable among strangers.  In my almost fifty years on this planet, I have been fortunate to have found some enduring friendships that make me feel rich and wealthy in love and loyalty.

It used to feel natural — I was just friendly.  But through the years, I have come to realize that friendships take nurturing.  They take some work — not always a lot — but you have to put a conscious effort to grow the friendship.  You have to have the patience to deal with your friend’s quirks– if he or she is perpetually late, you just grin and bear it as you twiddle your thumbs in wait.  If he or she seems to have multiple personalities, you would know to take a deep breath when it’s the evil monster who takes her over and her fangs and horns appear out of nowhere.  When there is an inordinately long silence and it becomes uncomfortable and worrying, you will pick up the phone or write her an email and take the first step and pick up the conversation from the last time or start a new one.  You just can’t let it be, or that friend becomes just another one of those people who just go in and out of your life.  You just can’t leave it at that.  And if, for some reason, you don’t see eye to eye and the hurt grips your heart and you keep away, you would return in time and not let the friendship wither away.  The ones that you let go are the ones that you choose to end.

They said that true friends are those who know all your faults but love you anyway.  With all my weaknesses and shortcomings, I am blessed with some broad minded and kind people who can take me with all my charm, self-absorption and overbearing personality.  (Oh, I do have my good traits, but anyone and everyone can be good!).   I have been fortunate to have some incredible people who have seen me through my lowest of lows, and who have celebrated even just me being me with love and appreciation.  In my weakest moments, their words remind me of who I am and what I can do.  Just thinking of them brings me back to that moment when I saw myself through their eyes, and I find strength and inspiration in that..

So even when just getting together for dinner to catch up or celebrate some milestone or other takes weeks and weeks to schedule, I don’t give up.  (And who cares that my birthday was more than 2 months ago..?!!  We can still celebrate..)  There are people, and certainly friends, who are worth waiting for.  It’s all part of that emotional investment you make in a relationship — whether romantic or platonic.

I am grateful for the way people enrich my life day to day.  There are times when a simple word or act of kindness like a heartfelt “Thank you” can spell the difference between carrying me through a trying moment or simply getting me from one hug to the heart to the next.  I am even grateful for the missteps of others that have led me to bigger and better things.  When people walk away, they leave a void in our universe that someone else will fill.  Even between friends.

Even a simple question if you are well this morning can bring a smile to your face.  Small acts to let you know they are thinking of you instead of just presuming that “all is well.”

The last few months have been very revealing in showing me who my real friends are.  Sadly, some who I had thought had become lifelong friends in the last decade or so, have shown themselves to have been friends merely by association.  But that is not a total loss.  At least now, I know.

In my heart of hearts, I know, too, that not everyone is meant to stay.  There are those who will walk into our lives and move and rock our world in broad strokes and then leave — yes, sometimes, for good.  It’s just how life goes.  And when that happens, we have to learn to let go.  That had not always been easy for me, but I have come to accept that other people’s coming and going is something beyond my control.  They choose to be there or they don’t.  Knowing that, I have learned to laugh and to appreciate the times spent together — grateful for the ‘now’ — and hope for the best but not pin my hopes on tomorrow.  If I wake up tomorrow and one or the other has left, I take what they had given me to enrich my life and move on with it and I will wish them well, and I will hope that the universe brings them my way again.

And if they are meant to stay, I am grateful for the hand that holds mine as I walk in my high heels, or the strong hand that pushes me forward when I hesitate and commands me to go explore the world.  I am a better person for all the good and the bad things that have come way — and all the people who have touched my life.  Now, I no longer thihnk those who hurt me had taken something away from me — I’d like to think that the pain had made me stronger.  I have my own personal cheering squad from different corners in my own universe.  Their words of encouragement and affirmation give me a stronger armor and have brought me to where I am now.

The journey is far from over.  Even with all that I’ve gone through, I know I have far to go.  I refuse to be cowed by my own fear of what is yet to come — because I know that I don’t walk alone.  There will be hands holding mine, and other minds thinking when my brain refuses to process anything those times life overwhelms me.  I will go back to the laughter and the smiles and the sighs — and find strength in that.

I guess you can say that I view the world with a panoramic lens now.  I try to go beyond what is immediately visible in my frame, and pan from left to right, trying to capture the scenery as best as I can.  I don’t quite capture it as faithfully as I often want, but I get the bigger picture instead of just one view.  I look at every person I encounter as a new chance to learn and be enriched.  Even my mail guy who comes by jovially four times a day on my floor had his history notes to share.  If I didn’t bother to talk to him, I would’ve even have known he was a student of History.  It’s those little bits and pieces about people that we should open our ears and hearts to.  We never know what we might learn along the way, and if we keep our eyes closed, what we might be missing.

I thank those who have chosen to keep me in their stable of friends — the privilege is mine.. My life is truly better for the wisdom, love and laughter you have, and continue, to share with me.  I really, really hope you will all stay awhile until it’s time for this lady to call it a day and ride off into the sunset for good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No fading

No fadingA while back, I started a new category here entitled “The People in My life”, hoping to write about those individuals who may have walked in to say hello, walked past me, or who had decided to stay and have been part of my life since the day they walked in. It just struck me that there are so many people in our lives we often lose track of. People who, whether in a deliberate or very passing way, touch our lives.

I have almost 49 years of those people. I still haven’t quite gotten down to seriously writing a piece about any one, I guess – but a phrase I said to myself the other day struck a chord when thinking of those people. “No fading.”

“Goodbye” seems to have gotten the raw deal when we think about the painful junctures in our lives. When we think about “sad partings”, we think about those times we broke off with someone, someone broke off with us, or when someone left for good to be someplace else. I think that no matter how goodbyes are said, the fact that they are said whether verbally or in action counts for something. There is a finality to it that allows you to put a period at the end of the sentence, instead of those three dots and a question mark. It helps one to move on.

I have said my share of goodbyes. Some were happy – like when I decided to move to New York 15 years ago. Some were sad, like when someone told me that although the feeling would never change, he had to say goodbye. Or when I bid my Dad goodbye on the cellphone as he was about to breathe his last – because he was 10,000 miles away. He couldn’t speak anymore, but I told him I loved him and that I was sorry if I had gotten mad at him, but that I was okay now and no longer angry. And yes, that he could go.. he need not worry about me. That goodbye still makes a knot form in my stomach.. even now as I write here. I have to take a deep breath so the tears won’t come.

But those are goodbyes that were said or made known. Sometimes you don’t need words, but then your actions speak it with finality.  Nothing is left to interpretation. It was goodbye, and that was that.

I think the sadder thing is when people just fade away.

You know how when someone comes and says hello, and you feel like the sun just started shining a tad brighter.. and just when you start believing it’s all good, that person fades away. No warning. No goodbye. Just plain fading. For a time you start thinking maybe this friend will come back. Maybe that’s why there were no goodbyes. Or maybe this friend just wasn’t really a friend after all.  There was a need, and being there met that need – and once the need was gone, so was this friend.

I have been guilty of fading away myself – years ago when I thought I’d be a coward and just slowly disappear. Is there really such a thing as “slowly disappearing?” We choose to disappear — period. We choose to be no longer a part of someone else’s life. Like those friends I might’ve run to when I felt like the rug was being pulled from under me – and while I was not asking them to take sides, they chose to take the safe side and not get involved. (I know I sound bitter here.. maybe because I am.) So I faded.. If I happen to meet them some place, I’d smile. I’d still talk to them, but they are no longer a part of my life just as I walked away from being a part of their lives. I have family that I wanted to hold close, but who, I guess wasn’t in the same frame of mind. No hard feelings. While we can’t choose family, we can choose if we want to be with them or not. So again, I faded.

“No fading.” That should be a rule of thumb between friends. A friend, after all, will always be there — whether 10,000 miles away or within the same time zone. So when someone fades, she’s just not being a friend at all.

We’re all entitled to change our minds. And sometimes, life does happen.  But wouldn’t it be nicer if we can tell the person affected we’ve decided to move on whether in plain language or in a definite action, instead of not saying a word, perhaps mistakenly believing it should be understood. Between friends, goodbyes are never implied. It’s like your boyfriend – you break up.

I’ve only broken up with one friend — someone who was like a sister to me and she and I continue to be estranged. Once upon a time, we just didn’t quite agree on where she thought I was coming from and where I was actually coming from. Major events took place and I was relegated to guest instead of friend or even the sister she professed she always wanted to have. Letters were exchanged — carefully worded, yet very painful — and in the end, we said our goodbyes.

No regrets.  I’ve moved on.  Do I miss her? Sadly, no. I think our friendship and even our sisterhood was meant to end then.

No fading. It simply ended. Perhaps that’s the reason it’s such a final goodbye – because it was actually very pointed and clear.

I try to think of the people who had faded away somehow through the years. Some, I think about wistfully and wish they had not.  Some, I understood the reasons why and leave it just as another one of those friendships or relationships that weren’t meant to be.

I guess I’m thinking about this now more for my benefit and to remind myself to try to be more mindful as I go through life from hereon.  No fading, Dinna..  There are conversations that will have to end.  People you have to say goodbye to.  People who will have to hear, this is it — I’m moving on.  While it may be easier to just stop answering emails or ignoring text messages and phone calls, there will always be that part of the population that needs things to be spelled out in plain and simple terms.  (As BFF Fe says, you have to dumb proof the statement.)  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a matter of kindness.

One final good deed when needed.  Instead of you just turning away, leaving another waiting.  Just think of it this way, if it were you on the other end, wouldn’t you want to be told instead of being left just hanging.  You wouldn’t want to be the one left wondering..

Monday Musings: And Jonathan said hello

One of my dearest and oldest friends just chimed in this morning after I had sent him messages on Viber and Facebook asking about how he was.  He had appeared in one of my dreams (which, superstitious as I am, I take as a call or nudge of sorts from the universe), and I sent him the usual “How are you?  Hope all is well.. dreamt about you” kind of e-mail.  It took him a while to respond but I was relieved to hear things couldn’t be better.

He’s probably one of the few guy friends I have who have known me for decades and still know everything that is current about me. Well, almost.  Our lives make it hard to catch up in real time, but when we do, we update one another as if we just spoke yesterday.  He was also one of the few friends I saw during my last trip home in December 2013.   He is not only one of my closest friends but has been designated my personal lawyer and executor.  (Reminder to self: Finish that holographic will.)  We never miss each other’s birthdays because we were born just 2 days apart — so when he greets me, I greet him.  It has become a race of sorts as we try to beat each other to greeting the other one when our birthday month comes.  So how can we forget?

He was there during the most painful time of my life where I didn’t know where else to turn.  When I shunned seeing most of the other friends I would have run to, the one guy I called straight from New York was Jonathan.  There are certain people who we know will catch us when we fall, no matter how long ago it was that we last spoke with them.  They will always be there.  Jonathan is one of those people in my life.

His counsel is one I value not just because the advice he gives is deeply thought out and deliberate, but because I know I will always hear it straight, coming from him.  No matter how the truth may hurt, he will give it to me but with the gentleness and compassion of a brother at heart.  I remember around the time I was hoping to settle down just over 15 years ago, I had gone out with him and our usual group of boys from college — half of who were already lawyers like him and me, and others equally successful in their chosen careers.  I was seeing someone who seemed to be “the one” but was not quite nestled in my comfort zone the way I wanted him to be.  Jonathan never met him, but when I told him about this one who made my eyes twinkle, he flat out told me this guy was no good for me in plain and simple terms.  (The reason for which I will keep between Jonathan and I.)  And that was that.  It was like the truth was revealed and I took it as just that: the truth.  As bull headed as I can be, the truth is not always something I take to hearing kindly, more so when it runs contrary to what I hold it to be.

But not from Jonathan.

Happy to hear that all is well with you, my friend.  I have missed you but you are always in my heart.  I hear your voice and laughter in the background when the memories come, more so when I feel alone and needing your counsel.  There are so many things I want to tell you, and in time, I will.  Very few people know the whole story and because you do, no explanations are necessary.  You know because you know my heart.

So maybe we will get to do a joint birthday celebration next year, even if belatedly.  And we can laugh and drink and catch up then..

 

Looking to the heavens

Lovely Saturday in Times Square: everyone takes pictures from a horizontal view.. Try looking up some time -- straight up!  #lookingup #timessquare #ny #mynewyork #mynyc #skyscrapers #vertical #frontcam #anotherview #beautifulday #sunnyspringdayinnewyorkI was saying goodbye to BFF Fe last night after our regular chat when a message from Facebook jolted me with the news of an old friend’s passing.  There was a request not to use social media to comment or publicize it, so out of respect for the family, I cannot dwell or mention who it was or who she was to me.  But I was deeply touched because I was one of half her list of friends who got the invite to her wake and her funeral in Manila.  There will be a time to write about that when the family allows me to.

For now, I bow my head down in prayer knowing she’s at peace and no longer in pain.

I wanted to post this status update publicly on my own FB page, but I was afraid that I would get too many queries and bring attention to someone’s passing.  So instead I sent this to my dearest friends in private, and I’m sharing it here.

“Today is a day for me to reflect on the friendships and the people who have come into and gone out of my life as I learn of others moving on and others coming back and bouncing back. All I can say is thank you to those who have blessed my life with their friendship through the years. To those back home, I miss you all and wish you were but a phone call away and we could meet up in Makati or The Fort or some such place. I thank God for bringing each and every one of you into my life — no matter how brief, or how long, or far back. Please stay in touch… I will try to do the same.”

And to my friend from waaaaay back — no matter how brief our elementary years were, and how we were brought back together in recent years because you stumbled into my little space here, you will always be remembered and tucked away in a special place in my heart.  I will always remember how I visited you in yours as you chronicled your battle and separately, as you wrote about your family adventures.  More importantly, I will never forget your infectious laughter and unbroken spirit even in the face of all that you bravely fought.  Rest in peace, my friend.

 

 

Me — Misunderstood? (30 days of blogging prompts 20)

What do you think people misunderstand the most about you?

Through the years, I’ve learned that I’m THAT person that you either love or hate.  No middleground — I seem to have either an endearing or repulsive personality, depending on whom you ask.  Which is just fine.  I have come to accept the old line that you can’t please everyone.  So I’ve long stopped trying to do that.

For those on the negative end of the spectrum, I’d like to think that the misunderstanding stems from the fact that people sometimes (or oftentimes) take offense with my strong tone, and my ability to separate the personal from the professional.  When it’s work, I put on a different hat with the end game of getting things done.  I’ve learned to grow a thick skin at work given the very strong personalities my previous bosses had, so I guess you can say I’ve taken to mastering the skill of not taking things personally.  When I take charge, I can get really bossy.  Others like that, but most people don’t like being bossed around.  (Not even by their own bosses.. that’s why they’re where they are and I am where I am at.)

Those people who don’t get the chance to know the non-working or non-bossy me, usually tend to label me with “B” in neon letters, and as humans do, tend to return the tone.  And I don’t take that personally, but that just means we’re not meant to be anything but co-workers.

There are those who are cowed by the bigger personality and never see the girly, funny, sweet and very sensitive side of me.  There was a time I’d kill myself trying to win those people over, only to be frustrated and racked with self-doubt.  That was the very young, inexperienced me.  After years of running after people who I felt disliked me for misunderstanding me and failing to see the real Dinna, I came to terms with the fact that there are just people who don’t like you — period.  And those people who can’t see the real me aren’t worth the effort to chase and convince.

I have had a colleague or two who had become very good friends, but who, when I put on my working hat and I say no to take great offense.  Or who when I tell them off for something that needs correcting thinks it’s a personal attack and there goes the former intimacy we shared as friends. The lines get blurred, and there comes in the misunderstanding.  There are the few gems, though, who know when it’s work and when it’s not.

I can have a “tone” which sometimes people get overly-sensitive to.  I remember back when I was still in school, an ex-boyfriend took offense when, in the middle of a spat, I commanded him to “sit”.  One word:  “Sit.” I remember the look on his face — and later he said I made him feel like I was treating him like a dog.  Okay, he was overly sensitive — but it’s one of those situations where people think I’m playing Hitler.  LOL

Even at home, sometimes I’d say something in a forceful tone or a higher or louder voice, not meaning anything or not being angry, but it’s taken to mean that way.  Picture the volume or bass tone suddenly switching from one side of the switch to the other — misunderstanding resolved.

Maybe I’m not trying hard enough to pause and think before I open my mouth.  But I make no apologies.  (That is not to say, though, that I don’t apologize when warranted.)  I’ve become less friendly although I still smile a lot.  I just choose who I chat up or who I choose to befriend.  Friendships take a lot of work, like any relationship, and there are the souls who make the extra effort to get to know you better.  They are those who go past the misunderstandings or the wrong notions.  They are the ones who ask if maybe there’s another side to you besides the one whose fangs and horns they saw.  (I do have a halo tucked somewhere although I often forget where I hid it. =)

Misunderstood?  Yes, more often than not.  But I’ve stopped trying to explain myself to the world — only those who deserve the explanation get it from me.  Not everyone may like me, but I know those who truly matter love me.

Some "Happy" from Friends and Journaling

I have a “love-hate” relationship with Facebook these days.  I am hardly there, and when I do log in, I pop in and go out quicker than quick.  I browse the updates which isn’t much considering that I now have a few hundred friends (which isn’t so cool when you look at how the feeds go), so I am seriously considering trimming down that friend list.  I’m sure a lot of people also don’t appreciate getting nonsensical updates from me.  I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that many of them have unsubscribed from my feeds, although there isn’t much going on on my own page.

From time to time, I do come across some gems, like today, I picked this quote up from a friend, co-paulinian and colleague of my sister at work,  Edlynn.  I had to go back and grab the line, post it here, and will be putting it in my happiness journal at a later time.

“The secret of happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” — Dan Dennett

And I got a pleasant surprise when BFF Pia K popped out on the chat — which was quite serendipitous by itself.  (As you can see, I’m still hooked on “serendipity” as I am continuing to work on my Artist Trading Card Mega Swap.)

Pia and I have known each other since the second grade, which is 39 years worth of the Pinay New Yorker on this earth.  I’ve written about it here a while back that we used to be mistaken for sisters back in grade school.  We went to the same high school and landed together most of our four years with the nuns — I think we managed to do it for 3 of 4.  She went to the other branch of the same University I went to and we completely lost touch.  We sort of “got back together” the last 4-5 years which was literally thanks to the post offices on both sides of the world.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to every mailman I see.  Our friendship, you see, was rekindled and kept alive by snail mail.  And I am still trying.

Though I don’t write her quite as often, I continue to try.   Despite the technology all around us, I still believe that the written word on hard copy carries a different kind of magic all its own.

So we had a good chat about how age makes you wake up at odd hours, and how, even if you crave sleep, you end up doing so little of it. (I told her it was age.)  We talked about our kids — which, we agreed, was one of the best accomplishments we can claim in our lifetime.  (Unfortunately, Pia beats me with 4 of her own against my unico hijo.)  And we traded light banter and then FB conked out on us and I had to go back to work.

Somewhere there, though, we talked about journaling.

I told her to just write whatever, whenever.  Journaling should be spontaneous.  The first thought, the first word, the feeling that comes to mind at that very moment.  That is the essence of capturing the moment in words just as you would want to do it with a picture.  I thought I’d come up with some journaling prompts for Pia as she starts this new journey.

1. There’s always a sticky, a tape receipt, a paper napkin handy where you can scribble the date, the time and place, and even a single word like “Thanks.”

2. Think of a happy memory.  Start with “Remember the time…”

3. Grab some words of wisdom.  They might not be your own, but the thought of wanting to share it with someone you love or care for makes it your gift.

4. Cut up a picture, or even a magazine ad or article that reminds you of something or someone and paste it onto the journal.

5. Even a simple “I love you” can fill a whole page with feelings.

Good luck on this new journey, P.  I have always believed you were a great writer — I have always worked hard to catch up with you but have never quite caught up.. =)   Take care, my dearest friend.