Two months hence

I am not going to apologize nor make excuses.  Writing has been both natural and a struggle for me of late.  I often find myself thinking of new posts — of words forming sentences that could possibly be a coherent entry here — and then I fall short of actually opening a draft post and nothing is accomplished.

I have been rather busy, though.  I just came from a two week trip home — twofold in that sense, since I went to Manila and visited Bicol, home of the majestic Mount Mayon, and I also spent a few days with bestie Donna down under.

So many stories waiting to be written and told.  I actually am at a loss as to where to begin.  Rather than organize everything in an orderly fashion, I think I have a better chance of getting something done by writing as I always do — spontaneously.
Mayon volcanoWe had arrived with high hopes of capturing this beauty, but there were low lying clouds that obstructed the view.  Believe it or not, the above was taken on a moving plane as we took off for the return flight to Manila.  Yet another story waiting to be written.

It’s now two weeks since I got back, and the jetlag has eased up a bit, but I am still in “Manila” mode.  You know that moment after you return from vacation when you find yourself  drifting off to where you just came back from — and then you are jolted awake from the daydreaming by the realization you are back where you usually are.  Not really a bad place to be for me, but there’s that tiny part in my heart that wishes I could have a day or two or three more.  There’s always that longing to stay, even when you know you really have to get back home.  The real home where work and life awaits.  And so you leave and say your goodbyes.

I just let out an audible sigh.  My own words are getting to me.  Ha!

This trip was different for many reasons, and the new things I learned about myself and my family continue to resonate with me as I find myself moving in my normal again.  I’m typing away, biding my time as I wait for the bus to come, seeing a silhouette of the Empire State Building outside my perch on the 56th floor.  But my heart is 10,000 miles away, thinking how Manila is waking up to a brand new Saturday morn.

It was a good trip.  Although I have a long list of things I had hoped to do and didn’t get to do, my two weeks should stave off the longing for another long break for a couple of months more at least.
CagsawaI’m already planning my next vacation, but at the same time, trying to put this journey and its memories and souvenirs in order.  I haven’t even gone through all the goodies that I am savoring post-Manila and Sydney!

It was good to be in my happy place.   And yes, I long to come back sometime soon — but for now, I have enough memories and happy thoughts to last me until I return.  So I bask in the joy and the bliss of knowing I have my happy place tucked here in my heart.  I have the pictures that will take me there again.  I have the memory of the laughter and the warm hugs and yes, even the not so pleasant memories bring me back to happy eventually.

My heart is full.
The Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters

Journey to “Happy” – You made my day

This snapshot warms my heart as I remember walking this path one cold winter day not too long ago.  Sometimes something so ordinary can bring back a happy memory and it takes you to a happy place tucked somewhere in your heart. a happy thought, a happy plI’ve been meaning to write here the last 10 days.  I’ve been in and out of the site and the app.  I’ve been working on drafts (emphasis on “s”), but it’s just a tad difficult to get a coherent post out.  Or finish one.  Maybe it’s because it’s been soooooo cold in NYC of late that my brain is experiencing a literal “brain freeze”.  (Heaven forbid!  My dream is to grow old like Betty White and still be coherent, alert and still sexy in her 90s..)

I really don’t know how I can be writing here with a splitting headache — and maybe it’s just me trying to will the meds to finally kick in even on my second dose.  But maybe the subject matter will cause my endorphins to outwit the pain racking my head right now and instead bring me to a state of zen.  (Hoping.)

I’ve recently revised my Instagram profile to read:

Dinna. Filipina New Yorker. Passionate about motherhood, life, crafting and creativity.  On a journey to “Happy”.  On Flickr: PinayNewYorker. (emphasis supplied)

Like most people, sometimes I fall prey to the common misconception that “happiness” or “being happy” is always associated with something “big” or “pronounced” — and not “random”, which is usually how we come across this elusive “want” or “need”.  I’ve learned that sometimes all it takes is a simple act, whether to acknowledge a moment of “happy”, or to extend some kindness to another to make them smile.  And isn’t that what “happy” is all about?

That’s why I try to make it a point to say “Good morning” to the people manning the reception desks, whether they are from my company or not.  If I know them by name, I make it a point to greet them.  If I’m otherwise rushing to the second set of elevators taking me to my perch, I try to at least wave and mouth a “hello” or “good morning” to let them know people do notice them, even if the majority do not give a care.  Or I smile as a faint sign of acknowledgment when I meet strangers who take the effort to get out of my way when they see I’m trying to walk past.  Or when someone is wearing something particularly striking, that I mention how I love that magenta coat this stranger is wearing in the building lobby — or those fierce heels that the lady in the elevator in front of me happens to be wearing.  (Shoe love, BFF Fe!)

It doesn’t take much, but it can mean a lot to the person on the receiving end.

It can simply be a genuine smile that lets the other person read the message “I see you, and I like what I see.”  Or a nod of approval or smile that says “You’re awesome!”

The other day, a very elegant and sophisticated lady I work with gave me just that — a bit of kindness and she really made my day.  I’ve known her for as long as I’ve had this boss — three years now — and she always struck me as very well put together.  A stunningly tall African American lady who carried herself with aplomb, every inch the fashionista — and she knew how to pull even the simplest outfit into a real fashion statement.  After all, she was an interior designer by profession — and if you didn’t know what she did for a living, you’d think she was a supermodel.  Her taste for art and fashion were both impeccable.  This was one lady who knew beauty with a capital B-E-A-U-T-Y and she radiated it with a genuine smile every time.

I hadn’t seen her for a couple of months as she shuttles from state to state where there are ongoing projects for the company, and last Wednesday, I bumped into her in this long corridor that guests would go into on their way to the floor proper.  Even from afar, she lit up and exclaimed “You’re looking fabulous!” .. She and I met in the middle and hugged.  I was just happy to see her.. we did small talk and she had to usher her guests in.  I was on the way to do something else.  It was nice to see her again.  I told her she looked fab herself, but she always did!

I went about my day the usual way and on my way home, I did a refresh of the work email app, and there was this one e-mail that caught my attention from this same lady.

Subject matter: YOU…

Body: LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

A giant smile formed on my face.  She didn’t have to, and that she did, meant a lot.  That it was her who said it, meant a lot.  It was as if she had hugged me even tighter this time.  I wrote her a sincere thank you and told her she had made my day..

The next morning, I received a very short but sweet email from another friend which was a very sweet Good morning, wishing me well.. simply like that.  And that, too, made my day.

We all get these little nudges from everywhere around us, but we often fail to stop to recognize them as bits of happy — baby steps or giant leaps to that elusive place we’re all trying to find ourselves in.  Sometimes, you’re already there and you just fail to know it because you’re looking for that one huge dollop of “happy” that will take your breath away.  It isn’t always like that.

I’ve learned to embrace those ‘gifts’ that come each passing day and cherish them for what they are, letting them enrich me even just that one moment — and sometimes, in a more lasting way.  I remind myself I’m in a good place, and happy can be “here” and “right now”.  Being on the receiving end of those ‘gifts’ makes me want to give just as generously to others.  Sometimes, we don’t realize something so routine or simple or non-remarkable act can make someone else’s day and take them to a happy place, even just for a brief moment.

You made my day.

Be kind.  Be happy.  It all comes back to you.  Happy Friday, everyone..

A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.

As random as it gets

I was sitting here ready to write anything that comes to mind — yes, after waking up again at 4:30am — but then I got pinged on Facebook by an old, old, old friend from more than 20 years ago.  (Kristhel, it HAS been that long.)

Back then, she was interning at the advertising agency I was working at while I was in law school, and we had developed a special bond and I took her under my wing.  I am always blown away by how some people who have slipped out of our lives suddenly pop back up from out of the blue, thanks to all the technology and social media today.  For that, I am happy.

I try not to troll FB too much these days.  I’m usually online to upload something, respond to a message (rarely) or to send one.  The friend list needs to be trimmed, but how do you choose who to follow or unfollow?  So I miss most of the updates except when they come up on my feed just as I log on.  (Millet, did my pony get there yet? LOL)  There are only a number of people whose feeds I actually seek out apart from my siblings who usually tag me to alert me to what’s newly uploaded.  But when a message from friends like Kristhel pop up, I find myself grateful that there’s Facebook.  (Don’t forget to click on those “other” messages from people not on your friend list!)

Even on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest, I rarely click the “Follow” button.  I’m not being a snob… my presence online, more so here, is for very selfish reasons.  I’m keeping an online journal for my own benefit. =)

Someone I met yesterday asked me what I blog about.. myself, I said. LOL.. some might term that as being “self-absorbed” but that’s the whole truth.  Some people write for an audience. I write for me, myself and I.  And maybe someone stumbling into my corner of the web might find something amusing or entertaining, or maybe once in a blue moon, even helpful.

For Kristhel, read up and get caught up on what’s been happening in my life.. but please, please drop the “Ma’am.”  Your son is older than mine!

We were both so excited to have found each other — and I am grateful to the universe for bringing her my way again.  These days, I’m grateful for every reason the world gives me to smile.  And I do smile — happy thoughts are supposed to be indulged in and savored and relived over and over again, given the heartbreak and the disenchantment around us.  It doesn’t have to be a giddy-happy smile — even an ever so slight curve of the lip will do.

So Kristhel is this morning’s happy thought.  I’m so glad I went online on FB to send BFF Fe a message.  (My iPhone is still on order so no viber, just yet.)  She goes into that bucket in my heart that has my happy thoughts about elevators, my red nails, my favorite pair of heels, my little tyke, and all those things that bring me to a happy place.