Not quite on its journey yet

Random shots around New York CityI’m combing through the pictures in my memory card and came upon this which I had taken weeks back while in the car driving through the village. and I just felt compelled to put it up here.  For no reason at all. 

Friday is almost here.  Happiness.  Relief.  Another weekend.  The thought made me smile.

I’ve also been trying to get my JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY going by trying to decorate the pages of my composition notebook which is proving to be a challenge.  The pages are too “thin”.  So I’m probably going to have to create the journal from scratch yet again.  It’s been the most difficult part of journaling — choosing and getting the right journalI have written some people I’ve traded journals and done similar swaps with on Swap-bot and the feedback has been more than positive.  It has gotten me all the more excited.  I’m getting there. I was hoping to send the first journal to Manila this coming week, but it’ll probably have to wait another week or two more.  .Decorating my Journal on a Journey

I’m all set to go to Chicago next weekend for Cousin M’s wedding and I’m all excited. It’s just a weekend, and Angelo and I are flying to the windy city for the first time.

I managed to snag half the trip through miles and paid for the return.  Angelo’s flying on miles both ways, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed we can go first class both ways (doing that already on the first leg we’re flying on miles) but the return is full.  My date will be dapper in his suit and I found the perfect dress last week.  I’m actually more excited about going to the reception with him and dancing with him for real on the dance floor.  Lou and I have already made arrangements to meet up.  Unfortunately, it’s a very short trip so the only sightseeing on my list is the Pier.

A journal and a trip ahead… getting there.

A new journal project: JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY

I’m currently working on my One Sentence Journal for April, and I just realized that I had missed the sign up for the One Sentence Journal for May. (And to think I had such high hopes for doing this swap every month.)  So instead, I’m trying to find a private swap for May (for sending in June) and I’m already watching out for June (for sending in July).

Journal on a Journey: Composition NotebooksTwo swaps to go and I have to start thinking of the swaps I will sign up for next — IF I will sign up for any more.  I am working on launching a new journal project for which I am creating a page here on this blog.  I’m calling it JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY because the idea is to have a set of journals traveling around the world collecting journal entries from people from all walks of life.

I have enjoyed journal swaps immensely, whether they were a full journal with the 30 journal prompts that had me pouring out my heart and soul into those pages, or the Shared Journal Experiment where a group of people from Swap-bot.com circulate journals with prompts to a partner per round.  I’ve also created journals without any entries meant to be written on by my partner, in exchange for which I received a journal myself which is a real gem from kromo.

I guess you can also call it a journal experiment of sorts because I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all the journals somehow will make it back to me — and I wanted to see where my journals will end up in and what ends up in them.

As a result, I’m lying low on future swaps except for a very select few exchanges.  I want to see where this project goes.

I’m sending a journal (or two) to Manila as well to friends who I know will be excited to exchange these journals.   (The journal will be returned to a local address and my sister will send it back to me in New York)   Again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they eventually make their way back to me.

If your interest has been piqued at this point, please e-mail me at JournalOnAJourney@gmail.com with your mailing address.  I intend to start sending out these journals before May is out.  I just need a little time to create them and get them ready for sending.  It’s a free-form journal project, so don’t be afraid that it requires art journaling or craftwork — a simple journal entry that is hand-written or typed and pasted on the page is good, too.  At the same time, your journal entry may be a graphic or collage or picture that represents what you want to put in.  Each journal will have a set of very basic rules and suggestions with them which will stay true to the free-form intention of the project.

I’m pretty excited about this and hope that the people I write to request to join will be willing to help me out with this project.  I already have half a dozen friends in Manila I’m thinking of inviting to join me on this journey.  I hope they will all say yes.  Same goes for some swap friends I’ve made on Swap-bot.com.  I figure that even if only half the ladies I invite join, I’ll have a busy time circulating the journals around in the next couple of weeks.

Will you join my JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY project?  Send me that e-mail and sign up!

Love Language … Huh? (30 days of bloggins prompts 28)

This is one prompt that made me go “hmmmmmm” several times. Hmmmmmm, indeed.

So I went online and tried to google “LOVE LANGUAGE,” and while I am not certain I got it right, I landed on a page (www.5lovelanguages.com) where they had identified 5 love languages:

Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Receiving gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch

 I would have to pick Physical Touch as my love language, being a very tactile person and all who is not afraid to touch others.

No matter how I go to words to express what’s inside of me, and how easy it is for me to actually talk about my feelings, I express my fondness for others through touching.  I also like being held and touched in an affectionate way, because to me it is a deeper connection beyond just “knowing” or “hearing” about how someone else might care for me.  So I do the same and touch others to show them I care.

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.

Memories from my childhood (30 days of blogging prompts 20)

I’ve always considered myself to have been lucky to have had the childhood I had.  It was not a perfect childhood but I can say it was a happy one.  We were not really rich, but we were comfortably well-off.  Enough for my siblings and I to have gone to some of the best schools back home down to  college, and for us to count summers in Baguio and trips elsewhere among our fondest memories.  We never went on vacations overseas unlike our really rich peers — but we never really wanted for anything. 

For me to write and describe 3 significant memories from my childhood is not a difficult thing to do, but choosing only three is the tougher task, but let me try.

1.  When I was in kindergarten, we were invited to dance on Channel 5 after someone (presumably one of the parents in the audience) saw our group perform a dance to “Jesus Christ, Superstar” in school.  I remember dancing and being the “star” among around 10 dancers, so dear old Auntie Lydia dressed me differently to stand out.  Picture midriff (sp?) and shorts complete with bandana on the head.  (I’m trying to find a picture…)  My first taste of performing… which sort of gave me stage fright but which I really enjoyed.  Also my first taste of feeling like a “star” — which, thinking back now, did a lot to boost my self confidence, even as a child.

2.  Father – Daughter date: Ten Commandments.  I think this was when I was 7 — I just remember that Dad and I were the only ones who went because he thought my sister (then 5) and brother (then 3) were much too young to sit through the three-hour grown up movie.  We bought pears from a fruit vendor outside (my first time to taste them then…) and we sat there, just him and me.  Quite a departure from our usual family movie dates.  I liked those times dad and I went out on our own.  We did this a couple of times more  and each one was special.  It was  during those times I truly felt I was a Daddy’s girl.

3.  Summers spent in Baguio.  I cannot remember when we started going on long vacations in Baguio, but I would say it was probably when I was around 5.  Mom and Dad hauled us off to Baguio and left us there in the care of Auntie Lydia, returning during the weekends.  We would usually stay for three to six weeks, returning to Manila just before school begins. 

We went on picnics, spent nights huddled in bed sans the airconditioner, just enjoying the summer days before school began again. 

Not that I don’t have any jarring or mind-blowing memories but “significant” to me would mean something that meant a lot to me or had somehow laid the foundation for who I am today.

Window to my soul (30 days of blogging prompts 27)

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

My eyes.  Although they usually have huge eyebags under them, I think they are the most expressive part of my body and the one least susceptible to attack from my fatty cells.  (HA!)  I have also been fortunate to have had an actual crease in my lids although most Asians have straight eyelids.  (Difficult to describe but some people actually undergo plastic surgery for them to have the same effect.

End of story.  That was quite easy. =)

I’m on the homestretch of my 30 days of blogging prompts and can’t wait to send off my book.  I’m just adding the titles and tags and pictures to accompany the posts.  I’m hoping to start writing the last prompts tonight and finish tomorrow so I can wrap it all up.  I’m also almost done with my Book of Treasures.  I think I’ll take a break from the swaps for abit after this.

In My Memory – Five things I hope to be remembered by (30 days of blogging prompts 30)

I wish to be remembered as :

…a good mother.  75% of my life revolves around this one human being who has made such a huge difference in my life.  My anchor, my one big love, the reason I’m still around no matter what.  I hope when that day comes he will celebrate that special bond he and I share, and will continue to share until I breathe my last.  Funny, but sometimes as we fool around, he pretends like he’s been shot and in the throes of death and he will start closing his eyes and speak in a weak voice saying “Tell my mother I love her..”and he’d play dead.  Then open his eyes again and utter another line.  (He’s a funny boy, what can I say?) 

… someone who had a way with words.  Words have always been a precious means to express my thoughts and feelings and have been my solace and reward through the years.  Others do it with pictures, I do it with words.  I hope that someone will remember me for that when I am long gone, published or not.

…a good and loyal friend.  Some of my dearest friendships have been tested through time and others have succumbed to the age-old fact of “growing apart”.  I hope that my friends will be kind and remember the good and not the bad.. because for those who count as one of the few true friends I have, I have tried to chalk up more “good” than otherwise.

…someone who lived her life to the fullest.  Even now I encounter people who say “sana”.  (I am hard pressed to find a literal translation to this beyond “I wish I did..”)  I have my own “I wish I did..” lists which fall under the category of “what ifs” but I have found that “what-might-have-been”s are part of what is unreal — it’s a thought.. that’s all that is.  No sense in dwelling on thoughts when you have reality unfolding.  So I live my “now” the way I’d like to live it within the boundaries of what is possible and doable.  I tried to  break out of my boundaries and fell flat on my face — so lesson learned there.  There are always boundaries that we set or are set for us — but having those boundaries does not stop us from living life as we want to. 

I craft, I draw (even if I’m not an artist) and I try to express myself in words.  I write here on this blog with a shameless declaration that whatever I write here is meant for my own selfish benefit.  (I like seeing my words on print, for one.)  I tried.. I continue to try and I will die trying.

Life has been good to me.  I always try to appreciate the good instead of dwelling on the pain.  I remind myself every day that every morning I wake up is a new gift I must be thankful for.

…someone who was kind and who had a good heart.  I know that I am far from perfect — I have a bad temper, I can be really messy (always surrounded by creative chaos), very stubborn– I am human — but I’d like to believe that I try to live my life with the same tenets I’m trying to teach Angelo.  I hope that I’ll be remembered for having had A heart — and a good one at that.

My family and I — Then and now (30 days of blogging prompts 24)

Describe your family dynamic from your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

I grew up in a very close knit family, but both my parents were busy running a family business.  I was the eldest of three children born successively (1966, 1967 and 1969) so we were all playmates.  We were also room mates.  We did everything together even if my sister and I went to a private girls’ school, and my brother went to an all boys’ school.

DSCF1870We always ate our meals together and played with each other.  While our parents were busy, we were fortunate enough to have had a paternal aunt who was a former nun stay with us through most of our growing up years.  (Our Auntie Lydia was Sister Eduviges with the Oblates of Mary, and also makes an appearance in another list for this journal project as one of three people who have influenced me.)  She took care of making sure that our nannies fed us, bathed us and got us to bed on time.  She would help us with homework, read books to us and took us out on movie afternoons when Mom and Dad could not.

Despite being busy making a living, we had our routine of going to movies and dinner out on Fridays.  Saturdays were spent at home or roaming the shopping center (not quite the malls that sprouted in later years).  Sundays, we went to mass, then headed to lunch or dinner, depending on which mass we attended.  Religion was a focal point of our family life.  During the Rosary month of October, we would pray the rosary together (usually without my Dad, though, who would still be out of the house before dinnertime), and we could each lead prayers based on memory.

Filipino families are very conservative and the word of your parents was law.  We were not allowed to talk back, and we followed our parents wishes.  There were parents who did not spare the rod, so to speak, when called for.  We continued to be respectful even as we grew up, and there was always a healthy deference to authority even as the children became adults themselves.  In our culture, parents and children are never equal.  Parents were always a source of love and authority.

My mom would sometimes get the chance to actually take care of us herself, and she would scrub and bathe us in a way our nannies routines often paled in comparison to.  We had a cook but she would take to the kitchen for certain special dishes.  It was, however, not the norm.  As a couple, my parents had their marital spats, too, and one thing I was not appreciative of was that while they were never physically abusive towards each other, they did a lot of verbal tussling and would often involve having all three of us in front of them as an audience of sorts.

Birthdays were always an occasion to celebrate, and so was Christmas.  We held many parties in our home, inviting extended family.  My mother was painfully shy but was a great party host, making sure her table was overflowing with good food — not just regular dinner or lunch fare.  Christmas saw relatives and friends knocking on our door to partake of the christmas spread and to get their holiday gift which was usually some cash in an envelope.  My parents showed us that family always meant looking beyond just the five (and later 6) of us. 

Growing up, I was close to my mom, but we always had that Mom-Daughter dynamic where I was always obligated to follow her.  I have to admit that there was some resentment, but none of us rebelled against authority like some others who resorted to shennanigans with their peers, resorting to drinking and the usual dalliances with drugs and parties.  I grew up closer to my Aunt.  If I had a problem, I would go to my Aunt, not my Mom.

My current set up is very different because I am basically on my own taking care of home and family.  While both the hubby and I work in the city, we have pretty regular schedules that free up the weekend.  So work, in general, does not interfere with quality time with the family. 

Unlike my upbringing where I had Auntie Lydia and the nannies through the years, I am very hands-on with Angelo and housework for lack of househelp.  As a result, I get to interact with Angelo directly from the cuddling to the serious business of homework and life in general.  We have our weekend routines, too, which revolve around family.  We do our errands together, usually setting aside time to do our “own thing” during the weekdays more often than not.

I know that the disparity between the way we were as a family when I was growing up and the way I’m raising my family now is largely because of the locale where I was and where I am now.  It makes a big difference, though, in terms of how much closer I am to my son than I was to my parents.  I guess the absence of other parties beyond parent and child has helped me relate to Angelo in a deeper sense.  In a literal and figurative way, there’s just us.

I plan my schedule around when he needs me.  I’ve been invited to after-work drinks and sometimes girls’ night outs but have had to decline and rush home because Angelo was waiting.  I do my errands in the city during my lunch break so that I don’t have to spend an additional 20-30 minutes later in the day instead of hopping on the next bus to take me home.

As a parent, I try to instill the same healthy respect for authority in Angelo, and he is by nature, an obedient boy.  He is very good-natured and always mindful of not offending others.  Perhaps it’s also because I’ve reminded him time and time again that he needs to think of other people.  I try to instill in him a respect for others, and more importantly, a respect for his parents.  Sometimes he would kid me by saying he wants to be my friend — my response to that is simply I can be his friend but I’m going to stop taking care of him, making his meals, and being his Mom.  And without batting an eye, he’ll say he’d rather have me as his mom.

I try to define the roles in a positive but firm manner.  In that way, he knows that he has to obey what we say.  I am fortunate that he doesn’t talk back to us, and once he sees that my voice is starting to take on.

While I am not overly involved in school, I make it a point to be on top of his homework and school load.  My parents attended all events and caught my performances but homework was Auntie Lydia’s turf. 

I’d like to show my son what an extended family is, but beyond his paternal grandmother living with us, he is always a vacation away from his other (and favorite) grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins back in the Philippines.  That is one thing I wish I could give him — the feeling of being part of a bigger family.  To make up for this, I have tried to keep him connected with them back home.  In a sense it has made his interaction with them even more special.  He knows that he needs to cherish and make the most of time spent with them, because of the actual distance separating them.

I wouldn’t say my family dynamic then or our family dynamic now is better or preferred — they both had their pros and cons.  But I guess the fact that my siblings and I turned out to be responsible adults who cherish those memories and try to build on them for our own families now only goes to show that part of that remains with us and will be passed on to our children.

Wishful thinking to be great at something I’m not good at (30 days of blogging prompts 17)

I have to admit that this is one of the things I had a hard time arriving at an answer for, only because “great” got me stumped.  I wanted to think of something profound, and then it came to me clear as day after I had drafted around a half dozen posts for printing for this journal swap.

So what is the thing I most wished I were great at?  The key words for me here are “thing,” “wish,” and “great at”.

Drawing.  I may drift close to artistic, and crafty as a bee that I am, I so envy those who can draw faces and figures and grab a pencil and sketch as if they were drawing in a trance.  I wish.

I’m not killing myself over this though, because my lack of rendering skills has been more than compensated for by my skills in painting a picture with my words.  But one can dream…

Looking ahead.. 5 years, 10 years, 15 years… (30 days of blogging prompts 22)

Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

I don’t want to over think this post because it’s about the future.  Who knows what the future will bring?  Between last year and now, I have had quite a struggle getting from one point to the other and I really want to dwell more on the “now”.  One thing I have learned is that we can always dream about how the future will turn out, but in the end, much of it is out of our control.  The only thing that we can really control is how we react to whatever life throws our way, or what we make out of what we are given.

I always try to look forward with optimism, no matter what has happened or is happening in my life.  Optimism, as I had written, doesn’t necessarily mean that one is whole and unbroken or happy.  It is constantly looking forward and knowing and believing that things will get better.

I read from a young blogger’s space (Julienne) that she knows everything happens for a reason, but she wishes sometimes she knew what that reason was.  I want to tell her that the reason is not always that obvious, that in time, it will be revealed.  I believe that.  I also believe that if we have faith, we know that God will take care of us. 

My plans no longer go beyond a couple of months at a time.  I move forward as time passes.  Right now, the farthest I can see is the end of the year.  Trips planned.  Friends to see.  Milestones for Angelo.  It’s my birthday on Tuesday but I haven’t quite planned about that either beyond taking the day off and making a date with my little guy to go and spend time in the city, have lunch at the local Outback and the highlight of his trip to Manhattan: visit the mega Toys R’ Us in Times Square.

I’d like to think I’d live to a ripe old age and as I said, like Betty White, still have my head all straight even when I am old and gray.  But the truth of it is, we really don’t know what life has in store for us.  We all hope to live long and see our children grow old themselves, but my view of growing old has had a drastic overhaul given how life has snatched away a friend or two too soon.  At least I know I’m planning for at least until the end of the year.. living life a day at a time.

IN FIVE YEARS:

  • I’ll be 52 years old.
  • Angelo will be in high school
  • We’ll be preparing him for college.
  • I’d still be working (maybe for the same company or another company by then?)
  • I’d finally be able to string pearls.  (Still learning.)
  • I’d still be blogging.
  • I’d be better at my crafts.
  • I’d have a substantial inventory in my store and I’d be starting to think about retirement (in 10 years?)
  • I would have finished my 100 voices project. (and maybe a second installment?)

IN TEN YEARS

  • I’d be 57 years old (and hopefully still healthy and whole.. my family has a history of cancer.)
  • I might’ve opted for early retirement if I were still with the same company at age 55.  (Although I doubt it.)
  • I’d probably be working on an actual business besides work, preparing for retirement.
  • Angelo would be 19 years old and probably in college, hopefully still living with me.  (We’re trying to bribe him this early to stay at home.
  • I’d have finished a second installment of 100voices(this time of not-so-ordinary people).

IN FIFTEEN YEARS

  • I’d be 63 years old and hopefully still alive.
  • I’d be working a post-retirement part time job or be managing a full-time business.
  • Angelo would be 24 years old and either working or studying and completing a graduate degree.