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..

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..

Looking back: 14 for 2014

2014Here’s a reprint of my list in 2014 with comments added on how I fared sans the preface.  I actually didn’t ever go back to this list during the year (which I hope won’t happen to my #ThingsToDoIn2015), but it’s refreshing to look back and chime in now that the year it was meant to be for has ended.

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it.

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

Done.  Although it took me a while to actually live it, I took these words to heart beginning the middle of the year when I would have normally just given up.  There were setbacks that would have ordinarily made me pull back, but instead, I reminded myself I WAS IMPORTANT, TOO.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it.

I have to work on this this year, as I barely got off the ground.  Hence, it’s making a come back in this year’s list of To Dos.

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order.

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

Work in progress!

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there.

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

There are many things that 2014 taught me, and while I had the best of intentions writing what I had written above, things turned out very differently.  And yet, as I mentioned in one of my year end posts, I have learned to give forgiveness — more for my benefit than the one forgiven — and it has been instrumental in helping me move forward.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise.

I had a moderate degree of success in this regard but I intend to keep working on it in 2015.

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop.

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

I tried.  I guess there were just too many distractions in 2014 that kept me from focusing clearly on things beyond myself, and I am hoping that having regained my footing at this point in time, 2015 will enable me to reboot the store.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record because this is the one “resolution” or “to do in the coming year” that has appeared year in and year out on my lists.  It has been frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to even get to a level of “can do” or “will do” but it is a forever wish to be able to just immerse myself in reading as much as I can.

I’m hoping the History courses and the required readings, some of which are good non-fiction and not necessarily textbook materials, will actually help me move on and accomplish reading the six books for 2015 I’ve set as a goal.

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013.

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

While I did a lot of personal art compared to 2013, 2014 saw a lot of “starts” that are still ongoing and will hopefully find fruition and conclusion in 2015.  This has been a true source of comfort and therapy, and I hope to continue with my altered book (now including 2015), and maybe even begin a new one sometime in the year.  I’m taking it a page at a time, and I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made.

Again, I say I’m not an artist.  I’m a crafter.  No pressure.  It’s all for my own self-expression.

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

While my Five things list has wallowed in limbo and has popped in and out throughout the year, I’m going to start a weekly reminder on my calendar to make sure I stop and write that list sometime during the week in 2015.  

I can, however, say I have made strides in being more thankful, even if my Thank You Postcard Project is still in the works.  I have made a pronounced effort to thank others directly by way of a note, an email, a text message (particularly during Thanksgiving), Instagram, a phone call, or a longhand letter when I can.  

And I don’t just say Thank you — I write a note explaining why I am saying thank you and what it means to me.  Sometimes it freaks people out, but I’d like to think I’m paying it forward.  I know how it is to be appreciated and acknowledged, and I’m hoping it spurs the ones I thank with the grace to thank others who make a difference in their lives in return.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

Done!

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

I tried raising money for my mother’s annual Christmas party for the poor folks in her hometown of Barangay San Vicente in Bulan, Sorsogon, but the effort came a little late.  I promise to do better in 2015.  However, I did send my contribution which was enough to cover the party and allow the children a decent holiday party.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew.

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

Done.  He did much better in the 2014 tests which was a relief, but I have fallen greatly behind in teaching him cursive writing.  (Project for 2015!)

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

I tried to do something towards the end of the year but my life has been constantly in flux.  I have put this on my 2015 list again and will hopefully be more successful and deliberate this coming year — actually accomplishing something.  Watch out for my updates so we can keep track together.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end.

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

I have tried and continue to try.. and will keep trying.  Sometimes we want to think that we can easily do something we so badly want, but our human nature intervenes and keeps us from doing just that.  But my faith has never waned, even when my heart was ready to throw the towel in.  It has kept me going through all the challenges I faced in 2014, and it is what I’m looking to to keep me moving forward this coming year.

———

So how did you do against your list, if you had one?

14 for 2014

14 in 2014Everyone is into making lists with the start of a new year upon us.  So here is mine.  I had written this down in one sitting in as spontaneous a way as possible in the order it occurred to me.

I like the way the list shaped up because it started with me, and ended with who should be the most important one to all of us.  Read on..

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it. 

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it. 

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order. 

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there. 

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise. 

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013. 

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew. 

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end. 

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

Just a little extra effort please

(Post drafted while on the bus home the previous night.)

I’m on my way home quite a bit before I usually do.  Parent-Teacher welcome tonight.

I rushed to the bus stop and actually caught a bus that had just closed its door but was still waiting for the light to go from red to green.  I knew he saw me running to his side, and I gently tapped on the door, but he ignored me.  I took a deep breath, stepped back and decided not to get all upset by it.  No sense in getting all riled up over something I couldn’t do anything about.  It’s just sad that sometimes, people don’t want to make nice.  So I waited for the next bus.

(Unbelievably, the heat is on in the bus.. airconditioning please!… looks like the driver heard me — cool air… finally!)

I have to admit I’m not always successful in going the extra mile when needed.  You know how sometimes you just don’t have the energy to expend the effort to wait a second more?  Or to bend down and pick up something?  Or when you rush past by when you could’ve slowed down a little… more so in years past.  These days, I try to give it a little more effort.  It’s often the little things that count in the course of your day.  And we find ourselves simply shrugging our shoulders and smiling when others don’t make the effort themselves.  I’d like to think that my giving it the effort will create some ripple effect.  Somewhere along the way, I’d like to believe I would’ve helped to make this world a kinder and better place.

Again, I am not always that successful.  Sometimes I give in to some evil thoughts lurking in my head about spreading chaos and cursing my (perceived) enemies or going on a monologue in my head just unloading what’s in my heart.  I try to stop myself when that happens because sometimes, it really gets to me.  It makes my heart tighten up and I get “distracted” and “derailed”.  And the feeling of my anger at myself creeps up from nowhere — and that makes me want to reach for my “happiness journal” for relief.

“Focus on the happy.”  I repeat that to myself over and over and over again.  And there are many things to be happy about. =)  (That thought literally made me smile.)

It just takes a little extra effort.  It doesn’t cost anything.

What a simple phone call can do

There are times when we want to be “there” for someone but cannot be there for one reason or another.  There are just instances when try as we might, we cannot accommodate a friend’s urgent request.  We try to accommodate but cannot, and on the other side, we try to understand.  Then there comes that one break where we are able to call, and that call makes all the difference.

I got such a call today which brought a flood of emotions out when it came.  It was both a relief and a semi-missed opportunity to reconnect and ask the questions I had meant to ask.  I somehow got caught between that feeling of being caught in the warm embrace of a friend and being shrugged off by someone you had meant to be one of the people you would find yourself running to in times of need.  But sometimes expectations and reality don’t meet.  That’s a lesson I learned the hard way the last couple of weeks.

I asked and I received.  Sometimes they say that the worst thing that could happen is that you be ignored or that you get a “no”.  Today, I got a “yes”.  Not quite the “yes” I wanted, but a yes nonetheless.

I am still kind of at a loss but grateful nonetheless.  I am trying not to expect anything beyond this gesture of kindness.  I have barely 36 hours left in Manila and I am hoping that I will find more gestures of kindness coming my way.

Tomorrow, perhaps.

Journey Home: Manila

I was still awake at 1am here in Manila earlier today..  clearly exhausted after being awake for 48 hrs straight, my body clock kept protesting against the lack of  sleep forcing my eye lids down.  My bestfriend, Fe, was snoring away not too far from where I sat when I began this post, getting ready for a hearing this morning.  Me, I sorted through the things I brought from New York.

I’m home.  Well, not literally yet, as we’re trying to orchestrate a surprise for Mom in Paterno.  Instead I looked out at a dark Makati skyline from one of the more prestigious hotels at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue courtesy of another dear friend, Elvie.  Even in the darkness,  Makati evokes so much emotion and memories in my heart for all the years I spent walking these streets — from the time when I was struggling in law school, to just before I left in 2000.  In the daylight now, I see Makati alive like I remember it.

It’s a very confusing and chaotic time in many respects not just for me but for my siblings as well.  I could see my sister’s relief as we sat together through dinner.   She had just about given up because things had reached a standstill.  With my arrival, she is hoping we can move towards a positive direction again.  I’m trying to stay positive.

I can’t wait to see my Mom’s reaction when she sees me.  She doesn’t know that I’m here already.  We’re trying to orchestrate things so I can deposit my things home somewhere she can’t see any trace of me being there, slip in to sleep tonight and have her wake up to me being there to greet her Happy birthday tomorrow.  Sometimes there are things you do just because you know it’ll make someone happy, and when it’s my Mom on that side of  “happy,” it makes it doubly special.

I mean to deliver the bigger gift if I can pull off what I want to negotiate on her behalf so she rest easy, sleep a little more peaceful at night, and perhaps lay one of her greatest fears to rest.  I’m gearing for that next week, and hope that again, I am able to do what I came home to do.

There are things that we are letting go of to be able to focus on what matters more to us.  For me, I needed to come home to try and give things one last try, and hopefully help them find a solution in this puzzle.  If things don’t work out as planned, at least we can say we did everything we could.  I’m thinking I was brought home for a reason, and I just need to work towards finding the solution with the optimism that it requires.

“Everything happens for a reason,” everyone says.  True.  As Fe said, everything coming into play and allowing me to find myself here in Manila at this time means it was meant to be.  I sure hope so.  One last try for Mom.. for the family.

Funny how just four weeks ago, I was shopping for things to send home through my courier in time for her birthday today.  Then two weeks ago, we thought it would be a good time to consider coming home, and last week, we got confirmation it would be better to do it sooner than later.  And today, I’m here in Manila.

Thanks for all the well-wishes…  At a time when I feel like things keep going south, it means a lot to me to get the support of so many who don’t even know me in person, and who have known me only through my words here.   Godwinks.  And it means all the more when I am not getting the same support from the people I expected it from.  I’m trying to be generous with trying to understand — some can only take care of one thing at a time, or one person at a time.  In the grand scheme of things, I have to remind myself to put myself  and my feelings in its proper place with respect to other’s feelings and priorities.  What might be important to me might be inconsequential to others.  Sometimes, it doesn’t help that people see me as a strong person.  When I am at my weakest, they fail to see I need help, too.  And we all have our ideas about how to best help our friends in need which aren’t always what is best in the final analysis.

On the other side of the picture, I have been blessed with many friends who go above and beyond when I am in a time of need.  I always remember to thank God for blessing me with their presence and their love.  Beyond my family — my boys and the siblings and Mom here — I feel myself rich beyond measure because I have all these angels around me.  But there are things and accommodations only certain people can give, and which sadly the generosity of others cannot compensate for.  Sometimes, just a little kindness and tenderness can mean all the difference at a time when all doors are closing.  Others don’t see it that way, though.

I am trying to let it go.  Try as I might, I cannot muster the anger despite the disappointment.  Kindness, like happiness, is a choice.  We can make our grief all about us or extend it to consider the grief of those around us.  And we might just discover that it doesn’t add to our burden, but rather being considerate of the pain or challenges that others are facing will give us the strength to face our own.  Sometimes we say we don’t have any expectations of our friends, but we get disappointed when they seem to forget the friendship that we thought bound us together.  So we back away and we say, we understand.  That’s what friends do — they don’t get mad, they don’t give in to anger, they take a deep breath and say “she’ll come around in time..”  Time, however, is not always on our side.

I have my work cut out for me.  I am starting on my mission with the singular thought that I’m doing it with a firm resolve to do what I came here for.  I have adhered to others’ advice and thought processes — this time, I’m doing what I want to do the way I want them done, and on my own terms.  At the end of the day, at least I can say I followed my instincts, I followed my heart.

Almost 10am and the sun is gloriously shining on Ayala Avenue.   New York must be windy and cold again.  For once, I don’t miss that.  I am actually looking forward to enjoying the polluted air of Manila.