So that was 2017

This is one of those posts that’s more for my benefit than for any reader out there, because it’s an annual self check I’ve been doing annually.

For the last couple of years, I had picked up the habit of writing a list of things as the year rolled out which I hoped to do in the coming 12 months. There were years I managed to go back to the list before the year ended, and at times the list just lay dormant. 2017 was one of the latter.

But I like keeping this lists in the hope of setting goals for myself for the rest of the year, and no matter how minimal my success has been, I like seeing how hard or how I hardly tried. It’s by no means a hard and fast goal as you will see in the progress report below. Reading it now, much of it will stay with 2018’s 18 things to do, with a few minor tweaks. There is always the hope that I will be able to have more success this go around.

1.  Read six books.  I want to beat myself up over this because I have the books, both electronic and hard copy. It’s really finding the time to read that stumps me. I am hoping that I can actually do more than my goal of six books this year.. let’s see.

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – Sydney in September. Last year, I had specified Boston as a destination, only to find myself flying all the way down under to Fiji to meet with my high school BFF, Donna, who also turned 50.  I met up with her and her family and we had a grand time just catching up and celebrating together.

Although I am planning a vacation with her again sometime end of the year, I’d like to make a simpler plan closer to home, but outside the immediate environs of New York.  So anywhere outside the tri-state area will do.  One trip, that’s all.  Keeping it simple and open ended like that is easier to aim for. I made it to Sydney in September and managed an overnight stay in Manila on the way and back. Other than that, I’ve stayed pretty local but looking forward to doing this when the weather starts improving. We are at below freezing temperatures as I write this!

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  I already know that I want to learn how to properly knit, and I am just trying to find the time to actually do this over at the Lion Brand Yarn Studios here in Manhattan.  I would also like to learn another language, but not have to pay for it.  (Yes, I’m being a cheapskate, but these classes can be expensive!)  And there’s the Intermediate sewing class which I skipped as the third installment of classes last year at MoodU over at Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan.  As you can see, my learning calendar is in pretty good shape, so it’s all a matter of really getting down to it. – This is one item where there was no movement at all so I guess it’ll have to be in 2018.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  Exercising.  What’s that again?  LOL  No more excuses, and hoping to give it more effort.  I had better luck with the weight control last year compared to the year before that, except that the trip to Fiji and all those full breakfast buffets made me gain 10 lbs.  The good news is I have a better grip on the weight loss effort, so I’ve been able to lose the weight.  The downside is, I have failed to break my plateau (which is top secret!) and I am hoping that I finally get to do that in 2017. This is a work in progress.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  A New Yorker for almost 17 years now and yet I cannot boast of being a Central Park regular all year round.  And note that I have always worked within walking distance of the park, although it’s a good 20-25 minutes away from my Midtown perch.  I keep missing Spring when it’s supposed to be the second most colorful season of the year.  To some, it actually IS the most colorful, but I am a fan of fall.  I have done winter two years ago, and although it was at the tail end of the season, it actually snowed.  I am a regular in the fall, and one summer, I couldn’t go beyond the periphery because it was too hot, but I WAS there.  I have been wanting to do Spring all these years — maybe this year, finally. – I always see the edge of Central Park from Avenue of the Americas but sadly will have to admit that I visited the park only once, towards fall, when my friend Lynda visited from PA. I have been tempted to go as the temperatures dropped, but alas, I failed. another one making it to the 2018 list!

6. Crafting reboot.  Crafting calendar.  This is one area where I am having quite the jumpstart with me sorting out my supplies and actually creating new designs.

I have been crocheting winter accessories since late last year and have so far NOT bought a single piece.  All my hats and scarves and now fingerless gloves are my own handmade creations. The leather gloves and fabric scarves are all from last season.  I haven’t even used my blanket scarf yet.

I have been rediscovering my beads and freshwater pearls and am having such a spike in creativity.  Hopefully, this will translate to items for posting in the shop.- While I didn’t do too well with following my craft calendar, I have been able to work on reorganizing my materials and continuing with the crafting . My shop has been an area of focus and I’ve been seeing an uptick in sales compared to the long lulls between sales in previous years. I hope to continue to pick up the pace and get more crafts done.

7. Destash more systematically. It has always been difficult for me to throw things away, so last year, I came up with the idea of destashing by giving away things I no longer use.

I’ve set aside a box where I will put away the things that I want to give away and label them accordingly.  To make it a conscious effort as well, I am going to record what I actually give away.  I’m going by the simple rule of thumb that if I  hadn’t used or touched something for a year, I will find someone who can make better use of it. I think I did quite well in this area and I’m hoping to continue in 2018. Yes, even if parting can be heavy literally. I’ve managed to set aside old kitchenware that I don’t and won’t use, as well as other things I think others can make use of.

8. Finish the Gift of 50 and begin the Gift of 51.  Sometime before I turned 50 in April, I wrote about doing 50 good deeds.  I have to sit down and list what I have already done so far, and while most will be repetitions (like literal gifts in the name of #GiftOf50), I have certain tasks to complete which I hope I can help to complete it.  And of course, I turn 51 this April.  Hence, the next list. – The gift of 50 was a huge success but the 51 part sort of stagnated. I am reworking this for 52.

I want to be able to do more as. I get older and be more deliberate about it, rather than just keeping a rule of thumb of being kind to others.  Kindness is an abstract concept that we need to see more concretely.

9.  Write more.  

For starters, I want to set a goal of posting once a week in the blogs.   (Which is principally this one and my craft blog.) – I have to work on this one, more so since my blogging has been severely curtailed because I can now blog only via my smartphone. I was absent from this space for over a month towards the end of the year so I need to work out my editorial calendar.

Work on my other social networking accounts by doing scheduled posts at least once a week.  – I have redistributed my focus and have had better success with this one in 2017. I just have to keep at it.

Resume my handwritten projects.   2016 came and went with nary a post in my art journal which caught me by surprise when I opened it to begin writing again.  It never even occurred to me that I had not written anything there at all.  I have to admit that I am one of those people who still prefer to write things long hand.  While typing things out allows me to keep pace with transcribing my thoughts as they race through my mind — there is a different creativity spurred by the literal written word.  One thing I hope to do is carry tiny notebooks made from scratch paper that I can pull out of my bag and write on wherever and whenever the inspiration hits me.  I tried it with post its and it didn’t quite work. – No art journal for 2017! Horrors! I think I spent too much time trying to make up my mind about the form. I think I will go back to simple doodles this time.

Bestie Dino also suggested that if I meant to write my book (an ambitious project that has been burning in my being for ages now..), I should keep my handwritten drafts.  So keep them, I will.  That’s why I’m trying to keep the scratch notebooks a decent size so I can eventually compile them into bound material that I can keep for posterity. – Again, form. More on this in 2018.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  – That means 12 pieces for the year.. easily doable!  I might even start something here or on my Instagram account with #GothamChickOnSnailMail. – I think I will fulfill this quota for 2017 and 2018 together by first quarter of 2018. I didn’t really write much but have a couple to do now..

11. Finish my art journal, begin a new one. –  Like I said, I was surprised and saddened to see that I had NOT written anything in 2016.  – I am definitely starting a new one in 2018.

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  I have friends who constantly tell me about new places to try and visit… I keep hearing about things to do or goods to sample.  I have a separate account on Instagram under the banner of @GothamChickShopper which I had put up specifically to make product recommendations and all that.  A blog exists somewhere under a similar banner inmy main account, but I really haven’t done much.  (Writing here has been such an effort as it is, so I thought Instagram would be easier to maintain.).

But we keep wanting to do all these things without even really trying and suddenly, we find ourselves losing time and we end up with the “want” being just an “afterthought”.   I want to have more of the “done that” instead. – @GothamChickShopper got off the ground but still needs work. Getting there.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  I am a postcard collector and I’d like to think I take good photographs.  Of course I’m biased.. but one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to actually be able to make my own postcards — as in printed and not handmade — as a means of taking my postcard collecting a step up. -one for 2018

14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I have always had a love affair with lighthouses, and not only in postcards as one of my collecting interests.  There was a time when I took vacations when we would seek out lighthouses in the area and actually visit them.  I don’t remember now when the last time was that I saw one or visited one, so I think it would be nice to actually aim to visit one this year.

I have visited the famed Montauk lighthouse many times, but there are several near me I can actually aim to see in person soon.  This should be one of the simpler ones. – Success! I actually visited 2 in Wollongong, Sydney.. happiness!!!
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15.  Encode my poetry.  I started writing poetry at age 7, and I have surprisingly been able to keep the scraps of paper and assortment of notebooks and journals I had written them on.  I even brought them here to New York during one of my trips returning for a vacation in Manila.  They show the evolution of my penmanship, the maturing of my inner voice, and the change in writing style and depth.  From pencil scribblings to typewritten compilations, I have them tucked away.

Encoding them into a private website or maybe even a public one will take time, but I want to start doing that this year.- I am proud to report that I have actually started with this and what’s more, I’ve started writing poetry again..

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts.   A blog friend recently left a comment after visiting and was so surprised that I was still writing.  We have never met but used to be part of an unofficial community of Filipinos who blog at a personal level.  I enjoyed reading about their hobbies, life events, and day-to-day rants and raves.  It was all about the writer writing what he or she wanted.  I found out he’s reviving his blog which makes me happy– and I look forward to that and more.. but that’s another post. – will try harder!!

17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  This is a very personal cause close to my heart, because it is a cause my mother has pursued time and again.  She hails from a small town in Bulan, Sorsogon in the beautiful southern province of Bicol.  She was born and raised there but had to leave early on to work and help support the education of her two younger brothers.

I had the chance to visit several times in my youth, but I haven’t back in ages.  She now lives there and has built a modest home I hope to one day visit.  Every year, she would throw a simple party for the children and try and get them a new outfit for Christmas.  This can be a hundred or so children of different ages.  For many, it is the only time that they get to attend a party where they eat some spaghetti and a ham sandwich, and maybe some candy in a loot bag.  When she was still earning, these parties were funded from out of her own pocket.  These days, she solicits (mostly from us, her children) and still comes up with a simple celebration, although she has missed the last two Christmases.  Maybe this year, we can bring it back. – This is still on my list and I hope to do a good one for 2018.

Looking back

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I am constantly going through my things, sifting through what I can give away, throw away, or keep.  There are always bits and pieces that somehow surprise me with a memory or a longer peek into “what used to be”.  Being very sentimental by nature, I used to find it hard to just discard or throw away things, even long after they have served their purpose in my life, or if their meaning has changed through time or by virtue of circumstance.  Letting go has never been easy for me, but several life altering  shifts that took place in the last couple of years have caused me to just do that more easily.

I am still not quite as adept at it as someone I know who will not think twice about throwing something that seems useless or nondescript.  I’ve seen pieces of projects and parts of other things go missing, only to find out later it was mistakenly thrown away.

But there are things that we need to get rid of or shed as we go through life.  Just as we shed people, we must shed things.  There just tends to be too much at some point in time and we must unburden ourselves of that load.  I am doing just that.

So I was actually looking for something else when I spied this notebook that I had used as a journal sometime in 2013, tucked somewhere in my room where I had meant to keep it hidden.  I didn’t forget about it, but I just didn’t feel the urge to write in it.  It was one of the “What do I really, really, really want?” journals.  Like millions of others who read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I had followed her speeches and writings and picked up this prompt to help me focus on getting some clarity at a time when I felt I was “floating” needlessly.

I have at least two of these journals, the first one, definitely ended.  I was just hoping to read through the main response, not the journal entries themselves, and maybe make a visual summary of the answers I wrote down — but that idea got shot down once I realized where I was heading at the time I wrote that in 2012.  Not worth it.  Between then and now, I not only did a complete 360, but I had jumped from one universe to another.  Still, I thought, it would be helpful to be reminded of my state of mind and heart back then, if only to go back to the lessons I learned from that experience.  Once I’m done “being reminded”, that one will be shredded and gotten rid of in full.

The main idea is to ask yourself the question — and yes, you do ask “really” three times for emphasis — and then write about the first thing that comes to mind.  And as the days go, you can go back to your answers to get a picture of what it is that you have been writing in answer to the question.  After doing two books and here about to go on a third, I have discovered it DOES work for me.  (But that’s just me.)

This second book that I have, I had written on intermittently during one of the most volatile periods in my adult life.  In many ways, it got me to where I am now.  It made me who I am now.  So this one, I believe, is worth doing a visual summary for, and maybe even worth keeping.  I haven’t quite started reading yet as I just stumbled upon the book this morning, but you can see it has sparked a different kind of inspiration within.

I have leafed through the first 5 or 6 entries to start the visual summary.  I haven’t even read the actual entries and I could hear my inner voice screaming what I wanted, and I am relieved I had actually gotten myself to get it done.  It’s a very personal reveal that I’d rather keep to myself, but suffice it to say, even without reading back, writing those thoughts and sentiments made them a reality for me.  I think I got, and am on my way to getting, that which I really, really, really want.

 

Monday Musings – Give me some sunshine

I will overcome: word art on Kraft paper from an art journal entry a year ago. #wordart #artjournaleveryday #artjournal #laseronkraftpaper #kraftscrap #personalart #iwillovercome #determinationBack to the art journaling.  I have been slow with the journaling and started writing entries for the previous week only last night.  After I had finished for the evening, I went over the earlier pages and found myself at this entry I put in a year ago.  (And yes, the second word was broken up into two just to make it fit into a square word art.  I can spell.)

At the time, it was the inner me trying to push myself to go on in the midst of all the challenges that I was trying to cope with.  I felt like I was drowning in anger and pain and I didn’t know which way to go to make myself feel balanced again.  I was having palpitations that were so strong they made me cough — I would sometimes be walking and angry thoughts would overtake my heart and I would be filled with such rage I often found myself on the verge of tears.

I was at the lowest of lows that I told myself I will never say anything was the worst, because the worst might be yet to come.

Did I succeed and pull myself out of my lowest of lows?  I think I did overcome — and I managed to get back on my feet again.  A lot has changed.  A lot in me has changed.  I found me again.

The head strong, confident and practical minded me is back.  Less angry, not as easily hurt, and more focused.  It was a long journey, and I’m still on that journey — but I’ve come very far from where I was a year ago.  Yes, I did.

No one told me about the science projects being part of motherhood.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m used to this — I used to have my brother, Nikki, sit in front of me while I did those projects.  Then when everything had been submitted, I would ask with pride — “What grade did I get?”  I am trying not to be as lenient with Angelo now, so we are doing the projects together.  Science projects can be quite the task to complete even when you are just supervising.

I was told this ends here.. I hope.  Or maybe not.  The project has been finished finally… now Mom can breathe a sigh of relief.

Another freezing week in New York City.  When are we going to see spring?  We didn’t quite get as much snow as last year’s, but the termperatures have been brutally cold.  For the first time in my 15 years here, I saw 1 degree.  I almost turned into a popsicle.  The good thing was, double leggings and double and triple sweaters did the trick.  And I was careful not to breathe in the freezing air except through my infinity scarf.  That helped.. a bit.

So the week has started.  It’s been good — so far.  I’m trying to take things a day at a time.  Monday has been good so far.

Icy Hudson! Yes, it is THAT cold.. #winter #iceontheriver #hudsonriver #winter #winterinnewyork #cold