When you don’t make it

I had been checking the net for the 2018 Bar results almost daily for all of April, in anticipation of happy news because of a dear friend of mine who took the Philippine Bar exams in November. This is a friend who has stood by me through thick and thin, and whose resilience and industry inspired me and continues to inspire me.

We met back in college in UP Manila and we became fast friends. We even had pet names for each other and were literally like brother and sister. We were so close and terribly fond of each other that his girlfriend then (who is his wife now) sometimes got jealous of how close we were. Then and even now, we remain to be close at heart even if we practically see each other once a year if I’m lucky– and we greet each other for our birthdays because it falls on the same month. Not quite right after mine like our mutual bestie, but still within. We have a lifetime of stories to tell between us.

Although he entered law school ahead of me, he started working soon after and became a casualty of the dreaded quality percentile index or QPI requirement of the Ateneo School of Law. I knew it wasn’t for lack of smarts, because even in college, he was one of the smartest persons I knew. He didn’t have the Manila private school pedigree of most of us, having grown up in the province, but he could hold his own in the August halls of the state university.

He chose to focus on his career which led to many trials and tribulations, but in time, he rose through the ranks.

Perhaps it was the fact that his children were now about to or had gone to college, or that life, in general, finally slowed down enough for him to return to his pursuit of the law, but he went back to school and finished, then enrolled for the bar review. He had the fire in him and I had complete faith in him. Developments at work allowed him more flexibility to devote time and effort to the review, and I know I was one among many praying for him.

On the evening (here in New York) when the results came out earlier in the day in Manila, I had gone out with some friends and had turned in rather late. The lights were out and I was already in bed making my way to la-la land when it hit me that I had not checked for the results. And I saw that the list was there.. I scoured the alphabetized list and hit the letter of my friend’s last name. I looked again.. and again.. but his name wasn’t there.

My heart sank.

I reached out to our mutual bestie to be sure I wasn’t wrong and I asked him how our friend was doing. I was eager to reach out but was afraid that doing so might hurt more.  This is one of those times when you have to be mindful of the effect of what you say or do to someone going through something.

We finally connected.  He says he is taking it again.  I told him we will pray harder.

I have been deeply saddened knowing how he had wanted this so badly. I know how it feels wanting it — but I was fortunate enough to have gotten it with only one try. I don’t know why I’ve been so emotional about this whole thing, as I find myself being enveloped by mixed feelings.

While I am deeply saddened by his inability to make it, I am also being swept up with this sudden, albeit much delayed, realization of how truly fortunate I was to have made it when I took that leap of faith many moons ago. This was one of those long ago life events that impacted me back then in a different way — and is making me look back with a deeper sense of appreciation so many years later.

I never took it lightly and looked upon that achievement as just run-of-the-mill or just another step forward. It was not something I ever deemed inevitable. It was a big prize I had coveted most of my young adult life. When I bagged it, I knew, even way back then, that it was mostly luck that I managed to achieve what I did: pass the bar on my first attempt, with hardly a structured review. It was, literally, a leap of faith.

It is a humbling thought that once more reaffirms my belief that a higher power is watching over me. While I never took that achievement of passing the Bar with a cursory review and with pure faith in luck and the power of prayer lightly, I have never put that much stock in having done it. To me, the stars just fell into place and that was that. I humbly accepted that it was nothing quite that special beyond the fact that I got some help from above. Looking at it now, though, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of it as against the loss I feel for my friend.

I am grateful. I always will be. I was blessed then, and I am blessed now. Many years later, that achievement and that gift has been given to me yet again, in a different form. I have been reminded.

Like always, we move on. I pray for him. For all those who suffered the disappointment of not having passed this bar examination. There will be another time.

Good luck, Toks…

The Pinay New Yorker passed the Philippine Bar in 1995 when the passing average was 30.28% with 967 passers making it out of 3,194 examines. This year’s passing average was 25.5% with 1,724 passing out of the 6,748 who took it.
More posts like this one on trying to become a lawyer or thinking of being one can be found in the Lawyer Wannabe tab on the header menu.

Advertisements

Preloved and parting

I am a self-confessed pack rat, and I’m trying to change that.  It’s not only a move to get more organized, but I’m at that juncture in my life where I find myself having to reevaluate what I want to keep and let go.

Being in the process of a major life change, I have made up my mind to change as much of what I can to start afresh, and keep only that which is essential to the real me.  So much has happened in the last 3 years (going on 4) that I find a physical need to actually change my surroundings to get rid of the old and move forward.

Some of it is a necessity being that I have changed sizes in the last couple of years, and it doesn’t pay to wear something that looks frumpy even if you have only worn it a couple of times.  It’s time to make room for the new, beginning with my closet.

I used to be the type who would keep something even if in an obviously bigger size because I told myself, it fits– why get rid of something I can wear?  But coming across the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” which wouldn’t work for me, I was reminded of how I had so many pieces I hadn’t worn or touched in some time.  They have been relegated to the darkest corner of my tiny closet, collecting dust, unworn.  While I am nowhere near paring my wardrobe down to 37 or so pieces (I have a dozen skirts at least, for one!)– I recognize a need to declutter and find a new home for those pieces that are still wearable, just not by me.

During my trips home to Manila last year, I took the bigger clothes and left them for others.  My luggage came back with outfits in my current size and style.  I send a balikbayan box home occasionally and have already sent more, but I haven’t really systematically gone through what’s left here with me.

They said the rule should be to sort between keeping and giving away.  Generally, anything you hadn’t worn in a year should go — whether they are too big or too small.  I have read that keeping something in the hopes of “shrinking” back into a size that’ll see it fitting you again isn’t being realistic, unless you are already just a teeny weeny bit away from being able to wear it again.  I have a couple of those I keep because of the brand or the original cost of the item.  They went into the “giveaway” box this time.

Obviously, there are the pieces that have just gone out of style.  The thing is, what might not be fashionable here might be wearable back home, so I folded those suits and made sure to pack them in a plastic bag with the matching trousers.  There are t-shirts that have some sentimental value or other — such as shirts from the companies I had worked for in Manila which I wear to bed during the colder months.  Even those have gone into the donation box.   In the summer, I wear cotton nightgowns from the tiangge in Greenhills which also need to be sorted.

I must say the act of actually putting any piece in the “to give away” box has been a source of relief– as if I was “shedding” or saying goodbye to an older, former version of me.

I wore this loose fitting shirt over the weekend which I bought the summer before last.  It was a size bigger than what I wear now from that particular store.  It still looked good on me but it hung very loosely over my frame, like one of those shirts that was good to hide under.  If I could get that same shirt in the smaller size now, I would get it, and if they had it in a different print even back then, I would’ve gotten it.  But it is way too big now.

So I put it with this weekend’s laundry and washed it, and as I was straightening it up after drying, I made a decision to say goodbye to it.  Instead of hanging it back in my closet, I folded it and put it in my giveaway bin.  Another preloved piece which I know can make someone else feel as good and comfy as it did me.  Taking it out of my closet signified a commitment to stay healthy and be healthier, and not giving myself the out to slide back and gain weight again.  It was also an acceptance of the me that I am now — more confident and comfortable in my own skin, hitting the age of 50.

I wish it was easier to sort through everything and make the decision to let something go.  I tend to be very emotional about what I have and own.  There is always that thought at the back of my head that I might regret the decision later, forcing me to take the safer choice to just keep it — “just in case.”  I used to tell myself, “(but) I might want to wear that sometime some place.”.. or “I might lose enough weight to fit into that again.. ”  (Which has never really happened because I planned it.. but rather because I lost weight with other things in mind.)

This time, though, I’m determined to shed as much as I can — to make room for an even better and healthier me.  Four suits packed, so many shirts and pants set aside.  Parting can be difficult but can be a literal sigh of relief.. It actually is a very tangible unburdening that can help one to focus on letting things go.  Parting this time, is nothing sorrowful — but on the contrary is literally sweet joy.

Breakfast, etc.

Breakfast etcI had intended to take a picture of today’s breakfast treat to accompany this post, but it disappeared before I could.  I cooked up some Spanish chocolate and dunked ssome slices of Edam cheese.  Yum!  Not quite the quezo de bola that would have made for the perfect pairing, but when in New York, you make do.  I simmered the chocolate “coins” and stirred in a teaspoon of butter (to keep it from boiling over) and let it stay on the lowest setting to make sure it was all cooked through.  This is yet another one of my weird eating habits because most people wouldn’t combine the two in a cup.  I get the chocolate to near-boiling, and then I drop the slices of cheese into a cup of this sinful beverage.  I let it sit long enough for the cheese to soften (or melt, as was the case with this very soft Edam), and I scoop the cheese out with a spoon to eat with my bread of choice.  Today, it was just simple potato bread dinner rolls.

I really should pay a visit to the Filipino store in Woodside to check if they have the Marca Pina queso de bola available already.

The weekend has been quiet and uneventful, and I’m hoping to get more done today.  I’m just staying put at home.  I had offered Peter brunch in the city, but he begged off.  Perhaps it’s all for the best just so I can get more tidying up done.  One cabinet at a time.

I found the cake decor on Angelo’s first birthday cake when we did a Sesame Street theme, and while I had Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo originally, one of my guests took Elmo and I was powerless to take it back.  (A special child of the ex sister-in-law… I do have a heart and decided not to ask for it at the end of the party.). That, along with some invitations (baby shower, baptism, and yes, my wedding) went into the memory box holding those tidbits of his younger years in my closet.  I just love how his eyes glimmer when we go through the contents of that box occasionally.  Soon, I will have to get a bigger repository of memories!  Keeping mementos has always been a weakness of mine — so much so that I have collected bits and pieces which are now totally useless and meaningless.  It’s uncanny how things change meanings for us through the years, and what once was so precious can suddenly be indispensable after a period of time.  So those that have lost meaning have found their way into the trash bag.

Not too long ago, I vowed to destash and find a home for the things I had hoped to get rid of.  I am collecting my Artist trading cards (ATCs) to send to my friend, Raine.  I don’t have the time to sort through the postcards just yet, so I am putting the unsorted ones in a box to be dealt with later.  Although I feel like I have barely done anything, I think I’m making good progress.  No procrastinating and that’s an accomplishment by itself.

I am seriously trying and working on getting things done, inch by inch, box by box.  I’m not going as fast I had hoped, but thinking about not being able to do it at the pace I was hoping to do it was just stressing me more and stalling my productivity, so I’ve learned to let that go.  Sometimes, overthinking things can slow us down more than help us as we try to move forward.  The point is to just do it.

I am trying to shake off the shackles that are keeping me from moving on.  It hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m making strides, but in truth, I am moving and not accomplishing anything.  Too many questions are racing through my mind, and the occasional unpleasant memory that pokes at my mind and heart don’t help.  I keep telling people I’m okay — and for the most part, it’s true — but there’s a part of me that is stalled and feels like a car struggling to get out of the pothole it’s gotten stuck in.  The important thing is that I’m aware of where I am, and I am trying my hardest to work my way out of it.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the photo in a picture frame.  I found one hidden behind a couple of frames above a tall shelf and saw a dust-covered photograph, a memory more than a decade old.  I wiped the frame clean and found something more relevant to my “now”.  I put that photo in my bedroom where I will be able to see it and be reminded of what’s important to me at the present time.  It’s a simple yet powerful reminder that I have to move on..  The wooden frame was etched with the word “FAMILY” and some emotional words that define it.  Even that has changed meaning for me and the new picture — one of Angelo and I — embodies what that means to me now.

I have started reading again.  That’s another blog post, though, so let me hit “publish” now before this starts languishing in my “draft” folder yet again.  Here’s to a wonderful week ahead for all of us..

Wandering

Monday was one of those days when I wished I could just stay in the park and sit, close my eyes and pull up my face to the sun and feel it warm me naturally.  Unfortunately, it was a bit cold and I was still under medication for what might be a mild asthma attack. I just couldn’t risk getting any sicker because I was practically good as new.  So I sat on my perch watching the glorious sunshine out the window and wishing.

My mind just wasn’t  here.  It’s thinking about questions left unanswered, plans that are on hold, places I want to be, people I want to spend time with.  I’m thinking about conversations I have to have, and more wishes.  I’m thinking of things I need to do — like photograph the earrings I’ve finished (Yay!), and thinking up more designs to bring the shop back up.   I’m thinking of the crocheting that’s been put on hold after the doctor warned me to keep away from any and all triggers so my asthma can go away.  Even keeping away from dairy, so there goes the diet.  I have to wing it with portioning  from here on.  And there are the people I must deal with.

Focus, I tell myself.  It’s just not that easy when I feel like I’m being pulled from all directions.  I’m thinking a slice of cake might help, but Dieting Dinna immediately pops up behind me asking if that would be worth the cheat.  Maybe.  (Uh-oh.. Lol).   There are certain pleasures in life I’ve learned to avoid for the sake of a healthier me.  Yes, even when the emotional pull of my sweet tooth craving literally tugs at my tummy.  (Shush!). I remind myself of my changing wardrobe and I reach for another glass of warm water.  (Per BFF Donna’s advice..)

There are just days when you can’t find your groove.  I was having one of those days Monday.

Then from out of the blue I find myself being invited to lunch, and that one deviation from an otherwise insignificant and blah day turns things around.  And no one had a clue about my state of mind (and state of heart) so it was purely coincidence.    Maybe the universe heard and decided to thrown me a break.

The earrings got photographed, and I took care of something “me” related.  I found my groove again.

Blog

 

By midweek, I found myself at the start of what promised to be a beautiful day.  The worries haven’t disappeared and there are still the unanswered questions and unfinished plans, conversations to be had and maybe a salted caramel cookie with my name on it.  I focus on the sunshine and tell myself if it comes, it comes.

Sometimes it’s easier to just accept that there are things beyond your control.  The sunshine outside is inviting me to sit in the park once more but there is no rest for the weary as they say.  I have things that need to be said which must be said.  Questions?  I’ll save that for another day.

Decluttering

I am reorganizing my life by starting to reorganize my closet.  The last two weekends saw me going through my things, sorting by size, and getting rid of the bigger items.  I ended up with a huge pile of slacks– in the bigger size I kissed goodbye a few months ago —  some barely used, and some still with tags.  I set them aside to give away.  Even now as I think about it, there’s a little voice saying maybe I can just have them repaired.  I am almost sure I wouldn’t want to solve the problem by simply wearing a belt, because I’ve moved away from looking “frumpy”.  While that would make the pants wearable, I wouldn’t be too happy with the look.  Decision made — off they will go to my “to give away” bin — in the balikbayan box heading home to Manila sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I already gave away a quarter of my closet during my last trip home.  I even managed to hand out some pocketbooks I had sworn never to part with.  Yet in simplifying my life the last few months, I have learned to detach my emotions from things that I know I will never use again.  Instead of throwing them away, though, I think of others who might find a good use for them.

I bought new sweater hangers to take care of my fall and winter wear during these sweater-weather months.  I am getting rid of the suits that may fit me now in my new size but which are definitely no longer fashionable to wear.  I have a few old reliables which were tailored in the classic cut, so those, I will keep.  My cardigans are now folded neatly to make the design visible and easier to pick through when pairing with my outfit of the day.

I have some memorabilia stashed away in the higher shelves of my closet which will need some thinking about.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia, but reminiscing these days does not always bring me down the giddy happy moments of the past.  Some of those moments are now wrapped in not-so-happy and even heart-rending discoveries and realizations better left untouched.  And I need space for other things that I need to make room for.

We always think of decluttering in the physical sense, but decluttering our mind and our heart are just as important.  How often do we find ourselves clinging to old memories or emotions which contradict what we have or not have now in the present?  I used to be guilty of that.   But when you go through an emotional upheaval that turns your world upside down, you find yourself picking up the pieces again.  It is then that you get the chance to sort through the things that haunt you unnecessarily.  In sorting through all that emotional rubble, you find yourself defining the things worth hanging on to for the lessons they have taught you.  There are memories and feelings that you anchor yourself on to stay focused on the positive.  You see the world in a different light once the dust settles.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight.  But it can be done.

I was once at that point that I clung for dear life to what I thought I had– churning out evil plans and being constantly deluged with angry and hateful thoughts.  And then the realization hit me that I didn’t have what I thought was mine.  That no matter how I clung to what I thought could be mine again, it just wasn’t happening.  So I let go.  First, loosening the grip, then before I knew it, my hand had let go.  Had I known that doing that would also find me letting go of the anger and the pain — or releasing most if not all of it — I would have done it sooner.  But it wasn’t easy, and it still takes some effort to stay on track, but I’m in a better place.

So I’ve started getting rid of the useless pieces that hold some form of once happy memory, but which no longer give me that warm and fuzzy feeling when I look at it now.  Just as I look at a piece of clothing and ask myself if it is part of the “happier me look”, I look at the thoughts and worries that keep bumping around the walls of my mind and heart,  and ask myself if this is really something I can actually work on or am I worrying myself to oblivion without even any power over how that thing goes.

It’s all about letting go.  Whether it’s that favorite t-shirt you wore when your bra size was two cups smaller — and which won’t accommodate your voluptuous beauty now.. Or just trying to shut out the negative even when the temptation to let anger and hate in again is so strong.  You make room in your closet for the things that matter and are relevant and make you look good — those are the pieces you keep.    The same should hold true for your mind and heart and your life in general.  I know, easier said than done.  But like most things, it gets better with some practice and focus.  You just need to want to let go.  You need to tell yourself that shirt has to go because it’s occupying precious space in your closet.

Let go of the people who bring you down.  Stop going back to what used to be and focus on the now and tomorrow.

These days, I focus on the “happy”.  I look at my little guy and I know I’m set.  I think of dessert and that’s a happy thought I can smile about all day.  I think of a happy song and smile.  I am getting there a day at a time.
 

Looking to the heavens

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

When you don’t make it to your school of choice

First of all, apologies for the tardy reply.  I had started drafting this in early July and it has lain untouched in my draft box.  Life has taken me over as always, and sometimes, dishing out my two cents’ worth by way of giving advice is not always as easy as I normally would write something spontaneous.

I got an e-mail (actually, two emails) but didn’t quite catch the e-mails in a timely manner because I hardly check the email account associated with the blog.  Please e-mail me instead at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com.

I didn’t get much details except that someone was hoping to get to law school, didn’t get to the preferred school because of a fraction of a point difference in the required average.

Depressed and sad, what to do?

I had to let out an audible sigh after writing that question. It’s something we must all consider when we set our sights on landing in a particular university or college and we miss the mark. This is not only true for those seeking higher education but also for those trying to get into college (or had tried to get into college). Take heart!

So what do you do when you don’t land where you want to be, or get what you want… I have had to deal with that question many times over in epic proportions over the last two to three years.  And as the years went — it seemed to me that the disappointments became bigger and bigger.  The heartbreak became harder and harder to bear.

But I moved on.

Without pinning my hopes on ‘luck’, I instead pinned my hopes on ‘faith’ and ‘the universe’.  What is it that we say in the vernacular?  Kung para sa iyo talaga, magiging iyo.  Kung ukol, bubukol.  (If it is meant for you, it will be yours.  It is mean to be, it will happen.)

We have to determine what it is that means the most to us.  What it is that we truly want to achieve.  If one thing doesn’t work out, then move on to plan B.

Simply put, if your first school of choice doesn’t accept you (just as UP decided I wasn’t to be part of their student pool), move to another choice.  (And I embraced the blue..)  It doesn’t mean having to give up your dream — it just means adjusting it.

If it really means a lot to you to actually go to law school, the fact that you did not land in your school of choice shouldn’t shatter that dream.  It changes how you realize it, but it doesn’t mean that dream is now unreachable.

A former high school classmate (who is now 48 like me) with three grown children, a public service/media career she was appointed to, endorsements and an actor/husband who the ladies in our generation would not mind waking up next to every day, and whose celebrity has help spread cancer awareness and the message of hope to the public recently posted she was going to audit (observe/sit in) classes in law school.  Then followed the comment that she had always wanted to go to law school, and was wondering if she could do it.  Kaya kaya?  she asked.  We all pounced on the question and words of support chimed in from all over.  OF COURSE! Kayang-kaya!

First, age is never a detriment.  I’ve related this many times that when I took the bar in my mid-twenties, I was in the midst of adults old enough to be my mom and even be my grandma. Never too late to dream, or pursue a dream.

Secondly, her health challenges notwithstanding, she has the money and more importantly the brains.  Need I say more?

And that applies to everyone.  We have different ‘gifts’ and abilities. Our financial stretch differs from one person to the other, but the financial burden of pursuing ones’ dream can be adjusted.  If you can’t afford the more expensive school, go to the one that fits the budget.

“The Best” is not always for everyone.  Whether it’s because you cannot make it to that school because your scores or grades didn’t make the cut, or because you are otherwise constrained by other limitations, those are mere challenges that you should find a way around to get to where you want to go.  Those of us who are able to get up after a fall do so because we know how to make the most of what we have, and we never lose the hope that things will get better.

And while “better” is relative to how you perceive the world, it is never too far away if only you would look close enough to see how there is so much you have been blessed with.

So four or five years from now, don’t  be surprised if this once child star now celebrity mom and public servant in her own right, wife to the once heart throb and cousin to another, is addressed “Attorney”.  I know I won’t be surprised — I’ll just chime in and say “It’s about time.”

RELATED POSTS:

Feedback on Feedback: Making it to law school

My Future History Professor

Legal Education: Where to go?

Dream on (Feedback from someone hoping to be a legal eagle someday)

Inspiration and a Mother’s Dream to be a Lawyer Some Day

(Of never-ending but very welcome) Law School Inquiries – A Reply to CONCERNED CITIZEN

Broken Links and Trying to Get into Law School

The Path You Choose to Take

The Dreams we Dream

“Should I go to law school or not, Atty. Dinns?”

Feedback on Feedback: Chasing the dream to become a legal eagle

To those in their Freshman Year in Law School in Ateneo

Be not afraid to pursue your dream to be a legal eagle someday

To all those Law school hopefuls out there..

Another Question on Taking the Ateneo Law Entrance Exam

Thinking about law school?

From a Bar Reviewee

Back when I was in Law School