The Lessons of 2014

Before we look ahead, we must look back.  And like I look at previous posts written in the 11 year life of this blog, I think it’s but fitting that I take stock of the year just ended and bring those lessons forward to the year that’s beginning.  I find myself reflecting on a lot of things as this year ends, and sometimes I am taken aback by how so much has happened.  (Did I really live through all THAT?)

The moon up above New York tonight... Thinking about all the moons that have come and gone and dreaming of the next time the moon shines majestically above me again... #moon #moonandstars #dusk #night #newyork #reflectionsI have been blessed.  I am grateful.  I am humbled.  I am encouraged.

I am still standing on my feet and I am actually looking forward to the new beginning that 2015 offers.

I am where I am because I took the lessons of life that came my way in 2014 and leaned on them to keep me going through the year.  I did not let the challenges of the year that just ended sweep me away and drown me.  Instead, I made them my stepping stone to get to the end of the year.

And here I am.

This year, I learned..

… that I am stronger than I thought I was.  I learned to believe in myself again and trust my instincts.  I learned to listen to the silence in my heart instead of listening to the thousand and one voices all around me.  As one of my dearest friends told me, I am my best counsel.. I am my own best bestfriend.

… that even the message from above can change through time.  Nothing is cast in stone except the fact that He always hears and will let you know His will.. Nothing is absolute except His being there, and it may happen that He gives you a different message through time from the one you heard previously.  The thing is to never stop listening, and to never stop asking Him what His will is.

… that acceptance begins with the little things.  Like most things that are hard to do, acceptance takes a while to learn, and takes practice to actually do well.  It took me long enough.  But I think I’ve gotten better at it.  You learn to go with the flow, you learn to be more forgiving of your own shortcomings.  You accept yourself for who you are.

… that it is important to remember YOU are important, too.  For the longest time, I had put everyone else’s happiness and welfare ahead of mine.  Now I realize that I can put myself in front and still be important like everyone else I considered a priority without relegating my own welfare to the background.  I no longer say “my happiness comes last” because I realize it doesn’t have to be.  Putting someone else as priority, like my son in my case, doesn’t mean sacrificing my own happiness.

Happiness is not tied to a ranking of priorities.  Happiness is just that — being happy.

… that you must never forget WHO you are.  I had forgotten certain facets of myself to conform and be a certain way to be accepted.  And it was a long journey to pull out the old “me” that got buried deep inside, but I think I’m almost there if I haven’t gotten there already.

And I missed “me”.  Now I walk with the old confidence and spunk I used to be armed with, and smile with a self-assurance that even I believe in again.  I’m back…

… that surrender is not always synonymous to defeat.  There are battles that can be won even if you decide it’s time to lay down your arms and raise the white flag.  Sometimes surrender is a form of self-preservation.  You try to stave off further loss.  You try to stem the bleeding and keep what resources you have left healthy.  You try to keep the peace by letting the world go by without a whimper.

… that forgiveness is as much, if not more for YOUR benefit as the one giving it than the one you are giving it to.  I have written about this and how I have uttered the words “I forgive you” more for my own sake than the peace of mind of the one who has caused me harm or pain.  Saying it has helped me move forward and go from the point of “being the victim” to “just being” again.  It has helped me on my journey of recovery.

… that forgiveness means looking forward and not looking back at what had happened or what you lost.  It is never a guarantee that things will be better, or that what has been taken from you will be returned.  It does help you to go beyond whatever it is that has caused you pain, and moving on is better than staying in a state of hurt and anger, any way you look at it.

… that people come and go into our lives for a reason.  And when they are here, we must cherish each lesson, each laughter, each memory that we are given a chance to make with the people around us — no matter how inconsequential their presence may seem at first glance.  And when they leave we must learn to let go, and be thankful for whatever it is they shared with us while they were present in our lives.

Even those who hurt us have a lesson to teach us or a gift to leave us with.  It may not be apparent on the surface, but in time, and if we look and not make ourselves blind with anger or tears, we will find it.

Even those who break our hearts will teach us a lesson and pave the way for us to be happy again in some form or other, through other people or events that follow their misstep.

… that the music never ends — we just choose to stop listening to it when the tune playing is not the one we requested.  I lost my optimism for a part of the year and then found it again.  And when I did, I clung to it for dear life.  Sadness and heartache are all part and parcel of living — it is whether or not we cling to it or let it go, whether or not we learn to live with it or deny it that will decide whether we overcome or let it get the better of us.

… that just as you will keep falling, you just have to pick yourself up and keep going.  I never gave up.

I didn’t really have a choice because I had my son to think of.  During my lowest of lows, I had no time to sink into depression.  I had to pull my wits about me and get back up each time.  And I know I will have to keep doing that as I push forward.  The fact that I’m still on my feet is not a guarantee I will not fall again.  In fact, I feel like I fall each time I think I’ve regained my footing, but that will never stop me from getting up again and continuing the journey.

… that there will always be another day.  So no matter how difficult a day has been, no matter how heavy the burden I have been given may be — I know there will be tomorrow and it might get better.  And if doesn’t, there will be the day after to look  forward to, and the day after that.  Hope springs eternal.  Indeed.

That the year is over is a done deal.  There’s no bringing back time lost that has passed us all by.  Time is not one to give us do-overs, but 2015 is here with a new promise of hope — the certainty of yet another beginning.

Here’s to 2015.




When the memories come a-haunting

There are times when having a good memory doesn’t serve me too well. I tend to peg events, things and people to dates – and when that date comes around, I relive whatever it was that had happened then – good or bad. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a happy memory. It’s more difficult dealing with the memories that actually bring back painful or hurtful things, or negative emotions like anger.

I know, I should let it go. I wish it were as easy as that, but it isn’t.

Some things get better with time. But there are pains that stay with us and linger and fade into the darkness, only to resurface at a time not of our choosing.

May 2013 wasn’t so bad — but sometime in the latter part of the year, I realized a couple of things and found out it wasn’t as good as I thought it was and that was that.  And while I am glad that May is almost gone, it’s not quite out the door yet. And I’m trying very hard to push the heaviness in my heart away. I don’t always succeed. At times it feels like it’s a never-ending struggle to float up to the surface and grab some precious air. It still suffocates me.

Miami.  Chicago.  I was in the latter in May, but I’ve never been to the former.  And I probably never will go.  Again, that’s that.

The good news is, I’ve been hit by a creative energy that has seen me making something out of all this.  I’m coming up with new designs and pushing myself to create more and to do things out of my comfort zone for the shop.  Some of the pieces I’ve created are screaming for me to wear them which isn’t good because I want to put them up for sale.

I’ve been pushing myself to work out.  I might even start that story I’ve been writing in my head, finally.  (As if I have all the time in the world to write!!)  For the most part, I’ve succeeded in keeping the angry thoughts away, but it doesn’t numb the pain.  How I wish I had a switch we could flick like a TV remote which would choose that which we remember.  But I can’t. 

At least not for now.


There comes a time when we find ourselves looking at everything around us, and we compare ourselves to what we see, and a feeling of worthlessness lands squarely on our shoulders.  We realize that everything we have done or put together and built our lives upon are meaningless.  We are meaningless.

I’m not trying to wax poetic.  It’s a very regular thing that comes flying from out of nowhere and lands on our shoulders whether we welcome it or not.  A sense of not having any meaning or purpose.  It is a time of vulnerability.  It is a time when we take stock and look around us and see things for what they are — the illusion of what we once thought was beauty appears as it truly is: ugly.

The good we thought we saw was actually a sham — a facade that was put on so we wouldn’t see the truth.

The year is about to end and everything around me is just plain darkness.  Someone thought it was alright to steal what was mine and ruin what was not perfect but was good.  Someone thought that just because her own world was dark, she had every right to spread the darkness into mine.  Shame on you, Beth Baja.






When you miss your bestfriend so…

It’s been 11 years since I left Manila, and while I have settled nicely into my home here in New York, I would have thought the friends I had left behind in Manila would’ve adjusted by now as well.  Apparently not.

My family has done a better job only because I think they know that I may be in Alaska and stuck there and unable to do my almost every year and a half interval between homecomings and we are still family, but my friends have not been as lucky coping.

My bestfriend, Fe, has avoided Makati for many reasons through the years, traffic being one of them. But per her admission, there are just things she cannot bear doing because she would end up doing them without me. She has purposely avoided going to the places we used to go to together because she says it just hurts to be there. We had made it a habit to sit and just people watch — be it from the food courts, from one of the restaurants, or even just lounging around at Starbucks. Going back without me there, according to her, is very painful.

Once she chatted up someone I had used to go out with and he gave her the same reason. That going around the places I used to frequent was just not the same. That one, I can understand perfectly. There is always a sting to returning to places once shared with someone you were involved intimately with after a parting — specially a painful one.

But between bestfriends — can it really be that painful after 11 years? Apparently. I guess I didn’t go through that because I was the one who moved away. Everything was new to me — so I didn’t have any memories to avoid about the places I visited. When I walk the streets of Manhattan as I have a conversation in my head with Fe, I dream of one day walking these streets with her. It helps that she’s been here once before I moved here, so we have shared favorite places and memories of the things I see and do. One day…

During this last homecoming, we walked around Greenbelt and while waiting for a cab back to the hotel, she tells me she hadn’t been around Makati as often as we had gotten used to. When I asked why, she said it was because I was gone.  I wanted her to go see Cyndi Lauper’s concert this March for us — or watch her forever idol Dolly Parton’s new movie Joyful Noise, and she simply said “No. x x x It’ll be too painful.”  I wish it were not, but I know that pain in a different sense.

I was just telling another friend this Sunday how difficult ir is when all your friends are back home.  Facebook, G-mail’s Google Talk, regular e-mail and text messaging have helped to bridge the distance somehow and makes it so much easier to stay connected, but it isn’t quite the same.  That’s why I’m grateful that I got to see the people who mattered the most to me during this previous visit home.  It gave me a lot of memories to take home here to New York.

Here’s hoping we get to see each other soon, my friend.  Hang in there..

Monday Blues

Mondays are a natural “alarm clock” for me to visit my blog dashboard and I’m reminded I haven’t been here all week. It doesn’t help that my (outdated) browser keeps giving me a “bad gateway” whenever I try to start a post. *sigh* But I am trying not to let that get to me as I want to get on with my week on as positive a note as I can manage. While “Happy Monday” doesn’t quite sound as nice as “Happy Friday”, we all need a little bit of cheer as the rains greeted us when we walked out the door.

So I am wearing a splash of color today despite my all black main ensemble. I have a silk orchid clipped to my fuschia pink short sweater which definitely brightens up my “Lady in Black” drama. I am trying to carry my period of mourning as far as I can. So far so good. Part of me is still coping with Dad’s demise. I still have more thank you notes to write — but the important thing is I’ve started writing them. I haven’t quite gotten to starting my scrapbook about him, but I have started gathering photos that I have on hand. Over the weekend, I pulled one of my empty fancy storage boxes from my closet and put the baseball cap and handkerchief that I took from his things. I will put my letters and his letters to me there, too. It’ll be within easy reach should I feel the need to touch them and feel them again.

I still catch myself thinking of him when I see something I would normally pick up in the grocery or at the store to send to him. Then I have to remind myself he’s gone. I’m still taking it a day at a time. Remembering Dad still gives me pause to just take it all in., but I try not to let the feeling linger, because it’ll bring back the tears and the pain again.

I have never quite suffered a loss like I am going through now, not because I hadn’t lost anyone as dear, but the circumstances behind Dad’s passing were quite emotional and more complicated. I lost my favorite grandmother at age 7, and a favorite Aunt who was like my second mom at age 23. Both were sick and while their passing was expected, their death left me with a numbing loss but not the one that came with as much pain as that which I am feeling now.

In time, I know, I will come to terms with the unanswered questions, and while the feeling of loss will never be totally gone, I am hoping that the pain it occasions in my heart when I think about him now will eventually subside.