While on the bus..

…I decided I would attempt to write a post after I unsuccessfully tried all week long.

It’s been a busy and heavy week.  I have had a pretty good start of the year overall, but it had to hit a low point at some time. It’s not the worst of the worst or the lowest of lows, but it’s one of those weeks where I am happy to say it’s over.

Well, almost.
Yes, #weStillHaveSnow! #OnMyWayToWork this #Friday.. #happyWeekend! #nyc #ny #mynewyork #winter2016
Yes, we stil have snow around us, and walking through the snow laden pavement back home actually feels like walking through a frozen hallway.  I have actually stopped wishing it away and just decided it is best to wait for Mother Nature to melt it down.  Then I heard we might actually get more snow and of course, the reality of it is that winter is hardly over.

I have been trying to strike a balance between staying cool and letting my emotions go.  Holding my anger in has always been a struggle, probably because I am a true child of Aries.  But I try.  For the most part, I know I have had better success the last year or so, probably because the lessons I have learned have helped to train me to not so easily give in to letting the anger get the better of me.  But we all have our breaking point, and much like we find ourselves cheating on a diet, we sometimes end up forgetting our resolve not to give in to our weaknesses.

I am human.  I am passionate and given to letting my emotions get the better of me.  And I know that doesn’t make it any easier– but I think I’ve mellowed down quite a lot.

I no longer pounce — I usually hold my thoughts and feelings in and I process through it before opening my mouth.  I have tried to get past the pain and the anger that had long been simmering inside me.  I try to remind myself how far I’ve come..  That I am in a better place.. That I am better off without those people who chose to walk out of my life or who had decided to keep their distance.  I have respected their choice, and I pray they respect mine.

A year ago, I decided I wanted a new life without having to live knowing my existence was an inconvenience being tolerated..  I can only imagine the insults and hours of laughter and amusement others enjoyed at my expense.  A friend tells me I should stop being considerate and think of that — because why should I care about taking a step back instead of throwing a punch when they have been kicking me black and blue behind my back for the longest time.  As I find myself digesting that I am torn between anger and sadness.  I haven’t quite made up my mind about whether I will throw the punch or just sit it out just yet, but it has given me pause when I think about what to do next.

I dread moments when thoughts like that envelop my heart.

My usual escape is to run a list that make that all seem small in the grand scheme of things.  I have pictures I go back to which bring a smile to my face.  I have snippets of things that happened or happy moments etched in my mind.  And while I am not in the happiest place on earth, I am in a pretty darned happy place.  I have surrounded myself with people who know and understand me and who don’t require an explanation from me when I do something silly or create something just beyond fabulous.  I laugh harder and I see my son laughing harder as well.  We look at each other with a sense of partnership that speaks in a language he and I understand.  I have learned to look to the happy memories instead of wallowing in the pain of the heartaches that may still linger in my heart.

It’s a glass half full.

Getting off and jumping into the last day of the work week.  Happy Friday!NYC this Friday!

Counting the days yet again

I’ve been hoping to write a post here for ages but it has been a very busy past couple of days.  When the opportunity came, I opted to work on the Gotham Chick post first because that blog has been badly neglected and I feel bad about it.  I am trying very hard to jumpstart that corner of my webspace but life and work and life again get in the way.

Soon.

You know how you wish you could tick off even just half your list of “to do’s” and then find yourself unable to even write that list?  It can be paralyzing at times.

These days I just want to space out.  I have been thinking of hopping on a subway line and taking it from end to end over and over again.  But I don’t have the time.  I used to feel that way every time I got on e a long-distance bus ride — I just kept wishing I could just keep going without stopping.

In between ordinary chores like washing the dishes or just putting the dry ones away, I think about taking a trip some place on my own and just “disappearing” into a sea of tourists or like travelers.  Some place new where I’ve never been before.  I wish.. but I can’t.

I sit at my craft corner and start organizing the beads hoping the inspiration to create would come but I get stumped.  Time seems to be dragging its feet one minute and then slipping by too quickly in the next.

I want to jump to May.

This time of the year hasn’t been very good for me because celebrations have been non-celebrations for the longest time.  What should be Happy moments turn out to be numb if not sad.

I had to pause after that last line.  A half smile forms in my face and I try to remind myself I have been blessed.

Someone’s been telling me I have won.  That I should be happy because I have won.  Yet I am reminded of those Pyrrhic victories which were indeed wins but which were achieved at a terrible, terrible cost.  These days I often have to remind myself the reason for why I fight for what I fight for.  Sometimes I stray into a gray area and I find myself looking for some sense of balance which I shouldn’t be looking for — because I should be viewing it from another perspective.

I have to remind myself of the reason why I am where I am.  I have to remind myself of the choice I made and why I made that choice.  Forget about the ones that caused me pain and sadness. I look to the one who has given me my greatest joy.

Another pause.  This time I smile.  A real smile.

There are many things I dread coming to pass these days.  Birthday being one of them.  I get hundreds of greetings thanks to the automatic reminder feature of FB, but I don’t quite get all the ones that really matter.   And much as I would love to respond to each and everyone, I never quite get around to doing it.  (Too slow, I know.)  It’s not so much that I’m turning another year older and I am getting old — but all the “happy” associated with birthdays ring hollow to me more so at this time.  I used to hear people wanting to sleep through Christmas or whiz by their special day for some reason or other — and I never quite understood what was wrong with these people.  Now I understand why.

And remembering certain things associated with past birthdays — more so last year’s — makes it really hard to look forward to this coming one.  I’m tempted to say that after everything that had taken place, I cannot go to anything worse.  It can only get better as they say.  But I had said that of my life in general over a year ago, and 2013 proved me wrong.  It did get worse — so now I try not to tempt fate by proclaiming a hollow optimism after the storm.  I have learned that the pragmatic thing to do is actually just brace for whatever else life throws my way — be it good or bad.  More than hope for something, I need to pray and pray hard I must.

I am trying to count my blessings.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or unappreciative of the breaks life has thrown my way.  It’s just that I’ve fallen very hard the last two years, my knees are still smarting from the deep cuts — and the aches and pains haven’t quite gone away.  Who was it who said scars make you beautiful… they are reminders of how strong you are… they probably were looking at someone else’s scars and did not suffer that kind of a fall themselves.

Spare me the birthday greetings — not because I don’t like getting them — but because I’d rather ask for your prayers.  I’m two years shy of the next milestone agewise, and I would like to think I’ll be at a much better place then than where I find myself now, whether or not things do get better or things get worse.  (Does that make sense?  It does to me.)

I have realized a lot of things more so in the last six months which I sometimes wish I didn’t uncover or have to face.  We sometimes find that illusions or the way we’d like to believe things are are safer than the truth that they mask, just under the surface.

I want to go on a short trip to this resort hotel and book a room and just lay there in bed, staring at the ceiling.  To feel how it is to be there in that place..  and to just see the sun rise outside my window.

I want to believe in me again the way I did before my illusions about my world were shattered to bits.  Sometimes that is the hardest because I am my own worst critic.  I wish the pain would go so that “happy” can have room and reign again.

I am trying.

Even as I count the days to one of the occasions I dread — for many reasons, in many ways.

Humbled in 2013 – The things I have learned in the year just passed

Blog graphics I have been trying to think of how to summarize 2013 for the last couple of days and based on the many things that took place in the previous year, I find that one word that best describes what I have gone through in both the good and the bad sense is I have been “humbled“.

Through most of last year, I went about my business with my head bowed, carrying a guilt and shame I thought I had to bear because of my mistakes in the year before that.  While I have “risen” from the burden I had carried as I realized I had long ago paid my dues and had been forgiven by my God, I did not take that realization as a reason to gloat.  Much too much has happened that has prevented me from doing that.  And I am trying to learn from the lessons life had taught me and made me go through, difficult though some may have been.

In the beginning of the year, I had thought that 2012 was my most difficult year, my lowest of lows.  I started 2013 with the thought that nothing could be worse than what I had gone through personally in 2012.  I realize now I was wrong.

One of the most important lessons I learned in 2013 is not to expect that the worst has passed until it has indeed passed.  If I thought I was in a bad dream in 2012, I was in a nightmare in 2013.  But I suppose you can say that I had been prepared in many ways by my journey in 2012 for the more difficult sojourn of 2013.  I had good practice.  My resilience had once been tested, and it came in handy when I needed it most.  It helped me to put one foot infront of the other to take even just tiny steps when I thought I could no longer bear the weight of the world.  When the worst of the worst came, I looked back and told myself that was nothing compared to what is happening now.

Despite the challenges I faced, I never felt bitter.  I just told myself I shouldn’t have been so quick to think that 2012 was my lowest point.  I didn’t know I had the capacity to handle even so much more.  I didn’t know that I would survive something worse or more difficult to go through.  I didn’t realize I was stronger than the person I thought I was.

I learned, too, that I was never alone even when everyone else seemed to have left my side.  In 2012, the circle of people around me grew even smaller.  By 2013, it was just my immediate family and a select few friends who heard every beat of my heart, every whimper, every cry.  And yet when the storm came, I couldn’t call out to them.  I had to bear it all alone.

But I was not alone.

Through all the struggles I faced, I knew He was holding my hand and I never felt more protected nor sheltered by God.  I felt Him in the gentle wind, in the sunshine, and even in a short message sent from across the globe from someone I had not heard from in ages and ages.  When I asked Him to tell me what to do, someone reached out to me and gave me His message as if He had left a note on her desk to pass on to me.  He said it so plainly, “I heard you, my child…”

I couldn’t even be angry at Him for one second.  I didn’t have any reason to ask “Why me?” or “When is this going to end?”  Everything that was happening one after the other seemed to be a never-ending conversation where I heard Him speaking to my heart.  There were times when I would pause in the midst of the anger and the pain and just listen to the silence, and I found such great comfort in the stillness.  Even when nothing was being said — when I was not asking any questions and I was not trying to discern what His response was, I heard Him loud and clear in my heart.

He told me to hold fast and not to go anywhere.  So I relented, despite my doubts about having the strength to do that which He asked.

He taught me that my greatest strength was my faith.  When all else failed, it kept me standing.  When the tears wouldn’t stop coming, it gave me the air I needed to keep going to the next minute.. and the next.  I learned to pray like I never prayed before.  I started reading the Bible again.  I finally relented and stopped resisting going to Church again.  When I was stumped, I asked for His help and the answers came.

It is that faith which keeps me believing I can make it now, no matter where life leads me.  I know that whichever way the wind blows, I will be able to bend and take it and not let it break me.

I used to be afraid that I would break.  But even breaking now is no longer daunting.  I know I will heal and stand back up again.

I learned that you can find happiness and draw it out even in the worst of situations if you will yourself to.  My efforts at channelling happiness in 2012 proved helpful in keeping me focused on staying positive even when everything was going wrong.  There is wisdom in knowing happiness can be created or be a choice — that no matter how crippling life’s blows, you can find a reason to smile about, or look up to the skies hoping to find a rainbow again.

While I have failed miserably at completing my happiness journal, the effort to actively seek out quotes and other happiness – related prose or text put me in a better frame of mind than I normally would.  Those “words of inspiration” can, indeed, inspire.

I saw how others persevered and smiled despite the ravages of calamities and other sources of hopelessness.  I have no right to begrudge the world for what I see as my misfortune in the face of their heartbreak.  I have been so blessed, no matter how empty I may have felt.  My cup was always full.

I learned to accept that the way some people may treat or regard you is not the sum total of who you are. On the contrary, it shows the kind of person they are.  I am holding my tongue on this one, so further discussion needed.

I learned that I have such a capacity for forgiveness as I have such a capacity for hate.  Again, both the good and the bad.  I never realized I could foster so much hate in my heart like I did, and that I could espouse such evil designs in my head.  We think that we are better than the evil we read about but when pushed to a corner, I have discovered that I am not totally above all that.  That I am human and can succumb to the temptation to hurt another as I have been hurt, or as someone I love has been hurt.

At the same time, I have learned that I can swallow such pain and anger and accept an apology or the illusion of one if none is forthcoming for the sake of myself and those who matter most to me like my son.  Where I thought I would have turned my back on someone who has hurt me like no other, I have succeeded in finding the compassion to give that person another chance.

Yet I am human, and there is hatred in my heart that might forever simmer and not find forgiveness.

I learned that forgiveness begins with forgiving yourself. 

And forgive me, I have.

For the longest time I punished myself for my failings.  I thought I had committed the gravest of sins, only to realize much later on that I had stumbled, but I had gotten up on my feet again.  I had paid my dues and then some.  In fact, I had overpaid what I thought I had owed many times over.

When I forgave myself, I found strength in knowing that the courage I needed to own up to my failings was the same courage that would help me move forward. It was wrong that I had been so harsh on myself because it allowed others to take advantage of me, but it was a lesson I had to learn from the mistakes I had made.

I learned that I should not be afraid of beginnings or endings as they are but time stamps on our life events.

It is never too late to begin again, no matter how far you’ve gone or how much time has passed.  There is no such thing as having invested so much time into something that you cannot turn around and say “I’ve done enough of this, time to move on.”

Yes, you can move on to other things.

Yes, it is okay to give up and turn your sights elsewhere.

I used to be so afraid of the time and effort that would have all gone to waste if I had a change of heart.  But the lessons of 2013 have taught me that there will be times when one must just accept the stopwatch has ceased ticking.  The clock will start with some new endeavor, new place, or new pursuit.

And while we all hate endings, I look to them as the sign of new beginnings, of new things to come.  It is all part of the so-called circle of life that we must go with if we are to survive and move on instead of getting stuck where we are.

We shouldn’t be afraid of either one.  When things end, you know other things will begin.  Life WILL go on.  And in 2014, it will.

Happy new year!

I arrived last night from a two and a half week vacation in Manila which, as always, was far too short but quite the celebration of family and friends. It was toned down for the most part as I chose to stay home and spend more time with my Mom. Angelo got to spend a lot of time with his cousins, as I allowed him to sleep over at my brothers so he could enjoy his Ate Julia, his cousin and best bud Art and new cousin, Adrianna. He kept crying as we walked out to the plane taking us to Hong Kong from Manila and again as we boarded the flight from Hong Kong to New York.

My shoulders are killing me, probably from the exhaustion of the whole trip plus having to lug my hand carry luggage. (Trying to resist grabbing pain killers as it’s tolerable for now.)

We arrived last night in time to make the 9pm reservation for a New Year’s Eve dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, Erawan.  I spent the rest of the night unpacking, and I managed to empty three of the four huge suitcases we carried.  (Quite  a feat considering the trip.)

I tried not to give in to the urge to sleep through the morning as we go back to work tomorrow, and the little boy has school.  (Bummer!)  If it weren’t for the pain on my shoulders, I would have stayed on my feet all morning unpacking the last two pieces of luggage I still have to sort through.

How was your New Year’s eve?

I’ll save the wishes and reflections for a later post.  I just want to start the year right with a New Year’s greeting from the Pinay New Yorker as we welcome 2014.

Life is short.. more so at age 46

Last April, I turned 46.

I don’t know if it’s all that’s been happening to me lately at work and in my personal life, or the number itself, or life in general — but I am suddenly struck by the number as an actual count of my years of existence on this earth.  For once, age is a relevant number to me.

I never really cared about age, even as I hit the so-called big four-oh six years ago and forty-five last year.   I have always considered myself totally at home with the fact that I am getting older.  Perhaps it helped that most people thought I was much younger than my actual age — and I’ve always attributed that to my Asian skin and eating habits.  Lately, I have brazenly declared that make up does help a lot!

So why the sudden relevance of the number?  These days I wonder if I’ll be so lucky to hit my mother’s current age of seventy-two (which, given the advances of science should not be too difficult), and I’ve become more concerned with “living in the now” by not being too smug about living forever.

Life is fast catching up with me, and seeing my eight-year-old son growing before my very eyes is, in itself, a wake up call.  Will I see him grow up to get into college?  Get married?  Will I see my grandchildren and take care of them?

Will I be able to do all the things I want to do between then and now?  Or will I be like my handful of friends who have been hit by one form of cancer or another, some successfully battling it, and some going through a recurrence of the big C in some other form?

Up until now, I had always thought that I could think of planning my life in stages of 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years.  Since I turned 46, though, I think of what I want to be doing and where I want to be in five years, and I am struck by the thought of my having no guarantees that I will still be around then.  Why wait?

Could the sudden awareness on my part also be because at this point in my life, I feel as though I can say I’ve done most of the things I had wanted to accomplish?  Went to college to get a law degree.  Got into my choice of law school.  Passed the Bar (back home).  Embarked on a corporate communications career.  Gave that all up and settled down halfway across the globe to live in the greatest city in the world.  Got married.  Had the best thing happen to me when my son was born.  Visited and fell in love with the City of Lights, Paris (not once, but twice!)…  And have been to Disneyworld four times.  (Not exactly a badge of honor..but a feat for a 46 year old adult who moved to New York only 12 years ago.)

At the present time, I’m crafting jewelry and accessories and doing crafts at leisure, writing about what I want the way I want and earning a decent paycheck at an unrelated day job.

Yet I feel as though I am at a crossroads, and vacillating about which road to take.  And the tolling of the years and the uncertainty of the years to come makes me want to jump but I cannot.

I’m stuck at “comfortable” — but the thought of time not being there like it always has been is creeping up on me.  So do I throw a pebble into the still waters and watch the ripples radiate from where it lands, or do I watch the calm from the shore?  I suddenly feel like “dreaming” is no longer a luxury I can afford.  “Doing” is what I should be hard at work at instead.

We always look at postponing things in our lives thinking that we can always do it another time.  Somehow I feel I’m at a juncture when I don’t have that option anymore.  I keep hearing it being said, you cannot postpone happiness — not very easy to do when it means giving up “comfortable” and causing upheavals in the lives of the people around me.

It would be so easy to up and go if it was only me I had to think about.  But it isn’t so.  And considering all that is causing me to wonder if I am not throwing away precious time keeping the peace and just sitting it out.

I think about “second chances” and I see one in front of me, but I want to wait a while longer.  The question is, can I afford to do that?  You’d think a 46-year-old would have the wisdom to speak authoritatively on questions about life — but I don’t feel so wise at all right now.  I’m coming to terms with my own mortality — and the thought that the things I dream of five years from now: people, places, hopes — might not be around as long as I would want them to be.  So what then?

He is Risen

The resurrection of Jesus Christ, personally, is very meaningful to me as a Roman Catholic Christian.  It is the best example to me of a promise fulfilled by my God.  A promise of redemption and everlasting life.  It reminds me of the greatest sacrifice of all to save mankind, my soul included.

Today I celebrate that promise of hope… in prayer, in my heart and mind.

I get reminded that He is always there for me.  Ever present and ever powerful.