“Me” Day on a Covid holiday

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI don’t get to go around much anymore, and everything has changed so much that things just don’t feel like they used to. Manhattan is still there but with a different “flavor”. Although I work there and used to be there five days a week, I only really got to explore and enjoy the city during those days I got to go around leisurely. Those would be the days I went in specifically to go around and do errands or take visiting friends or family to see the sights. Thursday was an errand: a doctor’s appointment.

Untitled

Like most others, I try to get the usual annual appointments done before the end of the year. I should really do better than that and try for earlier, but insurance will usually not take the appointment until after 12 months from the previous one. (It is supposed to be “annual”.). It went rather quickly with an hour’s wait only– I guess the ladies held their babies in and no one went into labor, so my gynecologist sauntered in pretty much on time. Hooray!

I wanted to get the steps in so I walked from 34th and Madison towards Bryant Park on Fifth and 42nd. It was a cold but beautiful day but I dressed for the weather and had my mask on. I was all set.

Untitled

The steps to the New York Public Library are usually full of people seated on them enjoying the sunshine. Famous for movies like “Sex In the City” (venue of Carrie Bradshaw’s non-wedding) and “The Day After” (where Toby McGuire and company holed up until they could be rescued). To me it was an early discovery way back when I had just arrived in New York in 2000. I would pass the time here between exploring the city and heading home. One day when they let us back in, I will write a post taking me back to that time. For now, no visit to this corner of Manhattan is complete without stopping by to take a picture.

Untitled

The rows upon rows of park tables and benches were mostly empty. Used to be abuzz with locals and tourists, any time of day. One would usually have to walk the length and breadth of the park to find an empty table, or wait for those seemingly about to finish their meal and scoot on over when they stood up to leave. Not this day. Or the previous or coming days.

Untitled

I am hoping they will put up a bigger Christmas tree like in previous years. This clump of regular sized Christmas trees are usually replaced at a later date with a beautiful Christmas tree, a mini version of the one in Rockefeller Center, although it’s not exactly a small tree. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if this is all we get this year.

Untitled

To make way for social distancing, only a third of the shops were allowed to sell in this year’s winter village. My favorite cheese house wasn’t there, so I went for my other favorite: the Crepe Cafe. This is one of the original food outlets that has been here every year.

Untitled

I always order the Banana Nutella Almond crepe here, and this was lunch for the day. I found my space on the periphery by the 40th street side, sat down and took off my mask. There were only a handful of food outlets allowed to open, and the pop up indoor restaurant was not put up this time around.

Untitled

Sitting down and looking around, Bryant Park felt more like a Sunday than the Thursday it usually was. People were walking around and there was a smattering of others trying to enjoy lunch like I was doing, but a very thin crowd it was. But I enjoyed the quiet.. and just taking in a beautiful day enjoying a favorite treat.

So much has changed in our lives since the pandemic began. Any semblance of normalcy is a breath of fresh air in our now masked existence. Literally. I have actually gotten used to going around with a mask, being that I actually do my usual hour and a half walk/jog with a mask on.

Untitled

The children’s carousel was still there. At least the kids still get to have their fun, even if at half capacity. When the weather gets too cold, this beauty will be shrouded and covered until things warm up again.

Untitled

The rink is alive with a six foot barrier to keep those watching on the sidelines safely distanced from the railing that some of the skaters hang on to. There are still tables and chairs around the rink, but socially distanced.

Untitled

The temperatures have held to decent “cold” and we really haven’t had snow yet, so my favorite Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain is staying pretty without a load of ice just yet. Truth is, it’s quite a sight when you see it laden with ice and still flowing. They cannot shut the pipes or it might burst, so they keep it flowing even in the cold of winter.

Untitled

We’re all trying our best to cope. The Bryant Park Cafe run by Bryant Park Grill has put up these dining huts and the park has a few available for groups like the one on the right. (not sure that’s the proper term). For the ones provided by the park, a notice is put up after the space has been sanitized. It’s just sad that the Governor has just shut down indoor dining and outdoor dining might follow next. At the very least, it is good to know that there is this option.

I walked uptown to view the Rockefeller Center but I will save that post for a possible part II of this post.. before I headed back to my bus stop, I had to decide which treat I would go home with. The line to Angelina Paris NYC was too long and I just didn’t feel like taking the chance even when social distancing. So I opted to grab some of my other happy food over at Magnolia Bakery.

Untitled

I miss those days when I could just walk down from my perch at work and grab a cup from the branch in the Grand Central food court. I went to the one on Sixth Avenue. These days, the lines that used to snake around the corner are no longer there, but they are still making their special cupcakes, cakes, cookies and yes, their heavenly banana pudding. I walked in before leaving the Rockefeller Center and found that they now have the banana pudding by the cashier. I was lucky to grab some red velvet banana pudding (a specialty flavor), and a second tub of their old time original. (Calories be damned! Lol)

I did the rest of my errands — stopped by Whole Foods near 42nd Street to grab some steaks and ground beef for my big guy, and headed home. Like always, it was nice to be able to spend an afternoon in a leisurely fashion for some “me” time. It’s a different kind of Manhattan now– and a different way of going about the things we had gotten used to before the pandemic broke out. While things have improved from the second quarter when everything shut down, we are far from normal.

Untitled

The threat of things going from bad to worse is hanging over our heads at the moment. It makes it all the more imperative to enjoy life while we can– without forgetting the new limitations and requirements of being socially responsible while we do it. (Masks on, please..). Life goes on, indeed. Even if not in the same way we used to go about it.

Monday Musings: Exploring my neighborhood

Monday musings in paper and ink

I’m trying to make up my mind about where I should categorize this post. In many respects, it belongs to “Monday Musings,” a staple here for quite some time now, and at the same time, it also belongs under my “New York Corona Diaries.” I will settle on the former. I would like to get on with writing about an idea that struck me this morning as I was on my morning power walk before it totally gets lost in the Ethernet.

Noomin’. For the last two months, I’ve been on Noom and dieting and exercising like I had never done before. The dieting was much easier than most other diets I had been on, but that is not to say there wasn’t any effort. The fact that I’ve consistently walked every day except for one day when the rain wouldn’t let up, and that I have topped 10,000 steps EVERYDAY for the last month is a personal achievement for me. See, I was one person who always said you’d have to pay me to make me exercise. I was totally averse to any form of physical exertion. I was just plain lazy.

So although my actual weight is a state secret — I will share that I have lost 15 pounds the last 60 days. I know I would’ve lost more had I not indulged in a treat or two (or three) during this whole course, but I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The point is that I have lost THAT much — in a healthy way that didn’t see any adverse effects like hair loss or rashes or some other reaction that I had suffered with other diets. And so far, it looks like this is a lifestyle change that I can actually live with. This one is working for me.

But today is not the day when I will share with you my favorite recipes from the diet or the learnings from the new eating habits I’ve acquired. I want to talk about how my daily walks have brought me around my neighborhood and made me explore it and see things in a new light.

Reacquainting myself with Mother Nature’s domain. I have lived in this neighborhood for the last 18 years, and yet, I had never gone that deep into the hiking trails in the forest that makes up part of Alley Pond Park. I have always stuck around the periphery, but never really went into the forest.

In My Neighborhood

I had never even fully explored the path around the main park which I had viewed from the street hundreds of times.. until I found myself there maybe after the second week I had started walking. I walked the circular path around and round the main field, but I soon tired of it. I didn’t want to have to walk with my mask on 100% of the time, and so I strayed away and walked the outer periphery on the other side.

In My Neighborhood

I preferred to walk solitary so that I could pull my mask down when no one was around, and I’d pull it back up out of respect to the people I came across. I would even walk off the sidewalk just to keep my social distance — again, out of respect.

I discovered places in the park where people seemed to be so familiar — and I had to pull out Google Maps to bring myself to the right side of the park I wanted to emerge from.

In My Neighborhood

Fortunately there was enough pedestrian traffic deep in the forest that I felt I was never too far from anyone to hear a call for help, should I trip or fall.

Most days, I will walk around the park — not in it. My days are structured around work, so I am not wont to aimlessly wander and explore. Most of the time, I turn on some fast beat dance music to walk to, so that I can make good time. I walk fast, but cannot run. Even with my renewed endurance for physical exertion, I know better than to push myself and punish my feet without further priming. These two gems carry a lot of weight day in and day out and the last thing I want is to suffer some injury because I wasn’t careful. I need to be at my laptop by 9am and logged on to work. Although I can respond to emails on my phone, I don’t want to end up tripping or falling because I dared to text while walking. (Although I must confess, I do.)

I’ve managed to count the steps around and know which routes to take to rack up the numbers I need. I still end up doing it at just over an hour, but I am pretty happy at this pace.

I have come to appreciate my neighborhood more. I’ve actually walked early in the morning, under the searing heat of the midday sun and during the night one particularly busy day. The landscape changes depending on the time of day, and I see and hear things differently now, from the many nights I would find myself walking home from the bus to my doorstep.

In My Neighborhood

I’ve walked to a favorite bakeshop maybe 10-15 minutes away by car, only to discover that it took only 5,000 steps — barely. So when I walked back, I had to make up for what I owed to make 10,000 going around my block.

I have come to realize that exercise will not kill me. I may not be doing much, but given that a 45 minute work out used to be such a dreadful thought, being able to walk for hours on end like I did in Central Park a few weeks back is a feat. It’s a personal accomplishment that I now feel anxiety when I see that it’s going to rain when I look at the weather app. So I’ve taken to walking with a small sling bag with an umbrella — just in case.

I feel good that I don’t get as winded walking fast, and I can actually look at the uphill incline without worry or fear. I actually enjoy the walk and look forward to it in the mornings.

I walk

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AMost mornings, the alarm on my phone wakes me up — but half those mornings see me waking up before the alarm rings. It’s the sun peeking into my darkened shades and which somehow triggers a switch in my brain that tells me it’s daylight and I need to get up. Still, I will usually look at the two morning news briefings I’ve subscribed to and read up on what happened around the world the six hours that I slept. Sometimes I just lay in bed for up to an hour before I convince my limbs to carry me off. Or sometimes my bladder wins and reminds the rest of my 54-year-old body that nature is calling. Such is my wake up routine.

I walk into the bathroom and wash my eyes.. I put on a special moisturizer, remembering age makes it imperative that I take better care of my skin. Then I weigh myself. A morning routine that can either be good news or bad news. Then I put on sunblock and change to my walking attire, brush my teeth and drink at a least a tall glass of water to hydrate. I put sunscreen on my face. Even before the pandemic, putting on a good facial sunscreen was part of my make up routine. You tend to take these things for granted in your youth, but hitting certain milestones remind you that taking care of one’s self takes more effort as the years go by.

I begin my exercise routine with a mini workout on the floor I picked up from Pinterest, of all places. I’m trying to work out my abdominal muscles with my pooch being a main problem area. That’s been a good warm up for me, too. After that, I fold my yoga mat and get ready to walk out.

Three weeks now, I’ve been walking every morning, or whenever I get the chance to, racking up not quite anything close to the 10,000 step goal, but still chalking up enough to make it back home sweating and feeling I did something good for myself. This is the first time in all my life that I have exerted effort for a healthier me out of my own efforts on a daily basis. I have even invested in a pair of running sneakers, although all I really do is walk.

I carry a pair of gloves — just in case I need to stop by the grocery or other store along the way, and a small container of hand sanitizer. I pick the mask of the day, put on my headphones (the airpods kept falling, so I have decided to go back to the wired ones), and I walk out.I walk

Often, I carry out something to throw in the garbage disposal. Bottles, cans and paper for recycling, or the trash when the bin is full. Then I choose a route to take. Going on three weeks now, I’ve sort of figured out the best routes to hit my minimum 5,000 steps.

I had taken to avoiding the park — being that I’ve encountered far too many like minded souls walking and jogging the paths, but without a mask. It was a lovely idea at the start, but I have come to realize that social distancing was more problematic because more people were there, and I really could do without the aggravation of walking past or after someone who felt that open air spaces meant a reprieve from the new normal of wearing a face covering. No thank you.

I walk I walk the streets around my neighborhood which are mostly empty. When I spy someone walking my way from afar, I calculate when to walk to the other side of the road or yield the sidewalk so that we can walk past each other with a minimum 6 feet apart. I also relish the empty sidewalks when I can lower my mask when no one is in sight. I pull it up when still a good distance from another who is walking towards me, not just as a precaution, but more as a sign of respect. Wearing a face covering these days is the new way to be courteous and kind.

I am aware how many steps approximately there are around the paths, so much so that I know 6-8 rounds of the field behind my son’s old elementary school will get me well past half my goal. I know when to start heading to the other side of the highway if I want to pick up a nitro cold brew from the neighborhood Starbucks, or if I need to pick up something in the grocery.

I like this new routine. Walking affords me a chance to be alone — and do something for myself. I usually listen to an audio book or a podcast. I listen to my breathing as I walk briskly — feeling the morning breeze on my face. I check my steps. I don’t just walk, I walk towards a goal. And yet it’s a means for me to unwind and relax, despite the exertion.I walk

I’ve explored my neighborhood like never before, going deep into a hiking trail in a mini-forest just blocks away from where I live. I’ve walked to places where I never would’ve gotten to without being driven there. The sense of adventure and exploration envigorates me. That’s something I really need after all this time that we’ve been cooped up because of the threat of the corona virus. Were it not for the prevailing scare, I’d be in the park walking with everyone else. But the virus has forced me to seek paths and trails where I can be alone.

Even as I walk my rounds around the field in my son’s former school, I worry that walking too closely behind someone might cause me to breathe in the air they expel. Paranoid of me, I know. But I take precautions.

I like walking. I like that I’ve somehow mustered the discipline to do it and keep on doing it this long. I’m already starting to worry about the winter months when this might be too difficult, or when we eventually find ourselves back at work when I wouldn’t have the luxury of doing this before logging on at 9am. I do have a gym membership at work — maybe I will find the time to do it.

I want to keep going and doing this — and hopefully, one day graduate to a jog. It might sound lame for a lot of people who are used to running or jogging as a form of exercise, but just getting myself out there is a feat at this point. More than anything else, I’m doing this for me, myself and I.

All the baking and cooking the last couple of months have caused me to gain 10 lbs above my weight pre-pandemic, and I’ve lost 6 of those 10. I’m hoping I can even lose more than what I gained, since I was overweight already even before the lockdown. The diet has helped a lot, but I know the walking has helped more.

I am one of those people who didn’t really give a care about exercising.. But the pandemic and the sheltering in place has forced me to look at ways and means to take care of myself, both physically and mentally. Now I know what it means to actually go out there and just let your feet take you where they will, and let your mind wander.

Here’s to more steps walked in the weeks to come.. as I work on getting to a better version of myself. Here’s to a healthier me.

Hope lives on

Monday musings in paper and inkIt’s less than an hour to midnight, and I’m going to write as spontaneously as I can and hit “publish” before the clock tolls the end of the day. I’ve been writing blogposts right and left throughout my day in my head, but I often get stuck with the thought and end up with no post written. I am trying. But here goes..

Passion project in the works. An idea which hit me last week has gotten me all excited, although it hasn’t turned out as easy as I thought it would be. But I am excitedly taking baby steps towards making this project a reality. I don’t want to write about it too much because I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s just a good feeling to be working on something I know I can do, no matter that it isn’t exactly easy as pie. What’s more, I’m thinking about doing something I really would enjoy doing. While it is still in its infancy stage, I am very excited to be growing the idea in my head. It reminds me of a time when I was struggling to keep up with the expenses of being a law student in Ateneo and our resources were severely strained by business losses. I learned a lot during that time — and what I’m looking to do feels like a return to that first job I had, in a 21st century iteration. More to come..

Walking

I have been taking care of myself — even if it’s only walking. I’ve managed to go 13 out of 14 days straight, walking at least 5,000 steps, and getting some much-needed physical exertion in my daily routine. I’ve also been doing some mini workouts — and I know that doesn’t sound much for people who are used to spending hours in the gym or jogging miles and miles, but this is a big step for me. For someone who has abhorred the idea of exercise for decades, the fact that I’ve made this a habit the last two weeks except for that one day when the rains stopped me, is an accomplishment. I am proud of myself.

I gave in and started Noom. I am not quite comfortable writing about it yet, though, because I’ve only been on the program for two weeks. I was on the Keto diet for longer and although it did work and I lost weight, it was at a rather high price that made me drop the diet altogether. This one seems to be working just fine — and I like the way it’s structured. But more on that later..

I am picking up my tools again. It’s tax time and I get reminded during this time of the year how much I have literally invested in this business. It encourages me to try harder and I know I’ve been remiss with production, but I am hoping to get the shop going again soon.

Mask making has been put on pause momentarily. Just for a bit. I was cutting new pieces to sew last week — but I had decided to slow down, after the donations and then the batch I sent home with the balikbayan boxes. With the prevalence of Covid and the thought that this is really the new normal for the near future, I think wearing masks is something we really have to get used to. I am hoping to finish a few over the weekend. Taking my daily brisk walk around the community has also given me a chance to test which configurations work — and I’m planning to work on what I’ve discovered to make better masks.

Hope. I started this week hopeful. You know how sometimes you can’t help but be filled with dread and anxiety and all those negative feelings? While I am nowhere near giddy, this Monday finds me full of hope. Maybe I’ve found a sense of calm somehow — not that I am not affected by the rising numbers of cases in other states. New York continues to be in a cautious reopening phase, and we are nowhere near normal. But I am hopeful that no matter how difficult the challenges we face may be, the universe gives me a solution to help me pull through. The doors keep opening.

I am blessed to have that insight to find hope even when things can become overwhelming. And for that, I am grateful.

Here’s to an easy week for us — no matter what you’re doing this coming week, I hope you have it easy. I hope that you don’t get burdened by unnecessary stress. Take things one day at a time..

Happy Monday!

A walk in the park

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A

I have always been the laziest person when it comes to exercise. I used to joke that you’d have to pay me to get me to exert effort one way or the other. The thing is, I’ve been trying to find ways and means to stay fit — both mentally and physically — and staying in my safe corner and not doing anything beyond moving about in my small apartment was not going to cut it.

Panic hit me when I realized I was putting on weight with all the baking and cooking and inactivity. I used to clock a decent amount of steps even if it was short of the modest goal of 10,000. I have usually weighed this much only after coming back from a trip from Manila, because of all the delicious food that I couldn’t resist gobbling up.

The diet has always been in the plan, but I knew that if I were to make it work faster and more efficiently, I had to get off my butt and do something about it.

On Monday, I willed myself to don a decent attire to walk. Just walk. I grabbed my phone and tied my hair, put on my mask and off I went. I live in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood where the air is fresh and the streets and sidewalks are clean. There is even a stretch of green in a park just a block away from me.

My first outing saw me walking the long way to the neighborhood grocery. I gave myself a half hour as I did it before dinner, and the clouds were threatening up high. It was nice to actually find myself having the energy and the courage to walk out in public without a determined effort to accomplish any specific task. For the past few weeks, I would only venture out to do the groceries, the laundry, and last week, to get my hair cut.

It felt good. It was pleasantly cool, but by the time I made it to the grocery, my heartbeat was definitely elevated and I felt a light sweat forming on my back. That made me proud. I actually did it! I exercised! I made it to the grocery just in time as it started to drizzle. I picked up some ingredients for a diet soup I wanted to try out, then I walked briskly back before it rained hard.

The next day, I ended work at a decent hour and quickly changed again and walked out the door, this time determined to go to the park a block away.

Walking in the park
I found a starting point and counted how many steps it took me to go around the path surrounding the field in the middle. There was a decent crowd of others walking either leisurely or jogging / running around. There were some who were walking their dogs, or accompanying children who were biking or having their time in the playground.
Walking in the park
The path around the field was not level which made for some elevation at certain parts — I walked.. determined to keep going as far as I could — and I made it to three rounds. I had the Handmaid’s Tale on Audible keeping me company. I don’t know why I decided I wouldn’t listen to music — that I would instead listen to the book that was in my queue. It was me, myself and I, wrapped up with walking the path and listening to what was on my phone.

As I felt my legs starting to feel the strain, I left the park and I decided to walk further on to a grocery on the other side of the neighborhood to pick up some fruit and non fat milk, and then I walked back home.

Neighbors I met along the way thought I had gone to work since I was lugging a shopping bag. I proudly told them I had been to the park and had just stopped by the grocery on my way home.

I made it to my second day with an hour’s walk. I surprised myself with that accomplishment.

Today, I decided I would try to go in the morning, taking advantage of the fact that I’ve been waking up just after 6am of late because of the earlier sunrise. It took me a while to drag myself out of bed, but I changed and walked out with purpose and headed to the park again. My legs were still achy — but I figured the best way to get rid of the strain was to keep going. More pain! After one round, though, I decided I would combine the routes of the last two days and headed back the long way, looping through several blocks I had not walked previously.

I listened to some podcasts as I had finished the audio book, making a mental note to download my next “read”. I am not really a podcast person, but listening to two episodes of something I picked up from The New York Times, I think I’m going to start exploring more. I am quite late to the game, I know..

The park had a haze and smelled of crisp grass and morning dew. You could hear the birds in the stillness, with a few stragglers here and there making their way around the park like me. I was alone, but not alone.

I liked that.
Walking in the park
The park benches beckoned, but I couldn’t give in or I would end up sitting there until my time was up, and I wouldn’t have accomplished anything except stare at all that greenery with no steps clocked.

The mask, I have to admit, makes it a little harder to exert effort. But I couldn’t take it off. There were people huffing and puffing ahead of me or heading towards me, and I couldn’t risk it. Plus, the norm nowadays is to give those without masks “the look” — and I would be the last one to invite that air of disdain — so I comply. I actually managed to do it!

Almost an hour this time, as I had to be conscious of making it back home before 9am, so I can log in and begin the day’s work. I thought I deserved a treat and headed to the neighborhood Starbucks. Nitro Cold Brew in hand, I walked home. (All of 70 calories!)

My legs are a bit sore.. but I think I’m feeling better. And what’s more, I feel great. I actually did three days straight — and I’m hoping I keep this up in the next few days.

I like how I know that I’m doing something good for my body, but more so for my mental health. I am “opening up” to the world at my own pace, in my own way. We cope in different ways. This is how I do it — with a walk in the park.

Another shelter in place Sunday

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI see the sun shining outside but I’m trying to make the most of my Sunday morning in bed. I slept at probably around 2am, yet I woke up at 6:30am. I got up and answered the call of nature and went back under the sheets. Sleepcast to try and help me get back to sleep from my meditation app didn’t help. I thought an Etsy webinar would, but even as I was proven correct it was not really free and just a pitch for another course, I managed to stay awake all throughout.

Now I have a headache.

I’m already planning my nap. I am still trying to make my mind up about breakfast. My tummy is arguing with my head because my headache is telling me to go for the banana bread I baked last week, and my tummy is reminding me I got some asparagus for my Sunday brunch omelette. Or I can even go for a ham omelette ..Hmmm..
My Sunday

Not exactly a picture perfect asparagus and cheese omelette, but my tummy was happy

Pending the decision about what sustenance I will take before drinking my headache drug of choice, I have at least made up my mind the laundry will have to wait. (Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.). Or maybe not. I think the lack of sleep is making me jump from one idea to the next. No, the body wins. I’m taking it easy this Sunday.

I guess that’s one reason I decided to write here, just to help sort the fuzziness in my head. Writing has always been a source of clarity.

I’ve been working on several mask patterns from various sources. I’ve donated my sewingforlives masks and now I want to make masks for myself. I went out yesterday wearing one as I walked to the corner to do errands in 70 degree temps. It was a beautiful day but the mask was hot.

It took some adjusting like always, and I needed to vent the mask by giving it more space between the cloth and my face every once in a while, but I managed. For all the different patterns I’m trying, it all comes down to comfort. Breathability is important or your mask will do you more harm than good. It has to be something you can stand wearing for an extended period of time. I’n writing a separate series of posts on the masks and will share the resources I’ve found, along with tweaks to the pattens I have done.

One of those patterns actually kept me up last night, but I am happy I finished it. While one might think a mask is a mask, I’ve found that there are different nuances in each pattern that can be used together to tweak certain features of a face covering.  This particular pattern looked a little wonky to me when I saw it online, but working on the actual mask showed me a new way to sew the front and back pieces together.

Post coming soon on this mask

So I stitched and unstitched and stitched again, and came up with my first prototype of this pattern, and it might yet turn out to be one of my favorites.

I’m trying to steer clear of the sewing for portions of my day when there is some free time to do the things I want to do. “Me time” has been confined to mostly sewing the past couple of weeks. My art journal has been set aside for the whole month of April, and I will try to do an entry today before May totally slips by. My beads and tools are also waiting for me. I know I had promised to create some pieces in the last week or so, but there was work, and the masks.

So as you can see, I’ve been very focused on creating face coverings and finding one (or two or three) actual mask that I like, and producing enough for me to use when I get back to work. Whenever that may be. Still experimenting..

I realize now that I have to stop stressing about returning to work, and part of that is easing up on my focus on the face coverings. This whole business of sheltering in place and the presence of the threat of corona hanging over my head has been a heavy burden. We try to cope as best we can, and I think I have been doing well for the most part, but I am only human. There’s always that part of us that suffers through the stress no matter how good we get at coping from day to day.

This Sunday, I’m going to work on at least one jewelry piece, and maybe even come up with one item or two for the shop. I already know which section of my art journal I will work on. I don’t really want to plan beyond that, because all I can think of right now he’s wanting to go back to sleep. And after everything I have written here, I still haven’t made up my mind about breakfast.

My headache has also not abated. It seems to be intent on keeping me company today. I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet, and I’m already planning my nap.

Sundays should not be so complicated. So let’s begin with my asparagus Omelette. Progress. At least breakfast is taken care of, and that’s one less decision to make today.

Dinner saw me baking a small batch of Pao de Quiejo using a different recipe from my first attempt a couple of weeks back. Simple enough. Headache crept away midday but I just didn’t have the energy for much.

My Sunday

I hope your Sunday went as well as mine. I hope that like me, you will take time to do something that you like doing, and find the time to just pause and breathe.

Another weekend sheltering in place– grateful to be safe at home and getting ready for the week ahead.

Long weekend by design

I’ve been writing this post in my head since Saturday morning, but I thought I’d chill and really enjoy the weekend by not doing anything. And I loved it! Although Columbus Day is really just a banking and school holiday (which means we labor on!), I decided to give myself a long weekend and took the day off Monday.

Monday and almost noon saw me still on morning mode. I actually got to sleep in — and then I remembered I forgot to turn my “out of office” on. It’s not really a work holiday for us but it is for my big guy so I thought I’d just enjoy the day off. Turns out he has plans with his Dad but I’m not complaining. I get to be here when he wakes up. He actually woke up before I did!

Work is light this week but I didn’t want to push it. I have the days in my vacation bank and I really need to use up the ones that will not carry over. Why do I need a reason for a day off? Resting and recharging is enough reason. I’m all for taking a break, more so after having quite a challenging week.

I didn’t make any specific plans. At first I wanted to take a day trip this Saturday but decided I’d do that another weekend. I wanted to not have to stress about anything. And there were shows to watch and things to do at home. (Like bedding that needs washing.. 4 comforters washed, thank you!)

I wanted to take a walk in the sunset but then the couch and the comfort of a warm and cozy perch was too good to give up.  My feet refused to carry me out the door.  The scented candles had me all hypnotized and set.

It was a productive weekend, and I got to rework and semi-finish two triangle scarves I’ve been crocheting. (I will write about that more in the craft blog.)

I went to the office on Tuesday with less of a “wish it was the weekend still kind of feeling”.  With only so many weeks left to the year and knowing that some of my vacation days will not carry over, I think I will plot my next few long weekends just to make sure I get the most of my “me” time.  I find that I need more “relax and recharge days” at this age — and it’s not just the physical — sometimes I just need a mental break.

I even allowed myself the luxury of whole wheat bread toast slathered with butter and mango calamansi (calamondin) jam.. for breakfast.. and then lunch.. and whenever.  I let the diet go and went on vacation mode, only to switch back when the work week began.  And that felt good.. pounds gained notwithstanding.

I have always said that we must be forgiving of ourselves first, so yes, I gave “me” a pass.  Can’t wait for the next long weekend by design.. hopefully soon.

 

 

 

 

Self love

I always harp on the fact that we must take care of ourselves, too– something we forget when we are so busy taking care of others. Most people find the ideal to be putting others before yourself, when the truth of the matter is, you need to be whole to take care of the people you hold dear. So many lessons I’ve learned through the years come to mind. And these bits of wisdom need some reinforcement even in my own world. Sometimes we need reminding, too. (I do.).

You need to find your balance to help others keep theirs. There is always some chaos in our lives– be it at home, at work, or in the world we live in, in general. I am thankfully past my personal crisis which saw me take my journey to singlehood, but being a single parent to a teen has its challenges. I work in a fast paced and very demanding environment supporting a chief something in our company and there is the everyday stress of getting things done and making things happen.

I find my balance through meditation (which, unfortunately, I have neglected for quite a bit.). I have a subscription to Headspace which I recommend to friends. It’s really not the app — it’s the meditation that I recommend. You can find your own — it just so happens that this one works for me when I get to it. It’s literally a voice in my head.

When I cannot meditate, I try to find some quiet time just to recalibrate. I look at a picture or remember something that brings me to my happy place. Those happy thoughts can do wonders when we are besieged or otherwise in turmoil. Otherwise, our imbalance spills to others. You are human. There is only so much that you can bottle up. Dealing with your own chaos will help you find the calm you will need to bring that calm to others.

Stay beautiful– literally. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. So if “beautiful” to you is no make up– that’s fine. But hold that idea of beauty close and live it. Do what makes you feel beautiful. Hair coloring? Red lipstick? Instagram make up? Wearing your favorite color. Do it for you and not because you want to be pretty in someone’s eyes. Accept your flaws and love yourself in spite of it! Even “simple” can be beautiful — just do what makes you feel like you look like your best “you”.

Be more forgiving of yourself. We are always our harshest critics. We criticize ourselves and mete punishment out as if there was no undoing our mistakes — when the truth of the matter is that we are simply being human. To accept that we make mistakes like everyone else is an act of kindness we owe ourselves. Kindness should begin within for us to be able to give it. Like one of my older mentors kept saying, you cannot give that which you don’t have. You cannot give genuine kindness if you cannot be kind to yourself, and that begins with self forgiveness.

Accept who you are– both the good and the bad. One thing I notice is that most people have a difficult time accepting compliments. It is actually easier to accept criticism because to some, swallowing it all is a form of self-flagellation.

When I was in grade school, we were taught by the nuns that the gracious way to accept a compliment was to say “Thank you,” instead of pulling an excuse out of thin air to deny the compliment. We were taught that that was “fishing” for more compliments because you needed to be convinced you were as good or as pretty as you were being told. Which was actually true.

Now that we’re older, I’ve had to do the same with fellow adults who had a hard time accepting simple compliments — and now they accept those words as truth without being bashful about it.

If someone says something nice to you, just say thank you. That is accepting the good that is in you– and there is a lot of that deep inside if you only let yourself acknowledge it.

Acknowledging we are actually good and beautiful is our way of loving ourselves. When we become comfortable enough in our own skin, we find something to anchor us to the ground when things get rough. Only in loving ourselves can we truly love another.

#10daywritingchallenge Day10

Taking it easy

Taking a breakWhat do you do to unwind? Or not even full blown relax — but just to slow down and catch your breath.. Sometimes we take it forgranted that we need to take care of ourselves, too. Or that we need to hit the pause button once in a while.

Stop whatever you’re doing and just sit still. I know it can take a lot to not panic about work piling up, emails coming one after the other or of thinking of deadlines– but I try not to get to that point when I fall apart. So when I fill like the pressure is mounting, I push back from my desk, put my hands on my lap, close my eyes and take a deep breath.

Scribble your thoughts on a piece of paper. I don’t know about you but that, to me, is like speaking out what’s bottled up inside me. Sometimes I write one sentence, sometimes two.. sometimes just a word.

Have a drink at the end of the day. Whether it’s out with a friend or two or by yourself at home, a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail or even a cup of tea can actually help to calm the tension out of your system.

I like quiet conversations and just being able laugh.. to tell my stories without fear of being judged. To vent and complain without editing myself. The conversations may be nonsensical and might not make sense to anyone– and then the laughter comes and I know everything will be fine. I get up and leave to begin my journey home– with a lighter burden and a quieter heart.

And yes there are times when I can’t have that drink or those conversations that make me feel lighter, and at that point, I just say I’ll get to that drink.. sometime soon.

#10DayWritingChallenge Day7

Saturday into Sunday

I promised myself I’d make it a no pressure but productive weekend, and so far I think I’m on track. I’m just a tad sad, though, that my last post here was practically a month ago. Four posts are in my virtual editorial calendar and I’m hoping at least two make it to publication here.

The days have been busy but not quite as stressful as the first part of the year. Or could it be that I’ve started coping better, so I am not all over the place and ready to pull my hair out when things start taking me over. I haven’t been meditating much so it can’t be that. It could be my newfound focus on losing weight and taking better care of me.

For starters, I get ahead of myself when I feel like I’m getting worked up. I step back and remind myself there are other things I can focus my energy on. Maybe that’s one reason I haven’t been too keen about keeping my meditation on a regular cadence. I am not stressed out enough to seek it out. I know that’s not the right way to get my mind into a better plane but I will try. I recognize meditation has done wonders for me during my lowest of lows, and I really should heed my own advice not to wait for an emergency before attending to things that ail us.

Weight has been lost, indeed! Six weeks ago, I decided I’d get on the keto diet bandwagon. Now this journey has been a pretty interesting one and merits a post all its own, but I am happy to report that I have lost 13 lbs, 2 lbs short of the achievable weight that I was aiming for. Not bad at all. I am back to my usual weight and can now work towards (1) firming up the flab (which I have a lot of!), and (2) losing more. I am not quite where I should ideally be, but what I have lost brings me to just “slightly overweight” instead of “really overweight”. So I can definitely say I’m making progress on the “taking care of me” part.

As the weekend spills over to Sunday, I’m feeling okay with Monday not being too far behind. No wishing for a longer weekend– I am actually excited by the thought that a new week is just right around the corner.