The Gift of 50 – an Update

So the new year is upon us and my 50th year on this earth is more than halfway done.  Time to do this more systematically, so in the following weeks down to the first week of April, I’m hoping to do a report on the specific tasks I have set out under this banner.  I had written about the idea rather haphazardly in February of last year, and then I had updated this as of the 13th of April.  There are already a few I had sent out and done, but which, I have not been able to write about.

As I write this, I actually have around 4 in the works, and I hope to send out more after the weekend.

Back in February, I wrote:

We always underestimate our ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.  And I think that we have to start thinking small and doing things that are easier but not any less impactful than the millionaire philanthropists out there who can change tides in one fell swoop.  A simple greeting in the morning can change the way someone’s day turns out.  I know it has worked for me, so I imagine it can mean something to others as well.

I know it sounds so cliche to say that we can all make a difference.  But we actually can.  And I think we’ll all be more successful in doing that if we start thinking about the everyday things we can do and do them more often.

There is a sense of purpose that goads me into actually doing this, and sometimes, just seeing a smile on someone’s face is enough to keep me going.  Knowing that something I want to discard can actually make a difference in someone else’s collection makes me stop and put that something aside.

I still can’t help but wish I could do more, and in time, I will.  There is always the next year.. let’s take care of this one first.

This blog has a page dedicated to this topic for regular updating.  I haven’t been too good with that but I’m trying to keep up and catch up.

#16in2016: An update

16in2016 (2)So at the start of the year, I had written a list which, if I’m not mistaken, I haven’t really revisited yet.   It was something I wanted to be able to focus on, so much so that I created a page for it on my navigation bar.  It seems I haven’t really gone back — hence, this check in.   (That is, unless my search button is failing me miserably by not turning up the posts I’m looking for.)  With half the year done, I think it’s about time I revisited what I had written down there and just do a quick check of where I’m actually at.

First of all, I’m not going to make excuses.  I already saw at least one that is long overdue and still dormant (read: nowhere near done), but that is the point of going back to the list for a quick check.

Secondly, I’m just doing a random update once again just to check on my own progress and remind myself I had set these goals at the start of the year.  While there are posts that

1.  Read six books.  I am still struggling to read the first of the six but hope to get going once done.  Why the struggle?  Time?  My eyes?  (Of course, there is no excuse when you are not reading a hard copy, but the one I’m struggling with is one.)  I have not quite given up on this and will hopefully chalk up at least one by the end of September.  I have one classic to read with my little guy for the summer reading assignment, and that should count for one.  Maybe.

2. Plan my trip to Boston.  I have already coordinated with my friend that this will be a day trip.  Lunch in Boston?  That would be nice.  Targeted for the fall.

3. Learn something new via an actual class every quarter of 2016.  “Every quarter” was a bit ambitious, but I have attended one beginner sewing class and am about to enroll in the next class for the fall.  It’s a continuing learning experience working the sewing machine, and there’s the jewelry class on stringing that I am hoping to enroll in as well. (Too many classes!!)

4.  Watch at least 1 concert.  I have long given up on the Billy Joel concert I had hoped to catch… and this is not really one of those “Musts”… nice to have or do but not necessarily a dealbreaker.

5.  Go to the gym at least once a week — and maybe even earn a locker!  (Go 10x the previous month and you get YOUR OWN LOCKER the following month.) … next!

6. Lose another 10 lbs at least by April this year.  (Lost over 20 in 2014 and maintained my weight in 2015.)   It’s now August and I have gained and lost and gained and lost, but haven’t quite hit anything below the weight I had plateaued at. (Sp?)  I am just glad that I am able to get back into shape although I haven’t been as earnest about it as I had hoped to be.  I will say it again, I am a work in progress.

7. On positivity: Get the ball rolling on the Thank You Postcard Project – I just revisited the Instagram account I had set up for this and am seriously rethinking the project.  While one component of the undertaking which is my Paper Flower Garden has grown exponentially in the last couple of months, the very core which was a postcard project has been frozen in limbo.  I haven’t quite given up on doing it as I had originally intended to execute the project, but I am thinking I will need to rethink the whole thing to make it work this time.

8.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again.  This has been a year’s effort which has been thwarted by other undertakings that occupied my weekends.  I’m thinking that with the new sewing class on Saturdays, I might actually get to squeeze something in finally.   Perhaps restudy my old Fur Elise piece which I brought home with me or finally get to learn the “To Make You Feel My Love” piece I bought online.  Trying!

9.  Work more earnestly on my craft blog.  I have been trying to write more but have not been as earnest as I should be.  There is a lot riding on the craft blog with my plan to repopulate the shop and to do other projects related to it, so I have been trying to be more prolific on that side of the web.  Trying is still the operative word but at least it’s not as dead as it used to be.

10. Work on creating one piece every week, whether for sale in the shop, a gift for friends or to wear myself.  Travel and other projects have sort of slowed me down but I am getting ready to get crafting again.  I don’t think I’ve been that off the track with the one piece every week goal, but the fact is that I’ve been busy creating personal pieces rather than for the shop which is both good and bad.  At least I’m starting to create again, but with the holidays creeping up on us, it’s about time I started working on the shop more earnestly.  Also, a recent order (yay!) sort of work me up from a deep slumber reminding me I do have a shop I need to attend to!

11. Leave one pre-loved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read. I had hoped to choose the books and leave them out, and I will definitely do this by the fall.  I have been trying to get rid of the things I don’t need anymore, and this is definitely something that I want to do to get my books off to others who might appreciate them more.

12. Write one long hand letter or card every month.  This is the easiest so far!  Done, done and done!

13.  Start a new Art Journal.  I just found my art journal stashed away in my hiding place and just about ready to fall apart at the spine.  I still have a few pages left and am so determined to finish the current background pages, but I will definitely finish this before starting the new one.  First, I want to find the right book which will not fall apart like this one did — it will mean searching for an older, sturdier book in the coming weeks.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month beginning March.  The recent trip home saw me bringing a lot of things to give away and I have made major progress in this front.  There is still much to destash, and I am constantly sorting the ones to be given away.

15.  Write poetry again.   I have only done it once but I did put pen to paper and managed to write what was, on the outset what seemed to be a sad and heartrending poem — but which, in the end, actually rides on a high note that says I will be a better person after all is said and done.  While I would normally share my writings, this one remains too private and personal for me to share at this time — but I am so happy that I have opened my heart again to write anew.  It has been such a drought all these years — with nary a poem written until I found my voice again.  To have actually started writing again is already a giant step — to have finished the poem is actually quite an accomplishment in itself.  More to write soon!

16.  Celebrate my birthday by doing 50 feel-good deeds.  I haven’t been keeping track but I will do an update on this as well.  It’s an ongoing project, and it’s been moving on quite nicely, although I haven’t really been keeping tabs.  Oops. .. Some of it I have lost track of, but I will try and see where I’ve gotten with what I’ve done so far.

Not bad, don’t you think?

My summer thus far

Weeks of silence.

I have  been here and not here.  I just came back from two and a half weeks in Manila which was both long and short at the same time.  If I don’t seem to make sense as you read this post, blame it on the jetlag.

I landed just before midnight on Tuesday and was safely home after 1am the following day.  The trip is long but I’ve been doing this almost yearly the last 15 years.  It isn’t so much the butt ache that the long haul flight is, but more the pre and post heart ache of returning and leaving the land of my birth that makes a bigger impact on me each time.  This is going to be a yearly summer sojourn as the boy prefers to spend his summers with the cousins — foregoing the more festive and shorter trip home over the holidays.  This is already his second summer spent there.  We haven’t even gotten over the Jetlag yet and he is already asking to spend more time in Manila next year.  
manila

Business commitments and projects hanging over his head  made it difficult for the dad to schedule their departure.  He brings the boy down and the deal was for me to bring him back.  Last year, the boy spent seven weeks in Manila, departing right before the Fourth of July holiday just as school ended.  Two weeks with his father and then a two week lull spent with my family and cousins on the other side.  I arrived and spent three weeks with him and my family before we flew home together to New York just in time for the school opening.  This year, we decided to bring him back two weeks before school opens so that he can adjust back more easily.  Four days since we arrived and he and I are still heavily jet lagged and working as if we were still on Manila time.  I’m doing okay– he’s going to be fine.  

My summer has been about two trips across the globe to join and celebrate bestie Donna’s 50th with her family in Fiji and this one in Manila.  I can’t complain.  I usually would be happy with local trips and just one long splurge back home, but the golden year celebration paved the way for the two trips to warmer climes.  It’s not something I’m looking to do every year– but I am happy I gave it the effort to make it happen.  Besides the obvious personal treat to have more sun and fun with people who mean a lot to me, taking these trips are part of a transition to a new world that is taking shape right now.

Trips on the local side are also transforming into something different from the usual family vacations we used to take.  I am hoping to take more solo trips in the future, although my first day visit to Boston is still in the works.  (I am hoping to pull this off by the fall to visit my friend, Doctor Lisa).  One trip at a time.  My ability to travel is changing but not being curtailed, but it is a big adjustment I’m trying to make slowly.

Many years ago at a random hair appointment at a fancy salon in the city, the stylist who did my hair then planted an idea in my head about taking trips on my own.  That isn’t exactly something I had ever considered since moving to NYC in 2000 to start a family, and even when she mentioned it, it wasn’t exactly something that I thought I would ever think of doing.  But that was then.  My world is changing in ways that now make that thought actually appealing and maybe a necessity. and Fiji was the first such trip I took.  

This summer is a summer of firsts in that respect.  To actually be able to think about a vacation without my little guy is a bit of a stretch..and I did it!  I guess knowing bestie Donna was going to be there with her family really helped a lot. 
Fiji

Even during the trip home, I didn’t go about it as I normally did in previous years.  I didn’t plan for anything specific except that weekends would be saved for the family.  Secondly, I wanted to make a deliberate effort to see people I had many trips ago meant to see but never did for one reason or another. Instead of scheduling meet ups weeks ahead by announcing my arrival, I chose to stay quiet the first four days to maximize time at home, then I sent out the messages.  Some fot responses, and those that were met by silence, I simply dismissed as a result of people just being too busy.  Other friends I waited to say hello, and others I simply just didn’t have the time or resources to meet.  I kept things simple and scheduled from day to day.  I have never really been one to expect a grand asalto, and even coffee or a drink would suffice.  I was deeply touched that my godson and his wife even flew in from Cebu where they are now based to see me.  And friends from way back indulged my simple requests to have my favorite treats.

One thing I had to do this trip was to plan my expenses properly due to budget constraints.  Where I would normally pick up the tab, I had to opt out of for practical reasons.  I even decided to forego my usual craft haul shopping — something that wasn’t really difficult to do, given how I still have a ton of supplies here in New York.  I did look around for local handmade fabric for my sewing projects, but the rains were not much help in getting around.  

All in all, it has been a productive summer for me.  I can even say at this point that I can safely put a dot to the sentence of summer 2016 without feeling like it just passed by uneventfully.  I am still not quite where I had hoped to be in terms of the year-long goals I had, but I have certain obstacles in my way I have no control of.  I’m not sweating it.  I think I did pretty well even, compared to Summers past.  

I’m sort of in between phases in my life which seems to be quite a long winded refrain I keep coming back to— but that’s the truth.  So I have been doing new things and shedding practices of the past, trying to move forward each day.  This summer might yet be unique if only for that– as I hope that I will have crossed fully to the next phase by the time the seasons bring me to this time next year. 

In the meantime, summer is not yet totally over.  Let’s see what happens the next few weeks as we head into fall.
 

Between the polymer clay experiments, crafts, art journal everyday and just being mom and wife —

.. there just hasn’t been time to get down to sit here and write a post. So where do I begin?

It’s Labor Day weekend and my Sunday feels like a Saturday. (Can we get more three-day weekends, please?) We didn’t plan anything particularly special for the weekend. It was a time to take a break and I have just been enjoying the down time. I’m playing catch up with the crafts and hope to post at least five new items in my Etsy shop before the work week begins.  I’ve baked some beads and need to create pieces to wear it on for quality control testing.  (My continuing polymer clay journey..)

There just haven’t been enough hours in a day.  There was a long delayed trip to Florida.   Work has been busy.  (New boss.)  School opens this week.  Of course there was the matter of preparing for and thankfully being spared by Hurricane Irene.

I’ve been stuck on three layouts for my art journal which I will hopefully get done this week.  (Looking for my black V5.)  I’ve taken to creating layouts on 11 x 17 sheets which I fold into two and can carry around in my tote.  I work around words or phrases and have taken to creating backgrounds ahead.  I’m actually way, way behind but the important thing is that I am continuing with it even if I cannot do it “every day”.

I’ve finished the second installment of “A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE”, A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2), but have deferred going to the third book because I’ve picked up the The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever.  (Yes, I’m giving weight loss yet another try.)

Monday!