And the holidays are here

Christmas in New YorkDisclosure: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

I actually started drafting this post maybe two weeks ago, and then I got caught up with work and real life so all I came up with was the banner above. Tonight, many weeks after my last attempt to get back to regular blogging, I’ve promised myself I will hit send at the end of whatever I write here, and hopefully write more consistently.

It’s Saturday and I’m hoping to get two packages out by Monday to cross the oceans to friends I want to surprise. That thought makes me smile. Somehow the holidays have always been about giving to others more than to myself. There’s joy beyond description when I see the joy in the faces or the voices of those that get my card, my letter, my gift.

Isn’t that what the holidays are about?

Upon Angelo’s insistence, we got a new Christmas tree this year. As I’m basically an online shopper, I ended up getting this tree from Target. I chose it because it was unlit, above 6 feet tall (I ended up getting something that was 7 feet) and of course, on sale. So it arrives as promised, and while it was the size it was touted to be, I was kind of disappointed that it was similar to the tree we had which shed blades like there was no tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, the tree was fine, but I was looking for a certain type and chose something else. As someone who doesn’t drive, I take pride in my online shopping savvy, and the convenience of free shipping to my home was something I could use, more so for an item the size of a Christmas tree. It was good — but I wouldn’t have minded except that it clogged my vacuum cleaner, so the only way to tidy up was to brush the carpet. I have a feeling this will be the first and last year of this Christmas tree. I will endeavor to find an artificial tree similar to the ones I used to know when I was a child.

Christmas trees are a big deal in my family. A good sized manger, too. But I have no room and I don’t have the manger here in New York, so I make do with a tree and lights around my window sill.

I bought a new set of Christmas balls in a teal or is it periwinkle color, mixed with matte and shimmery silver. You’ll have to forgive me for not posting a picture of my tree. It’s kind of camera shy. I used lights from last year and will be discarding the sets that don’t work anymore.

I decorated my windows and put up my parol or Christmas lantern, the newer one. I take pride in the fact that it identifies my home as Filipino because we’re really the only ones who have this kind of lantern which is sort of a cultural signature in the way we celebrate Christmas.

And I got Christmas cards.. haven’t sent them out and it’s (almost) Christmas. Hmmmm… Baby steps, I say.

To be continued…

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Verses in my head

WORK IN PROGRESS: Fabric Flower Brooch with Freshwater PearlsThe words came early to me.  I wrote my first verses before I was ten, but it didn’t occur to me to save them until I was in fourth grade or 9 years old.  I started like most wannabe poets, making sure the verses rhymed and make sense.  They were never short blurbs, and it was more important for me to achieve the appearance of seeming poetry rather than expressing what I felt within in words.

As I grew older, I became more relaxed with the words and the phrasing.  I even let my punctuations loose and just wrote as the words came. 

My love affair with words has been a life long journey.

The uncanny thing was that the words stopped coming when I embarked on what I thought was the most important journey of my life: starting a family of my own.  For more than a decade, my voice was muted.  Perhaps it was a reflection of how the real me disappeared inside the shell of what I became in that new life.  So I guess it followed that when I rediscovered the person I had been underneath what I had been molded to be, the words came.

Even if I only managed one piece last year, the fact the the words and my feelings so easily came together again reassured me my voice was intact within.  

I’m writing about this journey in verse again because I’ve taken to writing new poems once more.  A friend chided me when I shared what is, joyous news for me, teasing me, do I start with “Roses are red..”‘.   (No, I don’t.. lol).   

The fact that I am able to finish a piece, no matter how short, is a personal feat that brings a smile to my face.  It brings peace to my heart.  I find it reassuring because my literary hand is steady again, writing freely.  My voice has awakened, and it is speaking to my heart.

I’m still not quite comfortable calling my work poetry.  I call them verses.   And I hope the words keep coming.  I am at that point in my life when a decade long silence is no longer on the horizon.  I write or I don’t.  The fact that I am writing again, I guess, means that I will be churning out more in the days to come.  That one there, is a thought that gives me fulfillment, reassuring me I’m in a very good place.

When you find the words

I started writing poetry at age 7.  They were the kind of sing song poems that had a set cadence to them that meant each line was approximately the same length and the last words rhymed.  I had scribbled down my first poems in pencil in an old diary which was quite the find for me back then.  I think that was when I started my love affair with paper.  I liked notebooks and journals and I liked to write on them.

There were times when I could churn out one piece after another.  And there were times when I would experience a dry spell.  Like the last 15 years.

I wrote back when there were no computers to encode them in yet.  But I was always diligent about keeping my pieces, published (in the school paper) and not– and through the several trips I’ve taken home, I’ve managed to bring them here.  So I have the words of the younger Dinna scribbled in my own hand here.

Words have always been a bestfriend.  I am used to giving formal definitions based on how I use and know the word.  I guess you can see where the writing comes from.  I can say something formally or simply.  In law school, I learned how to structure a story so that the retelling of something I had read could be better explained.  So all those complicated cases were easily and well-digested into the facts/issue/decision blocks that we had to put them into.  Verbally, I could explain it so it would not be as complicated as it was written.

But poetry or prose was a totally different thing.  I didn’t want to call them poetry because I didn’t feel they deserved that categorization.  I wrote prayers as well, so I had a series of prayers I called “Prayer in Prose.”  I wrote scripts for speech choirs, and I wrote songs.  I penned our graduation song and corps song in the the Citizens Army Training Corps back in high school, and one of my dreams had always been to join the MetroPop.  Never happened — but that was a dream I nurtured in my heart for the longest time.

I would sit and just feel it flow.  Back when I was conscious about rhyming, I would think hard to make the lines sound melodic.  As I grew older, I became a free spirit in terms of writing and found myself writing more spontaneously than before, not caring so much about rhyming or rhythm itself.  It was a different form of release and while I did not write to be published, I found great fulfillment in writing and being able to show emotion in the words I wrote.  Even now, when I come across something I had written, I hear a different ‘me’ speaking through those lines.  It is a revelation and at the same time a way of reminding myself of who I was and who I am now,

For some reason, the creative juices stopped  flowing when I moved to New York 15 years ago.  The last poem I wrote I had written just before I left Manila in 2000.  Not for lack of trying, but somehow the inspiration never quite hit me.  I had enough emotion, both happy and sad, regular and extremes, but the words just didn’t come.  Where it would flow like there was a mill in my head just churning out the words, there was just absolute silence.

Until a week ago.

I had this line that kept stabbing at my brain for days on end.  I wrote a stanza.  It showed promise.  Then I sat down and read the lines to me and it didn’t sound good.  So I rewrote it from scratch, and in no time, the whole poem was done.  As I ended the poem, I found myself amazed that finally, I found the words again.

And it wasn’t a giddy happy poem, or a heart-wrenching piece.  It was more “middle-of-the-road” or “off-road” even.

It came out at the start as seemingly a poem with sad notes.  And then you get to the middle where you see that there is that realization that there has been so much gained, that even if lost, I would still come out the winner.  That from the start of the poem until the end, I was claiming victory — no matter what happened.

I typed up the poem and sent it to four friends.  Two who knew my work from way back — friends from high school who both knew the words I had written, because they had, at one time or another, been the subject and recipient of my poetry.  A third person who had exchanged poetry with me and who would know what the words I wrote meant.  And another, I sent the poem to, because she knew what the lines meant to me as I wrote them in the here and now.

I feel as if I had unlocked the gates which had been barred shut for more than a decade.  I haven’t tried writing again although I know that if I did, I would be able to write with more ease.  I don’t really consider the poem finished — even though I think it’s more than good enough as it is.  It is to me, a new beginning.  I am writing again — and I am so floored by that thought.  I think of it and utter the words and I can’t help but beam with pride.  Something has been set free.  My spirit is soaring again.

But I’m not ready to share it with the world.  It is more than enough that I have written poetry again.  There are feelings that are too private to shout out — even when the stop has been pulled and you feel it all gushing out of you and part of you just wants to share it with the universe.  This one needs some working on, and I feel myself enveloped with that trepidation to claim this is worth sharing.  “I’m shy,” as a friend often teases me.  Ha!

Our brains and our hearts work in very mysterious ways.  Like the masters have their artistic blanks — when they just cannot create — sometimes we just lose the words.  Then we find them again.  I’m just glad to be reacquainting myself with the words that had helped me sing a long, long time ago — be it sad or happy tunes.. It’s just another part or me I welcome back.

Grey Saturday

I started writing this midday Saturday at almost 1pm, in my PJs and I have gone from shoring up my village (yes, PinayNewYorker/GothamChick plays Clash of Clans! — as GothamChick), watched an episode of The Brink (my HBOnow subscription has been dormant the last 4 weeks!  Wasted money!)  and I’m trying to decide on how big that afghan I’ve been working on should be.  (Note to self: This part of a handmade project should be determined/decided before I start the first row of stitches.)  I’m also trying to see how much yarn a pullover I’m making for myself will need (something I failed to do with the afghan), and I’m trying to figure out if I will brave the chilly temperatures outside to get some “taking care of me” stuff done.  No trips to the city for me this weekend — that much, I’ve decided.  Not with this kind of weather.

But — I am here, and I am happy to be tapping away on the keyboard.. Writing has proven to be quite the best outlet for me, be it longhand, via art or through this little corner of the blogsphere.  And I’m trying to catch all the bits and pieces racing through my mind before I completely forget about them.  Little thoughts.. big ideas.  Don’t you hate hitting a eureka moment and then losing it midstream?  It hits you in the quiet moments how you should have taken the time to stop and ponder.  And maybe the thought would’ve developed into something bigger.

Week in brief.  This one’s a mixed bag.  It’s been rather challenging and not without its surprises.  (My 11-year-old locked himself out the other day, leaving his keys IN the house — so Mom rushes home.  Thank God for understanding bosses.)  It’s also been a time of reflection.  (Need to do an entry for my “What do I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want?” journal.)  Sometimes I feel I need a reality check when I get carried away.  (Someone always reminds me about reality by texting me his version of “News Flash, Sister” bits..)  Disappointment and frustration have a way of bringing us down to earth.  This ship has touched the ground.

But it’s a week with its gems.  One thing I have learned in the recent past is that you really have to focus on the positive and bask in that — and like another friend said, we make the most of what we have.  And we did.  And I am happy.  I tell myself I should be so lucky.  It may seem most days that I could be surrounded by better people, but I count the ones who make me smile and I think I’m in more than just a very good place.  I’ve always been that person who won’t stop herself from getting a treat.. I get dessert when I want to — I am not deprived.

I look at the pictures I take these days, and the sadness and anger are no longer evident. (Either I hide them better or maybe they no longer dominate my psyche.) And I’m happy to be back to Medium — and these PJs I’m wearing had languished in my closet for ages because I bought it before I had my boy, and I couldn’t fit into it the last 11 years or so.  Well, sometimes, I did.. that’s why it stayed in the closet.  But it had been tucked into a far away corner and I just rediscovered it recently — and am wearing it again.  Reason indeed to be happy! I count my blessings and I think about the things that are weighing me down — and maybe it’s the age or just experience, but I can let go much easier now.

Weekend plans.  I’m in the thick of trying to put some order into my world.  So more organizing, more crafting, and again, laundry.  (I would rather do one big load every other weekend than do it every week.)  I need to get moving with the letter writing, although I think I wrote some fabulous birthday messages this past week.  I am trying to get ahead of some important dates coming up.  I would like to think that receiving something in writing other than an email or text message greeting still counts for something.

I’ve managed to repair some jewelry / accessories that had broken through time, and while Saturday has come and gone with nary a new piece created, I’m still hoping Sunday will be the day for me.  I’m seriously working on reopening the shop again, but I think I need a new header piece.  I am continuing to work with my crocheting and am getting on with the projects.  But that’s for the other blog where I discuss my crafts.

It has gotten chilly in New York and it’s that time of the year again when we have to wear layers.  I’ve dug into my closet to bring out the sweaters — and my summer clothes will have to be tucked away higher or deeper inside until it gets warmer.  We’ve started wearing coats again… still on the lighter side, but we can hardly go out now dressed in summer clothes.  Chilly!!

Weekend thoughts.  I am looking forward to Monday but I wish the weekend was longer this time around.  (A real pause followed that sentence.)  And yet on second thought, I think I would want it to end so that the things that keep bouncing around in my brain can fall silent in the din of work and being busy again.

I have a half dozen wishes in my head.  A friend who just celebrated a birthday made a wish after blowing the candle on his birthday cupcake.  I always wish birthday celebrants whatever it is their heart desires.  Rather than zeroing in on something specific I wish for them, I think that to wish that they get that which they wish for is the better gift.  If you want another piece of cake, I wish you that.  If you wish success, I wish you that.  If you wish to have more “me time”, I wish you that.  If you want dessert this time around even if you don’t like sweets, you get it this time because it’s your birthday.

I’ve always been big on birthdays, and those who have known me a long time know that I make a big production of greeting friends and family, even if it is a belated greeting.  It is always a good reason to celebrate the day someone came into this world — even if the celebrant is not big on birthdays.  WE celebrate them!  And I’ve always said that birthdays have no do-overs.   Milestones or not, we should make it a point to celebrate the occasion.

I greeted a friend a week late on FB and she responded back.  At least I didn’t get lost in the flood of greetings that came her way last week.  Even a short greeting is good.. the point is — as we say in the vernacular — you remembered.

Speaking of which, I keep hearing this piece playing in my head — “Remembering.”  A friend had introduced me to Avishai Cohen not too long ago, and it’s a very relaxing yet dramatic tune that I keep hearing in a loop.  The last time I listened to this, I found myself in a different kind of blissful heaven, and after listening to it, I’m sure you’ll agree and find yourself there, too.