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I’ve had a clean slate from day one of 2013, and swept from that slate included my first ever day job. Looking back at my goals for the supposed last year before the world melts away, I’ve only done one out of three. I can blame this on a number of things—throw myself in.

I’ve occasionally expressed that I want to run a business, but I never really had the time to think about it, more so to move forward from mind to paper to its actual existence, when I’m in front of the computer emailing clients all day. What I did to make it up to myself was squander the rest of the night’s hours for amusement and some sleep.

This year, I’m proud to say I have not bummed since the first of January. I’ve been maximizing—even too much sometimes—what time I have control of now. I’ve incorporated discipline into the weekly skeleton I crafted; without this, I’d still be sleeping at 3AM, waking up lunchtime and accomplishing nothing of the baby project I’m working on as I write this.

Each day is still a work day for me—rise and shine at nine, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, sleep at 1AM latest (still struggling), and do one or many of the following in between:

  • Watch and read up on craft tutorials, design, life, drying time of glue, and everything potentially relevant to my plans
  • Read the morning paper
  • Check out materials and visit suppliers
  • Cook
  • Meet a friend
  • Exercise (semi-true)

Productivity is key. Ideas, plans and wishes remain abstract without action. Frankly it can be tiresome, especially when I fail to put a limit to my daily workload and balance it with leisure, but thinking about how it leads to my personal goals just ignites the enthusiasm I could not attain for the big chunk when I felt jaded.

Here’s a glimpse of my domino tile project:

Liquor love

Candies

It’s small scale for the time being, but I will gradually create a brand that carries handcrafted items, down the line exploring papers and colors and patterns and textures. I truly feel this will be the outlet I’ve been looking for, as one who is wooed by design, hoping my endeavors will feed me one day.

I am scared and excited. A college professor once told our class that nervousness and excitement bring about the same physiological feelings, and the positivity or negativity of the feelings we experience depends on how we perceive them as emotions. Best way to deal with anxiety? Try swapping it with excitement—maybe it wasn’t anxiety after all!

Right now, all I can say is that January has taught me way more than I could ever learn in months.

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It’s not year-end per se anymore as I write this, but it is just appropriate that I let the 365 days pass before doing an analysis of the year, for who knows how much can change in the few days since I decided to record this? (FYI, nothing much.)

It would be unfair to evaluate the year specifically in successes or failures only. 2011 is the year I truly lived—I learned what it meant to step out of my comfort zone, defy a few rules, take risks and find myself in situations I thought were always just going to be figments of my imagination. It took two decades and a series of wet and dry seasons for me to understand what living really entails.

Below are just a few things I’ve learned, experienced and discovered in no particular order.

Dated a Houdini

First of all, I don’t even date–not since I had my last relationship, and not until I decided to. It just so happened that I thought I was ready again, and I was, but I should have known better than to expect where a three + invisible-fourth month-long dating can end up in. I was a hopeful cynic, ready to finally let butterflies flutter within my intestines again yet keeping in mind the dark side of it all, hoping we won’t ever reach that side. But we did. It ended as quick as it started, but I can’t say I regret my decisions or call the whole thing a mistake on my end (no, I am not in denial, I swear). I learned a lot more than I ever expressed and a lot more than I thought I would in three moon cycles.

For the short time that he was a significant chunk in my life, one of the most important things I picked up from him is that dreams can come true, but you have to start somewhere. It’s okay to dream and not let fear take over me when I haven’t even started. How do I find things out without trying?

And other things I learned…

-I saw the beauty of lies. Yes, a lie crushed my illusions but I have eventually learned to use the white variety to my advantage.

-The local music scene is alive and kicking…when did I stop being in the loop?

-Other things I ought to know in my twenties

-You cannot expect everyone to give you an explanation, as much as you want it, as what my officemate has repeatedly told me a.k.a. life is unfair

-I learned how to ride the bus, which leads me to my next item…

Mastered the Metro Manila public transportation

Back in first year college, the first time I rode the LRT on my own, I felt like an independent and invincible adult. Then, I realized, bragging about this little achievement of mine made me one of the typical inexperienced freshmen. Everyone else in my school rides the train and generalizes it as commuting; I am proud to say I’ve come a long way from that.

I learned how to ride the FX, jeep, tricycle, and cabs that eat up my allowance. Then came the bus. I became a bus girl since I rode one with that guy, and it was my mode of transportation from work to home for a period, enjoying 1.5 hours like a field trip and listening to albums I’ve downloaded. Then I learned about the shuttle service. I’ve heard about this, but I never thought there’d be routes going up north. So now I am shuttle/van girl.

Hurray! You can now leave me in a street corner and I won’t be as terrified as I would have been five years ago. Someone wrote this goal in my life list and I never bothered to erase it, and now I have another ticked off without noticing this lesson unfold.

Got a job

Had I known that I was going to be part of the anxious and whiny employed population, I could have saved a lot of time seeking out the perfect job. My peers are surely familiar with this. We all want the perfect job, and we want it to be the first. Screw that.

It happens for some, but I am part of the most. The way I see it, it shouldn’t be too hard to jump from one chapter to another despite the pressure of having to finish a whole year just to have a fool-proof resume, but right now I am more resolved to focus on finding my next stop. Seems that one way to find out what I want is through a process of elimination.

Fulfilled a dream

This was done in a month-long routine, paired with a few tears and a confused mind on self identity. I wish I could mention this already, but all I can say for now is that I’m glad I did this and refused to let the opportunity slip through. What helped: a little less thought on the future and more living in the present.

Other unusual highlights

I drove with no license from Makati to Quezon City at midnight (thank you world for not conspiring against me); got my way out of getting a ticket by crying; lost appetite and weight for many weeks; hit my neighbor’s water pipes, which meant they couldn’t take a bath or wash anything for a span of a few hours.

I have a bundle of goals for this year, have semi-organized them by priority and I’m all set to take action. Here they are vaguely stated:  eat more, spend more, walk slower, start a business, design and create, think less and act more, make stronger connections, find and seize opportunities, let go, and love myself more. I know I said in a previous entry that I am not a fan of planners, but if there was one year I would have wanted to record with Staedtler pens in a diary, it would have been the year of 2011.

I did not look forward to Christmas, and I’m not even too giddy for the new year. Like a true Filipino, I used to look forward to the ber months—the cooler breeze in Manila, lounging in coffee shops with a book or a buddy, shopping for a few presents (and receiving some), and nonstop playing of Christmas songs. Well, not this year. It was warm all throughout December, and I only felt the season on the eve itself. What a bummer. Recapping the year I can see and dissect exactly why I am a Grinch this season. I finally understand what it feels like to be on the side of the anti-holiday.

I strolled around Greenhills for a few hours yesterday, stopped by for a drink and indulged in a moment I have been fond of since I started driving after twilight—parking the car. And no, it’s not because I’m about to make out with someone; it’s turning the engine off and letting the music roll that turns me on. It’s perfectly still as I let the radio station play their soundtrack to the weekend, and I can only focus on nothing more than the instruments and vocals that lightly reverberate within the space that wraps me. I am breathing pure sound in a concert for one. I have my feet up on the seat, curled up with shins resting against the steering wheel, and it’s just a moment when I feel so safe; everything else is suspended. Beyond the dashboard are some Christmas lights adding color to my thoughts.

I am also reading Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. It’s about four troubled Londoners who encounter each other at the top of a fictional tower block called Topper’s House during New Year’s Eve for one reason: to throw themselves off the rooftop. This book is very timely on my part for a trifecta of reasons: I bought this novel months ago and now I am reading it on the same holiday when the whole story starts off; it shares with four perspectives on what ticks people off and decide to cross the line; and I see myself in two of the younger characters—reading their struggles, resolutions and youthful idiosyncrasies is like reading advice tailored to my own life. It’s not sappy, does hit home on some counts, but this writer can lightly talk about heavy hearts with humor and not turning it into a joke.

These are just a few things I want to share with less thought on organization. Earphones will be blasting Generator by the Foo Fighters when the clock strikes twelve. Happy new year.