the first morning walk for 2012

it was snowing hard. not quite a snow storm but enough to make me need to bundle up in three layers on top (t-shirt under turtle neck under snow jacket), and three layers in the bottom (thermals, leggings, and knee-high snow boots).  I protected my hat-covered head with my hoodie, tied it snuggly in front of my face with only my eyes and nose showing.  it wasn’t that cold – it never is when snow’s falling down, just about 1ºC (spoken like a true assimilated canadian, eh?! :p) – and had myself a relaxed, serene, sweep-the-cobwebs-in-my-head-away walk, snow falling into my face and on my iPhone everytime i took it out to take a photo.

everything was so bright that at one point i felt i was going to fall into the white ocean beneath me.  it’s quite disorienting to walk on pure white and in this winter’s quiet that’s almost all-encompassing.  the only sounds were the occasional school bus (it is quite early in the morning) and the crunching of my boots on the fresh snow.  in front, across, above, below, pure bright white snow with just a few black bare branches covered with white powder, snow-sprinkled bushes jutting out of the white ground and the honking canadian geese overhead.  there’s the blue benches by the lake and those crazy loonie loons over there wading in the frozen water!  what the…how can these birds stand this cold and in the lake’s sub-zero waters too?

adaptation.  this is what the loons are used to.  i bet if i put them in warm, salty waters of our beaches in boracay or manila bay with all it’s hot dirt – ew! – they’d perish faster than you can say quack! this is what their systems are used to.  they’re built for this cold, where it’s winter four to five months of the year.  i think about this and wonder to myself: is this what i’m built for?

not really.  is this what my system is used to?  well, now it is.  the last time i was in philippines which was over the holidays, it wasn’t that bad.  the heat was tolerable because it does go to the mid-20s in manila, december-january months.  but the summer we were there, oh my hotness!  my system’s gotten so used to canada’s cold weather that the humidity in manila has become quite unbearable.  i am fanning myself inside airconditioned rooms and getting all so sweaty-dizzy in the Greenhills tiangge that i need to guzzle down bottles of water every few minutes.  one reunion of college friends at chili’s, mark half-joked if i was having hot flashes already.  mark, i’m only 44 (43 last summer) and i don’t think menopause has arrived yet.  it will someday soon but for now, let’s hold off talk of flashes of any kind, ok?  :p  

assimilation.  we make do.  we get used to things the way they are.  for the bigger picture that we want to be a part of.  just two days ago i got my canadian citizenship oath-taking appointment letter.  it was set for jan. 23 and i opened my mail on the 25th.  i missed it.  but the kind officer at the citizenship centers in mississauga said that since it’s my first time to miss it, i’ll be receiving an automatic second appointment in two to three weeks time.  you bet i’m going to check that mailbox everyday from now on!  jack was so pissed off at us missing it since we’ve been at this citizenship game for over 7-8 years now.  it’s been challenging, the whole process of being the last in the family to be a non-citizen but here it is, i’ll take it!

it’s been 11 years, since 2001, that i’ve become, chosen to be canadian.  the papers are really just a formality and a convenience.  like i tell my friends who understand: “i’ll never have to put up with the hassle of ‘papers please’ (kids’ birth certificates, IDs, PR card etc.) and being thought of as the kids caregiver (yaya) or worse suspected of kidnapping them when traveling alone with them.  the names and citizenship are in order now.  thank you very much.

when jack and i had our eldest son, sol, in 2000, we both decided to live here in toronto.  the years seem to have flown by.  just like the geese that come and go, it seems like only a couple seasons ago that we came to this country.  now my then little boy of 1 and 1/2 is 11 and came two more blessings, a girl and another boy who keep me busy and on my tippy toes everyday.  i write these words with a smile on my semi-chapped lips, remembering to put on more chapstick and slather some moisturizer on my drying up face.

adaptation.  i’ve done very well for myself considering i grew up on a hill just above the warm ocean across the pearl farms of mindanao.

now i’m growing up just across a snow-covered lake dotted with the honking geese of canada.

Courage in creativity,

Chi(qui!) in my home

[Inspired by an article: Chi In My Home, from the Canadian Schools of Feng Shui]

Happy ReNEW Year, my dear!
In the spirit of the new year and – a Kong Hei Fat Choy to you, my darling! – I’ll share some of the things I’m renewing these days.

I just got back from one glorious trip back home to Manila.  Oh, oh, glorrrrrious to the maximum!  I still get tingly all over thinking about it all.  I, with my two boys, celebrated the New Year and our birthdays (I share Jan. 15 with my BFF sister, Leslie ;)) with side trips to Tagaytay, HongKong and Baguio, stays in three different hotels – oh I love, LOVE hotels and their clean sheets! – Mariott in Manila, Taal Vista in Tagaytay and Camp John Hay’s Manor and of course, visiting some of our favorite eating places – People’s Palace, Mang Inasal (with it’s unlimited rice!) and Jollibee burgers: 2 Yumburger w/ Cheese please for Sol and 2 cheeseless ones for Joshim.  What a delicious vacation that was.

Happy Re-New Mission
All re-charged and re-newed and back to re-ality for me.  Re-peat!  Re-wind!  :p  Back to reality means back to getting things in order here in the home in preparation for back-to-school for our boys.  Back to the routines for me and the whole family.  YEHEY.  :p  Ok, ok, hold the sarcasm, Chiquita.

I’ve been on a mission since 4:30am* to declutter three areas of our home: my office/studio, the master bedroom and the kids’ rooms.  In the middle of it all the tossing out of old papers from another box of stuff in my office (I am a shameless paper hoarder) I came across a Canadian Schools of Feng Shui handout most likely given to us by our Feng Shui master-in-the-making brother, Joe.  He has been sharing with me, in earnest, stuff that seem a bit weird in the beginning but the more I look into it, the more it makes sense!  And I am all about making sense these days.  Especially New Year days.  So let’s begin.

In The Beginning
There are may things written regarding the Chi (energy) in the home.  In this particular article, there are 14.  I’m most interested in #2, Deteriorating Chi: Do not keep dried flowers in the home for more than 4-6 weeks, #3, Stale Chi: Keep the chi flowing in all rooms by using them or rearranging objects in them, #4, Closets: Most common area for stale energy (passing on unwanted or not-used objects creates a more positive energy flow) and #12: Under the bed:  Do not store things under the bed and forget about them.  There should be a clear space for a restful sleep.  Oh, and #14, Entry Way:  Chi needs to enter a clutter free, foliage free space and not around anything broken, or it will bring “broken energy” into the home.

Ack!  Feng Shui, if you were at all true, then the chi in my home is doomed!  Or has been for too long now.  My mom has always had them decorative style dried flowers so I did, too.  Who knew?!?  I’m throwing out this big jar of potpourri sitting in the living room as soon as I finish writing this.  Whether this one’s true or not, I’m not risking it on a jar of dead plants.  Moving on.

Regarding #3, I do notice a refreshed, reenergized feeling whenever I move things around in the house especially after an energizing vacuuming under the couches or beds.  Now I’m not sure if that’s from the energy flowing or simply the oxygen flowing through my body from the workout.

And Out of The Closet!
This is where I’ve gotten trapped.  And more recently, winning. Confessional #2564: I’m lazy with recycling/purging/giving away clothes.  There, I said it.  I’m out!  It’s not so much that I’m selfish which I am, but with my clothes, I get attached to my old stuff (read: senti), and let’s face it, they are more comfortable on one’s body.  A friend, Renjie, has an old shirt with so many holes in it and he loves wearing them on weekends on his chill time.  It’s hideous.  But comfy!  So I get it.  My comfy clothes are nothing to look at (and don’t look anything like Renjie’s naman), I wouldn’t dare get out of the house or even answer the door bell in them.   But I value comfort over style eh!  Also, there’s that other thing.  This sentimental attachment to stuff poses a problem though.  Especially when the closets and drawers and begin to bulge and break because they’re beyond capacity with all these well-loved comfy clothing.

Love Is The Answer
Solution: The Love Meter and The Blue Bags Boogie, my version of Peter Walsh’s Trash Bag Tango.  I learned the “love meter” system from one of Oprah’s shows on easier decluttering.  The organizing coach said, if torn between keeping and tossing something from your closet, just ask the question: Do I love this piece of not?  Whenever the answer begins with a “Yes, but… (it’s too tight/big/bright/etc.) or an “Ummmm, I think I can…”, don’t think.  Toss.  Only absolute “I love this!” for me.  This has been very difficult.  VERY.  But I’ve prevailed.  I’ve been at this Battle with the Basura (garbage) since the beginning of winter.  As of last count, I’ve given away twelve extra large bags of old clothes.  In less than two months.  12.  Winner.  This is how much clothes clutter has piled up in my house.  No more.  Next!

Under the bed???  And I thought IKEA made those huge boxes for me to get more organized and not so I can sleep restlessly!  I don’t know about this one.  If one has five family members and limited storage space, wouldn’t under the bed be a smart spot to keep the stuff?  As long as they’re organized and not garbage piled?  Then again, the storage space in the basement can take some purging and the garage can definitely handle a second, third and fourth decluttering.  Ok, lazy bones, no more excuses.  Give them unloved stuff away already.

And after I throw out the dried flowers, I’m putting away all the shoes, slippers and boots by the entrance and declaring a two pairs per person rule.  It is late so I think I’ve done my share of clearing and cleaning for the day.

The Blue Bag Boogie and Me

Peter Walsh will be in my iPod for the next few days for extra motivation with the garbage-bag-a-day routine.  I used to think this was too much.  There’s always someone “in the family” that could use the extra can opener.  But I have extra everything and it’s clearly weighing down my home.  Enough is enough.  Hello, Blue Bag Boogie!  Why blue, you ask?  So I can see what trash is in what bag.  Oi!  Even in purging, OC pa rin.

It’s an all-out war on clutter and I’m determined to win this one blue bag boogie battle at a time.

To dinner!

*Just jetlag, my dear.  I am not normally this chirpy. :p

There’s so much you can find when your eyes are open

Oi, my darlings!

A very happy new year to you and yours and a big Hello, 2012!!!

I’m very excited to be writing this first post of the year from Panache Cafe in Lane Crawford, Kowloon. Kowloon as in HONG KONG baby! This being a love/birthday/holiday gift from very generous members from very rich family members…names withheld due to…ok, ok, it’s Mom and Dad (trip to Manila), Leslie and Pet (trip here)!

As my sister Leslie and friends Rowena and Jeff do their shopping, I choose to sit down in this lovely corner of the mall and write because one, my feet are extra sore from all the walking at the Toy, Stationery and other gadgety stuff at the HK Convention Center and two, I don’t have shopping budget na. 🙁

I would have attached some fun photos here but because I have not yet discovered the powers of my brand new toy, the iPad2 *insert image of me hugging the bedazzled Apple gadget.  The camera photos that I can’t yet upload which will definitely be coming to this space soon!

I imagine that like me, you just had a most fun-filled holiday with family and friends, food overflowing and waistline bulging with post-celebratory goodness.

I wish you all the best in 2012, my dear friend.  Whether you believe it truly is “The End of The World” or simply “The End of The Old World Ways”, let’s make the most of it anyway.

Peace, love, joy and always ~

Courage in Creativity,