The gift of everyday life

December was happy and busy and filled with niceness  of life, people and things  as most Decembers usually go, but what happened to it? Where did it go? Hello! It’s been quite a while. I’ve missed this page. I’ve missed writing very much.

I write in my head all the time. I carry a black Moleskine stuffed here and there with little notes scribbled on random sheets of tissue, candy wrapper, ticket stubs, scratch paper, whatever I get my hands on when the thoughts come along  that is, aside from what is scribbled on the pages of the Moleskine itself. The thing is, I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding time to sit down, much less sit down just to get all those little thoughts rolling into an article or two. So it basically stays in the mind and my notebook, percolating.

Until today. When I realized that, hey, the new year really has kicked in and if I don’t get off to a start I just might never get around to it at all. I don’t want that. This year, I have every intention of meeting my deadlines, for writing and otherwise, so help me God. Now, what do I write about? I’m rusty. But I have many stories to tell, many little notes to look through. Where do I even begin? New Year’s resolutions? I don’t want any. I don’t want to make any, because doing so feels like I am putting my life inside a box and I know it will spill out anyway when it wants to, and go where it was meant to.

So I say why not start the new year with an open mind? Arms outstretched, nose tilted up into the sunshine, a big smile on the face, a prayer in your pocket and a lot of hope in the heart  that would be a nice way to welcome the new year. When you expect good things to happen, good things do happen. I do not know exactly why this is so. That is just the way it is. There could be science or religion, or both, behind it, I don’t really know, but it’s true. Try it. This brand of positivity ups the happiness quotient significantly.

I think of all I have not done that I said I would do within the past two years  like climb a tree, make jam. Why have I not made jam? I’ve been wanting to for, like, forever, and I still have not gotten around to doing it. I do not know why it has to be jam. It is what it is, I guess. That is what my heart tells me. Tomato jam. And perhaps calamansi jam, too, if that can exist at all. Why not? I wish someone could teach me the how-to, guide me along so the learning curve is not too steep and I waste less time. And  this is the part that really excites me  bottling and putting pretty homemade labels on them. I love packaging. It is a joy. I always say I can make anything look pretty, or prettier. Give me a rock and I know I will find at least a dozen ways to present it beautifully. So. The jam I will give to family and friends, or whoever cares to taste it. If they like it then that will be the perfect excuse for me to wear an apron and make more. I do not know how wonderful it will taste (I will work hard on that, of course) but I do know that it will probably be the prettiest jam they will ever have the pleasure of beholding.

I’ve decided just now. By February I will get myself a nice copper pot. I’m putting that down on paper so I can no longer chicken out. I will have to make good on that. Why February yet? Because until then I still have to attend to the logistics of a surgical mission I am organizing for the district. After that, a-jamming I can happily go.

In the new year I would like to think about what makes me feel good. There’s the deep stuff that spells out what truly matters in life, like the gift of family and friends and good health and togetherness, blessings that are already there, but there are also a lot of all these light and little dreams that lounge lazily, happily, in the heart. For some it’s shoes or jewelry or artwork, but for me, this very moment in my life at least, it is a (drum roll, please)… wok. That’s right. A wok. The type you see in the show Wok With Yan or those Asian cooking shows with subtitles. Like my fixation with tomato and calamansi jam, I do not know where this desire springs from. I just know it’s there, real, enticing me ever so gently. So if you ask me what thought makes for a happy thought for me now I will have to say it will be owning my first wok. I like it and all it represents. Maybe in some hidden part of me I feel it could be my kitchen version of Darna’s bato, and perhaps I believe that when I finally own one I would have started somehow the fulfillment of my lifelong fantasy of being an efficient kitchen goddess, in the truest sense of the word. Apart from its inherent magic I have every hope that the wok will afford me the chance to cook delicious noodles and even more delicious fried rice, which I shall spoon onto a dish cupped by a hungry 10-year-old’s chubby little fingers; one who, after the first mouthful, will declare with all her heart, “You’re the best mommy in the world!” And that latter bit is, of course, what makes the whole idea even more wonderful.

How else should we all meet the new year? How about by touching base with all that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and glad to be alive? Be unapologetic about what you want to do  eat a bit of chocolate every day (Patchi is already available!); work a coloring book the way you did as a child, just in a better way; find the best nothing thing to do (you are not always given that chance so when it’s there, grab it); dream of your next escape in the middle of a busy workday; cover books or sharpen pencils because you simply enjoy it; wear to nowhere something really special that makes you feel instantly beautiful, just because. Do whatever feeds and delights you.

Claim this year as the year of living well. Pray more, drink red wine at least once a week (the polyphenols reduce inflammation in the artery walls and improve blood flow to veins), vow to never, ever give a gift you would not also want to keep for yourself. Take out your fine china and use it every day, eat with lovely linens under you plate. Don’t worry if something spills on it. That problem will take care of itself with a little common sense from you. Don’t take things personally and, with a deep breath, vow to let a lot of things slide off your back. There is one more easy thing you can do. Play music in your bathroom. You either install speakers or you bring in an iPod as a permanent fixture there. You’ll be smiling, if not dancing, even at the start of the day. Music you love always has that kind of magic.

Life is hectic and busy enough as it is, the least we can do if we really can’t slow down is to try and find pleasure in the smallest of things. Make everyday life the gift that it really is.

Today, for the first time since Christmas Day, I woke up way before lunch. I went down and actually heard birds chirping in the garden. I read a book for a bit and wrapped a present for someone I failed to greet over the holidays. I will have to ship it to her, never mind if it is January already. It’s okay.

I’ve always felt that the months in a year can batter me, toss me here and there, but by the time December comes and January rolls around I start to feel like myself again. All of a sudden the spotlight is on how life can be gentle and kind and beautiful and wonderful if you really think about it. When I started typing I wondered what I was going to write about. I guess I ended up writing about what was happening in my mind. Maybe that isn’t such a bad place to start.


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