Woohoo! Last year, I bought a set of interchangeable bamboo knitting needles and I finally got to use them this month. I’ve been wanting to make a set of pillow cases so we have something to use when our beautiful artisan-made cases are in the laundry. Finally, I got the project going when I ran out of yarn for my other WIP (work in progress) – my Sophie’s Universe blanket.
Yesterday, I finally finished one pillowcase — happy dance!
It’s faaaar from perfect and it wasn’t a smooth project – my stitches are uneven, it’s a little wonky because I didn’t do proper measurements, I had to do it over several times, one of our dogs chewed on and completely destroyed my needles and the longest connecting cable that I can now no longer use.
But it’s husband-approved, and I love it too. I’ll make a second case with the same design but I’m thinking of using a different colorway. So to give myself some time to decide, I will not start on that case until after another side project (probably a knit twist headband, just because).
Sharing below the pattern I based this case on. I did three repeats of the bobble chevron pattern, knit stitch all the way for the back panel, and used a needle to join three of the four sides. It’s open on one of the short sides, and I did a thin braided cord to close it off with the pillow inside.
This was a good project for getting back into knitting. Compared to crochet, I’ve only been knitting for a few years, and haven’t done so consistently. In fact, I had to watch (partial) Youtube tutorials (again) to remember how to cast on, purl, and cast off. Definitely had to Google how the bobble stitch worked when the pattern instructions didn’t click in my head right away. eee
I knit while watching Netflix – unless I have to read subtitles (hello, Kdrama), and sometimes during Zoom calls where I don’t have to take down notes. I think I made the mistake of knitting while watching Hometown ChaChacha, and that was why I was surprised that my stitch counts were completely off for a few rows!
Anyway, I just wanted to share that I made a thing! And that thing is this sunshine-y bobble chevron pillowcase. 🙂
Last year, I did my bravest move yet: launch a premium freelance VA (Virtual Assistance) business. (Yup, that’s where hitting the road led me to)
What’s so brave about that?
I had to put myself out there to find clients. It started with Upwork, sending proposals and getting interviewed. And then I moved on to LinkedIn prospecting – even when I didn’t think I was ready yet!
I needed to resist the temptation to take on work from clients who didn’t see the real value that I bring just so I could start earning again.
I turned my back on the possibility of having a more predictable 6-figure monthly income with HMO benefits and 13th-month pay, by not applying for a job at another BPO company.
It wasn’t easy, and it was a tad scary. I wasn’t sure if I could make it happen. I really think this is my bravest move, thus far. There were so many $3-$5/hour jobs out there for VAs but I refused to take them. I chose to stand my ground and wait for my ideal client even as I watched my bank account balance get smaller each month.
Of course, I had a cushion. My old company gave me a going-away gift for 9 years of service; I have a husband who was employed and has HMO benefits that extended to me. So maybe that meant I could afford to be brave, and maybe I wasn’t being brave after all?
But being brave is not just about doing things without a safety net. At least for me, being brave means intending to and actually leaving your comfort zone, seeking growth, and stepping into a vulnerable space – so you can emerge and realize your wildest dreams.
Down the road, I may have to do something that requires even more bravery – I will look back at this time, as well as other times in my life, to get me through it.
Thanks to a group coaching program that I joined this year, I have developed a daily gratitude practice that has me listing ten things I am happy and grateful for. Out of those ten things, three have to specifically be about me.
Although I’m pretty sure I have mentioned some things more than once already, really, I feel like there is still a lot more to be thankful for. I have been doing this now for over a hundred days and it sure is getting more and more challenging to come up with three things I particularly love about myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me! And I think I have great qualities. I guess we’re just not wired to sing ourselves praises, no? And we should. But if it’s uncomfortable to call it self-praise, let’s put it this way: I just have to love me.
We’re not being called to be boastful, only to be grateful for oneself.
What does it mean to be grateful for oneself?
It means appreciating something about you, acknowledging something about you that makes you happy (or has made you happy).
And we do it along with being generally grateful for everything else. For what’s around us, our circumstances, etcetera, etcetera.
A daily gratitude practice worked wonders for me.
I no longer feel anxious about tomorrow. And I feel a lot more positive about life in general. Now, I never was a negative type, but I also didn’t think I can be even more optimistic. And, in a way, I am.
It reminds me to not take anything for granted. To be thankful for the big things, and the small things. For the good, and the bad. It has helped me feel less envious or resentful, and to not look at others and regard them less fortunate, but understand the difference in our circumstances and yet feel genuine empathy and a yearning to reach out and find out how I can help.
This gratitude practice is teaching me to not waste time, energy, and opportunity. It has taught me to see how much abundance is out there, and how we are already living in abundance, no matter the balance in our bank accounts.
On the outside, I know it seems like it is taking me so long to get my butt moving and do something already. After all, I am 6 months into my mini-retirement (and I’m pretty sure my husband feels that way) but to me, it doesn’t feel like a waste of time or opportunity.
It was a gathering of energy and love. A (long) moment of rest and enjoyment of freedom. Of making space in my life for more. And now that I know how it feels to have so much time to do just the things I want to do (and I haven’t even done everything), I now know the importance of protecting that freedom and not be tied down to living life in somebody else’s terms.
But this post isn’t about my mini-retirement. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude.
A quick Google search for “effects of gratitude” will lead you to a lot of research on this topic. Feel free to check those out if you need to be convinced that you should develop the practice. But all I want to tell you is this,
Just start with one thing.
Find time in your day to sit down and express gratitude for one thing in or about your life.
Write it down with a pen and a notebook. Or type it on a notepad on your phone:
“I am happy and grateful _____________________________________________.”
Do it again the next day. Do it for the whole week.
Do it for another week. And another. Even if you miss a day, that’s okay. No need to double up the next day (though you’re free to do so).
When you feel like you have nothing more to say thank you for, go back and review your list. And then try again. Give thanks for just one thing.
After some time has passed, reflect on what has changed for you, or in you. Ask yourself if you want to keep going. If the answer is no, ask why not?
As for me, and for today, here is my list of ten things:
I am happy and grateful for Martine De Luna and her Be Captivating program, for many reasons, one of which is helping me cultivate this gratitude practice.
I am happy and grateful for the SATS Community that I grew up in. Today is Fiesta at SATS (feast of St. Andrew the Apostle).
I am happy and grateful that I have complete control of my life right now. That is both scary and exciting.
I am happy and grateful that I have choices to make. That can be a disadvantage sometimes, but it is definitely a good thing for me, right now.
I am happy and grateful for my Auntie Leesah, who died this day, 15 years ago. She always had my back. She was very supportive of my side hustles back then. Especially of my baking.
I am happy and grateful for the TV series His Dark Materials. I love having to look forward to a new episode every week. I haven’t read all three books in the series yet but I’ve pulled them from my shelves, ready to be cracked open. Still deciding if I’ll be re-reading The Golden Compass.
I am happy and grateful for people who leave product reviews on E-Commerce platforms, and also for those who blog and vlog about them. Real and honest product reviews are helpful when you’re deciding to buy something.
I am happy and grateful for being able to find the right words to say at certain times and situations.
I am happy and grateful for trusting people.
I am happy and grateful that I have set healthy boundaries in terms of what I expect from others and my perceived role in their lives (or what I think others may expect of me). I just really don’t assume that I or my opinions are that important to anyone else.
For the past two Novembers, I’ve played along with Cathy Zielske for 30 Days of Thankful: I made a 6×8 album for 2017 and wrote a series of blog posts for 2018. This year, I intend to make another album. I know, it’s already the end of November, and I haven’t started, and that’s okay. It’s the practice that matters.
Do you still remember how you answered this question when you were younger? I do.
Those were the jobs that I aspired for from grade school to high school. Pero ang totoo, kahit I never said it out loud as a dream job, I really wanted to be a performer. To act onstage or be on TV (hello, Ang TV!). I loved doing theater (also interpretative dance)!
I still remember the moment I switched from one dream to another.
It was a visit to an exhibition of Interior Design students that I got the inspiration to become a designer myself. I was very young then, 7 years old maybe? Parang ang saya kasi, seemed like such a joy to decorate rooms and spaces that would be appreciated by others.
Then I remember my Dad taking me to the still-under-construction building that would be their new office, and then having lunch with the Architect (or maybe he just told me about the Architect?). Hmm, I want to design homes and structures instead!
But after awhile, I realized that my drawing skills were very rudimentary. And I had a feeling I wasn’t creative that way – not creative enough to design spaces and structures.
But I could write.
A college Journalism professor told me so when I was 10 years old. She mentored us young writers aspiring to be part of the school paper. The school ran a great program while I was there: every start of the year, they would run a 1-day (or was it 3 days?) workshop led by her. She told us stories about her experiences, and also gave us an overview of what it means to write for a newspaper. By the end of the event, we would all have written something. Through our work, she and the school paper adviser would decide who qualifies and for what post.
I loved being part of the school paper and how we ran it. Those three years went by quickly. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I kept on writing and cultivated the skill. I remember my Adviser (not the Professor who only worked with us during the workshops) believing in me so much that she came to our house one summer day to get my application for a creative writing workshop at the CCP. She also strongly encouraged me to stay in the paper for my last year (sixth grade, though she left the country that year), when I said I was switching to a different club. I wish we had stayed in touch.
Years later, when it was time to figure out what university to apply to, syempre I had to first decide what course I wanted to take. At the time, influenced by my involvement in the child rights movement, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. A classmate told me that BA Psychology would be a good pre-law course. So I ticked that off as my first choice for UP Diliman. My next choice was Journalism.
Sometime in my first year at the University, I realized how much I didn’t enjoy going to school. Of course I loved learning, and I loved UP, I just didn’t like havingto go to school. I never did. Or maybe it was traditional classes I didn’t like? And the idea of extending my years of having to be in school just didn’t appeal to me. I decided I did not have to become a lawyer to help others.
I am not designing, not writing for a living, not advocating for someone before a court of law.
Monday, June the 3rd, marked the end of my 14-year career in the customer service/outsourcing industry.
I wish I could say I had done so on my own terms. That I had made the decision of my own free will, because I was finally ready to move on to bigger and greater things.
But the truth is, no matter how long I have been telling myself that I wanted OUT of this job (mainly because of the hours), I hadn’t so much as drafted a resignation letter in the last nine years. I didn’t even setup a LinkedIn profile until a few days ago!
There were so many excuses to stay. Even after losing my own team two years ago, I had found reasons to convince me I wasn’t meant to be anywhere else but there.
I don’t have enough of a cushion to explore what I’d rather do for a living. How would we live on a single income while I figured out what I wanted to do? (Technically, we could. There’s just the two of us after all, plus 4 dogs (and two little puppies)).
I can’t imagine working for someone else.
I’d wait until I’ve built a substantial side hustle before I quit my day job.
Moving to another BPO would just be more of the same – same shit, different office.
My friends wouldn’t be there (wherever there is. Although I mostly worked alone the past two years anyway)
Late last year, I did some exploring into the freelancing world. I researched possible online side hustles I could do while employed which I could eventually scale to a high-paying gig. But because I didn’t give myself a deadline, I had one opportunity that was barely started (an online course), and another that I hadn’t yet truly pursued. Which means when the news of my letting go was delivered to me – I had no backup plan that was already waiting for me.
But, not surprisingly, I took the news quite well. Of course, it didn’t hurt at all that I was getting a decent send-off package for all the years I had been with the company (9). But it wasn’t just that. I felt relieved that the decision had been made for me. The decision that I had been putting off for quite a while.
And it could have been worse – a lot worse. I could have lost my job due to poor performance or loss of confidence, in which case I would have left empty handed. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.
I do not envy the position of my bosses who had to tell me the news face to face – I believe it was a tough decision, and that they would have prevented it if they could. After all, I wasn’t the only one they had to let go.
If only they knew, that all along, they were setting me free.
What they had given me was the kick in the butt I needed to finally start on a new and exciting adventure. All that’s left for me to do is to take stock of all that I have learned, maximize my strengths, and hope for the very best. Oh, and to take action.
I am hitting the road, and I am excited to find out where it takes me.