My path is my own

Set some goals.

Sometime last year, I stumbled upon that quote and it struck such a strong chord with me. It was a perfect reminder that sometimes it’s best to stay quiet about what’s going on with my life. No need to be an open book. I can choose which pages are made public.

For the longest time, I felt stuck in a rut. Better yet, I felt like a hamster on a wheel – running and running but not really heading anywhere. Career-wise, I was climbing up corporate ladders that I wasn’t even interested in, no thanks to highly toxic work environments. I got trapped in short-term band-aid solutions because I was worried about bills, but the solutions solved nothing. I was overworked, underpaid, unappreciated. Worse, I was sick so often from the stress. Eventually, I had to face my own fears to figure out a good solution. What I was doing was not sustainable. This quote haunted me.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Unknown

It’s not easy focusing that spotlight on yourself and asking the tough questions.

What the hell was I doing to myself? How can I expect others to value me as a person when I keep accepting situations that devalue me? It was wrong on so many levels. Why was I allowing fear to get the better of me? I deserve so much better.

I got tired of feeling disappointed and hopeless, so I ended up ready to look for better things. It’s really that simple.

I started making baby steps to change things around.

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.” ~ George Burns

What’s funny (or sad, depends on how you look at it) is when I hear people who were surprised by my decisions. Like it blindsided them. But they just have no idea what’s going on in my life.

I tend to overshare my plans with other people because I value their insight. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll take their advice and run with it. But during my soul-searching, I had to admit to myself that sometimes, the more others know, the less gets accomplished. Which really isn’t good for the long-term. Too many cooks spoil the broth indeed. There are far too many opinions to weigh, plus there are usually more naysayers than supporters.

What’s even sadder is there are those who seem to think that I don’t think things through when deciding. It’s like they assume I go through life on a wing and a prayer. Or that my decisions depend on how my interest in something waxes and wanes. So whatever decision I come up with is met with resistance. “How sure are you about this?” “Are you really doing this?” If they really knew me, they’d realize how long it takes for me to do my information gathering so I can decide on the best course of action.

I get it too, you see, the fear they feel. Because it’s not a decision that they will do themselves. But questioning my decision is really undermining my own decision-making, as if at my current age, I’m still totally incapable of figuring out what’s good for me and what’s not. I’ve already made many major decisions in my life! I know that I have to do what’s right for me. It’s easy to throw platitudes and advice when you’ve never walked a mile in someone’s shoes…my shoes. At some point, it just becomes banal and inane to listen to people who’ve never even experienced what I’m going through.

Not everyone needs to know my every step, my every plan, my every decision though.

My path is my own. While it might seem similar to someone else’s, it never is because I started my journey from a different place altogether and I’m heading in a different direction as well. I don’t owe anyone an explanation of how I’m living my life. None at all. Others can talk all they want about me, but that’s just the way life is. People talk about other people.

Only I can gain mastery of my own life. If I don’t take the reins and I allow others to do so, then I never learn at all. I cannot, for the life of me, allow others to be a master of my life! At the end of the day, what really matters is what I want to do. After all, I’m the one who will live with my choices.


That flight booking headache

The saga that is booking our flights continues today.

* * * * *
Time spent on the phone with Delta: 1.5+ hrs.
Time spent tweeting with a Delta representative: 1 hr.
Number of customer representatives dealt with: 5

* * * * *
I usually wait past midnight to search and book flights.

Since we travel with Zack often, I knew the process – two calls to Delta: first, check if there’s space for him in-cabin on the flights I wanted; and second, if yes, book and call again so they know he’s coming along for the ride. The first call yielded a lovely “yes”, so I happily booked Premium Select seats.

In the second call, I was told to downgrade from Premium Select to Main Cabin because the Premium Select section isn’t pet-friendly, which I wasn’t told when I called them before booking.

The manager pretty much blamed me for not knowing any better and asked if I checked their restrictions. I said yes; no mention of pets NOT allowed in Premium Select (Premium Select is not Business Class, FYI). Told I was wrong. Told her to check their website. She advised to cancel and rebook, then offered a $75 voucher for all my troubles.

Today, I tweeted/DMd with them. Rep insisted I booked Delta One seats with flatbeds, so why did I cancel such a good deal? I gave him my canceled flight details. Nowhere did it say I booked Delta One. Not sure where he got that from.

I was also told that there’s insufficient space, so pets aren’t allowed in First Class, Delta One and Premium Select. What happened to the legroom that’s supposed to be “up to 8″ more”?

RESULT: After all that, I’m supposed to call Delta directly to book flights.

To folks flying Delta, keep your Twitter account handy. They’re easier to contact that way. If you’re flying with your pet in-cabin, you can only choose Delta Comfort+ seats and Main Cabin.

The lengths I’d go for Zack! 🤣 Oh, and we still don’t have flights booked.

Christmas is nigh!

We just got back from the city to see this year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center tree 2017

I was adamant that we’d see the tree this year. It’s not a yearly holiday tradition for us because it gets pretty crowded in the plaza, but this year, I was determined. Thank goodness you can view it till 11:30PM.

The first time we watched the tree lighting was back in 1999. We were there for hours. The crowd kept jostling and jostling, yet it was so much fun when the tree got lit. The crowd whooped and hollered like crazy. Oh, Britney Spears and NSYNC performed that year too.

I just have to say, New York really does Christmas oh so well.


That’s just the way it is

I had a brief chat with someone about friendships recently. I concluded with: “Friendships taper off. That’s just the way it is.”

If your offer of friendship gets rebuffed, then there’s nothing you can do about it. Why would you even want to be friends with someone who isn’t interested? Let it go. Some friends stay; others don’t.

The thing with old friends, some tend to keep you stuck in a rut. They remember you as you were. They can’t see or acknowledge how you’ve grown and changed. But that’s not your problem. Your growth is your own. It does not get canceled out by other people not acknowledging it.

Sad truth? If your friends aren’t keeping in touch, then they’re choosing not to keep in touch. Most everyone are constantly glued to their phones. It’s not hard to simply type, “what’s up?”

“They’re busy.” But who isn’t? Surely, you’ve also got a lot on your plate. You don’t just spend your days staring into space and dreaming idle dreams. Yet you find the time.

Let’s face it, not everyone is worth your time and effort. What’s more, life does not owe us friends. We make friends by being a friend to others and accepting others’ friendships. It’s an active process.

From Drab to Delightful: Lessons Learned

“From Drab to Delightful” project is officially over. It took many months of work from my husband and I, but the end result is just so worth it. Our initial goals included:

  1. Changing brass fixtures to brushed nickel. Includes cabinet door handles, light fixtures, door knobs and maybe even the door hinges.
  2. Replacing or updating the kitchen countertop.
  3. Replacing the bathroom sink faucets.
  4. Painting the bathrooms, plus the guestroom ceiling.

What did we end up doing?

Bathrooms – We painted the walls, ceilings, trims and baseboards. I stained the cabinets. He changed the faucet, tub and light fixtures.

Bedrooms – He painted the guestroom ceiling. I painted the closets, which, in retrospect, wasn’t really necessary.

Kitchen – We got the cabinets painted white. A new laminate countertop was installed, as well as the new sink and faucet. Hubby added the backsplash.

Doors, knobs and hinges – I painted the doors while hubby replaced the knobs and hinges. We bought new knobs, but reused the hinges. We also went from brass to brushed nickel.

Flooring – We went from old carpet to new carpet because getting hardwood floors was way over our budget. No regrets. The carpet was reasonably priced.

Between the kitchen and bathroom updates, I can’t decide which one I love the more.

Now what did we learn from our home improvement project that took less than a year to complete?

  1. Snowball renovation is a real thing. We started off with four items in our to-do list with a budget of US$1,500 (see post here). We ended up with all that and more.
  2. Know your budget. It’s your money; take ownership of it. Get your money’s worth. If you don’t feel like customer service is up to par, then it probably isn’t. Find a different professional.
  3. Hire professionals if you can afford it. Negotiate prices. They want your business, so try to work on a compromise. DIY, while very fulfilling, is very time-consuming and back-breaking. Let the pros do their work.
  4. If you’re taking the DIY route for the first time, then know that you will be buying your own materials. Choose quality ones that can stand the test of time, so you can use it in the future.
  5. Know when to skimp and splurge. For example, do you really need to buy new door hinges? Or will a quick spray paint do the job? Are the cabinets really dingy or can it be saved to look different? Reuse and recycle if you can. It will really save you mucho dinero.

So that’s what we learned in summary. At certain points of our project, we kept wondering what we got ourselves into, which changed when we saw the results, “why didn’t we do this before?”

From Drab to Delightful: The Master Bathroom Reveal

What did we end up doing to our master bathroom?

  1. Painted the walls gray, True Value’s Dove Gray.
  2. Painted the ceiling, trim and baseboard white.
  3. Stained the bathroom cabinet with gel stain, General Finishes Java Gel Stain and a topcoat.
  4. Replaced the sink faucet. (You can read about it here.)
  5. Converted the old Delta shower fixture to a newer Delta model.
  6. Changed the brass light fixtures and replaced with the brushed nickel fixture Vallhall from Ikea.
  7. Changed the brass handles to brushed nickel.

The yellow towels and the shower curtain all came from Target.

So this is how our master bathroom ended up looking!

Abitang-14SouthU20 (13 of 26)Abitang-14SouthU20 (14 of 26)

Not bad if I say so myself.

What do you think?

The arrogance of claiming you know someone

Nothing grates on my nerves more than people who claim they know someone. I don’t mean know as in, “oh yeah, I know him. I’ve met him.” I’m talking about that sort of knowing that someone claims they can predict others’ behaviors, and pinpoint their reasons and motivations for doing what they do.

Now, why does it bother me when a person claims they know someone that way?

Here’s why: You can’t say you know someone fully because let’s face it, most people are still figuring out themselves. If they don’t know themselves yet, how could you possibly know them?

People change. Whoever they were in the past, they probably changed through the years. Who they are now is not necessarily the same person they were five years…or even a year ago.

You know someone based on what they share with you. If you haven’t been in touch, then you’d have missed the in-between – what shaped them into the person they are now. Knowing someone doesn’t depend on how long or how short you’ve known them. It depends on whether or not they open themselves to you and let you in. Maybe they’ve only shared crumbs of who they are. If that’s the case, then you’re not even seeing the big picture.

So do we ever really know someone? I don’t think so. What we learn about others is what they allow us to learn about them. We can’t know more than what they’ll allow.

What’s more important is to know yourself fully. Whether you like it or not, someone out there is claiming they know you better than you know yourself. It’s better for you to claim your own story than for others to create your story for you.