Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fighting Our Daily Battles with a Smile

Dear Reader,

I think the old adage, "We know who we really are when we are pushed to the precipice of our wits." is quite true. When it comes to the final test, are we brave? What are our values? How far are we willing to fight until we fall? And finally, how much are we willing to sacrifice ourselves, our dignity, for the sake of what's right? This evening, I watched the movie "Man on a Ledge". It's about a man who was framed as a thief and was sent to prison. Upon escaping, he put his life and family on the line by using extreme measures to prove his innocence. The plot compelled me to reflect on how much my parents have sacrificed for my siblings and I. It caused me to reflect that no matter how much life could force me down, or twist around my inner peace, there is no way I could match the people who brought me into this world.

My family and I moved to the States in 1983, about half a year after I was born. Mom and Dad started their lives here on only $3000.00 and my Mom's nursing job. Dad didn't have a job, and while Mom was at work, he was busy searching for employment and raising my sister and I by himself (before John was born). To be clear, men in the Philippines are not accustomed to raise children. They are the bread-winners. Dad, to be precise, was raised as if he was the only child. Was he spoiled? Maybe, to a certain degree, but quite certainly he was not at all used to raising us kids, being alone in a foreign country, AND without a job. Just imagine living in a lonely apartment with only a mattress to sleep on. There was no television, no friends in the neighborhood, a tight budget, and a limited understanding of the English language. Dad told me he was pushed to the edge of his sanity, and yes he really did break down into tears and wished to return to the Philippines. Yet, after all this, he survived.

I guess this would be a typical American immigration story, but my point is that I have absolutely no reason to abhor hardship, despite how much life could push me around like a chess piece. Somehow, I play a role (be it major or minor), and at some point the purpose of my quirky life will be revealed. In fact, because my parents struggled and survived, they became closer. They had an inner sense of duty, and personal satisfaction from mutually achieving their goals. This was the real love they wanted- a compassionate love for each other, and love for a sense of doing what's right- to raise us kids and make life "better" in the States. Believe me too, that after my recent trip to the Philippines, although the country is beautiful, economically it's so much harder to raise a family there. That said, I have nothing but respect for my parents, and in no way can I match them. I suppose I'm just too young to know, but thankfully old enough to appreciate it. This doesn't make me a noble creature though. I'm still afraid of making sacrifices, and I don't always remember what they've done for me; but I like to hope some One up there can see that my heart seeks to be.

So here we are, back to square one. To be honest, I was not planning on watching Man on a Ledge this evening, but rather Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. However that movie just so happened to be sold out, and the only show Jess and I could grab was Man on a Ledge. How interesting that it inspired me to write this piece, hoping this reflection will bring some light on the struggles I've been having recently. The "light", I wish to say, is that it's always been there, and I must remember to be humble enough follow it.

With a Smile,
Lesley Ann

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drawing the Nude!

Dear Reader,

I am well exhausted! Today I went to a life drawing class with two of my co-workers, and what I thought was simply a 1-hour class turned out to be almost 4.5 hours! Though I must say that the quality of the work produced in studio did not disappoint me. There was so much talent in the room. More so, I'm really curious as to how and why there were more men than women in this class? I think the girls and I were the only females other than the model in the room. Hmm.... Nonetheless, the 4.5 hours was non-stop fun- a good way to step out of your every day routine (and to some extent your inhibitions) and draw some naked people. Proof of me letting go is on my finger tips, stained with charcoal and ink from the mad rubbing and scribbling. Next time, I'm bringing in paint and a proper toolbox of supplies. So here's the link to you, whoever you are:

And no fear, I'll post the stuff I did in class. I just don't have a camera or a scanner on me at the moment. I guess the stuff I produced was ok, but I'll leave that for you to decide. =)

Lesley Ann

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Listen To Your Heart

Dear Reader,

I think it's been approximately a week an a half since I've arrived back in New York from Los Angeles. Jet lag is over, and so is my first week at my new job. It's been beautiful so far, and I suppose at the moment I feel shocked that it's actually happening; yet I also feel unsafe about the future and I must be prepared for anything the new year will bring. With the new elections, and the turning of the tides (politically, socially, ecologically) I'm thinking this year is going to be chock-full of beginnings for all of us....maybe it's also going to be a very watery year. So to really get to the crux of things, I've been thinking about my career, future, love life, and how these three are interconnected....I suppose that's a common theme among my entries, but this time it's been at the top of my mind full speed, and geography plays a big role. Every day New York reminds me of someone I once dated; and I know this sounds like a cliche love story- girl meets boy in New York, some how they split up, and somehow they find their way back together, or stay separated forever. This is where my tendency to project comes in. I don't want to go back, and I should have erased his number. But New York is quite a small city with an enormous population, and there's always a chance of running into him. If/when this happens, what should I do?

In the past I've had my extremes with love, hardly any grays. It's too hot and dangerous, and you must get out of it to save your life. It's too cold, too casual, and you only see each other once a month so why even bother? These all sound terrible, I know, so to be honest while I was away in Europe, I decided to drop out of the scene entirely; giving the excuse that the distance from my homeland, and the uncertainty of my future (whether or not I should stay in the UK, or the US indefinitely) was the reason why I fought against dating. Physically it was torture, believe me. But in the end, it would only end up in heartbreak:

I'm sorry, I'm only here for a few months more, but our time together was swell. What? You love me? I'm sorry but I don't feel the same. I was just using you to feel good about myself.

But I'm not a heart-breaking, selfish woman. So that's what I did, I saved hearts, dropped out, and L-O-V-E-D my independence! Sadly, now that my travels are over, and the said "uncertainties", and therefore "excuses" are exhausted, I'm faced yet again with this unsettling thing called "love". I feel pressured into finding it, and really I don't like it. Most of my high school and college classmates are either engaged, or married. Sometimes I even scoff at them, afraid of the thought of losing my independence. I know this is not always true, if you find the right one, that is. Nonetheless, I refuse to live my life like a race to find love. I know I don't have to, but I'm feeling the pressure. My Dad, being the type of man who is tough on the outside, but weepy on the inside, encourages me to always "Listen to my heart", and then this past Christmas holiday he tried to hook me up with his "friend"- his youthful tennis partner at the club- by calling him on the phone to meet me....literally. I, like some flightless bird, ran out the door (also quite literally), giving the excuse that I needed to run my 3 miles for that day. Maybe he thought my heart would fall for his friend. Mom on the other hand is the rational one, "The reason why God put your head over your heart is because He wants you to use it first."; and then every once in a while, I get clinical advice from her (she's a nurse) that women slowly become infertile as they move into their 30s.

So what's the rational thing to do? I honestly don't know. Do I want love? Sure, but I don't believe I should go against nature finding it. Then again, if/when I serendipidously meet that person who changed my life here in New York, I wouldn't know what to do. How will my career and emotions fit into the decision? I must be prepared, but how? I'm afraid that this is something beyond me. There's no place to hide, no country to run to, no more excuses.

The conclusion I have reached, though could potentially change should I be confronted with the aforementioned issue, is to rationally stop rationalizing. Screw this love-seeking nonsense and fear of uncertainty. I guess if it happens, it happens, and though New York is pregnant with chances of meeting familiar faces, it's not the UK, and I'm in a geographically safe circumstance to try. After all I've been living a rational life for the last, say 4 years? Maybe it's time to let go a little. I'm frightened, but I trust things will be alright.

Listen to your heart,
Lesley Ann