Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Retrospective - Happy New Year 2015!!

T-20 minutes away till the new year ... that's when I started writing but after being distracted by the barrage of fireworks, I fell asleep before posting this so HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Growing up in Manila, fireworks have always been an integral part of the new year celebration. I remember from when I was very young, in the house that belonged to my grandfather, we would launch our own fireworks in the garden. First there was a gathering of family for dinner followed by fireworks out in the yard. I loved playing with sparklers and watching the explosion of lights in the sky. We had noisemakers to play with and nobody would tell us to stop. Fireworks and making noise are all part of warding of all the ghost and evil spirits to welcome the new year.
When I was about 13 years old, we moved away to our own home and New Year's Eve became a tamer celebration. It was still focused on family dinner but instead of having our own, we would get home before the craziness of fireworks and smoky streets began from everyone else that celebrated with fireworks.
For the first time in I don't know how long, after our family dinner, my brother, sister and I along with cousins of the same generation and a few of the next sat together around our dining room table to share stories of our childhood and what we've been up this past year over wine. 

2014 started tenuously for me. The family had major health issues to deal with and I was re-evaluating some personal relationships. I was dealing with a lot of uncertainty with hope for the best and hurt that needed time to heal. I started the year on slightly unsteady footing with the faith that these things would work themselves out. 

After celebrating the New Year in the Philippines, I headed back to Seattle the next day for one day: enough to pack and get ready for a trip to Reno for a dance festival. I was coming back from three months of being away from dance so I was looking forward to being with my dance family and dancing all weekend long. I ddin't expect to be part of 32 couples from all over the US performing together to represent the Island Touch Dance Academy: that was just epic! It was the start of things to mark my year: dance festivals and travel to cities for dance and recreation.

In February I taught at  festival in LA where I met people from Texas and San Francisco. I don't usually seek out the limelight but I am certainly appreciative of recognition and acknowledgement when they are directed at me so it was really nice to meet people for the first time and hear that they've been looking forward to meeting me. I also discovered that LA has a great salsa scene with some very fun dancers who play with music and connection everytime they dance. 

Mexico City: I never realized how big it was. I had been to Mexico before but to smaller, more tourist oriented locations. I was invited to teach kizomba there for a weekend in March and some other folks from Seattle and LA came along as well. It was our first Mexico City - Seattle Kizomba Exchange. There were many highlights to the trip but these are ones that stand out for me: dancing on pyramids, dancing on a grass lawn in this fairy tale house, dancing outdoors in Belles Artes and meeting people who are kindred spirits in their approach to dance and kizomba.

Shortly after that, in April, I got to travel to Japan: a country that I've admired from afar. I was always fascinated by so many things about Japan: their aesthetic of beauty and simplicity, the samurai code, the world of the geisha, the way they assimilate from others to make things Japanese, origami, ikebana, manga, anime and the cute things best described as kawaii. For such a huge, sprawling city full of people, I never once felt fearful of anything. I finally got to spend some time in an onsen and experienced the peace and tranquility that I only previously read about and imagined. There's so much more to see, I'm definitely going back.

Then we had another family trip to Kauai where we spent a few days in Hana. Its beautiful out there but when the sun goes down and it gets dark, there's nothing to do for us city folk. We stayed at an place right by the water so the sounds of waves breaking against the beach and rain on the roof were my lullabies. There were also so many bugs at night: attracted to the light of my computer when everyone else was asleep. I'm glad bugs don't wig me out so much, I wouldn't have been able to sleep otherwise. I lost all sense of time for a few days.

It was around this time when the uncertainty in January faded and things were definitely taking a turn for the better. I was readjusting to many things: hurts were finally fading and some new relationships were forming to renew my faith in finding people who are a joy to be with and who accept and appreciate me.

For my birthday in May I went to London to spend time with a friend and teacher, to meet and dance with folks that I've only corresponded with over facebook. I hadn't been to London in years so it was great to be back not just to sight see but also to make new friends and grow in my dance.
The summer in Seattle was great but I was stressed because I had to move. I loved living in Belltown and I hate moving but I was presented with an opportunity that was too good to pass up so I purged my belongings (not all of it but a LOT of it) and moved to Wallingford to start the last quarter of 2014.

In October I combined a dance vacation with a mini-high school reunion in DC. I rarely feel as old as I am. When I get together with my high school friends, it doesn't make me feel my age because we pick up from where we last saw each other and enjoy being with each other again (usually over food). Its only when we start to talk about their kids and how some of them are already in college or getting ready to go that I realize how old I really am.
In the fall my sister also helped me to make a connection that allowed me to teach some of my crafts to kids after school. I found a community of parents and children that love arts and crafts and its so much fun to be able to "work" at what I consider play. Its been so much fun and it also reaffirmed one of my ideas to spark creativity in others through a creative lab. 

Over Thanksgiving, instead of time with family, I spent time with my dance families. I attended the Seattle Salsa Congress where I got to perform with my Bachata team, perform with my  mambo team and complete the dance challenge with a group of artist that I've always admired and aspired to be. On top of that, I got to teach Kizomba and see how much its grown over the years here in Seattle. It was totally unplanned and such a kick when the artists that we paid our homage to also got on stage with us to perform. For myself it took the pressure out of the performance so I could just have fun with it and I know how much it meant to some other folks on my team - what a rush! It was a stressful and tiring weekend since I pushed myself with performance and dance. I still got a lot of really great dancing (Kizomba, Bachata and Salsa) while making closer connections with new and existing friends

As 2014 winds to a close, I visited Korea for a few days before returning to celebrate the holidays in the Philippines. I forgot how cold winters can be: thank goodness for advances in clothing technology to keep me warm without the bulk. I discovered some of the history of Korea when we visited the Imperial Palace and that for some reason, it is the land of socks. Markets had stalls that just sold socks: a LOT of them and all different styles and designs. Who knew? I didn't get a chance to try the jijimbang and some other things so that will be on the list for next time. 

That brings us to the present time in Manila where I've spent the last week eating, sleeping, shopping, reading comics, watching TV and catching up with cousins and friends. 

We Chinese believe that whatever you do the 1st of the year is what you will spend the rest of that year doing and so far things are going well. I'm publishing my first blog article of the year, planning some dancing engagements for when I return, enjoying all the facebook greetings and having fun with my nieces and nephews. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my cousins cooking up something new for the year.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2015!!