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Monday, March 25, 2013

March friendships and reflection


It's the end of March and the weather is still cold and even snowing in some areas. I wish Spring would feel like Spring already. I'm particularly glad this month is ending, because next month is April a-k-a my birthday month. I've been sharing with some friends that I'm challenging myself to do something that makes me happy each day of the month. It may seem easy, but with my personality it can be a challenge. I am so used to doing things to make others happy that I usually put myself second place. However, I am going to be a little selfish this time around. I don't have to be alone in the celebrating. I will invite people out to join me in whatever I do. It can be something simple as having a cup of coffee. The goal is to celebrate me and to love myself a little more than I did the month before.

Friendship and recognition

I've been spending time with ladies that make me smile. They are not only kind, but I feel comfortable sharing personal things with them.  The nice part of this is we are all different ages and nationalities. My spending time with them varies, because some are online chats and some are in person. What I respect most is their support and understanding of things that aren't easy for me to express. One friend in particular was surprised that I traveled a long distance just to see her. I told my friend, "A friend is there for you no matter what. I am your friend and no matter how far you are, I will be there." By her look, I could tell she was becoming teary eyed. I meant every word. I don't mind traveling to see someone I care about. I enjoy laughter, more now than ever. I always enjoy seeing friends who can joke around but can have serious discussions as well. I also like spending hours in a cafe or salad bar drinking tea, and talking about things with someone I can relate to. When the day is over and I receive a message from a friend who lives outside of NYC, I smile knowing we can share how our days went.  I can always count on her to offer advice to something I’m struggling with, or a simple “thinking of you” comment mean so much. I’m appreciative of these friendships. I’ve let down my wall and giving people a chance to get to know me better. I don’t want to isolate myself anymore.

Saturday 3/23/13: I attended the American Red Cross in Greater New York volunteer recognition event. It was held at the elegant Battery Gardens restaurant in lower Manhattan. I was in awe by its beauty and elegance. The servers were dressed in tuxedos, the food was nicely prepared, and the d├ęcor was beautiful. I felt like I was at prom all over again! I kept saying “How lovely is this?!” to anyone who made eye contact with me. I love receptions, especially fancy ones. I love dressing up and know I’m being honored for something I’m passionate about. Although there were many volunteers who served with the Red Cross for years, their stories were unique and inspiring. When I told them I started in January, they told me to “get the most out of this experience.” I was impressed by the amount of work volunteers do to make a difference. I’m so proud to be part of this initiative. One volunteer entertained us with singing opera. His voice is amazing! Even when he closed us out with Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” I got chills! Later that afternoon, a lady approached me asking where the nearest Brooks Brothers store was. When I told her I didn’t know, she said, “Oh because I see you with their bag.” I explained that it was a goody bag given to us at the Red Cross reception. She smiled and said, “Well you wear it well!” I giggled, “I try I try.” Brooks Brothers store and other organizations donated items for us. Some of those items were first aid kits, key chains, a laundry bag, and a Brook Brothers’ sample cologne for men. The best gift was a Red Cross lapel pin. I’ve been wanting one of those since I started volunteering with them! Yay!

Hellos and blowing kisses?

Coming home from seeing my friend on Friday, a guy in a van pulled alongside the bus I was on and began waving and blowing kisses at me. At first, I wasn’t sure if he was doing that to me. When I pointed to myself, he shook his head yes and proceeded to blow kisses at me. He waved goodbye as the light turned green. I blushed. He was nice looking too. On Saturday, a driver from a tour bus smiled and waved at me as he sat in traffic. In both incidents I waved back. I blushed again. All I could think to myself was, either Spring fever is in effect or I’m receiving attention I usually don’t get. I’m humbled and feel special. Someone asked me, “So Dara does this mean you’re ready to date again?” With a smile I calmly said, “I believe I am.” I haven’t dated anyone in almost three years after my last breakup. I think it’s time to explore what cupid has in stored for me. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A lesson in cyber love

Author's note: Sometimes we lose ourselves over people who appeal to us online. We must be mindful not to lose our sense of self, and striving for attention isn't always a good thing.

Texts, tweets, comments on Facebook
In reality you won’t get a second look
Compete to be the first in clicking “Like”
Feeling special your friend’s name is “Mike”
Keep up with chats, join email listserv
You are not the focus, what nerve!
Get angry when not being noticed
No longer living life to the fullest
A cyber guy you may never meet
Why does he make your heart skip a beat?

Mike is observant and charming
Losing self to his spell is alarming
Women cyber fight to get the last word
Resort to ass kissing is absurd
Befriend others just to get close
Your efforts are silent echoes
Continue with this endless cycle
Striving for his attention to you is blissful

One day you go to meet Mike
At an event you hope to like
Surrounded by amateur paparazzi
From jealous fans acting wishy-washy
Excited by the anticipation
You try to begin conversation
Catty women whisper, their smiles are fake
Unaware this is a mistake
He arrives, you smile by his nonchalant greet
Being in his presence makes you feel elite
Cameras flash, you make a mad dash
Being in every picture will lead to backlash
Mike sees his friends, ignores you and leave
No goodbye, heart breaks on your sleeve

Next day texts, tweets and comments
Pictures are posted, petty arguments
Accused of being sneaky and mean
Hoping Mike will defend and intervene
No response, feelings are hurt
Still made to feel like dirt
Cyber guy is silent and moves ahead
Still sad, you continue the pattern instead
For the sake of attention, you’re willing to get burned
A lesson that has yet to be learned

Monday, March 18, 2013

Poetic vent

Bang bang thump thump
Wall swollen with water bump
Ceiling caves in, pipes burst
Leakage in this place wouldn’t be a first
Lack of communication from powers that be
None have the pleasure to witness what I see
Constant complaining, little is done
Living with ignorance isn’t fun
Lack of sleep, unable to concentrate
This cannot be my fate
Overwhelmed with stress, want to yell
Loved one isn’t feeling so well
Put on brave face, be the advocate
Results of test, now we wait
Smile with fear in my eyes
Hold back tears, asking whys
Difficult to land employment
Volunteerism keeps my skills current
Coping with this bad job market
At times makes me feel inadequate
So much more I can say
Praying for strength everyday
Venting may not solve the problem
At least I feel better writing this poem

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Moving moments and volunteerism

Everything happens for a reason. I will never say I understand everything that happens because I don't. I get upset when I feel wronged. I become sad when I can't do anything to change that circumstance. I feel satisfied when I can rely on my faith to take control. I believe everything is everything. I realize that no matter how I'm treated, good or bad, or what difficulties life throws at me, there is a reason why I am here. There is a reason I continue to help people when I'm hurt or upset. Or why I befriend some folks who aren't always nice to me, or treat me as an after thought, or are just plain selfish! There is a reason. I don't know the answer yet, but will keep on keeping on and walk this journey God planned for me. That's all I'm left to do. 

Now that I got that off my chest, here are some updates:

End of February: I am no longer with the NYC Civic Corps. I am on the job hunt and have some prospects. However, I'm still a volunteer for NY Cares and the Red Cross. At the Red Cross on Thursday (2/28/13), I had the opportunity to shadow a caseworker. I'm learning a lot and enjoying the process. It's not easy by no means, but it's a great eye opener to learn what people are going through. It tests one's strength. I've already had moments where I wanted to cry. The stories are moving. I wish I could do more to help the clients. I guess I'm always going to feel that way. The professional aspect of it is challenging too in learning how things are done. I've been taking the Red Cross free online webinars to advance my skills in client casework. I created a notebook/binder of all my notes, handouts and training materials. My manager and caseworkers were happy and surprised. When I'm serious about something, there are no limits in pursuing my goals. In the hallway on the cushioned bench,  I saw a bowl of candy with a note of thanks to all the volunteers. That made my day. Appreciation truly goes a long way. Although I've only been with the Red Cross since early January, I feel apart of the team. I'm happy to work as a client caseworker and manage the intake process, but I'm more proud just to be a volunteer.

March 1: Returning to the Action Center in Rockaway

In an effort to say thank you to the great people at the Action Center who helped me when I fell in January, I volunteered there on Friday. I, along with other NY Cares volunteers, prepared and packaged meals to distribute to residents. We took turns giving out hot meals, bags and boxes of canned and dried food, and water to incoming residents to the center. I was in charge of water. Majority of the people who came wanted water. I learned from the team leader that the water quality is not good in the area. I also learned that  distribution efforts may stop due to a lack of food donations. Already there's been a decrease in volunteers, and the center isn't open 7 days a week as before. That was disheartening to hear.

As I gave out the bags of bottled water, many smiled saying thank you. What made me feel sad was majority of the people coming in where elders and children. A little boy, could of been 4 years old, wanted to help his mommy by attempting to take the bag of water. Instead I gave him a box of macaroni. He gave me a high five and smiled holding the box. Another resident was an elderly woman who struggled to hold the bag of water. I put it in her cart for her. She thanked me and said, "You're alright." Hurricane Sandy has impacted so many communities like this one in Rockaway, but sadly these residents have been struggling before Sandy hit. It's going to take time for people to fully recover from this event. Personally, I want to continue helping. We cannot forget our neighbors.


I feel accomplished. I look forward to doing more and helping more people.