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Goodbye 2021.

Goodbye 2021.

2021… a year I will never forget. I used to say, ‘Nothing will be better than my 2017.’ but, I was wrong. 2021 has brought me so much joy and love. I learned a lot this year. I want to share some of those lessons with you in this blog.

January: ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ – Unknown

On the 20th of January 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States of America. I remember reading headlines saying- ‘A New Day for America’ and I hoped for a new day for me too. That evening, at around 9.00 PM, I finally got the news I’d been waiting for which changed my life forever (for the better) and I knew from then on that I would be unstoppable.

The next day, I put on my ballet shoes and danced to the Royal Ballet’s playlist. I stretched my legs, hands and feet. I felt free and happy. I put my hair up in a bun and I finally felt really happy with my hair colour too. My hair journey hasn’t been easy. So many hairdressers have let me down or complained about how long and thick my hair is. It took so long for me to find a great hairstylist. When I found him, I just knew that I would follow him wherever he goes (that sounds kind of stalker-ish and weird but, you guys know what I mean). When you find a good hairdresser, it’s like finding your soulmate and you don’t let them go. You hold on to them like a great pair of jeans because, they’re rare. Honestly.

February: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ – Lao Tzu

I was about to finish work… I started humming ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ by the Eagles. I’m still not sure why I did because it wasn’t as if I heard it on the radio or anything. In fact, I think the last time I listened to the song was more than a decade ago so, it was definitely weird that I started humming it. Then within a few minutes I thought, ‘Hmm, I need to find a guitarist who doesn’t have children to do this song with me…’ (‘no children’ because, a lot of musicians I know have quit music when they had babies because they just can’t find the time to jam anymore…). Sadly, some musicians I worked with overstepped boundaries too… so nowadays, I find it hard to trust. I thought about other guitarists I worked with in London but I thought, ‘Can I really be bothered to go to London just to do a few songs? I need to find someone local to me…’ I checked my Spotlight page to search for local musicians but didn’t find any. Then, I suddenly remembered a video I watched on IG; a super talented guitarist I went to school with published a video of him playing ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles. I thought, ‘Perfect! He likes the Eagles too! Gotta get in touch with this guy!’ and I’m glad I did. We started our musical journey together and we’re so excited!

March: ‘No great thing is suddenly created.’ – Epictetus

In March, I enrolled myself on a course to prep for my next career move. I also practiced all my piano pieces ready for my piano exam. I was really scared but I went for it. I learned my first Ludovico Einaudi piece- ‘Snow Prelude No. 3′ and my first Thomas Attwood piece wasn’t too bad either. I couldn’t believe I learned to play a piece from the 1700’s. When I started having piano lessons, all I really wanted to do was to play a few chords so I could play and sing some of my favourite songs. I didn’t think I would be going for ABRSM exams. I was stressed about it but grateful at the same time. All I kept thinking was, ‘I got this. In a few years, I’ll be playing Claire de Lune… I gotta keep going!’

April:Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.’ – Robert F. Kennedy

April… my favourite month of the year. My birthday was chill. This was the month when I decided to really think about what I wanted out of life. I was grateful for all the- ‘You don’t look your age. You look so young!’ comments but, deep down, I knew that it was time for me to really get serious about life. Having said that, I wore a plastic tiara, ate a lot of cake and watched anime on my birthday. The whole, ‘I’m a grown up. I need to act like one.’ pep talk I had with myself went out the window. I danced afterwards; hoping I would burn all the calories I consumed but, I ate some more cake after my dance workout. It’s a toxic cycle and I forgave myself because, well- my birthday. I recorded my piano performance and sent it off to the examiners.

Mid- April…

I got a call from my agent. ‘Someone from ______ casting got in touch and they want to see you. It’s for a major TV show based on a best selling book. Here’s the script. Can you be ready in two days?’

I said, ‘Omg. Not another one of those- ‘One year contract. We don’t know the schedule because #theatreandtvschedulessuck with the added #covidlockdowns and the pay isn’t great but you’ll be on television.’

My agent said, ‘Yes. That’s exactly what it is.’

I said, ‘Hmm… not sure I want to… I have a good job I want to keep.

The agency came back with– ‘Give it a go.’

So I did. What’s the worst that could happen? Either I get rejected or get a job offer. I can always say ‘No. Thank you’ if I don’t want to do it. This happened before. I was asked to audition for a show I always dreamed of doing. When I was offered the role and told how much I would be paid and that the national tour was only for a year, I thought, ‘Uh, No. I can’t do this. I actually want to pursue a more solid career now.’

Anyway, back to the TV show… I got a private audition (I’m so grateful that I always get private ones. I’ve never had to wait in line, ever.)

Then the producers and director all said, ‘You’re lovely and beautiful but, we need a ‘tired’ and ‘miserable’ person to play this role. You look so ‘fresh’ and seeing you now made us think, we definitely need someone older to play the role. We’ll keep you in our books though. We really like you!’

I felt like saying, ‘Uh, surely you saw my headshots before you contacted my agents?!’

but I didn’t…

because I get this all time… I don’t mean to sound big-headed here (because I’m really not and I don’t even believe I’m beautiful tbh…) but, my friends have told me- ‘You’re more beautiful in real life because you just ‘sparkle’ and you’re so bubbly’. Some of them also think I’m nuts because I prank them too much. I love my friends. I really do. Even when I don’t feel beautiful, they always shower me with compliments. If some of you are wondering why I don’t see how ‘beautiful’ I am… well, my own family and some ‘Filipino’ (coughs*) friends don’t think I am because I’m morena. I got bullied A LOT when I was little for having sunkissed skin (shocking). I always got told this- ‘Awww, shame you’re not as beautiful as your mom.’ I know… unbelievable right? She’s a mestiza so of course, she’s beautiful but, what a horrible thing to say to a child! I was always criticised for my looks and that’s probably why I don’t believe it when people tell me- ‘You’re beautiful.’.

To be honest, I don’t really care if I’m beautiful on the outside. What matters to me is the beauty we have on the inside. Looks fade. A beautiful heart is forever.

Anyway, on my birthday this year, my mother told me I was getting fat but when I weighed myself, I didn’t even put on a single pound. I don’t know what’s up with her sometimes. Well, actually, I do know the reason… #AsianParents always criticize. Everyone else around me would say ‘You’re so thin.’ and I have one cake slice and my mom would say, ‘Watch your weight. You’re getting fat.’ She said she’s only looking out for me. I guess, I gotta give her props for always looking out for me. She only wants the best for me and I know what she means- eating cake + getting fat equals = not healthy.

The best thing that came out of that audition was that I met the directors and producers of an upcoming TV show which I’m sure will be a huge hit. I can’t wait to see it! I had fun auditioning. Actually, it was one of the best auditions I’d ever done. I failed to get the job but, gosh… I learned and achieved so much at the same time.

May: ‘So I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings.’ – Nick Frederickson

I got my piano exam result. I got a ‘Distinction’. My lovely piano teacher said, ‘I knew it!’. My reward was more pieces to learn (Thanks Frances!). Playing the piano is not easy but, I promised myself that I’d carry on, no matter what. I cleared out my kitchen cupboards. We had so many baking ingredients stashed away from last year’s lockdown. I thought, ‘Hmm, better use some of these up‘. I had old bananas so I baked my first banana bread but, I didn’t use the right baking soda/powder. I don’t like baking sometimes because all the ingredients have to be accurately measured. When I cook, I’m a ‘Add a little bit of this, splash a bit of that’ kinda chef. Baking is hard for me- especially because I still don’t know the difference between Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Powder. I still get confused when I refer to UK/US recipes. The banana bread I baked tasted bittersweet- for real. I thought, I’ll stick to what I know best- cooking Asian food and mastering the art of making Thai and Indian curries. I don’t intend on joining #TheGreatBritishBakeoff anyway.

June: ‘Out with the old, in with the new.’ -Unknown

We went to Oxford for a lovely summer day out. It was the most beautiful day- sunny and hot. We went to the Ashmolean museum (a favourite of mine). We heard a live orchestra rehearsing outside one of the university halls. I wanted to book a trip away but we were worried about lockdowns. We were supposed to go to America this year but lockdowns and more important things made it on top of our priority list. I read a lot of books and studied hard. I cleared my wardrobe because I bought a lot of summer clothes. I should have known better though. Summer weather wasn’t great (#britishsummer) so, I still wore a lot of black. I cleared my bookcase too; I had to make room for my new text books. It was hard to let go of some of my favourite books but, I also can’t wait for other people to read them. Letting go of stuff is hard but, sometimes, to make room for the new, we have to let go of the old.

July: ‘Hard work pays off.’ – Unknown

I focused on smashing all my test papers. I smashed them. Every. Single. One. How? Hard work my friends. Hard work and sleepless nights.

August: ‘I don’t believe in magic.’ The young boy said. The old man smiled. ‘You will when you see her.’ – Atticus

Well, a lot of unexpected things happened in August… I loved August. My heart changed. My soul changed. My whole life changed. I believed in magic and felt feelings I never thought I’d ever feel. I’ll leave it at that.

September: ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’ -Maya Angelou

Pretty much the same as August but, life slammed and hit me with more lemons. I couldn’t make lemonades so I cried instead. I realized that all the notes I made years ago (#lifelessons) were useless. I loved and hated September but I want to remember and focus more on the things I loved. Work was busy and my October holiday which I booked 8 months prior was cancelled unexpectedly. I remember chanting #ilovemyjob to try and get over it. Then a few more let downs happened and I heard, ‘I told you so.’ over and over again. I was getting worried about my exams. I was ready in July but I didn’t feel so ready in September. I had difficult conversations and decisions to make. It took a lot of courage for me to get out of the rut I found myself stuck in. To cheer myself up, I listened to Earth, Wind and Fire’s ‘September’ and danced in the kitchen while cooking. I changed my attitude. I smiled instead of crying and my gosh, I felt so good that I thought, ‘Ah, this is what they mean when they say, you can choose to be happy.’

October: ‘If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.’ – Deepak Chopra

I had to really prep for my exams but I couldn’t focus. Luckily, I perform well under pressure so I always know that I can handle whatever comes my way. Foggy- that’s how I can describe my October. I couldn’t see clearly but I knew that the fog wouldn’t last forever. I had difficult decisions to make in September but, October gave me more things to think about. I thought I had to make decisions all by myself but, actually, the decisions were somehow made for me. The actions of the people around me made me realize that it’s not actually all up to me. I spent my time in September thinking, ‘What should I do?’ but in October, I thought, ‘Oh, so, they’ve chosen to do this so, this is what I have to do now based on that…’ I learned to move on from the things that made me unhappy. Self love. I learned all about it this month. I revised for my exams at the end of this month. I moved things around the apartment and changed a few things to refresh and reset my life. I chose me this month. Me. I realized that if I don’t choose me, then who will? So, choose YOU my friends.

November: ‘To keep a warm heart in a cold world is the real victory.’ -Marty Rubin

I spent my exam week in Bristol. Staying in hotels is never fun. Doing my makeup with hotel lighting is a sport in itself.

Peptalk: ‘You got this. You’ve prepped for this for a long time. You gotta do your best. That’s all you can do. Que sera, sera. You got this.’

I smashed all my exam papers. Every single one. Every single question was hard but, because I studied hard, for me, they were easy. I know I haven’t got my results yet but I’m honest with myself. I know when I’ve messed up and I know when I’ve done well. I know I did well in that exam so, I’m happy.

It was so cold and the wind chill was so #extra that I had my blanket scarf around my neck and hot water bottles in bed all month. I thought about buying chestnut Ugg boots again to combat the winter chill. Ugg boots remind me of the 19 year old me though and there’s a stigma attached to Ugg wearers so I should really stop thinking about Uggs (It’s time to leave the past behind.). It’s so cold that I can’t help but be reminded of the #bigfreeze2010. That was a really tough winter for me. My heart started to grow cold that I flew to the Philippines just to warm up and bring myself back to life. Oh dear… 2010… What a year… There’s nothing more embarrassing than reading my Facebook status updates from 2010-2012. I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘Sorry’ to all those people who had to put up with my daily #InspirationalQuotes. I don’t even know why I’m writing this though… majority of my FB friends don’t even know about this blog. I was cold back in 2010 but I managed to keep my heart warm. I wasn’t resentful or bitter then. I didn’t want to hold grudges because I knew that if I did, my hands won’t be free to receive more blessings.

Cold. This month was cold. This month, people were even colder. Did I care? I did for a little while and I cried about it. While I was crying though, I suddenly thought, ‘You guys can be cold all you want but I’ll keep my heart warm.’ and I was happy despite the miserable circumstances all around. I was a happy gal in November. Choose happy. Always.

December: ‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’ – Maya Angelou

I put on my headphones and I walked to town to get some more hot chocolate from the Bayliss Hot Cocoa stand. I had a bit of an epic moment where I felt like I was in my very own movie with my own soundtrack playing in the background. I strutted down the high street like The Bee Gees (Staying Alive music video) and I played Idina Menzel hits- ‘Let It Go’ from the movie ‘Frozen’ and ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked‘. It made me giggle when I walked past a stall that had a fake snow machine. The wind blew some fake snow my way when ‘The cold never bothered me anyway.’ line came on. Pretty dramatic but, the cold was definitely bothering me. It was freezing cold that night.

I planned so many festive things but, since the Omicron Covid variant is a huge concern right now, a lot of my plans got cancelled. I understand why my friends are reluctant to go ahead though… I am too. I was looking forward to having festive dinners with my friends but, I have to look at the bright side; I guess I don’t have to go the gym in January to burn all the calories and at least we’re all doing our best to keep each other safe.

I know better now. I made so many mistakes this year but, I learned a lot. I can’t believe how much my life changed this year. I thought I had it all figured out before but, in order for us to grow, we have to keep learning. We have to go through hard times to learn valuable lessons. This year has brought me so much to be grateful for. No matter how good or bad this year has been for you, always remember to look at the bright side.

I wish you all a happy Christmas… I also wish you a great new year ahead. So, together, let’s say ‘Goodbye 2021! It’s been fun! and ‘Hello 2022! Bring it on!’

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