You Can’t Buy Everything

I pulled up to the house, the usually clank, clank as I rolled through the gate.


Turned the radio down. Grabbed the wrapper from my breakfast biscuits, half full can of day old La Croix, and gas station receipts, some hard dried up play doh, and stuffed it in a plastic Walgreens bag.

Car Key. Glasses. Purse. Garbage.


My husband opened the door as I stood there fumbling through my Mary Poppinesque bag for the keys.


I adjusted the strap of my blue messenger, switched the bag of garbage I had collected from my car to the other hand.


He smiled longingly at me as I caressed his neck with my free hand.


We kissed softly.

Keys and sunglasses collided with the school pictures of the kids as I tossed them on the table by the door.

Walked around the red scooter the kids left in the hallway.


A shoe box on the kitchen counter caught my eye, but I casually placed my bag down next to it and walked over to the sink to pour out the remaining La Croix before I tossed it.


”Is that for me?” I asked, tilting my head back, not sure if he was in the room yet, but looking for him in the reflection of the kitchen window.


I grabbed the box as he walked up to me.


They were white cycling shoes. Seven and a half.


I had gotten him a Peloton for Valentine’s Day, and had been thinking about trying it, but hadn’t gotten myself a pair of clip-ins yet.


”Happy Birthday,” he said warmly.


”I love them! Thank you” I kissed him and wrapped my arms around his waist, and rested my head on his chest.


”What do you get the girl that can buy herself anything,” he stated.


”Well, not anything,” I said rolling my eyes, smiling.


”I couldn’t buy you… Your love…Our Family… Thank you.”

And we held each other.

New Year’s Revolutions

New Year’s Revolutions… Yes, I’m a little, a LOT, late on this post.

And yes, you read right. New Year’s Revolutions.

What started out as wrong word usage, actually became an idea for this post.

Instead of Resolving to do things, this year we should REVOLUTIONIZE the way we think!

rev·o·lu·tion·ize
/,revә’lōoSHә,nīz/
▶verb change something greatly or completely.
– synonyms
transform, shake up, turn upside down, restructure, reorganize, transmute, metamorphose; humorous transmogrify.
Copyright © Oxford University Press 2003, 2009

Let’s Revolt and do things that actually change our lives! 

1: Baby steps. 

Start small. Set little goals for yourself. Instead of saying that you will lose 30 pounds, say I want to lose 1 pound a week. Or even better, don’t focus on the weight, and instead focus on how to get there. Set a goal of 10 mins of exercise a day for a week. Then bump it up a bit. Shoot for 30 mins a day by the end of the month. 

Setting small weekly goals will give you lots of little victories to help you feel better about yourself, and keep you motivated to stay on track. 

Or, as in my case, let’s say you want to write a book. You can’t just start writing a whole book, (unless you are a masterful genius, i.e. Stephen King), but you can just start writing, a little bit at a time. Writing every day will help you get the creative juices flowing.

See this article about Jerry Seinfeld on writing.

2: Mums the word. 

Stop telling people that you are going to do something. As cliche as the phrase has gotten, Just do It!

Let the results speak for themselves.

Too often we think that by telling others what we are going to do that we will feel more accountable. Instead, when we are constantly judged by others for eating the wrong things, skipping a workout, having a drink, cursing or whatever vice you may be trying to overcome, we are easily disappointed and get down on ourselves. You need to care about yourself and be accountable to YOU before you ever try to please others.

3: No more “I’m Sorry”.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody cares! Unfortunately, EVERYBODY has stuff going on, some are just more vocal than others (or more about posting it on social media than others). We’ve all got stuff going on, but when you allow the negative things in your life to become your focus you lose sight of all the good things that already surround you.

4: Thank you.

This is a continuation of the previous section. Stop saying I’m sorry, and start saying Thank you. We all have so much to be thankful for, if we try. It is easy to mope about the countless issues one may be facing, but what about all the things that are ALREADY going right in your life. This is not to say “pat yourself on the back, you are awesome”; on the contrary, you should be grateful for all the things that are going right in your life that are out of your control. 

5: Don’t spend a dime.

Improving YOU doesn’t HAVE to cost a dime.

You can’t BUY happiness, weightloss, success, a family, health; although you can buy happy pills, diet pills, lotto tickets, and mail order brides…

These are are just short term solutions to a bigger problem, and most of the time they turn what feels like an unmanageable situation into a black hole of issues.

Taking a walk…FREE

Keeping a journal…FREE

Getting up early to eat a good breakfast, and get to work on time or even early…FREE

Spending time with your loved ones…FREE

All these things do have 1 thing in common and that is that they take TIME! Time is one of the most expensive things in our lives, even though it is also technically, FREE! You have enough time, if you get your priorities straight and make good use of it.

And last but not least…

Don’t ever say that you are finished. You are not done living until you are 6 feet under. You are a project that will never get done until you reach those pearly gates, or turn into worms or mulch or whatever. So in the meantime, continue to strive for greatness and self improvement. As you hit your goals, make new ones. Always look up and move forward. You can be grateful for everything you have and feel accomplished, but do not be complacent. Never tell yourself that you have made it. 

There are no limits.

Start a revolution in your life TODAY!!!

rev·o·lu·tion
/,revә’lōoSHәn/
▶noun
2 a great and far-reaching change…

False Alarm

This is a late post from my trip to L.A. last week.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a false alarm, I envision a negative pregnancy test.

PHEW! ::wipes brow::

I had my tubes cut, burned, damn near ghost busted 2 years ago, yet I still worry about false alarms. Or rather, real, live, blaring baby alarms. I imagine with a middle name of Maria, Jesus could potentially send me another baby.

But today wasn’t about THAT kind of false alarm.

I had just gotten off the phone with my dad, explaining to him how turn on the shower in his hotel room.

Seems simple enough, but this shower handle just sort of sticks out. It looks like you have to pull on it, when in reality you have to twist it. But it gets stuck, sooo by the time you figure that out, you’ve twisted it so hard the wrong way that it seems like it won’t budge at all, and you start to think it might just pop off in your hand.

I know that was an awkward explanation but there was really no way around the lingo. So if anyone reads this in 10 years, and I’m running for President or some other form of office, I hope they won’t be offended.

So any who.

“A la izquierda papi. Como el reloj, pero alrevez.”
I’m gesticulating in the air as if through the phone this will make him understand. 

“Esta mierda no abre.” 

“Quieres que vaya?” I smack myself on the forehead.

“No, ya, ya.”

I wasn’t sure if he had really opened it, or just gave up. But I went on about getting dressed. My dad, Jose (one of our managers), and I were all on different floors.

Not a minute had passed and the alarm went off. Not my phone which I usually inadvertently set to snooze.

The FIRE ALARM! 

“May I have your attention please. A fire alarm sensor has been activated in the building. Please proceed to the nearest stairwell and exit the building.”

Wahhhhhh. Wahhhhhh.

And the message went on and on. 

Wahhhhhh. Wahhhhhh.

Oh my gosh! A fire! This is just crazy. Dad must still be in the shower.

I looked at myself in the mirror. My morning face and my there’s possibly a fire face, oddly similar.

Alas, no time to remedy! 

“May I have your attention please.”

YES! you have my freakin’ attention!

Thankfully, I was already dressed so I put on my sneakers, grabbed my wallet and key, and left the room. 

Wahhhhhh. Wahhhhhh.

Lady in the hallway had her purse and luggage which she dragged down the stairs. 

Well, she’s clueless!

We were on the ninth floor!

I heard the sirens of the firetrucks.

Oh, my God. Is this for real?!?!

Is there gonna be smoke soon? Is anybody even staying in this hotel? Why aren’t more people running around!

When I got to the 4th floor, there was no alarm blaring.

Nobody in the hallways, except a lady in business attire, suitcase in hand, cellphone attached to her ear, attacking the elevator button. 

Another clueless individual. 

Come on ladies! Get it together! 

I put an ear to my dad’s door, but I couldn’t hear anything but the Wahhhhhh. Wahhhhhh. from the floor above us.

Did he go down without me? 

I called his cell.

“Dime Mima?”

“Donde estas?”

“Aqui en el cuarto. Y tu?”

“La alarma de fuego esta sonando. No la oistes? Estoy en tu puerta.”

“No. Me estaba bañando hasta ahora mismo que me llamastes.”

“Si, esta sonando. Bueno en mi cuarto y los otros pisos si.”

He let me in the room, and went on about his normal business of getting ready, a little too nonchalant for my liking.

So I decided to call downstairs, and double check if the building was about to go down in flames.

“Oh, it’s jut a false alarm. Great. Thanks.” If there were a sarcasm alarm I would have set it off.

“Bueno, parece que fue una falsa alarma.”

“Ok Mima. Nos vemos abajo en media hora.” He said with the same casual tone as before, as I slouched out of the room.

A fire? Big deal, right? -_-

A lady in the elevator, was heading up with a bottle of wine.

That seems like a great idea right now! I thought as I hit 9.

OMG! I forgot about Jose!

Routine Prayer

Most nights are pretty predictable at my house.
I get home after the gym. Eat a quick meal while the kids do some last minute running around, screaming and playing hide and seek with their baby brother.

Get the bottles of milk ready for baby David, or Toddler David, I don’t know really it sounds weird. He’s a 40lb 2 yr old wearing 4T…it’s hard to call him a baby…
Then we all head to Sofy’s room to talk about our day and start story time. 

Right now, we are reading a children’s version of the Bible which (Lord don’t strike me down for saying this) makes the stories a little less boring and a lot more understandable for the kids.
They interject occasionally and ask questions, sometimes random, so I’m not always sure if they are really paying attention. 
Today we were reading about David and Goliath, but Vicky wanted to talk about Adam and Eve and the bad fruit. The whole being “naked” in the garden really blew their minds.
“And then they had sons. And one son, Cain, he killed his brother!” Vicky was really concerned about this. They all were, but they quickly chimed in that they could never do that to each other.

Meanwhile, David is laying back on one of Sofy’s pillows drinking his milk and minding his business.

After we finally get through a story, we share thoughts about what we read and how it can apply to our lives presently.

Then, we take turns each night saying a quick prayer, before everyone heads off to their bed, bunk, crib, and so on.

Each of us prays slightly different, but for the most part we thank God for everything that we have including each other.

Gaby thanks God for family and friends, and video games.

Sofy thanks God for family and friends, our house, books, and her ipad.

And tonight, for example, Vicky thanked God “for our lovely home and socks”, among other things.

So, last Wednesday I went out to dinner with two good friends of mine. I rarely go “out” and even less smack dab in the middle of the week. But sometimes it’s really hard to find time for friends and loved ones, so I made a point of setting aside that night.

Of course by the time I got home, around 10:45pm, they were fast asleep.

Fast forward to the next night, after we read as usual, I started to ask whose turn it was to pray, but quickly remembered.

“Okay guys. I’m gonna pray, since I missed my turn last night.”

“I prayed last night, mom.” Sofy said softly.

I looked over at her surprised, “You did?”

“Yea, you weren’t here. I forgot, but when Gaby and Vicky were asleep, I prayed by myself.”

I gave her a kiss and hugged her tight for a few moments.

I was shocked. Sofia had taken the initiative to pray on her own. Neither I nor her dad had to remind her or ask her to do it.

I felt so much joy in my heart.

She only just turned 10 last month, but suddenly it felt like a real turning point.

So, yea. Most nights are pretty predictable; and I try to stick to a specific routine with the kids.
But I guess some of the best moments are the ones you don’t plan for.
————–

And I just have to add, I’m no religious nut. (Oh boy, here she goes ::reader rolls eyes::)

I believe in God, and I believe in prayer, and I believe in the Bible.
I curse; I get angry; I yell; I can be a BITCH. (Ask my sisters.)

I’m not perfect, and I’m not a fanatic.

But I don’t think I have to be.

You don’t have to be an every Sunday chruch abiding Christian in order to believe in God and the Bible, or have a relationship with Him.
Whether or not there really was a talking serpent; an ark that carried humans and creatures for 40 days and nights through the flooding of earth without them devouring each other; whether Methusala lived to be 969 or not; or whether Jesus was God’s Son or just a REALLY good person.
All of these are debateable points, but I believe. And I think it’s good to believe, and have faith. Anyting can be interpreted hundreds of ways; we are humans, it’s in our nature to doubt and question. And I don’t have a problem with my kids having doubts or questions.

I just want them to believe for themselves.
And honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of my big girl and her growing heart.

Adult Kid

We’ve all heard the tired cliché, “Wait until you have kids of your own; then you’ll understand.”

Usually, we get this from our parents with whom we’ve had some disagreement or misunderstanding, or yes, even a full-fledged screaming match (e.g. with Mom…again).

::rolls eyes::

But how often do we think about when we are old and gray like our parents?

Newborns

Parents of newborns deal with late night feedings, messy diaper changes, inconvenient spills, a barrage of items to tote around (don’t forget to get the baby), and having to adhere to an infant’s schedule.

Babies are so tiny and helpless, AND WE ADORE THEM! You could be exhausted, drained, tired, on the brink of an anxiety attack; and yet you* will still get up each and every time the baby monitor starts lighting up like Times Square on New Year’s. They can’t thank you or call out, except for the crying, and yet you don’t resent them.

*”You” in this case refers to good mothers and/or fathers, where such is the case. Depressingly enough, we all know some lame moms and dads.

::rolls eyes::

 

Not So Newborn

But as the children get older, parents often talk about how hard it is, how unappreciated they are.

The kids begin talking (complaining) and doing (asking you to do) more and more things for themselves, and you begin to notice all the little AND big things you do for them that go unnoticed, and without a thank you. I mean sometimes, you get a loose hug or a forced, “Thanks mom”, but more often than not, your children will take you for granted, and yet you continue to cater to their every need, demanded and unspoken alike.

They think you are a pain, or uncool, and that YOU just don’t understand what THEY are going through, what they want or what they need.*

*Some of you who know me and my family, are thinking, just wait ’til your 9-year-old daughter is a 13-year-old nightmare.

I know, I know. I have a loooooooong way to go before I’m licensed to preach, but I have learned a thing or two from my own parents along the way and from the relationships I’ve been able to observe around me.

And, unfortunately, myself to be included, we are mostly failing, not at parenting our children, but at taking care of our “Adult Kids”.

Adult Kids

What the heck is an “Adult Kid”?

And please don’t misinterpret this as a derogatory term.

As far as your parents are concerned, you will always be their “baby“, but, unfortunately, at one point in their lives the roles begin to reverse and they become an “Adult Kid”.

Several years ago, this short anecdote was brought to my attention by my father. I don’t have the original he showed me then, but there are several versions you can find around the internet. This one is from Snopes.

******

The Wooden Spoon

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson.

The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table.

But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

“We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was now served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.

Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”

The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family.

And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth got soiled.

Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives.

*******

The Shift

Somehow, as we get older, our responsibility as a parent and adult becomes more important than our responsibility as sons and daughters, or even as brothers and sisters.

“We” are no longer our parent’s problem, and we’ve got our own problems to deal with. Our parents take a backseat to our own parenting. Suddenly they find themselves with no one to look after them. Suddenly, there isn’t a family unit that can depend on each other; instead, everyone has been broken off into independent sectors. To each his own.

The truth is your parents, grandparents, or even siblings may eventually become as time consuming and/or costly as your own children. They need to be taken care of; perhaps even fed, bathed, or changed; taken to the doctor or market. They need to be nurtured, talked to, and listened to just like your kids do. They need love and attention, even when it is burdensome.

No one will admit that their children can feel like a burden, because they think that will make them sound like a bad parent; however, how quick we are to express how much of a heavy load our elders have become.

Your parents would never choose to put a strain on your life, in the same way a baby doesn’t choose to come into this world.

 

100/100 or 50/50 ?

We demand so much of our parents and elders, whom rarely demanded such from us. No one is saying it is easy to care for either an infant or an elderly person; nor am I suggesting one can’t voice their discontent or frustrations. We are only human. However, we must not forget our Duty. Yes, we LOVE our family, and we should do all things out of love.

But guess what?

Love is about sacrifice, and sacrifice usually means doing something you don’t really feel like doing. I read a quote on Facebook today about marriage being 100/100, rather than 50/50. You have to be willing to give everything; and this applies to any relationship with a loved one, not just marriage.

We have to love and support each other even when it is hard and inconvenient; even when we do not think our actions will be reciprocated.

Often times our loved ones ARE aware of the lack of attention and of just how much of a hindrance they have become in our lives. To the point where some begin to wonder, “is this really living?” and “is this really worth living?”

Life can be difficult enough when you are young, healthy, and independent; imagine how it must feel for your elders, or those who are sick and dependent on others for care.

That short story really touched my heart years ago; it still gets to me every time I read it. Yet I can’t say that I have done much to change. As of late, however, it keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.

And although the main focus of this post has been that we should care for our elderly loved ones, it is really a call in general to not abandon your family. No matter the distance (please do not break out into the Backstreet Boys), no matter what may occur between you and your loved ones; forgive and forget, move on and love on.

1 John 4:20  (NIV)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

REMEMBER: Kids are like sponges, observing and ABSORBING everything around them. Let them observe and Absorb your good ways.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Challenge

I challenge all (10 of you reading this) to take just 5 minutes out of each day for your parents, grandparents, or any loved ones that might need your love and attention. 5 minutes is a mere .3% of your day. YES, POINT 3 Percent. Not even 1 %!

Do the math. You spend a lot more time in the bathroom doing your necessities, so to speak; let alone on useless nonsense like social media and the internet.

::raises hand::

(Guilty as Charged)

Leviticus 19:32 (NIV)

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Being a Good Human is Hard Enough

Each morning I wake up easy enough. Then again, I suppose I shouldn’t say “easy“. I toss and turn and SNOOZE 3,4,5 times? And like quicksand, the more I resist the deeper I sink.

I mean “easy” in that for the most part we don’t have to think much about your actions.

MORNING ROUTINE

1: Open your eyes

2: Take that first morning breath, or let out that first morning sigh (especially on Mondays).

3: Throw the sheets off your body and swing your legs over the side of the bed.

All simple things we don’t think twice about. 

Drag yourself to the toilet, then the sink, wash your face, brush your teeth, peruse the closet, choose an outfit, then shoes (some of us my take a tad longer with this part), apply makeup.  

Besides the harrowing decision of which pumps to wear, in general, none of these are very tasking deeds, nor do they require any ethical, moral or common sense decisions.

Although, I will say it does take some common sense to look in a mirror BEFORE walking out the door in some outfits. Something I have forgotten to do all too often.

Why didn’t I get rid of that blouse the last time I hated it. -_-

Needless to say, there are a lot of people lacking in this area.

The HARD part of getting up each day is figuring out how to be a good wife, a good mother, good daughter, sister, aunt, employee, boss, friend, Christian, Buddhist. 

Being a good human is hard enough; a good Christian, damn near mythological feat. I mean right there I just sinned. 

Whatever you are, even an atheist, it takes dedication and constant application to convince people that something doesn’t exist; particularly, invisible fantastical beings like God (although I see him all around), or the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, The Abominable Snowman, Big Foot.

Did I just compare Jesus to characters from children’s tales? 

Yes, I did.

Isn’t that what many think He is, just a great character from the past?

SANTA

Santa is based on the story of Saint Nicholas, Jolly Old St. Nick. He was a real man, who couldn’t go down chimneys or fly around on a sleigh; or walk on water or heal the sick; however, he did bring happiness to many needy children and families in real life.

Matthew 19:21 (NIV) Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

“Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.” (StNicholasCenter.org)

I think it’s wonderful for kids to believe in Santa. He isn’t make-believe. The same goes for Jesus. Once kids are too old, or stop believing, or find out from friends that Santa “isn’t real”, the explanation really shouldn’t be so complicated.

You see, St Nicholas (Santa) WAS a man, a Christian. He loved Jesus, and he loved to help people. The tradition of Santa Claus has been kept alive through parents, to honor the good Nicholas did, and to give children something good to look forward to and someone positive to look up to.

Don’t skip the next section because I titled it Jesus. You made it this far.

JESUS

Jesus may not be on earth today, but He was a man, He did exist, and while He was here He did many great things. Why? Because He loved us. And whether or not you believe that He resurrected, or is in heaven, or that He is actually God AND the Holy Spirit, you can at least still believe what He once was, what “men” once wrote about Him, the same way “men” wrote about Saint Nicholas.

You can live your life in a way that glorifies His life, His purpose; that sheds light on the good He did, and more importantly, WHY He did it—out of love and the simple goodness of His heart with no gains.

If Jesus, the man, went to heaven, wouldn’t you want to go there too when you die?

Whether Jesus was God or just a simple man, doesn’t He sound like someone you want to be more like?

You can’t work your way to heaven?
The Bible teaches that you cannot go to heaven through works alone. You have to believe in Jesus and the whole “story”

I understand that; I get it.

You can’t out exercise a poor diet.

But whenever someone does something good, any good action, whether they like it or not, they are representing what Jesus stood for and glorifying him. They are eating His fruit AND exercising His good works at the same time.

Is it easy to be a good person? No.

Is it easy to do what you know and feel is right even when others tell you not to waste your time, because others don’t care, and won’t reciprocate? No.

Is it easy to believe in something or someone that you cannot see? No.

But Jesus doesn’t take the form of one man or thing, but many. Men and women, doing good all over the world. Jesus is Amorphous. He is a budding flower, a cloud, a snowy mountain top, the growing green blades of grass, a sweet melody, a ripe fruit, a beautiful creature (even ants -_-), a crying infant, a walking toddler, a smiling child, a helpful sibling, a loving parent, a sweaty laborer, and whether we like to believe it or not even some lawyers and politicians.

He is all around us in everything we see and do. 

So one myth (Jesus) yielded another (Santa). Well, folktale or not, I hope He leads me to become a legend as well. 

DOING GOOD

I guess it is inherently selfish, because doing good makes YOU feel good, so in the end you are really just pleasing yourself…

But also, hopefully, by doing good you make others feel better and motivate others to do good and seek good in turn.

If you don’t know me, you might be thinking, “Gosh, this girl is a Jesus FREAK!”

Hardly.

I just believe what I believe, and I’m not afraid to say it. I make plenty of mistakes and my fair share of bad decisions. And among other things, I curse…occassionally…like a sailor.

So, I guess the question is: How can I be a good person all around? How can I do right by everyone around me, keep a sane mind and somehow be happy also?

It is really hard. 

I can’t, by myself. 

I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perfect.

But I do want to be good…

And I will keep keep trying. 

God’s Mercy: The Shrimp Boat

5 de Junio 1980
Port of Mariel, Cuba
———-
Many waited in the large room. Among them, my parents and sister—only 10 months old at the time—my aunt, uncle and cousin.

Like pupils, they listened intently for their names, not just to indicate that they were present, but because it meant they were a few steps closer to freedom.

The summer heat only added to the bubbling tension. As each name was called, uneasy looks turned into smiles. Families, couples, men & women headed into another room. Sometimes one after the other, but more often than not, the order didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. 

The room grew empty as people rejoined each other in the other room that may as well have already been called America. 

After some time, my father found himself alone; only a few others whom he didn’t know remained.

He waited, conjectured, speculated, imagined the worst; he prayed; and then he saw my mother and sister returning with a guard. 

They hadn’t called his name. He would not be authorized to leave through the Mariel boatlift.

He had previously been imprisoned for attempting to leave the island, and now, years later despite a wife and infant, it seemed they weren’t going to let him go so easily.

My mother couldn’t speak as she approached him. Fear welled up in her eyes, and in his heart. 

He bit his bottom lip, opened his mouth, then hesitated. 

He told her to take my sister, and go ahead with my uncle.

“Tranquila,” he said and held them close as she sobbed. 

“Despidese ya, que usted no lo va a ver mas,” the guard sneered heartlessly. What joy could he find in separating a family?

She kissed him one last time. He cupped my sister’s face in his hands and kissed her forehead lightly, smelling her hair at the same time, hoping to remember her sweet face whenever he smelled the familiar baby cologne. 

My mother’s heart ached, but even at 19 she was obedient and loyal. 

My father watched them go, towards an uncertain future, but better nonetheless, even if the sea would forever lie between them.

My aunt held my sister for the majority of the trip, while my mother vomited over the edge of the boat that brought them to the United States. She was seasick the entire voyage, perhaps heartbroken and distraught by her decision as well. 

———-

Thankfully, with the help of God and the support of our families, my father was able to leave Cuba a few days later. The boat that brought my father to the United States on June 10, 1980, and would eventually reunite my father with his family, was named God’s Mercy; and so has it carried us ever since. 

———-

This is just a piece of the story of my parents exodus from Cuba; however, the sacrifice they were willing to make that day is not unlike those they have continued to make over the last 35 years. They always put their families’ needs first, above and before their own desires. My parents have been amazing examples and pillars of instruction my entire life. I am so grateful to have them both. More than anything though, I am grateful to God for his mercy and the blessings he has bestowed on our entire family.

How to get away with Mur…MARRIAGE!

How to get away with Mur…RIAGE!

Ha! Marriage!
Yes, I almost said Murder; but both go hand in hand if you ask 40-50% of the population.

MARRIAGE: It’s supposed to be a “Merry-Age”? But for a lot of people it’s more like a slow torturous death.

The plus side is you can always just pull the plug and get a divorce, RIGHT?

NO!!! This totally annoys me.

If you inherently believe that you are gonna fail at something the whole while you are attempting it, don’t you think that negativity will filter through? At the first sign of trouble, you just throw in the towel and bail?

Gosh, we’d probably still be pushing boulders around and beating each other over the head with clubs if we gave up on everything so easily.

Yes, some issues arise because people get married for the wrong reasons, or without getting to know each other well enough, and so on. But for the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume both parties are in love and genuinely believe they WANT to spend the rest of their lives together.

I always hated the phrase “Marriage takes work.” If marriage takes work, then I guess parenting is unpaid overtime, with no breaks or benefits?

I only kid (if you are single and not a parent yet).

If you ARE married and/or also in the parenting phase of your life/relationship, have Faith; be Steadfast; YOU CAN DO THIS!

How? How can I get through another day, you ask? How can I be happy, make my partner happy, and be a good parent at the same time?

Well this post has all the answers you’ve been looking for, you just have to read the whooooole thing to find out.

Okay, I lied.

It’s not easy. It takes a lot of slapping yourself in the face, and saying “Snap out of it!” And “Stop whining like a lil B—-!”

Hi. My name is Carmen.

I’m 17 years into my relationship; almost 11 years into my marriage; and 8 1/2 years into the parenting phase.

And I’m very happy with my life, marriage and family up till now. Many will say I’m happy because I haven’t gotten to the bad part yet. Why do people always wanna have a worse story than you? Wether it’s relationship stories or the horrific labor stories women tell, we are always trying to one up with the bad vibes or bad news.

Well, thankfully, we passed the “7 year itch” without a hitch. We’ve got four kids, all natural labors, 3 with epidural. And although our oldest is only 8, she is frightfully maturing at the speed of light.

Unfortunately, there’s no epidural for marriage, but you shouldn’t need one.

Here are 10 other things you can do be happy in your marriage. I say other because there are so many factors that contribute to a happy marriage.

1: Play hide & seek.
Or, as I like to call it: randomly hide from your husband and scare the crap out of him.

WARNING: while this is EXTREMELY fun, and HILARIOUS, be warned that I cannot be responsible if you get punched or kicked in the face by your frightened significant other.

Whenever I hear him coming down the hall, I find a quiet place to hide and then wait… And wait… And wait. Sometimes for several minutes.

Sounds sinister, I know, but it makes for a great laugh for the both of us, after the initial scare that is. Thankfully he seems to forget to get me back.

2: Serenade each other randomly. 

You don’t need a fancy guitar or Mariachis. Just sing in the car or at home when “your song” comes on. Or text them randomly if you hear your song or any other romantic song on the radio. And don’t discriminate if it’s “Bump and Grind”; it’s the thought that counts.

3: Say I love you when you’re just going to another room.

Say I love you a lot! NO, it does not take the meaning away! Sometimes we don’t say it enough to avoid overuse.

Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times we use the word “the” or “and” everyday? Try taking that out of   rest of this blog post see how odd it would be.

Say “I love you” often as you can.

4: Make time to be Intimate.

This should be number 1, but the order doesn’t really matter.

This is especially true once you have kids, but even before. You get married, and have jobs and responsibilities, and before you know it you could be in a slump! Do not give in to the slump. As tacky or unexciting as it may sound, set aside time to be intimate. Literally, count the days and plan for it.

As boring as that may sound, it will still be fun and exciting once you get around to it! So book your calendars just as you would a mani, pedi, or gym-time.

5: Leave little love notes for each other. 

This one is more for the ladies.

Ladies, don’t read this and say, “my guy never does that.” You see THAT is YOUR biggest problem. Stop comparing your guy to someone else’s. AND stop expecting things from him just because you do them, or want him to do them. Men are totally different animals than us. They DO NOT think the way we do. So you have to learn to interpret and appreciate the little things they do for us.

Like what?

Well, how about when they fix something around the house; deal with your car problems; maybe they let you pick a movie. Okay, maybe it’s just a show between the commercials of the football game; okay, maybe you just hold the remote. FINE! Who am I kidding, we barely have remote rights.

Also, ladies, men are terrible guessers. Just tell them what you want and stop expecting them to “know” everything.

6: Compliment each other.

Naturally, as time passes and you start to settle into the relationship, you get so comfortable you forget how attractive you once found each other. You forget about the chase because you already caught each other, and even though you still have the hots for each other, you stop saying/showing it.

This sort of goes back to number 4/1, but also leads to #7.

7: Be confident.
Too often we don’t give ourselves enough worth. We get down on ourselves because we don’t like what we see in the mirror and we ASSume the other person is unhappy with us as well.

Well, NEWSFLASH, men are easier to please than you think. NO they are not blind; you ARE NOT Miranda Kerr or Sofia Vergara, and yes they find these women very attractive. BUT nevertheless, your spouse wants YOU! So ACT like you look like Miranda Kerr, just don’t talk like Sofia Vergara (that’s just annoying). Put on something sexy no matter what you look like, and your spouse will be happily surprised!

8: Never keep track of who owes who.

Marriage is a give and take (this also goes back to number 4/1).

It’s about compromising and sacrificing.

Sometimes you will feel like you are giving more than the other person. But you aren’t supposed to keep tabs. It’s not a math equation.

You don’t give in hopes of receiving, although the saying goes “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours.” And who doesn’t love a good back rub?

You have to love the person more than yourself. If you are both truly in love, then it all balances out.

Ask my husband and he’ll confirm, “Happy Wife; Happy Life!”

9: Don’t worry about other people’s relationships.

NOBODY is perfect. No matter how “happy” people seem.

You know what makes for a great marriage?

Discretion.
Keep your problems between the both of you. Work them out together, whenever possible just between you and your spouse. Because your unconditional love will forgive many things, but your friends, family and Facebook will not be as understanding or forgiving.

10: Articles about Marriage are like Fad diets.

Their advice WORKS! But the second you atop dieting, you gain all the weight/problems back.

You see marriage is for a lifetime. There is no quick fix, or one time remedy because life takes it’s own course. You have to face obstacles and challenges as they came. It’s impossible to plan for anything.

I hope this post is somewhat helpful. If I have to pick one out of the ten as thee most important, I would go with number 4! 😉

Like Nike says,“Just Do It!” LITERALLY!

Carpe What?

When I was 5 years old, I didn’t have many aspirations-aside from laying on my back on the living room floor, drinking a bottle of yoo-hoo chocolate milk, while watching the latest Woody Wood Pecker cartoon or Chilly Willy. Seriously, who didn’t love singing, “My name is Chilly Willy. I’m frozen through and through.”

Ah, Youth!

Those. Were. The. Days!

When my biggest concern was missing the clown at the end of the year party in kindergarten, because I had caught the chicken pox from my sister. Mrs. Rodriguez had been talking about the party for weeks. It was a big deal! ::rolls eyes and grumbles:: I can’t believe I missed it.

Can you imagine the impact those last two weeks of school would have had on my life?

**********

Moving on.

I had my first crush in 3rd grade. He was funny and cute… Dumb. As. Rocks, though. He brought his dad’s credit card to school one day. He was so cool! It said his name right there on the card.

He held it up to me gleaming. The plastic coating that made the card shiny, rather than just a dull matte blue, was slightly peeling off one corner. It was just a little bit, but naturally, I pulled on it and a huge piece flaked off. It’s like a scab, and who can resist picking a scab?!?
My eyes opened wide, as did his. His face turned a bright red, and his eyes welled up.

He ignored me for weeks! Okay, so it was just a few days, but it seemed like forever. Our desks were arranged in groups of six, and ours faced each other.

We didn’t have twitter or hashtags back then, but seriously #FirstWorldProblems.

One day, when we were on speaking terms again, he said, “Meet me at the big tree after school.”

Oh my God! He likes me! I thought giddily, but somehow contained my excitement and only let out a mild, “Sure.”

I hesitated on the sidewalk that day—to the left was the field with the big tree, to the right, the pick up line.

Decisions. Decisions.

I was 8.

I pulled nervously on the black straps of my backpack and waited at the pickup line.

It was the last week of school; my last week at that school.

He didn’t say anything about it the next day.

I imagined that he had waited by the tree, and watched me drive off in my uncle’s red Buick Regal.

**********

5th grade

Another crush…

He was older, and a writer…

Stephen King. LOL! I bet you thought this post was taking a dark and twisted turn. But no, I simply fell in love with his writing and with reading in general.

I started writing poems here and there. At school we learned about Haikus. HaiWho? HaiWhat?

First they were senseless,
But with time I did catch on;
I wrote more and more.

My best friend and I would write short stories, mostly murder mysteries. We haven’t published any just yet, but any day now we’re gonna dig through those boxes of journals and notes and yearbooks, and I bet we have some real gems in there!

I also loved Archie’s Digest. My mom would always pick one up for me in the checkout line at Publix.
I always thought my best friend and I were Betty and Veronica. Her name was Veronica, but I wasn’t blonde. Well, neither of us were. Ah the point is they were best friends, and I identified us with them. Das it!
**********
7th grade

This is beginning to read more like one of my journals, and boy did I have tons of them!

Thirteen, and I’ve decided I’m gonna be a lawyer. It’s more like I was pushed into it by my father. I prepared many opening statements, and filed countless motions before him. Unfortunately, I never won any cases. He was the opposing counsel AND the judge, kinda one sided there don’t you think?

So, what do a budding teenager and her old fashioned father argue about you might ask.

For starters, anything that involves being out of the house with other people, aside from school or work, regardless of the time of day. It was harsher than it sounds.

Whether it was just hanging out at my best friend’s house, going to a movie, or roller skating at Hot Wheels, the answer was an affirmative “No!”, and only sometimes a tortured “Yes”, thanks to my mom’s nagging. Oh, and God forbid I mention the beach, or come home from the “mall” with a tan.

I just wanted to hang out with my best friend, listen to Aerosmith, and talk nonsense (but very important, best friend nonsense) over a slice of Papa John’s and some Chips Ahoy cookies.

Imagine if we had done everything we had planned back then?

We might be running a clothing store called ClothesStop. Or was it ClothesTime? It definitely would’ve been a chain of stores by now. #Forever13

**********

9th grade
Life has gotten so much easier! #SaidNoTeenagerEVER

You turn 15 and your dad turns into an even bigger drag!

My inseparable best-friend and I are now separated by way of about 26 blocks between our high schools. Not very far on a map, or driving time, but apart nonetheless….creating a gap that opened ever so slightly each day, like bolts you turn to stretch a bone. A little pain each day, until suddenly you are taller, or in this case more distant.
**********

1997
I met a boy. Well, if you ask my father, he was a man.

He did have a lot of facial hair, and chest hair, and arm hair, and leg hair.

OKAY, he was all hair, and hair meant he was not a boy. O_o

Beware the hair, mommas and poppas!

OF COURSE, I thought he was “the one”.

Father hates him? CHECK!

PERFECT!

That wasn’t really why I thought he was the one. I was young, but I was in love.
And contrary to all of my fathers…”instructions” let’s call them, I was certain that he was right for me.

I was only 15, but I was right.

***********

2003

I hit the big 2-1! I could now drink “legally”! Woohoo!

My high school sweetheart proposed on my 21st birthday, April Fool’s Day. Thankfully, it was not a prank!

But I wasn’t shocked. I did not break down in tears. Somewhere, there is footage on an old video camera that captured the moment. WHERE IS IT? I don’t know, but the important thing is: I. did. not. cry.

Am I heartless or cold-hearted? Some might say yes.

But I wasn’t. I didn’t cry because I wasn’t shocked. I loved him, and I knew he loved me. I wanted to get married eventually, but we had what mattered the most already- love and each other. So I said yes, slipped the ring on my finger, and we went upon our merry way.

We are now 10 years into the marriage and ready for Divorce…

HAHA! Just kidding. We’ve got 4 amazing kids, and I couldn’t be happier. I do cry a lot more these days, though. Once you have kids your hormones and emotions just spiral out of control. Okay, that could just be me… Moms?
My best friend is still that.

Our friendship was like a butterfly that reincarnated back to a larvae, and metamorphosed again after college. (I totally had to look up that word… Metamorphosed, doesn’t really roll off the tongue.)  We both got pregnant with our first child around the same time, and now our little caterpillars are going to grow up together. #Cliches #Metaphors

**********

Life can be exciting, but unpredictable.

My life is not perfect. It’s great; not perfect. But I am happy, nevertheless.

Do I ever question life, the whos, whys and whens? Yes, I’m only human, of course I do.

But I never regret, and I never wish to go back or relive.

You have to live your life forgetting about the “What ifs?” and instead saying, “What NOW?”
CARPE DIEM!

And that DOES NOT mean act like an idiot; live today, who can speak for tomorrow.

For me It means live for today, because yesterday is gone; what have I learned from my choices and experiences, and what can I do with them now for a better tomorrow.

Seize Change!
And while there are things that I wish had not happened in my life, or perhaps, that had just happened differently, I am certainly glad I never went to the big tree that day.

Bandwagon

Usually, when a home-team goes on a winning streak, or starts to have a good season after a particularly bad or slow one, people jump on the “fan bandwagon”.

All of a sudden, everyone is a fanatic, going to La Carreta with pots and pans in the middle of the night to celebrate a big win, if you live in Miami that is.

All different stages of people do it: those who have always followed the sport, the kids who cheer with their dads, the helpless housewives that sit through season after season of televised sports, and, of course, the genuinely interested women and or housewives, because those exist. [That’s not sarcasm, although I am known for it.]

So, what’s more annoying than people who jump on the fan bandwagon all of a sudden?

The Hater Bandwagon!

Note to Selves: For every person that genuinely wishes you well, there’s always a group of haters just waiting for you to fall flat on your face.

****

Today, I was doing some pre-birthday shopping with my husband at the
mall.

After spending a substantial amount buying myself gifts, even though my husband had already given me a pair of shoes and sneakers at home earlier that day, [for the record, I rarely splurge… on myself], I felt pretty guilty and wanted to make sure he got something, too.

So, Auntie Anne’s Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel in hand and mouth, [I’m 6 months pregnant and hungry, OKAY] we walked into a Champs and started looking around. After grabbing a couple of T-shirts, an employee walked us over to the register.

“Oh, you got all Lebron stuff,” he stated, riffling through the t-shirts.

“Yea.”

“So, you guys are Heat fans?”

“Yep,” we answered proudly.

“Oh man, why everybody gotta love the Heat. I HATE the Heat. I hope somebody just sweeps in and crushes them!”

O_o Mind. Boggled.

“We’ve always liked the Heat. Why are people such haters?” I ask him, as politely as possible.

“I’m not a hater,” he continues, “but do you really think they deserved to win that series against OKC?”

“What are you talking about, they won 4-1?” My husband retorted, mouth agape.

“Yea, but …bla bla bla,” he went on briefly to say that we didn’t really win or deserve to win that series.

Which is pretty ridiculous because there is the possibility of playing seven games. You don’t accidentally win a series. Either you show up and win more games, or you lose and you’re out. Das it! ::Finger Snaps::

I was a little offended, to say the least with his assault at our choice of team.

I personally had always been a Heat fan.

Since the days of Alonzo Mourning, Dan Majerle’s three’s, Tim Hardaway, & P.J. Brown, I was even a fan of Mashburn, though he was darn ugly.

I fought with Patrick Ewing every time he was under the basket with Mourning! And who could resist Mr. Pat Riley and his slicked back hair. There’s no other coach with the class, flair, let alone the suits, that he brought court-side every game.

I watched the Heat play for years as they added and removed players from the lineup. It was amazing when Shaq joined Wade and helped us get a ring.

I’d also been a fan of Lebron since day one in Cleveland. He was/IS A – wait for it – MAZING. He brought new life to the game and to a team and city that was/IS otherwise dead. Have you been to Cleveland? They’ve got Nada! Zip! Zilch of interest.

Was Lebron really expected to stay there FOR E VER!!!!????

Now, imagine, two things you love, or like a lot, let’s not exaggerate, coming together! You’d better believe I was now an even bigger fan of the Heat and Lebron as they joined forces.

I really resented the way this kid was just gulping down the haterade, just like all the other sore losers whose home-teams couldn’t work a deal to get three great players together. That this kid would belittle my fandom [it’s a word, I checked] and dwindle my true Heat fan status to nothing more than being a mindless follower?

I admit, I’m no expert at sports or basketball, but I can shoot a free throw. In fact, I played basketball my sophomore year in high school. And that is exactly what I did… I made 1 free throw in the entire season. That’s it. 1 point. BUT I was the only one to make their free throw that game. ::Pats self on the back::

I’m not Flo from Progressive either. I mean how annoying and unrealistic is that commercial? Almost everybody should know the difference between a strike in baseball and bowling.

But regardless of my level of expertise, do you really have to know the entire history of a team or player in order to be a true fan? What is so bad about being a fan of a good player or team?

People just wanna be miserable. You live in Miami and don’t love or support your hometown? THAT is the real problem. You work at Champs, buddy, how about supporting Thee Champs!

GO HEAT!