Day 69 – Thanksgiving

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Today I give thanks to this happy couple. My parents – circa 1969 at Banff or Glacier NP. They represent what the United States of America is all about.

A country of compassion.

A country of opportunity.

A country where an economic refugee from Germany and a political refugee from Cuba, could meet, fall in love, get married, and carve out a life and raise a family.

All of that happened in a little neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago called Rogers Park.

They embodied the American Dream.

My dad, a craftsman, opened a business with his brother and my mother went to school to become a registered nurse. It took them a little over 20 years to buy a house, which by that time my brother and I were in college.

But it wasn’t all peaches and cream – if I may use that cliché.

My little nuclear family was a place where two very different cultures collided.

Yes, collided. No melting happened in the pot of my family. Although, you could argue German and Cuban DNA did blend to create my brother and me. But that is another story…

From our little experiment – I am authorized to say the American melting pot is a farce, a fantasy, a disillusioned idea.

What does it mean to melt cultures together?

What does it mean to have no diversity?

What does it mean to have no differing opinions or perspectives?

What if there was only one color in a rainbow? Blue bow? Red bow? Purple bow?

Take a walk in the woods, snorkel around a coral reef, canoe along a river through a rain forest.

In nature there is only diversity. An ecosystem is made up of diverse creatures. From microscopic plankton to huge whales. Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity. Any time one organism takes over a habitat – the ecosystem becomes imbalanced. Disease, mass die-offs, decreased food sources.

coral-reef

Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity.

Why should it be any different culturally?

In my little family, we didn’t blend cultures. We didn’t create a new culinary genre where  sauerkraut is paired with arroz con pollo, lechon asado, or ropa vieja. Although bistec milanesa or empanisado (breaded steak) was very similar to wienerschnitzel – and this little Cuban/German girl loved both.

Dad never learned how to dance the Cuban son – mom never learned to polka. Neither learned the other’s language. A version of English is what we spoke in our household (although I always say English is my second language).

Dad thought my Cuban family yelled too much. And Mom thought my German family didn’t like her because she was a “darkie.”

For better and worse, my parents stayed together until my Dad’s death in 2013. Despite their outer dysfunction – the communication challenges, the short bouts of yelling, followed by years of silence – deep down inside, they loved each other.

As I approach my late 40s, I have finally realized what my parents gave me.

Cultural sensitivity, an ability to be patient with and understand people with accents, a mysterious morphological make up that allows me access into a diversity of groups, and the consciousness to see the humanity shared by all of us.

So I give thanks for them and for this country that made it all happen.

I only hope I can share their gifts with others.

Aloha!

 

 

Day 59 – Super Moon

90-days in paradise

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Dear Super Moon,

You looked splendid tonight. Your rouge-like aura when you first emerged above the horizon made me wonder if you were a bit angry. Did Mars tell you something that pissed you off? Did he tell you that you are not made of rock, but of cheese?

My sweet, you do look beautiful when you are angry. The rush of lunar blood through your valleys gives you a glow of life – of – dare I say – passion. Was that your energy rushing through me? Spreading a renewed sense of vitality, of clarity.

As you ascended your rouge softened to a light pink then an angelic halo of creamy white draped over you like a beautiful, silky shawl. Did you forgive him?

Oh Super Moon, I need your wisdom tonight. I offer you a gift of plumerias, yellow and white, floating along your beams across the ocean…

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Day 46 – Love with Abandon


Love with abandon. You have heard this adage before. You have wished for it.  You may have decided you will never know what this means. But you are experiencing it right now, every day, every hour, every minute.

You are loving Earth with abandon.

You think she will support you. You think she will always be by your side. You think she will care for you.

You have forgotten how your actions impact her. You have forgotten to nourish her. You have forgotten her.

When you wash your hair in the morning do you think about where the soap goes? Do you think she will drink it like an elixir of love?

When you go for your morning coffee do you bring your own mug? Or do you think she will take your trash and make diamonds from it?


When you look at her do you only see her beauty or do you see the wounds that you thoughtlessly imprinted on her? Erroneously thinking your love is enough to cure her.

Do you see those marks? They are yours. Only you don’t want to take responsibility for them. You say they are her problem. You say they were there before you met her. You say “I love you” as if it is a magic spell to break all curses.

It isn’t.


Her baggage is your baggage. That is what love means. True love needs care, attention, and respect. How did you forget?

Now is not the time to love with abandon, now is the time to love consciously.

Only then will you know love.

Aloha.

Challenging Status Quo

On Monday I decided I was going to do something different in my life.

It began when I wanted to add a cover image to my LinkedIn account. I know, nothing big, especially because I’m not sure what the value of my LinkedIn account is, and I’m pretty sure no one in my “network” cares about the cover image on my LinkedIn page, at least, not as much as my FB friends would care if I changed the cover photo on my FB page.

My niece learned of my true identity...  But is she right?
My niece learned of my true identity… But is she right?

It was the process of finding the image that mattered. Into my disorganized iPhoto library I went, to look for one of my favorite photos from a trip I took to Scotland in 2013. I scrolled through hundreds of photos. Some I wondered why I hadn’t deleted. Others, I wondered why I hadn’t printed and framed. Then came the photos of people, of me and my partner, in particular.

“We looked thinner back then.” he said,  while sitting on our sagging couch, a few feet in front of the HDTV, cable box, and Blu-ray player, remotes splayed across the scene, as he looked through the pictures on my laptop with me.

He was right. I saw it too. The milliseconds the images were up on the screen was enough time for our brains to pick up on the fewer inches of pudge that wrapped his mid-section or my back-section “only a year ago.”

The last year was fraught with so many – I need to work out more’s and I need to drink less beer’s – that it sounded like a broken record. Obviously, we were eating, sitting, drinking and wishing, more than we were sweating, walking, standing or doing.

So I went to the gym on Monday morning and sweat. I was sore on Tuesday, but I went to the gym again. I stayed away from those tantalizing carbs. I didn’t stop at Grateful Bread – whose current scone is the best in Seattle. I didn’t “celebrate” my second day at the gym. On Wednesday, I was feeling good, so when I went out to lunch I had a lovely cup of white bean and pesto soup with a think slice of homemade bread  and shared a little pizza with my partner at Element in the UVillage. Simple, small, healthy but loaded with carbs. The rest of the day I felt bloated . “Damn I think I do have gluten intolerance,” I thought after feeling massive in a pair of jeans I squeezed into the next day. Those jeans that were a little big “only a year ago.”

Was it all the traveling I did? My dad’s death? The “too hot” summer in Seattle? The amazing IPAs of the Pacific NW that I just can’t seem to stop drinking, especially during the “too hot” summer in Seattle?

Why did I gain weight?

I got lazy. My mind was not aware of my growing girth. My mind was too preoccupied with the stress of life. I failed at balancing recreation and work. I failed at balancing being active with being sedentary.

When my mind finally recognized that the girth of my ass had grown, I played a game with myself. Telling myself – “It’s not that bad.” or “I can work that off in no time.” Was I buying me some time? Or killing me softly, slowly?

My niece somehow knows of my challenges with the evil - Status Quo.
My niece somehow knows of my challenges with the evil – Status Quo.

I am going to the gym, I am starting to be conscious of what I am eating and drinking. I have a birthday coming up and I will not be “one year younger.” I’m challenging the status quo – I’m challenging the way things are or have been. I’m challenging the sloth within.

What are your challenges with status quo? What are your plans of action to defeat it? No plans? That’s okay, sometimes we just have to “do it,” to “act differently than usual,” to create the change we all so desperately want to achieve.

Challenging Status Quo – make it your mantra too.

The father

A little girl alone
in a field
of flowers.

She sees no beauty.

Abandoned,
by the man she loves.
Yearning,
to hold
his hand.

He was to be her guide,
Her hero.

Waiting,
She looks for him
in others.

Their arrows of love,
Bounce off her heart.
No warrior of eros
could win.

Years of lost opportunities,
culminate.
Towards death,
He returns,
Professing his love,
His ignorance.

Forgiveness
Melts walls of pain,
Lifts a fog of anger.

Love
repairs heartbreak.

The child in the field watches.

Awakening
to what could have been.

She looks up to the sky,
and laughs so hard,
she falls to the ground.

Giggling,
Crying,
Tears of joy flow
Down her cheeks,
Nourishing the flowers
Blooming all around.

Be the change you desire…

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Lately I have been reminded about my limited time on this planet.

The reminders have been blatant, smack you in the face, kind of events. A friend committing suicide, another friend dying from colon cancer and my mother’s journey to rid her body of cancer.

My heart aches and my mind reels into motion, what can I do differently?

Questions abound…

Am I doing enough?

Am I serving my purpose?

Am I eating right?

Do I have cancer?

I had my annual mammogram, and now I am scheduled for my first colonoscopy. That was the easy part.

The hard part is reconciling my accomplishments, reconciling where my life is currently and looking at the map of my life and figuring out if I need to take a different route to get to where I need to go in the future.

My heart aches and my mind reels…  I do not want their deaths and their struggles to be lost – there is a lesson in there for me to learn from… I peer into my soul and see that I can do more…

I can help others!

I can teach others!

I can share with others my humanity! We all hurt, we all struggle, but it is through this strife that we can emerge anew.

I have learned that death is not an end, it is the beginning of something new, change is not bad, it is good – Really good.

Take some time and peer into your soul – sit quietly in a park, under a tree or by the water. Where do you want to go? Who do you know you can be? See your potential.

Now go on and be the change you desire.

Push my button, pull my trigger

Is there someone you know who pushes your buttons with a marksman’s precision?

Moms are good at this, at least mine is…

But what about the people you least suspect?

About a week ago, I was triggered after having a lovely sushi dinner with my honey. Once the bill was paid, we still had some sake to finish, so I shared a revelation I had earlier that day – you know an “aha moment.” After I was done with my story he said “I really wonder what kind of roll those girls over there are having.” I looked at him, incredulously, then stood up and walked out of the restaurant in a huff.  He was ignoring me, while I was sharing this important revelation! I was pissed. But as I cooled down I realized that I have felt this way before, and I began to wonder if this triggered an anger that came from another place and time, like my childhood.

When I was younger, my reactions to triggers were volatile, impulsive, involuntary. I always blamed my Latina DNA for my fiery spirit, but as I arrived to middle age, about a year ago or more, I realized that those triggers came from a place that wasn’t related to the event or person that triggered my reaction.

I started to pay closer attention to my emotional responses and what triggered them.

What I found is that 99% of my triggers were created during my childhood. My parents helped create them and they also became the first people to push my buttons. I also realized that these were emotional wounds that needed healing because my emotional response to those triggers were my responsibility and if I didn’t heal those wounds and learn how to manage my emotions, then all my relationships would suffer.

Let’s go back to my feeling ignored by my honey after our lovely sushi dinner, where did that come from? The next morning I realized that my inner child was triggered, the kid that was repeatedly ignored by her parents, especially her dad who worked all day and came home at night expecting dinner, then watching TV for a while and then going to bed, with no attempt at engaging her in conversation. His inaction made me feel like I was some unfortunate appendage he acquired involuntarily and that if he didn’t have me, then his life would be free and happy.  I was angry at him for ignoring me and because of that I am now triggered to be angry when I feel like someone I love is ignoring me. I captured this revelation in my journal and I am now working on healing this part of me.

Yes I have been like the Tasmanian devil, swirling up a dust storm whenever someone triggers me, my emotions going out of control, but I’m learning how to be aware of them as they come on.

“We’re doomed!” You may think as you are now realizing that many of us walk around being triggered all the time. Uncontrolled responses to emotional triggers drive us to take drugs, get road rage, insult a loved one or you guessed it – shoot people. For example, that guy in Texas who killed himself and three other people was triggered by an eviction notice or the guy in Seattle who massacred a cafe full of people was triggered because the cafe had banned him a few days prior. Yes they were deemed mentally unstable and they took their triggers to the extreme, but are they not only mirrors of us, only magnified? Is pulling the trigger of a gun worse than mentally or emotionally abusing a spouse or child?

First accept that you are only human and you have these things called heart breaks or emotional scar tissue. Embrace that… Go on, give yourself a hug!  Feel better? We all have triggers, we all have been abused or neglected by someone we just wanted to love and be loved by, to respect or be respected by, at some point in our lives.

Acknowledging that you are reacting in sadness or anger is a first step. Next time you get angry at someone, take a breath and ask yourself “Self, where is that sadness or anger coming from?” Forgive yourself, the other person and the source of your trigger. Forgiveness and decreasing your stress level will help you manage your emotional responses.

Please do not use this emotional scar tissue as an excuse. Don’t start saying, “Oops, sorry I’m mad again, you triggered my childhood anger, it’s not your fault, it’s mine.” No, no, no… That get’s old and people will runaway from you with lightening speed, is that what you want?

Managing our emotions and healing old wounds is hard work, there is no silver bullet, no quick fix for this stuff, this is literally tearing open an old wound to allow it to it heal properly, then learning new ways to respond to things that make us feel uneasy.

Once you acknowledge you have triggers, you are on the road to recovery. You will love yourself so much more, because you will realize your humanity and that you are not alone in your struggles. You may even discover or rediscover what brings you joy. Perhaps one day your button is pushed the emotion that will be triggered is love. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Actions that have helped me with healing my emotional wounds:

  • Keeping a journal has helped me discover my triggers (physical action)
  • Going to a psychotherapist helped for a time when my journal wasn’t enough (mental action)
  • Energy work called Theta healing when I still didn’t feel quite healed (energetic or spirit action)
  • Doing things that are good for my body, mind and soul like massages, walks by the lake or in the woods, yoga, eating healthy foods…