Que QUE? I thought WHERE did this come from?

#52essays2017  31/52

Sunday afternoon.  A very hot Sunday afternoon.  I decide to head to the beach with some of my familia.

As we got to the exit on the freeway, I was envisioning that I would only have to make two right turns off of the freeway and we would be on our way to the beach.  I have gotten off of that exit and made those two right turns thousands of times.

On this Sunday, however, there was construction all over the place and, instead of doing my two right turns, I would have to venture into another very familiar neighborhood, in order to get to my desired street thru town.  As soon as I drove onto that very familiar street, I started doing something that I just do not do EVER:  I started biting my nails and biting the skin on the sides my nails.   I said nothing as I “calmly” got the car thru town and to the street I needed to get to.  As we were driving,  my sister asked me how close were we to his house.  Turns out that we were two or three blocks away.  Sooooo much had happened within that 3-block radius.  Every time I think that I’m over it, something random takes place to remind me that, while I’m good, I’ve got a little way to go.

As sisters do, this girl noticed my sudden and almost-vicious biting of the nails a few moments before.  I was just as surprised as she was and remember saying, “I never do this, huh?!”  I was physically reacting to some of the crazyass things that went down on those very streets, when I still felt powerless, dressed in misery, trying to act like all was normal and ok.     Only thru counseling was I able to discover that PTSD is real.  PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can hit anytime, anyplace, or any way.   These are called PTSD Episodes.  People associate PTSD with being in combat or in prison.  I may not have been in the military at war but fight a battle I have, and I may not have been incarcerated but I never felt free until I started dealing with my life.  Everyone experiences PTSD in a different way.

The symptoms can include scary nightmares, flashbacks or dissociation (acting/thinking as if you are living the trauma all over again), you might worry that you are going crazy.  The problem is not that you are crazy.  Rather, the problem is that you have anxiety because of a traumatic event that you have experienced. (Anxiety BC:  Self-Help Strategies)

PTSD and Anxiety go hand in hand.  Anxiety is a normal and adaptive system in the body that tells us when we are in danger.  This means that dealing with your anxiety NEVER involves eliminating it, but rather managing it.  Anxiety can become a problem when our body tells us that there is danger when there is no real danger.   (Anxiety BC:  Self-Help Strategies)

Where I could usually get thru a PTSD episode by crying, writing in my journal,  saying things like “calmate, todo esta bien” or asking GodJesusVirgenOfG for help; I did NOT want to ruin the mood or frighten my TorresBabies who were all excited to be on a road trip with their Nina.   I guess that, unconsciously, my stress and discomfort had to come out SOME way.

 

There are 5 strategies for getting yourself back together when this type of anxiety hits:

#1: Learning to calm anxiety by slowing down your breathing

#2: Learning how to calm your anxiety by relaxing the muscles in
your body

#3: Grounding techniques

#4: Getting back into your life

#5: Facing your fears

Calming down and breathing deeply will help you immensely if you are in levels #1 and #2.

I was, however,  in level #3 during this episode and the best thing is to ground yourself:  keep your eyes open, focus on the present, and describe where you are, what you see, what you feel at that moment:  I was driving, eyes open, felt my hands on the wheel, the sound of the turn signal, the color of the red light when I was stopped, the color of the green light as I moved forward, the sound of the GPS chick telling me where I should turn.  I know the area very well yet felt the need to put on the GPS to navigate out of there as soon as possible, breathe, breathe, breathe.  I could feel my mind and body struggling for those eternal 10 minutes.  My fingers were in pain after I tried to chew them off minutes before.  It was a trip to watch myself try to eat them off.  Should an episode happen to you, however you decide to ground yourself, remember to take in and describe everything around you at that moment.  Just taking stock will calm you immensely.

Once I got to the beach and helped get everyone situated.  I went straight to the edge of that beach, put my feet into that water, felt the cool water calming me down, watched and felt the waves go back and forth, breathed in the ocean air, and got myself right again.  Thank you GodJesusVirgenOfG.

It’s been all about lotion on my hands today to soothe the rough parts and cuts.   I’ve also spent the day counting my blessings.  Here’s to learning how to face my fears.  It’s easier and less painful than trying to chew my fingers off.

 

Challenge Out of the NoLonjaZone, Phase III and Week 30 of #52essays2017

 

#52essays2017   30/52

Took one look at this lonja and realized that I was way off of my wagon. Last week was my birthday week so I decided that I would have “just a little bit of soda” and “just a little bit of ice cream” – not one day, but almost the entire week.

The combination of crazy heat and my birthday week were conspiring against me LOL.  While I have been doing great, my daily exercise has been inconsistent. Add to this, people are starting to notice that some weight is coming off…no reason for me to get all volada and cease almost all activity, but get all volada and cease I did.

It’s so easy to self-sabotage your efforts by doing what you should not be doing: not taking care of yourself health wise. I was so angry last night when I ordered that soda, I drank it but without much joy. I was also disappointed in myself for trying to open doors that must remain closed in my life: people, situations, unhealthy food, talking myself out of working out.

It’s like I got all volada with things running smoothly and then there I go, dandome en la madre a cada paso, shooting myself in the foot. Like an alcoholic thinking he can handle one drink no problem, like a drug addict thinking that he can handle that extra hit, some things are better left alone.  It’s like I forgot that I’m on a journey, not at my destination.

In order for me to get back on my proverbial wagon, I need to remember that I decided to make many changes in my life for the better. Soooo much good is right around the corner and I have to walk through this insane discomfort of actually getting what I want finally. It’s easier to take myself back to that place where nothing was going right, where I was unhappy, unhealthy, living in fear and misery. It was my “comfort zone” for such a long time. Part of welcoming positive situations, projects, and people into my life involve me actually taking care of myself, instead of giving others my time, energy, money and my nervous system.

Health Challenge officially starts on August 1st.  Just enough time for me to get myself back in gear.

After I eat the last lil bit of chocolate ice cream in the freezer…

>>A note about my #52essays2017 challenge of writing one essay per week this year.  I am at Week 30 and very proud that I have been able to keep up with the writing.  In fact, I’ve written more in this year than I have in my entire life.   It has been this particular writing challenge that showed me that I was indeed able to commit to something, anything.  The confidence gained by keeping this writing commitment has started the ball rolling in fixing other areas of my life.  For this I’m grateful to Vanessa for accepting my into the #52essays2017 challenge and I’m grateful to GodJesusVirgenOfG for putting the right people, situations, and projects on my path.  I’m learning how to take care of myself finally.  Let’s see what life looks like at Week 52.

Just My Imagination? O que?

#52essays2017   28/52

“You will never leave where you are until you decide where you’d rather be” –Dexter Yager.

Great quote. Once I read it, all I could say was ‘yup’.

I spent so much time moaning and groaning that I wanted to make a change in my life for so long and that’s where it ended. I decided to open up my mind a little and imagine what my life could be like. There’s no way that I was going to be destined to feel as if I were a failure because of bad judgement or stupidass decisions.

I’ve been reading “Imagine Big” by Terri Savelle Foy. I really like her exercise for starting your new life. Live as if you already have everything you want, write down 20 things that you want to do, be or have. I’ve only gotten that far in the book 🙂

Last night, I decided to write down my 20 things…it turned into 30 and, even then, I thought of a couple more as I was on my drive home. It’s funny, I started out very brief, ‘I want to pay my bills’ and at the end I had such detailed descriptions of what I wanted. It was very liberating to write all of this stuff down and, as I looked back on it this morning, I saw that if I changed the order a little bit, that I could see a road map for my life.

For so long, I could not visualize past my own four walls. I was existing and letting life happen to me – well, regular readers of this blog know what a straight-up disaster that turned out to be. I’m grateful that I have been able to get back into the driver seat of my life.

You become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. –Dr. Gail Matthews, Dominican University

Writing goals down is so powerful.  Thinking about them can overwhelm and sometimes leave you stuck.  Writing starts the ball rolling, opens up your brain, and moves you into action by setting goals.   I journal a LOT and, from time to time, I go and read past entries, and I’m always stunned when some of these goals actually happen!  It’s like I write down what I want or need and GodJesusVirgenOfG and the universe conspire to help me fulfill these dreams.

Try it.  For the next 7 days, find a journal, laptop, piece of paper, and write down your goals/dreams in 4 key areas of your life:

  1. Health & relationships
  2. Love & relationships
  3. Vocation
  4. Time & money freedom

Remember to think as big and bold as you like, write down what you would love to happen, not what you think you can have or what seems possible now, open your imagination, no matter how crazy it sounds.

Things may not change right away but the one thing that WILL change is you.  You will have a clear set of goals and dreams and you begin to have a stake in your own future, you start being aware of opportunities in front of you, your focus starts to get more serious than just randomly thinking about what you want.

I noticed the difference RIGHT away, so many opportunities for me to think about that it’s almost overwhelming.  I know that I will not be able to do everything and that it will be hard to let some things go but where, only a few short months ago, I was hopelessly stuck in ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ and ‘I can’ts’, it is great to know that there is life after sadness and that it’s up to me to do my part to make it happen.

I just wrote down my goals last night so it’s too soon to share them with anyone but it will be fun to look back at my journal and see that I have finished what I started!

 

A Laptop or A Journal?

 

#52essays2017  23/52

Trying to find writing inspiration this week.  Looking through all of my drafts, looking through pictures, looking at books, and trying to visualize life when I’m on a roll, when the words flow through my brain to my fingers flying to the keyboard or to my pen, when I cannot stop, even if I may want to take a bathroom break or take a nap, so not happening when I’m on a roll, as I want to get my ideas on paper before that coveted inspiration decides to move on, leaving me exhausted and breathless.  What works best?  A laptop or a journal?

What I have found, when I’m stuck, is that I need to 1) live life and not worry about writing,  and 2) find one of my current journals.  (I usually have 2 or 3 current journals going at once.)  Most times, I find a cool place (Starbucks, a park, somewhere near the water), I find a comfortable pen, and just start writing.  Once I start writing, I can go on and on for hours and. most times, I write 10 pages or more at a time, back and front.   This is truly when my hand can write out those thoughts that I have been afraid to even think about, much less verbalize them.  When I go back to read what I have written, I’m often surprised/shocked at what I see on the written page.  Some lines are in all caps, complete with cuss words in Spanish, English, or Spanglish when I’m trying to get my thoughts together on an emotional situation, some lines feel like I’m crying the words out and I see a lot of ‘whyyyyyyyy?‘, and the most unattractive sentences are those where I’m straight-up whining and complaining.  Ni modo, when I journal, everything comes out through that pen, all of my emotions fly out, in no particular order.   It’s supposed to be messy, fast, unhinged, chaotic, emotional, sad, slow, happy, proud…as fast as I think it, I write it down.    Writing in my journal reminds me of a therapy session:  where you never know what will happen but it’s usually something that has needed to come up to the surface for a long time.   I’m usually mentally exhausted after a journaling session.  I have tried to journal via laptop but it just isn’t the same.  I like how the pages feel once I’ve written on them, the crispy/crunchy sound of the paper as I turn the written pages, the smell of the freshly written ink, ink spots on my fingers, laughing at the comments I tend to put at the edges of the pages, mostly song titles that pop into my mind as I write, people’s’ names, especially if I need to call or see someone.  If I look at a past journal, it’s the same feeling and sometimes my mouth drops because of something I’ve written in a past entry that has come to pass , this type of journaling is almost like visualization – if you write it down, it does come to pass.  At times, I’m completely humbled when I read an entry in a past journal, if it’s about an issue that has brought me down and is STILL bringing me down now, it’s a huge wake up call for me, depending on how long ago I had written about the issue — that all I’ve done is cry about it and I need to get a handle on said situation and move the eff on LOL.

I call my laptop case my “office” as I work best on the laptop when it comes to work writing:  articles, social media, blog posts, proposals, etc.    I lose patience if I have to write any work things down in a pen LOL!  I need to get this stuff done now not later.  It’s almost the same pace as writing in a journal when I’m on a roll and it feels more organized.  I usually have a list near the laptop of what I need to write so that I can just work it and check it off once done.    When inspiration hits, it’s the same feeling I get as if I were writing on paper with pen.  I love when the words flow out of me and, especially when blogging or updating social media, having access to my thousands of pictures and graphics is great.

Now judging on the size of these blog paragraphs, it is obvious, most def, time for me to write in my journal until I get my writing groove back!

Man of My Nightmares, Mother of My Dreams

#52essays2017

I was sitting down to dinner with one of my roommates when the doorbell rings. My roommate gets up to answer and it is our landlord, a very nice East Indian gentleman. I had just put a spoonful of papas into my mouth and tried to chew it up really fast before going to the door. “How are you Carmen?” he says, “Fine, what’s up?”, “Would you mind coming with me to the office please”? He didn’t seem that worried and, as the offices were really close to the apartment, we didn’t have much time to talk.

As I walk into the office, he asks me to follow him into the back room. My heart fell to the floor and I was in disbelief with what I saw.  I couldn’t believe that he had done this again, always trying to find me, always showing up at random places.  There he was, tied up like an animal, wearing a red and black checked shirt, one of those flannel ones, as it was cold outside. His head was turned so all I saw, at first, was his black hair. Then he turns around, face full of anger and rage, and then I hear his voice, “get me the f#$% outta here! tell this motherf#$%^&* to let me go!” In desperation, I was screaming, “OMG whyyyyy do you keep doing this!”. My landlord asks me if I want to call the authorities and then tells me that he was going to give this guy enough money to get to Elk Grove (?) and for me not to worry. All the while it is scream and cuss-out city with this man.  All I kept thinking was ‘just get him out of here and out of my life!’

So like a sonsatontapendeja, I let my landlord handle the situation thinking “all is good, he’ll be out of here” and actually go back to my dinner. The doorbell then rings again, and there he is, freed from the ropes that held him a few minutes earlier, and he is not screaming this time.  He quietly informs me that, “This is it.  Either you come back to me or I take matters into my own hands”  I remember being stunned, stunned that he actually showed up at my house again, scared of what he was going to do,  angry that I didn’t just call the police,  wondering where my phone was, do I scream? or not?  In the next second, he puts the gun to his face, pulls the trigger, and blows his face off, blood everywhere.

I woke up crying and completely freakiada that night.  I had been having nightmares for well over a week, every night, every time I woke up and fell back asleep, there would be another graphic, violent way that this person would kill himself.  I was getting worried about these nightmares and afraid to go to sleep.   I called the Crisis Center and, luckily, was able to set up time to speak with someone about my troubled and disruptive nightmares.   Turns out they were flashbacks of very negative, drama-filled, bitter times of my life when I did not yet have a handle on my situation.  I felt lucky that these flashbacks didn’t really occur when I was driving or in an important meeting or anything and was able to get some valuable exercises for working through flashbacks/PTSD and to remind myself of how far I have come from those days of madness.

So, guess what I dreamt last night?

I was at the Ranch in our kitchen.  We were all home as I could hear people talking in the other room and the TV was on a low volume.  I was taking out my small red crock pot  so that I could make beans like usual, and she says to me, “I don’t know about the beans in that crock pot…”  Como si nada, I respond, “you’ve never even tasted anything made in this pot,  how would you know?” ” I just know so make the beans on the stove”  Muttering, I start to prepare beans as she tells me to do so.    On the counter, I see a bunch of vegetables thrown all about and I’m like, “what is all THAT for?”, “I thought that I would make some soup for your Dad too so help me cut the vegetables”.  At first, I almost rolled my eyes, and then, in the middle of the dream, I get the knife to cut up the vegetables and smile at her and my mouth drops open. “Mama!!!!!! I’m not having a nightmare! And you’re HERE!”   There she was, Margaret Torres, looking beautiful, w a l k i n g, no cane or wheelchair in sight, she had a dress on and I could hear the click of her heels.    Mama tells me, “I’m always here, you know that;  you should trust more and stop worrying, I’m always here” and then I woke up!

It was the first night that I slept well in days, and, as it turned out, Mama still WORKS it for us, of this I am 100% convinced.   I need no man in my dreams, I do, however, need to see my mother sometimes.  The dream was so real.  I haven’t felt this comforted since my mother passed away in 2014.   That I was able to have a conversation with her was so great.   Thanks Mama!  MargaretLivesInMe.

#52essays2017

Drive. Or Not. My Jeep Has It’s Own Inner Chingona


#52essays2017

Some days.

There are few things that rattle me these days. I have to say that the 40 days of Lent, for the most part, worked.

I have always been one to stress and worry, to doubt if things will go right…or wrong…or if they will go at all. I worried about my family, my projects, my job, my health, my car, you name it, I could easily throw myself into my self-inflicted agony instead of facing things head on.

I was ready to make change in my life and with the coming of Lent, it was time.  Amongst the four things that I gave up for Lent were doubt and worry. I tripped out on myself because I did pretty good:  I would actually stop myself and basically check myself. If you saw me doing the sign of the cross, this was the way that I would calm myself and my drama down LOL. I really tried not to go OFF on my familia just because I was nervous or worrying about this, that or the other.  By the time Easter hit, my little ritual was really starting to work and I felt more productive because, yes, I did recognize my worry/fear, and I was able to keep on keeping on with my day.

The one thing that can still send me to the wall, however, is when my Jeep is not running right. This Jeep has seen me thru E V E R Y T H I N G and I know that it is inevitable that it will, one day,  tell me that “ya estuvo“. This vehicle has over 320,000 miles on it and for 10 years, never left me on the side of the road, never overheated, never sputtered, nada. However, in the past year, my trusty road dog is starting to show signs of wear and tear.   Thankfully, I was always ‘left’ in a parking lot or a gasolinera when the Jeep would break down, the one time I was left at the side of the road was down the street from the house LOL.  If I do nothing else, I really keep the Jeep maintenance very regular.

But let that ‘Engine” light come on, let something not sound right, let something not feel right, and I lose my composure.  It’s my controlfreakiadaness working overtime:  The hardest thing is for me to not control things, can you tell?   I know nothing about car repair.  I actually have to trust someone (mechanic) to check out the situation, and I have to hope that I will not get burned — that the vehicle will run great and that my pocketbook doesn’t take a beating either.  I’ve also noticed that, when the car is not right, that I am unable to get stuff done, that my concentration is waaaaay off.   Today is a day that I will need to work through any type of crazyass worrying that I tend to do and get the doubt out of my face!

The real test of the 40 Days of Lent is happening today…aaaaaay!  The only way for me to get the pit out of my stomach is to go back to the small steps that I’ve created for myself:  doing the sign of the cross, telling JesusGodVirgenOfG what worries me and asking for peace for the minute, face my vehicle issue and stay productive.  It appears that I must, again, concentrate on driving the Jeep and not letting it drive me.

#52essays2017

Get Your Song On: Music Appreciation Torres-Style!

#52essays2017

As I was sitting in the front seat with my lil niece goddaughters in the back, they were singing kiddie songs for a while, the cutest sound ever is listening to my 2-year-old baby niece-goddaughters, both of whom are barely learning to talk, sing out the words!  Imagine “chee” for “tree” in their little high baby voices …. looove them.  I didn’t want them to know that I was recording them so you’ll see the road as you listen to the cuteness.

After they sang their songs, I turned on the radio, which I always do for my 8-year-old niece-goddaughter, this girl knows ALL of the top songs on the radio and, as I was listening to her sing all of the words to song after song, I love that she knew all of the words and I also know that there was no way that she could have really understood what she was singing – as many of us did when we were that age.  And she kept saying what we’ve all said, at one time or another, ‘ooooh, this is MY song, I love that song!’

There is so much music that I get into these days that I’ve loved for years, but only NOW do I get it.   I usually find myself saying, “yup”, “y si!”, “oh yeah” or “umm hmm!” and think to myself, “wow, what a great song, I love the way he or she sang/wrote this!” Songs may as well be musical blog entries:  they usually talk about one feeling or emotion or event or person because songs usually fit into 3 to 5 minutes.  The song hooks repeat over and over again and I see them as blog titles or clever hash tags, don’t you think?  It takes a little bit of living, loving, losing, or lamenting to really have a lyric hit you right in the face.  It takes a little bit of courage to admit, even if it’s just to yourself, that you ‘get it‘ and, in that way, music helps you recognize the good, bad, and ugly in yourself and can either help you heal, get you mad enough to change your situation, to realize that you were right (or wrong) about a certain person or situation, to, as my famfriend Jorge says, ‘get your drank on and cry like a lil bitch’– especially if you were telling yourself to be strong and not cry.  Music can be some of the best and cheapest therapy ever!

I grew up in a musical household so I’ve had music in my life since like forever.  Music in English and in Spanish.  My father, Mike Torres, is a musical legend in our community, he sang Spanish Mass for many, many years at our church, he was part of the local Mariachi Los Jilgueros as a guitar player and singer,  he founded the Trio Los Torres as well as The Mike Torres Band, a straight-up fun party band! The MTB is now managed by my brothers and sister and has included, from time to time, cousins, nephews, and nieces.  Dad now plays whenever he feels like it, he’s earned it.  To this day, my father practices his music e v e r y day.  My parents also communicated via music — what they could or would not say to each other, they would play or sing at each other:  Mama would play a song LOUD and/or Dad would sing a song. Depending on the song, we could surmise when it was ON  or when they were making up LOL!   My father has also said that music has ‘saved’ his kids’ sanity:  nearly all of my siblings and nieces/nephews have been part of school bands, rock bands, latin bands, sing, rap, in both languages.    Music in the house always, and we are surrounded by music:  my current next door neighbors are a small garage studio and a larger recording and rehearsal studio used daily by one family member or another and their fellow musicians.   The video above is our 4th generation of future musicians LOL;  below you will see the first, second, and third generations.  This won’t be the last time that I feature my fun and superblessedtalented musical familia and this is only some of them!

I am constantly being asked why I’m not in the band, or if I sing?   I have mad respect for musicians and lack the patience to sit and learn how to play instruments.  Does karaoke count?  Because I do have the nerve to do karaoke and without drinking shots LOL.  Mostly, I am a fan of all types of music and of my awesome fam:  please enjoy part of Music Appreciation Night Torres-style!     #52essays2017

 

My godson nephews having laff attack with their grandpa LOL

Here is part of the 3rd generation, STE2 and MT3, once they stopped laughing,  singing the classic “Nunca Jamas” with Grandpa Mike Torres.

Below are Mike Torres I, Mike Torres II, Mike Torres III singing the famed Mexican corrido “Siete Leguas” at what was a very happy day for our familia, at a 40th Anniversary celebration of The Mike Torres Band.

Here is the fun-loving, energetic, Mike Torres Band…Dad, front and center, Mike, Jr., on accordeon/vocals, sis Christina on keyboards, brother Martin on drums, nephew STE2 on sax … this vid is a few years old and the band lineup has changed slightly but I love it because this captures how much fun the family has onstage and how they can fill a dance floor faster than most bands, maybe it’s because, once they start the first musical note, they are onstage with no breaks for up to four hours!  I don’t think that Dad has to worry about his musical legacy with the 3rd and 4th generations of Torres musicians learning, playing and practicing and appreciating the gift of music.

Turning The Tables: The Waiting Game

#52essays2017

Waiting.  I am not a fan of waiting.  Especially when this person doesn’t respond to my many calls to see if all is ok.  Waiting and worrying, a sure-fire way to make myself go crazy, so I’ve decided that, today, I will not worry if this person is dead on the side of the road, worry that this person has indeed been picked up and is in jail, or in a hospital, or worse.

This person does not owe me any type of explanation whatsoever and is waaay over 21 to be asking permission to go anywhere.  And it does not matter how many times I sit here and wait for this person, it is still the same:  is this person dead?  alive?  sick?  well?  in jail?  hurt?  and is anything wrong with this person’s fingers that I get no phone call?  I have been known to make myself crazy with worry, calling and calling and calling.  Getting furious with this person and with myself for getting so alocada.

I guess that, no matter how old you get, that you will always find it difficult to discover that, yes, your father has a life out of this house.  It could be for a minute, or for hours, that he is late getting home, and the tables turn q u i c k. On the one hand, my father is not chained to the Ranch, he regularly is out and about.  I tend to forget that the man is 81 years old.  But like anything else, you know the signs, or should I say smell the signs:   The smells of soap and cologne envelop this house, his good hat is gone, and, while he usually lets me know when he’s leaving to go anywhere; when he’s in “going out” mode, I get no notice LOL.   I immediately revert back to when I was younger, when the house never felt right when the “adults” were away, when I’d watch out of the windows looking for the white light of their car headlights driving into the Ranch.

Thankfully, I did get a call letting me know where Dad was/is and that he is ok.  While we may have to go and pick him up later, that is better than not knowing where he is.   I now get it when my parents worried about me not calling, not picking up the phone, not answering.  Karma, que no?  I also get it that I gain nothing by worrying myself to crazy and getting all mad at my father for wanting a night out.   I suppose that I should learn to relax and be blessed that I have an 81-years-young father who is still in good health, strong and sharp as ever.

This healthy, strong, sharp man still needs to let a daughter know whassup though…that’s another battle for another day I guess!

 

WHATQueQUE? Did You Say You Want To Break Up? #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Lately, it feels as if I’ve been getting dumped lately.   Friends and somewhat friends have had it with me.  Have had it with me not reciprocating in the relationship, not returning calls, not setting up lunch or dinner, not doing my part I guess. I take full responsibility for my actions and while a couple of friends did not wait for me to give them any type of explanation, others did.

Isn’t it a trip how some folks cannot handle change, the “new” you, and, quite frankly, the fact that you have drifted apart?  I’ve always been the one to stay in contact, to initiate and plan get-togethers, to ‘work it’ with friendships.  Little by little, I started to notice that, if I did nothing, no one else did either.    That, and the fact that every friend and acquaintance was fair game to be harassed by this man, made me withdraw from everyone, little by little.

For many months, I was content to turn within myself as I healed.  I could not even THINK of giving time to anyone else for anything:  friendship, romance, business opportunities, nada.   I did my best to make the obligations that I had left, I did my best to try to be “on” and you better know I had the “fake it until you make it” attitude down pact.  It literally hurt me to spend time with others, I had lost all trust in myself.   I didn’t know how to act anymore around others. It was as if I knew that I would mess anything up that I touched.  I questioned everything about anything, my life was a desmadre.

About this time last year, I started trying to work it again.  Projects were a little bit easier to take on than people if that makes sense.  I know my way around events and projects, interpersonal communication, which had NEVER been a problem for me, was still a major roadblock for me.  When my faith in myself with people began to unravel, I knew that I still had a way to go before I would be completely back.

Fast forward to now:  I am much more confident, ready to work it, and, amazingly, still out of practice with people. To hear myself say this, to see myself write this, to actually think this about myself continues to blow my mind.   So to get the ‘break up’ call from a friend who was furious that I could not meet up with her hurt a little at first … and to know that any explanation would have seemed like an excuse or a justification…even if I was a mess, straight-up broke and had not one dollar to put gasoline in the Jeep to go anywhere that day, that I was not in any shape to be there for anyone.

It gets very easy for me to focus on what I have not done, why I have not done or said this or that, why someone wants to ‘break up’ with me.  But it really is all about that person, and me, setting a boundary, of making a decision of how one wants to be treated.  Just as some folks do not think that I am worth the effort anymore, believe it or not,  is OK,  I actually respect the huevos it takes for someone to tell you your verdades/truth.   I was not the greatest friend, or even a friend to others.  I had very compelling reasons at the time that not everyone will ever understand.  Some won’t wait around for any type of explanation and that is fine.  My challenge will be to learn from these “break-ups” and try to do better by others next time around and hope that they will do the same for me.

The biggest lesson learned here is that NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO GO ON YOUR JOURNEY WITH YOU so try to do the right thing, the best way you can.

#52essays2017

 

Open Letter to A Friend: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Death Sentence #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Today I received news that a family friend would soon be living with dialysis.  I was compelled to write a letter as it is a road that Mama and we, her family, know all too well.

When I got the news today about your diagnosis, I looked out of my window and the light of the sky looked exactly the same as when we got the news that Mama would need to go on dialysis.   I said a prayer for you that minute and my heart felt sad, just as it did a few years ago.  While we were all very concerned and sad to hear this news about our mother, we were uninformed and overwhelmed as we did not really know anything about dialysis:  would it be painful? how would this affect Mama? how did this happen?   All we knew is that it was major.  Add to this, Mama was adamant.  She would not go on dialysis and called us all together to tell us so.  We were almost desperate.  While we did not know much about dialysis, one thing was clear:  Margaret would die without this treatment as her kidneys were no longer functioning.

Eventually, thank God, Mama decided to undergo dialysis treatments under one condition.  That we know that she was doing this for US, and that we had to be with her, if she was going to dialysis, so were we.   Very shortly, our lives were completely changed.

Mama had to be at dialysis three days a week and we had to organize ourselves quick!  It took us a few weeks to adjust and eventually we had it down to someone getting Mama ready to go to dialysis in the mornings, someone to go with her, someone to pick her up if need be, someone to be home to be with her.  Was it easy?  No.  This entire family had to work together on our goal of keeping our mother alive and well.

The dialysis center will give you a bag and lots of information about what you will need to take with you on your treatments. We had to learn how to be organized and to have everything that Mama might need when she went to dialysis:  a bag with extra clothes, aspirin, medicine, snacks, gum, water, blankets, small pillows, headphones to watch the small TV in the chair.   My advice to you is to be like Margaret, take whatever you need to feel comfortable and secure NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS.  If you need four blankets, one rolled a certain way, another to cover you, and a couple for backup, than you do it and do not give in to anyone.  You are the one who will be undergoing the treatment for 3 hours or more, and you will get cold, anything that will make your time go by as peacefully as possible, do it.  God love us, we tried to tell Mama “why do you need that? are all of these blankets and pillows necessary? etc.   Your children will learn, as we had to, that, as long as you are able to make decisions about your care, then it is up to them to respect your decisions.

Please  pay attention to how you feel and what works for you, or not.  Some days Mama would come out of dialysis completely exhausted.  However, she did need to take her medicine and eat something.  Either we would have something hot and cooked ready or she would want to pick something up.   Once we would help Mama into her bed, the BEST sound ever was the sigh she would let out when her head hit the pillow.  I grew to love “Mama’s Time Of Day” — somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, where the house was quiet, she would either watch TV or look out of her window before drifting off to sleep.   Please do not be afraid to rest, please do not try to stay up or awake for anyone if you don’t feel like it, naps will save everyone’s sanity and give you the rest that your body needs.

Sometimes the treatments will make your body cramp up or your blood pressure will get low.   You’re lucky, you are able to walk and get up to walk off a cramp.  Our mother was partially paralyzed and cramps were sheer torture for her.  One thing that always helped Mama when her body would cramp was to eat something salty:  lemons with salt, pickles, olives, chips.  Sodium levels are low and it’s important that you tell the dialysis crew that you are cramping up so that they can help you out.  Also let them know if you are dizzy ASAP so that they can make adjustments to bring your blood pressure up.

I don’t tell this to you to scare you any more than you might be.  It will take time for you and the familia to figure out how things will go for you.  I can also say that I have friends who are on dialysis, who drive themselves to and from their treatments, who handle the treatments well, who LIVE for years and years.  I have one friend who has been on dialysis for over 10 years and is going strong.   There may also be the possibility of a kidney transplant as another family friend was able to do.  If you feel afraid, someone can always go with you to your treatments.  One of us was usually with Mama thru her entire treatment.

Dialysis is not a death sentence.   Right now, it is what will keep you alive and although I personally have not gone thru the treatments, I did learn how to make Mama more comfortable and, for a long time, Mama felt better (once she got used to the treatments) Although things were not easy, I would do it again in an instant if she could be here with us.  You knew Margaret, quiet but she spoke up when she had to do so and speak up she did when it came to her care and what worked for her — I know that you will do the same and pray for you and the family to muster the strength and committment to make dialysis work for you the best way possible.

Let your family and friends be there for you.  You are so blessed to have the prayers of an entire community, they would help you I know.  Our family has already walked the road that you are just starting on.  Any questions you have, any information you need, any fears you would like soothed, please call us.  We love you and are here for you.