My Ordinary Day

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife   #52EssaysNextWave2019   6/52

Ordinary Days. For years and years, I ran from these days, too square, too much of a routine, too mundane for my busy life.  All I knew, or wanted to know, was moving fast, planning one event bigger than the next, moving from one town to another and another.   I always had something to do, somewhere to go, moving, moving, moving.  No time in my life for ordinary days.

Don’t get me wrong, it was (and is) exciting and a lot of fun.

But there came a time where I had to be there for Mama and for my family.  In 2014, Mama was walking her last journey on this earth.   I rarely left home, I helped my familia to take care of Mama and I was the one who kept the house up and kept everyone on schedule.  I super-surprised myself by being the one to move Mama when needed and to help change and dress her.  I remember one time I made her laugh when I pulled out a splinter from her finger como si nada.   Mama laughed because she never expected this from me, I was her miedosa daughter, scared of everything.  However, at the time, her comfort took precedence over EVERYTHING in my life.

I went right back to work a couple of days after her funeral and something had profoundly changed in me.  At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was different.   I was exhausted from weeks of caring for my mother, out of it, way off of my work-routine, and, I sensed that I was barely getting through the day, I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore.

One thing I knew.  I got great comfort from the schedule that I made, week after week, for my family.  I knew exactly who would be at the house and when.   I was very happy that my family had agreed to keep the schedule going so that we could be there to take care of our father.    It was as if this simple, mundane, activity was keeping me on point so that I could get myself up out of bed every day to make it to work, to handle my everyday survival.  Day after day, I’d see members of the Torres5 doing what had to be done, and, some days, I’d see the same profoundly sad face that I wore on a daily basis.  I didn’t feel so alone.

Our sadness eventually lifted, as if we had all been in a fog.  Our household started feeling like home again.   It took a little longer for me to become accustomed to living back at home and, once I got into work and events again, I found that I was “back” and having fun again working it.

What shocked me was that I was starting to really look forward to ordinary days, days where I could just be, somewhere where I could breathe and recharge, where I could do cool things like laundry (my task yesterday) to organizing our spare room (which I did this morning).  OMG, my years of living my personal life on such a regimented schedule, was actually working for me!

The one thing that kept me from enjoying ordinary days was my lack of commitment to anything other than work.  Once I committed to our basic family schedule, it seemed as if more possibilities opened up, I started spending more time with friends, working out, writing, reading, and doing things that I loved, things that were, dare I say it, boring, mundane, routine, ordinary, and at the same time, glorious!  On the days I’m not “on the schedule”, I’m able to do “me” things and, truth be told, there’s no place I’d rather be.

My life might have been very different had I embraced the ordinary years ago.   Especially as I’m now convinced that this is where my true peace, joy, and happiness reside, inside of my ordinary days.

Now, it’s all about work hard and handle my business, so that I can enjoy my next “ordinary day”!

Advertisements

Reading Into 2019

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave2019 2/52

Excited with my first reading list for 2019.

I used to have a designated reading corner in every house I lived in. However, it’s been harder now that I’m at the Ranch.  Plus, at some point, those books did eventually make the move to any or all of the following locations:

1. My purse or bag
2. The bathroom
3. The bedroom

When I noticed that my phone started taking over and I was starting to click into articles, etc., I decided it was time to think about how I read. I love having a book in my hand, I love going through the pages, if there are pictures, I spend time checking out the pictures and, as square as it may sound, I really love physically opening and closing the book, like I’m going in and out of another world.

I can do Kindle, or read sometimes off of my smartphone,  but it’s not the same, it feels like I do when I’m chisme-scrolling through social media, email, etc.  It’s easy to click things, dismiss them, or worse, forget about them as you chisme-scroll.  It becomes more difficult to lose myself in Kindle/Phone and I really do love to lose myself in a good book.

Yesterday, my family celebrated Christmas (on 3KingsDay) and my lil niece was very excited about a ‘chapter book’ that she had received as a gift. I loooove that she likes to read and looks forward to it.  My goal has become to expose my lil ones to reading, to going to the library, book fairs, book sales, you name it.  I have seen folks checking out something like 40 or 50 books at a time for their children, I don’t know if I’d go that far but it would be fun to go for it if my littles wanted to do it.

I remember always checking books out from the library even as a little girl.  I’m still a library girl at heart and tend to go straight to the ‘new’ book section as it is a big section and I always find something.    I had a goal once to read all Latino authors from A to Z;  I think I got to the G’s and got off track, I should revisit that goal.

Either way, I have decided that, no matter how busy life gets, that I will go through 2019 with a ‘libro’ in my hand.   I’m searching for a place to create a reading corner, for now it’s in my Jeep, where I spend the majority of my time and I almost finished “An Unlikely Journey” by Julian Castro over the weekend in the peace and quiet of the car.   Highly recommend this book especially if you grew up as I did:   culture, both of them,  front and center, activists as mentors, student activities, and working with and for your community.

Doesn’t matter where you open a book, or how you open that book, whatever and wherever works.  Just read.

 

QueQUE? Celebrating A Solas

It was December 31st.  I was sitting at home and feeling hesitant and excited at the same time.

I had decided that I wanted to spend my New Year’s Eve alone and found what I wrote over the weekend:

I want to spend New Year’s Eve alone, I do not feel like fake sentiment, I do not feel like hearing the noise of ringing in another year. Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful to see another year, and admit that I’m not as jodida at the end of this year as I had been in other years. However, I feel the need to rejoice and celebrate in complete silence, in a very quiet way. I do not want to babysit anyone, to ensure that everyone is having a fun time, I want to be still with myself, my thoughts.

Celebrating alone is not something that I have really ever done, I’ve never admitted that I wanted to be by myself for once, who would believe it?  After all, my family’s holiday has always been New Year’s Eve, always with a huge party/dance, ever since I can remember.  I’ve always been involved in some event or another all up in the mix from start to finish.  I think that the last time I stayed home on New Year’s Eve was when I was packing up my place in Denver, getting ready to come back to California.  I was so busy, I didn’t think about it.

This time, however, I felt the true need to recharge, not only was I burnt-out physically, I was burnt-out spiritually.   The thought of being able to stay home and not have to be “on” felt almost like I was going to go out, party and throw down shots, that’s how exciting it was for me.

When the clock struck midnight, I was watching a movie and lounging in the recliner in my clean, quiet, house and I even whispered “Happy New Year” to myself.  Relaxed, rested, rejoicing in the promise of what 2019 will bring and thanking GodJesusVirgenOfG that my family understood my need to celebrate a solas and to start thinking about how I want to spend this new year.

Sometimes you have to shake things up to get yourself back on track.  Worked for me.

52SlicesOfChingonaLife2019 1/52

2018

First time since the end of AUGUST that I’ve blogged. Wow.

I had come to a point where I felt that I had nothing left to say. So much going on in the world like the children in cages, the election year, made me so overwhelmed that I just didn’t know where to start to write about anything. I made a decision to live life instead of reporting on my life for a while. Didn’t think that it would last for months.

I miss writing. I will challenge myself to write one article a week (at least) on anything. I spent so much time wondering what people would want to read/see/hear that, when it came time to write, I was already tired.

Taking breaks are important and, now that I look back, a lot has happened in 2018 in no particular order.

1. Decided to take a Interpreting class to keep myself sharp and focused as I try (again) to pass the State Interpreting Exam. Got an ‘A’ in my class and found that I was on top of this stuff, I really took it seriously this time around.

2. Got together with my friends for the first time in a YEAR. Fun to catch up and to relax away from my projects.

3.  Lost one of my really good friends a couple of weeks ago.  It’s sad because it’s one of the first of my college friends to leave this earth, couldn’t sleep for the first couple of days after I got the news.  It made me think about taking care of my business (one never knows).

4.  My godson nephew was named Teacher of the Year for his region for his work with special needs kids, he’s blessed.

5.  Am loving watch my godson nephews come into their own music-wize from high school band for one to La45 for another

6.  My off the charts smart niece goddaughter is a top candidate for valedictorian, how cool would this be?

7.  Enjoyed meeting my baby godson nephew for the first time when he visited us from Texas.  I tell Dad that this was how HE must have looked at that age.

8.  Lost one of our cousins to a stroke a few weeks ago and remember how it felt the day that Mama had her stroke, while Mama was lucky and always able to speak, it was a struggle for her from that day forward.  I confess that it scares me that one of us will have a stroke and it’s time to make taking care of ourselves a priority.,

9.  Watching my sister make the decision to live healthier and to work out and watch her meals has been an inspiration to me.   I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for her.

10.  Dad still going strong at 83.   It’s easy to forget his age because he still drives, goes out to hear mariachis, and is fun-loving.

11.  Trying to be there for my lil niece goddaughters and to be a good example for them.  Taking them places and showing them different things is important.

12.  Made a couple of chisme road-trips to Phoenix and Denver – no sightseeing required, just wanted to visit with fam/friends, it was so fun.

13.  Got a killer bronchitis flu that knocked me out, hoping that never happens again.

14.  4 years and one month without Mama.   We never stop missing her and we keep moving forward together thank God.

15.  Ita is with us for the holidays, she’s looking great.   Had fun with my Tias at Ranch Christmas, thank God for them.

16.  RIP Aretha.

17.  Got off track with Mama’s traditions, I did pretty good for 4 years and now it’s time to get back to it and to leave the guilt behind.

18.  Committed myself to being very informed through the political madness in which we now live.   It’s one thing to get all mad and react nomas porque si, it’s quite another to get all mad and react with the facts in hand.   Always praying that this country finds its way back from the cruel, divisive, dark, angry, racist corner in which it now resides.

19.  Saw some concerts this year and it’s so much fun that I must do more of this in 2019.

20.  Went through a lot of personal cleansing of personal demons.  My life is no longer dependent on what certain people do, think, say, or want.   December 12th is an important date in this regard for me — when I got to December 12th and realized just how many years had passed since my personal desmadre, I decided that, yes, I had done a lot of work in facing that mess, dealing with PTSD, and, thank GodJesusVirgenOfG, I’ve really put the majority of this mess behind me.

2019 will be dedicated to closing the circle on some important personal goals.   Getting my personal business in order, bringing that debt down, striving to work drama and desmadre-free, finding the joy (again) in putting events on and smiling more.  I’m also committed to bringing this lonja down and live healthier, going to Mass, clearing my life of the clutter that I tend to collect,  working smarter, not harder, doing the right thing, spending time with familia and friends, to be PRESENT and not stressed about it.

The way I see it, I was stopped in my tracks for a few years, no more, it’s time to finish everything that I’ve started.  More chingona. Less pendeja.

Happy 2019 All.

 

A Joyous Moment

#52EssaysNextWave 15/52

Just looked on my drafts, unwritten posts, unfinished essays, and find that I have over FOUR HUNDRED of them.

Every one who writes has a perfect situation where inspiration and creativity flows like a cool breeze or a gentle stream.  No drama, no craziness, no rush, no interruptions.

Here is my Joyous Moment:  Right now, here I sit, alone, in the living room of the house, all windows and doors open at this hour, music blasting, with only the light of Mama’s table, the TV, my laptop and a little flashlight, and me writing.  I’ve been at it for a few hours now and haaaaaappppy!

Especially as event season is upon me, I tend to write a lot every day, but I write proposals, copy points, event timelines, etc.   My mind is beyond busy with constant ‘to-do’ lists, what needs to get done, what has been done.  Granted, this helps me immensely to keep things moving and in order, and while it is joyous when events go well, it does not give me enough of these kinds of joyous moments, where I am ‘me’, at peace with the world, recharging my batteries, doing things that I love to do.

It helps that the house is completely quiet this weekend, as Dad is out-of-town.  Usually all of the lights are on, he’s working on some project or another, his music or TV shows blasting, and it doesn’t feel like a girl’s house LOL.  This type of night reminds me of almost every night when I lived in my own place.  While I still come and go as I please, it’s different with roommates and you know how it is, it’s a little harder to find those “me time” moments.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no where else I’d rather be, but sometimes, it’s the BEST to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

So tonight, I will sit back and enjoy this Joyous Moment, Me Time, Girl Time, blast MY favorite music, and write until I get sleepy…or write all night like I’ve been known to do.

I must make time for these Joyous Moments (and writing) more often.

 

Dinner Time: The Power of Connecting

#52EssaysNextWave  13/52

A rare day off.

Just in from dinner with familia.

After I invited the fam, I went round and round, do I feel like going?  why did I invite everyone?  I’ve been cleaning and all I want to do is relax.  I was actually nervous about getting together with my familia.  I’m overthinking everything.  What was that about?

As I sat there with them, I was happy.  I was relaxed.  And I noticed that they were happy and relaxed too.

I was able to talk with them, no need to get into heavy-duty issues, at least not that minute.  It was fun to talk about our day, our week, my sister’s workout, my baby niece’s friend Rafita from school, joking with my niece and nephew, just having fun.  No one with their phones out, just hanging out, at least for most of the dinner.

The type A in me always tends to make things more complicated than they need to be, turning everything into an event…the reality is that sometimes all that is needed is to connect, really connect, with the people whom we love.

How do we do this?  For me, it’s all about making sure that I DIS-connect in order to RE-connect.

  1.  Put the phone down.
  2.  Look everyone in the face, listen to them.
  3.  Enjoy their company.
  4.  Work will always be there, leave work alone.
  5.  Be present.
  6.  Relax.

Driving home, I realized how much I actually MISSED my family.   I miss connecting with them – especially when I’m so busy with events that it seems that there’s no time to connect.  Tonight is a sign that I need to connect more often.  No big event required.  No over thinking.  Sometimes all it takes is a table, chairs, sharing a meal, and good conversation.

Thanks, familia!

Rest In Peace?

#52EssaysNextWave 12/52

Today’s is my lovely Mama’s birthday may she RIP.

I’m known to post regularly about Mama: random memories, how many months it’s been since she’s left us (44 months in a few days), pictures that I find around the house, pictures of her table that we update with each holiday, her tradition of giving treat bags to her friends (which, by the way, I’ve passed two holidays because my life got crazy-busy, yes, I feel guilty) and more.

More than once, I’ve had folks tell me that I should let her go, that I should let my mother rest in peace, that I have separation anxiety issues.

Having gone through the trauma of losing my mother, I’ve realized a few things:

  1.  Everyone grieves differently.
  2.  Everyone honors their loved ones in their own way.
  3.  The greatest gift that Margaret gave us, her familia, was sitting us down and telling us how she intended to live out her life, that she loved us and knew that we loved her, and that she knew that we would always be together.

Mama was right.  When she was gone, we would have each other to hold on to, we would know that we were loved, and we would know that she was going to be happy in her eternal home.

So the fact that I celebrate my mother constantly does not necessarily mean that I want time to stop, that I want her back, that I want things to stay as they always have, that I’ve not accepted her departure.  Wrong.  Margaret told us she would be alright, that she was ready to leave, that she would be happy.  There is no way that I would want Mama to be sad or suffering here on earth when she was clearly ready to go HOME.

It took me much longer than my siblings to accept this harsh truth when Mama first told us what was what.  However,  I became so convinced that Mama was right as we took care of her those final weeks:  no food, no water, no medicine and she didn’t look weak or emaciated or sad or suffering.  When it was time, it was time.

When she was with us, we Torres5 would always marvel about the crazy positive reaction would be on social media to anything we posted about Margaret, she would be a little shy when we’d tell her or read folks’ birthday wishes or comments to this or that post, but then you would see her famous little quiet smile.  Mama used to always tell me, “omg, this isn’t a competition!” to which I’d answer, “Of course it isn’t, you always win!”

Happy Birthday Mama/Mother/Mom/Negra/Prieta/Marga!

 

Feliz Dia Internacional de La Mujer/Happy International Women’s Day

#52EssaysNextWave 7/52

For all women who came before me who worked it and made it happen and paved the way.

For my mother who taught us, by example, to work it with class. Margaret, most definitely, lives in us.

For my aunts, who have always worked it for so many of us as bonus mothers, for my cousins, who teach us about life in ways that mothers didn’t LOL!

For my godmothers who are the best mentors ever and whom I try to emulate as I mentor, take care of, and enjoy my godchildren nieces and nephews.

For my radio fam goddaughters who are trying to make their way in life and I hope that I never lead you wrong when you ask for advice.  And for my wild, fun, and creative chicas of my radio fam, only WE know and understand the crazyass lives we live every day for “la radio”.

For Gina, Mandy, and Tisa, my goddaughters, I want to do better by you and share in your lives. Goals.

For my Comadre and BFFs, for keeping it real with me and loving me at the same time.

For those of you who visit this page and read my blog regularly, bet you didn’t know how much you inspire me!

For my sisters-in-law, past and present, we are family always.

For the “Mamita Club” – my niece goddaughters, AliyahAngelAntoniaAmyAdrianaDianaLuciaNicoleOliviaSeciliaYasminYesenia, the loves and beauties of my life who will change the world and I pray that you always know your worth and that NinaC is here forever for you.

And of course, to my sisters – the ones who have my back 24/7 and who are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many great women!  Let’s keep working it always, lifting each other up and supporting each other’s activities, families, lives, and careers.  FELIZ DIA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER… HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

2017

#52essays2017 52/52

Yay! I made it thru the #52essays2017 Challenge  — writing one essay per week. For the most part, I kept up really well but you know how life is, it really gets in your way some times.  I gained more confidence as a writer and always look forward to the time when inspiration hits.  The best part about this challenge was that I finally see the value of FINISHING WHAT YOU START. I was able to do this time and time again throughout 2017 and it is one great feeling to commit to a project and finish it!

I’m one day away from the big day: putting on my first New Year’s Eve Gala. It’s been all about flying without a net. Scary. Yet invigorating.  As I sit here reviewing everything, I see that I’ve done pretty good in getting the major stuff paid for before the event starts.   Yes, I’m still in “light the candle” mode because I’d love to break even with the event, maybe make a lil extra.   We had a couple of WTF freak-out moments earlier today and there are a few things that I cannot have because we cannot afford them – yet.  All that’s left for me to do is to find my peace and visualize everyone coming in and having a spectacular evening.   Last year at this time, I couldn’t even THINK about doing something like this, I was completely down and out.  2017 taught me that things can and do change for the better … if you’re willing to clear your decks of negativity, pendejadas, and close-mindedness.

I still have a way to go health-wize but I did a number of fitness challenges one after the other and saw my health improve, my lonja go down a little, my clothes get baggy, and my attitude began to change and my confidence started to come back.

In events land, you have to be confident and move forward even when others say that “we’ve always done it this or that way”, “we can’t do that” or “how are you gonna make that happen?”   I’m living proof that having your sense of “aventada-ness” and a “mevalemadre attitude” front and center when you need them, that GodJesusVirgenOfG can help you go farther than you could ever imagine.  I needed good things to happen in 2017 and they finally did.

For part of 2017, I worked with special needs kids and lil pre-kinder bebitos and had the time of my life.  I left happy and TIRED every day.    I now know that God puts you where you need to be and, let me tell you, I gained more respect for teachers and parents.  There is a reason why I have no children of my own but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a NinaCarmen, AuntyCarmen, a mentor, or a friend. All they want is a little bit of your time and attention.

In no particular order, here is what I’d like to happen in 2018:

What I’m happiest about:  TorresBabies, Torres5, my life with Dad Mike Torres, my writing, my events, our monthly prayer nights.

What I need to work on:  Making time with friends, working out, owning my power, learning to say ‘no’, not going OFF, making peace with the past

What I’m hopeful for:  A better world, Immigration Reform, patience, justice, successful events, change in Washington

Sad that we lost:  family friends Bernardo Santillan, Neftali Orosco

Personal Goals I’d like to accomplish:  Pass State Exam, Bring my Personal debt down, help keep our family together.

 

Have a safe and Happy New Year!  More to come in 2018…

 

 

 

The Things We Treasure: Nacimientos at Christmastime

#52essays2017  #51/52

I’m such a thing person sometimes, I have the hardest time throwing things out.  So to write about things I treasure should have been easy.  Not.

It’s Christmastime.  The time when gifts are exchanged, etc.  What did I ask for?  A giant sized bottle of Dawn for dishes and the giant PineSol LOL.  I’ve asked for these kinds of things for years as I’ve never been into the “gifts” part of things – ever.   Things I treasure most aren’t really things, they’re more like traditions, experiences, familia, friends.

All that, and the Ranch Nacimiento/Nativity, Mama’s smaller house nacimiento, working with our Ranch kids for the annual Christmas play, eating tamales and more.

The Ranch Nacimiento, especially, is priceless and unique.  There are people, animals, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, little burros, people carrying wood and animals on their backs like they did back in the day.  And in this year’s pilgrimage on the Nacimiento, another King was seen walking to see baby Jesus…and there he was, Elvis!  My grandma Mama Lupita collected the majority of the pieces herself and brought them back from her many trips to Mexico — most times, she was travelling by bus and I’m still amazed at how many figurines she had amassed, and how many of them made the trips intact.

However, my absolute favorites are those pieces that Grandma would try to “fix” when they would break.  There was that one little lamb whose leg had broken off which was then “fixed” by putting on an Elmer’s glue orange cap in place of the leg LOL.  Here’s the one gentleman whose legs had broken off.  Grandma gave him a new lease on life by placing him into a NyQuil cap LOL so now he could at least stand up even if he couldn’t walk.

When I first moved out, Mama had put a bunch of family “heirlooms” into my boxes and, one of the treasures was HER small plastic Nativity scene that I had seen for my entire life each Christmas.   My mother loved putting out her nativity scene (or having us put it up for her) every year and it’s the tradition that warms my heart,  knowing that I would see the same thing each year.  Very comforting to know that a few little beaten-up knickknacks can bring us to smiles (and tears)

Mama’s Nacimiento 2017

My most prized possessions are shared with others:  my entire Ranch family loves the Ranch Nacimiento and we love Mama’s Nacimiento at our house every year.  These traditions work it for us and I hope that I help keep these family customs alive.

Feliz Navidad All.   Below are pictures of just PART of the Ranch Nacimiento.  You’ll note that Mama sewed clothes for Mary and Joseph waaay back in the day.  This is one amazing display.

Scenes from the Ranch Nativity