Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Loving the cooler weather!   I cannot sleep so here I sit at the Ranch with the doors open, my hands are cold, my ears are cold, my feet are cold.   Fall is my favorite time of the year.   Even though it still is hot during the day, there is that unmistakable chill in the air.  Growing up at the Ranch meant growing up in HOT weather.  And, after this summer’s heat, I would ask Dad, “How did I grow up here?  I cannot handle this heat”.   Dad hates the cold weather and is wrapped up in a blanket…if he asks me to do so, I will close the door.

I am watching the news and I see that in my Denver, Colorado, that tomorrow’s temperature will have a high of a sizzling 35 degrees.  Instant homesickness.  My Denver FamFriends KNOW that, when I visit, that I go when there is snow, when it’s freezing, when I can see my breath in the air, when I can smell snow.   Below are a few random memories of life in the snow.

Thinking back, I remember the very first time I saw the snow, I was going to have to be at an event the next day so I decided to go out the night before and DRIVE in it.  Nervous, con miedo, sweating, shaking, I got into my car and took the wheel.  I was sure that I was going to slip and slide all over the place LOL!  All I did was drive in others’ tire tracks for about an hour and drove back home.

The NEXT morning, as I walk down the stairs of my apartment to the car, I remember that the cold almost felt like a slap in the face at first, I also knew that my California ‘warm’ clothes were not going to work and my California boots, while stylish, would soon be rendered useless.   When I got home after the events of the day, snow was all up in the grooves of the bottom of those boots, I get into my kitchen and it was like zaz! I was on a slip-n-slide LOL.  I crawled out of the kitchen laughing and thanking GodJesusVirgenOfG that I didn’t fall like that in front of anyone.

While no one saw me fall all over my kitchen, I remember that, like a SonsaTontaPendeja, I wore those same boots to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, where my station was working an event.  I meet some of my crew and we start walking, and then I stumbled a little and slipped.  Slid all the way down that hill!  I remember having to give my staff permission to laugh because I know how it had to have looked.  I also remember praying, as I slid, that when I eventually stopped, that I would be able to get back up.

Our Ita came to visit me around Christmastime and, promptly told me that she wanted to go home because it was way too cold for her.  I took her to my station’s Christmas party and needed to get gasoline for the car.  So I get out como si nada, to put in gas and she looks up at the temperature on a lighted sign across the street.  It read zero, “0 degrees”, and I knew two things, that I can hang in the cold, and that I needed to get Ita back to California, pobrecita.

We were in Thornton working a club night.  My co-workers and I look across the street and see a taco truck.  You better know we ran over there.  Tacos were great.  The salsa, however, was like beyond HOT, neither of us could hang.  So alli andabamos, grabbing snow off of THE GROUND and shoving it into our mouths!  We were laughing and doing that sucking air thing when one is all enchilado, it was crazy!

Before I lay me down to sleep, I will check flights to my beloved Mile High City, I’m due for a freeze-out visit with my DenverFam.  My hands will be cold, yay!  My heart will be warm, hanging out with some of my favorite people ever in one of my favorite places ever.

Here I am at Copper Mountain standing on a small mountain of snow…and, no, this is not where I slid down the mountain LOL.

 

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No One Could Have Imagined …

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It seems as if the world is spinning so wildly that it’s about of fall off of its axis. So much natural disaster, so much negativity, so much political strife, so much racism. Makes you wonder what will be the final straw.

Twenty-four hours ago felt like the last straw for me.   When I first heard of the gunman mowing down people at a music festival in Las Vegas.  I was stunned to see the chaos, to hear bullet after bullet, to feel the panic in the air.  As I watched the news channels today, I was sick to hear that this man had arrived to Vegas with an arsenal of fire power designed to maim and kill innocent people. I’ve also watched the news pundits try to analyze the ‘why?’ someone would do this. I finally had to turn the TV off, it was so hard to watch it all.

A short while ago, I started thinking about it again. This time, I thought of all of my friends who work within my industry, those of us who plan events, those of us who get excited when we get to plan really big events, those of us who get the rush, not by watching the stage, but by watching people truly enjoy the experience that we have had a hand in creating.

When I am planning an event, I put myself into the shoes of the person who will come to my event. What will they wear? How excited will they be as they get ready for the dance/concert/event? Who will be coming with them? Their mother, who loves this or that artist, or will it be their significant other to take in the experience of seeing their idol live, or that little one who is beyond excited to see one of their favorite characters with parents spending the show with their eyes fixated on the joy in their child’s eyes.

I have worked in Country Radio and remember the day that my client told me about the very first Route 91 Festival, how the lineup was going to knock me out once released, how the listeners would be super hyped and that it would make history as one of the premier Country events. This was four years ago. Dicho y hecho, this is exactly what it turned out to be.

When planning an event, it’s customary to make Plan A, Plan B, Plan C to cover yourself from any type of situation: rain, snow. extreme heat/cold, wind, a competing event, when there’s a huge sporting event like futbol and you know that it will affect attendance. What sickens me is that HOW do you prepare for some desquisiado deranged person who is on a mission to destroy?  Just getting your hands around it requires much effort.  Events are not meant or made to harm or destroy.

It’s all about bringing fun to people’s’ lives, helping them to escape their reality, to bring people together, to make memories, to give them an unforgettable experience.  That’s why I do it.  That’s why I’ve done it for the majority of my life.   I just do not know how to factor in someone trying to reverse all of the positive energy that I put into planning an event, how do you stop a rain of bullets?  how do you stop a person from taking that very sick step into the dark side that will never end well?

That is the one question that I have no answer for.   All I know is that I will continue to plan events just as I always have…to bring people together through music, fun, and entertainment.  Not important to some, but super important to me.  Especially as I have seen with my own eyes how cool it is when people ‘get it’, when they are having the blast that I hoped that they would have when I put myself into their shoes.

Prayers to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.  Those who perished.  Those who were shot.  Those who planned this event.  All of their lives have been changed forever in one night.  All of our lives have been changed too.

Learning Life Thru The Eyes of An 8-Year-Old

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I’ve been spending time with my lil 8-year old niece god-daughter lately.  I’m totally that “aunt” or in my family “nina”, as we are all godparents to our kids, most of them know us as “NinaCarmen”, etc..     You better know that I love all of my godchildren as if they were my own.

Don’t ask me why, but a child’s 8th year has always seemed very special to me.   I notice that these lil ones are starting to find out what they like, they start saying what they want to be when they grow up, they’re still not afraid or embarrassed to talk about what scares them, what they don’t like, things that bother them, what makes them happy.  For some, the major issues haven’t engulfed them completely:  drugs, alcohol, sex, gangs, negativity.

I feel a huge responsibility to be there for them a lot, to listen to them, to ask them questions, to try to show them that I’m there for them no matter what, to guide them a little, to show them new parts of the world, to have an influence on their young lives, to try to keep them safe and secure, so that when the major issues come along, they may be stronger than drugs, alcohol, sex, gangs, or negativity.

At some point in their lives, usually at 8 years old or so, I’ve brought in my godchildren into my business to show them how things work.  This month, we’ve been promoting an upcoming event:  I’ve been teaching her how to get up in front of people, pass out flyers for the event, we even put flyers on hundreds of car windows in 4 large parking lots and she did better than most adults I know.  I wasn’t sure how she’d like this kind of work but, as we kept on with it, I could see her really working it.

As we drove around in the car, my lil mamita started to ask question after question after question, “Nina Carmen, why…?”and we talked about everything –from why she liked her 2nd grade teacher better than her 3rd grade teacher, about books that she reads at school, random things she’s learning about science, and how she does not like learning fractions this year.  But what really got me was her desire to want to learn how to work it, to speak in front of people, and “how old were you Nina Carmen when you started doing this work?”  Her lil mouth flew open when I said “EIGHT years old”.

I remember how cool it was to be the one chosen to run events when I was that little, granted, I didn’t do that much but it was such a big responsibility to me and it made me feel very special.   I have never lost that feeling of how cool it is to be in charge and to run events.  To this day, it is a rush to see how my events turn out, especially when there’s a full house and when people are having a great time.  And, if any of the TorresBabies get behind a microphone, or start taking charge at an event, the smile is on my face for weeks.

On this day I was “training” this child to promote events.  We were going into businesses to ask them to place some our event flyers near their registers.   I was more nervous than my lil one was and, while she was apprehensive at first, I almost cried tears of pride when I heard this girl give what we in marketing call the “elevator speech”.  Mamita worked it, expressed herself well, was poised, purposeful, confident and she got people to place her flyers by the register :).   She even told me later that day, “Nina, I feel confident”.  I would give every cent and dollar I will ever have that this baby girl always feels confident and ready to work it.  My mamita can and WILL do better than I ever have.

I can go on and on about how I want to change the world.   Being here for all of my godchildren and helping them to feel confident will be the best that I can for them.  The TorresBabies will change part of the world I’m sure of this.  I am happy to step aside and watch them move forward and soar.

But first, I will enjoy watching them live life thru their 8-year-old eyes, learning, having fun, and doing what makes them happy.  Watching my lil one do what I did so many times as an 8-year-old, made me smile.  She was writing down songs that she liked as we heard them on the radio.   It’s amazing, that with so much technology to make our lives “easier”, isn’t it cool that children truly need none of that mess, all they need is a simple pencil and paper to write down the songs/and things that are important to them … and they need to be around people who love them, listen to them, support them.  Hope this never changes.

 

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

 

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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.

Challenge out of the NoLonjaZone, Phase II

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The journey out of the NoLonjaZone has completed its first phase. I finished the health challenge from May15-June15 where I drank no soda, drank 1 gallon of water per day, did 20 minutes of exercise, ate when I was hungry and tried to cut down on emotional eating. What did I learn?

I learned that I am able to finish what I start.  Not perfectly, but I did complete my goal.  Eventually, I hope to be able to finish e v e r y t h i n g  I start.    For all of my “me” time speeches, it was not that easy to carve out time for myself and for my health.  Now that I’ve completed this challenge, I feel much better physically that I did on May 15th.  I have got to keep making time for my health, especially when I do not feel like working out that day/night.  Every time I walk, jump rope, run, exercise, I always feel better once I’m done…it’s the getting started that I struggle with.

My challenges have been with making time to exercise on the weekends.  If I have an event, my energy is focused on making sure I’m 100 percent into arriving on time, doing the job, and getting home at a decent hour and working out hasn’t been factored in that much.  At least not yet anyway.   The emotional eating was difficult to combat at first but now I’ve tried drinking water when I say that I’m hungry because, many times, I may be just thirsty or bored.   And you better MOVE out of my way when I am hungry LOL.   Drinking the water is getting easier and I swear that I have drunk a lot of the big bottled water in the house just by myself.   It’s easier to drink a lot of water especially in this heat and you will need to become accustomed to using the bathroom a LOT.

Talking about my progress has been what has kept me accountable to the friends who have wanted to take the health challenge as well.  It actually motivates me to keep going knowing that others are with me on the journey of living healthier.  Since my exercise of choice has been walking, I’m really glad that, years ago, I would look for places to walk anywhere along my commute routes so it’s been fun revisiting all of my walking spots.

Focusing on my health has moved off of the back burner in my life.   Taking charge of my health is empowering and I feel like it’s the first step in getting all areas of my life together.     My self-confidence had taken a beating and I have, only now, started to step out of that misery into my life now.  However, my life and my confidence are still out of sync. So unsettling.  Especially as I was always blessed with confidence and with the huevos to make things happen in my life always.  I look forward to stop living my life tentatively and hanging out with my good friend and ally:  confidence.  Making time for myself to work out, to eat better, to live healthier is the only way that I can think of to get my confidence back.

Next steps?  I’ve started Round 2 of the Health Challenge with a group of fun and brave individuals who, like me, are ready to take healthy steps our own way, combining health with busy lives, as we move toward the NoLonjaZone.  It’s been a great feeling of accomplishment to finish what I start.  For once.

Let’s do this!  See details below…we’re on this challenge now June 19 thru July 19.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Which One Is Easier? Life? or Death?

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It was Cinco de Mayo morning. I had events in two cities that year. I remember. I was setting up in one city and getting ready to head to a Cinco de Mayo parade in another. I was to meet Rosa so that we could handle the parade.

I kept calling and no answer, nada. I thought that she might have overslept, as we had gone to see my family at a gig the night before.  As I got closer, I kept calling and getting angrier because I really needed to get to the parade as it was time to line up.  Each message I left was something like, “mujer! get the eff up, we cannot be late and I don’t have time to go for you, hello? your client will be pissed and why do I have to take care of this sh– too!? Jeez…”

Once I got to the event, I was more angry than concerned, I admit.  Cinco de Mayo is the biggest time of the year in SpanishRadioLand and it is the one time of the year that I do NOT tolerate this kind of irresponsibility, no call, no text, nada?  I was livid.  However, I got us through the day and that was that.

While on the drive home, I tried to call Rosa again and, still, no answer.  Her daughter had gone on a trip with her school so she wasn’t home and I wished that I knew how to get of hold of Rosa’s ex to see if he had seen her.   I was thinking that both Rosa and I were going to be leaving the station soon as we had both gotten other jobs and would be moving from the area.  Rosa was going to be moving during the upcoming week which is why we were out celebrating the night before, she would be leaving right after Cinco and her ex was not happy about her leaving, he was all up with another woman yet he still kept Rosa hanging on – she had decided that she’d had enough and was down for for a change.

On that Monday after the Cinco de Mayo festivals, I was at the station and had just completed my on-air shift, when I got the call.  The police called me to see if I could go into speak with them regarding the circumstances around Rosa’s death.   Upon hearing the news, I was almost inconsolable and very much in shock and disbelief.   Turns out that she was found in her garage with a rope around her neck near the running car that had been rammed into the washer/dryer, found by her mother and daughter when Rosa failed to show up to pick up her daughter from the aforementioned trip.

The first question the detectives asked me was ‘did you think that your friend was capable of suicide?’.  I didn’t think so but I did know that, some days, I would have to talk her into getting to the office, going to pick her up even, so that she wouldn’t lose her job.  Looking back, the pain of depression is very real, and Rosa was trying to fight it off, to make a new start for herself.   I was numb and became very depressed as well over Rosa’s death.  I couldn’t sleep, I was afraid to be by myself, I was afraid for Rosa, was she at peace? was she still in pain? what was she thinking when she decided it was time to end it and stop her pain?

To this day, I still do not understand what got into Rosa’s mind that she needed to end it all.  I suppose that it’s true that for some folks, living is harder than dying.   After my intense sadness, I spent a good long minute being mas enojada que la fregada /mad as hell.  Frustrated that I could do nothing to help her, to save her.  I did try, but it wasn’t enough.  Angry that her daughter would grow up without her mama, angry that her ex had indeed been at her home that night but it was never proven that he had anything to do with her death.

Now I choose to remember the good things:  her laugh, her unique way of telling me the chisme, how she used to tell me that dressing up and putting on ‘lipistick rojo‘ would make my day better, the hilarious ways she would use the f-word, that she loved pearls, and loved to wear red.  Rosa, for all of her sad times, was able to always be my champion and was all for me ‘moving on’ to the next opportunity and helped me find my InnerChingona when I needed it most.  It was absolutely the best thing for my career that I made this move.  I smile when I think that she never let me forget that, after a crazy night, that I got to work with only one work shoe with me, and she covered for me at work so that I could go out and buy a pair of shoes and save my reputation LOL!

I’m still trying to learn to watch for the signs of desperation and suicide in a person so that, maybe, I can let them talk it out and find their power.  I’ve been very down before but not to the point of ending it all.  Maybe that’s a gift that Rosa gave me, to show me how to handle my business and stress another way.  Quien sabe?

I wish she were here.  Especially today.  It’s her birthday.

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My Sad Cinco de Mayo

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I have been involved with Cinco de Mayo since the 3rd grade.  Folks in my life KNOW exactly where I will be every year around this time of the year.  I have seen and planned Cinco events within the community, in grade school, in high school, for any of the radio stations I have worked with, in college, at the university. I know the ins and outs of how to put these celebrations together, large or small. When I work an event, I usually work my butt off during the planning sessions so that the day of event, I don’t do much running around all loca.

In any event, you can do your part the very best you can yet there are things that you have no control of: the weather, whether the crowds will show up, or not; artists or bands travel schedules. if your station is on the air, or not . I tend to get super-focused and I mentally work my plan the entire day. I don’t go crazy unless any of the above situations occur.

So you can just imagine how I am when I actually A T T E N D an event where I am not working one. I can have it analyzed almost instantly – how could the event been better? what could the organizers done differently? who put this mess together? why did they do things this or that way? or not? I feel sorry for the folks who attend with me because I am usually counting the colors on banners, checking out the sponsor’s logos so that I can see if they’re interested in speaking to me about my events, handing out cards to the vendors. so it’s not the most relaxing time for me. thus I rarely go.

I attended this Cinco de Mayo event as my superblessedtalented godson would be performing in San Francisco’s Cinco event. I told myself to shut the hell up with my suggestions for the event, that I was there for him, not to analyze the event. My godson looked so cool and I loved watching him work it. I was happy being one proud Nina (godmother).

As we were walking though the festival, however, something didn’t feel totally right. This event was in the middle of the Mission District, this event was free, this event was being held on a beautiful day.

What was missing?

The straight-up Latino vibe was missing; or better yet. the L A T I N O S were missing. What did I see? Lots of trendy restaurants and bars, lots of folks of different colors, cute lil blended families with money – how could I tell, you ask? Very expensive strollers ‘de nombre‘. expensive pets,  great clothes, lots of them talking about their work – mainly start-up, techies with very-well-behaved children, food trucks, no real Mexican food booths. The one word that came to me was ‘gentrification‘. I have worked many many many many festivals and events in the Mission and NEVER had I felt such sadness.  When I voiced my thoughts out loud and said the word “gentrification”, my godson shook his head in agreement.

I love seeing all of the Latino desmadre at the events: familias, the lines for the tacos, fruta, aguas frescas, and more. The stage areas packed with people, the vendors giving out free stuff en friega, no one talking about work because fiestas are fun and social, and you hear Spanish and Spanglish everywhere!  The best celebrations are where we Latinos celebrate our traditions, our food, our cultura, and we look at our festivals as a time to take a break from our regular lives and reconnect with the motherland and where we can be ourselves.

Gentrification is most definitely the reality in San Francisco.   All of the businesses and their employees moving into the Mission may be construed as making it a busy, vibrant, place, as if it wasn’t before. There is a lot of action, true…but, a cambio de que?  Rents are astronomical, and lots of the Latino familias have had to move into the East Bay and farther.   I saw so many “Help Wanted” signs, but these are likely minimum-wage positions. With rent prices for some 1-bedroom apartments going for upwards of $3,000 a month; HOW could Latinos afford to live in their neighborhoods?   Cultural disparity was also more front and center than ever in the Mission.  My sadness at seeing the Latino flavor moving out of the neighborhood is so real.  I’ve been thinking about it all day and night, how can this neighborhood remain Latino? do the people who live there care about this, my sense is that they are wanting to do the best for their families yet have little resources, my sense is that they would rather not uproot their families and move out of the Mission, but how can they thrive when they must concentrate on how to survive?

Looks like my next move will be to become better informed.  Maybe I am off-point, maybe I’m trippin, maybe I am wrong, maybe it’s my imagination that business and money are sucking the life out of one of the most vibrant communities ever.

Then again…maybe I’m right.

Time Will Tell.

 

#52essays2017

#AshTag

 

Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

For most of my life, I have gone to Mass on Ash Wednesday, no meat on Fridays, always wondering what to give up for Lent – candy, chocolate, salt, fast food were always some of the things I would give up because I “had” to, I don’t know if I ever really took Ash Wednesday that seriously until this year. Not only did I take it more seriously, I felt like a lot of people did as well.

Maybe it’s the wave of negativity that is going through our country right now…all of the hate-filled sentiment in the country: anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, and more have people on edge and fearful of their families’ future…but I sensed that people are looking for their higher power to help them find peace and comfort in this very uncertain world.

In either case, I decided that, this year, I would give up something that I needed to change about myself or my life. Normally, one is supposed to keep these things to themselves as it is something between you and God. But, in the spirit of keeping myself accountable, I am giving up the following for Lent: Doubt, Worry, Fear of Failure, and Arriving Late. It really is time for me to stop doubting the plan that God has for me, worrying will not help me anymore at all, and there is no way that I will know success unless I experience failure. Arriving where I need to be on time will keep me punctual, honest, and accountable. It will not be easy (especially the last one), but I as I am already in major-change mode, a few more changes wouldn’t be so bad.

Sincere prayers are always good too.  Spreading positive energy is so important, especially toward those individuals who need prayers, especially those who think that they don’t need any support or prayers.  Praying for people might help them do the right thing and to be more positive…I can only imagine that any positive, peaceful, and happy thoughts and prayers will make our world feel more stable, less uncertain, hopeful and full of love.   I’m done wallowing in negativity and I am ready for a spiritual journey…

I have 40 days to try to change a part of my world, looking forward to a Happy Easter.

#52essays2017

 

 

 

 

Going Home. Ni Modo. Sometimes You “Have” To.

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I was struck by a television show I was watching earlier tonight: the character was Latino, and he had come home to find his mother lying on the floor, she had fallen. The caregiver had been gone for a couple of hours and the character was furious and went after the caregiver with the can of whoopass. At the end of the show, this character was going into his mother’s home, where he tells her how beautiful she looks, to which she responds that she had to look her best because she was so happy that her son was moving back home. And then the mom starts being a mom – “come sit down with me, watch my show, can you make me a sandwich?”  I had to laugh because I sooo related to this and this proves to me that I am not the only one who has “had” come back home.

As I write, I’m now in my “apartment” AKA the “girls room” – the place where I grew up. It is sooo deja vu right now, the way the light looks, the way the house sounds kind of quiet, the way I’m playing the radio low, and, as it is tuned into a classic oldies station, it feels as if I am back in time to when I used to be in the room doing my homework! LOL


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My view in the “girls room”

Regular readers of my blog know my story of moving back home to be with my folks. Mama has since passed and it’s me and my father. While I admit that I  miss my former life profoundly which consisted of spending time with my now FamFriends, going out a lot, working a lot, trying to work on having a meaningful relationship in my life, and finding my place in the world.  However, I now realize that I was always looking for a sense of family and togetherness in every city I have lived/worked.  As I was alone with family far away, I didn’t really have to deal with work getting in the way of family things plus I was usually far enough so I wasn’t mired in the day-to-day routine.   To my amazement, I now realize that one of the things that I missed was the sense of ‘home’ – that peaceful feeling of being able to relax completely, to be yourself, to know that you are totally safe and loved.

I’m now all up in the day-to-day trying to keep this house in order, always watchful of my father.  Tonight, he seems down and, while I try not to get all up in his business, I feel better knowing that he’s not by himself.  My fear is coming home to find him fallen down or hurt or worse.   I just want him to be safe and happy.   I know now that familia has to work together to contribute to the peace, safety, and love that makes our house feel like a home.

This peace and joy did not come easy.  Caregiving is not an easy gig and the struggle is real because, at the end of the day, you are NOT their parent, even though it feels like it a lot of the time.  You are all up in their things and, in this house at least, no one likes it when you move their stuff around.   Also, in this house, Mama used to say that her kids were all chiefs as we all have our opinion on everything LOL.    She was right.  I especially would go crazy when things did not go my way and when this family would not follow the schedule that I made for us.  I had to learn to bite my tongue and to pick my battles.  I had to stop judging them for a million things, and just love them.

stop-judging

For any of you who have “had” to move back home, these tips really helped me to make it a little easier.

  1.  Respect that it is not easy for your parents either:  someone, even their daughter, coming into their space can feel disruptive and they may be embarrassed that the house isn’t as neat as it used to be, or that they can’t do the things they used to.
  2. Dignity goes a long way.  I learned this first-hand when I was the one “assigned” to clean and change Mama’s clothes.  I was so concerned that she was comfortable as fast as possible that I didn’t cover the exposed parts of her body like I should have  One day, I just watched Toni, one of the hospice nurses, as she moved and bathed Mama with such care and dignity so that I could try to make her comfortable.
  3. Live like roommates and have the roommate talk:  This sets simple ground rules and has worked wonders for family unity and understanding.  It allows everyone in the house to live their lives, work, spend time with friends and work out issues.
  4. Respect each other’s space, get out of each other’s way when need be.  I have, on occasion, dropped Dad off to have a few drinks and sing with the mariachi and then pick him up … talk about Turning the Tables! He, on the other hand, is always telling me to get out of the house and go out, that he’ll be alright.
  5. Create Your Support Crew:  You may need help getting folks to appointments, getting meals handled, picking up meds, cleaning the house or to listen to you vent.  People do want to help how they can and, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, let someone be there for you as you care for your parents.

Change doesn’t have to be disruptive forever.  The way I see it, my parents gave us everything we needed to get out there in the world and as, nothing is free, it is important for me to be here now for my father.  Respect, dignity, open communication, support system, and stepping back when need be can make any situation bearable, even fun.  My Dad and I, thank God, are able to talk to each other.

Hablando se entiende la gente.  I’m smiling right now because we just had what is a typical nighttime conversation between Dad and I:  “Mija, quiero un taquito para tomarme la medicina”  he usually likes a snack when he takes his meds.  This Daddy’s girl says, “ok but ‘con tortillas de maiz‘ because it’s late.”   My father is Team Flour Tortillas all the way and I’m Corn Tortilla girl — and this is how we compromise LOL .  There you have it:  Another peaceful night at home on the Ranch.

#52essays2017

 

What? QueQUE? My story of Awe #52essays2017

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#52essays2017

AWE:  a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.  Synonyms of AWE:  filled with wonder, wonderstruck, awestruck, amazed, astonished, lost for words, reverential

Another Friday Night.  I’m sitting in major traffic trying to get home.  I’m listening to the radio and the host is talking about “Awe” and the listeners are calling in with their stories.  As I sat in my Jeep surrounded by cars on every side on the roadway, I started thinking about times when I was awestruck, when something completely stopped me in my tracks, when I was stunned into silence, when I was certain that it could only have been God behind it.

Back in the day, I was going out with someone whom I was totally crazy about, I hadn’t been this happy in a long time.  I just couldn’t believe that my parents did not like this person.  Oh, they had reason to feel the way they did, I accept that.  I was the one who was blind in love, I was the one who was going to change their mind, I was the one to change a negative into a positive, things would work out in my favor.

Well, things did not work out in my favor.  After too many nights of having to deal his drama with alcohol and viejas, I decided that I needed to get out of this mess and I left him.   I had estranged myself from my family where he was concerned, and so I really didn’t know who I could talk to about how sad and devastated I was.  I thought that no one would understand me and that they would just be glad that I had come to my senses.  I was not in any mood to be judged, I just wanted understanding.  I kicked myself for living a double life and for keeping things from my family and friends.  So now I had this intense drama going on in my head and I started beating myself up MORE for being with this person than GIVING MYSELF PROPS for being smart enough to walk away from a bad situation.  So, as often happens when one is overwhelmed and battling every kind of emotion, I became very depressed.  I also thought that, “there’s no way that anyone knows how I’m feeling because I haven’t told anyone anything.”  Yeah, right.

Mama knew.

My mother had always been pretty religious, very Catholic.  She would always say things like ‘Let Go And Let God‘ and told us to “pray about it” and “believe” and things like that.  I’d sit there rolling my eyes saying, “ay Mom” and things like that.  But Margaret, always persistent, never gave up and, one day, she tells me that there was a Healing Mass coming up and that we should go,  Healing Masses are done all of the time in Catholic churches, it’s a time where you can receive a great amount of prayer for whatever illness or sadness you are going through.  I’m like “yeah, yeah” rolling my eyes and thinking, “she’ll forget about this”.  Well, forget she did not, and the day came for the Healing Mass.

I remember going into the Mass, still with some of my attitude on, thinking about “what will this do for me?“.  At one point during the Mass, there came a point where I had to go up to the altar where there were people standing in a circle who would pray for whatever I asked them to pray for.  I went up to the circle and told them how sad I was because of a breakup and they all started to pray over me.   I went back to my seat, a little confused and thinking about how this was going to help me because I felt the same as I did before.

After everyone else had gone up to be prayed over, we had to stand up for some reason.  As the priest was speaking, don’t ask me what he was saying, I put my hands on the pew in front of me.  As I stood there, I started to feel my body moving, like something was trying to get out.  I closed my eyes and, to my astonishment, I started to feel like my body was actually rising up, that I was starting to levitate, and I remember holding on to that pew for dear life, because I was sure that I was going to start flying.  I started crying because I didn’t really understand what was happening and because I didn’t know how to fly.

Once I realized that I was fighting this too much, I figured I would relax and let go – after all, I was in a church, what harm could come to me there?   As I relaxed my hold on the pew and just surrendered to the feeling of levitation, I started to feel something making its way out of my body, and making its way in color, I saw a dark gray film rising before my eyes and, as I looked up, it was moving up as well!  After seeing this, I sat down and tried to get myself together.  I was completely floored, exhausted, and at peace.  I remember looking over at Mama and, as we locked eyes, and we both knew that I had come through the other end.  I never knew if she ever saw what I had felt and seen just a few minutes earlier but I know that she understood that something profound had happened.  Now that I look back, how cool is it that I was able to share this with my mother?  Just like God, she never left me ever, I was not all alone.

I hadn’t really thought too much about that experience in many years.   In fact, as I listened to the radio on that Friday night, as others spoke about AWE, I almost hesitated as I dialed the phone number to tell MY story of Awe.  I was shocked that the phone actually rang and was answered by a call screener.  I would be telling my story to the world in a few minutes!   As I told my story of Awe on-air, I realized that AWE moments should not be forgotten, that reaching back to this moment in my life might have helped me to see the roadblocks, stop signs, signals that would cross my path in the future.  I cannot explain, to this day, why God chose that precise moment to personally bless me with peace and love.  I have learned that it’s important to talk (or write about)  about these wonder-filled moments to help me/us reflect on as heal and move forward from life’s disappointments, sad or bad times.

What is your moment of AWE?  Embrace, heal, and learn from this moment.

#52essays2017

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