Signs

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Yesterday I was a mess.  I was in a state of overwhelm.  It didn’t help that I woke up with remnants of a migraine, late, and rushing around.   Part of my morning routine is to turn off all of the lights and I always look out of the kitchen window.  It’s like my way of saying hello to the universe as I wake up.  The first thing I saw was Mama’s tree, covered in pink blossoms, her ‘popcorn’ tree she used to call it.  I took this as a sign that she was with me that second.

As I posted this picture on my social media, here were my thoughts:  I’m “off” this morning. This pic of Mama’s tree will help put things into perspective today. How this señora willed herself to wake up and be grateful for a new day, no matter how she felt, astounds me and propels my stressed-running-late-negative-ass forward to make this an important day. Thanks for the signs Mama. #MargaretLivesInMe

Regular readers know that my mother was left partially paralyzed from a stroke thus, for the most part, she was confined to the house and dependent upon us to drive her wherever she wanted to go.  Sad, because one of the joys of Mama’s life was to pick up her keys and take off driving in her car, her “me” time.  I remember she was a morning person and would wake up in a good place – she needed that positivity to deal with her family of night owls, morning people we are not.

So later in the day, I was still not right and was stressed going back and forth trying to decide on taking a class or not, I then saw another sign from Margaret:

Whenever I’m struggling, I always see pennies in random places, this one was on the seat on BART. Sign from Mama that I’m doing the right thing. It may have taken me 3 weeks to decide but I showed up to yet another Interpreting Drills class and talked my way in. I got called on a lot in class (maybe she was testing me LOL). Happy to know that my sense of aventada-ness is alive and well – fell on my face as much as I nailed it. With my crazyass life, these classes keep me focused . This next month, especially, will test my stamina and my time-management skills. No pain, no gain, no guts, no glory. I will handle this :).

I’m learning to pay attention to the signs when I see them.  Mama was reminding me that my goals are important, that they do matter, and that no one else but me can take care of my business.

DO NOT BE AFRAID to get back on your wagon for your health, for your truth, for your career or for your life goals. DO IT FOR YOURSELF – don’t let yourself down. Late or not, show up for you!

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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”!

Rainy Day…Music Day

 

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5/52 #52EssaysNextWave2019

It’s raining outside.

Rainy days and nights are perfect for listening to music.   In fact, this is what I’m doing as I wait out this California storm.  Looking out of the window, watching the cars go by, watching the colors and reflections of the stoplights, store lights, car lights, watching the raindrops on the window change colors as this all happens…all to the sounds of music that I love.

Took me back to when we had records and would make a conscious decision to listen to music.  All of us Torres5 had a record player in our rooms and a stack of records that always made it onto that turntable.  You would go thru the box of 45 records, mine were kept in a couple of shoeboxes; or go thru our vinyl albums, check out the covers to see if there was a song you wanted to hear, reject the records that you knew were going to scratch or skip LOL and, of course, someone would have to be “dj” and physically put the 45 or LP onto the turntable and get the needle into the correct groove/song that we all wanted to listen to.   And listen we would, for hours on end.

I don’t know that many people take that kind of time to enjoy music anymore, kind of makes me sad that our little ones may never know that kind of fun – the fun of reading album liner notes, looking at the face of an artist/singer as you listen to their music that you “know” s/he is singing just for you, laying on your bed daydreaming, sometimes looking out of the window, sometimes not, sometimes with the lights on, others with the lights off , letting the music take you away to another place, freeing you from life’s problems, helping you think about your next move, helping you recover from a broken heart.   Or falling asleep hearing that unmistakable click over and over telling you that the record/album has ended.

Radio, iTunes, mp3s, Pandora, Spotify can bring us all of the music we need and, I can get the same enjoyment blasting my music on the commute, a long drive, train rides and in my headphones but I do miss those days when we actually took time out of our day specifically to listen to music.   In my case, I loved to sing along (and still do) to great songs.  One of the reasons I’ve loved working in the radio industry is precisely because, in certain moments, concerts and station events specifically, you’re able to see the power of music and the joy listening to music brings to our listeners.  There’s no way that I’m the only one who loves music listening days (and nights).

In my family, we cannot listen to music at night, because we always want to hear the next song and we get no sleep LOL  And now I’ve decided that I am going to break out our vinyl and show our TorresBabies what it’s all about 🙂  I think that they will love it.

Here are some of the songs that we Torres5 listened to a LOT, so much so, that I associate the songs with said sibling and, believe me, there are thousands more songs in both English and Spanish, but I decided to go with the first song that popped into my head.

Here’s one that brother Mikey always loved and I wonder if he still sings it at his gigs today (probably):

Hollywood Swinging/Kool and the Gang

 

When I hear any Santana song, my thoughts automatically go to my brother Martin, who loves, “the number one Chicano in the world” as he puts it.

Incident At Neshabur/Santana

 

This album holds the record for never leaving the turntable for MONTHS and months.  We TorresSisters know every single song on all of the Heatwave albums because Kiki wouldn’t let us take the record off :).  But no one like sister Kiki to sing these songs and she would work the high notes too.

Mind Blowing Decisions/Heatwave

 

As Christy is the youngest, she had to listen to whatever we wanted and was, many times, the one who we assigned to be ‘dj’ to change the records LOL.   This is one of her absolute favorite songs and, by that time, it was likely on CD.

Kiss From A Rose/Seal

 

Most of the vinyl I bought back in the day was Tejano and the mighty Latin Breed was the first Tejano band I remember hearing.  I can safely say that I was one of the first of the Torres5 to really get into musica Tejana – now we love it and everyone always thinks we’re from there 🙂  Still love tejano music and the Latin Breed never gets old.

De Que Te Quejas Mi Amor/Latin Breed

Reading Into 2019

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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.

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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.

 

An American Job: Tapiando Cebolla

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Driving home an hour or so ago, I was driving thru what we call the ‘islands’ from the Bay to the Ranch. It’s one of the richest agricultural areas nestled between cities in the San Joaquin Delta. Just about all you see are fields, cornfields, tomato fields, onion fields and more.

On my way thru early this morning, all the workers were just getting situated in field after field. I thought to myself, “wow it’s early, they’ll be done for the day around 2 or 3 this afternoon.”

As I passed thru this evening, I was stunned to see workers STILL working. They had those huge work lights going to light their way. Now what really got to me was WHAT they were harvesting.

Tapiando cebolla”. Topping onions.

It must be said that I have not spent my entire life working the fields. However, I did work a few summers. Topping onions is one of the most unpleasant tasks of them all. This work involves shears and you are to trim off the long green stems of the onion and the stringy thin stems at the top of the onion and proceed to fill up sacks with the ‘topped’ onions.

The goal is to top all the onions in the long rows and put them into the sacks. I still remember looking down the row to see that we had sooooo many sacks left to fill to finish an entire row. Not only was I not the fastest worker, sometimes I’d cut my fingers with the shears…OMG imagine the stinging of the juice from the onions mixed with dirt, aaaaay! Miserable.

My eternal respect for those who harvest the food that we eat daily. It’s harvest season thus they are working hard around the clock. Topping onions is difficult enough in the light of day, but at this hour of the night, albeit it’s much cooler out of the hot sun, it must be even more complicated to work at filling those sacks in the dark.

As I write this entry, I shake my head, these folks are the topic of so much debate, so much racism and so much negativity yet there they are, en chinga, working it to get these crops harvested. And leave it to Latinos to find humor in even the worst work situation: I could actually hear them joking and laughing and the music going strong as they worked. These workers seemed so far removed from the intensity of the immigration debate…doing what they always do…working it.

I can only imagine how much more these folks could produce if people were actually grateful to them for providing food for their tables but, no, these workers and their families have to live in fear for so many things, discrimination, separation of familias, injury, illness…all this in the name of “American Jobs” which, by the way, no “American” wants to do.

My short time working in the fields was enough motivation to work at something else, anything else, but the fields. God bless our Latino brothers and sisters who take it for the team day (and night).

Dinner Time: The Power of Connecting

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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?

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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!

 

Just Say Good Morning Already

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5 years old.   I was getting ready to start kindergarten.  Everyone telling me how exciting school would be, how many friends I would make, how many fun things I would do.   I was having trouble with this, I didn’t feel excited at all.

That first day, I remember being dressed in my blue dress with the white sweater, white socks and black mary jane shoes.  I don’t really remember anyone bringing me into Mrs. Brunton’s class.  I remember that I was just there.   I don’t want to think that I was just put on the bus to face it all alone.

Because that’s exactly what it felt like to me.  Like I was left all alone.  Without Mama.  And how were the kids doing at home without me?  This place seemed too big.  This place didn’t feel nice.  And why do I even have to come here?  This is what I used to tell myself every single day before and after crying tears into my little white sweater before hanging it up on the little hook.

Circle time.  Circle time was a nightmare for me.  First, I was afraid.  Second, I was almost in tears and didn’t want anyone to see me cry.  If I spoke up, people would see my fear and hear the quivering of my voice like I wanted to cry, who wants to be known as a big baby?

My teacher, Mrs. Brunton, was not kid-friendly, and to this very sensitive and scared little girl, not one kind word, not one nod of understanding.   She lost patience with me that first day when I did not answer “good morning” to her during circle time.    On that first day, she punished me for not speaking during circle time.  I had to stay inside during recess time, trying to understand what I had done wrong.

This went on for many, many weeks during that first year of school.  I remember being able to breathe and feeling so relieved “having” to stay in the classroom with the lights turned off during recess.  I was in there with the “bad kids” – always two or three kids.  But I did not have to feel the wrath of Mrs. Brunton for those blessed few minutes and my little mind would think and think about how to get the nerve up to be able to say “good morning”, how much easier my life might be, how much happier I might be — at least that’s what Mama and Daddy would tell me almost every night at home about saying “good morning” the next day.

Once the kids would come in from recess, I’d feel a little stronger.  And then this woman would have something negative to say.  Always something negative.  And my resolve to say “good morning” would crumble.

It finally got to the point where I was over being labeled one of the “bad kids”,  I wasn’t a bad person, I was a good girl.  There were a couple of kids who had not yet spoken up, and who had finally said “good morning” to the teacher and, when I saw that nothing bad happened to them after that, I started to think that, maybe it was time for me to say “good morning”.

It amazes me how, at that very young age, that I was able to watch things around me and find the safe time to use my voice and improve my situation.  One morning,  I shocked Mrs. Brunton and delighted the entire class when I finally answered “good morning”.

It would have been so much easier had the lady been a little more understanding and treated little Carmen with a little more care in those first weeks of school instead of losing her patience and being judgemental.   Little Carmens of the world need to be empowered and reminded of the rules for the classroom instead of being told that she is a bad girl.  All I remembered was feeling this intense pressure all of the time to say “good morning” – from home, at school, to the point of having headaches.  Now I think about…Who was right?  Who was wrong? How could this situation been handled in a more positive manner?  Why was it so hard for me to say “good morning”? why was this person so mean?

Shortly after that first “good morning”, the school year was, thankfully, over.   My parents received progress reports from Mrs. Brunton stating that I was withdrawn and would likely have learning issues throughout my school years.  Fast forward to first grade, and Little Carmen was happy, outgoing, and learning a lot.  I had a great teacher who was much more kid-friendly and I was able to thrive.  I also remember being happy to show my lil sister starting kindergarten that I wasn’t afraid or unhappy anymore.

Many years later, I heard that Mrs. Brunton was no longer teaching.  I felt a little vindicated, that 5-year-old Little Carmen was not crazy, that her instincts WERE right, that this was NOT a good person, especially not one to be in charge of the education, physical and emotional security of babies just starting out.  I was still a little angry, as I felt as if I got myself through this traumatic experience.  Even though it was the only way to relieve the stress from all sides, I spent many years trying to move past that fateful “good morning”.

I always harbor the hope that little ones have an easier time of their first days of school…that their little spirits are not broken as mine was, that they have positive people in their corners to help them see that there are more great teachers than bad ones.

I also know that this was one of the first times that my InnerChingona helped me get through it, even though, at the time, I had no clue who she was.