Aqui Hay Gato Encerrado

#52essays2017  48/52

Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am not an animal person.  Mucho menos, cats.  I’ve always been afraid of cats.   And now I actually help my nephew take care of his cats, every day, I shake my head in disbelief and swear that I’m going to call the pet adoption folks on them some days.

Lately, I’ve been saying the following dicho “hay gato encerrado”, a Spanish saying that literally means, “there’s a cat locked up” but figuratively it means “there’s something fishy”  “hmmm…that’s suspicious” or “I smell a rat”.    There are a couple of situations troubling me lately and, some days, I’m thinking way too much about how to handle them, do I change them, do I not, do I turn the other way, do I walk away? do I stick it out? what do I do? what? how?

So with all this stuff on my mind, I check into my hotel room, ready to get a good night’s sleep, as I had a very early meeting the following day.    I felt like a little kid, when they do that little laugh of happiness when they get into their pj’s.  I love pajamas!  I turned the TV on, no signal, it didn’t work.   Oh well, I started watching Netflix on my tablet and soon I was fast asleep.

A few hours later, I am dreaming and am hearing this weird sound, a sound so loud it wakes me up.  As I had fallen asleep with the light on, I look up and what do I see?  A big cat on the other side of the room and it’s meowing loud!  And. no. I. am. not. dreaming.  Where in the hell was this cat?  And how did I not see it?  And WHO would leave a cat in a room?  And what was up with the housekeeping people? I am vacillating between fear and asco and the cat runs under the bed, where he’d probably been the entire time…uuuuugh.

I immediately called the front desk and demanded that someone come for this cat and to get me into another room and who cares if it was 3am?

So weird that my mind had been thinking all week, “aqui hay gato encerrado” and then there REALLY was a trapped cat un gato encerrado.  I still shiver and get asco when I think about that night and thank you GodJesusVirgenOfG that the cat wasn’t on top of me or on the bed or anything!  Also I laugh when I think that maybe the cat started freaking out if/when he heard me snoring LOL.

In either case, it was like my thoughts actually came to life, and came to life in a scary way with that big and loud cat.   Let’s hope that these suspicious, rat-smelling situations settle down and get taken out of my way, just like hotel security took away that “gato encerrado“.

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Ya Mero! Almost to the Finish Line #52essays2017

 

#52essays2017  46/52

When I asked to be part of the #52essays2017, I thought, “oh it’s gonna be easy as I love to write”, and here I sit with 7 essays to go and, if I look at the calendar, I’m about 3 weeks behind, as we are to submit our entries on Sundays/Mondays of each week.  Some weeks, I’d have blog entries stockpiled because I’d be so inspired, others I’d be trying to find my voice, trying to find something legit to talk about, and then there are times like these, where I’m slammed with projects and trying to find the time to write.

This writing challenge has mirrored my life in a lot of ways. I’ve got goals that I made for myself at the beginning of 2017, some completed, others not. I’ve got a ton of projects for which it is “crunch time”. Lots of things that “need” to get done by December 31st.

I’ve never been a fan of December 31st. I tend to focus on what did not happen, what did not get done, what I was unable to do.  It takes me awhile to get into January 1st too as the upcoming 52 weeks always seem to overwhelm me, so new, so big, what do I hope to accomplish?

This year feels different.   Yes, I’ve got 7 more blog entries to do by December 31st.  Yes, I’ve got a busy month of events that end on December 31st.  Yes, the pressure is on big time to get stuff done.   The difference is that getting it all done somehow feels possible.  Possible because, once I started writing #52essays2017,  I was able to keep better track of my goals and the writing forced me to revisit them throughout the year.   I may have a lot of task-related goals that need to get done but, more important, I was able to work on life goals, things like putting family first, getting some of my demons out of my system, trying to work smarter, not harder.  And looove that I’m sitting in clothes that fit much better and in some cases, are too big.   Before I think I’m all that, my health goal, especially, will remain a priority for me.

I’ve taken my writing much more seriously this year,  I’ve started to own it that I’m a writer.  I’m more confident in my writing and can take it better when I get constructive criticism LOL.  I have my habits:  music opens up the creative side of my mind so 9 times out of 10, I’m listening to music – at present The Beatles blast through my headphones.  I work very well in warm places with good light, a roomy table, and the smell of cafecito so I can often be found at a Starbucks and especially love the ones where they know my name and know what I’m going to order.  I’m still trying to find the best way to write down/record/type out an idea so that I don’t forget it, I still haven’t figured it out!  I am learning how to find that balance of putting it all out there no filter versus keeping it a lil discreet so that I can protect the names of the innocent (or guilty), and to keep some things protected/close to my heart.  And then there are moments like these, when I get inspired when I should be sleeping and I “have” to write.   I’m finding my writing style, “Slice of Life”, it doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me…and I have found that so many folks relate to and have a good laugh -or cry- on some of the things I write about.

I’m very happy that I have been able to be part of #52essays2017 and will celebrate the day that I finish the challenge!  I’ve grown as a writer and as a person…looking forward to more of the same in the upcoming year.

One down, 6 more to go in 2017.  It’s all about accomplishing my goal of #52essays2017.

“Cuidate!” sez Inner Chingona (and Mama)

#52essays2017  45/52

If you could see me now…hair is in complete disarray,  my feet were cold and all I could find was a black sock and a white sock, my clothes look baggy, maybe I’ve lost more weight, I had been unable to keep anything down until today, and it’s been tea and egg/beans in a corn tortilla.  Still weak, and believe it or not, I’m actually way better than I have been for the past couple of weeks.

I’ve never been sick like this in my life, ever.    Started off with a bad sore throat and fever, did I stay home?  No.  Another week passes and I’m still not 100% but there I go, with a cough starting up, still working it.  Cussing myself out because I knew I wasn’t doing the best job in caring for myself, that I was not feeling right, and I hate doing meetings when I’m not at my best.

When the doctor saw me last week, the first thing he said after he put the stethoscope to my back, near my lungs, and asked me what my lifestyle was like, he said that “you have nothing left”, and that I would need to put that phone away (as it was buzzing constantly) and rest, rest, rest, rest and then rest or else I’d end up with full-on pneumonia and in the hospital.    I had a very short burst of energy after I got home from this appointment and then I was OUT.   That was exactly seven days ago.

My dreams (and nightmares) have pretty much been related to all of my projects and work, things left undone, people depending on me.  I’d wake up practically in tears because I was completely unable to do anything, and, as fast as I woke up, I’d be down again and out of it for another 3 to 4 hours.   The crazyass coughing felt like I was getting beat up, little by little.  The fatigue was nothing like I’ve ever felt in my life and I knew, that no matter what was happening in event-land that there was nothing that I could physically do about it — except what I was doing, getting rest.

This is what scared me the most:  that I would stuck in this intense ‘cansancio‘ mode forever.     Thank you JesusLordVirgenOfG, today I was able to get up and stay up, albeit sitting in Mama’s chair watching TV with a blanket and sleeping on/off all day, but I was up – finally. You better know I wanted to clean this house and Dad had to stop me from myself LOL.

As I ease back into my life, I know that I will need to take care of myself as I have taken care of others — I’m deathly afraid of a relapse and found these tips on how to get myself back on track, maybe they’ll help you too:

1. Sleep more than you ever have.

I am talking 10 hours. This is my number one secret — even when you already sick. Seriously, this season, before you go out and by products, pills, medications and so on — start with giving yourself 10 hours of sleep for three to five days. Repeat this once every month. Ten hours (or something significantly more than you’re used to) is great way to give your cells extra repair time and your immune system enough time to recharge. Studies clearly show that sleep deprivation weakens your immune system.

2. Shelter yourself.

If you’re starting to feel run down or sick from stress, crawl into your turtle shell and opt out of all stressful situations for a few days. This holds true for work, home, or physical stress. Your body is telling you that you need to take some time for yourself. The world will not fall apart, and you’ll be stronger and ready to take on more once you’re well. There’s both animal and human studies that show that stressful situations can lower the various arms of the immune system.

3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

Eating a better diet not only helps your body recover faster – it helps build up your immune military so it’s more resilient and dynamic. Specifically, the things that make the most difference: eat more cruciferous vegetables, cut out the processed foods (although it’s still unclear at this point which additives might be the culprit). Last, but most important: cut the sugar.

4. Eat — don’t buy — your micronutrients.

There’s little evidence that popping a bunch of vitamins or supplements with micronutrients helps boost your immune system. I recommend eating micronutrients in whole food form, meaning a lot of vegetables and fruits, or a vegetable juice.

5. Nurture your microbiome.

Good bacteria can be the immune systems best friends and allies in helping protect you from invaders. They work symbiotically with your own immune system. So please refrain from antibiotics (good bacteria killers!) unless it’s absolutely necessary. Eat probiotic foods (but again, supplements have mixed results). Remember, probiotics aren’t only in live culture yogurt; they’re also in kimchee, kombucha tea and natural pickled veggies.

6. Take vitamin D.

This is the one supplement that helps boost immunity. This is helpful in people who are deficient in vitamin D, which is most of us. Vitamin D3 at doses of 1000 IU to 5000 IU is what I take.

7. Consider herbal remedies with evidence supporting their use.

There is ongoing research on vitamin C, aloe vera, astragalus membranes, echinacea, ginseng, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Chinese herbal remedies and many other concoctions that claim to improve immune functioning. however, this shouldn’t be your first line of treatment.

8. Exercise less.

When you exercise too much, especially hard or long cardio-based exercise, you actually weaken your immune system and you’re more susceptible to infections. Combine that with sleep loss and poor diet, and your immune system becomes impaired. The idea is that your body is repairing the inflammation in your muscles, joints, elsewhere instead of doing what it’s supposed to. That’s why taking a rest after intense exercise is necessary.

9. Know when to go to the doctor, and when to stay home.

Online Blog Article:                                                                                                                                                                                                       Shah, Amy, MD.  “9 Steps To An All-Natural Immune System Makeover”. mbg health.  December 2014

 
It’s up to me now.  I may not use all 9 of these tips the first day but I need to handle this now.  I’m too smart to be this SonsaTontaPendeja.  As I sit looking at Mama’s pictures all over the place, I can almost hear her telling me (maybe yelling at me)  that I need to take care of myself.  

What? Que QUE? Car Clutter and Boundaries

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There is clutter all over the place in my world.   Dad is doing some major work in our bathroom and there’s stuff all over the place, the kitchen is still in Thanksgiving-clutter mode, one side of the living/dining room looks like Dad’s workshop has exploded, my “apartment” looks like an event mess – one box, or basket, or bag belongs to one event or another, and my Jeep also has my event stuff and junk all over the place. Es un desmadre.

This is not good.

I almost don’t know where to start clearing the clutter as it feels like it’s everywhere.  So I am going to start with the one place I spend the most time:  my Jeep.

Found some great information in the article, “What Does Your Clutter Say About You?” (TheDailyMail, 20Aug17):

YOUR CAR 

Emotional issue: No boundaries.

What this means: Letting clutter pile up in your car means that no space is left for yourself, however personal — you’re letting things and people encroach on every area of your life. Clutter in the car is often the first sign of feeling overwhelmed, because this should be your own space, not a dumping ground. Ask yourself: are you keeping your calendar full so you can tell yourself you’re too busy to make changes in your life?

OMG.  What? QueQUE? This is not for the faint of heart.  Who KNEW that a cluttered car showed a lack of boundaries, that I have no space or peace because I’m not living my life for me, I’m living it to please others, to put projects and people in front of my personal space and health?  Since August, it has been one project after another after another after another.   It certainly shows in my Jeep – cajas y papeleo por todos lados,  while I feel like tossing it all out, I know that I need to go through it to see what I need.  Things like receipts:  I just remembered that I’ve got my receipts all over the place in one bag or another, and I need these receipts for reimbursements, taxes, etc.  You’re better than this Carmen.

I had also been trying to live healthier and it had worked for a long time.  I’m so off of the wagon that I’ve actually had to go into “one day at a time” mode so that I would take better care of myself so that I do not completely erase all of the good that I did for myself.  Una soda tras otra best describes me this month, yes, I still drink a lot of water but I’m back to Cokes with ice big time thus the clutter of cups with straws all over the Jeep.  Setting boundaries will especially help me in the health area:  making time for exercise, saying “no” to soda, back to enjoying water and the total empowerment of taking care of myself, it’s like I got complacent, no denying that anymore.

I find that, increasingly, I need more and more time to think and strategize and organize my many projects…and THEN, when I have the time, I don’t know what I should think about first so I end up not thinking at all, and not having my necessary personal-strategy sessions…so then I struggle with solving problems, with doing extra work and backtracking because I didn’t think things out.  Making the necessary changes has not happened either.

It’s all about going back to the beginning, starting over, thankful that I haven’t completely messed up but recognizing that I am in danger of reversing all of the good I had achieved for myself.

Maybe occupying your time in this way protects you from taking some risks. If you feel compelled to say yes to everyone who asks a favor, ask yourself why. Learning to sit with the discomfort that may come with disappointing people is crucial to your happiness.

This really makes me mad this minute.  I swore that I was going to have the “huevos” to take care of myself, to ditch the people-pleasing stuff, and to have the courage to put my needs up there along with everything else.   A perfect example was taking an important meeting last week when I was fighting the flu.  While I did well working at about 40% of my energy, can you imagine what I could have done had I been at 100%?

Taking stock will not be easy but it needs to be done, some projects and people will not make the cut and I will need to be ready to face it.   Looks like I still have some work to do.

What to do about it:

1.  Practice setting boundaries by saying ‘no’ in lower-risk relationships; a co-worker rather than a family member, or a stranger instead of your boss.

2.  Working on boundary clutter leads to cleaner relationships, less stress, and deeper connections with the people in your life.

Sometimes you need to get hit on the head by reality.  The clutter in my car brought an issue up to the surface that I had no real clue was going on…until it bit me on the @$$.   This week, day by day, I will work on cleaning the clutter in my Jeep while I work on making boundaries.  The time has come for me to serve order and let order serve me.   I like the fast pace of my life, and working smarter is the only way that I can survive and thrive.

Looking back, I have been struggling with this pit in my stomach for weeks now.  I’m quite relieved that THIS strategy thinking session came down the way it did.   I can change my life … one “no” at a time, and by throwing out the trash!

 

Inner Chingona Visualization: My Event in One Minute, Fourteen Seconds

#52essays2017 42/52

We all have one.  Anyone who plans events as I do has at least one.  That one song that will help you visualize, conceptualize, and see your event happening before your eyes.  I have many songs to walk me through an event:  set-up, event happening, tear-down.   We event folk, those of us who really work it and want to make an event successful, ALWAYS do some type of imagining/thinking about/visualizing…I just happen to work it better to music.

Maybe it’s because I started doing events at such a young age, I was still in the 3rd grade, but, at that age, I was already visualizing what my friends would think about this or that, what would they think of me doing this kind of stuff, how could I put in something they liked, that would impress them, into an event or program.  I trip out on how important working a crowd was to me, even waaaay back in the day.

As the majority of the events that I did (and do) seem to take place outside, the movie taking place in my mind almost always takes place at an outdoor venue.   I tend to respond to Classic Chicano/Latin Rock (Malo, Santana, El Chicano, War, etc.) when I need a soundtrack for my future event.  Usually I’m in my Jeep driving when inspiration really hits and I start thinking about how an event will look, sound, smell, and feel…I imagine who will be attending my event and when they will get there, I imagine how the view will look from the stage, to the stage, everything.

While I have a bunch of songs to choose from when I’m in visualization mode, this song always seems to get me going big-time: The classic “Nena” by Malo.   Once I break it down, you may want to listen to the song as you read this (a second time) so that you may see what I see…

 

Beginning Percussion:  This song starts off with straight percussion and what I see in my mind is the very start of the day, we are just driving onto the site, sometimes we have to drive very slowly through the entire festival site to get to where we need to be, no one is there but the folks unloading their booths, setting up the stage, event barricades just going up, people drinking that first, and perhaps only, cup of cafe for the day.  We finally get to our spot, step out of the vehicles and check out the place…

First guitar riffs:  We are now unloading our vehicles, delivering tables and chairs to clients, helping them set up, getting banners up, setting up sound system, making sure that our tents are set up, getting the backstage and VIP areas set up, we are in serious work-it mode, we are movin’ fast, we are on a deadline…

First horn sounds:  Almost time for “Doors” (for the event to start).  Time to take stock of the entire set-up, are we missing anything, ice?  send someone for ice;  trash cans for the backstage area, send someone to get to the event organizers for what we need, quick check of all of our booths and stage, first entertainers ready to jump on stage,  are we all good to go?

Second horn sounds:  Doors open.  People starting to come into the festival.  Which way do they go?  left to the booths, right to the food booths, straight-ahead to my area, the stage area.   There’s usually a Ballet Folklorico starting things off on-stage, warming the crowd up, we have officially passed GO, the event is ON.  People selling their stuff, people at the door checking thru bags, purses before entry, lines starting to form at the food booths…

The first “Nena” sounds and the remainder of the song:  I envision people enjoying the music, kicking back in the grass and sunshine enjoying their food and hanging out with each other, walking around, the looks of surprise “heeeeey!” before the big hugs after seeing familia and old friends, many now with beer in hand, some dancing going on, lots of folks watching entertainment from the stage, thinking to myself, ‘how can they be out there in this sun?”,  bands coming into the stage area, bands getting off of the stage, us trying to make sure no one makes off with someone else’s equipment, our folks enjoying food in the VIP Area, all going smooth.

The final percussion:  We’re an hour away from the close of the event, people are starting to pack up and go home, final act is on stage, partyers still out en force, booths running out of food, last call for alcohol, we are starting to try to get a head start on getting all of our stuff together ready to pack into the vehicles, and kicking back at the backstage area of the event, happy that all has gone smooth, “man my feet hurt” and doing that loud sighing thing as we sit down, likely the first time we have sat that long all day.  Event day over.

Most of this all happens within the first minute and 14 seconds of the song.  This is all I need to see and hear.  I am no rocket scientist but, if I am unable to visualize any event within 1:14, then it will likely not be a successful one.  Once I’m able to see the event coming together in my mind, I’m able to see the big picture, start getting that energy rolling into the right direction so that I can work out the small details in between the lines.   This formula rarely fails me and my method has helped keep my madness in check, kept me focused, and kept me “on it”.

Find whatever you need to motivate you through an event or a project or a workout or any steps to a better you…if it’s music, you’ll  KNOW when you’ve found the right song or mix because work will not feel like work anymore, it will feel effortless, it will feel like this is that way things are meant to go, it will feel like they will be a success…all it takes is opening your mind, finding your sense of ‘aventada-ness’, and using your imagination.  Try it!

 

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

#52essays2017   38/52

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.

 

Inner Chingona for the Block

#52essays2017  36/52

#52essays2017.    36/52

 

Social media and I have always gotten along.  I love keeping up with people and learning new things.  I’ve never been too “pesada” and gotten into any heavy-duty arguments or anything, I’ve always tried to keep things light.  Sure I love the chisme but I never straight-up wish harm on anyone.  So to see that I had been blocked by a certain person had me doing my ‘QueQUE?’ face?

Why do people block others from their social media pages?

Por pesados.    

Por latosos.

Por drama.

Just like in real life, the instinct is to back off from folks who are ‘pesados‘, that is, super negative, bad attitude-having folks who rub people the wrong way.  “Latosos” are the ones who exist to bug and frustrate you and the world, very stubborn.  “Drama” – putting ALL of their business out there.  I’m of the opinion that some things just do not belong in writing and that includes arguments and stuff like that.  Not attractive.

Add to this list, safety.  If someone doesn’t feel safe on social media, imaginate how s/he will be in person.  As regular readers of this blog know, I have dealt with cyber-bullying/stalking and telling me to “just ignore it” when seeing certain posts and reading sick, filthy, derogatory, demeaning, vulgar, angry, sadistic messages doesn’t work.  They are impossible to ignore and they DO have an effect on you.   And like I’ve also said before, knowing that someone is out there hassling friends, colleagues, and acquaintances is a mind-boggling, embarrassing, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide experience that can sometimes have an even worse effect on you, your peace, and your life.

So to see that I had been blocked by someone, someone I do not even know personally, someone who I’m a fan of, someone whom I’ve never spoken to or written to, really brought me down a few minutes ago.  My mind is going crazy thinking, “how did this happen?” “what exactly was said or sent to this person to make them press BlockCarmenTorres?”

And the minute I ask the question, I answer it as well.  There is only one person who can be pesado, latoso, drama-ridden, and unsafe enough for someone to block him.  Who knows what sets him off?  Who knows why he gives off such negative vibes? Who knows how to make it stop?  I surely do not know.  The saving grace:  the person who blocked me is not really an acquaintance or a friend, therefore we do not run in the same circles, and it is very unlikely that we would ever meet face-to-face.  That moment of “aaay here we go again” and the feeling of dread lasts only minutes now, thank GodJesusVirgenOfG.

Got me thinking that, maybe,  InnerChingona is dodging a bullet for me, a bullet filled with shame, embarrassment, despair, fear, and anger that threatens to throw me into emotional chaos.    That madness has no place in my life now which happens to be filled with positive people, projects, and prospects.  I’ve got to keep listening to InnerChingona so that I’m able to keep my hard-won peace and joy.

If Inner Chingona says “Keep on keeping on, Di No A Las Pendejadas”, then I better handle it, do my part, and listen!

 

 

How Can I Help? Inner Chingona Has the Answer, I Just Know It.

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So much has happened in our country, from disasters natural to disasters straight-up unbelievable.  There is a definite ‘us versus them’ vibe, divisiveness, and negativity seem to be the order of the day.  I try to keep politics out of writing because I do not like to go on and on and on if I don’t feel completely informed.  I really do try to stay informed and I watch a lot of news and also get a lot of my news by listening to You Tube, yes, listening (as I drive) to msnbc, CNN, and other news outlets to see what this Administration comes up with next.   Every Friday night, it seems as if one bombshell or another is dropped.   I love Ana Navarro, she may be a Republican 🙂 but she is one Latina who is fearless and will call anyone out on their pendejadas – Republican, Democrat, and especially anything – policy, executive order, or otherwise, that comes out of Washington.  How I wish I could put it out there for the world as she does.

A lot of what comes out of this Administration is so offensive, it’s straight-up racist and it is so obvious that there is no love or support for my Latino community.  While I don’t expect red carpet service, I do expect fair treatment and it is disheartening to watch every single pillar of civil rights being torn down in front of my eyes, my community is demeaned, discounted, and defeated on a daily basis.  My Dad and I watch a lot of Univision news and, some days, it’s downright depressing:  deportations and discrimination are the order of the day and almost the entire newscast deals with this new, sick, normal. Spanish media HAS to talk about this, because it is rare to see these stories in mainstream media.  No matter how mentally exhausting the news is, I feel that we must not let this fatigue get us down, we must be informed, we must be ready to change the world.

I know that my anger hit the roof when all of the business with the Arpaio Pardon came out.  I’ve been screaming out this question:  WHAT will it take to get the Latino community galvanized, to stand up and fight all of these daily pendejadas?  It’s all around us, HOW can we just sit and take it?  I’m seriously pondering this question because I want to be part of the solution.  It just feels so overwhelming that I have no clue of where to start.   I’m going to start on the things that are important to me.

Culture, Familia, Musica, Art, Food – these have always been what has brought us together and invited others to learn about us.   I’ve always trusted “slice of life” things and values.  There has got be something in there that I can contribute to the world and learn how to change things…I need to keep looking for that little opening of the door, where I can do some good for others.  In order to accomplish this, I have to keep looking inward, keep living life, and looking to my InnerChingona for guidance.  How?  Quien sabe?  The one thing I don’t see in my future is running for office, I’ve always functioned best as an advocate for Latinos, promoting my culture, and things that may not seem heavy-duty to some activists, but that have always been important to me.  Somehow, someway, I will find a way.  Ya es hora.

 

Save money? WHAT money? Tips for Saving $$$

 

#52essays2017  32/52

Dealing with finances has always been stressful for me. I’ve always envied those who could face their money head on and make it work for them. Of all of the Torres5, my little sis is the one who is the most financially literate. One of my BFFs, Angie, is also good with dealing with money and, as I asked her for help in learning how to save and invest my money, I ended up laughing out loud with some of the things she came out with.

All I remember telling her was, “if someone would have broken it down like that to me back in the day, my life would have been totally different…seria millonaria!’

I’m kind of afraid to learn how to save. Especially as I have been living at the bare minimum as I try to establish my business. But as Angie told me, “my mom managed her money really well, y eso que trabajo en el fil!” We all know that working the fields is one of the hardest jobs that exist; field work is also one of the lowest-paid rarely with any benefits. And here we are, making likely more money than field work, and all up in debt.

I was laughing so hard at Angie’s common-sense way of saving and mad at myself because I couldn’t write it all down! (as I was driving), I will present some of Angie’s straight-up saving tips from time to time. You will see that learning how to save money requires commitment to the bigger picture, being there for yourself, not letting yourself down and, more important, living within your means. Aaaay!

It may help you to write out in detail what you want to save that money for: a new car? a house? Pay off outstanding bills? Whatever your goal, write it out. As my business is seasonal, I’m right in the busy season now, and my slooooooow season is during the latter part of the year, so I’ve decided that I’d like to start my 4th Quarter Fund, to help me keep afloat in October/November/December.

Now, you’ve got to figure out how much money you need to survive each month – rent, car, gas, phone, insurance…only the things you need to handle on a regular basis.  Add it up.

After you get your check, pay yourself. Pay yourself, how? Pay yourself the amount that you designated as what you need to live on each month. Any extra amount, even if it’s $5 or $10, start saving it.  You don’t really need it right now because you just paid your bills, right?   This is where the committment comes in.

Angie’s take on the matter – ‘it’s so easy! Look at it this way: I can go to Nordstrom pero tambien alli esta la Ross!’ LOL In other words, economize. You can find cool clothes, housewares, and in my case purses at discounted prices at Ross or Walmart or even the ‘segunda’ (Goodwill). You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of nice things, but ask yourself, ‘do I really need to spend this much?’

Another way to check your spending: get all of the receipts together of everything you buy, and add up those receipts where you bought fregaderas/yonque/juzguerias/stupidass things that you didn’t really need then or now. I did that and found that my receipts showed the following in this order: gasoline, fast food, Starbucks, groceries. Not proud of so much fast food and Starbucks so I now see where I can cut back.

I asked Angie if it gets easier once you start, YES was her answer. The biggest benefit was the freedom from worry, why? 1) Your bills are paid and 2) slowly but surely, you are working toward the larger goal of financial freedom.

TRY it, do it for you, you can get your finances back in order, one coin at a time. We are too smart to be this stupid when it comes to money.

Que QUE? I thought WHERE did this come from?

#52essays2017  31/52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

#3: Grounding techniques

#4: Getting back into your life

#5: Facing your fears

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

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

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

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