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.

 

Advertisements

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.

#52essays2017  33/52

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.

 

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

 

#52essays2017   30/52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Have Nothing, Yet I Have Everything

#52essays2017  26/52

When I arrived at the grocery cashier to pay for my items.  I had cash, but not enough to pay for the groceries.  I needed like $10 and change that would be charged to my ATM card.    And then, just like that, my ATM card was declined.

Luckily, I ended up having cash in my purse.  That was GodJesusVirgenOfG working it for me.  As I left the store with my groceries, I was calm on the outside.  On the inside, a war was raging.  I was near tears…of embarrassment, anger, frustration.  Oh and I did that feeling sorry for myself thing too.   Whyyyyyy?  Again?  You name it, I thought it.

However, by the time I arrived to the Jeep, my fit was over, I remember hitting the steering wheel a couple of times to get out the remaining rage and then I was done.  It was time to have my ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment.  I turned on my music and Sting’s song “Fragile” comes on, perfect song to get me thinking.  Granted, “Fragile” deals with the destruction of our planet, and my issues are but a speck on the face of the earth.  Somehow this realization makes my dilemma more manageable.  I have been thinking for the past couple of hours now, as I cooked dinner for Dad in this super-intense heat, kept repeating the song, I sweated out my rage, and willed myself not to take out my mess on my Dad.  You’ll be proud of me, I did not yell at him at all.   Now as I sit here writing, barely two hours later, ready to connect with JesusGodVirgenOfG to help me out of this desmadre, I’m proud of myself that I have taken more responsibility for my fit-throwing life and, at this moment, I know only one thing:  I have nothing, yet I have everything.

I don’t remember being this financially challenged EVER.  I also don’t remember being this CALM about it either.  When I decided to live my life “freelance” style,  I was nervous.  Gone was the security, gone was the majority of my disposable income, but, happily, gone was that gnawing feeling that something was either left undone or not done right at all after a weekend of events.  In my business, something seemingly innocent like finding pictures of a banner not hung just so was cause for straight-up alarm and could make my Mondays feel like I was being rolled over on coals of fire and could convert a perfect event into the latest nightmare.

Best decision I ever made?  As pobre as I am at this moment, I believe I made the right decision.   My personal drama made it necessary for me to step back from my industry, and, once I had a summer completely off, where I no longer had to work every single weekend, every holiday, and arrive late or miss events with my family, I knew that GodJesusVirgenOfG had put the more important things of life in front of my face:  familia, friends, writing, rest, and relaxation.

I tell my media and event colleagues that I am not the Carmen of back in the day:  the one who SLEPT at work, living and breathing events 24/7 to make events happen.  Don’t get me wrong, I can and do kick ass at the events that I choose to work on, I will never lose that competitive drive completely I guess.  However,  I also remember the Carmen who would work when she was beyond exhausted and almost drove off the Sunol Grade before she, thankfully,  woke up, I remember having to make the very painful decision to leave one job after another in search of my peace.    Little by little, I’ve reconnected with my familia/friends and now live a relatively peaceful life.

Now that my priorities have completely changed, I still need to be able to get over myself and re-do my financial life.  First,  I am done screaming ‘SonsaTontaPendeja‘ at myself – there is no way that I have been the first (or the last) person to have an ATM card declined.  Second, I gain nothing by blaming others for my lack of feria.  Third, it is essential that I get my sense of aventada-ness and hustle back front and center and do what I have always done:  worked it from the minute I put it in writing.   This is not the place for my InnerChillona…it is time to completely work it as my InnerChingona would do.  Find income. Invest in my future. Create more savings. Keep Working That Budget.

My business is seasonal.  As I have no millionario or sugar daddy waiting in the wings with a bolsa de dinero (cash), it is imperative that I get back on my own two feet in order to survive today as well as the slow period (November thru February).  I am intelligent, resourceful, with marketable skills that would be an asset to many.  Now I have to get my huevos together and these suggestions have helped me… maybe they’ll help you as well.

From Ginger Dean, Founder of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Funds’

How Do I Get Back And Stand On My Two Feet? 

Self-sufficiency is sexy.

Go back to school. Start there. Did you finish college or high school? Do you want to go back to graduate school? What are you passionate about that requires a degree or certificate? Do you need to go back to school? These are all questions that you have to ask yourself if your path to returning to the work force involves going back to school.  For me, it’s all about closing the circle:  Passing the State Interpreter Exam and I have already started researching getting a second BA Degree in Spanish from all of the units that I took at SFSU for Interpretation and Translation, I also want to take some basic design classes to keep up with the young uns in Marketing.  

Start a business. Along the same lines of going back to school, what are you passionate about? Do you see a need in the market that hasn’t been filled? How can you work to fill that need while creating income for yourself? This can include producing your own stuff to sell on Etsy or Ebay as well.  My ideas are good, my ideas fill a need, a lot of this is already in progress, now it’s get the hell out of my own way and really make this happen.   This is the scariest part of moving forward, because there’s nothing left to say, it’s time to work it.

Renew or update your skills. If you’re in a field like myself, then you’ll need to make sure that applicable licenses or certifications are always up to date as allowing them to lapse costs more time and money. Talk to the licensing or certification board within your field and find out what you need to do in order to maintain your skills in this area. If you plan on applying to jobs that require a license or certification then you’ll need to make sure this is up to date. Attend workshops and conferences in an effort to remain up to date with the current trends in your field as well. This also gives you the opportunity to network with others.  My goal of passing the State Interpreter Exam is still very much real and I’ve now added other skills and licenses/certifications that I will need in order to become competitive in my own business.  Pobre or not, I am willing to invest in my new future.

Find Your Sisterhood of Success AKA “Personal Board Of Advisors”

Who supports you professionally when it’s time to make hard professional decisions? Do you have a group of women or even one woman who you can turn to? I take that back, it doesn’t have to be a woman. Anyone who supports you and is able to provide professional guidance will do.  Women are more successful when they have mentors guiding them both personally and professionally. Especially when women mentor women. Great things happen!  This one I loooooove!  I’ve had what I call my Personal Focus Group for years… tons of friends/colegas who are experts in my industry, good friends, in business for themselves, and my badasses who work it Corporate America, Government, and the Latino community.  I’ve also started reaching out to those who can help me as I navigate my way to my new future.  

All of the above is true investment in my future which will require un chingo de hustle and all of the confidence that I can muster.   Can you believe that I actually had a conference call for another contract after my ATM declined, a sign for sure…it may be just what I need right now and the only way that I will know for sure is to put my butt right back out there and pray that JesusGodVirgenOfG see things my way.

Sometimes it take losing everything to realize that all is not lost, even though, at this moment, I have nothing (material), yet I have everything  – family, opportunities, creativity, and dare I say it, confidence.

It’s about time.

Confidently working toward that day when the ATM always goes through LOL.

 

 

Chasing the Blue Amongst The Clouds

 

#52essays2017  24/52

 

What a great feeling.  It’s like all of the stars line up, all of your ducks are in a row, all is as it should be. all is perfect, everything is crystal clear, there is a reason for this madness, you understand everything.  For a split-second.  And then it all comes crashing back to you, all of your fears, all of your mistakes, all of your regadas, all of your pendejadas, all up in your face.  You feel defeated, like you’ve taken 10 steps back, you’re angry, sad and mad all at once.

As I was driving home a couple of weeks ago, I experienced this exact same sensation.  I remember that it was a cloudy afternoon and my eye focused on the part of the sky that had broken free from the clouds, where you could see the blue of the sky piercing through the gray clouds.   When I looked into that blue spot, it was as if a part of my heart opened up, the purest part,  the part that was open to new experiences and the part that did not allow me to hold myself back, the part where I was unafraid.  It was as if I was thinking in overdrive:  I started thinking of and seeing Mama, happy and alive, seeing my family members and friends happy and productive, myself fearless and working toward my goals, I could even hear music in that blue sky, and it was like all of these happy feelings were swirling around in the sky, happily blending together.  I was even crying tears of happiness and all felt right in my world.

And then I stopped looking at the blue sky and it all faded away.  Try as I could, I was unable to get that feeling back again.  It was like I got afraid, afraid to see what life would be like in that swirl of happiness.  I totally got into my own way and messed things up big time.   Now I’m trying to figure out how to get back to that place.

As I don’t feel like super-analyzing this experience today…I’ll just let my InnerChingona give her two cents on this moment:   While I’m getting better, I’m not there yet, it’s very hard for me to trust anything new, no matter how positive it is and no matter how much good it will do for me.   I’ve got to keep working on staying the hell out of my own way and just let things be!  I need to handle this mess before moving on the next phase in my life.

That I was able to have a glimpse, albeit a small glimpse, into what my life can be motivates me to keep working at getting this heavy desmadre of baggage out of my way so that the blue sky does not fade away when the clouds of life appear, and you know that clouds will always come back.  I also like that I have finally been able to see the blue through the clouds, even for a few seconds.

It has been a long time.

Challenge Yourself Out Of The NoLonjaZone, Phase 1

#52essays2017  22/52

I am on Day 21 of a 30-Day Health Challenge.  The goal is to live healthier and  since May 15th thru June 15th, I am drinking no soda, 1 gallon of water per day, 20 minutes of exercise a day, no emotional eating, that is – eat only when hungry, and to try to do one plank for 30 seconds per day.

How has it gone?  It hasn’t been as bad as I thought.  I’ve been walking every single day, I’ve been able to cut down my emotional eating dramatically and actually started to wait for the hunger pangs in my stomach, I tried doing the plank thing for one day and never went back to it LOL.  What I have done instead is do the jump rope, squats and I’ve actually r u n.   The difficult days to work out have been the weekends – this family always seems to have something planned and I have not been that great at managing my time in that regard.   There have also been days when I would be waaaay pissed off because I did not want to work out … but once I would get done with it, I always felt better.

What have I learned so far?  I feel better.  I have been sleeping better.  I have discovered what my weak spots are food-wise, I find that by getting folks to do the challenge with me has kept me motivated and sharing my stories has actually kept me more accountable.   The water has me constantly in the bathroom LOL but I do feel much healthier.  One of my favorite drinks has always been ‘coca con hielo‘ aka a Coke with ice.  It was getting to the point that I had to have at least one with ice daily and I still miss this, especially about 3pm, hey, some people want cafe, I want ‘coca con hielo’.  The ONE weak spot that totally surprised me was that I crave chocolate ice cream like 24/7, maybe it’s a hot-weather thing  but that struggle is real LOL.

Love it that there is a team committed to doing this challenge, some on social media, and the ones who work it via text messages.  Either way, it’s very cool that I am not alone in this challenge.  Also, that I report on my progress daily, no matter how embarrassing, has really been the key to keeping it up.    It’s only a start and, if I make it through this challenge, I will get on another one, it’s time to stop giving power to my insecurity, to silence the voices of those who do not support me, and to embrace living a healthier life – which, by the way, came in handy yesterday when I took a bunch of my godchildren to the beach, including my 2-year old bebitas.  I had more energy and was able to go up a steep shortcut path made of sand without breaking my neck LOL.

At this point, the only thing I can suggest is that you do what you can, when you can and that this is only a start.

The journey continues to the No Lonja Zone. (Lonja = MuffinTop = Gordita-Ness).

The Comadre Chronicles: This Reina Has Her Own Back! #52essays2017

#52essays2017   18/52

I was hanging out with my BFF Comadre last night and, like many of us girls do, we were looking at how the other women in the place were dressed and doing that side-glance thing to each other and saying things like ‘mmm hmmm’ or ‘I don’t know about that dress’, and things like that.   Now my Comadre and I have not ever been been 100% slim in all of the years we’ve known each other so we didn’t really have room to be talking about folks LOL.

Let’s take the story back a few years.  Back in the day, I was in my first semester of college and I wanted to do what I always do:  get involved in clubs and campus events.  When I met MariaLuisa, it was obvious that she was one of the most popular people on campus, she knew e v e r y o n e.  I felt really intimidated by her because, by all accounts, I was very much a square.  Carmen wore socks with skirts, braids in my hair, no makeup, and I knew almost nothing about life and I did not feel very popular.   Fast forward a few years, we ended up roommates when we went on to the University.   I was so glad that I had someone to hang out with as I started a new phase in my life.  While it was always easy for me to make friends, I was beyond amazed at how my Comadre really worked it with people, by the end of the week, this girl knew half the school and had invites to all kinds of events and parties.

I had never lived anywhere but on the Ranch and, once I stopped being all homesick and miedosa, I started to have a lot of fun and was waaay into clubs and events.  My Comadre was great at encouraging me to live my life and to remind me that “this ain’t the Rancho, girl” LOL.    Every morning, my Comadre would make me LOL when she would look in the mirror and say, “chingao, que buenota eres!” as she blew a kiss into the mirror.  It didn’t matter to her that she was not flaquita, girl embraced her curves.  This was the greatest affirmation ever and I began to understand how she was always so popular, why guys were always after her, why she was so much fun.  She loved herself, and not in that conceited way, she knew how to be there for herself.

As roommates do, we held many long talks about life and when my Comadre told me this story, I admired her all the more.

When my Comadre was in high school in Coachella, she was all into school events (surprise, surprise) and Student Goverment.  As she tells it, she was very into school spirit and had a ton of friends.   Around Homecoming time, the students were nominating girls for Homecoming Queen and my Comadre, as a member of Student Government, was assigned to go around to classes to pick up the completed nomination forms.  “As I went from class to class, picking up the slips, I would look down and see my name and I thought “no, someone is playing a joke on me.” Mary says she finally stopped looking at the notes and, after collecting them all, turned the votes in to be counted.

The most vote-getters would be announced at a Pep Rally with the entire school present.  There would be five finalists announced.  Mary was her spirit-crazy self, having a good time with her schoolmates.  “And then they called the final name, and it was ME.  I could not believe it!”  My Comadre remembers that, when her name was called, that there was a huuuuuuge cheer from the students, but she decided that she wasn’t going to think twice about it.

“I remember that my Mama made me a really nice green velvet dress and, the night of Homecoming,  I remember getting into the convertibles to drive into the stadium thinking that this was fun and that things would be back to normal soon.”   The time had come to make the announcement for Homecoming Queen and Mary remembers, “I kept hearing the other girls’ names being announced as runner-ups and thinking ‘no way I’ll win’” Finally, it was time to announce the Homecoming Queen and HER NAME was called!

How exciting!  As she got up into the convertible again to be driven around the stadium, my Comadre remembers waving to all of the groups of friends including the cholas LOL  this girl, crown and all, starts doing chola poses in front of these girls to their great delight.   How cool was that?   When the time came for pictures, the four statuesque runner-ups towered over Queen Mary and then they did something unforgettable:  they walked away from this queen, choosing not to stand with her, stunned that this short gordita could actually WIN as Homecoming Queen,

My heart broke a little for my Comadre when she told me this.  But then I thought about how Mary has always been true to who she is:  she may have never been tall or thin but that never stopped her – ever.  My Comadre has always carried herself like a queen, a ‘reina‘, she has always been able to find that little piece of self-esteem when she’s needed it to keep moving forward, and girl talks to anyone, anywhere, anytime, she is the definite life of the party.  One of the things we both have fun with is when the beautiful model-type girls look at her, mouths open in wonder when the guys gravitate toward her- and this happens to this day.  While Mary was momentarily hurt that those Homecoming Court girls would not stand by her, she took what she learned from this experience and she always says that there’s room for women of any sizes a n y w h e r e, and that you should never let your size get in the way of anything you want to do in your life.   I’ve always loved being her friend and have always said that we all need a friend like my Comadre:  her sense of aventada-ness is second to none, her mevalemadre attitude is front and center, she is the most fun and authentic person I know who embraces her gordita-ness and doesn’t let the flaquitas get her down.  I still watch her and learn how to act from Queen MariaLuisaArceFelix!

At this writing, I’m still searching for a Homecoming Queen pic of MariaLuisa and will post as soon as I find one!

#52essays2017