Aaay! The Showers of Change

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This happened earlier tonight:

“The time has come to change Mama’s shower curtain. Tried to find something Daddy would like. As I was looking, I started telling the señoras working there what I was doing and, like true Latinas, they do that “aaay” thing, hug me and tell me their stories of throwing things out/saving things that their parents left behind and we were all almost crying. It did feel nice to be completely understood tonight.”

It’s a kinship borne of sadness, bittersweet memories, of feeling like there’s a hole in you – some days, it feels all-consuming, others it’s more of a dull ache.   And then when you finally are able to laugh, feel happier, able to move forward from your loss, you still miss them.    Once you lose a parent, you 100% understand what a person is going through when their mother or father passes.   No words are necessary.  And, yes, you really do feel that “aaay” in your heart when you know that someone has lost their parent!

It’s so hard for us to throw any of Mama’s things out sometimes.  I had to text the Torres5 to gently let them know that we would be changing the shower curtain, I feel like, if I don’t tell them or “ask” their permission to make changes, that Mama won’t be right with it either.  And knowing my mother, she would be all for my changing the shower curtain.   Her shower curtain had circles of green, blue, and lavender so I chose more “guy” colors – black and gray with his own circles.  Dad really liked it.   Even though I feel like “aaay”, it really is time and Dad has really been working on beautifying our bathroom lately so he’s excited to change-up the look of the place.

Dad is so funny.  Right away, he starts working on one of his “home-improvement” projects and typical me, “OMG Dad, que haces?”.  Turns out he’s making me a little shelf for me to put my “jabon” on, a soap dish, that no one else can use.   Big smiles that remind me how blessed I am to be able to enjoy the simplest things in my life with my father, that it’s sometimes OK to move forward and keep living life.

We all do change in different ways, at different levels, on different timelines.  Sometimes, those “aaay” moments are a good way to track your progress (or not), the “aaays” certainly keep you honest and, if you’re lucky, you are able to feel your feelings instead of backing them up, holding them all in.  What a relief to be able to feel sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty, pain, loss, blessings…isn’t it funny how a simple shower curtain or a soap dish can change your outlook on life?

To be able to share your “aaay” moments with people who understand is even better.  Thank God for those women in Walmart who “got it” and helped me see that, sometimes, change is a positive thing for me, for Dad, for my siblings, and for Mama.

 

Mike Torres, my father, working on my soap dish for my “jabon”… aaay!

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Ya Mero! Almost to the Finish Line #52essays2017

 

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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)

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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!

 

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 $$$

 

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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?

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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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just My Imagination? O que?

#52essays2017   28/52

“You will never leave where you are until you decide where you’d rather be” –Dexter Yager.

Great quote. Once I read it, all I could say was ‘yup’.

I spent so much time moaning and groaning that I wanted to make a change in my life for so long and that’s where it ended. I decided to open up my mind a little and imagine what my life could be like. There’s no way that I was going to be destined to feel as if I were a failure because of bad judgement or stupidass decisions.

I’ve been reading “Imagine Big” by Terri Savelle Foy. I really like her exercise for starting your new life. Live as if you already have everything you want, write down 20 things that you want to do, be or have. I’ve only gotten that far in the book 🙂

Last night, I decided to write down my 20 things…it turned into 30 and, even then, I thought of a couple more as I was on my drive home. It’s funny, I started out very brief, ‘I want to pay my bills’ and at the end I had such detailed descriptions of what I wanted. It was very liberating to write all of this stuff down and, as I looked back on it this morning, I saw that if I changed the order a little bit, that I could see a road map for my life.

For so long, I could not visualize past my own four walls. I was existing and letting life happen to me – well, regular readers of this blog know what a straight-up disaster that turned out to be. I’m grateful that I have been able to get back into the driver seat of my life.

You become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. –Dr. Gail Matthews, Dominican University

Writing goals down is so powerful.  Thinking about them can overwhelm and sometimes leave you stuck.  Writing starts the ball rolling, opens up your brain, and moves you into action by setting goals.   I journal a LOT and, from time to time, I go and read past entries, and I’m always stunned when some of these goals actually happen!  It’s like I write down what I want or need and GodJesusVirgenOfG and the universe conspire to help me fulfill these dreams.

Try it.  For the next 7 days, find a journal, laptop, piece of paper, and write down your goals/dreams in 4 key areas of your life:

  1. Health & relationships
  2. Love & relationships
  3. Vocation
  4. Time & money freedom

Remember to think as big and bold as you like, write down what you would love to happen, not what you think you can have or what seems possible now, open your imagination, no matter how crazy it sounds.

Things may not change right away but the one thing that WILL change is you.  You will have a clear set of goals and dreams and you begin to have a stake in your own future, you start being aware of opportunities in front of you, your focus starts to get more serious than just randomly thinking about what you want.

I noticed the difference RIGHT away, so many opportunities for me to think about that it’s almost overwhelming.  I know that I will not be able to do everything and that it will be hard to let some things go but where, only a few short months ago, I was hopelessly stuck in ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ and ‘I can’ts’, it is great to know that there is life after sadness and that it’s up to me to do my part to make it happen.

I just wrote down my goals last night so it’s too soon to share them with anyone but it will be fun to look back at my journal and see that I have finished what I started!

 

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.