A Laptop or A Journal?

 

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Trying to find writing inspiration this week.  Looking through all of my drafts, looking through pictures, looking at books, and trying to visualize life when I’m on a roll, when the words flow through my brain to my fingers flying to the keyboard or to my pen, when I cannot stop, even if I may want to take a bathroom break or take a nap, so not happening when I’m on a roll, as I want to get my ideas on paper before that coveted inspiration decides to move on, leaving me exhausted and breathless.  What works best?  A laptop or a journal?

What I have found, when I’m stuck, is that I need to 1) live life and not worry about writing,  and 2) find one of my current journals.  (I usually have 2 or 3 current journals going at once.)  Most times, I find a cool place (Starbucks, a park, somewhere near the water), I find a comfortable pen, and just start writing.  Once I start writing, I can go on and on for hours and. most times, I write 10 pages or more at a time, back and front.   This is truly when my hand can write out those thoughts that I have been afraid to even think about, much less verbalize them.  When I go back to read what I have written, I’m often surprised/shocked at what I see on the written page.  Some lines are in all caps, complete with cuss words in Spanish, English, or Spanglish when I’m trying to get my thoughts together on an emotional situation, some lines feel like I’m crying the words out and I see a lot of ‘whyyyyyyyy?‘, and the most unattractive sentences are those where I’m straight-up whining and complaining.  Ni modo, when I journal, everything comes out through that pen, all of my emotions fly out, in no particular order.   It’s supposed to be messy, fast, unhinged, chaotic, emotional, sad, slow, happy, proud…as fast as I think it, I write it down.    Writing in my journal reminds me of a therapy session:  where you never know what will happen but it’s usually something that has needed to come up to the surface for a long time.   I’m usually mentally exhausted after a journaling session.  I have tried to journal via laptop but it just isn’t the same.  I like how the pages feel once I’ve written on them, the crispy/crunchy sound of the paper as I turn the written pages, the smell of the freshly written ink, ink spots on my fingers, laughing at the comments I tend to put at the edges of the pages, mostly song titles that pop into my mind as I write, people’s’ names, especially if I need to call or see someone.  If I look at a past journal, it’s the same feeling and sometimes my mouth drops because of something I’ve written in a past entry that has come to pass , this type of journaling is almost like visualization – if you write it down, it does come to pass.  At times, I’m completely humbled when I read an entry in a past journal, if it’s about an issue that has brought me down and is STILL bringing me down now, it’s a huge wake up call for me, depending on how long ago I had written about the issue — that all I’ve done is cry about it and I need to get a handle on said situation and move the eff on LOL.

I call my laptop case my “office” as I work best on the laptop when it comes to work writing:  articles, social media, blog posts, proposals, etc.    I lose patience if I have to write any work things down in a pen LOL!  I need to get this stuff done now not later.  It’s almost the same pace as writing in a journal when I’m on a roll and it feels more organized.  I usually have a list near the laptop of what I need to write so that I can just work it and check it off once done.    When inspiration hits, it’s the same feeling I get as if I were writing on paper with pen.  I love when the words flow out of me and, especially when blogging or updating social media, having access to my thousands of pictures and graphics is great.

Now judging on the size of these blog paragraphs, it is obvious, most def, time for me to write in my journal until I get my writing groove back!

Back On My Own … For A Few Days Anyway #52essays2017


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It’s funny, I’ve been on my own for years, had my own place, paid my own bills, did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, slept all day if I wanted to, be gone for days from my place as long as I wanted to, cleaned it, didn’t clean it, walked around in my bra and ‘chones‘, walked around completely nude, cooked one meal and ate out of the pan or used a tortilla to eat out of the pan, same meal, all day long LOL It took me a long time to feel comfortable living alone, I had always had roommates, ten roommates total throughout the years. I was nervous at first about living alone and then that was it – I loved it.

 

I never thought that I would move back home again – ever.  I have always been one to sleep in my own bed or, at the very least; I always carry my own pillow and blanket EVERYWHERE.  No matter where I stayed, even when I’d come back home, I always had my sleeping materials covered.  My family has always compared me to Linus, the character on Charlie Brown, who always carries a blanket.  Yet, here I sit in my pajamas and bathrobe, at 8:00 at night, on a day where I have not changed out of my pj’s, gone nowhere, and alternated from Mama’s chair to the couch to my bed in the “girls room”, on what has been my most relaxing day of the year.

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Flash back to a couple of years ago, I came over on “my night”, you see, we 5 Torres siblings decided to divide up the week to help care for our parents, and on this night, I could not make myself leave.  My mother, who had been ill for some time and who was undergoing dialysis treatments, was getting weaker.  What hurt me most was not the physical weakness, what broke my heart was the sense that Mama was getting tired of it all.  I thought to myself, I want to make her days/nights easier.  My nights were spent waking up once or twice to check on Mama and on Dad; I could never manage to sleep through the night.  I didn’t have much time to miss my life and my bed.  I think that, during that entire time, I slept in my bed two or three times.  When Mama passed away, we were all so grateful that she was not in pain or distress that she went peacefully.  As a family, we were all completely exhausted, we had all spent the last couple of months completely at Mama’s side 24/7.

 

Fast forward to now, our house is so different now, there are many full-house nights, we host many more family events here at the house than ever before, Dad always has some project he’s working on in or outside of the house, there is music on and this night owl house rarely has lights out.  I finally moved my bed and things into the ‘girls room’, which is now my “apartment”, and while I sleep more, I still wake up at least once per night to check on Dad.  Trying to keep this house up is no easy task, especially, as Dad tends to leave things wherever he leaves them.   I’ve claimed one huge victory by getting Dad to stop throwing paper onto the floor and into the wastebasket LOL.

 

As Dad and the family would be gone for a few days, I was elated to have my life to myself for a few days in a row!  It was if I were going on vacation, what would I do?  Where would I go?  Who would I see?  Or NOT?   Well, the first night, I stayed up writing all night and had my music blasting – just like I spent many nights at my place not too long ago.  As I was battling the flu, I didn’t really do anything but move all of my blankets to the living room couch and spent the next day and night moving to and from the couch and chair, sleeping, watching what I like to watch:  msnbc, Oprah’s channel, chick flicks, and binge-watched TV, puro heaven. With every single nap, every minute spent under the blankets, in my favorite outfit ever, my piyama, watching only the TV I wanted to see, kicking back, I could feel myself getting healed physically, and felt myself coming back together as Carmen, the person, I felt like me, not a daughter or a sister, just me.

 

It was GREAT to be back on my own, even for a few days. Loved being back to cleaning only once (and the house staying clean), filling up a small trashcan only, using one roll of toilet paper the entire time and the kitchen stove getting a break as well LOL. Well, I wasn’t really completely alone, Mama was all up in the mix from her table and I’ll bet that she, too, appreciated the peace, quiet, no-heater blasting, girl time.

 

Make time for yourself, have your own back, spend time with YOU, reconnect with your InnerChingona, get your power back, even if it is for a few minutes on a crazy/busy day!

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My Friday Night Luces

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Fridays.  End of the workday.  End of the Week.  The sunset always looks different to me on Fridays.  As the sun goes down, and as dusk settles in, I love the way it looks when the street lights start coming on when it’s still light outside, the color of the green, yellow and red of the stop lights seem to jump out that much brighter on a Friday.  Friday Night Lights are usually associated with high-school football games and, as I’m not that into sports, my lights are known as FridayNightLuces

As anyone who works in the Bay Area knows,  Friday traffic is usually very heavy, people trying to make their getaway for the weekend,  parents rushing to pick up children and get into their warm homes, folks going out to games, concerts, dinner and more.  The roadways are jammed in all directions and one is always listening to traffic reports to hear the conditions of the road.   I do the supercommute from the Bay to the Valley so I’m always doing the ‘ pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod’ that there are no accidents because then it’s all about grrrrrr! and a parqueadero atmosphere on the freeway.  Most nights, I stop somewhere to wait it out: dinner, shopping, writing.  On this Friday night, however, I had to be home so, ni modo, I had to be all up in that mess.  As I drove, or should I say, as I did the stop and go thing, I started noticing the different types of lights — my FridayNightLuces.

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I first saw the brilliant reds, reds of the hundreds of tailights in front of me.  I knew that I was going to be on the road for a long while.   I then looked into my rear view mirror to see the shiny, bright, lines and lines of white lights of the cars who were behind me on this journey, all trying to move forward.   To my right, on the hills,  I saw the warm, inviting lights of many of the homes and could imagine comforting things:  a fireplace, dinner being prepared, people enjoying a meal around the table or in front of the TV settling in to watch a movie, the sound of a doorbell where pizza was being delivered yay no-cook mode, and, if I looked up and saw second-story lights on,  my thoughts would go to someone getting ready for date night, music playing, a glass of adult beverage nearby, the smell of perfume, smiles as they look forward to the evening.

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I then see the orange-ish color of  lights along the freeway that always reminded me of when I lived in  Denver because I loved seeing the world covered in snow and those orange-colored lights put such a cool glow onto the fallin snow.  The orange-colored lights also took me back to a couple of places where I made out with a certain gentleman LOL for some reason, I could never figure it out, he always found the glow of those lights romantic and there we would end up!

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As I moved farther down the road, I would see the dreaded lights of the sirens which could mean highway patrol – so it was all about get off of the phone LOL! Police in pursuit of someone, ambulance and/or fire trucks – and after doing the sign of the cross because it usually meant someone was injured or in pain.  I would always breathe a “yes!” if the lights were on the other side of the freeway and hope that I wouldn’t be on the road that much longer.

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On this Friday night, I saw the full moon rising.  One of my very favorite lights is moonlight,always has been.  Moonlight on the hills, peeking in through the trees, reflecting on my black Jeep.  On my commutes, I get the privilege of seeing the moon rise and set many times.  I finally stopped trying to take pictures of the moon as I drive because I can never get a shot good enough to do it justice; that, and it drives people crazy that I take pictures as I drive and upload them on the road LOL  The skies were clear so you know that moon gave off an awesome light!  A great view especially when I’m blasting music in my Jeep.

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Two very comforting signs along my commute are as I look to the left, I am able to see the “Jesus Saves” and a huge cross all made out of lights,  which tells me that I’m getting out of the Bay and into the Valley and a few miles later, I love seeing the HUGE American Flag flying in the wind a todo lo que da surrounded by lights – I always feel thankful that I live in a free country and things like that when I see the flag.

By the time I get to the last part of the commute, it’s as if all one sees is the flash, flash, flash of the signal lights.  I hear a lot more honking horns and always joke that this is when the real road rage sets in, when people, me included,  have like HAD it with driving with two hands on the wheel, teeth clenched, stressed because they have to be somewhere.  Me, I have no patience for traffic at night so all I want to do is get off of that road and I can often be heard exclaiming out loud, “que vas a hacer? que vas a hacer? what. are. you. going. to. do? ‘get in there! no ves que te estoy dejando entrar?’  The lights lose their peaceful quality, I actually get irritated seeing the lights when, a short time before, I was completely entranced and lost in thought!

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Once I get to my exit from the freeway and make that left turn down my road to the Ranch, where we grew up with my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins on my father’s side, everything starts to calm down.  I again see the comforting lights of the homes as I go down the road, the lights over empty parking lots at the warehouses near the Ranch and then finally, at the Ranch, I turn into our fenced-off dirt road and smile because, of course,  all of the houses are dark or almost dark, that is, all of the houses except ours, my fam are nite owls.  All lights on, doors open (if it’s not cold), music or TV on, and I will usually find my Dad:  writing, playing guitar, or as I found him on this Friday night, in his chair covered with a blanket watching flamenco guitar videos on “YouTube”  — I then put my stuff down on a chair, smile and think that the light of ‘all is right in the world’ is a great one to come home to.  #52essays2017

 

The Power Of Writing: OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona

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Dad and I have spent all week thrown down sick at this house. All it has been is puro coughing and misery. For the past few days, neither of us had the energy or desire to do anything.   One of things I’ve started to notice is, that lately, Dad and I have the same tastes on lots of things, including writing.  I took these pics of us a couple of weeks ago, he was writing in one room, and I was writing in another. OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona!

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Dad’s been wanting to write his life story and for YEARS, he had been using his typewriter, yes, a typewriter. Well, yesterday, he decides that he’s going to use his laptop to put his story down so that I could review and edit it later. It was transforming. Dad was INTO it, into using the mouse, into learning the keyboard, into putting his thoughts down, sitting down at the table, happy, into it. As it was, after all, the middle of the night, I went in to check on him and almost told him to go to bed and then I stopped myself. I stopped myself when I saw his face deep in thought, eyes glued to the keyboard, I saw “it”. When one is in the I “have” to write mode. Where one is in that zone of pure creativity, on it, focused, working it. Where your fingers are working completely in synch with your mind and where your work is at its most authentic. Maybe when this creative surge is over and we review his work later, we will find that some things may need to be revised or removed, but there is usually always SOMETHING salvageable from creative surges of writing. Therefore, it was very important for me to let him be, to let him finish his train of thought.

I know this feeling well and, for many years, I would suppress my love of writing as something boring or something that people with no lives do. Once I got to that space where I decided it was time to embrace writing, I started making more and more time for it. Now writing is a permanent part of me, an expansion of my voice, much more than a hobby. I think to myself with a lil bit of sadness, “how long did Dad want to write and dismissed it? I also think about Mama and about people no longer with us who left without doing the things that they wanted to do, things that would have made them feel more whole, things that would make them happier.

So now it’s all about me embracing the fact that Dad “needs” his writing as much as I do, maybe more than I do, he’s 81 years young, and he wants to get so much out on paper.   Making things easier for him will be what I am supposed to do, help him work the laptop, teach him Word so that he can save things easier, showing him that the computer is nothing to be afraid of.  I think that it’s fun to be able to share something with my father.

#52essays2017

The ULTIMATE Ten Commandments for Being a Chingona! #InnerChingona Food for Thought.

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I loooooove this!   Especially as I’m always trying to channel my Inner Chingona to work it for me in all aspects of my life.   I decided that I wanted to start writing when I couldn’t find my story in any book that I had read.  One summer, I decided to read books by Latino authors from A to Z:  A lot of the great Latina authors, and some of my favorites, were books I read first because their last names ended in A, B, C:  books by Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, Denise Chavez, and Sandra Cisneros among many others.  Some books were ok, some I didn’t like, most I totally LOVED.

The books I loved best were the ones by Chicana, Mexican-American authors like Ana Castillo, Denise Chavez, and Sandra Cisneros.  In their stories, I began to hear snippets of “my” story, I began to see in writing, in black and white, English and Spanish written together as well as Spanglish — just like I talked all of the time!  When I started to practice writing, I also started to notice that it was easy for me to write as I thought, that it came out ok, that people understood it, that they ‘got it’, that I lost none of the Latina flavor that I loved — and I felt like I was finally home.

While I have yet to read my exact story, probably because I have yet to write it LOL, I was highly influenced by these authors and especially empowered by Sandra Cisneros:  straight-up Chicana, no holds barred, hilarious, insightful, and she wrote about experiences that I had gone thru like moving out of the house without being married…OMG, I was either the first or surely one of the first in my entire familia to do this so who could really understand what that was like?  Sandra Cisneros put it out there and I so related to it.   

One of the things that I try to do with my writing is to be myself, to be as authentic as possible, to embrace the fact that I am not perfect at all, to try to talk about my experiences in the hope that someone will relate to them, find that little pedacito that they can identify with and maybe we can all do great things by channeling our perspective Inner Chingona.

So when I saw the Ten Commandments of Chingonas written by none other than Sandra Cisneros — I just HAD to share it!  Believe me, there are some of these commandments that I must work on more than others!  But, finally, there is a road map LOL.

 

How to Be a Chingona in 10 Easy Steps

  1.  Live for your own approval. Center yourself. Be alone. Create your own space.
  2. Discover your own powers. What floods you with joy?
  3. Find true humility and practice it.
  4. Keep your palabra, your word.
  5. What are you using to cover or mask your pain? Address it.
  6. Your only true possessions are your actions.
  7. Seek forgiveness.
  8. Live in the present moment.
  9. Depression has a purpose if you use it before it uses you. Transform it to light. Compost it through art. If you can’t do it by yourself, see a professional curandera (healer, therapist).
  10. Listen to your body.
    – Sandra Cisneros

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Day 8 of 15 Days of Hispanic Heritage Photo Challenge: Pasion/Passion #HHM15Foto

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The one thing that brings me a lot of joy, brings me a lot of peace, allows me to be creative and inspired, keeps me connected to others in the most positive way, embraces my ‘chismosa‘ side, saves me money on a psychiatrist as it is an excellent form of therapy, and something that has “forced” me to get up out of dead sleep and get out of my comfort zone, something that I “have” to do. My passion is WRITING. The only time that I truly stop writing and lose my inspiration is when I forget to listen to my Inner Chingona. Whether I’m at a laptop, tablet, or writing old-school style with a pen into one of my many journals, I am happiest when I am writing! ‪#‎HHM15Foto‬

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Writing 101 Challenge: Serial Loss

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Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.  This is an exercize on doing serial writing, that is writing about something in a series – so more to come…

 

The negative side of FEAR used to rule my life.  I used to be afraid of so many things, many of these things unknowns or things that hadn’t even happened yet and, there I was, all miedosa/afraid, so many times I would work myself up so much that I became immobile and unable to do anything.  F-E-A-R  Forgetting Everything And Running has done little to help me move forward and achieving any of the goals that I have set for myself.   I am the oldest in my fam so I had really no one before me to show me the way.  I remember my first days in kindergarten, I was so afraid to be without my familia and my sister especially that I was literally sick and cried every day for months.  I remember my kindergarten teacher being so insensitive that I finally stopped talking altogether.  Reports would come in that I was very withdrawn and there was a huge concern as to why I wouldn’t talk in class.  I spent the majority of recess inside as a punishment for not speaking in class.   Once I got to First Grade, it was night and day.  I had a great teacher and, from that point on, no one would have ever believed that I was so depressed and withdrawn.  Although I did do much better, a good part of the fear and the pressure of being the first, the one that had to do well, etc.  stayed with me for years and years.  Living with fear seemed easier at the time…

After many years and some crazy and intense life experiences, it became less important for me to be the example for my siblings, to be the one who always succeeded, to the first at anything.  My years of trying to be perfect were completely out of fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of everything.   My familia, especially, were the ones to remind me that everyone makes mistakes, that I am no different.  That the recent years of bad luck and negativity would only be changed if I lost this crazyass desire to please everyone and to learn how to face life instead of run from it.  Once I learned how to befriend the positive side of fear,  I started to see F-E-A-R as Face Everything And Rise…but this did not happen overnight…

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Writing 101: 3 Important Songs Help Me Commit to a Writing Practice

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The basic unit of writing practice is the timed exercise.

– Natalie Goldberg

Today it’s all about learning how to commit to practicing writing on a daily basis. The goal for today is to write for 15 minutes without stopping as I answer the following question:

 

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

 

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Regular readers of Carmen’s Blog know that I love music! I have put the timer on for this 15-minute writing challenge and I’ll bet I have no problem to talk about music LOL. Should I talk about music in Spanish? music in English? songs that make me sad? happy? creative? motivated?  Music lovers KNOW that the hard part will be in choosing the songs, there are soooo many!

You know that we come from a musical family so we had been around music for our entire lives and were heavily influenced by music from our musician father, and mother whose musical tastes ran the gamut from English to Spanish. So we know all about trios, Javier Solis, Miguel Aceves Mejia, Patsy Cline, Eydie Gorme, Nat King Cole, oldies and some straight-up cool jams like “Tighten Up” , “Groove Me” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” which our Ita loved.   We Torres’ also spent a lot of time with our Grijalva cousins and they, as my brother Marty says, really blew our minds music wize. They loved and exposed us to soooo much music that we still love today.

Song 1: “Don’t You Worry About A Thing” Stevie Wonder

I’ll never forget the first time that I heard this song. We Torres’ were all lil ones then and just learning about what kind of music that WE liked. This was one of the first songs that I heard English words sung, some Spanish words spoken, “todo ‘ta bien chevere”, and this definite and unique Latino vibe. I had never heard the piano played in that riff/melody/progression before and it was soooo cool to instinctively relate to this style of music. It was the first time I heard anything that sounded like salsa in my life. Who knew that I’d grow into this major salsa fan? I wasn’t the only Torres either to love this song, ALL of my siblings love this song. It’s so fun to watch the different reactions from each of us: my brothers immediately start air playing their instruments of choice, keyboards and drums. My sisters get that pout going as they nod their head in time to the music.  I had to call sis LG, accomplished musician and salsa fan that she is, tells me that this very distinctive intro is call a “montuno” piano riff.  I remember this song being one of our Torres Fam Approved Songs then and now.

 

 

Song 2: “El Raton” Fania All Stars

This was probably the first salsa song that I heard and loved instantly. Of course, we heard this song through our Grijalva cousins and I went out and bought the Fania All Stars “Latin*Soul*Rock” Live album.   It was the first time that I had ever heard salsa giant Cheo Feliciano sing and loved that he put in some English into the song as I was still learning how to speak and understand Spanish.  Also, this was the first music in Spanish that I heard that wasn’t Mexican so their accents and phrasing sounded so different how I spoke.  Only years later, did I ‘get it’ that, in this song, that all of the super heavy weights, the creators of modern Salsa, legends were all playing together!   I would listen to the album for hours on end.   I was so young that, by the time I was of concert-going age, the Fania All Stars had pretty much broken up and a lot of these guys were on their own and became legendary salseros in their own right:  Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Larry Harlow, Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, Cheo and of course, my favorite Ruben Blades.  I’ve seen many of these guys in concert but would have LOVED to see THIS particular show all all of them on stage together.  I’ve always been a fan of ‘salsa dura’, this type of salsa is so on the beat, solid, not too slow if you want to dance, with very tight musical arrangements.   I’m a huge fan of the vocalists especially and love to hear the inventive ways that they work it singing lead and with ‘coros’.  Fania All Stars’ music still stands up after all of this time and is also on the list of Torres Fam Approved Songs.

 

 

Song 3:  “The Golden Time of Day”  Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

Love love love this song!  I got to know Maze’s music years after it came out.  My siblings knew and loved all of their songs and sis Kiki, especially, loves her Frankie.  The one thing that I always got from this music was that it was ‘groovin’ music to chill out to while at home or in the yard, music to cruise to, music to party to.  Being an event planner, I had always envisioned a huge outdoor event where people were kicking back having a good time.  But, once I got into the words of the song, I really started to LOVE it.   I love this time of day, the sun really is golden, it starts cooling down if it’s been hot all day, the world starts winding down and relaxing.  So much of my life has revolved around events that end around this time of day, so I can usually be found driving home during the golden time of day.  I cannot tell you how many gorgeous sunsets I’ve been able to experience at the wheel of my Jeep – it’s the absolute perfect way for me to wind down!   I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert and, there is nothing like being there to experience “The Golden Time of Day” LIVE…to see thousands of people groove and sing the song word for word is amazing, now I know that I am not the only one who loves this song!

 

Ok, so it’s been about 20 minutes since I started this post and my hands hurt LOL but in a good way…I love music and I love talking about music!  I’ve attached videos of my three song choices – hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

>>>WHAT THREE SONGS DO IT FOR YOU?????

 

 

Writing 101 Challenge Day 2: A Room with a View

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A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

– Joan Didion

 

Regular readers of my blog know that I am always in search of finding my Inner Chingona — inner peace if you will. Sometimes it is much easier to find myself, or better yet, hear myself in certain places. Day 2 of Today’s Writing 101 Challenge is to describe such a place…

The most relaxing places for me are always around the water. Crazy since I never learned to swim!  Water feels so cool, cool water that refreshes instantly upon touch.  When it’s hot outside, running my hands through water, splashing it onto my face, throwing my shoes off to put my feet into the water, love it!

A few years ago, I had just moved back to California and was going through an incredibly stressful time readjusting and read that getting out in nature would settle my nerves and relax me.  I remembered from my time in Colorado that the views were so incredible.  I used to say that it was hard to have a bad attitude when surrounded by beautiful scenery.   As I drove, I would look up and see the awesome snow-capped Rocky Mountains daily and my attitude would be placed in check.

Upon returning to California, I had still not found anything in nature that had the same effect on me as Colorado had.  So one day I was working and decided that I had to get out of the office for a while.  I wanted to find nature so I looked online and found that there was a beach close by.   Ok, so how to get there?  Public transportation was not an option as I only had a limited amount of time.  Driving there?  I was nervous as I hadn’t been in San Francisco that long and to get in the car and drive across the city in the middle of the day was daunting.  Especially in the beginning, as I seemed to get lost, really lost, every time I got into the car.

But off into the car I went, directions in hand, both hands on the wheel, and excited as I started this new adventure.   Although there was really only one way to head to the beach, I went off of my directions so that I wouldn’t get lost.  Finally, I see the sign with an arrow pointing toward the beach.  It was a long street to the beach and, every time I got to a stop sign or stoplight,  I would think to myself, ‘am I going the right way?’  At one of the stop lights, as I look up, and I think I see the beach.  As I’d never driven toward a beach, I didn’t know what to look for.  I was still far enough away that it was like I was looking into an illusion.  What did I see?  It looked like the blue sky and the water merged to form this awesome blue wall.  I remember saying, ‘wow’ and could feel my heart pounding as I got closer and closer.

I could now smell the beach air and could see the waves moving back and forth as I drove closer to the beach.  You better know that I wanted to jump out of that car and run to the water but there was so much traffic.  Finally, I get to the beach, park the car, and realize that I am so not dressed for the beach and had no towels, blankets, or anything to sit on but I did find a book, some chanclas/flipflops, and my music — threw it all into a bag and walked onto the warm, dry, sand toward the water.  The sand was so heavy that I couldn’t run it at first.  Once I got close to the water, I threw my bag down and, once I felt the water flow over my feet, I was instantly calmed.  I stood there for a very long time letting the waves soothe my feet, my nerves, my stress, and my bad attitude.   The sound of the waves began to lull me into a pleasant trance as well and wouldn’t you know it?  I could actually hear myself THINK!

After sitting there for a while, I decided to go for a walk before heading back to the office.  I put the music on and off I went, as I looked back, my car was farther and farther away and I was having the time of my life.  After walking and walking, I turned back toward the car and was amazed to see that I had walked really far and the time had passed, so much so, that it looked like the sun was going down!

I got to witness an incredible sunset on the beach that day and, by the time I got back into my car, my attitude had completely adjusted, I was calm, relaxed, and ready to finish my work projects before I left for home that night.    On this day, I lost one of my chanclas and found my inner Chingona for the first time.   I remember making a promise to myself as I drove back into the City, that I would visit the Beach as much as possible.   I now have a bunch of places I love to walk near the water but this beach remains one of my favorites because it was the first of many escapes — OCEAN BEACH in San Francisco…

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Writing 101 Challenge Day 1: Unblock the Mind

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Writing Challenge Day 1:  This entry may not be that organized as my assignment was to Unblock the Mind and to write, just write, for 20 minutes without stopping.  Looking forward to having fun

Today is my first day of Writing 101, where I will be challenged daily to stretch my writing capacity.  What do I  want to learn from this challenge?  I would like to be able to write cleverly and more concise, so that not everything sounds like a rant or a journal entry.  I like to keep journal entries and rants in my personal journal where I write it out in my hand and write out my stress, sadness, joy, etc. until my hand gets tired.  I’ve been so amazed to see the power of writing things down.  Many times, I’m all caught up in the emotion of the moment and I forget what I wrote, it’s like I just needed to release the stress, then I look back and read past entries and am stunned to find that I accomplished this or that goal.

I’ve also been trying to take my writing more seriously and, after a period of writing nothing for months, I now have designated a ‘writing day’ for myself.  I’ve done what I call “copy days” for years in my job — copy days are the designated days that I try to write all of the commercials, promotional announcements, web updates, social media posts, etc. that I need to submit for the week.   I found that once I designated a copy day, that my week was much more efficient and I was able to handle the mountain of other tasks and, as one of my assistants told me once, “no matter where you look in that case, there is always work” referring to my work briefcase.

I would love to be able to translate the excitement that I have for writing into other areas of my life.   Once I start writing, off my fingers go on the keyboard and, the next time I look up, like 3 hours have passed!   For years, although I loved writing, I would discount it, saying to myself that it wasn’t really about anything, that I had more important things to do, that it was boring.  Then I realized that I was seeing the task of writing through others’ eyes, or what I assumed that they thought about writing.   Now it’s so different.  I can actually feel when it’s time to write, it’s like I “have” to write, I guess that means that I’m finally listening to my Inner Chingona voice.  Writing was the first way that I could truly hear myself, what I was thinking, what I want, what I need.  Now it’s all about fine-tuning my passion for writing so that I can learn to develop my writing and take it to the next level.