One Step At A Time

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave 8/52

So blessed to have a full life.  The past 6 weeks, however, have taken their toll on the little time that I spend on myself, to get myself in order.   While I have no regrets on things that I’ve taken on:  taking Interpreting classes, taking care of my lil nieces on weekends, trying to make a lot happen with not enough staff, etc.  I noticed that my attitude was not right:  impatient, tired, irritable, tired, overworked, tired.

While I don’t want to stop doing what I do, I do know that I want to work smarter, not harder;  to take time for myself as I strive to complete life goals; to admit when I’m tired/burnt out instead of acting like I should handle it all asi nada mas, to make my self-care a daily part of my life. As I work my way out of the quemada/burn-out zone, I decided that, no, I didn’t have to follow ALL of the tips I find on taking care of myself all at once, so I decided that I would try to handle ONE of them within the next month.

In no particular order, here are 3 self-care tips that I’d like to learn more about:

Don’t Give Up The Time You Set Aside
No matter what your profession, you should keep boundaries to preserve your work-life balance. Blocking time on your calendar to decompress is only half the battle: actually utilizing that time for personal care is the other. Hold yourself accountable to keeping the time you set aside for yourself. If you slip, then learn from the moment, reset and restart. – Tracy Avin, MBL Benefits Consulting >>It could be walking for 20 minutes a day to writing in my journal to drinking water, algo es algo.

Leverage Your Commute Time To Decompress
As much as we all want to carve out time for ourselves, the reality is we often get pulled in a different direction given the demands of our everyday lives. One thing I can always count on in my day is commute time. Instead of driving, I take the bus and use the time to relax by reading or listening to music. Our Microsoft CFO, Amy Hood, openly talks about how she takes the bus and does this, too. – Rakhi Voria, Microsoft >>One of the reasons I love taking the train so much,  I don’t have to deal with the traffic mess — Iately, it’s been watching YouTube and taking naps LOL

Follow The Two-Minute Rule
David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done, explains the two-minute rule. It simply states that if a task takes less than two minutes, then do it straight away. This eliminates procrastination, which reduces stress and allows you to stay organized, which grants you time to decompress at the end of the day. Practicing this rule will surely provide you with personal balance. – Dane Matheson, Sourcebits  >>This is one I will try ASAP, I want to see how much more I can get done in one day!

I guess I’m tired of being tired.  Ready to learn how to make positive changes.  It all starts with one step.

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In 2019 Hay Comida En Casa

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave2019  4/52

 

When I first saw this ‘advice’ on my social media, I had to laugh because who hasn’t heard this in one language or another?  “We have food at home”, I know that I heard this many times come out of Mama’s mouth.  Then later, as I was going through my receipts and bills, I thought of this again and really thought about it:  a big chunk of my receipts, and I always have a mountain of receipts, were for a coffee here, un McDonalds alla, and on and on.  Not only did I need to rethink my food spending, I could probably save a good chunk of money and live a healthier life by taking advantage of the fact that “hay comida en casa“.

Something clicked in me in that instant, and I decided that, yes, I had complete control of everything that goes into my mouth.  I also cook for Dad a lot as well.   We could both benefit from eating healthier and, what if something happened to either of us?  Something that would make a doctor tell us “this is it, if you continue eating this or that, you will die”.   I had heard of a friend’s wife being told something similar, that she would have to change her eating habits that second or she would die.

I noticed that I had begun to eat emotionally.   I remember going home after an emotional day and chowing down.  I didn’t even enjoy it.  Then there was the day where I had gotten it into my head that I needed to have chocolate every day, bought a candy bar, which I didn’t really even want, and ate it, so unsatisfying.   And THEN, because truth does not lie, I saw a picture of myself and I look like I swallowed a giant ball, lonjas for days.

After seeing the picture, I realized that I hadn’t felt healthy for a couple of weeks.  That something had really been on my mind bothering me during this time, didn’t think “I should call someone and talk this out”, no, it was “I need to make some guacamole”.   I hadn’t been checking on myself lately.  Taking care of myself had become a battle with my sick ‘woe is me, no one checks on me either’ mind.   My lack of self-care was showing (literally) and, after I realized it, it was ‘ON’.  That day, I even wrote in my journal, “this is IT, there has to be another way”.  I started listing the things that I could do in that moment to save my life.

I had a list of about 5 or 6 things that would need to be handled immediately.  I decided that I needed to brown bag it with real food, not jusgueria junk food,  drink water, SLEEP more, rest when I needed to, think about the real food that I liked to eat so that I would have more of it at the house,  choose better foods for Dad as well.  I also felt that I had to be much smarter about my commute which was tearing my patience and rest to shreds.   If I could tackle these necessary things, I might feel better and have time to do more of what I really wanted to do.

The first night of “taking care of myself” saw immediate results, I slept better than ever, the aches and pains, both physical and emotional, suddenly felt more manageable.   Taking leftovers, oranges, apples, bananas, water, etc, to eat was actually really satisfying and, while I did ‘need’ a piece of chocolate that first week, it was nowhere near the desperation that I had felt the week before.   And surprise, how productive was I?  I got soooo much done that I amazed myself.

The takeaway from this post is that, if you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, it WILL catch up with you physically.  Look at your emotional health before spending money on that huge meal or shiny new toy — you’ll end up with a bigass lonja and a lot less money in your bank account.  I want more for myself in 2019 and, like all new endeavors, it will take time to get there.  I’m ready.

 

 

Stunned Into Silence At the Carwash

#52EssaysNextWave 17/52

As I was taking my Jeep into the car wash earlier, and the water was shooting out onto the car, there was no signal for the radio (yes, I always listen to the radio), so I saw that I had a CD in the player. A saber which CD, it had been so long since I listened to the CD player.

It happened to be one of my homemade driving CDs – I usually make these for myself and my sisters. This happened to be one that we all loved. So, I’m sitting in the Jeep enjoying the music as the car was covered with soap bubbles and brushes went back and forth removing copious amounts of dirt and grime, the black Jeep looked gray from the dust and dirt I’m embarrassed to admit.

And then a song comes on and I was stunned into silence. It was a song that took me back to a final conversation after a breakup. OMG. The words were almost verbatim what I had told him! The song is called, “I Try” and, while she is not the original singer of this song (it is Angela Bofill),  the version that hit me straight in the face is sung by the great Maysa Leak of the band Incognito, a favorite vocalist of the Torres Sisters.

So I’m sitting in the car, completely into this song, eyes closed, nodding my head to every beat of the music, and thinking back to that final conversation…you know the one, where you have nothing else left to lose, where you throw it all out there, where you are at your most vulnerable and, dare I say it, your most straight-up honest. Nothing was said in attempts to get him back, I always sensed that there was no turning back thus it wasn’t as elegant as I would have liked at times. It was the moment to throw it all in his face, calmly. So, imagine when I heard Maysa Leak sing “my” words….

…I try to do the best I can for you, but it seems it’s not enough
…Can’t you see that you’re hurting me, and I want, I want this pain to stop
…You know that I tried to be with you
…You know that I wanted to see it through.
…You know that I needed to make you mine.
…It was only a matter of time.

Looking back, this was one of the best conversations ever. I may have been very hurt, but I saw this man for what he was and wanted no part of this drama anymore because, in my heart of hearts, I knew that he would not change and besides, there was already someone else in the picture to deal with his mess. Mujeriego. We all have had at least one.

Another song to add to the personal soundtrack of my life. When you think about it, we all have at least one song that can transport us to another time and place, good or bad. While I almost wished that I had this song around then to get me through this sad time, I loved the fact that I could now listen to the words of the song and still dedicate it to myself (and him) LOL It’s more bittersweet for me now than bitter. Love how music, in the end, always heals, always makes bad times more bearable, makes good times even more awesome.

By the time I left the car wash, my Jeep was sparkling-clean, and I felt as if my soul had also taken a refreshing shower as well, so I was all smiles as I went off to finish conquering the day.

 

Enjoy Maysa Leak’s version of “I Try”

 

Aretha

#52EssaysNextWave 14/52

Aretha Franklin passed away this past Thursday, August 16th. Her influence on the world of music was monumental, the first woman voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the first (and undisputed) Queen of Soul, the first women to successfully fuse gospel and soul, winner of so many accolades and awards, an activist, a musically integral part of the Women and Civil Rights Movements.  Her songs were full of pain, love, and hope.

Being that I was raised in a musical household, I remember hearing Aretha songs from waaay back and I was proud of myself when I learned how to spell R.E.S.P.E.C.T. But I didn’t really get into or appreciate her music until later, when I was heartbroken and trying to find music to match some of the moods that I was in. I remember hearing Bonnie Raitt saying that “I learned more about men from listening to Aretha Franklin than I could have ever learned from any man”.   So I went back and listened and many times, closed my eyes, and said a silent “yep”, because I could totally relate.

Needless to say, the Aretha songs that really got to me on those times when I couldn’t think of how to move forward from a heartbreak are the ones that remain my favorites.


How many times have we walked straight into a wall (sometimes time and time again) when we were all into some man?  Take “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You”,  I smile today on the birthday of a certain man for whom this song was tailor-made, and when I was convinced that everyone was wrong, and that we would be together forever.  Yeah, yeah, I told myself this many many many times and, at first, I’d listen to this song with straight-up defiance, and then I’d only listen to the title of the song, as if to will him to straighten up and respect our relationship.   As reality began to hit, I slowly realized that he would never change, ever.   For a time, that was enough.  But it took me listening to this song over and over and over, maaaany times, alone, not talking to Mama or sisters or friends or anyone, to get me to finally accept that this was over.

So many of Aretha songs STILL stop me in my tracks at certain times:  “Ain’t No Way“, “Daydreaming” , “Oh Me Oh My, I’m A Fool for You Baby”, “Baby I Love You“, “Chain Of Fools“, “Until You Come Back To Me” along with the super classics “Respect“, “Natural Woman“, “Think“, “Dr. Feelgood“, “Do Right Woman Do Right Man” and so many more.

One of the greatest to ever sing it like it is, Aretha’s classic music will live forever and likely serve as Life Education for so many of us who are unable, or too embarrassed, or too messed up in love, to put their feelings into words…that is, until they can get their power back and most important, get their R-E-S-P-E-C-T back.

RIP Aretha Franklin.

 

The Phone Call

#52EssaysNextWave 11/52

Marisa ran toward her desk when she heard the phone ringing.  “This is Marisa” she answered.  From the line, she heard the words that she had been dreading, “You Gonna Talk to Me Now Bitch?”.   Marisa could feel the color drain from her face and then shoot back up, her heart felt as if it would jump out of her chest, she could barely keep her composure, she couldn’t completely go off as she was, after all, in her office cubicle and others would have surely heard this conversation had she ‘gone there’.  Marisa’s mind raced a million miles a millisecond, “whaaat? how? hoooooow? OMG! what do I do? chiiiingao! what do I do? omg.  How? HOW? Hooooooooooooow in the f@#$ did he find me? What do I say to him?”

“Answer me bitch!  Did you think that I wouldn’t find you? Noooow talk your shit bitch!”  Marisa was taken aback, stunned.  “I really can’t talk right now” was all that Marisa could get out of her mouth and she hung up.  A few seconds later, the phone rang again…and again…again…and again.  After finally turning the ringer off and saying a silent prayer hoping that no one in the office noticed what was up, Marisa gathered her things and left the office for an “appointment”.

Once in the “safety” of her car, Marisa was completely in disbelief and shock.  Should she cry? scream? call someone? call him back? quit?  what?   Ten minutes seemed like an eternity sitting in that car, completely unglued and uncertain of what her next move should be.

It was apparent that Marisa’s getaway plan had not worked as she had hoped.  This was job number FOUR and, for this one, for the first time, Marisa had to change cities.   If he was able to get to her direct work line, then he HAD to now know where she was working, did he know where she lived too?  Taking deep breaths, looking right to left, searching for signs of her coworkers, for anyone strange, for him, she put her head down, trying to hide the tears streaming down her face, and quietly drove away, unsure of where she would go next.

Sadly, this is typical when a woman finally finds the nerve to remove herself from a bad situation.  She leaves thinking that ‘things will be better’, almost hopeful, almost positive that she’s done the right thing.    No one tells her that leaving is the beginning of almost uncontrollable drama.  There are still more roads that lead to  fear, anger, humiliation, shame, sadness, and sometimes, violence before it’s all said and done.  No one tells her that the madness will come at her from any/all sides, with sometimes double/triple/quadruple force.    That this will the most difficult and dangerous time of all.  That there are no guarantees that she will come out of this journey intact, much less alive.   Life truly becomes day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute where all she does is question herself and her decisions.   Everything gets even more complicated and overwhelming.   For every time she puts her head up, she must continue to put her head down in order to get through the day, to show her family and friends that she is alright, to strive for some semblance of normalcy in a world that has come crashing down in front of her.

These stories are part-me and part some of the women whom I’ve met along my journey of finding my way back from similar abusive situations, these women understood me from minute one, and helped me to regain my balance and my sense of self.  From time to time, I’ll share a story in hopes that someone reading this finds the courage to say “ya estuvo”, get their power back and change their life.