Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#TuesdayThought....and It's Thankful!

Being that it's Thanksgiving week, I thought I'd share with you some wise words by U2 that have always pulled me through some 'whining-glass-half-empty-times'. It may not always be easy to see it this way, but indeed, 'It's a beautiful day!'......

Original Image by: Viktor Hanacek

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Birthday Gift I Desperately Need

Photo Credit: Joey Gannon

My niece's son, B (Yes, I'm his grandma), celebrated his third birthday a couple of months ago. On that day my niece posted on social media that they celebrated by filling B's day with his most favorite thingsgoing to the arcade, pies, cupcakesall around fun stuff. I thought it made perfect sense to celebrate birthdays this way, celebrating by surrounding yourself with the people and things you love and enjoy the most. 

Last week, I celebrated mine. I pretty much just stayed home all day and struggled with making the day feel special. Sure, I can say that I have an excuse in the form of a husband who just had a shoulder surgery three days prior. Insisting on a celebration while your significant other is walking around with a sling just didn't sit well with me.

But beyond that excuse, the really disturbing reason is that I sincerely couldn't figure out how I wanted to celebrate. If you asked me what my ideal birthday celebration would look like, I honestly wouldn't know how to answer you. In the end, I ended up spending much of the day envying 3-year-old little B. At least he knew.

Maybe a trip to Las Vegas to eat, watch shows, gamble and eat again....But it's Fall...too many germs and viruses this time of year to be in such a crowded place.

Maybe a nice day out with my oldest and dearest friends and family, watch a movie, enjoy a meal, have coffee while drowning ourselves in overanalysis! Yes!!....Oh right...my oldest and dearest mostly live hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Maybe just a shop-'til-you-drop day at the Container Store, different apparel stores and makeup stores...Really? Since when has shopping fulfilled anyone? And to spend an insane amount of money on clothes and makeup and containers?? I feel guilty just thinking about it.

Alright then, I guess I just want to be alone all day and night, lounge and completely free myself of all sense of responsibility and just chillax...Ummm, maybe a lobotomy is what I need to do first for this to be even remotely possible!

As you can see from a sampling of my thought process above, I am really my own worst, most ruthless enemy and critique. For every thought, a counterargument is almost simultaneously fired. It's like my brain is in a constant state of reload, as if I can't shoot down my own ideas fast enough.

After all this, it finally dawned on me that there really is only one gift that people like myself desperately need and that is Permissiona priceless gift that can only come from within.

This is why children have fun and know how to have joy in their lives. They know how to be themselves and really don't need permission to savor their experiences. Everything seems to be novel and as adults, we actually encourage them to enjoy, be amazed and be free of worries. They are in the moment and don't bother with the cost of gifts, the calories each bite is worth, nor the question of whether or not they deserve it. They just accept and say 'thank you'.

I need to give myself permission to relax, to enjoy material things, compliments, and to just savor the moment. I need to give myself permission to believe that I do deserve as many pockets of happiness especially when I celebrate being given the gift of life and more than 4 decades of doing my best to evolve in this earth school. 

We are all just struggling and grinding away in our own ways. I think each of us deserves a healthy serving of Permission every now and then. A little joy never hurt anyone. Go ask the kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


There is so much fear, ignorance, and hate going around in the world, especially after the November 13 Paris terror attacks, and so I thought of offering this reminder. 

We need to remember the light and love, instead of giving in to fear.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Scent of Time's Passage

I'm a featured blogger on Mamapedia Voices

I realized something was not right the moment I stepped inside his closet. I was only there to grab his laundry basket and for the first time in years of doing this, I found myself in an unfamiliar zone in my own home. For the first time I felt as if my crossing the threshold from bedroom to closet became more than just a literal experience. Crossing this threshold today both dampened and sent panic to every cell in my body, and at that point, there was nothing worse for me than being able to smell the truth.

I suppose I should first tell you that I’m extremely olfactory. I’m very sensitive to odors and I wouldn’t be surprised if my husband told you how it sometimes feels like he’s married to a bloodhound. We’ve always joked about that one night early on in our marriage when he went out with the guys and I was told they were headed to the bar. I thought nothing of it and enjoyed the evening by myself and hit the sack early. Later that night, as he sneaked quietly next to me in bed, I was roused from my sleep not by his movement but by the way he smelled. I sat up and sniffed him. Instead of inhaling just the typical boys’ night out smellyou know, that combination of musk, cigarette smoke and alcoholmy nose was assaulted by this heavy, saccharine-sweet, strawberry scent of cheap lotion.

“You guys went to a strip club, didn’t you?!” 

He chuckled like a naughty kid caught in the act and couldn’t believe I was able to guess. It’s such a distinct smell that’s quite hard to forget. I have only been to a strip club once, out of curiosity, and what mostly stuck out for me was not what I saw but what I smelled. From that point on, I had made up my mind that there must be a prescribed stripper lotion. And my husband made up his mind too that denying anything to me is futile especially when odors are left as evidence.

So when I stepped inside my son's closet and sniffed a different smell, I knew the evidence was all around me and that I've just been in denial for the longest time. 

My 'baby' is not a baby anymore. 

Instead of not smelling anything at all, or at times even detecting a hint of baby powdery scent, this time I inhaled the smell of sour, salty, sun-drenched sweat. When I would open that closet door before, it was as if I was being greeted by friendly, happy gnomes who met me with smiles and flowers and a joyous dance. This time, I was overpowered by this vision of a tired ogre, heavy and gross. 

My son is just eight, definitely still a good distance away from puberty. But at this stage I am already definitely detecting the changes, more than I would happily acknowledge. When you're a parent, the changes that you resist make their appearance way before your eyes perceive them. 

It's in the smell of their heads. The scent becomes more intense, more sweat than baby shampoo or the fresh, light smell of infancy.

It's in what we hear, the changes in their voice or their tone when they reason with us and learn to argue. Their words become more complex and so does their logic, which causes you ambivalence as you toggle between admiration and exasperation, pride and regret.

It's what your fingertips feel when you stroke their hair and you know it's coarser and thicker.

It's the slight jolt or confusion you can't quite process when you notice that he now just walks past you sometimes after the school bus brings him back home in the afternoon and you ask yourself, "Where are my hugs and kisses?

And then your heart can't seem to catch up to what your mind already knows when on weekend mornings you start to notice that he no longer enters your room and jumps on your bed as soon as he wakes up, and instead walks downstairs eager to do his own 'stuff' like video games, books or YouTube. All of a sudden you start to think you're losing your mind for resenting having a lot of extra minutes in bed, the very thing you said you'd kill for just a few years back.  

Perhaps children are designed to transform into something less endearing, even a bit repulsive to their own parents, something that would create more distance between parent and child. Perhaps the transformation is nature's way of urging us, parents, to slowly let our children go.

I know I have a few more years before the real stink and grossness all set in. I have a boy after all. But until then, I will continue to enjoy all the baby soft skin he still has, the very few soft and fine strands of hair I still catch glimpses of here and there, as well as the sensation of my son's tiny fingers twirling my hair to help him relax at bedtime. I know every single day brings me closer to the expiration date of all these simple gifts I've been given but I find comfort in knowing that one thing shall never ever change...

He will always be my baby, no matter what. And I am entitled to be in denial about that for as long as I want.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Question Takes You a Step Closer to Your Most Authentic Self

One of the most important existential questions we ask ourselves as humans is "Who am I meant to be?Being an overanalyzer, I've always had the tendency to think my way through things rather than act and engage. However, the older I get, the more I realize that life will never slow down or pause for me while I analyze my options. I can't just withdraw from all my commitments because I want to stay in my room, meditate or pray about what the next best step is. It just doesn't work that way. 

I've been able to confirm that realization even more so these past few months. The truth is, I've been having serious doubts about pursuing my writing. Quitting my blog altogether has crossed my mind several times. I don't know what happened but I've been finding it more and more difficult to sit down and develop my thoughts into essays interesting enough to read. Self-doubt has been plaguing me more than ever, with the voices getting louder and more incessant, telling me it's all for nothing or that I'm never going to be as good as the rest of them. Every time I make an attempt to write, it never takes long before I get to the point where I'm asking myself, "What good would this do? Will this be of any value to others?" Then the discouragement mounts and I just shut down. 

I hated how I was beginning to feel about writing but at the same time knew deep down that it isn't something I'm ready to just give up. How could I when I know that it's an integral part of myself as a thinker? I could never stop thinking and being an overanalyzer, and writing is my expression of that. One way or the other, I would keep writing somehow, somewhere, whether it's on my journal, some random piece of scrap paper, on my cellphone or wherever. It's still part of who I am and therefore I know I can't give it up, at least not just yet. 

So now that I've chosen my path, how can I get myself unstuck? 
If I feel so lost and uninspired, how do I find my way to becoming the truest version of myself?

The truth is, becoming who we're meant to be and reaching our highest potential has to do with doing, and not just thinking your way through it. This means if you find yourself in a rut and you feel discouraged with the obstacles you see before you, whether real or imagined, the only way to overcome them is through action and not merely endless planning or mental conditioning. Some form of actual energy or force has to be introduced for real movement to happen, any movement in the right direction no matter how small. 

Recently, I read a line from a magazine that stuck with me, one that I feel can help jump-start anyone's journey towards self-realization and identity affirmation: How about asking yourself what things you no longer agree to do? Answering that question jolts your consciousness into accepting change. Answering that question forces you to draw boundaries even when you are not clear what you want to do or what the next step is. By identifying which actions you want to reject, and therefore identifying where you don't want to go, you are also ultimately clarifying the direction you want to take, or options you accept that define who you are. Boundaries tend to do that. 

What are the things I no longer agree to do?

The more I asked myself this question, the more inspired I felt. Forcing ourselves to confront what has not been working for us, strengthens our sense of self-determination and therefore breeds self-confidence. More importantly, the more I asked myself this question, the more I realized that it was a way of honoring my innermost truths. For me it highlighted patterns I've gotten so accustomed to, but which have only served to give me a false sense of security and kept me from taking risks. In so doing, I've deprived my soul from its voice, its truth. Every time we silence our soul, our sacred truths, we die and lose ourselves little by little. If we do it often enough, that's when we feel lost, out of balance, empty.

I'm tired of feeling drained and lost, consumed by self-doubt, and so I've asked myself the question and came up with this:

I no longer agree to compare my journey as a writer to the journey of other writers.
I want to honor my own creativity, my pace, my limitations. I need to honor my own life circumstances, personality inclinations and thought processes that make me who I am, no matter how different that may be from the typical mold of a 'writer'. Not everyone succeeds in the same way and I need to define what that looks like for ME instead of measuring myself against others' achievements.

I no longer agree to start my days with social media, specifically checking my Facebook news feed, and end up spending an insane amount of time on it instead of focusing on what I really want to write about. 
It has also become apparent that reading the never-ending updates from other writers stresses me out too much, heightening my insecurities even more, which then incapacitate me further. Being extremely engaged in 'the game' might inspire and fire up others, and if that works for you, then go for it! However, it's clearly not for me and I function differently.

I no longer agree to deny stories inside me that have been crying out to be told. 
They are part of who I am and though they may not be truths that many others might be interested in hearing, they define my voice and spirit. These are echoes from my past that continue to manifest insights and aid me as I try to construct a road map for my unfolding biography. 

I no longer agree to minimize and devalue myself and my identity by believing that I am not an expert on anything and have no background or knowledge that anyone else might find interesting, let alone useful.
I have what many may call a 'nicheless' blog simply because it's a personal blog that allows me to write about a gamut of topics. But I really don't just write about anything under the sun. 
I write about parenting.
I write about insights I glean from daily life viewed through the lens of a migrant. 
I write about marriage and relationships. 
These past couple of years, I've also started writing a little about aging. 
These are my niches. These are my expertise and I need to claim that for myself and give them the value they deserve. 
If I continue to love what I write and write with Love, it will be valuable to someone. 
It will be of help, as Paul Tillich said. 
("There is no love which does not become help").

I no longer agree to focus on being the best in the field or focus on enriching others. Instead I will focus on enriching my own creativity, that is all
Writing is a creative expression and a need I have. If a side effect of my writing is to be able to help others and I get recognition from it, then thank you! But I refuse to be driven by anything else now, especially not perfection, catching an editor's attention, or going viral. I desire to focus only on enjoying my craft and giving my best in expressing my inner world through my writing.  

This is a contract I now make for and with my self, one which I know honors my spirit. I highly encourage you to do the same and ask that one simple questionWhat are the things YOU no longer agree to do? It might surprise you how much growth you can experience simply by changing your mind.