Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How much, how long?

Up with you head, smile, stand strong, be nice, be happy, be thankful, fight, don't give up. believe in yourself, do not give up hopes, don't quit trying, don't whine about it, don't waste your tears. You are stronger than you think, God gives the hardest battles to His best soldiers... Believe, be strong, be of good cheers, count your blessings...
How long? How long must one stumble in the dark? How long until one can rest? How much more? How much? 
I'm none of those things! I have none of those things! I can none of those things! But what choice does one have? So up again, and smile and fight, however broken, however weak, however tired, however alone... Up again, mend yourself, help yourself, cheer yourself up, cry you own tears and dry them after.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What if...

What if we wake up tomorrow only with the things we were thankful for today? 

Some of the things I have always admired about my grandma Rosa are her gratitude, her good cheers, her positive attitude about life, her hope so endless!!
Now, she had a very hard life, working since the age of 7 and all the way till over 65. She has always been poor, she has never had a vacation, her life was not a fairy tale, but she seemed to be always living her "happily ever after". 
"Lorena, you have to sing, and dance and laugh. You have to have faith because life is so wonderful, so beautiful. You have to thank God and Life for all you have and be happy!" I still hear her sometimes, with her soft Italian accent.
And she was right, she is right! I used to think "How on earth is she so optimistic and positive, and so happy! She has no reason to be so, her life has been so hard, she has nothing, she still works at 68 for minimum wadges, she doesn't own a house, or an apartment, she has no savings... She has no reason to be this happy and like life so much! 
She probably hadn't, if you measure life like I did, but she was right and I would like to be like her. I think the key lays in what we care about, how much of the good we have we honestly get to see, and how comfortable we are in our own skins. 
I used to dislike myself, I saw myself in the mirror and thought I was no way near attractive. I constantly focused in what I was not, I was not tall enough, not skinny enough, didn't have lips full enough, eyes bright enough, my skin was not flawless, my boobs were not big enough, my butt was not firm enough... the list goes on and on and on... I didn't look like Catherine Zeta Jones, or Cameron Diaz, or Julia Roberts, or whoever. I saw myself as a body that was far too imperfect, I was a body with a soul, a hidden one. I grew up, or got hit by life or who knows what happened... But I feel good with how I look, I know that all of those things I saw in me before are still there (that and the fact that things fall a little with age), and I feel so good to be me! I don't see myself as the world's most beautiful woman, I don't see myself as ugly either... I just don't see myself on those terms anymore. I see myself as a soul with a body, a body to hug my kids, a body to work and care for others, a body healthy enough as to take me through the days and nights, a body to be able to sense, to feel, to taste, but most of all, a body that allows me to give. And suddenly, life became so much better!
I get overwhelmed by problems sometimes, failures, trials, other people's attitudes... well, yeah, things bother me, and sometimes a heck of a lot! So I burst! I cook inside and get all nervous and cranky and angry. So, so angry!! I get frustrated sometimes, because the person I want to be, well.. I am not, yet. And I have this idea that I have to do it all, to endure it all, to fix it all, and I set my goals up to the moon and try to reach them with a ladder and it doesn't work and I deflate, and cry, and cry myself to sleep and forget that I am human. But the moment comes, like this one, when I remember my grandma and ask myself the question "what if you wake up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today?" and I start thinking about that, my girls, my family, my friends, my accomplishments, my home, my job, my colleagues, my health, my past, my mistakes, my trials... 
I don't have much, maybe... no car, no house of my own, no savings, no vacations, not a decent wardrobe, not so many furniture pieces, not as many home appliances, not a lot of make up, not a lot of food... But I do have enough, I am not in need of anything! the things I don't have I don't need, I'm doing just fine without them. And when I think a little more I realized I wouldn't be happier if I had them. So I am thankful for having what I have, and being who I am. I would probably like to share my life and have someone to grow old with, since many times I wonder who would I give as "nearest family member" if I have to get hospitalized... Sick thought but hey! that is my everyday... and every time I get an admit and I ask them that question it pops up in my head "G, you are really screwed!" But I don't need someone to make me happy, I don't. I would, although, like to have a special someone to share my happiness with, and my life, and my love.
And I go on with my list of things I am thankful for, and then I sing a little, and then I try to be gentler with myself, because of course things get hard, things are horrible sometimes!, I am so alone from time to time, I feel so unprotected, so defenseless, so scared, so lonely. We all do! And it's fine, it's beautiful anyway.   
So if I woke up tomorrow only with those things I am thankful for today.. well, life will be pretty much the same.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spread it Around

I was on Pinterest last night when eating at work. I scrolled down on quotes and got caught by the photo of an old lady who was dressed as though she attended a funeral. I don't know who came up to that, I have no clue if it actually happened, but I liked it so much!
March is not a very happy month since 2010. In fact, in March 2010 I lived the worst moment in my life so far. Every March I remember my mom a little extra, if that is even possible. The first year without her was so hard!, then it became less of a struggle, but a lot of emotions run through my mind when remembering one of the most important people in my life, the way she left, the fact that I wasn't there holding her hand, the way I almost could hear my heart bursting into smithereens with the worst text message in my life. But I don't want to remember her like that anymore, it doesn't feel fair. I want to celebrate her, celebrate her life, become more like her, keep my love for her alive and not as a memory.
My beautiful mom, 19 years old
And so I saw this picture yesterday night, when the ward was in silence and I was starting to get double vision and shaking related to hypoglycemia. 
It goes like this, an old lady asked her husband, who was dying "How am I supposed to live without you?" to what the man answered "Take the love you have for me and spread it around"
OK, at the beginning my Daria brain went all like "Do you expect anyone to believe that a love like that exists, or existed? and on top of that was reciprocal?" then I thought it over, just because we have never owned a Ferrari doesn't mean they don't exist, and that there are no people who actually have one. Then I went over the cynical, negative phase I was into, probably the hunger... and thought that even if that was not true, even when that probably never happened, I liked it, and that's what I so much want to do to keep my mom alive. 
We can't love everybody, that is not human, or I can't I wouldn't know... But you actually don't need to love love someone to make acts of love and caring. I don't think we need to love everyone we encounter in a personal level, but we can express love anyways, love and respect for life, for freedom, for their authenticity, for their being.
I sometimes hear that we are in our rights to treat those who treat us badly, the same way; but that's not what my mom taught me, she taught me that I am expected to treat people like I have to, not like I think they deserve, because the moment I think they deserve this or that, I am judging them and condemning them. 
So even when I am not the female version of Jesus, nor the very virgin Mary, even when I am not even close to Laura Ingalls, I will keep learning from my mistakes and I will keep treating people the way I have to, and I will try to take the love I have for my mom and spread it around.
I am not perfect, I am not good, I am not a good example in oh so many ways! And I am so sorry for all those times I hurt, and all those times I make people disappointed, and all those times I feel sorry for myself, and all those times I am ungrateful, and overreact, and get so mad I say things I don't feel, and all those times people think I don't care, and all those times I contaminate others with my insecurities... I truly am sorry! It takes a lifetime to learn how to live.   

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It takes a village.

 Here I am, I'm supposed to be studying but it's a big step forward not to be doing a spring cleaning, as I usually do when I feel the pressure rising. I am surprisingly not sad, not gloomy, not tired to the bone marrow, despite having worked a very stressful night and getting 4 hours sleep after that. I am, on the other hand, writing this while listening to Bryan Adams, blame it on the hormones. We girls are so lucky to have a valid biological excuse to stuff like this!. 

I got my schedule for next month, I am going back to the day shift! It feels so good! I am sad also because I really like my co-workers. They are fun to be around with and we have it nice together. I laugh so bad when they talk to me and I say "aha..." and they see I am far far away in my own little world. They know I am not that normal but it's OK, at least it's OK for me. Working night is great in many ways, since we are only three in the whole ward we get to talk a lot more, we are also responsible for patients in a very different way, one dangerous change in breathing, pulse or whatever and we are alone, we gotta react and do it fast until the doctor, one to the whole house, makes it into place. We learn to trust each other and help each other in a more intimate way, after all, we are almost all we have for the next 10 hours. I like it, I would like to stay if it wasn't because my body and my mind can't stand it anymore. That makes me sad, too, finding out that although I can adapt, I can't do it all. I thought I was going to be able to do it, it kinda sucks confronting one's limitations but it's always good to know them. I know for sure now, I can't handle working nights for a long period of time, not alone with two young kids at least.

With the change of shift come a lot of practicalities to solve and organize, the hardest of them all is how to drop the girls in school and day care with no buses that early in the morning (which was the only reason I took the night shift to begin with), but I'll make it, we'll make it somehow. It might be hard for a while but at least we are having better weather now and it's light in the morning. We'll work it out. The days at their dad's and with me have to be organized as well, and maybe getting a nanny sometimes... It comforts me to think that I am not the only single mom working shifts with no relatives near and if others made it, I will. It is said it takes a village to raise kids, I  didn't know how true that was until now. I might not have a village, but I'll find a way.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

No shortcuts

One of the hardest lessons in my life has been, and still is, I'm afraid, learning to allways choose what I want the most over what I want now. We live in a society that is constantly bombarding us with slogans like "carpe diem" and "YOLO" as excuses to live by our impulses. In some respects it is easier for us to stay focused, but when what we want the most is uncertain and filled with wondering and doubt, keeping our sight ahead and continuing unmovable in our path can become more difficult. 

As everyone on earth I have doubts, insecurities, "issues". Resolving them and dealing with them can take a lot of work and effort, hours of reflexion, meditation and introspection.  Since we cannot change what we don't acknowledge -and I borrow that from Dr Phil- becoming self sure and determined can result in a painful trip. When faced with these aspects of myself at the same time I am presented the opportunity to choose between what I want now Vs what I want most, it is no surprise that I stumble and trip and follow the slogan: "you only live once". Well, that's so true, we only live once, then, shouldn't that be a reason for us to stop before taking the cake instead of the bakery, when we really want the bakery, even with all the work it will take? If we only live once, why settling for less than what our souls truly want?

In my case is doubt, what if I am not worthy of what I really want? What if what I really want is a fantasy, an illusion, an impossible, unrealistic dream? What if I do all things right and I don't get it? I am ambitious, I am stubborn, I have to get what I want, preferably right now if not yesterday; no problem is so big I can't solve it, sometimes alone, sometimes with help, sometimes with a lot of bleeding and crying and bruising. I am not a coward, in fact I am a bit of a confrontational woman, even when most of the times I regret it one second after, get insight of what I just did and shake to my inner core. That would be when I secretly panic and go "crap, crap, crap... why can't I just shut up?" Those qualities come quite handy sometimes, but others, when I can't foresee the outcome, when I don't know what's next, when I believe someone's words telling me I have unrealistic expectations and far too high standards, when I'm told I will never have what I wish for in my heart, when I let myself get discouraged... Those times I choose what I want now. 

There is a high integrity on those who don't, a strong sense of security and a great power. Some people would stop and get away before is too late, not usually my case, unfortunately.

I have such an admiration for those people, I feel so blessed when I encounter someone who has the guts to take a step back, make an U-turn and go to square one to start all over, or never take that path again, ever. One thing I would like to teach my girls is that they don't have to settle for less in case they don't find what they desire and deserve, I would like to teach them that for the things that are good, and worthy and rewarding in life, there are no shortcuts. I would like to be able to teach them that it is OK not knowing when or how or if the things they want will come, but that is no reason to make less of themselves.

The one thing that I have learned, -and I better did- is that sometimes we choose poorly, we get on the stream and tell ourselves "oh come on, you only live once, it won't kill you" and we do something very, very stupid, but we have the chance not to do it again, and doing something stupid does not necessarily mean we are stupid. So in my many years I have learned that some of the things I wanted now were not even worth the try, so I didn't and won't  do them again, some seemed to be a faster and more effective way to get what I wanted most, but no, no shortcuts to things of value so instead I ended up losing my chance to get it right, maybe my only chance in life. As for the things I want the most... well, I have succeded with quite a few, to the point of being able to consider myself a happy, blessed, thankful person. The other things, those I still don't have I will probably never get if I keep choosing what I want now just because I'm scared I'll end up with no bakery, not even one cake. So I will have to be confrontational with my fears and insecurities, even if I get panicky and go "Oh my, Oh my what am I going to do now?". For now I can only say that I am thankful and feel so blessed and  I'm so happy to meet people braver than I am who inspire me with their integrity and dignity, and maybe tell them that I truly wish they knew how much they teach me and how much I appreciate them.       

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1st

It's cloudy and hazy and as I look through the kitchen window I get invaded by thoughts and questions I don't want to ask myself, not now, maybe not ever. The yellow bricks look pale and dingy, the dirty sand of the playground, lonely, quite. The swings are still and abandoned as though not even the wind would want to go swing on them. 

I woke up early. The inability to sleep daytime is getting more and more disturbing. The lack of sleep sets my thoughts in an "poetic" mood. I was almost certain I had grown away from it, from the phase when I looked at the world as though I would be reading Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" or my thoughts were messily and masterly organized like the Ulysses.  But it was no phase I'm afraid, I am this crazy after all.

We all have hard times, trials, probation. For a long long time I had been unable to laugh so hard I get out of breath, for a long time I've had this sorrow deep inside my eyes, behind my every smile. It took a lot of work and determination to get trough it and stop allowing this moments and daily hard words to define me. It took a lot of effort to decide that it is not what happens to me what shapes who I am, but how I react to it. It is not what others say of me what describes me, but I describe myself by the feelings in my heart and the way I come out to the world. And yet it is so true that if you hear something often enough you may end up believing it. If we are called "stupid" long enough, all our efforts might be put into disproving it. 

I try so hard to take things practically, find the solution and get to work, lift up my head and leave the sentimentalism aside. But it strikes me and some decisions can't be made that way. When you have to decide how your very life, heart and soul are going to be better, feel better, get less damaged, grow healthier, smile brighter, become all they can; well, those times being practical gets way too hard for me. Parents can't protect their children from it all, we just can't keep them in a bubble of happiness and I don't think that would be fair to them. But now I feel that whatever I choose is bad and I don't want to think about it.

My mom used to say that I was a beautiful person. She saw in me something I will never understand. I don't think I am as good as she saw me. I hurt so many people, things I say, things I do, things I don't say or do. Sometimes it feels as though my very existence hurts others, I wonder if we all feel like that sometimes. 
I miss my mom so much today, I wish I could tell her what I'm up to, tell her that Emily can read, that she loves reading in Spanish. Telling her that Olivia is about to loose her second tooth. That Emily is starting to use her fingers when playing the violin. That Olivia is starting to read and wants me to give her homework. I would like to tell her that the rent went up and I might have to move, and I don't want to and the very though of it makes me nauseous. Tell her that I might be out of strengths and cry with her, because I have been feeling this ball in my throat and tears just don't come out. I would like to rest my head on her shoulders and hear her say "there is a solution to everything. The only thing we cannot do anything about is death." 
I am not even close to being the way my mom saw me, it just would feel so nice to hear it from her today, even when I know she was exaggerating out of love. 
I think I'll finish the cleaning.