Reflections on Scars

“You can’t catch me!” my little sister screamed as we ran around our parents’ bed. The bedroom was located at the back of the house. What is now the living room was the bedroom that all four of us shared- my parents, my sister, and myself.

Our house was made from adobe and wood. It was built without the skills of a contractor or architect, instead it was built from sweat and love by our grandpa. It explains why the doorways are little short, and each room leads to another- no foyers, no hallways and not very many doors. It housed my grandparents and their five children.

My father was the third child. Due to his wild lifestyle- hence his nickname, “Wild Man,” partied and partied until one day he brought home a girl from Colorado and started a family. With only a high school diploma and not a lot of experience in the work force, except fixing cars, he simply did not move out of the house.

Eventually as the years passed my dad and my grandpa (AKA Pita) added to the little house to make room for our family.

Before it became an official duplex, my sister and I would run around inside that house, room to room, playing chase, hide-n-seek, and other games that required fast running and jumping.

It wasn’t unusual for my parents to leave us unattended since Pita and Grandma were at home.

It was late that night, the night my sister and I were playing chase around our parents’ bed. At least it was late for a 5 and 4 year old.

My parents went on a McDonald’s run. They had the munchies- I hear that is common after a religious ceremony of “joint” proportions.

“You can’t catch me!” I chase her, running as fast as I could. Around the bed- around and around. She turns the corner, and I am about to catch her… CRACK! The bed was next to some closets decorated with those retro gold veined mirrors on the door. She fell and hit her face right into it!

Golden Veined Mirrors

I see her laying on the floor. I stopped dead on my tracks. She just laid there. “Ha! Ha! Fina! Very funny!” I shoved her a bit and still she wouldn’t budge. My heart suddenly felt very heavy! I couldn’t breathe. I froze! Slowly, very slowly, I walked away, not knowing what to do. Then she moved! Her face covered in blood. I swear to you, I physically felt my eye balls jumping outside of my head!

She ran to find Grandma, leaving a bloody trail. I followed. Grandma was already sleeping in her bed. She shrugged her awake, and when she saw the blood- all I heard her yell was something in Spanish that had to do with the mother of Jesus and other Spanish words I wasn’t suppose to know about.

She grabbed a towel and put pressure on the wound. All I could do was watch from a distance. Isn’t it funny how we can remember some things so vividly? I remember it like I was watching an old movie from far far away. I guess that is how I felt- small. So small that the world looked so far away and there was nothing I could do, and I had no idea what I could do, so I watched.

The next thing I remember is my parents walking through the front door with McDonald’s bags in hand. They took one look at her and I saw the shock on their faces. They dropped threw the bags and the fries flew all over the floor.

They grabbed her and sped to Holy Cross Hospital.

And there I stood… processing all that I witnessed. My grandma and Pita began cleaning up the blood and the broken mirror pieces. I began to eat those french fries on the floor. I couldn’t let them go to waste now, could I?

That was a scary scene for a little girl to watch, and it was a frightening experience for another little girl.

The next morning I heard tales of how Fina had to be strapped down so that the Dr. could put stitches on her wound. I thought she looked a little like Herman Munster from the “The Munsters” T.V. show with those stitches on the corner of her forehead.

All that is left now is a scar.

We all have scars. Scars to brag about, scars we wished never happened and try to cover up. Scars are a result of healing from a wound. A mark that reminds us of the incident that created the wound.

Even though it makes sense that this little incident could have been avoided had we been properly supervised, it doesn’t erase the scar. We could have a debate session on who was to blame for that scary night. Was it my fault because I was chasing her? Was it my grandparents fault for going to sleep? Was it my parents fault- for soooo many reasons? Hmmmm. Or maybe it was all her fault- doesn’t she need to watch where she is going?

In the end it doesn’t matter who is to blame or why it happened. What matters is that we stitch up the wound before we bleed to death! Contrary to the saying, “Time Heals all Wounds,” healing only happens when we put in the work. We need to take care of the wound first, and even though it leaves a scar- that scar is just a reflection on a life full of crazy adventures or hard lessons to learn! Just don’t take the “reflection” part literal as did my sister- she was always such an overachiever!

Love Always

Why Live Debt Free?

I first heard of Dave Ramsey 14 years ago. Yeah, 14 years ago. I was 26 years old. The only debt I had at the time was some student loans and one credit card under $1000. If I had applied Ramsey’s teachings back then, I would be a millionaire today! I am not being dramatic- the math says so. In my last post- where I exposed very intimate details of our finances- you may have taken notice that we were paying $2000 a month on debt. If I had invested that $2000 in mutual funds at say 15% annual rate- I would have $1,117,929!! Don’t believe me, check out this graphic below.

But even if I invested less than $2000 a month and it was less than 15%, I would still have a shit load more money than I have right now. Which is basically in the negative because I am in living in debt!

You better believe I am kicking myself in the rear-end! So why? Since we are already so far into the hole, why bother? In other words, isn’t our situation hopeless? And now that Dan is unemployed- hell might as well throw in the towel and move in with the in-laws. STOP!!! I think that right there is a HUGE reason to live debt free- who wants to live with their in-laws??? Yes, my in-laws are one of the best people I know, but I don’t think living with them would be good for any of our mental health. Your In-Laws are not a retirement plan!

Living without debt means FREEDOM. You get to have your money- that you worked for– work for you, rather than giving it to the banking corporations to use as they please. Debt free living means being generously benevolent. Making no payments gives you the ability to enjoy the stuff that makes your boat float- literally. 🙂 I don’t know about you, but I would love to visit Italy some day, and eat all the pasta, and drink all the wine in that cute little cafe on the corner street without the worry of having to make payments later at a higher price in the end- fuckin interest rates!

I know, I know, easier said then done. If it was that easy and that wonderful then why didn’t I do it earlier? Well, I am not proud of my past. The debt I accumulated is only a direct correlation of the poor decisions I made. I lacked the skills, the knowledge, the confidence, the self-discipline and the PATIENCE to understand the VALUE of money. Instant gratification is the tool these mother-fuckers- I mean marketers-use to sell us shit we don’t really need, to impress the people we can’t stand!

The first step to living debt fee is your WHY.

My why has four names- Dan, Stacy, Kevin and Avery. My why also goes by the name Roxanne. We love to hang out and eat. We love to play sports and play instruments. We love to entertain our friends and family. We love to go camping and explore new trails. We want to be ridiculously giving! We want to be able to be free to contribute in making this world suck a little less. We have dreams!

Living in debt, and not being able to pay the debtors back, is living a nightmare. They will take away your wages. They will take away your cars. They will take away your house. They will take away your integrity! Then what will you have left?

What is so intriguing about debt is that it sparkles with the promises of happiness and success- and under the surface of that sparkle is just an illusion of having a life that isn’t real.

The road ahead looks windy and bumpy, and our gas tank is running on low. During this dark time, our WHY are the fumes in which keeps our eyes on the goal. That’s right- we are going to be millionaires, because it is never too late to get started.

What is your WHY?

Love Always

Our Debt Free Journey

Dan and I started this debt-free journey a little over a year ago. We decided enough was enough and to start managing our money with intention and responsibility. We were tired of paying our debtors and then having nothing left to show of our hard work.

So we found a program- the teachings of Dave Ramsey. You may have heard of him, if not, I recommend taking some time to read his stuff or listen to his podcast. It is eye opening and sometimes it is hard to listen, as a lot of his teachings are not very popular! For one, we live in a society where using credit is as normal as Trump becoming President.

I grew up poor. My dad has never had a credit card, but I did witness him making payment plans with local businesses when making large purchases. Then again, he never had a mortgage payment or rent to pay- as we lived with my grandparents. Therefore, I had NO IDEA on how to manage money much less understand the value.

When I received my first credit card, at the ripe ol’ age of 20, it was like leaving me alone in a room with chocolate covered penises! 🙂 Okay, I’m trying too hard, but you get the picture. I spent money I didn’t have. The idea of getting stuff instantly and paying later was (insert glowing light from the sky). On top of that I took out an enormous amount of Student Loans!

When the wedding bells rang in 2014 and Avery came to join the party- we spent money we did not have so that I could stay home with her for the first year of her life. Although that was a cherished and yet dark time in my life, it is a regret I hold. Don’t worry, I’m talking about it with my therapist, and I’m sure I will forgive myself eventually.

So here I sit and write about this journey for a couple of reasons:

  • 1. Accountability
  • 2. I am going to start a new venture in becoming a Financial Coach.

This journey for Dan and I may have started in 2018, but I have been learning about finances for most of my adult life. You may not know this, but I actually have a Bachelor’s in Accounting. Thank you Sallie Mae for the expensive piece of paper- now let’s make it work!

Teaching is my passion and I do love teaching Literature and Writing to young kids, and now I want to take my passion of teaching and coach other families to empower them on their finances.

So here is quick look at our Journey of 2018:

  • Total Debt (not including the house) $160,755.
  • Paid off $21, 264!

During this time we ran into what we call “Murphy,” as in Murphy’s Law- if it can’t happen it will.

  • Our car needed a new transmission.
  • Our dishwasher broke and leaked leaving water damage to our kitchen cabinets.
  • We needed new tires for our car.
  • Our dryer decided to quit on us too, we replaced that.
  • We had to pay for some medical procedures- Sleep study and Scopes- both over $500.
  • We bought Kevin a car.

EVEN WITH ALL THIS- we did not use any credit AND we still paid off 13% of our debt! To us that is a big deal!

2019 has not been nice to us either. Unfortunately, Dan lost his job, and our water heater was having the case of, the fear of being left out, so it also died on us.

With all that said, we keep moving forward. It may seem daunting to believe that it is possible to live debt free, and even more so to pay it off. Our goal is to pay off all $140,000 in four years. Isn’t that better than 10 years or FOREVER!? We think so.

If you are interested in more details on HOW we are doing this, stay tuned. My next post will do just that!

Love Always.

More of the Same

For the last few days people have asked me what my resolutions or goals are for the New Year. I can’t quite explain why, but there is something about this year where I am not too keen on making resolutions or goals. The reality is I’ve been trying to achieve or maintain the same goals for quite some time now.

  • To be a well respected teacher.
  • To run my first marathon.
  • I have a loving husband.
  • I have a family that loves me and accepts me.
  • I have friends that are loyal and bring so much laughter.
  • I coach two running groups and have met some great people in that community.
  • I still have a shit load of debt to pay off and my husband is not employed at this current time.

So as I sit here thinking about the past, and wondering what the future will bring, I find myself in a strange position- because even though my husband is not bringing in any income at this time, I have a sense of peace.

Life is always full of surprises, and in the end of the day, week, month and year- I realize that sum of my life is truly about the decisions I make. Every morning I make a decision to go to my workplace and do my very best to inspire and motivate young minds. Every time I encounter someone I make the decision on how to treat them. How they treat me, and they way I respond to that treatment is also a decision I make.

I decided to try and run a marathon, so I make a decision every day to get out of bed and run.

I decided to marry when I was 19 to only be divorced 6 months later.

I decided to have a baby at 21 with someone I really didn’t know that well.

I decided to divorce when my kids were very young- it hurt them deeply.

I decided to go back to school and get my Masters and become a teacher.

I decided to go out on that date and eventually say yes to marriage once again.

Everyday I decide how I am going to live my life. Sometimes the outcomes are not what I expect. Sometimes the outcomes are direct consequences to my decisions. Sometimes the outcomes are sweet and wonderful. What I have learned the last few years on my journey is that I have no control over the outcomes. I can try to control it, but it only mocks me and reminds me that I have no power on how the outcome will be.

You see I would get angry with God, the Universe, because I would pray for a specific outcome and when I was denied that request, I threw my hands up in protest and marched off with depression and anger.

Now I pray to listen. I pray for guidance. I sit in silence and feel the gratitude that is my life.

If my only prayer from now on is to say “Thank You” that would be enough.

I cannot dictate to God or the Universe to cater to my wants and needs.

This year is going to be more of the same- I may carry a little more weight than usual or I may decide to eat better and keep running. I may or may not achieve paying off all my debts this year. I may or may not run my marathon faster than Oprah- but I sure hope I can!

What I do know is that I will continue to love the people around me, and to best person I can be- I’ll just have a little more grey hair and wrinkles from all the fun I am having!

Love Always

It’s all about the Gifts

On this Christmas Eve I am sitting here watching the sun awaken the sleepy city. I am in my Mickey Mouse pajamas with my favorite Hogwarts Mug full of hot fresh coffee, and my laptop ready to write, yet, I feel irritated and annoyed with my inability to come up with something to write. My husband and I were just sitting on our little couch, reading our daily affirmations, when I confessed that I was struggling with writer’s block. I wanted to write, to write something meaningful, witty, and thought provoking.

I love writing. It’s my therapy, and it’s my gift. I may never make the New York Times Best Seller list, I may never write a story good enough to be a movie, but I write. I have to. It’s like the stuff inside me needs to come out. I have to express myself, my thoughts, my life lessons in the form of words. I suppose that is how artists feel. They have to paint, draw, sing, create music to express themselves in a medium that allows them to be seen and heard.

It’s also scary as hell. I mean, it is full exposure. You are putting yourself out there. What if I mess up? What if what I write something that doesn’t make sense? Or worse, that I screw up the grammar- as a Language Arts Teacher- that is worse than drinking and driving! Or what if the story I publish is not appreciated? And, what if it does? What if I what I write actually is meaningful, witty, and thought provoking? Eeeek!

I wanted to write something about Christmas. I wanted to reminisce about Christmas’s past. To write about how silly we can be with commercializing the hell of yet. I wanted to make a point that Christmas is not about the gifts- it’s about something much more meaningful. Then I thought, how many times, in so many ways, have we heard that story before?

So I thought long and hard, what do I want to write about? I thought about my blog and how some of my stories were cute, passive aggressive, humorous and most importantly healing. I was able to use the words in my heart to tell my story and let those around me know how much life is wonderful, hard, confusing and silly! I was able to say to the people around me how much they mean to me. In some way this gift was able to build bridges where gaps and rifts were present.

Maybe Christmas is all about the gifts after all. Not the presents, but the gifts we give each other, to the world. The other night we spent our “family Christmas” at my sister’s house. She opened her home to us, and then after we ate our homemade tamales and chile, we exchanged gifts. After our children ravaged their gifts, it was time for us to open the gifts my sister gave to us. Apparently, we couldn’t just sit with our drinks and unwrap this year’s knick knacks, she created a Jeopardy like game for us and the couple with the most points was able to pick out the numbered boxes displayed on the festive decorated table- this girl looooves to decorate!

I don’t want to brag or anything, but my hubby and I kicked everyone’s ass! Nothing like a good ol’ competition in the family gathering! And although we all were able to go home with trunks full of toys, cash, new kitchen toys and smelly socks, the true gift was how my sister is so fuckin creative! She shares her fun personality with the world. She is loyal, bossy (mostly in a good way), and lives life loudly! Her husband, well, his gift to the world his is art, his music and his motivation to health and fitness. He loves the people around them, regardless of what wrongs they may have done. I am proud to be his sister-in-law

My youngest sister is the sunshine of my soul. She gives the world her beauty in working hard and loving just as hard. Her side kick, he is just as beautiful with that long silky, curly hair of his. He’s pretty cool and I enjoy hanging out with him.

My husband’s true gift is how loyal and loving he is. He has a way with people and I have learned how to be a better friend because of him. He loves entertaining, and our home has been opened for eating, drinking, talking, laughing, crying and bonding. It has been the greatest gift in our marriage.

I think of my in-laws. The gift of forgiveness. My sister-in-law who brings so much light and joy.

My Uncles and Aunts who gave my sisters and me the gift of normalcy and fun.

I can go on and on… but I have to go! It’s Christmas Eve and I have to do Christmas Eve-ie stuff.

We all have gifts to share to the world. Sometimes we have to just stop and look and realize that no matter how we celebrate this time of year, the best gifts are each other!

Merry Christmas! Love Always

Attitude of Gratitude

Since the beginning of 2018 I kept a Gratitude Journal. At the end of the day, before slumber was upon me, I would take a few minutes to be thankful. There were days where it was not so hard to find the gratitude- days that went my way, days that were full of sunshine and lots of good music.

Then there were those days when it wasn’t so easy to find the gratitude. Days of heartbreaking news, days of conflict, or sometimes just feeling down. Even on those days, I forced myself to be thankful.

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What I found doing this- as all others before me who have done this, have discovered, is how much it enriches your life and how overwhelming you feel about how wonderful life is.

I also discovered this little gem- The days that were a little darker, or days that seem to never end due to the stresses of life, were the days that proved to be my growth. Through the darkness, I discover the wonder of the light. Through the hardships I learn more about courage, and bravery. Through my pain I understand compassion. Through feeling defeated, I know that rising again is way more victorious then allowing myself to stay down.

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I’ve learned that I am still getting know myself- therefore the feedback I receive from others about myself is never accurate. This means that my opinion of others is also not accurate. Making judgements, and making assumptions, is one of the evils we have yet to admit for change.

Taking the time to reflect on the day, and even if you must squint to find the gratitude for that day, is a remarkable little tool to assist in making us suck less. I highly recommend it!

Love Always

 

Please Read The Truth on Blended Families

Like most people, I had a dream, a vision of what my life would be like when I was all grown up. When my first two babies were born, I imagined and worked towards a vision of what I thought a family should be. Then, due to my immaturity, insecurities, and ignorance, those visions, those expectations, those dreams, never came to pass.

My fantasy of what a family should look like and be like was one very similar to a sitcom called Full House, or The Brady Bunch. Where families sit around the dinner table and actually talk to one another. A family where overcoming hardships took thirty-minutes and then on to the next adventure.

When I divorced my children’s dad I still held a deep dream of having a complete and happy family. I thought that if I met the right guy, who had the right family, they would accept us and we would be the family that I have always wanted since I was a little girl.

This blog was born out of the dysfunction of my child hood. It gives me solace, truth, humor and a chance to be heard in this noisy, messy world.

I was a single mom for about three years when I met Dan, Before I met him I had dated a few guys- even with all their good qualities, they just didn’t seem to fit the family life I was aiming for. Then Dan came into my life. Funny, cute, full of life, and he even made Kevin smile.

As with all relationships, we had our tests, our moments of fire. We had a lot to learn about ourselves, relationships and overcoming obstacles. Dan also was just divorced, luckily no children were involved.

In our time in the fire, I began to realize a truth that I was desperately trying to avoid, to stuff it in the Turkey, bake it, and eat it, so that I wouldn’t have face it everyday. The truth that blending a family is not easy, wait… blending a family is not possible, it is down right exploding.

When I married Dan I thought I was blending my family with his. I thought that every Holiday meant we could sit around the fireplace and talk, laugh and share. Instead, when I married Dan, I received words like, “Being married to Dan does not mean you or your kids are family.” Yeah, that was said to me. In response to a rumor that my son was being talked about in a manner that was unpleasant. When it comes to my boy, I tend to be a little aggressive, a little passionate, a little over protective, As I should be, because in my last post when I wrote about him, you can see why.

Kevin is living with some strangers right now. He’s living with one of his friends from his Marching Band at school.  Apparently he wasn’t getting along with his dad, and since living with us is not an option, since I won’t let him drive his car with out a license, he has decided to live with a family that is able to meet his needs.

Last week I met this family. I walked into their beautiful home and had one of the hardest conversations of my life.

I had to sit in this comfy sofa, with a house full of memorable pictures and smells of food being cooked. I looked this woman in her eyes, and said, “I am so thankful that you have opened your home to my boy… I would much prefer him living with me, but it just doesn’t seem possible. His grades are up, he’s not skipping class, he actually seems happy.”  Then I cried.

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LOOK HOW HAPPY HE IS!! 

She handed me a Kleenex, and asked what was going on that Kevin would feel safer and happier in her home rather than the ones he had.

My response was that I only wanted what was best for my son. If this arrangement was working then I am all for it. You see, I want Kevin to be happy, successful and to experience the best high school years he has.

I had to do something very hard you guys. I had to leave him there, and let him live there.

I realized that my fantasies, my dreams of what family is is what needed to be let go. I have realized the last few years my mistake has been trying to form this sense of family that I fantasized about, rather than just loving the people around me so that family could be created.

And isn’t this the truth for most of us… Maybe? We don’t realize that family is created when we let go of our expectations, our fantasies, our needs and we just love the people around us, just the way they are.

What I miss with Kevin can never be again. It hurts. I don’t have the answers either. I can’t tell you that divorce is wrong, or re-marrying is wrong, or having children too soon is a mistake. I just don’t know. All I know is that tonight, Kevin is safe, he is loved, and even though he isn’t here with me physically, my heart is with him.

There are good people in this world. People who take in other people’s children and love them. In the end, that is all that matters.

Love Always