Finishing the Race

If only I had the gift to put into words the experience I had completing my first marathon. To explain the rush of adrenaline, the power of mind over body, how the encouragement from the spectators on the course and at home were able to keep me going when I felt truly defeated.

How do I describe the victory? How do I explain the emotions when I saw the finish line and was able to cross it?

Perhaps it is one of those precious moments in life that can only be experienced by a person to truly understand the meaning of such a big life moment. It is like a woman giving birth- the anticipation, then the hard and painful labor which is all forgotten with the sweet, sweet, reward of the baby in your arms.

Not everyone is a runner, and not every runner has ran a marathon. Yet, I want to share this experience with the world- not to boast, or to pull on my own boot straps- but to encourage, edify and inspire.

The 2019 Houston Marathon was an out of body experience. The start took 50 minutes! 27,000 runners including the Elite athletes from all over the world. How they are able to run 26.2 miles in just 2 hours is beyond me. It took me a little over 5 hours, and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic!

The main goal was to finish- no time restrictions, no expectations on keeping up with the ones passing me. Just run my own race.

When I committed to running the marathon I had my doubts. 26.2 miles! Really? I had run half marathons before and those were a HUGE challenge. How could I possibly double that mileage?

In my training I was only able to run up to 18 miles. So when race day came, I was nervous. Would my body be able to give me 8 more miles? Would I hit the wall and settle for the DNF (Did Not Finish) sticker rather than the 26.2 sticker?

When I hit mile 20 I told myself I would do whatever it took to get me to that finish line.

Mile 21 I text my hubby:

I knew back home that my family was tracking my progress- mile by mile- so I made every effort not to falter.

Mile 24 I was depleted! I took a deep breath- told myself that this will be over soon, just 2.2 miles to go. Even though I was in pain, I put one foot in front of the other.

The very last mile felt like a lifetime. I kept asking, “Where is the finish line?” THEN just when I felt like I could not go on any further- I saw it! The finish.

The tears! The joy! The feeling of accomplishment! I did it! All that hard work had paid off!

When I saw my dearest friend, Alma, when she had completed number 9… yeah 9… I hugged her and told her, “I get it now!” I understood the desire to do it again. I truly believed she was crazy- and even though that may be true- I realized that I wanted to be a part of that crazy. I’m not saying I will do another, but it is possible. When you cross that finish line, you do believe that anything is possible.

The best part, however, of the whole experience was the support and love I received from my family. Just a few minutes after finishing the race of my life, my Uncle and Brother-in-Law sent me a video of Congratulations. I received text messages from my sisters, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my friends and co-workers who were rooting for me. This may sound a bit like a hyperbole, but I never felt more loved! What I know for sure, is that even if I hadn’t finished the race-if I had given up- those same people would have still made me feel as loved.

That’s what life means to me. It means to love and to receive love. Sometimes our dreams come true, and sometimes they don’t. All that matters is that there are people in your life who love you NO MATTER WHAT!

Love Always

~Special Thanks to my Best Friend Alma! Thanks for inspiring and encouraging me! Keep running girl!

Our little flower charms

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