Wanna Go for a Run?

I have ran and finished two marathons. My first marathon I finished with a time of 5 hours 10 minutes. My second marathon I finished with a time of 4 hours and 29 minutes. It’s not that impressive when compared to elite runners who can run it in 2 -3 hours, however, the fact that I can run for 26.2 miles is impressive and so I’d like to share to those of you who are entertaining the thought about running.

I remember a few years ago when I thought I would never be one of “those” people– the 26.2 sticker on the back window of their car. The people who get up at o’dark o’clock to squeeze in some miles. The people who seem to check the weather constantly in hopes that by some miracle the weather will change to ideal conditions to help with a PR (Personal Record). Yup, even running has its own acronyms and language. Soon, you will be talking about pacing, sub (place number of miles here), splits, hitting the wall and so forth. The running community is definitely a different kinda world, but don’t let it intimidate you and don’t write it off just yet.

What I love about running is that there are no concrete rules to follow. You pretty much make it what you want. You want to run 1 mile, great! Want to walk/run for twenty minutes, awesome! The best part about this sport, is that you compete with yourself, not necessarily other runners. It doesn’t matter at all what place you get in a race. IT DOESN’T MATTER! What does matter? Finishing the race. Beating your time from the last one, if that is your goal. You never see a Facebook post saying, “I came in 3,921st!”

I could go on and on why running is the best sport/ exercise there is, but what I really want is for you to realize that it doesn’t matter how athletic you are, what your fitness level is, or if you are an athlete, running makes your life better!

I was first introduced to running by my uncle. There was something fascinating about racing. I joined the track team in middle school and then high school. I mostly ran sprints, specifically the hurdles in track and field. I joined Cross Country my freshman year. It wasn’t my favorite sport, but I ran to help with my track career. Distance was something I didn’t think I could do very well.

I wanted to run track in college but instead I got married, then divorced, re-married had two kids, divorced again, re-married had another baby. Needless to say running was put on the back burner for the next few years.

Running was something I did when I had a chance, in order to get a work out in, or to help me shed a few extra pounds gained from all the IPAs I loved. I would sign up for races like the Chips and Salsa, Duke City, but I would only run the 5Ks (3.1 miles), because anything longer than that seemed impossible.

NINE MARATHONS!!

I remember being in awe when I would hear of others finishing their marathons. My very dear and best friend completed 9 marathons, along with half marathons, batton marches and bike races! This is where the proximity principle comes in handy. When you start to hang out with people accomplishing big goals, you start to get influenced. This is why joining running groups is so important. I prefer running alone, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of groups for accountability and once in a while I will run with a friend. So if you are thinking about embarking on your own journey, find someone who inspires you with their own track record and ask them questions, join a running group, or log on to google and start searching. There are tons of resources out there, but the best ones, in my opinion, are the people around you.

It wasn’t until after the birth of my third child that I started thinking seriously about running. I signed up for 10Ks (6.2 miles) instead of 5ks. One year at the Chips and Salsa race, I placed 1st in my age group for the 10K and something inside me whispered that maybe I could run a half marathon (13.2 miles).

When talking with other runners, they would tell me, “If you can run 6 miles you can run 13.” They added, “What you run in your training, you can double during a race.” I wasn’t too sure about that advice, since there is a huge difference from 3 miles to 6 miles to the scary 13 miles, in my opinion.

So I signed up for my first half marathon at the Duke City Marathon back in 2017. I had no idea what to expect, how to train and what I needed to do with my nutrition to support my training. So I asked my runner friends about training, read articles from Runner’s World, joined Facebook running groups. My goal was anything faster than 2 hours. Sure enough I ran a 1:58 for my first half marathon. After that, I have not been able to PR the next few half marathons I ran. I am not sure why, the only thing that changed was my diet. Back then I was eating Isagenix and using their supplements and stopped for a bit, so needless to say, I started on their program again, and I don’t regret the extra few dollars I spend for it.

First Half Marathon

So here I am two marathons later, and have several people asking me what the secret is. So I have decided to write a series of posts to share some of the experiences if you are at all interested in joining the dark side.

The first step- BELIEVE.

Before you buy those cute running shoes, and turn on your play list for that first run, you need to check your attitude. Just like you need fuel before you start your vehicle and head down the road, you need to fill your mind with positive beliefs. If you HATE running then you are probably not going to go very far. If you had bad experiences with running, then you are probably going to avoid it. If you think you just don’t have the stamina or endurance, then you are right.

You have to change your mindset about running.

You have to believe that you can run. Believe that you can run fast. Believe that you can run far. Believe that you can cross that finish line! Once you make that decision to believe in yourself and run, you will begin a love/ hate relationship that will benefit you in ways you can’t even imagine. Not to mention that you will surround yourself with a community that kicks ass.

So, you wanna go for a run?

Love Always

The Last Ten Years…

2010- Divorced. It was not easy for anyone. Restraining orders, court hearings, custody issues etc... 
My first house as a single mom

2011- Accepted in the CDP (Career Development Program) at UNM to become teacher. Only 17 were accepted. I was torn with the decision to attend the CDP program or find an accounting job. I have a degree in Accounting. I knew that the accounting job would give me a salary quickly, and since becoming a single mom I needed the money. I also knew that I was being called to teach. It was a risk in a lot of ways, but I had to answer the call. So we lived off of student loans while I finished school. Finding a teaching job was difficult after graduation. Even though my first gig was a 5th grade class, it was definitely my worst year. Since I was considered a short hire, I was not re-hired for the job. I was relieved and scared at the same time, since I desperately needed a job. So when I dropped off my 6th grader at her new middle school- I thought what the heck- I applied, got an interview and wasn’t hired until two days before school started, and not for the position I applied for. Instead I found myself teaching 6th Grade Gifted Language Arts.

Master’s Degree in Elementary Education

2012- First year as a middle school teacher. I found my place! Got my endorsement in Gifted Education and Language Arts so I could stay. And right before the year ends, I meet Dan through his brother who I worked with at that middle school.

Always smiling and laughing

2013- Engaged at Disney World. Dan turns 40. I move in with Dan, and once again at the end of the year- pregnant!

The sign says it all

2014- Transfer to Desert Ridge Middle School, the best middle school in the state! Got married. A short and sweet ceremony at Dan’s parents back yard. Avery is born.

She said yes…
8lbs 8oz

2015- Postpartum Depression hits me hard. Lots of fighting, crying and isolation. I really don’t remember anything else that year. Dan gets a new job at Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation.

2016- Medication and therapy help me and I see the light. Slowly reconnect with people. Dan gets a new job at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Santa Fe.

Silliness is our game

2017- My oldest graduates high school. Mother daughter trip to Belize. Then she goes away to college, lots of tears. Dan gets a new job with Casa Esperanza.

Grew up too fast
Snooba 🙂
2018- Loving life and making new friends. Dan loses his job at Casa. I turn 40. I start taking my running to new distances. 
First half marathon
2019- Ran my first marathon. Go me! Dan starts delivering pizzas for Dominoes. Go Dan! I start a running camp. Dan starts a new gig at Walmart, and then finally settles into ADC. 

What a decade it has been!

2020- What I know for sure in 2020 is that Kevin will graduate from High School, and then he will be off on his own adventure. I also know that the predictable life I have created, and proudly so, will continue to be predictable in my everyday ordinary life.

I know it’s tempting to expect and hope for all the best in 2020, but if I learned anything these ten years, is that life will always throw surprises. Good and bad. It’s tempting to chant, “2020 is gonna be our year!” And though my heart believes it, I have to say that last few years have made us who we are. Dan and I have been there for each other in our worst and our best. 2020 is not going to be any different than all the years past. It’s another trip around the sun and transmissions will break, water heaters will leak, heaters will stop throwing heat, cancer will continue to threaten and steal our loved ones, relationships will grow, or grow a part, new jobs and opportunities will arise and sometimes they demise. Much like the magic of Christmas, New Years brings on a euphoric sense of newness and second chances. We all want a smooth ride. Truth be told, it’s too boring when there are no challenges to overcome. Challenges shapes our character and delivers compassion to our hearts.

2019 taught me that while you are waiting for your life to get better, it’s time for YOU to get better.

Challenges are not meant to break you, they are meant for you to find and have a purpose in your life. 2019 taught me that I can’t expect life to be perfect- because it never will be. So instead of expecting 2020 to be a perfect year, I expect it to be a year of purpose.

Happy New Years My Friends!

Love Always!

Five Years Later (A birth story)

Every mom has a birth story. A story that is filled with awe, wonder, and lots of love. The truth is, that some birth stories are not always movie worthy or worth repeating. Having been on both ends, the laborer and the supporter when my first nephew was born, I have many stories of birth.

Avery’s birth was a difficult one. She was already past her due date, and we were already cautious with the her heart rate with every contraction I had. For reasons we did not know at the time, her heart rate would drop after every contraction.

After a few hours in the hospital I decided to try the cheating way and get an epidural. The other two babies before I had natural. I was in my early twenties so I was naive and didn’t know better. After watching my sister deliver her first born with her epidural, can you believe that little brat was talking on the phone and saying, “Oh look… I’m having a contraction right now,” with the biggest smirk on her face. How stupid was I to go through all that pain?

Needless to say, the epidural did not work. It worked for maybe an hour. Then there was something called a “hot spot” on my lower left abdomen. It was a perfect circle. With each contraction the hot spot grew. They pumped my I.V. with more medicine to numb the area, and with just my luck, nothing happened except that my legs were numb and I was feeling every contraction. Oh, I forgot to mention, that Avery was not dropping either. That means even though I was dilating, her head was still not in position for delivery. So after artificially breaking my water, they decided to pump me with more water to encourage her to drop.

All that I could do was listen to this classical music Dan was playing for me and breathe through the pain. Then after a very strong ass contraction, and I was finally dilated to 10 cm., Avery’s heart rate dropped to an uncomfortable rate. I could see in Dan’s face something wasn’t right.

The Doctor looked at me and said, “We are going to have to perform a c-section.” So they gave me more drugs to stop the contractions, and gave me a bunch of paper work to sign. They placed that funny looking cap on me and made me drink some god awful syrup to make sure I don’t vomit while I am under. Since my epidural failed, I would have to go through the c-section completely under and without Dan by side.

They made him pack up our stuff and lead him to another room and they wheeled me in the O.R. and I waited. Then when it was time, they gave me the anesthesia and everything went black.

With all the details above, this is not where the birth story ends. I believe that every mom dreams about her birth story. In fact, now a days, we create birth plans. Plans that will help mothers have safe, healthy and memorable birth stories. Dan and I definitely had one, however, it did not prepare us for what happened.

See, while I was still under, Avery was taken from my womb and wrapped up to give to Daddy. I missed her first cry. I missed Dan’s face when he first met her. While carrying this child for nine months, and not only did I carry her, I was incredibly HUGE! All I could dream about was that day, the day she met her mommy and daddy together.

When I came to, I was shaking uncontrollably. I saw Dan holding Avery. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t control the shaking.

Even with all that said, it still does not end there. No. What followed after that day, was nothing but hurt and pain. I was already disappointed with the c-section and then discovered that her Grandma was able to meet her while I was still under. This event caused a huge rift between us. I am not going to put blame on anyone, it just happened, and it hurt me.

It took two hard years to work through it. Mostly because communicating honestly and openly was something I couldn’t do at the time. Turns out I was going through Post-Partum Depression so I was a huge ball of fucked up.

So we are celebrating Avery’s fifth birthday tomorrow, and although we have come along way, and I am so happy that Avery and her Grandma have a wonderful relationship now, one that warms my heart and brings us all joy. Unfortunately, it is also the reason why her Uncle, Dan’s brother, continues to alienate us. It has been five years since we all talked. Five years and Avery does not know her uncle. It pains us all, but we cannot control anyone and we cannot change the past.

So tonight I write this little blog to finally accept what is. To let go of the hope that a perfect family exists. So tomorrow we will light the candles on her unicorn cake and she will make her little wish and we will smile, laugh and enjoy the moment even though there will be an empty chair at the table.

Life goes on my friends and even though our stories don’t go as plan, and sometimes our story just fucking sucks, but it is so important to let go of what cannot be changed and embrace the life that is.

Happy Birthday my little princess!

Love Always

Happy 40 Years Sister

Jo aka Fina,

Can you believe that I have known you your entire life? 40 years of hanging out and experiencing life’s biggest milestones- we sure did have a good time when we were little! Even though I tried to stuff bread down your throat because I wasn’t sure why you wouldn’t leave! The forts at the back of the house, the dancing in the garage, smoking toilet paper in our Grandparent’s bathroom. And don’t forget that I always knew how you lost your two front teeth, perhaps that was Karma’s way of getting back at you for destroying two perfectly good twinkies on our Grandma’s living room floor!

Then we started to grow up. How the hell did we survive sharing a room AND a bathroom without killing each other!?! Remember the masking tape we placed in the middle of room? Actually, you used masking tape for every, fucking, thing!  What’s so cool about growing up with you is the secrets I have about you. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone how you use to save the SAME piece of gum on your headboard for at least a week straight. No, I won’t mention to a soul how you cut your own bangs because, well why not? Your secrets are safe with me!

Then we started celebrating more grown up milestones- When you graduated from high school, and soon after experienced your first heart break. When you walked down the aisle (the first time) only to have your heart break into pieces with two little angels that you will meet one day. I remember the day you trusted me with the news that you knew, deep down inside that you wanted something different for yourself. Then a few years later, I got to witness you become a Mom for the first time. I’m not sure who cried more, you or me. It was definitely a moment that I will cherish.  Then one sunny day, at a soccer game, you introduced me to your soulmate as your “friend” and we all knew better! The day you married him, I saw the smile on your face, and I knew that your heart was slowly and surely becoming whole again. Now you have four crazy kids and house that you have made into home.  You may not know this, but your strength gave me strength to go after my dreams.

Now here we are! 40 years later- another milestone- and you are still kicking ass and I can’t think of a better “twinkie” to have spent my life with.  Just so everyone knows… that on September 23, 1979, the world gained a beautiful soul!

Welcome to your Forties bitch, it’s going to be a wild ride!!

Love Always and Your Sister Always,

Roxanne

Somedays Are Like This

Today sucked! For those of you who have had children, do you remember the strong feeling of love and protection you felt when you held your little one for the first time? Did you ever feel like you were going to knock the shit out of the doctor when they poked your little one with a needle because it caused them pain?

Today was one of those days. Stacy had her biopsy this morning and I hated that she had to lay on that sterile flat table while they poked her. She was already nervous, and when the doctor confirmed that a biopsy was necessary I could see the tears well up in her eyes. They begin to blurt out information to her and having her sign paper work, and all I can see is that my baby girl was upset. All I could do was hold her and plant seeds of courage. I wanted desperately to trade places with her.

We should get results by Tuesday. Until then we wait and hope for the best case. A benign mass that doesn’t need to be removed with surgery.

Worst case– well we can’t think about that can we?

What’s totally serendipitous is that I have been doing this book study Thursday night, in a small group called “Living Free” at Sagebrush Church. They’re small support groups for fucked up people like myself. This study is about fear. How to handle fear in our lives, because we can’t completely get rid of it that shit. (I’m cussing more than usual because I am PMSing, emotional, and had my own medical stuff thrown at me today as well, so I feel like cussing!) Anyway, the author, Steven Furtick, wrote this book, “Crashing the Chatterbox,” and how we can deal with the fears in our life. He suggests that we should think about our fears when they start to creep up on us. In other words, when the “what ifs” start playing roller coaster with your mind, you should face it and face it with a counter of faith. Here is an example. What if the tumor is not benign? That would be devastating. She would have to get treatment. She may need surgery. She’s been down that road before. She’s tough! She can do it! This girl will overcome this and I will support her and damn it–I’ll shave my own head in solidarity! No matter what happens, I know she will get through this. I know she will. She is a fighter, and she is strong!

I don’t understand friends. So much bad shit all around us. It’s easy to give in to the fears and then let them control us down the rabbit hole of darkness and despair. It takes faith to face the fear and know that somehow, in someway, everything works out. Somehow we come out of it stronger and wiser.

As her mommy I wish I could give her a life that is free of suffering and pain, a life that is smooth sailing. No troubles. Just like Nemo’s dad! Keep her in her room and never let anything bad happen to her, which means nothing will happen to her…

Meanwhile, I have been having issues with my bladder and after a consultation and exam with my doctor, she has ordered me to quit caffeine, alcohol, and chili. There may be a body in my backyard that has been fed to my chickens… just sayin. I think I need a new doctor! CHILI?!?! NO! I don’t think so bitch! Maybe I should move to Colorado!

Love Always

Your Heart Beats On

I was only 12 years old, in fact I had just turned 12 a week before. I was in my bedroom hanging up posters I had received as gifts. I was really into unicorns, and although I can’t remember who bought me that poster, it was the most epic unicorn poster. I was also annoyed with my sister, because we all know how annoying little sisters are, especially if you have to share a room with them!!

In fact, that morning when you were sitting in the porch, and we were arguing over a necklace, you nodded your head to us and said, “Don’t fight with each other hitas, one day you won’t have each other.” I wonder if you knew. If you knew that was the last interaction we would have. You planned an evening at the lake, to go fishing. We wanted to join you- how we loved fishing with you in that majestic lake. You told us no. So in our disappointment we went our separate ways and then a few precious hours later, Grandma came home in a panic. She said you were in an ambulance on your way to the hospital.

Adults don’t like to tell children the truth- or at least the WHOLE truth. Adults think children will somehow get hurt if they are told the truth. They mean well, but children are not as dumb as they treat them. I understand that we want to keep our children safe, and how we desperately want them to stay innocent and pure. When our family got into the car and headed to the hospital I prayed. I can see, no smell the fear around us all. The adults didn’t want to tell us what was going on, only that you were in the hospital.

We beat the ambulance to the hospital. Your heart stopped while you were fishing, and the lake was 30 miles away- a solid 45 minute drive. So our dad took the car to find it and follow it to the hospital. We sat in the waiting area and tried to stay busy. There was an empty receptionist desk, and so my sister and I played pretend until our dad finally appeared. His countenance was grave and his eyes were sunken in. Grandma was sitting with her rosary praying. Mom was watching T.V. No news, only that they were working on him.

When the doctor finally came out, it seemed as if time itself had stopped. Somehow all those little annoyances that were so annoying became no longer such a big deal. Somehow everything I thought was so important, became less important. The only thing that mattered at that time was you. You had to be okay. You had to survive. You would somehow come through, the same way you did when you fought in World War II.

Instead, the doctor told us that you did not make it. The translator for Grandma told her that they did everything they could, and they just couldn’t get your heart to beat again. She dropped her head, clutched her rosary to her heart and cried. All I could do was hold my breath.

When I saw you laying on the hospital bed, it didn’t look like you. I told myself it wasn’t you. I told myself the doctors made a mistake. This was not my Pita. The very life that was inside you, now gone.

It was in the waiting room when dad gave us your coins in your pocket. The coins you collected while over seas. I took it, ran to the bathroom and cried in secret. I didn’t realize I had lost them until that morning. I had spent that night on your bed with my sister. I awoke with the sound of my Uncles and Aunts who arrived from out of town. It felt like a dream, no a nightmare of some sort.

I kept expecting you to walk into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of coffee and listen to the Spanish Radio. I kept expecting to see you sitting in the porch carving out furniture for your grandkids. Instead strangers kept showing up with donuts… so many donuts! Giving us their condolences, and I kept thinking I was going to wake up any time now.

Your heart may have stopped beating this day, 29 years ago, but your heart beats in me, and my sisters and all of the children who called you Pita!

Thank you for teaching our family how to fish, how to love, and most importantly, “don’t fight with each other children, one day you won’t have each other.”

Love Always

A Late Start

Today I am 41 years old. I woke up, poured myself some coffee, sat in my favorite chair and read my morning devotionals. Now that it is summer break I don’t have to rush through it, instead I can sit quietly and just soak it all in.

One of the habits I am starting to form is to be grateful- to count my blessings. I sat in my chair and realized that I have been in this house for five years now. As that may sound like a little thing, it is a big deal for me. Since I was 20 I had moved every year or every other year until I married Dan. I shuffled around trying to find a better place, a cheaper place or to simply, get away.

I know some people move a lot because they have to, I moved around a lot because my life was such a mess. Now that I have been in this place for a few years, and plan to for a long time, I finally feel I at home.

It’s easy to start thinking stuff like, “If only I had this when I was younger.” Or, “If I had started doing this stuff in my twenties, imagine where I would be today!” It’s easy to put certain mile stones and attach them to our age. Then we start to fear that we are missing out, or not having a FULL abundant life, because we haven’t done this or that at a certain age. Such Hogwash!!

Back in January, I accomplished something huge- I ran 26.2 miles. I was 40. I had wanted to run a marathon for YEARS, but I just did not have the time to train.

There were over 10,000 runners for the Houston Marathon, and so the organizers placed us in corrals according to pace. I was placed in corral B. By the time I got there, after using the bathroom, checking in my gear, it was shut down. I had to walk to corral C. By the miracle of the Running Gods, I found my bestie Alma- we separated as she was placed in corral C.

We were surrounded by a crowd. I mean completely surrounded. We were standing on the sidewalk waiting to enter the corral. The race started at 7:00 A.M. and sure enough it started right on time. Slowly we marched like the penguins in “March of the Penguins” trying to reach our destination.

Then we hear, “Corral C is closed!” Suddenly I can feel the people around me wanting to rush to corral D I thought this was how I was going to die! Trampled by runners before I could run my debut marathon.

By the time we were able to reach corral D it was 7:30ish. The crowd still surrounding us as we slowly and inch by inch get closer to the start.

When I finally see the start line, I take a deep breath and begin to psych myself up. By the time I was able to pass the start line, it was 7:50ish. It took almost an entire hour for us to start the race.

Luckily with our technology, my time does not start recording until I cross that start line, so even though it took an hour for me to get there, my time was not effected. I still ran 26.2 miles even though I had a late start.

You probably see where I am going with this. We’ve heard it many times before, “It’s never too late to start, to plan, to accomplish.” Life throws stuff at us, and sometimes we do stuff that results in us having to put stuff on hold, or to wait a little longer for whatever it is we want. I don’t know why society puts pressure on us, or if we put it on ourselves, that we have to marry at a certain age, buy a house, and have kids- in that order too- or we are missing out or life isn’t as meaningful.

The truth is that life isn’t rigid like that. Life isn’t a straight line from start to finish. It’s thinking and believing that life is SUPPOSE to be a certain way that makes us feel bad, not how our lives truly are.

So where ever you find yourself today, be thankful. Let go of the messages that say your life isn’t meaningful because you haven’t done this or that yet. It is NEVER too late to start. Run your own race!

Love Always!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

A Mother’s Day Story

The parking lot was empty. Just an old building, falling apart but sturdy on the foundation. She just couldn’t hold it in anymore. The tears started to cumulate and the choking feeling in her throat had to be released. She laid her head on the steering wheel and cried. The baby was sound asleep in the back seat and the one forming in her womb stirred. “God, I need food to feed my babies and the church pantry is closed. What do I do?”

It was just two years ago, drunk and no worries in the world. All that mattered was satisfying her desire to fill the void. To feel beautiful and wanted.

The pregnancy test showed positive and all she could do was stare at it and murmur “No, No, No…” She wanted a baby, eventually, but not now, not like this. After all, she did just go through a divorce, at the ripe age of 19. The baby daddy was someone she only knew for a few months.

When she sat on the examining table, the doctor confirmed that she was indeed expecting. He asked what she wanted to do. She was paralyzed with fear but she knew in her heart and soul that she was going to have this baby and to do whatever it took to raise her. It didn’t occur to her to terminate.

The odds were against her. Oh! they were very much against her!

Unmarried. No permanent place of her own. No job. Just a 20 year old college girl trying to find her place in this world.

Leaving that doctor’s office she made a promise to her baby and to herself. She placed her shaky palm on her womb and whispered, “No matter what happens, little one, I promise you that I will give you everything I never had, I promise you that I will protect you and love you.”

That day she and the baby daddy found a place to live and started on journey that would not be comfortable, a journey that would encompass growing pains, hardships, heartaches, and redemption.

Two years later and she was expecting her second child. There wasn’t enough money for the month, and not enough government subsidies to assist with the necessities of life. She knew that a church offered food to families in need. It was closed and she just couldn’t hold it in anymore. Hopeless. Empty. Angry. Angry for letting her life be exactly what she didn’t want it to be. She stared in the reflection of the rear view mirror, eyes swollen and tear stains on her cheeks. She had to admit that she was falling into the same footsteps as her own mother. She stared into those eyes and murmured, “No, No, No… I will not let this happen.”

She left that parking lot, feeling a lot like that old building- falling apart, empty but had a sturdy foundation. That foundation was love, grit, determination, and faith.

A few years later, with a lot of therapy, support groups, faith and facing some Giants along the way, she made a life for herself and her children.

If you ask her today about her “why,” about what makes her so strong and why she works so hard. She’ll tell you their names are Stacy and Kevin. Fourteen years later, God said, “Well, since you love them so much, let’s bring Avery along to spread even more joy, to remind you that children are not an inconvenience, they are the symbol of love, hope and wonder. They are a blessing as you are to me.” There are days I disagree with God when these kids drive me to my breaking point sometimes… but they truly did save my life.

And how true! Because of my children, I learned what God’s love was all about. I may have lived my life backwards, but I would not want it any other way. I cannot imagine a world without my Stacy and Kevin and Avery. After that day at the parking lot, I no longer wondered where food was coming from. Don’t get me wrong, I still hunger. I hunger for more joy, love, peace and faith for the remainder of my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there. Doesn’t matter how your children came into your life, you love them and will do anything for them. I promise you that you are doing better than you think you are.

Also don’t forget to use condoms or don’t forget to take your birth control pills people. 😉 After all, are we not all a product of druken sex? 🙂 That was a joke…

Love Always

It’s Going to be Okay

For the last several years, I have had my students work on a final project to end the school year. I like to end the year with reading of The Giver. If you have not read this piece of treasure, please do yourself a favor and take a few hours and read it. The cliff notes of the story is about a young boy who lives in a Dystopian world-a world with no color, no pain, no past. As the protagonist becomes more enlightened about the world beyond- a world of color, music and love, he makes a heroic escape to “Elsewhere” to save another soul from injustice.

I ask my students to create a Utopia in response to the reading. I ask them to create a money system, a government, theology, family structures, level of technology, agriculture, rituals, traditions etc. I also have them create a flag and map.

It’s a great creative and critical thinking project, and it never fails to amaze me how some of their Utopias turn out.

It does make me think about the world we create in our own minds. Don’t we all carry in our hearts a Utopia of sorts. Don’t we strive to make this perfect world a reality?

In my little perfect world, everyone gets along. There is peace. Everyone forgives and respects each other and drinks beer and eats pizza everyday- without gaining any extra weight.

In my perfect little world, everyone would have a safe home to live in and enough food to eat.

In my perfect little world, everyone is included and there is no need to lie or steal or cheat.

As simple as that sounds, I believe we all tend to create a world in our minds that is much much better than the one we live in.

As middle age becomes me and I ponder more and more about my time here on this planet, I realize more and more that the perfect little world I create causes more problems than it does good.

For one, it makes me feel bad that my life isn’t at all as I imagined it “should be.” The image of my perfect world causes me to “control” situations and problems to fit my idea of what I believe to be best. And when I try to “control” anything in my life- frustration, anger, disappointment and discouragement are born.

You see, when we create this world of what “should be” it is easy to become discouraged by the gap between our ideal and the real. And when we long for the ideal we criticize the real. And then it is tempting to just throw in the towel and give up on the ideal and just settle for the real.

It seems to me that real maturity has to do with living in the in between. To love the reality, without apology or shame, in spite of its imperfections, and still strive for the ideal.

After all are we not called to love REAL people, not IDEAL people?

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community (even if their intentions are ever so earnest), but the person who loves those around them will create community.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For me it is time to destroy my ideas of what “should be.” I don’t want to hold people to a standard that I myself cannot live up to. As a human race, we will fall short. We will hurt others. We will make wrong decisions. We will cheat. We will lie. And then we will also love. We give when there is a need. We encourage others. We laugh. And we have moments of exquisite happiness when a child is born, or get married, or reach a challenging goal of some kind. And then in a blink of an eye all that was good is taken away- divorce, death, rifts. Then slowly we once again experience the rich grace God has for us all.

Brene Brown teaches that we as humans have a strong need to belong. To be a part of a community. She states that the opposite of belonging is not aloneness, but fitting in. When we create a world that others or situations must “fit” in order for us to be happy, then we have experienced a taste of hell.

This post is to encourage you- because you might find yourself in a situation that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe your brother decides that his life is better without you. Maybe you find yourself in a place of unemployment and uncertainty. Maybe you find yourself divorced- twice or three times. Maybe you just found out about a diagnosis. Maybe you are in the middle of grief and mourning. Maybe you find yourself an outsider of some sort. Maybe your marriage is not anything as you planned. Maybe you have been betrayed, abandoned or abused.

I encourage you right now because life IS suppose to be hard, and crazy and messy and confusing. Life isn’t a neat tidy experience. It is in the chaos we find peace when realize that we are not alone in our ugliness and beauty. Embrace what is and strive to suck less with each day we are given. We CANNOT control the surroundings- but we can choose to love or life anyway, because life loves you! Life is a gift and the people in them is your treasure. Love them and your life, and you will be okay!

Love Always

Slavery to Smiling and Love

Toothaches suck. When I was sixteen I woke up one morning with a throbbing pain in my mouth. At first it wasn’t so bad, I could tolerate it. All I had to do was chew my food on the other side of my mouth. Then before I knew it, the pain was so bad I couldn’t focus on anything else.

It’s true that I neglected my oral hygiene when I was young. I was never told to brush my teeth before bed or in the morning when I left for school. In fact, my own mom was wearing dentures when she was in her forties.

The only time I even attempted to brush my teeth was when my uncles would come for a visit. When I saw them drive up our driveway, I would run to the bathroom and brush my front teeth as fast as I could. Every time they would come for a visit, they would ask us (my sister and me) if we have been brushing our teeth. They grew up without habit of oral hygiene and ended up with some expensive crowns.

I would open my mouth real wide, and they would take a look inside, and then give my sister and I a pat on the back for what looked like clean shiny teeth.

Although the quick brush was able to fool my uncles into believing we brushed our teeth on a regular basis, the deceit was not fooling the natural consequences of what I would have to face!

The only time I ever visited the Dentist when I was young, was when the pain was so unbearable due to the abscess in my tooth that was infected. I sat in this uncomfortable chair, and when the Doc looked into my mouth, “WHOA! It’s the Grand Canyon!” No joke. The Dentist said I needed a root canal and a crown. Since we didn’t have the money to pay for such a procedure, he prescribed me some antibiotics and very strong painkillers in the mean time.

This was the summer of my Sophomore year and we were headed to Farmington, New Mexico for a Basketball Camp. I don’t remember anything from that trip. I was so high from the medicine and the abscess wasn’t going to relent, so the entire trip I was sleeping in the Hotel and trying my best to stay awake on the bench. Pretty sure I didn’t get a lot of playing time.

When I finally arrived home, I was able to see another Dentist in the rural town of Questa, a much smaller village and so the cost of seeing a Dentist was cheaper than one in the small village of Taos.

The Dentist told my dad that I needed a root canal and a crown. My dad refused. He told the Dentist to just pull it. The Dentist explained that doing that would cause my teeth to shift and I was too young to pull my permanent teeth.

My dad didn’t care, he didn’t have the money to pay for the procedure. The Dentist refused to pull it. So he had his secretary call around and found a Dentist in Santa Fe who would do it for practically no cost.

That also meant I had to deal with the pain and taking the painkillers until I was able to see the Savior, my Hero of saving my tooth.

When I was finally able to sit and have the procedure done, the Dentist was able to save my tooth with a root canal and placed a “temporary” crown on it. That will be important information later.

You would think after that ordeal I would have been better with my oral hygiene. Well, it just wasn’t a habit I formed.

Fast forward to my early twenties, and I kept getting sick. No matter how many times I took my antibiotics, the sickness kept coming back.

Since I was a young mother of two children, and did not have a good paying job, rather I had no job because I was still working on my undergraduate degree, we were able to receive Medicaid, which meant I could start seeing a Dentist. When the x-rays were developed, the Dentist showed me this black stuff hanging around my tooth that was saved a few years ago. The crown, that was supposed to be temporary, was leaking and bacteria was growing and making me sick.

So I had to undergo ANOTHER root canal and this time, I was fitted for a proper crown. I remember when I saw my Dentist for a follow up and the Hygienist was giving me a good cleaning. She was telling me that I needed to do a better job with my oral hygiene, so I humbly asked her, “Can you show me how to properly brush my teeth?”

She smiled, grabbed the model they use when teaching young children, and she showed me exactly “how” to keep my teeth clean with floss and a good toothbrush, and therefore free from any oral crisis.

To this day I am a slave to my toothbrush! Isn’t life just the same way?

If you really think about- there really isn’t any other way to live, even though we don’t like it.

In other words, if we want to be free from cavities, root canals, crowns and such we have to become a slave to the toothbrush. We can’t be free from the toothbrush and expect to have a clean, shiny smile free of pain and bad breath.

If we want to have financial peace and we continue to charge credit cards and take out loans, then you are a slave to the lenders, no peace there! In order to be free from those nasty collectors and bankruptcy, you must be a slave to saving your money and managing it with a budget.

If we want to be physically fit, we have to become a slave to physical exercise and eating right. Otherwise we are a slave to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

If we want to have loving, healthy relationships, we have to become slaves to forgiveness, compromise, setting boundaries, and let go of the need to be right all the time. Otherwise we end up becoming a slave to assholeism–(don’t think that is a word) which is a case of resentment with a touch of bitterness and pride.

I think you get the picture, and maybe the word slave is too strong an adjective to describe it, however, the more I think about it, the more I realize that although the word slave does have a negative connotation, the consequences of being a slave to certain ideas, habits, and life styles will result in a high cost– whether it be a negative result, or a positive result. So I do believe the word slave fits just right, because depending on our choice of who we are a slave to will determine the quality of our lives.

Yeah, that did not make any sense! Maybe I should smile more, because I can and it’s my best feature, and let the world know, I am a slave to love and hope and the rest is just that–live and let live!

LOVE ALWAYS and SMILE!