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. ūüėČ After all, are we not all a product of druken sex? ūüôā 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

The In Between

Sometimes we focus so much on the outcome we forget to see what is right before us. Sometimes we feel so much regret of the past that we can’t focus on what is on our nose. We spend a lot of our thinking in the past, and a lot of our planning for the future. We forget that life lives between the two. We’ve heard it so many times- live in the present moment. Fuck, that’s hard!

So we finally heard from the Natural History Museum, and Dan did not get the job.

Naturally we were disappointed. In some ways, we really, really wanted him to have that job. We planned, we talked and we lived as if he would get this job.

Life is funny that way. It never seems to go the way you want it to. Damn it, why can’t we just control everything- make everything the way we want it?

We thought this delivering pizza gig was going to be a side gig, not the main gig. We planned ahead, recounting our dreams of the future. You, know retiring with a million dollar net worth, traveling the world and making a difference in other peoples lives.

Instead, we find ourselves in the in-between space. The space between our dreams and our reality. The space between our past and our future. The space where waiting is the only faith we can muster.

It is so hard to live in the moment when disappointment hits you. At least it is for me.

This morning I experienced my first real panic attack. I sponsor Student Council for the school I work at and we meet Tuesdays, before school starts, at 7:15 A.M. I had a guest speaker come in to help us do a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Just before dismissal, the whole room went black! I felt dizzy and my chest felt heavy. When I was able to catch my breath, the entire room was fuzzy and spotty. I thought maybe I was going to pass out. I took a few deep breaths and a few seconds later everything became clear again.

Then by lunch time, a migraine attack.

I’m not handling this life thing very good.

I spend a lot of time regretting my past- mostly I keep beating myself up for the rift that we have with my brother-in-law. I blame myself and carry a lot of guilt with that. Have you ever done that? Kept telling yourself that you could have done things differently? Do you ever have conversations in your head and wish you could have said something that you didn’t, or kept your mouth shut when you opened it? Yeah, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I also spend a lot of time feeling that I am not a good mom to my son. I feel so detached and uninvolved in his everyday life.

If I’m not thinking about that, I’m thinking about the future. Paying off all the debt we are in, and working hard to do so. Planning, planning and more planning.

On top of that, the pressure of being an exemplary teacher, and crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s that comes with teaching. Which by the way, I am not. According to the evaluation I am only Effective. Not Highly Effective or Exemplary- just meh.

Life is fucking hard when you live in the past or the future. So much time wasted on fantasy- because face it, spending time in the dark past and the unknown future is just that- fantasy!

There is nothing I can do about the past. I cannot control the outcome of the future. All I can do is live in the in-between.

It is in the in-between we see the good.

It is in the in-between where we develop character.

It is in the in-between where we practice the skills we want- kindness, assertiveness, patience, forgiveness.

It is in the in-between where we teach our body to run 26.2 miles or 1 mile.

It is in the in-between where we find joy and laughter.

It is in the in-between where a group of people will share your story and support you emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

It is in the in-between where we discover new talents and gifts- like delivering pizzas and writing about your life.

It is in the in-between where we build our trust in God, whoever you believe her to be.

And the biggest lesson for me, is that God is not a magical genie from an ancient lamp to fulfill my every desire. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers, and sometimes he says no. And then sometimes there is only silence.

It is there in the silence, in the waiting, in the in-between that displays where our trust really lays. I realized that my trust was in the outcome, not in God, otherwise, I would have seen what was right before me– love, hope, forgiveness, and support.

Thank you all for that support! We love you.

And we know God has something bigger and better planned for Dan.

Love Wins- Love Always

It’s Going to be Alright- HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVERY!

Three years ago I gave birth to my third child. Three years ago. Time is so elusive. Joy, happiness, nostalgia, love and so many other feel good feelings are in the air. However, when I go back to think about three years ago, it wasn’t so happy or good feeling.

I was depressed.

“Was” being the key word here of course, but it doesn’t take away what happened to me when Avery was born.

All I remember is crying a lot. I remember being angry. I remember feeling bad all the time. What made it worse was the isolation. I almost ended my marriage. I seriously wanted to be dead.

Three years ago.

I’m so grateful for the love and the support around me to help me get through that dark time. ¬†I truly have the best husband!

In some ways, I experienced a birth of my own.

I walked into a therapist office and cried and pleaded for help.  We started talking about my depression and started to unfold the burdens and pain I kept inside. Slowly and surely I began to feel like myself again.

I still take my Prozac religiously and I continue to work on my mental health with my therapist.

Friends, depression is not a choice.

Sometimes when depression suffocates you and takes over your life, you hurt the people around you.

I hurt some people during my period of postpartum depression. What sucks the most, is that sometimes those people won’t understand and they leave you. And sometimes they forgive you and hug you and say, “It’s going to be alright.” ¬†I believe that.

I don’t like to talk to about this part of me. I don’t like it because it makes me feel vulnerable, and imperfect. But ironically, talking about it, is part of my healing. Letting you all know that I struggle with this, that I try so hard to fight this battle, and although some days are better than others, somehow you knowing my battle, gives me the strength to fight even harder.

As I celebrate my daughter’s third year around the sun, I am beyond grateful for the love and lessons I have found. Even though there are some relationships in my life right now that are not completely mended, I continue to hold on to hope because I believe in the power of love, the power of forgiveness, and the power of letting go.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY SWEET LITTLE ANGEL!

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10 Minutes

IMG_1487That’s all ask of my students, 10 minutes of writing everyday, so I need to do the same. Another goal I have decided for myself this year to write more. I have always came up with the excuse that I didn’t have time or had nothing to write about- translation- I am afraid what I write isn’t going to be good enough. Somehow I just want to be able to sit down and vomit a master piece with no or little effort. Yeah. I know. Who doesn’t. ¬†But the only way I will improve, and the only way I can be the author I want to be is to write. Sometimes I will write essays that are brilliant and other times, perhaps not.

Just as in training for a marathon. I can’t expect to just go outside and run 26.2 miles with no or little training. I have to put on my running shoes and run. Train. I have to motivate myself and do just do my fuckin best. The reason I want to run a marathon is for me. My writing needs to be the same way. I need to turn on my computer and just write. What comes out, comes out. I must continue this journey with a light heart, humor and lots of kindness- after all I can be pretty hard on myself.

So for the next few weeks I am going to dedicate myself to writing for 10 minutes. Even if I have nothing to write about. Doesn’t mean you have to read it, but maybe, just maybe something I write might just save the world- okay, okay a little ambitious, but hey, maybe inspire for change, healing, peace and love- with some humor if I can. If not. That’s okay too.

So this little introduction to my new journey of this ten minute writing goes to my cute and adorable husband- Since he now has to wait ten minutes before banging me.

Love and hope my friends.

Here’s a Stick a Story of First Kisses

One of the very first gifts I ever received from Dan was a stick. Yes. A stick. No joke. You see sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of money, or bling to swoon a girl’s heart, sometimes it takes wit and timing.

Have you ever heard of Birds of Paradise? Those birds are fucking awesome and if you haven’t heard of them Google them- they are the most colorful and most extravagant looking birds on the planet. But that isn’t why they fascinate me. Since these birds live in paradise with all the food and resources available to them, and since they don’t have to worry about being eaten by big scary animals, they have evolved mating rituals that make other species look like Neanderthals.¬† These birds spend most of their days practicing their mating dances and I have to say, they are bizarre and strangely fascinating. These guys put in a lot of effort to swoon a female. If the guy didn’t have a lot of pizzazz in the looks or dancing area, they made¬†up for it¬†in their engineering capabilities by building their future mates¬†a nesting structure that compared to the Empire State Building.¬†No exaggeration. Weeks of finding the perfect materials- sticks, leaves, mud, and weeks building these amazing¬†structures. If the female was impressed with the his stick structure she mated with him-¬†way to go¬†male Bird of Paradise! If she wasn’t impressed, she flew off¬†to¬†find something more interesting- way¬†not to settle female Bird of Paradise!

When Dan and I first met, there were sparks, laughter and lots of chemistry. Before he and I became an item,. one of my favorite past times was either walking or running in the Bosque (a beautiful forest next to the Rio Grande with lots of trails and breath taking views).¬† Since we had just met, I thought it would be nice to invite him for a walk on one of my favorite trails on the Bosque. As we were walking and talking I told him the above story of the Birds of Paradise. I think he could tell I was a bit passionate about these birds and their unusual mating rituals- because without skipping a beat, he picks up a stick, quickly examines it and hands it to me. ūüôā

Let’s just say that there¬†was something romantic about that moment. That little stick sent the message loud and clear. “I’m interested in being your mate.” “Let’s be crazy and adventurous like those birds.” Mostly, I appreciated that he listened to me. He just didn’t listen to the story about Birds, he listened to how I told it, to what I was also desiring in my heart- a mate that gets me, that understands my quirks and passions.

Let’s also just say that that little gesture did impress me- as we locked lips and enjoyed the beginning of many, many other kissing rituals.

 

Guacomole Fight

I have been married to my husband for a short two years- feels like a lifetime but I checked the Marriage Certificate just to be sure and sure enough- two years. Two years of marital bliss- a bliss of no fights, no farts and no fine art. (Note: That last one was the only word I could think of to keep my alliteration. It is not meant to offend anyone who enjoys fine art, I happen to enjoy fine art myself, however, sometimes fine art can cause marital problems, I mean it can cause brutal¬†arguments between the sweetest and most intelligent couples-they tend to¬†argue about what is defined as fine art¬†and so I threw that in there so that we don’t become arrogant in thinking that fine art is not a cause of problems in this world. That’s all, but in the end it really was just a word to keep my awesome alliteration. Read on.)

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to my blissful fight free, fart free, fine art free marriage. ūüôā¬† Okay, okay, you have probably have already figured out that I am lying- our marriage is not in fact fart free. In fact, we sometimes have fart contests- loudest, longest, smelliest and deadliest.¬†Dan¬†proudly wears his crown¬†of victory in all categories because¬†if you are not aware,¬†I actually don’t fart. I fluff.¬†I fluff so lady like it makes Queen Elizabeth proud. I am surprised she hasn’t called me yet to crown me with her lady fluff’s of glory- but a girl can dream.

So now that we know the truth about our marital fart and flufful (how do you even spell that word?) life, we can move on¬†to the ¬†point of the post- The secret to a happy, fulfilling, passionate marriage. The secret is to fight about guacamole. Yes. you read that right. Fight about guacamole. Just so that we completely understand the context of the situation I want you to know that I make a killer guacamole. I mean, it’s fuckin amazing. Not to brag or anything. So anyway, I taught my husband, who loves to cook, and is also a kick ass chef, (and what woman doesn’t want a man who can satisfy¬†her with a hot meal), how to make my secret recipe.

Well, I love my husband very much, and he is a very intelligent and kind man, however, the guy has decided to make his own version of MY guacamole. Right? I mean who the fuck does that? I perfected the methods¬†and calculated just how much salt, lime juice and when those luscious avocadoes should be smashed ¬†and how. So since he has been taking over the cooking in our family, thanks to the demands of our new child Avery who wants to suck the life out of me, he changed the methods and calculations of my scrumptious guacamole.¬†I found out about this sinful act when we were cooking together the¬†other day, and I¬†was flabbergasted with what I saw- the. guy. was. using. a. fork. A FORK to smash the avocadoes! Oh, but it doesn’t end there, oh no- the guy used pepper. Pepper. ¬†I may be just a bit bitter about that. So as I was trying to express my disbelief and very kindly and patiently told him of his wrongs he assured me that I have been eating this guacamole and LOVING IT for quite some time!

So the lesson? Being married humbles you. Sometimes your way of making guacamole isn’t the only way.