Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Life Lesson in True Gratitude

A few weeks ago as I drove up to my house, that I affectionately refer to as Grey Gardens and that my children refer to as the house from Fight Club, something really hit me. My lack of gratitude.
The house 15 years ago when I bought it, before Grey Gardens

As I drove up to my house I thought about how I haven't taken care of this house the way I should have and I felt ashamed. It reminds me of a child who is given everything so they don't take care of their toys or the nice things that they have. I feel a lot like that child. I have had this house for 15 years and even if I haven't been able to fix all the things that need to be fixed, I should at least work on trying to keep it nice.

This house may have lost its luster in the last few years but it's MY house. My house may be imperfect and it may need work but it's mine. I can sell this house or this land if I needed to, or I can choose to keep it. Not many people can say that. I have a roof over my head and it's a roof over my children and my elderly father.

I think about women all around the city, nation, state and world who have to live in women's shelters. I know that I'm grateful that I don't need to do that, but do my actions reflect my true gratitude?

My word for 2017 is "Order" and that's my goal this year with this house. It's to get it back in order. Just because I can't afford to fix it doesn't mean I can't do other things. I can organize the rooms the way I want them. I can make it look nice with what I have. My second word for the year needs to be "Gratitude" again. I think I really know the meaning of that word now, more so than I did when it was my word in 2014.

I'm grateful in general. I'm grateful for my health, my children's health, their intelligence, the fact that Seth has come such a long way, that my ex is such a great co-parent, my father and his health at his age, my "village" of friends, family and that I have enough to survive.

However, these last couple of years have been hard, but they have also been good for me and for the kids. We've learned not to take money for granted. When I think about it, for many years I steadily made more and more money and I also spent more and more. When they were younger and I was married we had a double income and we never wanted for anything.

Now I've learned to do without and how to be frugal. That's been an important lesson for me. I went from having my parents, to having a double income and I never learned how to take care of myself until now. It's been an important step in really growing up.  Learning true gratitude is a big part of that and inculcating it in my children, so that they learn to truly be grateful when we have more.

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons whether we want to learn from them or not. I've learned that God provides at just the right time and I think that this lesson in gratitude makes me and the children better people. I have faith that if and when we have more in life they are going to look at it with a very different point of view than they did before. I have faith that as they get older and have better opportunities in life they will know when to be grateful. I have faith that I will too.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year and New Word

The truth of the matter is this. My life has been a big disorganized mess for far too long. I'm one of those people that can't do too many things at one time. I can only really do one event or activity per day, unless I'm traveling for fun or work. When I'm traveling for work I can make several sales calls in a day. When I'm traveling for fun I can visit several places in the same day too. It's not the same when it comes to doing things I need to do for the house.

by Rose Khan

What I share on social media is what makes me the happiest and the proudest- mostly my kids, my friends and shoes. A lot of my energy goes to them, taking care of my dad, and my career. In my book, happiness, education, feeding my brain and the brain of my children, way outweighs anything material. I even half kid on Facebook all the time about my disorderly house and that I'm not much of a homemaker.

Therefore, the only word I can think of for 2017 is "Order." I need more order in my life and I feel like the word order covers everything. Order in my home, health, finances, children, work. I want to lead a more orderly life, without losing my eccentric traits I also value. That's the tricky part!

I like to think of myself as part artist and how many artists can you think of who lead orderly lives? Not too many! Think of Tyler Durden and the Narrator's house in "Fight Club," and Michael Caine's house in "Children of Men," all packed with books and papers. That's my house.

I'm not really religious these days but I am a spiritual person. I believe a lot in karma and doing good so that good comes back to you. I think there's some truth to decluttering your life in order to open it up to good things, a little feng shui. I'm starting off my year with a clean slate.

My first step towards inviting more "order" into my life is to clear out my house of all junk and clutter. In early December I prepared for this project by cleaning out the garage. The garage is the "holding place" for me to put all the clutter and to work from there. I have to do this or I will get overwhelmed by the house and I'll end up doing nothing at all. Every two months when it's heavy trash day again I'll clean out the garage of anything I know I don't need or want for sure.

I want to follow suit with my health and cleaning out all the bad things from my diet. I'm going to start running again before it gets really hot again and I'm getting financial things in order because I have some goals I can only achieve by doing that.

2017 is going to be a year of "Order" and I'm starting now. What is your word(s) for 2017?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Raising a Latino Male and Female

Every day I think of the awesome responsibility that we have been given to raise two children, but especially a Latino boy. When I hear reports like this one, "Report Examines the Health and Education of Latino Boys and Young Men" on Houston Matters I think about that responsibility even more.

Seth is a 7th grade Latino boy. His father and I are divorced but we are very much on the same page about how we want to raise our children. We want for them to be strong, smart and educated. We want for them to be good people that will do the right thing, even if we aren't watching.

I'm proud of both of my kids. My daughter has always been a great kid since she was a baby. In some ways I think we just expect for her to do well because she always has. I have to remind myself that by doing that we are placing a big responsibility on her shoulders. So I tell her how proud I am as much as I can so that she knows how much I love and appreciate her.

We have come so far with Seth from those early days of elementary school when we struggled with his behavior and we couldn't understand what was happening to him. We didn't know that he had ADHD and was a high functioning Aspergers. When we finally understood this it made all the difference on how we worked with him. By fifth grade his assistant principal said she couldn't believe he was the same boy who had constantly been in her office the year before. So sometimes I think that the victory is even sweeter with him. To see him transition into the young man he is now in middle school in the Vanguard program has been so rewarding.

It also makes me sad when I think of all the young Latino males who don't have the support system they need to help make them successful. I hate that young Latino men become a statistic and I will work so hard to make sure my son is not.

I know the challenge isn't over yet and that we have to keep working on both of these kids. Two and a half more years for Miranda and Five and half for Seth to be exact. I am on a mission and a plan to make these two kids successful and hard-working adults. If that means sacrificing a little part of my life to do it that's okay with me. When I signed up to be a parent I knew that was in the job-description and I have never regretted this job once in my life. I tell my kids that thus far they are my greatest accomplishment in life and they are.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Little T-Rex Arm and Other Adventures

Kids have no idea how good they have it. Back in the day we got paddled at school, teachers had the last word all the time and parents didn't challenge them. If you messed up at school you got spanked at home too. You didn't see parents coming up to the school to fight with teachers about discipline. My parents were those kind who signed the paper that said that I could get paddled at school. I never did, but I had that fear and believe me, it kept me in line. Parents also didn't challenge doctors. Remember that? Doctors talked to us the way they wanted to and parents, at least mine, didn't argue.

When I was little I broke my left arm TWICE. Yes, once at the grocery store. The grocery cart turned over on me because I was hanging off the side. That time I had to wear a cast. The second time it was a small fracture and I just had to wear a sling. I broke it roller skating that time. And yes, I still learned how to roller skate after that and even used to "fast skate" when I was a teenager.

When I broke my arm the second time my mom took me to the same doctor who saw me the first time. I will never forget that visit. He told me point blank that if I broke my arm one more time that my arm would stop growing and that I would have a little arm for the rest of my life. I remember sitting in his office picturing myself as a grown woman and walking around with one short little girl arm. I have a vivid memory of me sitting up on the doctor examination bed and looking out the window at a cemetery while I thought about that. I often remember that story when I drive by that cemetery. The office building that used to be there was converted into indoor storage units.

I was telling my co-worker friend that random story and she asked me, "Like a T-Rex?"

"Yes, exactly," I laughed. A couple of days later she gave me the comic strip above.

"I saw this and I thought of you."

I laughed so hard. She always has a way of thinking about the exact movie quote or clip that will fit the situation and she makes us laugh so much.

We have a great team at work. We have all kinds of different personalities and just good people in general. It's nice to go somewhere like that each day.

I've been thinking a lot about creating my own #WIN. I've changed up a few things I've been doing and I feel like they've worked. I feel a different energy in me. A lot of good things are happening and I'm excited by the possibilities. I may be partnering with a new digital endeavor.

On the health/exercise note. I fell off the wagon with my exercise and I really need to get back on because I'm going to LA in 3 weeks, but most importantly for my health. I had my blood checked yesterday and when I went in today with my daughter for her physical my doctor said that it looked better than the last time and to keep doing what I was doing.  I'm still working on that #clarity #liberty and #healthy. I fail some days but I succeed others. I just need to keep on keeping on. It's all I can do.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"I'm OK By Myself"

When I was young and single my mother used to tell me I was "libre y en Tejas" or "free in Texas." She especially said that to me when I would call late at night to tell her I was spending the night at a friend's house. After she died and after my divorce I had this Texas charm engraved with the word "libre."

The thing is though, I have never been truly libre. I lived at home until I got married at 27, like a dutiful Hispanic daughter, I was married for 14 years and after my divorce I had 2 children. Then a year and a half after my divorce my father moved in. In other words I have lived with a man, except for that short year and a half, my entire life. If you add the fact that I have lived with my children since my divorce then I have never lived alone. Never. Even the summer I did an internship in Florida in 1991 my mother's stipulation was I had to live with someone so I rented a room from two older ladies.

The hilarious part about it is that I am not the kind of person who has to live with someone or needs to have someone in her life. I enjoy being alone and I have never had a problem doing things alone in the past. I've traveled alone, I've gone to concerts and I eat out alone. I was reading my journal from 1992 recently and I had so many entries where I did things by myself. I'd go to Fitzgerald's to hear a band play if I wanted to and I usually ran into friends there. I'd go to parties alone as long as I knew the host. I once traveled to Spain and back. I was with friends in between but I stayed by myself in my own pensione and had some nights out alone.

This past Friday my ex-husband picked up the kids right after he got out of work. That meant that I didn't have to rush home to get them packed and ready to go like I usually do when they go over to his house. I had plans to attend a lecture performance that night and I realized that I could go straight from work and I even had some extra time before it started. The event was at the Byzantine Chapel at the Menil. I'd wanted to try the Bistro Menil but I always have the kids in tow. This time I had nothing to hold me back. I stopped there first and ordered a glass of wine and a small appetizer, some ahi tuna. Everything was delicious and I wrote a rough draft for this blog while I sat at the bar.

When I was finished I drove over closer to Byzantine and found a parking spot on that block. The lecture performance wasn't exactly what I had expected. It was more of a reading than a lecture and the girl was really really young. I enjoyed it none-the-less but more than anything I thoroughly enjoyed being out by myself. It was such a liberating moment. It's not that I can't do that if I want to, it's simply that I don't do it any more. Not like I used to when I was young. I felt so free. So libre!

After the lecture I met up with some friends for margaritas and I finally saw my friends' company. It was much needed ME time and a wonderful night. As I'm getting older my priorities are shifting. I get so much pleasure from those stolen moments without the kids or my father.

I wrote last time about becoming an empty nester and preparing for life after kids. Part of that preparation is getting out again.  I want to have more nights like the one I had on Friday and I will. In the words of Morrissey, "I'm OK by myself."