Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year is Almost Here

We are two and a half days to 2014. Yep, seriously. I posted this image recently on my Facebook page. I think it's a very appropriate statement for 2014.

Image by Anne Taintor.

I also posted another one telling 2013 thank you for all the lessons and that I'm ready for 2014. I am. I think 2013 taught me its fair share of lessons and I'm done. I know what I want for 2014 and I'm going to go for it.

This was an amazing year, with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I took a HUGE leap of faith in May when I left the Chronicle. I like to think that in the words of Brene Brown I "dared greatly." I did what she says, "What's worth doing even if you fail?" I say this because I did it all on faith without any idea if this would work.

I am building my new business Casares Communications, that has evolved into a media rep company, and I am working on my writing.

I would love to say that I am writing full time but then that wouldn't be realistic either. I have to do something to make money to pay my bills and to take care of my children and I love the freedom of owning my own company and creating my own revenue.

So for the past six months and really more so in the last three months, I have been working on building a business where I can make money but that also gives me the freedom to be here for my kids, my dad and my writing, in that order.

One of my goals for 2014 is to make that business a real success and to make it profitable. I'm not asking to be a millionaire. All I want is to make enough money to cover my expenses, to feed my kids and to pay for my health insurance.

Another thing I did in 2013 was take a wonderful one week vacation with my kids. We went to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. It was a great experience they won't easily forget.

At the end of 2013 I tackled my novel again. I hired a wonderful editor who has been helping me edit it in order to get it ready for electronic publication. This is a novel that I started working on in 1996 and that I finished around 2005. Yes, eight years ago approximately. I finished it and then it just sat there forever. I was so excited to find someone as passionate about it as I was and so willing to edit it with me. I am forever in debt to her for encouraging me to do this, just by her interest. That in itself encouraged me so much.

So 2013, you've been good to me in many ways. Thank you for the freedom that I have had to spend time with the kids and with my father. Thank you for the courage to leave my job of 16 years for freedom. I feel like my mind has been freed in so many ways.

And thank you for the lessons. For the lessons in patience, forgiveness and letting go. I have another image by Kelly Rae Roberts that I love and I have to share here. This is me. I have to learn to just let it go.

An ex co-worker and one time teammate passed away last Monday, right as we drew near to the end of 2013. She lived life so richly and so fully. She was so ambitious and she reached for her professional goals, while still having fun and finding love again. I want to remember that about her. She lost her life at only 47 and it reminded me of my sister losing her life to cancer at only 42.
Ironically, I worked with Janice at the time that my sister was diagnosed and was going through chemotherapy. That was the first time that I had an "Aha" moment in my life and the first time that I left the Chronicle. Now that Janice passed away I remembered Hilda. It was a reminder that we must live life to its fullest and with no regrets.
That's what 2014 is going to be about. Letting go, having no regrets, living fully, writing novels and making my business profitable. Everything else will fall into place.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daddy, Winter Vacation, Believing in Sacrifies

Last year at this exact same time my then 88 year old father got very sick. I was planning a trip to see the caverns near San Antonio and I had already made plans with a cousin to stay at his house in Boerne. When my dad became sick I had to tell the children that we would reschedule for a later time. I never did.

"Believe" by Artist, Kelly Rae Roberts

We soon realized that my dad couldn't live alone any more. My sister invited him to go live with her because she doesn't have young children and she has a larger house. He would have his own room, own bathroom, plenty of space. My sister nursed him back to health during those really hard first days home from the hospital. I acknowledge and appreciate that she got the hardest part.

Then six months later he decided that he needed a change of scenery and he chose my loud, crazy, crowded, grungy house. He was much better by then and he was itching for some independence which he got from me. I'm super hands off and I realized that all he really needed now was for someone to be with him and to make sure that he took his medication in a timely fashion.

He flourished under is new-found freedom, walking down the block alone to the bus stop and taking the bus down to his favorite restaurant. Sometimes he'd stop along the way to go to the bank or to the cleaners. Sometimes I gave him a ride or picked him up. He loved it. He even went to stay with my sister in California for almost two weeks at the end of the summer when I took the kids to Washington DC and New York.

He'd been doing really well and I thought that maybe this time during the winter break I could schedule a weekend trip to the San Antonio area with the kids so we could see the caverns. It doesn't look like that's going to happen...

Exactly a year after he was really sick he isn't feeling well again. He started feeling a jabbing pain on his left side late last week and he confessed that he had been feeling it for some time now but he hadn't said anything.

I took him to the doctor this past Wednesday, after learning that he should have had a cat scan in August. Somehow in the transition from my sister's house to my house the message was lost. The crazy thing is that I took him to both his geriatric and cardiologist appointments in the past six months and not once did they tell me about the missed cat scan.

The young doctor examined him and asked him more about the pain. She pressed down on his side and listened to him with her stethoscope. Finally she asked us to go up for an x-ray, have blood work done, and to schedule a cat scan and an ultrasound. We did as she asked and then they just sent us home.

All week my dad has been feeling down and he's been sleeping all day. We have to wait until Monday for the cat scan and until the 4th for the ultrasound. Meanwhile there's definitely something wrong with him. The thing is the pain isn't serious enough for them to keep him and he's not in so much pain that he needs to take something, or so he says. He says it's more like a nagging pain and I think the worry of what it could be is what has him a little depressed.

Yes, I'm a little sad that we can't go to the caverns, but I don't want to take any chances leaving him while he's sick. As he approaches 90 I know that I won't regret any of this time with him and I believe that I won't regret any of the other sacrifices that I'm making for him. Yes, it's tough having an elderly parent living with me. Sometimes it's like having a third child. I can't do all the things I used to do and the house is a little crowded.

I haven't mentioned the caverns to the kids again. There are enough things around Houston that we can do with the new train running by our neighborhood, the zoo, the museums, and all the great restaurants along the way of the train line. It's going to be a METRORail vacation, visiting all the places along the way. It will be a great winter break!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners by Gwendolyn Zepeda

A few years ago before Gwendolyn Zepeda was Houston's Poet Laureate I heard her read at Inprint's First Friday. I've pretty much followed Gwen Zepeda's writing since I read about her in the Houston Press and attended her "Quinceanera I Never Had" reading event. By the time she read at "First Friday" she had already published a few books, but I had never heard her poetry.

There was one poem in particular that spoke to me. It was her poem "Proposal" that can now be found in her new book of poetry, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners. I loved that poem from the moment that I heard it. The funny thing was that I was married at the time so someone could ask why I loved the poem so much or how I could relate to it.

I think that many women can relate to the poem, even married women. I believe that as women we are socialized to grow up, get married, live happily ever after and sometimes women put their dreams on the back burner. That has always been an idea that I have struggled with because even married women should be married to themselves first. How else can you love yourself and in turn love your spouse and your family? I know many people don't agree with this idea and that's okay.

I subscribe more to the idea that a woman should put on her oxygen mask first. If I didn't do things to keep my sanity I wouldn't be able to take care of my kids and now more recently my elderly father. I have to be very sane in order to do what I do every day. If a woman is committed to herself she can be even more committed to her family.

Fast forward in time. Gwendolyn Zepeda published her book of poetry and I went to her reading. She didn't read "Proposal" that night, or she read it before I got there, so I didn't know it was in the book. She read a lot of other great poems like, "The Mexican in Me/The White in Me" and one of my other favorites, "His Son is His Everything."

I pre-ordered the book that same night but life carried me along the way life does and I never got to the bookstore to pick it up.

I was reminded about it on Facebook again and I mentioned "Proposal" to Gwen in hopes that I didn't sound too much like one of those weird obsessive nut/fans. (I had mentioned it to her before and that I lost my copy.) That's when Gwen told me that the poem was in her book and I remembered that I never went back to Brazos Bookstore. I made it a point to go pick it up and as soon as I got in my car with my book I turned the pages to the poem and I read it to my sister, as my son listened in the back seat.

It had been so long since I had read the poem that I had even forgotten the title. As I read it I was moved again by Gwen's words.

I've been divorced for two years now and the words never rang so true to me. I don't plan on remarrying and if I ever do, it won't be until the kids are in college or at least nine more years. I know that I don't know what can happen in nine years. I realize that. But for now, that's the plan.

I'm a single woman again and I want to be married to myself more than ever before. I am the woman I deserve and the last stanza of the poem is my very favorite.

"The day has come and I swell with pride.
I've finally captured the girl I deserve.
I'm ready to be my own bride.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside."

I'm ready to be my own bride.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dry Shampoo Review

A few months ago I discussed dry shampoo and how I've tried a couple of different ones. I had just purchased the TRESemme dry shampoo volumizing for fine/oily hair. When I first posted on FB that I would be blogging about this I had a friend who said that she loved this brand and uses it weekly so she doesn't have to wash her hair that often.

I tried it but for some reason it didn't work very well for me. My theory is that my hair is waaaay too oily. It changed drastically after I had children. I used to have normal hair pre-babies, not oily but not dry. Somehow after two kids my hair started thinning AND it became more oily. Lovely combination!

 I realize that not everyone's hair is the same. As you read this review keep in mind that my hair is extremely oily. It is so oily in fact that it is already oily within 24 hours of washing it last. I've tried washing it in the morning, at night, in the middle of the day. Like clockwork it will be oily within 24 hours.

I tried the TRESemme and sadly it did not work well. I even made sure I was following the instructions carefully. My hair us still oily and nasty looking, Sometimes it looks even worse because it ends up looking weird and like I have product in it.

Before TRESemme I tried "Schwarzkopf got2b rockin' it 4ever stylestay." Yes, the real name! When I was using TRESemme I seemed to remember that the got2b worked a lot better but I was out of it so I couldn't compare the two.

This past week I went out and bought another bottle the Schwarzkopf got2b and yes, definitely way better than TRESemme for me. It works almost as well as my all time favorite dry shampoo, Bumble and Bumble. But before I discuss that dry shampoo keep in mind the cost difference between these three. TREsemme retails at around $5.29. Schwarzkopf got2b retails at around $5.95. Bumble and Bumble "hair powder" retails at $35.

I've blogged a few times about Bumble and Bumble hair powder. I've even joked about it being my powdered wig.  I also blogged about how I first read about Bumble and Bumble in O Magazine when I first tried it. It is the BEST hair powder/dry shampoo I have ever tried.

The only down side is that it only comes in tinted colors and not in clear. The black or brown tint  rubs off on pillows and you have to be careful with clothing. You definitely have to wash it out before bed. You also have to be careful to use it sparingly and not to over-apply or it will give your hair a nasty texture and you will look like you're wearing a powdered wig. Other than that, it is absolutely the best one. BUT it also costs $35. Another reason to use it sparingly and honestly the reason I have not bought a bottle since I worked full time and even then only when I had a great bonus.

Until I start making the kind of money I used to make when I bought $35 bottles of Bumble and Bumble I'm going to stick to the Schwarzkopf (I just like typing that word) got2b rockin' it dry shampoo. Or let me know if you have another brand you would recommend and that I should try, but please keep in mind how ridiculously oily my hair is when making the recommendation.