Monday, May 01, 2023

Where Is 2023 Going? And Back to New York

May 1st. May. We are almost halfway done with this year. Half! I wrote in January that Miranda was graduating in May and I never wrote again. Here we are. It's May and time to go to New York again.

Me in New York on the terrace of the Whitney Museum in September

I'm kind of cheating... I went to New York and stayed on Long Island three weekends ago to see Miranda race. She's been on the LIU Rowing Team since the second semester last year and she's worked so hard. She says it's been one of the best things to happen to her and I was so glad I got to see her in action with her team.

Now it's time to go back to New York! The girl graduates from LIU Post on Friday morning. What a milestone for both of us! My first child is graduating from college. I am beside myself with pride and admiration for her. After graduation and packing her up we're going to take a road trip home. I'm really looking forward to that!

Today also marks the first day of May and a daily writing challenge. I've challenged myself to write for 30 minutes a day for the American Cancer Society. Today is Day 1 and I started very late in the day. I was exhausted after work so I took a little nap that turned into an hour and a half. Story of my life!

The plan is to use this as a kickstart to editing my novel. I'm committing to 30 minutes a day so it can be the novel or it may be this blog, which has been neglected for a very long time. Either way it's going to encourage me to stick to a daily writing schedule. 

Since this is all about self-discipline for me I've decided to double up and make it 30 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of exercise each day. Yes, I probably just made it more challenging but it wouldn't be me if I didn't. I love a good challenge!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Where Did 2022 Go? Hello 2023!

At the end of each year I usually do a recap and talk about the blogs I wrote. I didn't do that this time. But if I had written one, it would have been the shortest one... I only wrote six blog posts the entire year. The least I've ever written. I wrote ten in 2021. So I'm not going to bother recapping a year that flew by. It was a year that I've been planning for a good while because I knew I was going to become an empty nester. I kind of just eased into this new lifestyle in the fall, doing more in the community, attending events, but I have big plans for 2023.

For starters, I began the year with 21 days of positive manifestation exercises. I wrote them out on these dashboards for my planner. I took out all the old dashboards and I started the year with fresh new pages. 

I was reading back on blog entries from seven years ago and I set six and seven year plans for preparing the kids to be ready to go off to school. They did in fact go out of state like I predicted, so I'm alone while they're in school in New York.

Now I'm setting new seven and twelve year plans for myself. In seven years I'll be sixty!! (That blows my mind!) And in twelve years I'll be sixty-five, retirement age. I'm actively working on all the things that I need to accomplish in order to be healthy and ready for retirement. I do not want to get to the end of this road of working my whole life only to find that I have illnesses that keep me from doing the things I want to do. 

Just to be clear, I am realistic enough to realize that sometimes the Universe has different plans for us and there are some illnesses that are inevitable. We can't do anything about those. I'm talking about the illnesses that I CAN avoid by being mindful and balanced about what I eat and how much I exercise. 

What are some of my plans for retirement? I'm going to yell some of my ideas out to the universe or the interwebs! 

1. I want to really give my writing the time that it deserves. I want to actively work on sending my work out to literary magazines and working on novels I want to write. These are things that I can start doing now that I'm an empty-nester and I've claimed back so many hours in my life. 

2. I want to buy a renovated vintage trailer and a small pickup truck for my retirement and travel around Texas and neighboring states with it. 

3. I'd like to live in a different European country three months at a time. Maybe three months there and come home for three months. This idea is still very preliminary. Ideas for countries? Spain of course, Italy, France and Greece. Maybe countries in the UK, but I need to visit first.

So what are the things I'm doing in the next few years to prepare for retirement? Some of the same old song and dance. Eat right, exercise and write. Write, write, write. I can only get where I want by writing, like a musician practices their instrument. 

I want to go visit the spots I'm thinking of living in and I need to start budgeting how much rent will cost, etc... Then start working on a plan for how I'm going to pay for my retirement besides social security, 401K and my pension. I'm sitting on a nice little nest egg right now (house and land) and that's a whole other decision in itself. 

My word for 2023 is "Balance." It's a year of practicing balance in everything I do. No overeating or overindulging, no overspending, taking care of myself, writing and traveling when I can, both domestically and internationally. It's also the year my girl graduates from college so there's a big New York trip in May for her graduation and to get Seth packed up for the summer. I love New York!

Always keeping in mind that, "life is what happens when you're making plans." Cheers to a great 2023!

Monday, November 07, 2022

Possible Empty Nest Syndrome or a Shriveled Up Left Ovary?

I'm struggling with a little bit of depression. Struggling is the right word because I'm fighting it and if you see me out and about you'd never guess it. Since my kids both left to college I've been keeping busy with activities all around town. 

Me at a fundraiser for Art in the Heart

I've been to book launches, fundraisers, events at Art in the Heart, Oklahoma to visit family, and a lot of dinners and gatherings with my girlfriends. So on the surface it looks like everything is great. The truth is that I've been paralyzed in a way that's very similar to how I felt after my dad died. It's really strange to feel this mix of being busy and out socially, but then not being able to get anything done in my house, like cleaning and laundry.

I've been wondering if secretly I'm suffering from empty nest syndrome. By secretly I mean, even I don't know I am or I'm in denial that I am. I pulled up an article with signs and symptoms and a couple of them stood out as possibilities. One of them was feeling a lack of control over the kids' lives and another was anxiety because I'm worried about them. The two are very closely related. I lack control and maybe that gives me anxiety. I can see both of them as possible reasons for how I'm feeling. I worry about Seth because it's his freshman year and I hope he's keeping up with everything. I worry about Miranda, her senior thesis and getting into medical school. Things I have no control over. 

It's strange to say this because I'm really excited to have the time to do all the things I want to do and I have been out doing a lot in the community. I'm also super happy for my kids and I want to see them fly. Why would I be sad that they're gone or because I don't have control over their daily activities? It's also possible that I'm secretly depressed because having both kids in college is a reminder that I'm growing older and that I have less time to achieve my goals. 

Another possible reason for my lack of motivation may be menopause. I've never shied away from talking about menopause. In fact, I think it's ridiculous that people can't talk about periods and menopause when they are all part of the cycle of life.

I've been in menopause since October of 2020, however I've had a couple of weird things happen so my doctor sent me in for a pelvic ultrasound. When I received the results in my portal I tried to decipher them. One thing that stood out was that the technician couldn't see my left ovary. I Googled why that could be and I found out that when our ovaries stop working they get so small that they can't be seen on an ultrasound. So in other words, I have a shriveled up left ovary. My ovaries are packing up and leaving. It's like they are saying, "Our work here is done!" 

This could be another reason for my listlessness. I seriously don't feel like doing anything at all. But I am. I'm forging ahead anyway, going out to events, writing essays, finishing the last chapter of my Kindle Vella novel, and planning what I'm going to read next. Even writing this is doing something and let's not forget that I do work 8-10 hours per day, depending on the day. I've been working so hard that sometimes I don't feel like cleaning, exercising or writing at the end of the day. 

I need to do something to address the possible empty nest syndrome and find strategies on how to cope. I also need to see the doctor so I can get the official diagnosis of my ultrasound to put my mind at ease. Unfortunately I can't control the fact that losing our ovaries affects us emotionally. I need to learn how to work though that too. Maybe I should schedule a weekly massage for the stress. All I can do is find 
ways to work through these feelings and to take everything one step at a time. #selfcare #selflove

Sunday, September 11, 2022

And Just Like That... I Live Alone

On the first morning that I woke up all alone in my house I lay in my bed for a while and I could clearly remember bringing my youngest home from the hospital. It really does seem like just yesterday. How can I still remember the feeling, how he looked, and how exhausted I was those first couple of weeks? I can remember bringing Miranda home too, but I mention Seth because he's my baby and the last one to leave the nest. Almost two weeks ago he set out on the 1,600 mile road trip with his sister and father and I flew out to meet up with them in Brooklyn. 

First we moved my daughter's things out of storage and into her dorm at LIU Post on Long Island. She's a senior this year. I got this gem of a photo of the three of us at LIU Post. My babies!

So now I'm alone and although I know it's not permanent until they are full blown adults, who don't come home for the holidays and summers, it's still Phase 1. It's also the first time I've lived alone in my entire life. How can that be? 

Well, I grew up in a traditional Hispanic and religious home with older parents. I wasn't allowed to go away to college and even when they let me go to St. Petersburg, Florida to do a summer internship the stipulation was that I had to live with two older Jehovah's Witness women. So that wasn't really living alone, although the women were nice, didn't enforce a curfew, and I had my own private entrance to my room. 

I lived at home, through college, when I started working, and until I got married at twenty-seven. I went from my parents' home to being a wife and then a mother. When I got divorced at forty-one I had two young children and not too long after that my elderly father came to live with me. Although we had reversed roles now that I was the caretaker, it was still my father and there's a dynamic in that relationship where you're never really the adult. 

Here I am four years since my father passed away, and my kids are both in college. I went grocery shopping just for myself when I got back from New York and it was strange to only shop for one. Then I remembered that this was actually the first time I have ever lived alone, even if it's just for four months, until the winter break. 

I also know that if my daughter ends up in medical school in Houston she will live with me again, so this new experience may only last for a year. I'm okay with that because it means my girl will be a doctor and that's way more important to me, because being a mother never ends. Of course if she ends up at NYU or Tulane that will be a different story and this adventure will continue. I just have to enjoy it while it lasts. 

So what's the plan for this empty nest? Write, read, exercise, make art, go to readings, go to art exhibits, go out with friends more. The list goes on, but writing and exercising are my two main goals. I also want to create more art, like collage art and zine art, something I've really wanted to try.

Life is beautiful and I have a lot of time ahead of me to do the things I love. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

My Half Birthday and a Colonoscopy on the Side

Nobody likes to talk about their colon. Nobody likes the idea of having a colonoscopy and many people don't.  Yet colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Tomorrow I'm having my first screening.

Me and Hilda, early 1970s

Tomorrow also happens to be my half birthday, halfway to fifty-three. Something of significance, that I may have mentioned before, is that my half birthday always falls a day after the anniversary of my sister Hilda's death. It's always a time of introspection for me. A time to take stock of my life and where I'm at in this journey. I'm glad I'm doing something as important as getting screened for colon cancer.

First let's talk about the colonoscopy and why I've been putting it off. I really haven't been avoiding it completely. It's really been the circumstances and yes, I haven't been in a hurry to do it. My first excuse was that I turned fifty during the Covid pandemic. When my OBGYN asked me about it I told her I would do it but I let another year go by and I didn't make an appointment. She asked me to do it again and she referred me to a doctor in her building. I made the appointment, which wasn't available for a few months, but I still wasn't in a hurry. The appointment was scheduled for May and then the doctor's office called me because the doctor was going on maternity leave. 

In the middle of all of this back and forth I found out in May that a friend from elementary school and middle school passed away from colon cancer. He was fifty-two. I'm not going to lie. Finding this out and going to his funeral was another reminder that I needed to get this done.

So here I am three months later on the eve of both my first colonoscopy and my half birthday and on the 27th anniversary of my sister's passing. I've been doing a lot of planning and plotting my goals lately. I have two notes in my phone. One is "Three Month Goals" for all of my immediate goals, like getting the kids off to college. The second one is called "5 Year and 13 Year Goals," and that one has all of my longer term goals for writing and moving towards retirement. I am trying to make it a habit to look at these goals every single day to keep myself on track. 

One of the most important parts about my long term goals is my health. I've said it again and again. My health is the bedrock on which I must build all of my goals for the last part of my life. If I don't have my health I won't be able to go on any of the adventures that I have planned. So starting with this colonoscopy tomorrow, here is to prevention and doing the things to keep me alive.