Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ten Year Recap of ShoeGirl Corner Blogs

We are at the end of 2019 and some debate whether it's the end of a decade or not. Technically the end of the decade will be December 31, 2020 but since I was born in 1970 and I've always referred to each decade as the 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. I'm going to treat this as the first end of the decade. The end of the 2010s and I'm going to recap the last ten years, looking at the last blog of each year.

My Favorite Quote of the Decade
Apparently 2010 was a tough year. I can't remember exactly why, but I know that my marriage was coming to an end around that time even though I didn't say it.

2011 was not a good blogging year. By the end of that year I was divorced but not talking about it yet. It was definitely a turning point in my life.

In 2012 I didn't even bother to do an end of  the year recap. My last blog was in October! I know 2012 was an interesting year because that's when I was single for the first time and I dated. I just didn't blog about it.

December's blog in 2013 was a really good recap of the year and what I had been up to. That's the year I took a break from the Chronicle and when my dad came to live with me.

It seems like 2014 is around the time I started becoming more aware of getting older as I got closer to my 45th birthday.

2015 is when I started asking the question:  What do I want to accomplish before I die?

2016 was one of those years when I didn't even blog in December. My last blog was in October and it was about raising successful Latino kids. This is when I started counting down the years that I had left with them  The blog in August was actually more introspective.

It's funny that I ended 2017 with another blog about the kids and my advice to parents about the Vanguard and Magnet school programs. My next to last blog was more of a recap on the year and things that I was grateful for.

2018 was a tough year. My father passed away in February, right around my 48th birthday. This is what I said about that year: Here I am on the eve of New Year's Eve reflecting on a really hard year that came with sadness, pain, but also gifts and blessings.

Which leads me to the end of 2019. This has been a really great year! I've been blessed beyond measure with my career, my kids and my personal growth. I've had a great boss and great accounts.

I went to New York three times this year. Once to visit LIU with Miranda, another to take her to school and then for Thanksgiving. I went to Vegas for my 49th birthday in February and had a blast. I took the kids to LA in the summer to visit their cousins and the babies.

Miranda graduated from DeBakey and received a huge scholarship from LIU. I de-cluttered my house a lot. I still have a lot of work to do but it's a huge difference and has made me feel so much better. Especially my bedroom! I'm working hard on making sure Seth is growing up to be a good man and finishes strong at DeBakey too.

Spiritually I'm on a great journey of finding my peace. I call it My Inner Journey . I'm in a good place and I'm very fortunate to have what I do. I'm really working on "taking ownership of my freed self." I started a project that I love called Little Libraries in Laundromats. I have four little libraries in laundromats in my neighborhood and doing this really feeds my soul.

2020 is a significant year for me because I turn 50. I'm planning another trip to Vegas and this time I plan to party a little harder. I want to see Gwen Stefani and I want to spend more time down in the slot machines in the casino. I want to have that "casino" experience. So far that's the only trip planned for the year. I may go to New York again for Thanksgiving but there's still time to plan. I plan on making my last 1/3 of my life count! I'm looking forward to what 2020 will bring!

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Buy the Toys!

This past late August when I was dropping off my daughter at college at Long Island University, I was in Oyster Bay and I walked by a toy store with beautiful unique toys inside. I always love toy stores like that. I think of stores like Big Blue Whale in the Heights and Imagination Toys in Bellaire. Stores that have such beautiful unique toys that make you want to buy them for yourself.

My daughter's Russian Nesting Dolls 
Since I was dropping off my daughter at college I was especially sensitive and melancholy. Seeing all those beautiful toys through the window brought back memories of the children when they were little. I thought of how fast time goes by. I thought of all those times that I said no to them when they asked me for something. (I have to admit there weren't too many times.) But none the less I thought about all the times I didn't buy them the toys and how now they don't want them.

My advice to young parents. Buy the toys! Even if you think your kid has too many toys. You can always recycle toys and donate the old ones to the needy. There are children out there who don't have any toys.

Buy the unique toys, the ones you'll cherish and that your children will keep on a bookshelf. My 15 year old son has this Star Wars cantina on his bookshelf along with a lot of other Star Wars toys.

My Son's Star Wars Cantina
I know it's super cliché and corny to say it but yes, it's true, time does fly. And once you have children the time goes by faster. One day you're taking them to kindergarten and the next you're in New York dropping them off in a new town and state and they will be too old for toys. You'll lament over all the toys that you didn't buy for them and now you're out of time.

And don't forget the books! I love libraries but my kids could not have enough books. They had books since they were babies. Same thing with those. We've been giving those away in the Little Free Library but we are keeping the cherished ones on the bookshelf.

As I wind down the second third of my life and I'm a half empty nester I'm glad that I have great memories to fall on. I just got off the phone with my daughter and I told her what I was writing about and she told me about some of her favorite toys, like her Barbie doll house, which she still has in her room. It made me happy to hear her say that.

Life is short and the time with your kids is even shorter. Really!

Edit: I also regret putting off taking my daughter to the American Girl Cafe! I never did that and before I knew it she was too old for it.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

"She's Leaving Home"

The day before we left to New York last week I finally played "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles to Miranda while we were in the car. I cried for the first time. It hit me that she was leaving the next day. I didn't outright cry, I just shed a few tears but she saw it. We were leaving on Wednesday morning at 5 am to the airport so the song really hit a soft spot and I know I sound cliche but it does feel like just yesterday she was going to kindergarten.

Move In Day at Long Island University
So last week her father and I flew to New York with our girl on a Wednesday morning. We went shopping with her, helped her move in on Thursday, shopped some more, stayed with her near campus, and left her there on Sunday early afternoon. I was sad but I didn't cry. I was strong because I am so happy and excited for her! I'm so excited as she starts this new journey and has this amazing opportunity to attend an east coast small private school. I know it will offer her so many great opportunities in the medical field. She has her whole life in front of her and it's such an exciting place to be. How can I not be happy and excited?

Unpacking in her dorm room.
Long Island is such a beautiful area! I knew nothing about it before she applied at Long Island University. The towns are great. I can't wait to explore different areas on other visits there. There's a lot to see! We stayed in an Airbnb in Glen Cove so we were very close to the campus. The school is in Brookville.

We loved Oyster Bay and Teddy Roosevelt's house Sagamore Hill. I loved learning so much about this total bad-ass president. He did so much in his life! We visited Beth Page Black and saw the beautiful club house. I even got to visit an old cemetery across the street! I didn't have time to drive the whole length of the Hamptons, which I would have loved to do, so I just went to West Hampton. It was still beautiful and the houses are amazing.

On our last night we went into the city. Those of you who know me know how much I love Manhattan. I just feel excited when I'm there! We went to Zabar's to buy coffee and Miranda got a couple of things for her room. Then we drove down the length of Manhattan to the financial district to a place Rey and I hadn't been to in about nine years. It's this great Irish restaurant pub called Killarney Rose. The pastrami was just as delicious or more delicious than we remembered it! Miranda said that it wasn't just the best pastrami she's ever had, but the best food she had ever tasted.

We ended the night by walking to the Brooklyn Bridge and getting ice cream before heading back to the car to drive back to Long Island.

Eating Ralph's Ices
The next morning we had breakfast in an adorable diner where I heard about egg cream for the first time. I'd never heard about it before so the waitress made me some so I could taste it. Miranda and I decided it tastes like cream soda. I also had to try Ralph's ices before leaving. The only thing I forgot was to buy bagels to bring back home and to the office.

Today makes a week since we dropped her off . She started class on Wednesday and we've talked and texted every day. We've only Facetimed a couple of times. She's been getting adjusted and learning how to adult. I was so relieved to hear that they have a shuttle bus that takes them off campus to the Broadway Mall or the train station. Now I don't feel like she's going to be stuck on campus without a car. So far she likes all her classes and I love that they are tiny. Her biggest class has around 30 people in it.

She is starting a new phase in her life just as I get to the end of the second third of my life.  Her going to college is the start of my #3yearplan. These are my last three years with a child in the house and I need to start my plan for what I'm going to do once I'm an empty nester, or the last phase of my life. More on that later.

I just bought tickets to visit with Seth for Thanksgiving. He didn't get to go drop off Miranda because he had started school. We will be there Wednesday through Saturday so she doesn't spend Thanksgiving alone.

As I write this the song "Landslide" (Dixie Chicks version) plays in my ears. Never did these words ring so true, "Can I handle the seasons of my life?"

"Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too"
- Stevie Nicks

Monday, August 19, 2019

That Jar of Happiness, Part Trois

I'm more than halfway through 2019, but only 6 months to 50. I pulled out the Happiness Jar so I can start keeping a list of the good things happening between my fabulous 49th Las Vegas birthday in February and my Big 5-0 in 2020. Maybe Vegas in my future again??

I hope to do this jar justice these next six months and really keep record of the wonderful things that happen to me. I am so grateful for all the good things these past two years, from the trip to Germany, my new roof, vacations with the kids, a trip to Paris with my BFF Vicki, Las Vegas birthday, trip to NYC and Cali, and my daughter's awesome scholarship to LIU.

I do appreciate everything you've thrown my way Universe! I know not everyone has so much to be thankful for and I appreciate it wholeheartedly.

Monday, August 05, 2019

My Girl is Leaving to College and My Decluttering Project Goes On

Thirteen years ago exactly my girl was going to Kindergarten and I was blogging about my life changing forever. Now she's leaving to college in just three weeks! She decided to go to Long Island University. In the end they offered her the most money and between scholarships she received from them and a scholarship she just received from MD Anderson this past week, she ended up paying 95% of her fall tuition.

Big Ass Balloon from Miranda's Graduation Party
So Long Island University it is and I'm going to drop her off in New York in three weeks. We are flying there and I'm staying for four days to help her settle in.

The decluttering project continues and I've made some impressive progress, slowly but surely. One of my best friends came over yesterday to see my new bed and she was surprised at how big my room looks now. I showed her a little bit of the method to my madness.

My To Do Lists
In order to not get anxiety and overwhelmed I make myself a To Do list. When I have most of the list checked off I make a new list, I move the things I still need to do to the new page, and I add more things. Making a list soothes me and makes it easier for me to eat the elephant one bite at a time. 

I'm finally at a point where I don't feel overwhelmed and I feel like I'm almost finished. All I have left now is Seth's room and clearing out some of my dad's things that are still in there. One bite at a time!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Daddy Can No Longer Be Located

I originally received this email from TMobile's FamilyWhere in March 2018 after my dad passed away and I cancelled his phone line. This is the GPS service I had on his phone so I could find him when he wouldn't answer his phone. I was going to post it or blog about it back then, but I wasn't ready. I don't know if I ever will be, even now, but here it is.

I've started this blog post at least three times and I've never finished it. I've thought to myself what could I possibly say that I haven't already said about my dad in numerous Facebook posts, Latina Lista Padre Care blogs, this blog and our YouTube Dicho a Day. Many of you have reached out to me and told me that you felt like you knew him.

The thing about losing a parent is that it's never easy, whether you're 26, 30, 48 or 60. And it's doesn't matter what age they are either. The can be 66 or 93 and it's still going to be hard and you still won't be ready.

 The reason I finally pulled myself together to continue writing this blog post is because five friends and loved ones have lost parents in the last month. First my 26 year old nephew lost his father to a brief battle with cancer. Then I had three co-workers lose their father and their mothers all in a row. Finally, a dear friend of mine from high school lost her father and I attended the funeral services yesterday.

All these losses have brought back so many memories about losing both my parents. I found that the wounds can still be uncovered,even 19 years later after losing my mother. I learned that I was still sensitive about her death when I know deep down that there is no reason to feel that way.

That's the thing about losing a loved one. You will sometimes question yourself. You will ask yourself if you could have done more. If you could have done things differently. But you shouldn't. Everything happens the way it's supposed to happen. You can not fight life.

I remember what my mother always said about funerals. What matters is if you saw that person when they were still alive.

Yes, I saw my parents when they were still alive. A lot. I lived with them until I was 28. I was with my mother from the hospital to her house and I slept in her bed with her the day before she passed away. My father lived with me the last four and a half years of his life.

I wasn't with either one of them at the moment that they took their last breath but I was with them. I was with them when they were alive and they both knew how much I loved them. That's all that matters.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Too Much Stuff Brings Me Joy

I'm clean with my body and how I dress. The kids are clean. I'm clean where I cook and eat, but that's pretty much it. I'm a mess and I know it and it's more about clutter than anything else. It's something I have to work on. Here lately it's been getting out of control more and more. I'm almost afraid someone is going to send over a TV crew and will force me to do a show about clutter. I'm afraid that as I'm getting older I'm going to become a Miss Havisham.

The top of my desk clean.
Two days ago you couldn't see the top of this desk. We just kept adding stuff to it to the point that you couldn't even see anything that was there. The only reason I left that gold bird cage in the corner is because my daughter seems to have some things in there, like her quill and ink. I took everything down and put it in a box that she will have to sort through when she comes back from her father's this weekend. 

Those things I left on top may seem weird but they are little things that mean something to me and I can display my daughter's art. I also have two art pieces by Lizbeth Ortiz there, the Bride of Frankenstein from a Post It show and her sacred heart in a shrine box. Later I added my big gold sacred heart and the nest we found outside on the ground.

Things that bring me joy
I went through the whole house doing this. I looked at areas and decided what needed to go. I cleaned out my work space corner in the dining room and that was a feat on its own. 

I've never watched this Marie Kondo woman everyone is talking about but I get the gist of what she says so I'm trying to follow her mantra, "Does this thing bring me joy?" The sad answer is that too much stuff brings me joy! What I do know is that there is such a thing as too too much. I get it. I know that as Americans we are all about excess and I'm no exception.

I posted on Facebook on Saturday that sometimes you have to do something radical to do anything at all. That's how I approached my cleaning that day. I had to be radical and I know that Marie Kondo would not approve on how I went about it. This is in no way advice on how to clean. This is just what I had to do to motivate myself and to make myself move.

I took that basic "Does this thing bring me joy?" concept and added my own twist. I asked myself, "What would you take with you if the house was burning down?" I know kind of the same thing but instead of keeping those things I left them and I removed everything that I didn't need any more or that I was kind of on the fence about, and I put them in boxes. This is the part where I realize I added an extra step for myself but I had to do it this way to do anything at all. I don't have the time to sit there and do the 4 container method: "give away," "throw away," "storage," and "put away." I just needed to work quickly to feel like I was getting anything accomplished.

I put the boxes in the garage and on another day, when I have enjoyed my clean house for a while, I will take on the project of cleaning out my garage. I have some boxes I need to go through slowly to look for paperwork. I couldn't risk losing some things.

Even doing it this way, I spent eight hours on Saturday working on just the kitchen, dining room, hall and part of the living room. There is still a whole hot mess going on in the living room that I need to address. I couldn't believe that working on just those three rooms took me that long. According to my optimistic calculations I thought that I could get through four rooms in eight hours, if I spent two hours in each room. Somehow it didn't work out that way.

Today I'm working on my bedroom, my biggest thorn in my side, the bathroom, and I need to finish the living room.

My goal is to have a clean house where I feel happy but it's also about having a cleaning lady to keep things from getting out of control again. I realize that for so many years as a working mom two people kept my life in order, my baby sitter and a cleaning lady (I had a few).  It has been years since I hired a cleaning lady, first because I couldn't afford it on one income and then my house was too out of control to let anyone see it. I am literally cleaning so I can have a cleaning lady again and bring order back to the universe. Wish me well. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

An Inspired Life

My best friend bought me this journal  by M.H. Clark (Author), Justin Edge (Illustrator) a while back and I thought it was a blank journal. It took a while before I realized that it has a writing prompt on every other page. The opposite page has an inspiring quote.

Published by Compendium, Inc.

This journal has been so extremely therapeutic! I've been writing in it for the past two weeks and it's really made me think about a lot of things. One of the things I've come to realize is that this blog can serve as an inspiring place. No, I don't have a PhD in Psychology, I'm not even certified in any way to give advice. I'm just a regular middle-aged woman struggling with challenges that  a lot of other people struggle with. I don't plan to give advice. I just hope that by reading my quotes, my stories, the sad and the funny, that people are inspired in some way.

Recently I had someone reach out to me on Facebook and she told me that I inspired her to start exercising and running because of my Peloton journey. That really made my day and my month!

I hope that I can continue to do that with my honest and real posts about everything from exercise, eating right, cleaning up my clutter and balancing it all with work, family and trying to write on a regular basis.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Perfect Mother's Day Weekend Is Being Alone

Last year my Mother's Day weekend was not so great. On Saturday while at Walmart, putting my groceries in my car, I had a freak accident. I dropped a bottle of Topo Chico near my foot in the parking lot and it cut my ankle open. It sent me to the emergency room for seven stitches.

This year I'm not going to make that same mistake again. For one, I'm not going grocery shopping today. In fact, I've decided that this weekend I'm not going to do any of the things that I "should" do. I'm only going to do things I want to do.

It all started when talking to my co-worker Paula about what she was doing and she told me that she was getting together with her sisters. They do different things every year and I loved the idea. I decided that next year I'm going to stay at a hotel with a spa all weekend. I'm going to get a massage and a facial, I'm going to watch Netflix and I'm going to write.

I didn't always celebrate Mother's Day, but I've started my own tradition. Unlike many women and their divorce agreements that stipulate holidays when they get the kids, I don't have my kids on Mother's Day weekend. It kind of just happened a few years ago. The kids happened to be with Rey that weekend and I told him that the best Mother's Day gift was to be alone.

I have the kids most of the time, I'm the one who feeds them every day, whether I cook or buy food, and I'm the primary caretaker. There are a lot of weekends when they are supposed to be with their dad that they need me, for this or that.  Like two weeks ago it was Seth's birthday on Saturday and I took them to take M's graduation photos and photos of them together on Sunday. I know it's my choice to do those things but I do them because they have to be done and they are part of being a mother. In addition to doing mom things I work full-time and a lot. So a break, a weekend when I get to do just ME things is a gift!

When preparing to write this I Googled "I want to be alone for Mother's Day" and I came across titles like "All I Really Want for Mother's Day is to Be Left Alone with this Masala Chai," "All I Want for Mother's Day is to Ditch My Kids," "Dear Family, Before You Buy Me a Mother's Day Gift, Do This Instead," and "All I Want for Mother's Day is For My Wonderful Family To Leave Me Alone."

I almost died laughing. I love that women are finally feeling honest and open enough to admit what they are thinking and feeling. Yes, Mother's Day is a sweet day to remember our own mother and to remember that we love our children and that they made us mothers, but we don't need all the other bells and whistles. At least not with our kids.

I was sitting at work finishing up for the day on Friday and I decided on a whim to call the Massage Envy closest to me to see if they had an opening. They did so I took the 7 p.m. slot and headed over. I had some time to kill so I stopped in at this great wine bar and restaurant that I don't go to enough, called Plonk. I ordered a glass of wine and their amazing warm brie that comes with hazelnuts, honey and a lot of garlic, with bread on the side. Heaven.

After the wine and half of my brie I went to Massage Envy and had an amazing one hour relaxing massage. I usually like deep tissue massages but this woman had really firm and relaxing hands that had me teetering somewhere between asleep and awake. While I was getting massaged I started thinking about how if I did all the things that I had planned on doing this weekend, mainly cleaning my house, I was going to get sore all over again, basically throwing away the  money from the massage.

So today I woke up late, I had coffee, yogurt and I've posted pictures of me when I first saw my kids being born, my mom, went down memory lane, read and now I'm writing. If all goes well with this weather I'm going to go see two of my sisters this evening to take them some gifts. Time flies when you're just relaxing!

I usually have dinner with the kids on Sunday and then I get them back that evening. This year they are going to see Avengers End Game with their dad, his girlfriend and my best friend at 6:30. We will meet briefly for an early dinner before they go to the movie and then I won't see them again until late evening.

By then I will have to do the regular mom things I do on Sunday, grocery shopping and laundry. That's okay because by then I will have had all of this weekend to do the things I want to do. I'm grateful for that because I know that not all moms can do this. I'm aware of this first world privilege. So thank you to my ex-husband first of all, for giving me these two beautiful kids and second, thank you for giving me this Mother's Day off.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Writing is My Therapy

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." -Anaïs Nin.

My Childhood Home
Writing is definitely my therapy. I've written a few blog posts recently that were really therapeutic and cathartic. The one about menopause is definitely in the top 5. So is my #3yearplan and the one about staying in the pool and finishing the race. The one about building my own personal brand as a writer is a personal favorite.

Which leads me to this post today where I am trying to analyze myself and why I don't care about having a nice big clean house.

I grew up in this house in the picture in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It was two bedrooms for a long time until my parents added to it. I would say my mother was clean but not OCD clean. The house would get messy and then we would just clean up when it did. No big deal.  The house was not big and we didn't live in a nice neighborhood but it was home and I had loving, although strict, parents. I was happy there and I don't remember ever wishing that I lived in a big fancy house. Sure, I admired beautiful homes like anybody else but it wasn't a life goal to have one. My parents did a good job of always working on it, updating it, replacing the roof, etc.

When I got older and I bought my own house with my then husband I was excited. We found the house on the edge of a neighborhood I had admired for many years. In fact, my mother used to admire this neighborhood too. The homes aren't huge, they are all pre-war and many of them are bungalow or ranch style homes. At first I had grandiose ideas of what I wanted to do with my 1940's style house, with original hardwood floors, like any first time home buyer. But as the years went by and we didn't do anything I started to care less and less about it.  It's a four bedroom house and in the 17 years that I've lived here we only painted two rooms, one upstairs for my step-daughter when she lived here and one downstairs for the kid's nursery. Nothing else. What's worse, we never even fixed one of the upstairs bedrooms to use it. As you can imagine, 17 years have taken their toll on an already old house that has never been remodeled or kept up.

It's like I'm missing the gene that most people have, the one that gives them that desire to have a nice house. To make things even worse than my house being older and run down, I'm also messy. I tried to do research on why I don't really care about things like how my house looks and being messy. Most research says a messy house is a sign of depression, which I don't think I really have. It's also a sign of laziness, which, who am I kidding, is probably closer to the reason.

Then I found this article that states something I've often thought about myself but I don't really like to say aloud for fear of sounding arrogant or like I'm looking for an excuse. It says that "messy people aren't wrapped up in the status quo." Messy people are also more intellectual and like to spend time on reading and writing rather than cleaning. It feels like cleaning and keeping house is shallow and that our time can be better used doing something productive. This was a little bit of a consolation but I'm not 100% convinced that's the whole reason.

I also think about how much it would cost to really remodel this house correctly and the idea of putting myself in that kind of debt makes me sick. Then I get this dreaded feeling. Am I my father? My father never wanted to do anything that was going to put him and my mother in debt. To the point of making my mother angry and frustrated. When I was a little girl she wanted to buy a house in this neighborhood and he wouldn't have it. My sisters used to complain that he didn't believe in doing anything "normal" because "normal" people bought houses and had to make house payments.

However I know that I have to do something drastic soon. It has become a problem for me and something I want to overcome. It's something I struggle with and I've written about it in the past. I'm at a crossroads now. As part of my #3yearplan I need to decide what I'm going to do with this house. I receive weekly inquiries asking me if I'm interested in selling and I don't reply to any of them, even out of curiosity. I know that if I sell it can't be until after Seth has graduated from high school.

One thing that I have been wanting to do and I haven't done yet is to do an exercise of packing everything that means something to me into bins. Just the things that I would keep or want to save if my house was on fire . Everything else I will either give away or throw away. I feel like doing it that way would be so cleansing. And I feel like it would make it so much faster and easier to decide what I don't want to keep. I have seventeen years of accumulated junk.

The only question now is when? When am I going to start on this quest and I know the answer has to be SOON. I have to tackle it one room at a time so that I don't give myself an anxiety attack. I also have to approach it in the same manner that we approached packing up my father's house when he decided to rent it out.

So that is my goal as I head into summer. Pack up my house like it's about to sell or like it's on fire. I need to do something to clear my space and my head.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Staying in the Pool & Finishing the Race

I started listening to Brene Brown talks around 2012, a year after she made her now famous first TED Talk. I actually watched a second one that year called “Listening to Shame” first and then I went back to watch the first one. After that I read her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and loved it, followed by “Daring Greatly.” I’ve been meaning to read the three books she’s published since then but life has gotten in the way. 

 I couldn't find a picture of me in my middle school swimsuit!

Yesterday and today I watched her new Netflix show, “The Call to Courage.” Wow! Just wow at everything that she says. She tells a story about her daughter and swimming near the end.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the story really spoke to me. 

I struggle with a lot of insecurities like so many of us do, whether we know we do or not. I want to strive for greatness in my life and I fall on my face again and again in certain areas, because life becomes too overwhelming and sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly handle everything. So I decide to concentrate on just one area and to do that one thing really well, whether it’s raising my kids or my career.

Listening to Brene’s Netflix show and this specific story about her daughter reminded me of one of my own stories and thinking about this I realized that sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit.
I joined the swim and track teams in the 8th grade. I had no business joining either one but I did it so I could have 7th period gym with all my cheerleader best friends and my friends on the swim team. 

I learned how to really swim by being on the swim team because I realized once I joined that I really didn’t know how to swim. It turned out competitive swimming is completely different from leisure swimming.

Since I wasn’t the best swimmer or the fastest swimmer there was no way I could compete in any of the 50 meter events. So instead, Coach Scerbo chose the 100 Freestyle for me. I was not excited about swimming 100 meters, but I was glad I wasn’t doing the 200 Freestyle, like my friend Serena. 

I practiced and practiced in our little pool at Hamilton Middle School. My coach even had us swim extra because she knew our pool was smaller.  Then came my first meet at a middle school with a regulation size pool and I almost DIED. I couldn’t finish the 100 meter event and when I saw that I’d been lapped and had lost anyway, I got out of the pool. This happened at least two more times. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed for being too slow and for quitting.

On the very last swim meet of the season I promised myself that I would finish no matter what.  I’ll never forget that feeling of finishing.  I didn’t care that I had been lapped and that people were waiting for me to finish. I was all alone in the pool just swimming the length. 

When I got out my legs felt like jello and Coach Scerbo hugged me. I’m sure the other coaches and swimmers wondered why she was rewarding me for, what seemed to them like mediocrity. They didn’t know what Coach Scerbo and what my teammates knew. That I had given up every other time before this, that I was embarrassed at being last and quitting. When I finally finished that 100 meter event I’d met my own personal challenge. At fourteen I had learned a very important lesson, "Don't give up and go back and to try again and again, until I accomplish my goal." What seemed like a small thing to some, was a huge learning lesson for me.

Why do I mention this experience? When you watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special you’ll know. I have to give myself more credit. I have to remember that I may quit sometimes but I always go back and try again. That's been the story of my life and it will be to the end. I'm about to be 50 years old. At this point I have less years left of life than what I have lived. I will make this time count. I will be that girl who stays in the pool and finishes. 

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Next Goal: 200 Rides by One Year

I've made a list of all the things I want to work on during my #3YearPlan. At the top of the list is to exercise regularly and to eat healthier because if I do those two things everything else will fall into place. I want to be healthy enough in three years to do anything I want with my life, including traveling, maybe even buying a travel trailer.

On August 11 it will be my one year anniversary since I did my very first ride. I take this date as a sign because it was exactly, to the very day, 6 months before my 49th birthday. Later I made it my goal to reach 100 rides by my birthday and I did. Now my new goal is #200ridesby1year! I want to have completed 200 rides by my one year anniversary.

My one year anniversary on August 11 will mark exactly 6 months until my 50th birthday on February 11  Once I accomplish the 200 rides goal I want to set a new goal to reach #300ridesby50.

First things first. I have to get motivated again!  I took a long break after I had my cardiac catheterization because the entry points were in my groin, on each side. But I got right back on after that break and I came back strong, completing my first goal. After that goal and my birthday trip to Las Vegas something happened to me. I became completely unmotivated, even when others told me I had motivated them and they bought a Peloton or were considering it. I hurt my left rotater cuff doing the weights but that shouldn't have kept me off the bike too but it did. I kept thinking I would just take a week or two off and then before I knew it that time became longer and longer. Well no more excuses. I'm back in the saddle again and on my way to 200 rides.

Now that the time has changed and I'm coming home when there's daylight I want to start walk/running again on alternate days. I want to make this a real lifestyle and I don't want to take long breaks in between. This has to become my life until I can't do it any more, because that day may come. We can never be certain of our life and we shouldn't take our health and what we can do right now for granted. I don't know what the future holds for me health-wise with my family's history.

I know I've said these words before but since I got the Peloton this has become more real and attainable because I know I can do it. The Peloton made me believe in exercise again and really changed my relationship with exercise. I know I've already said that but I will say it again. I've kept my weight down and I am very confident that it will just take a few rides to build back up to where I was.

So here's to 200 rides! Fellow Pelotoners, who is with me?

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Finishing the Second Third of My Life Strong

In September of last year I blogged about having a personal brand and how the ultimate goal of this blog and my social media posts is to build a following as a writer. I'm yet to publish anything other than this blog and a couple of things online, but my goal remains the same. I have two sets of hashtags that I started using to increase my followers. One set I use when it's mostly about me and another set that are about me as a mother. Both include the hashtag #4yearplan which refers to the fact that I have four years left with my two kids.

In a few short months my daughter is graduating from high school. We are in the home stretch having her prom dress altered, preparing for Senior Night at the last lacrosse season game, taking more senior photos with her brother, and graduation party. It's all so much!

But at the end of all of this she will have made a college decision and she will most likely be going away to school out of state. When she's gone I'll only have three years left with my son to do it all over again. I'll have to prepare him for college, get him to apply for scholarships, etc.

Three years. What will I do in those three years to prepare to be an empty-nester? It's definitely something I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about my health and how I have to get back in the saddle again. I've fallen off the Peloton horse for a few weeks now and I need to get back on. I know I will. I have a new goal to reach #200by1year. So there's that. I have goals I want to reach by 50, writing goals and goals I want to reach by the time my son is in college.

I'm sad but I'm also happy. I know that when they are both grown and on their own I'll feel a little sad but I'll also be so proud of them. I'll be a little sad for myself because that part of my life will be over but I'm also excited to start the last third of my life.

I see our lives in thirds, not in halves like most people say. The first third was my childhood and my single life, the second third was my married life and being a mother, my last third will be about me and finding myself again. I half joke with the kids that once they are in college I am done with them and if they need to live with someone after they they graduate, they will have to live with their dad.

It's hard to believe I'm planning for that time and that my children will be adults soon. One is an adult technically but I don't think it will really hit her until she's in college. The time got here way too fast and these three years will also fly by. I need to get on this #3yearplan with my vision board and a timeline. Let's finish this second third of my life strong so I can move on to the last third.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Menopause Is Not a Dirty Word, Neither is Period

I've asked the question before...Why is it so hard for everyone, especially men, to talk about periods? If it weren't for periods, humans wouldn't exist. It's an important part of the life cycle, yet most people are embarrassed to talk about it. That's why it was so awesome that a documentary, Period. End of Sentence won an Oscar at this last Academy Awards. It's about Indian women in a village coming together to find more affordable menstrual products.

The same way that nobody likes to talk about periods nobody likes to talk about when women stop having them. As if menopause and period are dirty words, which they aren't. It's society who has made both such a taboo subject, along with aging and so many other things that affect women.

Me after the Chicago show in NYC, March 2019, age 49
Like pretty much everybody else I only post flattering pictures of myself on social media. I usually delete the ones where I look older because of how tired I am, the angle or bad lighting. (laughing) All reasons that don't admit that I am actually getting older. Here is one that I didn't post when Miranda and I went to NY in early March. In a nutshell this picture looks very different from the one I used when I talked about aging last time in a 2017 blog post or even the one that I posted recently at the Rodeo. This is me in perimenopause.

The blog post in 2017 was also the last time I mentioned perimenopause. Since that blog was written a year and a half ago I have officially become a member of the club, vetted by my primary care physician and all. When I wrote the blog in 2017 I was having weird long periods and then skipping. Then in August of 2018 I had my last period. I had blood work done and my doctor confirmed that I was in fact in the throes of perimenopause. The interesting thing about menopause and the medical community is that they require a full 12 months without a period to consider you in actual menopause. Therefore I am still in perimenopause and every month I pray that I stay there until August of 2019. I'm halfway there!

I had one friend who went 10 months without a period and then had a huge one so her doctor said that she had to start the countdown all over again. Two months later she had another period and she's been so sad. I would feel the same way.

The thing is this. Once we are done with having children we don't need a period anymore. We're good and we wish our bodies knew this too. I am so thrilled at the prospect of never having a period again. However I also consider myself really lucky because I'm having a much easier time than some.

I remember hearing my mother talking about "the change," "el cambio de la vida," in hushed tones with my aunt Lola. She was around my age. Then later as I got older she told me she had never had hot flashes or any of the symptoms she heard and read about.

It turns out I'm more like my mom than I thought. The change has been very subtle in some areas and not in others. I haven't had the horrible hot flashes like my sister, but I have had anxiety, forgetfulness and waking up in the middle of the night. I toss and turn and can't go back to sleep for at least an hour. Since my mother already had a bad temper I wonder if she realized that menopause could be making her more anxious. I remember being 10 years old and not wanting to tell her things or approaching her very cautiously because I didn't want her getting mad at me.

I do a serenity prayer in the morning when I'm pulling out of the driveway and I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The other day when I did one my son asked how I could be feeling anxiety so early in the morning. That's when it hits me the hardest, in the mad rush of getting out of the house.

Unfortunately a lot of women suffer from everything, the hot flashes, the mood swings, the anxiety, the forgetfulness, the vaginal dryness and they don't know why. Because nobody really prepared them for all of this. Generation X has it worse because so many of us work and we carry so much more than previous generations. Some have kids while helping care for elderly parents, like I was a year and a half ago.

I read an article recently by Aileen Weintraub on Huffington Post about what nobody tells you about what happens to your body. I feel that the reason people don't talk about it more is because of this stigma that we've put on talking about periods and our bodies. There's an excellent piece called The New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun on that also discusses perimenopause about halfway through it.

These are great pieces, and a start, but we have to do better. We have to stop hiding behind old-fashioned curtains and we have to get over the discomfort we feel when talking about our bodies. I tell my own kids, "Do not be embarrassed about talking about the human body. Humans exist because of periods." Yes, they've told me to stop and asked me why I'm so weird when I say things like this but I'm not going to stop and neither should any of us. We need to keep the discourse going, writing articles and making movies, until it's not something to be ashamed of, but something we can talk about to our sons and daughters so that they in turn can talk to future generations.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

I Love New York Once Again, for the Seventh Time

This was probably my seventh trip to New York. There was the first time when Miranda was a baby and I went alone for a conference. The second time I went it was with Rey and it was his first time there. I went for a conference and he had a blast exploring the city alone. I remember that as one of the best trips we ever took, when we had the most fun. There was the time we went when there wasn't a work conference but we did because we had a free stay at a hotel. I went for a conference again in 2008 and Rey went that time too. After my divorce I went with Vicki in 2012, also for a conference. Then the last time I was there I went with both kids. That was in 2013. This time I went with Miranda and we went up to visit Long Island University. This is one of the universities that has accepted her.

Here we are in Brooklyn, NY.
Every time I visit New York I feel like I belong there. It's funny that I do because I really do love Houston. I'm very proud of being from Texas. Part of me thinks I just feel that way because I'm visiting and I don't live there but I have felt that way every single time I'm there. I love the energy, I love taking the subways, I love the feeling of something exciting happening.

I had never been when it snowed! This visit there was a little bit of snow on the ground on Friday when we toured the university in Long Island. Then overnight it snowed and we woke up to snow everywhere, especially on our walk to the Brooklyn Museum. It was still snowing a little when we woke up and looked out the window. It was beautiful but hard to walk around.

We packed a lot into our short weekend trip. We arrived Friday morning and we went straight to LIU and spent the whole afternoon there. Miranda got to sit in on a nursing lab in their state of the art "hospital." They have an amazing setting for the kids to learn and they are going to build them an emergency room across the hall. So cool! LIU is offering her a very generous merit scholarship to attend the School of Health Science and to be a part of the Honors program. We just have to pay for room and board, which is going to be a stretch but we may be able to do it. I feel that if she attends LIU's Health Science program she will be more than prepared to take the MCAT and to apply for medical school.

She's also been accepted into the University of Houston and Sweet Briar but we are waiting to hear from around four more schools.

By the time we were finished at LIU we were tired and starving. We ate as soon as we arrived at Penn Station and then we went on to check into our hotel in the financial district. We'd been up since 3:30 am, with only a short nap on the plane, so we were ready to go to bed!

Saturday we went to the Brooklyn Museum to the see the Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibit. It was an amazing exhibit that brought together all the different exhibits I've even seen in my life but it was the first time Miranda saw any of it.

I've been a Frida fan since the early 90s so I've seen a lot of her art. Somewhere between 1995 and 1996 I saw an exhibit of her father's photography in Salamanca, Spain. That was a rare and unexpected treat. In another exhibit I saw in the last 25 years I've seen photography by some of her friends, like Tina Modotti. In 1995 I traveled to Mexico City and went to visit Frida's house, the Caza Azul. I definitely did not see as much as her clothes and personal items on that trip. That was because a lot of the personal items in this exhibit were just brought out of storage in 2004.

This exhibit was more about all of those items that are finally out on display. We got to see her clothing, her jewelry and her make-up. We saw her abdominal casts that she wore, with all her artwork on them. They had her prosthetic legs and her custom made shoes. There was some art, but if you are going to see her artwork you'll be disappointed, there is less about her paintings and a lot more about her life, her personal items and many photographs of her. So many photographers were in love with her and wanted to take pictures of her.

After the museum we took the subway up to the upper west side of Manhattan to Zabar's, one of my very favorite places in the world. If I ever live in NY I'm going there every single week. After Zabar's we went back to the hotel to rest and for Miranda to do homework. After that we headed out to see Chicago, Miranda's first musical experience.

After the show we walked to Gray's Papaya and had hot dogs. Miranda took this picture of me in front, to recreate the photo on my blog from 2005, fourteen years ago!

Sunday morning we woke up early and after breakfast we headed to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I've been visiting New York since 2003 and each visit I've watched the progress. In 2013 when the kids and I were there the two pools were finished. It was definitely an experience to walk through the now finished museum and to hear so many of the heart-wrenching stories again.

I came home and my love for New York was just solidified. I want to live in New York in a tiny apartment like Carrie Bradshaw's. I know that's just a fantasy, especially at my age, but you never know. Seth is still in high school for three more years and we'll see where he ends up for college. Then we will see where I end up.

I want for Miranda to go to the best school who makes her the best offer. I want the best opportunity for her. But I'm not going to lie, if she ends up in New York I will be thrilled. I can live vicariously through her and I can visit her every year.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

See Yourself Like Your Kids See You, With Eyes of Love

A few weeks ago I went to the Rodeo for the first time in a really long time and I went twice, back to back. On the second night there I wore these beautiful earrings that my sister gave me for my birthday, so I asked this woman I hardly know, a friend of a friend, to take a picture of me. You couldn't see the earrings in the first picture so she arranged them and took the picture again. What resulted were these two photos of me that sparked so many likes and comments on social media.

Friends commented that I looked beautiful and I commented that it was just the angle or the lighting, etc.. One friend chastised me to accept the compliments, something I always tell people myself, but then don't follow.

At home I told my daughter about this and she held my face in her hands and told me, "That's how you look. You look just like that right now. You look like that all the time."

Part of me thought that it was my daughter just being nice because I'm her mom and she loves me, but then I stopped. I can't think that way. I need to see myself in those same eyes of love.

Yeah, sometimes photos aren't going to be flattering. Sometimes you can see the wrinkles, the bags under my eyes look bigger than usual because maybe I'm tired. Or the angle shows off my double chin more than usual. When we see photos like that of ourselves we tend to think that's how we always look, but it's not true. We have to stop that negative self-talk.

For some reason we've been led to believe that thinking we are beautiful is narcissistic and vain. Women are criticized for posting selfies of themselves.

When I hear that criticism I always go back to the poem "Ode to the Selfie," by Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood.

The last half of the last stanza is amazing.

"Today millions of girls loved themselves
in the face of a world who tells them not to.
And isn’t that small revolution enough?
And isn’t that the greatest revolution of all?"

Why does it have to be such a revolutionary idea to love ourselves? It shouldn't be.

This week I will make it an exercise to see myself like my kids see me, with eyes of love, and to believe that I am just as beautiful as I look in these photos. Will you join me in thinking the same about yourself?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I'm Freaking 49 Years Old!

On February 11 I turned 49 years old while in Las Vegas, one of the most fun places in the world. While we were there I asked my best friends Vicki and Angie, "Why did we never come here when we were younger?" I feel like we missed out on a whole bunch of years when we could have really had fun. Unlike now when we are older and tamer. 

In the Cosmopolitan Hotel, where we stayed, in front of a row of pictures from the Silver Slipper. The Silver Slipper was a casino in Paradise, Nevada that operated from September 1950 to November 29, 1988 and was originally owned by Howard Hughes. 

I had an amazing birthday surrounded by two of my best friends, my sister and my niece. There's too much to write so I'll leave it at that for now.

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year! New Words! Recommit, Cleanse and Repair

Similar to years past I had a slow start to the year. This time I feel like I trudged through the first two weeks of the year and now here we are, already halfway through January and less than one month from my fabulous 49th birthday. It's the last birthday of my 40s and I plan to celebrate in a grand way.  2019 is going to be a MUCH better year than 2018. I know that sounds cliché but after the 2018 I had, it has to be.

I'm on this quest to reach 100 rides on my Peloton bike before my 49th birthday in February and I'm on ride 84. We still have these balloons so I'm just going to get another zero to give to myself on  the day that I complete my 100th ride. 

When the year started I knew that my one big word was going to be Recommit. It's a word that I heard in April and that I added to my words for the year in 2018. It's such an amazing word because it covers a multitude of things. It came from a quote that I read by life coach, Cara Alwill Leyba. She says to "Recommit as many times as you need to.." But my favorite part is, "Failure is an illusion and the idea that you can't start over will do nothing but keep you in a space of sadness." I love that. 

It's taken 14 days into the month but I finally have the rest of my words. I've thought about what I want out of myself this year, what I hope to accomplish, to find the right words. Hopefully this doesn't sound too much like a skin care regimen. My other two words are cleanse and repair. 

Recommit to my goals, healthy eating, exercise, and all the goals I set for myself monthly and weekly. I'll recommit when I reach them and when I don't.

Cleanse covers so many areas. I want to cleanse my life. I want to start eating clean and I want to clean out my house. I want to pack up all the things that I would find completely essential to take with me if the house were burning down and I only had time to grab a few things. Or all the things I would take with me if I was going to live in a little vintage trailer, like the ones I admire.

Repair. I need to to repair my mind, my soul, my courage, my body and my house. I need to repair myself both spiritually and I need to repair my physical surroundings. I'm tired of living with things in disrepair and only I can be the one to fix those things. 

So there you have it. Recommit, cleanse and repair. I can start 2019 now. What is your one word or your words for the year?