Mr. Rogers Would be Proud

1 Jul

I knew I had to go over the top on this one. Tiny little things nowadays help bring people joy. But I wanted to make it rain. The occasion called for it.

A couple weeks ago I recruited the help from a few of my college buddies when our alumni group tried to make graduation special for a few recent college graduates spread throughout the state.

I didn’t realize how much the sense of giving would provide such heartfelt happiness in my soul. I’ve participated in charity drives and good deeds, but this felt different. The surprise factor and expression of joy when she saw the caravan with balloons, and music blasting was epically rewarding.

See, I said I was dropping off a letter in her mailbox.

I’m not a fan of lying but it needed to be done. Chocolate special-ordered cupcakes, flowers, and a gift basket were involved.

To acknowledge someone I hadn’t even met with a random act of kindness of Publisher Clearinghouse proportions gave me such happinesses. An accomplishment that I’m well aware was a great challenge needed to be celebrated, even if it wasn’t in a stadium or auditorium.

My friends and I all chipped in for items in this care package and we made it as special as we could. Who knew cellophane would be hard to find during a pandemic? But details made it all the more special.

None of us knew who she was, all we knew was that she majored in Public Health. But by the end of that masked-socially-distant visit we welcomed her into the alumni world and offered her help beyond what was in the basket.

Being kind doesn’t take much. Mr. Rogers rocked it in his neighborhood. Offering it up without wanting anything in return makes for a better community. If someone is going through a tough time, or you want to help spread some sunshine on someone’s milestone or stepping stone, being genuine and kind is the way to go.

Giving to someone else expands your heart and elevates the good vibrations. I was so happy that we could brighten her day with such a surprise. One of the best Saturday mornings of the year. The laughter, smiles, and teary-eyed joy let us know we did good that day. Mr. Rogers would be proud. And I felt so blessed that I could do that with friends.

Buen Camino my friends!

Feel Good 5 Friday

26 Jun

It’s the one thing that can rid you of irritability when you need it the most. Sometimes it’s planned because you’re trying to get rid of the funk. Other times the universe conspires to get you on a better path.

There I was at the stop light, feeling the crankiness of running into stupid people at the market with the added frustration of a bad phone call and the morning frustration of yet yet another rejection email during quarantine.

Never answer while driving, unless it’s your kids of course. Having a hands-free system still doesn’t prevent bad conversations.

But then I broke my mood and silenced my inner dialogue when I turned the dial.

I mean you think you got James Brown moves when the beat drops, because your shoulders feel the funk, but you don’t. But it’s those rhythms that renew your spirit and make you smile. You’re feeling different.

The music magic twirled its baton and I danced my way back to myself. The Spinners saved the day and I was grateful for whomever selected that song to put out on the airwaves.

There’s just something about the vibes you feel when you hear your song. I can’t even play these songs when I’m running or I’ll have to stop and dance. Glad I was close to home because the playlist continued with El Puma and company, and the feel good vibes made it possible to hit the reset button.

Hoping you find yours when you need it.

The Spinners- Working My Way Back

El Puma- Pavo Real

Le Chic – Le Freak

Yaz- Situation

Frankie Smith – Double Dutch Bus

Buen Camino my friends 🙂

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I Got Words on Wednesday

24 Jun

You got faded Polaroids of bellbottoms tucked away in albums, collared shirts still hanging in the closet, and his favorite Robert DeNiro DVD’s on your bookshelf. But there’s still a hole and something is still missing.

That never goes away. The “missing them” part. It doesn’t. Sometimes it grips you so strong you want to hug the picture but worry you’ll crumple it. Sometimes you can’t breathe when you cry and other times you crack up in the middle of the day at a memory that tears make their way to the corners of your eye.

Father’s Day.

Got a roller coaster of ups and downs this weekend but I managed through with stories from my childhood and his. This time I found myself at the empty driving range. Something I haven’t done in years, something we enjoyed doing together. Gold balls never making it passed the 200-yard mark but I didn’t care, was just hanging out and swinging away. Sometimes we didn’t have to talk. We were in the friend zone. Smiling in silence, or laughing at the ridiculousness of the shot shanking to the left. We didn’t even like watching golf on TV or cared who won The Masters. It was us. Hanging out.

Then driving home in silver Tacoma, listening to jazz and retelling stories. Sometimes there’d be a stop at 31 Flavors, just because. There were no Ben & Jerry’s. So rocky road was my jam. But he was more of a Haagen Dazs guy. Still he got ice cream. Sometimes he’d pick strawberry. Sometimes chocolate. He’d try something different. He’d say there are 31 but none of them tasted like Haagen Dazs.

And so this month, for my friend, and in his honor, I did the race. Normally I’d be scaling one of the tallest buildings downtown. 63 stories. 1,393 steps. Do it every year for him, raise money for the American Lung Association to help people with lung disease. But with Covid-19, it was postponed, then postponed again, then onto a virtual platform.

So without my racing bib, crowds of fellow climbers, and the claustrophobic staircases I made my way to The Great Outdoors, with an epic playlist and purpose. The gasping for air. The heart pounding. And the legs involuntarily shaking when I got to the tippy top and end of my climb. All of it was still there and so was my reason.

1,831 steps.

1,831 reasons why my dad was worth the effort.

Hope your Father’s Day was blessed with kids, BBQ, and Hallmark cards of dad on couches.

Buen Camino my friends.

Feel Good 5 Friday … on Saturday

20 Jun

Starting to trim it down. The unnecessary. That’s what Covid is doing for some people under quarantine. The stuff you thought was so important matters less. Substance makes its way to the front.

Finding little moments and bringing gratitude into the fold make the days count.

Feel Good 5 Friday wrapped up in music and feel-good vibes. The kind of tunes that get your shoulders grooving and your feet bumping. I got the funk of the 70s making its way back to me and filling my morning runs and walks with the bellbottom vibes I need to keep the spring in my step.

But I also got some Latin flavors from an epic band that remind me of my youth and doing chores to their music. Flashbacks of vacuum cleaners, sponges, and Ajax accompanied this song so as not to make mundane housework so dreadful. And the twist from one music icon honoring another inspired me this week. That kind of music and performance and feeling make you want to do better. To rise.

And those moments were good to listen to and to watch. But I had something extra special to highlight of Feel Good 5 Friday.

Everyone has at least one moment during the week where something, or someone, made them smile. We need some of that at this time and I found an undiscovered wave of goodness a couple of weeks ago but wanted to highlight it today.

Tabitha Brown. Have you heard of her?

She’s what I need during this quarantine She spreads smiles and goodness with her warmth and safe advice, like if I want to add more garlic then I should because as Tabitha says it’s my business.

Now I’m no vegan or vegetarian, but this lady right here, makes me want to double up on my daily 5. She makes the day. She’s the girl you want to hang out with for sure.

And after I’ve done some cooking and gotten my good vibes from Tabitha the tunes that gave me the warm and fuzzies kept me going when I couldn’t find a smile.

Earth Wind and Fire -Let’s Groove

Kool and the Gang -Ladies’ Night

Los Angeles Azules

Sting singing Bruce- Rising

Tabitha Brown

Father’s Day tomorrow … hoping all the Dads have a good one 🙂

Buen Camino my friends!

Life Full of Wordless Wednesday’s

10 Jun

Stories coming to front pages begin to shed light on facts a lot of communities of color already knew. They lived it. It had been there tirelessly. N.W.A. and other artists made albums speaking on these practices. The only difference back then was not many of these were being recorded and released. Not until Rodney King.

Pictures and images give more weight to words. Especially when no one believed your words at face value.

A friend of mine from back in the newspaper days was recently featured in a National Geographic spread and I was so proud to have known someone whose storytelling needs no words. His life is full of Wordless Wednesdays, capturing moments in time that reveal emotion and journey. Zoom lenses. Shutter speed. Focus. All to get the right shot.

Sometimes pictures are so good they inspire others to tell the story.

And so during this time of social unrest, protest, and pandemic emergency it’s important to differentiate between pictures and stories that sensationalize without context and those with substance that sit with you and make you think. I wasn’t surprised to hear that my friend was highlighted as one with depth and contribution.

For photography.

But good writers, painters, composers, musicians, singers, and actors do that … Artists do that. Anyone can have a moment like that if they’re present enough. It can come in the middle of a conversation and you find it. Storytelling.

It’s been of critical importance now to hear people’s stories. It’s good that they’re being documented because the voiceless need to be heard especially when people are intentionally drowning them out and trying to cover up, manipulate, or erase what’s happening. But luckily you can still find truthful words and pictures during abuse of power. Whether it’s silent and subversive at work, home, or school, or on the streets with tear gas and rubber bullets, stories continue to be captured.

Don’t stop telling your Wordless Wednesday stories …

Buen Camino my friends

Until Next Time Feel Good 5 Friday …

5 Jun

Considering recent events the need for Feel Good 5 Friday seemed important, seemed like people needed a lift in their spirit after so much violence and turmoil. But it’s a time for reflection so it returns next week

During these moments of retrospective thoughts on what we can do to help improve matters in social justice I took a look at leaders who’s courage and commitment impacted life beyond what they imagined. And change happened. Some lived to see it, others looked down from the heavens to bare witness.

Going beyond. It takes that extra step, the one somebody else couldn’t, or wouldn’t, take to help someone that’s been forgotten and made to feel less when in fact there is always something meaningful there. Taking that step to shine a light on something that’s trying to hide.

That’s what a lot of great leaders had in common.

This one was new to me.

Bryan Stevenson

I didn’t know that name. But I knew someone like him existed. A story of a young lawyer who traveled down to Alabama to try and help the wrongly convicted and unjustly imprisoned. All this happened when I first entered college and I had no idea.

I was glad he wrote a book, that he told his story and that of the birth of the Equal Justice Initiative. It’s a powerful educational story. And the movie with Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx make it available to those who didn’t read it and wish to see it played out so they could connect.

And because of recent events, Just Mercy is streaming for free on multiple online platforms. I hope you can catch the film and experience a different perspective on matters, because today is all about perspective and hearing someone else’s story.

https://justmercy.eji.org/responsive/#about

Buen Camino my friends

Feel Good 5 Friday

29 May

Everyone looking for something to lift them up during these times and I’ve been feeling the feel good vibes with tunes from my childhood.

These were so good I be two-stepping in my car and shimmying my shoulders. I mean these were silky smooth. Fun. Soulful. And giving me the vibes so much so I had to wait for the songs to finish before I got out of the car. Has that ever happened to you? The song is so good you can’t leave the car even if you have somewhere to go? I mean you just need a minute because you’re feeling it?

Yup.

That happened to me all week. My eclectic mix of Spanish and English tunes took me back to a happy place even if it was a heartfelt rock love ballad. I was singing in the car because these guys were sanging.

So today was Feel Good Friday and I wanted to pass along those vibes in case you needed some sunshine on a dark day. But of course I have to thank my Uncle Erick, my brother, for introducing me to The Bee Gees and Player back in the day when he wore his bell bottoms, and then later the Doobie Brothers. Rest In Peace brother. The music still brings memories of him playing his records and talking to his girlfriend and me teasing him about being “in looooooove”. I still actually have his Bee Gees albums and it rocks to own something so cool from my uncle. Even though the songs are just pulling at your heart they still make me smile because … well it’s The Bee Gees with their awesome hair.

And Michael McDonnald. Do you know how silky soulful this dude is? So good he’s got me feeling again. Trust that his voice hangs on to you for an extra minute. Definitely makes you want to groove out.

JuanGa and Pedrito just got me dancing to the beat. It was saucy. They filled the moments with awesome voices and good dance vibes. Even some smiles. And nowadays if you can get something that makes you smile, hold onto it for a beat. Enjoy. Pass it along.

Taking it to the Streets -Doobie Brothers

Yo No Fui – Pedro Fernandez

Baby Come Back – Player

Too Much Heaven — Bee Gees

Hasta Que Te Conoci – Juan Gabriel

Buen Camino my friends!

Peace and Love to The Heartbroken …

25 May

Feeling a little Bangles today.

A little Manic Monday.

People excited about the 3-day weekend but didn’t really feel like one since we’ve been on hiatus for about two months. The Outdoors packed with crowds because apparently everyone is a Bear Grylls Adventurer on the trails. But we never hit hiking on weekends, even before Covid. In fact we seldom go hiking and enjoy the beach or sports in the park more. But we did neither.

No hockey, baseball, or softball tournaments at all this weekend. And it did throw us off a bit. First time in about four years. But this weekend we still had a BBQ and feel good songs hanging in our tiny little space out back. A family affair, the mini version.

But in between the sunshine and good food I still thought about many who have recently sacrificed their lives so others could live. So I could hang out in the hot sun and take deep breaths as I looked up at the clouds.

So I took a moment this weekend and paused. Paused for gratitude. Grateful for life even if it’s restricted I still have it and not many can say that. Over 100,000 in my neck of the woods cannot. Some giving theirs in a fight.

And with all this ugliness out there these people gave someone else a chance, or at least they tried to. They were the positive in someone else’s most negative moment. So I paused for them. Reflecting.

And I pass this along as I saw it online. Made an impression on me. It is not a complete list of course, but was gathered by a guy who cared enough to go through different portals and compile a list with the information that was available. I’m humbled by their selflessness and saddened for their families. Sending peace and love to the heartbroken.

Stay on the Buen Camino friends!

We’re In This Together … Sort Of

18 May

So finishing week five and six of distance learning with the kids and I’ve come to understand one thing … we’re all in this, but not together.

I’ve learned that acquaintances are not that great during a pandemic.

There’s nothing wrong with that, acquaintances serve a different purpose in your life. Sometimes company while you’re waiting for a ride, sometimes chatting about the downfalls of your home team, sometimes moaning about the daily parenthood grind, sometimes high-fiving each other when your kids hit a double, or score a goal, or sometimes they serve up interesting stories to pass the time. Everything remains on the surface.

But it doesn’t go beyond that.

Once school finishes, once the season is over, once you move onto another job, the acquaintanceship is done no hard feelings. You expect it to run its course. And sometimes through these acquaintances a true friendship forms, and you get to know each other better. Things develop and a genuine bond forms that lasts more than the school year, or work schedule.

Now prior to this Covid-19 I had a set of friends and a set of acquaintances. I thought I knew where each one stood in this Venn Diagram of life. But apparently pandemics seem to shed light on a lot of matters. They highlight what was already there. One-sided relationships, good friendships, and acquaintances. It was there you must not have been paying attention. Your focus was off.

During this pandemic I knew the acquaintances would disappear. In crises you count on friends. That was expected. I thought one or two might cross over to the other side, but wasn’t surprised when it didn’t happen. Like if I had a flat tire and didn’t have AAA, I probably wouldn’t call any of them for help.

But what did surprise me was that a few of the people that were in the friends column ended up going over to the acquaintance file.

Apparently I had served my purpose of comic relief.

I was surprised.

I thought since I had known them for over 10 years and that we shared moments, family stories, and drama I thought we were under the friendship column. I had gone way passed superficial chatter.

I know everyone handles crises differently and everyone is concerned with work, family, and loved ones. There’s stress and strain affecting every relationship. But friendships matters. They keep you sane, and give you an outlet, give you someone to lean on and lets someone lean on you.

I’ve learned that I’m a really good friend and that sometimes people’s plates are at capacity no matter how good of a friend you are … they’re just not that into you. They’ve got what they’ve got. Their plate is full.

And so you let go, just like you did with others.

They’ve got friends that provide something that they need and that’s okay. It happens in phases. From college, to the workforce, to marriage, to parenthood. Each stage a couple come with you, a couple leave, and then you gain a few new ones.

Hakuna Matada.

And now a new phase. The pandemic.

People focus on what is essential … things that make them happy, keep them going, give them a smile, make them laugh, and keep them strong. Sometimes that’s family. Sometimes that’s your kids. Sometimes it’s a good book. Sometimes it’s a favorite show. Sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s art. Sometimes it’s your writing buddies on WordPress. Sometimes it’s exercise that keeps you sane.

And sometimes it’s friends, but not acquaintances. Friends get phone calls, and reply to text messages usually within 20 minutes, unless driving is involved. Acquaintances get text message and reply 24 hours later, maybe. And sometimes no call back at all.

We’re in this together… sort of.

So call your friends 🙂 they might have become someone else’s acquaintance so they’d like to hear from you. They might be going through job loss, family stress, anxiety, health issues, loneliness, or distance learning with kids allllllll day.

Buen Camino my friends!

This Mother’s Day Banking on Small Moments, No Chores, and Mixed Tape Soundtracks

9 May

Wishing so much to travel and be outdoors with nature this Mother’s Day Weekend, and not being able to is a bummer. Not devastating mind you, just a bummer. This is the one day out of 365 days where it’s all right to think of myself and not feel guilty.

One day.

24 hours.

Now granted I have to go on a cleaning marathon the day before with the bathrooms, the laundry, the vacuum, the mop, and the dishes, but at least that gives me a day of nothing on Sunday. Can’t say what’s waiting for me on Monday, but Sunday is clear.

24 hours.

I’ll take it.

Even if it’s indoors.

Usually I’m sitting at the ballpark cheering for my Boys in Blue hanging with my family, enjoying the sunny day and loving the little moments in between the Big League hits. The smiles of my kids as we finally reach our seats, the view of the field with newly cut grass cut in patterns, the high fives when home rubs make an appearance, the walk-up-to-the-plate songs, the bloopers on the Jumbotron, the seventh inning stretch, Clayton pitching, Justin swinging away, and Max making great plays.

But I know this isn’t for everyone.

I know some people go all out in their Sunday best with fancy church hats and heels to champagne brunch and that’s super great! Maybe I’ll do that one day.

But I’m good with jeans and a baseball cap, Dodgerdog, peanuts, and a special beverage. Simple things like that always made my day. They make me smile. Everything but the parking situation makes me smile. That’s just a whole lot of patience required after all the goodness … but it’s kind of like a regular mom day. Highs and lows.

But if my team wasn’t in town I’d drive down to the beach and spend the day with the waves, boogie boarding, feeling the ocean wash over my toes, and hanging out underneath my red Tommy Bahama umbrella. Soaking up the sun and feeling the magic that comes with living near an ocean is something that always makes me feel good Mother’s Day Weekend.

Either way I’d have a plan, and this time, even though I can’t enjoy the Great Outdoors, or cheer my Boys in Blue to celebrate my momness, I still have a plan, I guess. Just a little different this time around.

I mean I can’t say I’m angry about it at all. I’m healthy, kids are healthy. We have each other, we have family. We have food, shelter, and what we need. We haven’t suffered a Covid-19 tragedy, we’ve been one of the lucky ones. Don’t live in epicenters like New York, but just in my city alone, not my state, but my city there’s been over 30,000 cases. I recently heard that someone I went to school with died from it. Age 44. Just like that.

So even though there’s no Mother’s Day celebration I’m grateful that we’ve been lucky. Being careful and following rules have helped us out, because sometimes even when you do the right thing, there are others that don’t, and it puts everyone at risk. Even the young healthy 44 year-old guys who have little daughters.

So the fact that I’ll have restrictions this Mother’s Day doesn’t necessarily burst my bubble. It’s not miserable. It’s an opportunity to make another good story. As in, you remember the time there was the Coronavirus and we were sheltering in place, but we still rocked that Mother’s Day?

Making stories is what keeps us going. When looking back most of the time they’re the more interesting or funny stories. Sometimes they’re sad, that’s true, but most times in retrospect they’re not. They bring smiles and laughter at how you can’t believe how you got through it all. Your resolve impresses you.

It’s a date on a calendar to be recognized, yes. But celebrations can wait until it’s safe. There will be so many celebrations when this is all over. But don’t get me wrong, there’s still life, and adventure just a different way of going about it.

There will be chocolate. Definitely. Chocolate and maybe a scenic drive where we can enjoy panoramic views from the highway while listening to our own soundtrack. This year, this Mother’s Day we’re banking on the little things, small moments, a mixed tape, and no chores done by me.

But until then I send you sunshine and waves from months and months ago 🙂

Buen Camino!