I Make The Pies Now

25 Nov

Tomorrow’s the day … the day I’m reminded that I live in that combined existence… between the Barone Family and The Griswalds, only it’s playing on Univision and we’re missing our chief turkey carver. We’re missing our Ray Barone, we’re missing our Clark Griswald.

This will be the fifth year that my Dad will be hanging out with The Man upstairs during this holiday season, but no matter how many holidays pass by there’s always a moment of pause when turkey day comes around. Christmas was big in our family, but Thanksgiving seemed to be larger. Probably because ever since Ferris Bueller had his day off, I found myself counting and moving hundreds of free range turkeys and freezing my ass off in the Rocky Balboa-sized refrigerator for the family business. I found myself wishing Ferris was my friend, hoping he’d invent a plan for my day off.

Thanksgiving has always kicked my ass. Always. But when it was all done, there was always a reward.

I mean coming home aching from all those turkeys, 3×5 customer order cards, and cold air hitting my joints and back for several days, and then finally being able to sleep in that morning until after the sunrise, that was a reward in and of itself, but picking up pumpkin pies from Dupar’s Bakery with my Dad, the pies I’d devour with a big glob of whipped cream … dude … that was it. Driving home in his dark gray Nissan pickup truck, listening to jazz with the white cardboard boxes on my lap, smelling the nutmeg and all spice,, and joking around all the way home. That was my reward for a week’s worth of muscle.

And those were my moments …


But I had none of those this week.

No 3×5 cards, no inventory sheets, no late nights, no arguing over whether he said 14-16 pounds or 12-14 pounds, no white butcher coats or aprons, no sweatshirt, no thermals, no bleach-scrubbing floors, no sassy customers, no counting and recounting turkeys or boxes, no laughing because we were so tired, and no Dupar’s pie.

I make the pies now.

He still probably would have liked them.

I miss him during the non-craziness of my Thanksgiving Week. I miss him during the quiet of the night that’s not supposed to be so quiet. Sometimes I even miss the craziness of the 3×5 order cards and the insanity of inventory. But just sometimes.

The family is still in a state 0f Barone-Griswald existence, always has been, but it’s weird not having the Ray or Clark of the family around. But I am thankful that I remember these things. I am thankful that I can still feel the aches in my muscles, the paper cuts from the 3×5 cards, the Neutrogena Intensive Hand Repair cream on my chapped hands. I’m thankful I can still picture him at that dining table the nights before Thanksgiving, taking out the inventory sheets, 3×5 cards, black Bic pens, and hear his voice…

“Canela, are you ready?”

Yeah … I make the pies now.



Tune-Ups Are Necessary Because UGH-Moments Exists

20 Nov

“Self-judgement is based on unreality.” — Deepak Chopra


Say what?

I had to hear that a few times before it actually made sense. Sometimes ideas are so deep that I need to take a minute. Several of them if they hit me with this early in the morning.

As a writer I’m totally guilty of self-judgement. As a mom … duuuuuude happens a lot. And sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with writing or motherhood could’ve been love, family, career, spirit, life, NanoWrimo, a conversation, parallel parking. Anything can make you feel bad, if you let it.

And then Deepak spoke and I heard it.

Judgement is based on decisions or moments that happened in the past, those UGH-moments that you just can’t shake off. Still thinking about the five minutes, five days, five weeks, or five months ago situation. Sometimes they still play in my head like a rerun and you can’t seem to change the channel.

But again, I was reminded of something I learned a while back, something to help me flip the switch. Being a work in progress. That’s me, so I snapped out of it. I realized the person I was five weeks ago isn’t the same person I am today. I’m under construction and sometimes I get help. The universe tends to bless me with the grace, imagination, or gratitude I need in order to get through life’s little moments where I’m lacking perspective and patience. Other times it leads me to Yogi teas, Ben & Jerry’s, a punching bag, and Netflix.

So I continue to progress, and remember to be present, because it’s hard to judge myself about the past if I’m focused on the right now.

The Present! For the most part I thought I lived my life enjoying “the moment,” and being present. But now that I hit the big 4-0 I realized I could’ve done it a bit more.

“The road to happiness starts with a deep breath and an awareness of the many blessings tied to that single breath.” — Richelle E. Goodrich

Being on this meditation kick has really helped make that a part of my lifestyle. At first it was just tough trying to make it a habit, but now it’s just become a part of daily living.Whether I’m enjoying a football game on the couch, eating the best piece of chocolate cake ever, hanging out with friends, blogging, or skydiving, whatever it is I’m in the moment. I enjoy it, I appreciate it, and then I’m grateful for it happening.

This whole spiritual and self-compassion cleanse was a good reminder. Weekly tune-ups are necessary because bad days, jackasses, and UGH-moments happen daily.

Buen Camino people!






Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory

16 Nov



When it finally comes together…

It’s a victory.



Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.



Thanks Cheryl … Now I Remember, I Just Haven’t Accessed Them Yet

13 Nov

It was like I had to do it.

I mean I could have done it tomorrow in light of day, just catching moments of time here and there, but I thought it was best to soak it in all at once and have a moment. A wow moment, a self-discovery moment I knew would take place because it had happened before. It had happened with other great books in the quiet of the night, other books that gave me moments of reflection, moments of change at just the right time.

So I wanted another one.

I had to do it. I had to find out what happened in the end, I mean I know what happened, she got to the bridge. But what really happened, how did it feel? What did it change? Because even though I hadn’t walked, run, or hiked those hundreds of miles on The Pacific Crest Trail, I had changed with her.

37 pages.

That’s all I had left after chipping away for months on Cheryl Strayed’s novel, Wild. 37 pages. Didn’t seem like much, just a thin sliver, but for a slow reader like myself that seemed like a chunk and in the end, a chunk is what it was because so much had happened in those 37 pages.

And I needed to tell someone, tell my own personal community book club that no one knew they were a part of until the read the first sentence of this post.

I needed to share.

Not that anyone would read it right away, or that anyone would read it in its entirety but I felt like this has become my own little support group, filled with people I’ve never met, but at the same time filled with people who also know parts of me. Well … I did meet Susie. Bonus.

But this community of writers, and artists had become a place where running to share something awesome that happened to you because you know that somewhere out there something just as awesome has happened to someone in return and they can relate to you. Whether they’re in California, England, Boston, or Australia. Someone relates.

So I found myself at 11:59 p.m. sitting there having a moment. I had just been part of Strayed’s journey, she brought me along the her 1,100+ mile Pacific Crest Trail adventure describing the forests, mountains, skylines, lakes, trees, wildlife, and moonlit nights that transformed her.

For those of you who haven’t read it and want to, this might be the place to stop…for the rest of you…

This was definitely the story of someone who seemingly had everything health, family, college, and the love of a good man–a good husband. But that all went to crap after the heartbreaking death of her mother. Affairs, betrayal, divorce, heroine, all these bad choices found this girl at the bottom and so far away from her center she had no idea where her internal compass had gone, and she had no idea how to get back until she discovered a simple guidebook to Pacific Coast Trail while waiting in line … it was this guidebook that sparked the idea that eventually changed her life. It reminded of the movie I had seen awhile back, the one that had made such an impact, The Way, starring Martin Sheen.

They were both physical journeys that impacted the emotional levels of each character, it changed their spirit and helped them find their center. It helped both of them come to terms with the things that happened in their life.

And even though the journey had great discoveries it also had exasperating moments, like when Strayed accidentally dropped one of her hiking boots over a cliff and all she could do was hug the other one really tight, the only other hiking boot she had left, before chucking it over in utter frustration. I found myself thinking … dude that would have totally happened to me.

But at the end the losing the boot didn’t seem to matter much, it was part of what was supposed to happen in order to get her to that spot. At the end when she reached the Bridge of Gods and eventually found herself sitting on that white bench, eating the ice cream and having her moment, feeling like she knew certain things in her life would come to pass, even though she hadn’t accessed them yet, she knew they would come, that she would be all right. She knew and she was full of gratitude.

At that point, I remembered Ayers Rock in Australia. I remembered having my own mini adventure in Uluru. I remembered the roundabout walk around Uluru, the 10K, the feeling of peace as I touched to the magical sandstone, the feeling of awareness, the presence, the stories told by my aboriginal guide, the quiet I felt as I sat on the wooden bench when it was over. The gratitude in knowing the trip had changed my life and the knowledge that I’d be all right no matter what was waiting for me when I got back.

Strayed took me back to a moment that had slipped my mind, a moment after my own journey that I needed to remember. Strayed reminded me or parts that are yet to come … they’re there … I just haven’t accessed them yet.



The Little Red-Headed Girl In All of Us

9 Nov

Everybody needs a little red-headed girl in their life … you could be the little red-headed girl in someone’s life even if you don’t have red hair.


I learned the wisdom of the red-headed girl by watching Charlie Brown, him and his whole Peanuts Gang threw down some serious heart-warming material for the soul.

I knew I would enjoy the movie and I knew my kids would love it, but I had no idea that there would be such a great life lesson accompanied by movie popcorn and juice boxes.

The Peanuts Gang becomes part of our family every holiday season beginning with The Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving dinner, and ending with Christmas. So it was of no surprise that we hit the movies on opening weekend. We’re big Charlie Brown fans. We love underdogs around here. We rooted for him to catch that break, to succeed, to kick that football, to fly that kite. We wanted to high-five him when he had his moment and smiled knowing that it had happened.

But aside from having his moment of victory, he had something else in this movie. He had an A-Ha! moment because someone else believed in him. Now for the record we know that Snoopy and Linus always believed in him, they were always in his corner, they always wanted him to succeed and never thought of him as a Blockhead. They thought of him as Charlie Brown.

But this time … this time there was a girl … a little red-headed girl who gave him the butterflies and made his heart beat faster. This little red-headed girl saw things in him that he didn’t see in himself. All the things he perceived as mistakes, missed opportunities, or utmost social disasters turned out to be valuable qualities like compassion, honesty, goodness, and courage. This girl didn’t see what was wrong, she saw what was right.

And that’s he needed, that’s what we all we needed.That moment was so awesome i stopped eating my popcorn. I paused to see if my kids were paying attention. I turned to look, their eyes staring at the glow of the screen and the smiles were big.

We all need a little red-headed girl in our life and we need to be that little red-headed girl for somebody. We need people to look at our choices and not see the failure or embarrassment, but realize the value of our spirit. We need to have people see our potential and inspire us to reach it when we can’t see it ourselves.

I was grateful for the Charlie Brown lesson and I was even more thankful that my son and daughter got a chance to see it. They’re both capable of being the little red-headed girl, we all are, it’s in the spot where our heart rests.



Celebration of Life

3 Nov

It was another reminder, not that I needed one to remember him, I think about him everyday. But this reminder called for the celebration of his life.

The fact that he was gone wasn’t something worth celebrating, it was painful and the first time I’d ever felt sorrow. I’d had loss before, plenty of it, depression hitting the core kind of it, but nothing like this loss. It stayed and was felt. Just felt it, gut-wrenching sorrow that sat with me. And even though this sorrow stays with me, in that piece of my heart, settling in that far right corner, I still find happiness in talking about him, in celebrating his life.

I think about him everyday, about his crisp clean white shirts he wore to work, his musky aftershave that lingered every morning long after he’d gone, his briefcase sitting against the hallway, his well-loved dark gray Nissan pickup truck that was on its last wheels, his smile when I’d tell a joke, his love for Haagen Dazs ice cream bars, the ones with the almonds, his passion for movies and HBO shows, his interest in Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro, and Al Pacino movies, his messy organization skills where he knew where everything was in that tornado of paper, and his marathon way of tying his shoes in the morning the kind of way that only a Dad would embark upon.

I think about that, but these past two days I’ve been even more present about his life, trying to celebrate it and keep that spiritual connection during Dia de Los Muertos.

The fact that he’s passed away isn’t something that’s easy, it’s never been easy. It’s just a wound I’ve learned to carry, that’s become part of me, but when I think of the adventures we’ve had … that’s when I celebrate the fact that I knew him, that he was part of my life, that part of the way I define myself is by saying … yeah … I’m Julio’s Daughter. That’s me, with all the pitfalls and flaws of manic depression and a dysfunctional childhood that came from that … yeah that’s me.

I celebrate it.

I celebrate his heart, because he had a big one, and I try to pass it on to my son and daughter. So in honor of some of the face artwork I saw, we got inspired to create some to create some art of our own in hopes of sending him light, love, adventure, and prayers.

A Guatacular Halloween

31 Oct

I know they say that time goes by fast but this week … this week Halloween managed to slow things down as I felt each hour and each minute during the jam-packed Fall festivity sessions.

We started on the farm ...

We started on the farm …


We began with tractor bumper car races to get the party going ...

We began with tractor bumper car races to get the party going …


We enjoyed a tractor pulled ride and decided to head to the fields ...

We enjoyed a tractor pulled ride and decided to head to the fields …


We picked our own berries before exploring the rest of the farm.

We picked our own berries before exploring the rest of the games on  farm.


We ran into some pumpkin art ...

We ran into some pumpkin art …





This was my son's favorite ... he's a Jedi in disguise.

This was my son’s favorite … he’s a Jedi in disguise.





This was my daughter's favorite.

This was my daughter’s favorite.


We came home from the farm inspired to create something amazing with our own pumpkins, but since we're not great artists we baked ours and came up with these chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I had six during the test-tasting process.

We came home from the farm inspired to create something amazing with our own pumpkins, but since we’re not great artists we baked ours and came up with these chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I had six during the test-tasting process.



Then came Halloween Eve and the Big Day itself where we spent our time carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating and watching Linus hope for the Great Pumpkin's arrival. A Guatacular week where time stood still and Hershey bars rained down on the Guats.

Then came Halloween Eve and the Big Day itself where we spent our time carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating and watching Linus hope for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival. A Guatacular week where time stood still and Hershey bars rained down on the Guats.



Duuuude I’ve Finally Found The Words To Replace Profanity … Maybe

28 Oct




I Had Gotten My Spark

26 Oct

I thought there would be fireworks and it would be magical. 

I’d built it up to be such a great thing because I’d gotten so much out of the book… but being stuck in traffic, parking way across campus, and showing up 20 minuted late really seemed to fizzle things out. Nothing was going according to plan…
I had met her when my life was in shambles, Telenovela shambles … the kind where you wish you weren’t the main character because everything was so jacked up but it turned out that when you looked in the mirror you were that character, you were in shambles. 

Yeah that was me some years ago, and  I found such comfort and Aha! moments in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love novel that it helped me transition through such a tough time. Going through that with her words swirling in my thoughts and settling in my heart, I’d expected that same transformational lightning-bolt moment to happen again. But the two hours in traffic seemed to take the umph out of the lightning.

Sadly … I’d missed the opening. I hate missing anything, I’m the kind of person that gets to the movies early just to enjoy the previews, I don’t like missing the Oscars monologue, I don’t like missing beginnings, they sort of set the tone for everything else. So missing out on the first half of anything, especially this speech was kind of a downer. 

But just then and there as I walked into the auditorium, sweaty and hair in desperate need of a hat or some Aquanet hairspray, I saw her and gratitude kicked in. I wasn’t focused so much on what I had lost, on how far I had parked, on the disasterous traffic, or what nugget of Big Magic I had missed, but I was centered on my gratitude.

 I had caught the second half. 

I mean in sports that’s when things matter, the second half. That’s when Hail Marys are thrown and the crows go wild. In books that’s where thing matter, in the second half. So as I stood there in the aisle leaning against the pillar I focused in on that voice I had heard so many times before in the Magic Lessons podcasts, and it appeared.

The spark.

I came away with two great take-home moments from stories that seemed to resonate with the writer and creative force inside me.  Great lines that made there way into my morning routine and do t-give-up inner dialogue.

And even though after the lecture ended the bad luck continued, I still found gratitude. The line was long for the book signing, and even though the chick in front of me took longer than she was supposed to and stole my moment with Gilbert making her posse quickly usher me away after she signing my book, I still felt good.

I had gotten my spark.

 I had gotten my take-home moments … two of them and I was thankful for the mini lesson.


Great Scott!!!

21 Oct

It’s not just a normal Wednesday.

I mean I’m sure 9 a.m. might of looked and felt the same. I’m sure there were milestone birthdays being celebrated at Morton’s Steakhouse, but the nerd in me was excited for a completely different reason.

1.21 Gigawatts.

Yeah … Today was the day that the male version of myself, Marty McFly, and Doc Brown blasted Huey Lewis & The News and went Back To The Future. If you have no idea what a DeLorean is … then this might not be the post for you.

For the rest of who grew up in the Walkman era and phones with mile-long twisty-turny chords then you know the beauty of the this movie. the importance of the time-space continuum and the whoa-factor to this date. October 21, 2015 was the day that Marty and Doc  went back. This is the day when hoverboards, flying cars, and shoes that tied themselves were supposed to exist. The Cubs were supposed to win The Series. It was supposed to be The Jetsons Era.

The fact that it’s 2015 and most of the predictions have yet to happen just goes to show you that Zemeckis and Spielberg’s imagination gave us too much credit. But all the cool gadgets and futuristic innovations that we were supposed to exists wasn’t what drew me to the movie.


I wanted to see what happened next.

I wanted to find out what was up with Marty.

The first movie was such a great story about how friendship and a moment of courage changes your life. You know I was going to tune in to see Part II. And that was a story, within a story, within a story. It was a cool concept for me. I wondered what I would see in 2015. I wondered where I’d be and what I’d be doing on that day. It was so far ahead I couldn’t imagine it, I couldn’t even picture it, but I knew I’d be something and be doing something with my life. Something futuristic, something cool I imagined.

The day came and went.No hoverboards, no hydrogen-powered cars, no shoes that tied themselves. Not even a visit to the Sharper Image Store. Nope. Nothing cool about fighting an ear infection.

So even though today wasn’t what I thought it would be, I still enjoyed Marty’s time travels. I watched those flicks again, trying to remember where I thought I would be in 2015, trying to get that feeling back. Remembering the theater and the popcorn and the people I went to see it with, I ended up going back in time myself, and the night ended on a good vibe.




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