It’s The Fourth Quarter

1 Dec

I’m just gonna close my eyes for a minute. That’s what I told myself. Just for a minute. That was on Monday and Wednesday night.

Just for a minute.

The power of sleep … it pulls me in like The Force, especially on cold nights when the warmth of the fuzzy blanket and fuzzy socks comforts me and the weight of parenthood makes my eyelids heavy. The click-clacking of my keyboard has been cold this week on the Word Press front, but the ideas are still swirling in my head and I’ve got a whole month before the year is done, so there’s still time.

It’s the fourth quarter, I always did well in the fourth quarter. So time to step it up a notch. One more shot before the buzzer rings. One last effort to put it all out there on the page. But I’m finding that this little philosophy is going to stretch its wings beyond my keyboard. I’m finding inspiration in lectures, speeches, and shows I hadn’t heard and seen before. Words that touched my heart because they were genuinely spoken.

You look to be humble and kind in your quest, and practice gratitude before you rest. You look to give it 100%, whatever 100% looks like that day. You look to rest your head on the pillow when the moon is out, and find that you have no regrets because you were kind and compassionate today.

Those are the kind of insights you need when it’s the fourth quarter, when you’re looking back on your plans or the bucket list adventures that you set out to conquer in January. You find your inner Clark Griswald as the holiday season comes around and you string up those lights because you believe in a better perspective.

It’s the fourth quarter and believe in silver lining playbooks.

Game on.

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Need Another Ribbon … Or Challenge

25 Nov

Maybe it will be Turquoise or some kind of dark blue satin strip that tries to copy the blue that the water used to be …  I have no idea, but either way I don’t want it.

This holiday season I don’t want it.

I don’t need another ribbon … There’s the red one for AIDS, the pink one for breast cancer, the multicolored one for autism. I don’t need another one.

I don’t need another water bucket challenge, push-up challenge, or mannequin challenge.

What I need is for people to do the right thing so that ribbons or challenges are not needed. I don’t need awareness challenges after-the-fact, I need justice for people who are fighting for what’s right. I need to Erin Brockovich this situation, because what’s a ribbon gonna do, when you could have stopped it from happening?

 

 

This injustice inspires anger in me, not hope. It inspires frustration, not cooperation. It inspires profanity, not prayer. It breaks my heart, not strengthens it. These feelings may not be the right ones, but they fuel the resolve that I have to use my voice to help stand in solidarity with those who still have peace and hope in their hearts.

And hopefully it helps.

Water is an essential part of life and putting something under it, near it, or around it that could contaminate it, that will probably contaminate it, kills off a source just as important as oxygen.

So why is this Dakota Pipeline still happening?

Big Oil. Big Money. Big Bullies.

When the documentary BULLY came out there was an uproar at the blatant incompetence and neglect of some schools, districts, educators, and bus drivers that escalated these situations. People who were supposed to protect children from bullies were failing and allowing this toxic behavior to emotionally and physically harm their kids.

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Big Oil. Big Money. Big Bullies. Same problem.

Everything has two sides I get it. The people near Bismark did not want the pipeline near their water sources, they said it could contaminate their drinking water. So it was moved to Lake Oahe … to potentially contaminate the drinking source of hundreds of Native Americans. It not only could contaminate the water for the nearby reservation, but also endanger the remains of their loved ones, and violate an 1851 treaty.

One community asks for the pipeline not to be built near their water source,  they comply. Native Americans ask they not build near their water source for the same reasons in addition to burial sites and the treaty. No one listens. Bulldozers come. Pipe is laid.

Two sides to every story. I wonder what kind of people lived near the Bismark water source?

People who say it’s complicated aren’t really looking at the simplicity of the matter. It’s wrong. Period. If decision-making people in government can’t find the courage to stand up and do the right thing, then maybe they shouldn’t be standing in a position of power. I told you … I don’t know need another ribbon or another challenge.

I need people to do the right thing. THEY need people to do the right thing. But what happens …

The Army Corps Engineers plan to shut down the Dakota Pipeline Protest Camp by December 5th, and add a “free speech zone” instead in order to “protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions …”

I. Can’t. Eeeeeeeeeven.

A lot has already been taken away from these people … I can’t imagine why the government would allow anyone to strip them of even more. Freedom of speech. Freedom to assemble peacefully. Freedom period.

It angers me that this young kid, Kendrick Eagle, among hundreds of others who remembers the promises from the campaign of HOPE were met with a militarized police force and National Guard using tear gas, plastic bullets, hoses, tasers, and other “nonlethal” means of keeping protesters “in check,” like keeping them in dog kennels after being arrested  you know for the “safety of everyone.”

The moral compass seems to be broken in North Dakota, especially in the governor’s office. So this week, when I was giving thanks, I also empathized and honored the people who have been victims of the government for over 200 years.  I do my best to spread their word while I still have a voice and time to do it. I Stand With Standing Rock all the way from California and without a ribbon pinned to my shirt. I told you I don’t want one.

Buen Camino.

 

 

 

 

The Universe Conspires and Celebrates With Me

21 Nov

This is not a Manic Monday, but a I’m-bottling-it-up-today-Monday.

After a horrendous two weeks mourning the future of our nation, something great happened in my neck of the woods. And just when I thought I’d be the only one celebrating The Universe decided to join me by blasting four feel-good songs in a row. Even though my NanoWrimo efforts will not hit the 50,000 mark, I did hit my mark with a new project and it will be hitting the stage next year.

I was ecstatic to hear the news and pleased that November wouldn’t necessarily be a total writing failure. There is some success on the page, which I welcome with open arms. I was glad to hear that the universe was still “conspiring” with me.

It felt so great that I wanted to bottle it up. The Universe conspiring with me … sometimes I forget that happens because of all the crappy stuff. But things like today remind me of those wheels working.

You see, when I first heard that phrase about the universe, 15 years ago when I read Paolo Cohelo’s The Alchemsist, it definitely stuck with me. Back then I wasn’t a sign-looker, I wasn’t searching for confirmations that I was on the right path. I hadn’t looked for signs when it came to things like that. But I was so glad to have come across that phrase. It changed my trajectory, placing me in the reach-even-higher-for-your-dreams category. The No-Half Measures category.

And during this universe-conspiring process, I found out that if you’re honest, really honest, trimming away the bullshit from your story, whether it’s humor, drama, tragedy, sports, or coming-of-age, people respond. They connect with truth. Good things tend to happen on the page when you make this connection.

And they did happen and the universe decided to celebrate with me in the car.

It’s Monday people. Motivation Monday. I’m feeling it.

Hope these feel good songs help you feel it too.

Borderline — Madonna

 

 

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me — Billy Joel

 

 

Styain’ Alive — Bee Gees

 

 

 

 

Talking in Your Sleep — The Romantics

 

Don’t Stop — Fleetwood Mac

 

 

 

 

Looking For Candles …

14 Nov

The situation was so heavy that I had to take a week-long sabbatical from writing just to recover from the hit.

Backed up on editing, backed up on writing … and my NanoWriMo count … Duuuuuuuuuuuude I don’t … I mean … I don’t even know how that’s going to get back on track. Maybe if I had a Bill Murray Groundhog kind of day experience I could catch up on what I lost. But I have no movie magic to make that happen.

As a writer you would think I had a lot to say …  I mean many people had a lot to say, but there were just no words for this epic fail of a decision.

So now I’m left to turn to hope … just like the rest of the country, well at least half of it, channeling anger into something positive and just waiting for the inevitable disaster to hit and brace for impact. Too bad Captain Sully is not the pilot of this plane we’d have a better outlook for our future.

But in the wake of all this mess I did what I always do … tried to find the funny in not so funny situations and hope during hopeless times.

I’ve got to say Eleanor Roosevelt is pretty badass when it comes to hope …

 

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So I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and hung out in the Beyond section looking for some pretty awesome candles, I mean the best ones they could possibly have … like the ones in glass with some lemongrass aroma in there. And considering the situation I might need more than one, at least two, three or ten.

 

So I’m lighting them up, channeling my energies, and ready to return to the page. This one, courtesy of fellow blogger Jaime over at Live To Write, helped me find the words.

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Bringing The Truth to Mondays

7 Nov

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I found this card and thought … yup … after months of craziness we need some sanity and we can’t do it without truth.

Bring on the chocolate.

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Writer Wednesdays …

2 Nov

There wasn’t just one, but two reasons …

Telling stories and making people feel.

I was reminded of my two favorite aspects of being a writer just recently. I wasn’t even looking for it, but the reasons came and I was super grateful that they did. Sometimes during writer’s block or a daydreaming marathon, where you only get one sentence on the page, you might lose your way for a minute, especially with the Madness of NanoWriMo in full effect. You get lost as to what your favorite part of being a writer is when the discipline of it all drives you to exhaustion during a word count check for the NanoWriMo marathon of November.

So I was humbled by the words that came my way from a young lady I have yet to meet, but she was kind enough to stop by and let me know what my stories had done for her. Anna over at Anna’s Rambles decided to stop by on a Writer Wednesday to explore some of my Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts and she found a little something I was hoping someone would find.

Hope and encouragement.

Some of my stories had touched her in some way and I was happy to know that my writing had made someone feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel something so much that they found encouragement and hope to continue writing themselves.

Writers often second guess themselves and are probably their toughest critics, I know I am. So when I get this kind of feedback, it’s very rewarding to know that my instincts were right all along. I don’t write for gold stars or pats on the back, although they are pretty awesome to receive and I welcome them whenever they knock on my door. But I write the stories so that my voice can be heard, so that people can feel, either by relating to, understanding, or realizing that someone else once felt what they felt. They were there, where you are now.

I write so that when I’m long gone, my kids can one day say they knew who I was and they felt my heart because I always put it out on the page. Funny. Sad. Frustrated. Angry. Ecstatic. Heartbroken. Proud. They’ll know me even when I’m gone, because my stories will still be around, on the page, in photo albums, or in their hearts, still connecting to them.

The people down at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group asked what’s the best aspect of being a writer? My response …

Telling stories and making people feel.

Thanks for the reminder, Anna.

Buen Camino.

 

 

 

 

Dia De Los Muertos Inspires A New Conversation

1 Nov

I think about the clicking-clocking sound he used to make when his tongue would hit the roof of his mouth. NUK! He’d knock-knock-knock my forehead simultaneously … you know during one of my McFly moments. My Uncle Erick.

And I think about my Dad and how he used to call me Canela  and how he’d start smiling even before I told the joke.

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My Dad and Uncle Erick back in the 70s

The two most important dudes in my life growing up, with the exception of the tallest Texan I know, he hails from Lubbock and has his own story, which I’ll share later. But today … today I talk about My Dad and Uncle Erick, today I talk about their stories because Dia De Los Muertos celebrates their spirits and everything they brought to my life.

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They’re on my mind every day, especially when I feel how life could have been so much better if they were still around. And after surviving my Halloween Hangover (why was Halloween on a Monday anyway … KitKat overload) I took a moment to celebrate their lives by sharing some vintage Polaroids and Kodak moments with my kids, accompanied by the stories and adventures behind those pictures.

Whether it was hiking waterfalls in Guatemala, road tripping that had multiple detours, watching SC football on Saturdays, toasting pumpkin seeds on Halloween, or listening to the Bee Gees, Billy Joel, or KC & The Sunshine Band, each adventure added something to my life.

And I miss it, I miss them. I miss the conversations and the reminiscing that brought laughter.

As always it hit me in the pit of my stomach. I celebrated them, and talked about their lives, but was also sad in the end. So I was glad to have come up with a new story about them. A piece based on their lives, inspired by my Uncle Erick.  It’s a conversation. My piece is about a conversation they probably had while my Uncle Erick was growing up. It’s about the advice my dad would have given him and the interesting way he’d go about doing it.

It’s a comedy, of course.

And although this conversation never took place I can totally see it happening because I can hear their voices. I can totally imagine them going through this exchange.

So, on this very special Dia De Los Muertos celebration, I was inspired to write a piece about the two men in my family who I learned from the most.

I’ve even submitted it somewhere … so hopefully their conversation, their story, their journey continues and makes other people laugh in the process.

I’ll keep you posted on that.

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In Search of Jason Bourne And The Great Pumpkin

26 Oct

In order to get away from my latest saga, the Twilight Zone episode of The People’s Court, I decided The Guats needed a change of scenery. Luckily The Harvest Festival and Halloween were just a few days away and The Farm seemed like a nice escape.

Surrounded by goats, pigs, cows, ponies, a giant ox, and plenty of chickens took my mind off the situation. Enjoying the country with activities such as pumpkin bowling, corn cannons, whip cracking lessons, pig races, tractor rides, green tomato sling-shooting, corn mazes and country western shows made for a great family outing.

Overall things seemed to be on point with no kid craziness or whining. We had just the right amount of snacks and prizes to avoid any meltdowns and then I overheard something that made this outing to The Country even better.

Jason Bourne.

Yeah. Matt Damon himself was somewhere on this ginormous farm. So, in the middle of our search for The Great Pumpkin I was also on the lookout for Matt Damon. Now I don’t’ really get star struck too often, but there are a select few … Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Charlie Hunnam (a.k.a. Jax Teller), Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DeCaprio, Oprah, Jon Stewart, and JACK BAUER.

If I were to ever see those at the beach or in this case at The Farm, they would freak my freak. And these are just actors I haven’t even mentioned rock stars like my man Bruce.

These are the kinds of people that I would probably go up to apologetically (sorry for invading your personal space on this awesome family outing but I am a huuuuuuuge fan and I think you’re amaaaaaaaazing I just had to stop by and say that and shake your hand) be a fan for a minute, and then go about my business.

Matt Damon happens to be on this actors’ list and I would have totally approached him had I gotten the chance. And as I understood it Cristina Aguilera was also on the premises but my entire focus was more on Matt Damon, if I happen to run into her, that would have been cool, but I don’t think I would have stopped. I was on a mission. I was in search of Jason Bourne and pumpkins. I was ready to get my freak … freaked!

However, during this five-hour field trip I didn’t see him. But we did manage to have fun even without seeing Matt Damon. My kids won four pumpkins, which was a Guat record. So there were high-fives all around. And then I did run into a friend, which was pretty random, seeing how there were hundreds of people on this ginormous farm. We said our hello hugs and I was happy to see her … then I found out about her corn maze adventure being pretty awesome. Not just because she got to the end and climbed the elusive finish line pyramid, but because she saw him.

She happened to run into Jason Bourne in the corn maze.

Me?

No Bourne. Just the finish line pyramid and a total of six pumpkins.

Still a pretty successful outing.

 

 

 

 

I’m Gonna Need Some Chocolate For This …

22 Oct

Did I tell you I’m being sued?

Close to $10,000.

Yup.

I’ve never personally been witness to such blatant in-your-face lies and deception. I mean I’ve seen them on soap operas, with that tan-tan-taaaaaaaan music and flaring nostrils. But when it happened to me there was no such music.

Frustration and profanity were present, but no music.

There was a car accident, well I don’t even know if I can call it that, more of a fender bender where nothing happened to my car, not even a scratch on the bumper, but her bumper was dented. There was no broken glass, no air bags being deployed, no fake screeching halts, and no big loud booms. Probably a clink seeing how we both started from stop signs and couldn’t have been going faster than five miles per hour.

Anyhow I was not aware that people can sue you up to two years after a fender bender if they don’t like what the insurance company is offering. And apparently fixing the car was not sufficient and settling for around $5,000 was not enough.

I. Can’t. Even.

Two years afterwards she is claiming pain … and suffering. She filed a day before the deadline.

And so I found myself being served with papers to appear in court.

I know I can’t use the LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE defense, but it is so exasperating dealing with such a shady and deceitful chick who will scam the system. I had no idea they existed outside of telenovelas.

And you know, I’m trying to find the funny in this situation but all I seem to find is profanity.

Then I remembered Mike.

Mike Birbiglia sums it up awesomely in his stand-up comedy The Accident Report, where the blatant errors and incompetence of the police officer and the at-fault drunk driver would leave you at a loss for words. But Mike … He just knocks down the absurdity of the entire situation with ultimate comedy.

 

 

I wish I had that gift, but turns out all I’m trying to do is breathe over here. Mike would know what to say. He’s awesome and I wish he could spin my incident into this hilarious bit, but I don’t even have a police report to debunk, because that’s how minor this fender thing was, the damage was so minimal that police presence was not needed, or required. Not by a long shot.

But I’m sure Mike could debunk this just based on the facts.

Mike would definitely know what to say. He’d find the funny. I’m still trying.

But until then I’m gonna need some chocolate … Inside a pint of Ben&Jerry’s.

 

 

 

My Vocabulary Isn’t Big Enough …

17 Oct

You just don’t have a big enough vocabulary to express what you want to say … let’s see if we can fix that.

That’s something I used to constantly share with kids whenever I heard them use profanity to describe someone or something.

It’s no surprise that in middle school I said this at least once a day. You see, back in the day when I was going to grad school and working, one of my jobs was substitute teaching. Middle school.

Sixth. Seventh. And eighth grades

I know. I know.

Best job for writing material ever.

Anyhow, I recently thought about this quote when I encountered a problem with someone. I could feel the anger rising to the surface and the need to just release all kinds of profanity. The anger about the incident, about their massive inconsiderate behavior, about the level of hypocrisy just enraged me. I was ready to let loose the large range of inappropriate vocabulary I had stored in my vault. Both in English and Spanish.

However … the decent person inside me took a moment.

The need not to escalate the situation appeared to surface somewhere in my brain. I thought about being the “bigger person” … again. I feel like my whole life I’ve always had to be the “bigger person” just to have some sense of peace in my existence. So I refrained from letting loose.

But there are times, and I strongly feel like this was one of them, that letting the explicit language rain d0wn was a necessity. Not only for the informative purposes of the jackass who caused these feelings, but just for the mental sanity of the injured — myself.

I look at this situation and all the anger and frustration that I have, builds up, ready to explode, and I just think …

MAN! My vocabulary is just not big enough to handle this person or situation right now.

I mean I try not to have too many moments like that … little things like traffic, bad drivers, bad service at a restaurant, someone cutting in line, people at the DMV, or someone taking my parking space,  get me all crazy. Stuff that isn’t going to matter five days, five months, or five years from now doesn’t seem like it’s worth all that heat.

But if it does meet that five day, five month, five year requirement … I believe profanity should rain down freely. I mean I should be all right, but usually a thing like respect and being a decent person make me change my mind. And the whole conversation just drains me. I feel emotionally exhausted and defeated because apparently sometimes they don’t share the same ideals on decency as me. They begin with low blows, at which point I just have to walk away because at that point I know … I know that my vocabulary just isn’t big enough to deal with certain people.

But once I hang up the phone, or walk away from the encounter, and I’m alone with the punching bag and gloves, the conversations I have with myself  are not PG-13. And I forget that I have a limited vocabulary when it comes to certain people or certain situations.

And I’m O.K. with that. I mean for my own sanity I’m O.K. with that.

 

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