Archive | January, 2013

Weekly Image of Life: Weekend

16 Jan

Having 14-hour shifts with two kids the days sort of run into each other here in Motherhood. Mondays look like Wednesdays and Fridays look like Sundays. The only thing that’s different is what’s on TV.

But there is something I savor … I keep for special occasions … like the weekends.

Sweet.

Creamy.

Rich.

Melt in your mouth.

Made with love.

Made with Aloha.

Yes … weekends are special.

 

My Weekends

My Weekends

 

 

Weekly Image of Life Challenge Courtesy of This Man’s Journey.

 

 

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Mission Impossible … Yes. But Mission Accomplished. Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun-Tun …

15 Jan

This was it. Today was the day. 365 days.

I’ve never done 365 days of anything consecutively other than breathing and being a parent. I didn’t think I’d be able to, with all the drama and chaos that surrounds my existence on a weekly if not daily basis. Everyone has it. It’s called life. But there I was, every night when everyone was asleep, in the quiet. In the good quiet of the night, because there’s all kinds of quiet, the night-time quiet was the best for me. It rocks. And there I was all the way until 11:59 p.m. on some nights, the television on, but the sound the off. All I heard were my thoughts and the tap-tap-click-clack of the keys on my laptop.

365 consecutive days of writing, of posting, of sharing, of creating Saturday Night Live skits of my crappiest moments so that I could come out on the other side with smile instead of bitterness. You never know what funny can do, so you gotta love what it does for you in a year — a year in the life of Guat. And I thank the 300+ followers who joined me on this Mission Impossible adventure and made it better than I expected. Technically my Blogoversary was on January 1st of 2013.

Celebrating with a happy dance.

Celebrating with a happy dance.

Yeah that’s right.

It all started with a resolution, a hope, a goal, a concept on New Year’s Day 2012, but then I got the crazy idea of doing it everyday. A challenge, an additional one to the already existing challenges of motherhood and dysfunctional family drama that defines my current existence. But I did it and I’ve been patting myself on the back all day. I almost did a cartwheel, but stuck to the happy dance instead.

When the idea first came to me I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that people outside of California, let alone the U.S. would check me out. But there they were the peeps of Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, India, the Philippines, Germany, Greece and Sri Lanka. Dude those were the top ten international stops of my blog. But I even made it to places like Madagascar, Iceland, Aruba, Egypt and of course the motherland Guatemala.

Over 20,000 views. I’m sure some of you have more, but it seemed like a ginormous number for me. That’s like half a football stadium doing the wave for me. I had no idea the adventures of the Guat crossed the Atlantic Ocean. I’m jealous of my blog, it has more stamps on its passport, than I do. But I’ve got to love the fact that people in other countries read my stories, enjoy my sense of humor, my little attempts at inspirations, my weekly photo challenges brought to you by my five-year old beat up Canon PowerShot, and my journey to be a better something … Guat 2.0.

I’ve always flown my freak flag, loud and proud, sometimes prouder with a little Framboise or tequila, but blogging encouraged me to be more adventurous on a day-to-day basis. Once I put it out there and hit the “publish” button … dude … it was on. There was no taking it back. I said it, now I got to do it. Cowboy up. So blogging inspired three triathlons, a Warrior Dash, baking a pie from scratch, undergoing a Happiness Project, writing down a Bucket/To-Do List, going out on urban adventures with my kids, enjoying festivals, appreciating the moment, reflecting, living like it’s Shark Week, and trying to find the funny at times when I couldn’t even get a ha-ha.

But what did I get most of all?

I got support. I got another “Circle of Trust”.

I found support in complete strangers, who at the end of the year weren’t really strangers anymore. They turned into people who I’d probably go see a game with, hang out, eat dinner. I found lessons, inspiration, comic relief, supporters and advocates. I found  Drinks Well With Others, Lame Adventures, The Hook and The Struggler’s Handbook bringing me comedy every week and reminding me that cracking up is a great therapy. I found inspiration from Bucket List Adventures and The Landy to create to-do lists of adventures so that life keeps improving. I found culture, food, wine, photography and awesome adventures to Italy from Blissful Adventurer. I found my TV, movie and music soul mates in The Hand-Written Life and Unabashedly Poetic. I found my comadre over at La Chica Writes. I found more inspiration to improve on life and seek out traveling the world through Another Day in Paradise and The 50 Year Project. I found spiritual and kick-ass uplifting messages through Mirth & Motivation. I found inspiration to always try to look for the silver lining and to continue my personal journey to be a better something after reading This Man’s Journey. I found a constant reminder to always enjoy the ride from wild rider Susie Lindau, who constantly brings the fresh back into my perspective. I found the courage to go on after my first follower Thoughts of the Wandering Kind posted the first like.

I’ve found other wonderful bloggers out here on Word Press that have done some of the same, but these have been my constants throughout the entire year. The encouragement I found where I least expected it. And even though I have never been Freshly Pressed, in the 365 day blogging journey, I’m still pretty badass. I am so money, and I know it.

Woo-hoo for the 365-day challenge accomplished.

Woo-hoo for the 365-day challenge accomplished.

So here at 11:59 p.m. on January 15th I raise my glass to toast … to toast the awesome journey that has made me a better a writer, a better storyteller. A toast to the journey that brought more adventure in my life, a journey that began with chocolate, continued with chocolate and ended with chocolate, a journey where I thanked my DVR for recording all the shows I missed during this creative endeavor.

A journey that has been … to borrow a phrase from my buddy Cayman Thorn  … Guatacular.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

14 Jan
Illumination

Illumination

 

 

Illumination.

You look for it. You search for it. In times of need. In times of desperation. In times when nothing is going the way you expected. In times of crappiness.

Enlightenment.

Intellectual enlightenment.

Spiritual enlightenment.

A-Ha moment.

Light-Bulb moment.

Illumination.

 

The Power of Words

13 Jan

“Tony Kushner, everyday I have to live without the immeasurable wealth of your language, which reminds me everyday of the impoverishment of my own.” Daniel Day-Lewis

Dude … he is no way poor on words.

This is one of the best compliments I’ve ever heard in my life. As a writer I dream of someone saying something so Daniel Day-Lewis worthy.  I didn’t see Lincoln, but I did see The Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood and Gangs of New York. He was pretty awesome in all three. Intense. Intense is definitely the word for it, but he seemed very calm, humbled and grateful in his Golden Globe acceptance speech. And I know that writer definitely felt that sincere thanks.

English: Actor Daniel Day-Lewis in New York on...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those words flipped my switch today. It was a crappy one today, the kind that needs a do-over, but unfortunately you don’t get one. Once Sunday morning is gone, you can’t get it back and wishing for that to happen in the afternoon, just wastes the afternoon. So you just decide that it’s been crappy day and you wait until tomorrow. I mean not even my Live-Everyday-Like-It’s-Shark Week reminder toy, hanging out in  my pocket, helped me overcome the suckiness of the day. I pushed the button and everything for that JAWS sound effect, but that didn’t seem to faze me. The crappiness had consumed me. That’s the kind of day I had. It was so bad that I just tanked it at 4 p.m. I threw in the towel and just waited until tomorrow.  That’s what I was doing. I was waiting until tomorrow came. And as I was unsuccessfully trying to salvage some quiet moments in the evening just so that I could watch the Golden Globes then I heard his voice among the chaos of bedtime routine.

I heard him with his accent. Daniel Day-Lewis .. and then something changed.

I was going to write about the crappy day I had in detail,  with comedic spin and everything. But I heard Daniel Day-Lewis and he changed my mind. He flipped my switch. I know he wasn’t speaking to me, but nevertheless his words moved me. I’m sure it moved all writers. When someone appreciates your work so much that they give you an “Ooooooooh” compliment … it’s a total wow moment. Even for those who witness it.

And that was me … I was a witness and I sure wish I was that writer, because that compliment would have definitely made my day. It would have made my decade. Shoot, even century.

Well in truth as a regular human being I hope for something this spectacular said about me and that it’s not in my eulogy. It’s at a place where I can actually hear it. But to set the record straight I have had a couple of friends and fellow blogging buddies definitely lift my spirits with the power of their words. And it was like a Golden Globe highlight.

So Daniel Day-Lewis, I thank you for flipping the switch, for snapping me out of it, for giving me whatever time was left in the hourglass tonight, for the power of your words.

Sandbox List Adventure II: Rocking Out STOMP-Blue Man Group Style

12 Jan

Quiet down.

Dude, no shouting.

Lower the volume.

Keep it down.

No yelling.

Not so loud.

People are sleeping.

What did I tell you about being noisy?

Shhhhhhhhhhh.

 

This is what my four-year old son and one-year old daughter heard for most of their short toddler life. I don’t really live in a country-like atmosphere where your next-door neighbor lives like an acre away. We got thin walls here in the city. Sound travels and not everybody appreciates the musical creativeness of banging on pots, pans, and empty five-gallon Sparkletts water bottles. Some people may not enjoy the Guat’s version of STOMP or The Blue Man group. They’d prefer the real thing. So I needed to regulate the noise level in our living room from time to time.

Well … in truth sometimes my son was just too loud in general, while his sister was napping, and that put an end to a much-needed nap, which was not cool.  So the shushing might have been an everyday occurrence outside of our “music time”.

But not today.

Today my kids, got a chance to rock out with all kinds of instruments on our all day music adventure. We headed out to a couple of free musical workshops where my kids got a chance to jam it without hearing one shush from me. They rocked out STOMP/Blue Man Group style and they loved it. I wasn’t sure everybody else was jamming it, but I know my kids were … Sandbox List Adventure No. 2 … Check!

 

 

At the first workshop, my kids were not shy about checking out the instruments ... We were new to the scene but made ourselves feel welcome.

At the first workshop, my kids were not shy about checking out the instruments … We were new to the scene but made ourselves feel welcome.

 

My kids jamming it with their mini tambourines, grooving to the Beatles. Yeah ... I know the Beatles.

My kids jamming it with their mini tambourines, jingle bells, and castanets. Grooving to the Beatles. Yeah … I know … the Beatles.

 

My son warming up before we hit the big leagues.

My son warming up on some little Target drums before we hit the Big Leagues.

 

The Big Leagues. We hit our second workshop: A Drum Circle.

The Big Leagues. We hit our second workshop: A Drum Circle. Our very first. And it wasn’t really a circle more like a gigantic oval. But no matter the shape, the Guats came ready to rock the rhythm party.

 

My daughter ready to jam it, as my son keeps up the pace.

My daughter ready to jam it, as my son, sitting next to her, keeps up the pace.

 

But it wasn’t only drums and  percussion beats at this awesome musical hangout, there was some microphone action, too. And as the drum leader asked for volunteers my son jumped at the opportunity to test his singing skills. After hearing the ABC song from a cute little girl, the Itsy-Bitsy-Spider song from another little boy, my son decides to sing “One Thing,” from One Direction, followed by a Maroon 5 ditty.

I was all smiles and laughter. No shushing at all.

Rocking out … rocks. We’ll definitely be back.

Keep Up The Good Work …

11 Jan

 

happyquote

Author Unknown

As my crazy 365-day-post-a-day anniversary approaches I wanted to let some of you bloggers and followers out there know that you’ve been the people who have made me laugh, and crack up. You motivated and inspired. You have been the good to my bad and ugly. You, and chocolate, have been a great support system.  You have been a good focus and I thank you.

Keep up the good work.

What Every Parent Needs to Know

10 Jan

It’s light. It’s crispy. It’s buttery. It’s my savory savior.

I never realized the importance of Ritz Crackers until I became a mom. Goldfish Crackers are awesome. Yes. But Ritz Crackers take it to another level. They don’t tell you this in parenting classes, magazines, or books. They talk about nurturing kids, the importance of play time, and nanny cams. They tell you that you need to always pack wipes, diapers, a pacifier, and an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag. But they don’t tell you to pack the Ritz Crackers. They failed to mention the power of the Ritz.

It should definitely have its own chapter in a book, or a at least be a bullet point in a magazine article. It’s definitely bold-letter worthy.

Image via Nabisco.com

Image via Nabisco.com

I found out about the power when my four-year old was just a toddler. But seeing how he wasn’t really high-strung, or suffering from the terrible twos when he was younger, the power of the Ritz Cracker didn’t reach its full potential until my daughter hit that I-can-go-crazy-in-public-places stage.

So what’s a mom to do when this happens? There’s no reasoning at age one. There’s no ‘hey look at that airplane in the sky’ speech because then she goes crying and reaching for the plane that she can’t have, and so you have another battle.

So what do you do? She doesn’t want you to hug her, she doesn’t want you to hold her hand. She wants to run around in circles and probably hang upside down somewhere. So what do you do?

You reach for your Ziploc bag of Ritz crackers and give her one. It keeps her busy for about ten to fifteen minutes. She savors every bite of that flaky awesomeness, and you have some peace.

But what happens when you’re on a multiple errand run where you have to hit Costco, Target, Best Buy, and Sports Authority? You just bring the entire packet.

What if you’re in the car? On a long road trip or traffic jam and there’s no Maroon 5 or Wheels On The Bus songs to save your life?

Ritz.

What if your making a trip to the doctor’s office where vaccinations may take place? There’s no sticker big enough, colorful enough, or shiny enough to dull away the pain. So what do you do?

Ritz.

What if you’re actually trying to enjoy yourself and decide to take a trip to the stadium where you want to watch at least five innings, three quarters, or two periods of exciting hustle and bustle offense and defense?

Ritz.

What if you go on a trip to your mother-in-law’s?

Well then you probably need some Ritz. The whole box.

Anxiety and stress, they can follow you anywhere. Festering, making the gray hairs accumulate, so how do you prevent this old age attack on your body that could eventually lead to the meltdown, of both parent and child?

Ritz. The mighty Ritz. Don’t forget to pack them.

 

 

Happiness Project Update 19: It’s All About Options

9 Jan

“People that say money doesn’t buy happiness, they’re just not trying hard enough .” Will Truman

While undergoing my own Happiness Project the money question definitely came up. And like most people I understand that money alone can’t buy me happiness, but it can definitely help get me some. I’m not talking about material things, like diamonds or name-brand purses or clothes. I’m talking about opportunities. I’m talking about options. Money affords you the kind of opportunities that puts smiles on your faces and checkmarks next to your bucket list items.  Sometimes it’s the difference between seeing the glass half-empty or half-full.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Most people I run into are adamant about money not buying happiness. An absolute no … it does not. However after reading Rubin’s chapter about money and happiness, I was so glad to find out that she shared my point of view. It does help get you there sooner, but it depends on a few factors. First off, it depends on the kind of person  you are … adventurer, introvert, sports enthusiast, bookworm, television addict, foodie, coupon clipper, mother of two, or single dude out on the town. Although I fit into multiple categories I realized, after my little happiness update on fun a while back,  that simple things make me happy. A good hamburger. A good piece of chocolate. Hearing my favorite song. Dancing to a good song with my kids. Watching a great movie. Sports, playing or watching at any level collegiate, professional, or Olympic style. Everyone measures their needs and wants differently, depending on what makes them happy and what they do for fun.

Rubin’s second factor deals with how you spend your money. The kind of person you are will probably influence your purchasing decisions. You might be a tech dude who purchases the latest gadgets as soon as they come out, or you may be a person whose purchases are well-thought and researched so that even though you are spending money, you still feel like you’re doing what you can to get the best deal. You can be a person who splurges on a really nice bottle of wine every so often as a treat, or you can be the kind of person that eats at Chuy’s on Tuesday, because it’s 2-for-1 taco night.

Some people splurge on themselves for their own happiness, while other people may splurge on family or friends just to see them happy. In truth I do a little bit of both. If I go out in search for some awesome Hawaiian chocolates and run into a good bottle of wine that my friend would really enjoy, I’d probably buy her the bottle. I’m all about little splurges. I learned that from a friend of mine a while back. During her week-long craziness as a middle school teacher, she said she would often splurge on something once a week. Spend a little extra, just to make herself feel good … feel happy. Instead of going to McDonald’s for a cup of coffee, she may have stopped by that specialty food store and bought herself a fancy exotic Central American cup of coffee. A large. She taught me about little splurges, thus my wide knowledge of fantastic chocolate.

But she also reminded me of big splurges. It’s been a while since I’d been on a trip where I had to stay in a hotel. A long while. She told me that when she went on a trip with her husband they stayed at a fancy hotel, and he ordered room service. It was a good experience for them, a happy one. It made them feel good. I often envision them in those fancy white robes and matching slippers, eating on the balcony or something. Being happy. I thought yeah … I need to splurge big every once in while. Nothing too crazy, but something room-service worthy.

Rubin’s last contributing factor affecting the money and happiness relationship dealt with how much money you had in relation to others. Now I’m not much into comparing and contrasting my bank accounts with that of my family or friends. It’s just not how I roll, but Rubin’s point wasn’t so much a compare and contrast. It was more of a perspective thing.

“One person’s fortune is another person’s misfortune.” — Gretchen Rubin.

Dude. Yes! Like if Oprah ever complained about having a bad day, I’d be like … are you kidding me? I wish I had one of your bad days. It’d be an improvement to my current starving-writer-working-class existence. But then again someone in another state or country could be looking at my life and thinking, dude you’re definitely rolling in it. They might be delusional for thinking that way, but hey … you, gotta have perspective.

So in the end having money or wealth doesn’t necessarily make you happy, I know this, I got that. But money does provide you with options. Massive options and when it comes to happiness, it’s all about options. I’ve got to work on expanding my options. Maybe I’ll start small and upgrade my Netflix subscription.

Baby steps … baby steps for bigger options.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

8 Jan
Laemmle Theaters

Laemmle Theatres

 

Some people call them resolutions … they resolve.

Resolve to lose weight.

Resolve to quit drinking.

Resolve to stop smoking.

I don’t have resolve.

I have plans, promises, thoughts, guidelines, projects … hope. I had hope.

Hope for sanity.

Hope for quiet.

Hope for peace.

Hope for humor.

Hope for rejuvenation.

Hope for recognizing yourself again.

What does this all add up to?

Hope for me time.

And in week one of 2013 … hope was granted.

Ticket for one please.

One.

One is awesome when you’re a mother of two, working 14-hour shifts, being a chef, a laundry folder, a dishwasher, a bathroom cleaner, a taxi driver, Lego truck builder, fun maker, Great Outdoors adventurer, diaper changer, bubble bath maker, and story reader.

That’s me. All day, every day.

Laemmle Theatres represent me time. Two hours of me time.

Ticket for one please.

One.

Me time … the great hope in 2013.

 

Flipping The Switch

7 Jan

“Live every week, like it’s Shark Week.” — Tracy Jordan 30 Rock.

 

30 Rock

30 Rock

 

I had never heard this before, but as I was browsing the Internet, I found this quote. And it blew me away. I gave it a double-take. You know like when a really good-looking dude or chick passes by you and you just have to look twice. It’s not even intentional or in a perverted pedophile way, you just do it because they are just so beautiful. You’re in awe of their beauty. So you do the double-take.

Well that was me … I was like wow. What a good mantra. I’m gonna have to steal it and add it to my list.

Discovery Channel's Shark Week

Discovery Channel‘s Shark Week

And it was even more awesome that I saw it today.

Yeah. Today.

It flipped my switch. Shark Week.

Every year you start off with great intentions, you’re on a roll, you’re ready to jump off cliffs, climb mountains, conquer the world, or go out on urban adventures. And then someone comes and just sucks the air out of your balloon. They just come with their sour comments and aura of negativity and suck it right out. And there you are … feeling crappy. I mean you love these people, you do. But sometimes, you just don’t like them. It happens.

And in most cases it’s family. And yes if you’re married or in love, it’s your dude or chick. And if you’re married with children? Dude this definitely happens at least twice a month. However, sometimes it’s work that sucks it out of you. It happens. And you go to your chocolate drawer and bust out the KitKats or Hawaiian chocolates and try to escape the moment. Sometimes it works, other times … you just need a bigger supply in the drawer.

Yeah I had one of those crappy days. Twice … back-to-back. And I was feeling the funk. Not all day, every minute of the day, just the minutes I spent with the balloon-popper.

So as I was trying to “escape” I logged onto the computer and found this quote. It was a nice surprise — an unexpected push in the right direction.

I thought … yeah. I need to snap out of this funk. One day of crappiness was bad enough, but two? Dude. I can only afford one crappy day during the week. Swim in it, absorb it, soak in it for 24 hours, but that’s it. If it’s not a death related issue, I need to squash it.

I need to live like it’s Shark Week … the highlight of the year for the Discovery Channel, where they devote an entire week to the shark, featuring everything and anything with sharks including interesting scientific facts and awesome footage of survival stories. It’s the neat stuff. It’s their best week of the year. I need to have that. I need to have a highlight-of-the-year week, or at least aim for that. I need a get psyched-for-the-week moment. I need it to be Shark Week in the Guat household, or at least on my part of  the couch.

I wasted a day, no two already. I need to snap out of it. I need to be awakened with a jolt of excitement and anticipation for a new 24 hour period, for a new week. A Shark Week. I can’t be held back by the memory of a deflated balloon. I need a new memory in the morning. A positive trigger. So as I went searching for a reminder, and I found it in my son’s toy chest. It was an old mechanical shark toy we had bought at the aquarium last year. I had thought about throwing it away a while back, because they don’t play with it as much as they used to, but I’m so glad I kept it.

I put it on the nightstand, next to the alarm clock and books. I’m hoping it’ll activate my “Live like Shark Week,” mantra. I’m hoping it’ll help flip my switch in the morning.