Archive | January, 2017

You Still Make The Cake …

30 Jan

I woke up knowing he’d be the first thing on my mind.

Brown eyes, black and silver wavy hair, usually covered by a hat. The very same blue Dodgers hat I wore all day today. Go Blue.

Tired and exhausted from the night before, the night of thinking of tomorrows and tomorrow already here, as evidenced by the sun peeking through the blinds. Staring at the ceiling, knowing that the closest I’d ever get to him today was just a memory or two. Pictures, left over voicemails, hats hanging on hooks, shirts folded in the closet, and half a bottle of Jovan Musk  in the cabinet. They were all waiting for me this morning, like every morning.

But today was different.

Today was his 69th birthday and the cologne smelled a little different. I think it was losing its strength, but I could still smell that aftershave scent. It still lingers in the air, reminding me of how I wished I had more memories.

It’s always a tough day, knowing someone isn’t going to blow out the candles anymore. But you still make the cake, you make it anyway. Today I made it with my daughter, who’s named after him. Listening to jazz as we measured and stirred the flour and sugar, dancing to his favorite tunes in our aprons as the smell of chocolate filled our small kitchen, I smiled. I thought he’d be watching and smiling as we twirled around to his favorite trumpet and piano tunes.

Jazz was on all day today. Running through the park this morning. At the stoplight. In the kitchen. And as I write this piece. His calming happy music surrounded me as I remembered him driving his silver Toyota Tacoma, with the station tuned into KJAZZ and him strumming his fingers on the steering wheel.

Yup. It was on all day. Reminding me, giving  this purpose, making the baking experience a little better.

And for some reason, during the taste-testing process perhaps, we didn’t have enough frosting to cover the entire cake this year, and that was O.K. It wasn’t a disaster. We made a head pastry chef decision and thought layers upon layers of frosting would be just fine. Like a chic bakery.

He’d probably get a kick out of it, and we’d make our own story about it. In fact we probably already did. I’ll probably think back , when all my hair has that silvery fox color, and remember how we baked the chocolaty chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chopped almonds, how we danced in the kitchen thinking about my Dad turning 69 and how he’d enjoy a piece of cake, or two, along with a cup of coffee.

We took our picnic and visited him. I told stories as my daughter had one piece and my son two. Large cups of milk, and one cup of coffee for pops. Sitting there talking about life and wishing he was there to blow out the candles and make one more wish.

My Dad … the Dreamer, the Adventure Seeker, my HBO-Watching-Buddy, the Owner of Over 70 Baseball Caps, the Jazz-Listening-Beep-Bopper, Pay-It-Forward-Patron, Awesome-Date-to-Opening-Plays at the local theater, Spirit of My Spirit, Heart of my Heart, Laugher of My Jokes, and friend … turned 69 today. I wish him well, send him light, love, and laughter.

And I miss him.

 

Dad

My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.

 

 

 

Daily Post Challenge: Ten

25 Jan

Ten.

Ten of my favorite memories from this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade.

Ten amazing works of arts.

Ten thousand volunteer hours dedicated to the beauty of flowers and creating amazing artistic visions floating down the boulevard.

Ten ways of feeling happiness while looking at this awe inspiring work.

At least ten snacks in my backpack for the kids.

Ten Echoes of Success being the theme this year.

Ten ways of feeling inspired when we left.

Ten hugs for this family adventure.

Ten minutes to the nearest Happy Meal for lunch

And … at least tens of hundreds of smiles remaining in my future when I continue this tradition with my kids.

Ten

 

 

 

Daily Post Challenge courtesy of the Daily Prompt: Ten

Motivation Mondays: The Upside To The Downside

23 Jan

I started off Saturday morning parking five long blocks away from the Metro station and putting my best parallel parking skills to the test — the kind where you have to turn down the music and high-five yourself when you finally turn the engine off.

As I got to the station the sight of the massive crowd made some people turn back, either changing their travel plans or just changing their plans for the day.

train

🙂

 

But I saw an opportunity to move forward. Inch by inch onto the platform, linked arm in arm with women I had just met on my way to meet my Comadres of a lifetime. We started off as strangers on a train and but walked through the sliding doors knowing each other’s names and purpose, and wishing each other luck as we stepped forward into our future.

 

Civic engagement used to come every election, but now the grassroots movement on this side of town continues to be strong, especially around particular issues important to people, whether it be education, women’s rights, health care, or the environment. Everyone was speaking for something that mattered to them.

It  was moving to see so many women come together and peacefully unite for a cause. I was even prouder to be part of a country-wide effort that brought worldwide attention to this cause. Thousands upon thousands of people throughout the country … in New York, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, multiple cities throughout the world engaged. Everyone is watching.

Those that were apathetic  became more vigilant of their future and the potential dangers out there, and those that are passionate find ways to engage more people and continue inspiring others.

Marching with 750,000 people in favor of women’s rights made me feel certain during uncertain times. I left knowing what Gloria Steinem called “The Upside to the Downside,” and this was just step one.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience

18 Jan

 

I wanted to feel magical.  It didn’t disappoint. And nothing says magical more than twirling with your daughter and son under the disco lights under night sky at the zoo.

Yup.

Magical twirling ambience.

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Weekly Photo Challenge Courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dream Keeps Living …

16 Jan

martin-luther-king-jr-mlk-day-quotes-sayings-pictures-2

A historic day to reflect upon what matters …

When I ask my son and daughter if they knew why they had the day off, both of them told me it was because of Martin Luther King Jr. … “we’re remembering his life”.

I’m glad they were able to hear his words and understand the meaning behind his voice. When you’re that young sometimes the message gets lost in translation, but they seemed to have understood exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant. I’m glad it was easy for them and for a lot of kids in their class actually. Acceptance, equality, and empathy.

A day I wish we didn’t have off, because our country would have been so much better had be been alive.

But his words and his life continue to have meaning years after his death. They continue to touch the hearts of little kids like my own. I’m glad that historical figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can keep affecting this nation long after he is gone. They keep inspiring so that the dream lives on during dark times, so that people can remember that character is what matters most in a person. What they say, what they do, and how they treat people in public and in private matter. I’m glad to continue teaching these lessons to my kids. I’m glad his words … his dream continues to inspire how people of different backgrounds live and act today.

 

dr-martin-luther-king-quotes

 

 

 

Better Late Than Never … Ummmm No.

11 Jan

When I saw this … it all made sense.

sweater

🙂

It really did. It hit me, like that a-ha! moment I had when I saw the He’s Just Not That Into You movie and all the stars aligned and I was like yeah. Totally get it now.

But then I started thinking of exigent circumstances. I mean when could you really let it go … that your friend showed up 87 minutes late to a girls night out and you only had two hours because your babysitter holds the key to your life and that’s all you could get.

If you have kids … I get it. Babysitter is late. There’s vomit. There’s not enough Goldfish Crackers to go around. You ran out of wipes. The DVR didn’t record the latest Peppa Pig and you needed to know what happened. I get it. Meltdowns happen and you’re gonna be late. Most parents give themselves a buffer zone because they know this might happen. They just know and there’s a forgiveness clause on that. They’re just happy that they made it out in one piece.

But if that’s not your case, then what the hell is going on?

Just be honest and be like … nah … I kind of don’t want to go. I mean it’ll be a bummer but it’s better than waiting there at the Regal Beagle without Jack or Janet.

But then I thought of intentions. I mean when the idea was brought up to you a couple of days ago you totally wanted to go. You checked your iPhone calendar and knew it was clear and you even did a silent cheer in your head. You were the first one on board.

And then the week hit you hard, work was hard, life was hard, and Friday came  … and you thought … I don’t know.

It just crept into your head.

Doubt.

Is it worth it to leave the house? Is it really? I got Netflix. Cable. HBO. A box of wine. Do I really need to leave?

Then the doubt is fueled.

Traffic. There might be traffic. I think there’s an accident. Exhaustion. I feel pretty exhausted right now, the Friday night exhaustion that hits you in your 40s or late 30s that never seemed to appear in your 20s. Then you feel the love of your Old Navy pajamas and they feel so right. And then you think, do I even have gas in the car? Do I have cash in my wallet? I mean if you have to go to the bank, or put gas in the car, forget it. That might just kill the whole outing all together.

There are just too many hurdles and you begin to bargain with yourself about whether you reeeeeeaaaaally need to go. You say you’ll feel better once you get there, you always do, it’s just the “getting there” part that is sucking right now.

Ultimately guilt sets in and you muster up enough Maybelline and Red Bull to get you out of the house. You stroll on in with some excuse about traffic and grab a drink while your buddies are already into the good part of the conversation. They see you stroll in and you think they bought your traffic excuse, but they know … they know … because they were just on the same freeway and they know you have the speed through traffic app on your phone.

So if you don’t want this sweater as your next gift, think long and hard before committing to your next date, outing, hanging out session, or shenanigan. Or maybe you should just say no from the start, and then when Friday comes around, you change your mind if you want. You can totally show up and surprise them because even if you are late, they’ll be glad to see you.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Names

9 Jan

 

 

 

Creating memories and then bottling them up so that you can pull them out on rainy days when it’s pouring down on you, becomes a memory itself.

I like the fact that my kids enjoy the outdoors and were given an opportunity by the National Parks Service to hold on to that special something. I like that dreams and outdoor adventures can be captured in mason jars and kept For The Record.

I like the fact that my kids can say that one right there … that one is mine … it has my name on it.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge Courtesy of The Daily Post

 

Getting Through The Twilight Zone

6 Jan

A night of smiles, laughter, celebration, and pride. A night of feel-good feelings to be remembered all year long never happened.

I turned to Plan B ready to find the silver lining, to have a good night despite the bad taste in my mouth. A quiet night of resurgence that included a comeback story waiting to happen was foiled by a bad conversation that exhausted my being. The DMV-clerk-type-of encounter … that kind of exhausting.

Bad conversation people you just need to stop.

I mean do you hear yourselves when you talk? I feel like I’m trapped in the Twilight Zone, the Pig Nose episode where nothing makes sense. This circular logic of bad conversations does nothing for my sanity, it makes me sigh louder and rub my face harder.

So I zoned out. The rest of the words, I chose not to hear them, I just let them think what they wanted to think. I let them have the last word because that’s what mattered to people like this … having the last word. It’s a power thing I guess.

I had given up the possibility of a rational conversation when I came to the conclusion that I could not say anything to make this person see the light and change their mind. Normal people might say … hey why don’t you say how they make you feel, even though you tried and tried and tried different approaches, why don’t you try again until they hear you?

To which my reply would be … there are no hearing aids sophisticated enough to improve these listening skills.

Some people are just permanent residents of the Twilight Zone.

So after a couple pieces of chocolate failed to remove the funk hanging over me I closed my eyes for  a bit and imagined that the A-Team was really real. I tried to think of a way to contact them, but remembered newspaper circulation is down.

And so I closed my eyes and thought of Plan C to help turn things around and during this meditative state, I remembered a moment in the day. I saw the sun hitting the outdoor skating rink and my orange skates cutting through the ice. I swayed from side to side and found the magic. I remembered Bruno Mars and Andy Grammer blasting through the outdoor speakers.

I closed my eyes and remembered that.

I was grateful for it. I thought I felt that magic today despite knowing what the night was supposed to be. Then after a bad conversation … I was still able to close my eyes and see the smile on my face while a zig-zagged on the ice. I had one moment today … today when I thought I would not have any … I had at least one and it carried me through the Twilight Zone.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

My Inner Liam Neeson

4 Jan

Dear Fool Who Stole My Credit Card And Decided to Get An Erotic Massage at The Geisha Spa House in Paris,

You suck.

I mean when I decided to go to the science museum and expand the minds of my kids with the interactive exhibits exploring planetary research stations, Eco Challenges, and the science behind sports I had no idea you were lurking in the shadows of their computer system ready to steal my credit card number.

I’m all for random acts of kindness and picking up the tab every once in a while but I think you’ve misunderstood what generosity means. I totally could have bought you an eclair … a chocolate one at that. But you decided to push the boundaries a little.

I mean someone handling the knots in your deep tissue with elbows and hot stones sounds awesome. I love hot stones but I kind of wanted throw one at your face followed by an elbow. A Muay Thai elbow. That would have been really relaxing for me, actually.

I mean to spend $550 on a massage sounds a little excessive, I mean for fifty bucks you could have gone downtown and had Bertha work the kinks out. But no … you decided to go all out this year. I mean you could have even given a nice tip. But I guess your generosity stopped you there. Didn’t want to steal anymore for a tip, huh? Or perhaps the tip was included. I don’t know. I just know you were really living it up before the New Year got started. I mean it’s 2017 why not go all out, right?

Yeah … you still suck.

And the thing is before I decided to take up meditation and lead a life of Zen and finding happy moments I probably would have gotten all Liam Neeson on you and been like …

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want … other than dirty massages … but what I do know is that I have is a particular set of skills … I will look for you. I will find you and I will kill you.

neeson

Yeah … my inner Liam Neeson would have gotten crazy on you. But the funny thing was I didn’t get crazy. I didn’t freak out about losing all that money. I didn’t curl up in the corner and cry. The credit card people flagged you before you could do any more escargot damage and I imagine the shady places you visit don’t take to kindly to red flags when paying bills. I mean there might be a bruise on your face the size of a hot stone already. A couple stones actually. Who knows?

But having heard this news to start off the New Year could have really sucked for me but it didn’t.  I just shook my head at the thought of you and wished you a painful death as you fell off the Eiffel Tower. I shook my head in disbelief. I shook my head at the inconvenience of your existence.

I shook my head thinking … you suck.

And then I went for a run.

When I came back I thought, this wasn’t a bad experience, this was just good writing material, a story waiting to happen.

Thanks for story. But don’t get too crazy … my inner Liam Neeson isn’t that understanding.

Sincerely,

The Guat.

 

 

Everyday Balloons Rockin’ 2017

1 Jan

I saw that number one on my phone calendar after the clock struck midnight.

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Everyone probably saw it on their phones but the impact was different. It wasn’t a massive tsunami of emotion washing over me, more like a rippled water effect felt by skipping stones on a lake. A quiet peaceful a-ha moment in the midst of fireworks and celebrations.

It was a good revelation.

I entered the New Year with hugs and kisses from kids, music in the background, and fireworks from a distant celebration booming through our windows. Found some Big Magic in that space between our arms.

And then I remembered …

I mastered finding the Big Magic that hides in corners even when toxicity surrounded me  like a bad cold. I found the ninja skills it took to get to “The Juice,” that thing that I feel like bottling up after an awesome Gatorade-worthy moment. I found ways to hit the reset button and find peace when it was missing. I found the funny in 2016.

I’m gonna need me some more of that.

And it’s funny because all of that is what I set out to do and I was glad to be able to have done it. Some people don’t bother with lists, 2.0 Versions, or improvement projects. No resolutions and I get it. Lists suck sometimes. But all I’m trying to do, is do better than I did the year before, and I found that every year something new has helped me reach those goals.

This year Muay Thai Boxing helped me wake up like Clark Kent and leave like Superman …  got out of bed with my super strength and cape … ready to go. New energy. New vibe. New perspective.

I was Flawsome and it was awesome. I never knew my uppercut, left hook, and speed could knock someone’s lights out! I mean watch out if you try anything in the Target parking lot because my Marty McFly  appearance will fool you. And I like that. I like that people underestimate me. It’s amusing to see.  I like that 2016 had that surprise in store for me.

I like that I found a new adventure, that I tried something and it enhanced my life.

I like that I had new writing projects. Two this year, and even though they didn’t pan out, as you all know the downfall of my play,  I still found pages in the Silver Lining Playbook to help me out I still found stories. I still found the lesson and the funny, even though it sucked to do so sometimes.

So what’s in store for 2017?

I’d like to find more balloons.

kramer

🙂 I LOVE Kramer. 

 

I like that Kramer embraces his FLAWSOMENESS. I like that he has everyday balloons.

That’s me … that’s what I want for 2017 … everyday balloons. I want to find reasons for the positive side of things when the day sucks, because I imagine stuff on a National scale will suck, but I’m hoping for hope. I’m hoping for a resurgence … like Rogue One.

I’m hoping that I find the gratitude and grace in things so that I can celebrate with stuff like Everyday Balloons.

As a parent I’ve got to have Everyday Balloons because failure and exhaustion hit hard on Friday nights, or any day of the week for that matter. Gray hairs, Vitamin D Supplements, and anti-aging cream should be celebrated. I’ve earned it.

As a member of a family deserving of their on Telemundo Telenovela, I’m distancing myself and removing all toxicity. I’m not standing for it any longer. If you don’t like my peaches … don’t shake my tree. If you’re not on board with Everyday Balloons then this ride is not for you, I’m pulling over and letting you out. I’m a fighter, I’ve remained unbroken no matter the environment, resilient. But I find it’s better when good-times-noodle-salad vibes surround you. My Big Magic pockets are getting bigger.

As a writer I need Everyday Balloons, for those times when I sit there daydreaming and wonder what I’ve been doing for the past 37 minutes, with only a paragraph on the page … I can give myself an Everyday Balloon for getting something written down and enhancing the outline nestled somewhere in my thoughts.

 

Everyday Balloons shouldn’t take away the glitter and shininess of New Year’s Eve balloons, but they should just serve as a reminder that little victories are still accomplishments and a high-five is deserved. With humor and gratitude I’ll be looking for little victories in 2017, in between a new adventure, I’ll be looking for Everyday Balloon moments.

Buen Camino my friends.