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The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Emptying Out The Tank …

10 Apr

Now I know you’re aware that I’m not the greatest morning person, I lived with that my whole life, but climbing 63 stories in the evening wasn’t something I had in mind, especially after a 7 a.m. hockey game, 10 am Jesus class, a two-hour-visit to the school carnival, and two-hour baseball game.

Nope. Not what I envisioned.

However, the Powers That Be at the American Lung Association thought it would be an awesome idea to scale Los Angeles’s second tallest building just in time to see the sunset. You know … during epic traffic encounters on the 101, 5, and 110 freeways.

They thought that after the exhaustion of scaling 1,039 steps in claustrophobic environment with close to 500 people the skyline would be one to remember.

They thought that because it was my fifth trip to the top of the AON Center that it would be a laid-back workout, that I knew what I was doing.

Whoever said, “it’s just like riding a bicycle,” never stair climbed in his life. Like. Ever. Let me tell you, scaling this monster for the fifth year in a row was not easier the fifth time. It’s never easy. I still felt just as suffocated in the enclosed stairwells as I did the first time around. I still felt my calves burning and my knees aching by the 27th floor. I still tried to not look up at the signs because 63 stories seemed so far away when I was still on the 31st floor. I still thought those volunteers with pom-poms were lying to me when they said, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there” because they were, well everyone was lying except for that chick on the 61st floor. I still felt like I was going in slow motion as it became harder and harder to breathe. I still felt all the heaviness, and weariness of every nook and cranny of my Ben-Gay-Icy-Hot loving 41-year old muscles. I felt it all with every step and every breath.

But one thing kept me going.

One.

I kept seeing my hands hold his hands at the hospital. I kept thinking I was the last one to talk to him before surgery and the last one to see him before he passed away. I kept seeing moments from my childhood sporting awesome polyester bell bottoms and moments from adulthood where talks and laughter surrounded us. I saw them all, and just when the exhaustion of the 45th floor hit me, when I thought I was losing the pictures in my mind I saw the poster. There it was taped on the stairwell, a picture of my Dad, my sister and me, “Why We Climb”.

Yup.

That was all I needed to pull whatever reserve I had remaining in the tank, and I pushed passed the I’m-gonna-pass-out-right-now-feeling. I ran by the people sitting on stairwells, clinging onto bannisters for dear life, and standing at the last water station.  I saw number 61 and pulled the Ninja-Warrior-Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy athlete out and stormed up those last steps.

I hit the roof running and the burst oxygen filled up my lungs as I stepped outside. I raised my hands up like Rocky and put my finger up to the sky. I got there in 16 minutes and 16 seconds and 16 seconds.

They thought the sunset would be a memorable one …

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🙂

They were right. I still remember it.

 

 

Sandbox List Adventures: Tackling The Warped Wall With Pharrell Williams

11 Mar

Beat the wall! Beat the wall! Beat the wall!

They stare at it … mesmerized, chanting and cheering for them to reach the tippy top and grasp it with their fingertips. They scream as the Ninja Warriors cling onto the edge and pull themselves up. They ring the buzzer and raise their hands in victory.

Both my kids have envisioned this adventure countless times. They zigzag through the swings, attack the monkey bars, scale the rock walls, climb the ropes, balance on the imaginary floating steps and then  climb the slide … AKA The Warped Wall. They are masters of the playground obstacle course.

They are Mini-American Ninja Warriors and they are always up for the challenge, even when kids on the school playground recently made my son feel bad for being enthusiastic about this adventure. These Pokemon loving kids were not feeling the Ninja Warrior vibe, and left him solo to play this “boring” game on his own. And despite being sad, he tackled that playground obstacle course and had fun on his own.

It was heartbreaking to hear what happened, and like any mom I had that parent talk, the one that assures him of his unique awesomeness, the one filled with hugs and chocolate cookies, the one paraphrasing Pharrell Williams’s song of the summer. But in addition to words I found another way to lift up his spirits.  I found a way to take his Ninja Warrior dreams to the next level …

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We discovered a Ninja Warrior Gym with the help of navigation and a few freeways.

This Sandbox List Adventure is definitely going in The Jar of Awesome.

He was able to hang out with kids who were equally jazzed about the sport. There was nothing boring about this at all. He was jumping, swinging, climbing, and balancing his way through these mini obstacles and loving every minute of it and his sister was loving this ride just as much. I think she was born a ninja.

The smiles were worth the drive, and knowing that I had made this possible, especially after such a difficult week on the playground, was so rewarding. As a parent, finding these moments for my kids filled that sometimes-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-as-a-parent-but-I’m-trying-my-best-space with a giant high five.

They left feeling energized, enthusiastic, and ready for more. He left feeling awesome. He left feeling like he could beat that wall! And he left with one request … a feel-good song. Happy by Pharrell Williams. It was the theme song for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

Sandbox List Adventures: Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky to The Rescue

16 Dec

So after a tough week and a disappointing business meeting … I’m gonna  take a bit of my own advice in order to turn a corner. I’m gonna have to open up that Blessed Project to change perspective.

And so … here I am reigning in my disappointment with chocolate and thinking about this Bucket List fail that just happened to me. Trying not to think about it and learn the lesson, actually, which is a little difficult during the chocolate-eating stages.

But even though my Bucket List Adventure didn’t pan out, thinking about my son’s brings a sense of pride and warmth to my heart and a smile to my face. Remembering that he got a chance to do something big, helps this defeat.

Looking at pictures and watching video helps me focus on something positive.

You see this one is every sports enthusiast dream.

This one fell under the highlight reel… and it ended up being a great outing. You see, I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case you’ve missed it … This is a House of Sports! We enjoy playing and watching them. And when the Olympics comes every four years … forget about it! All day every day. I guess it stems from the time I towered at 5-foot-3, tallest Guatemalan in the houuuuuse, and I swore I was a baller who was gonna make it big time. Showtime at The Forum. However injuries and reality being what they are and all … my balloon deflated and that never came to pass.

However my son … he made it. Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky got a chance to skate at The Staples Center during a L.A. Kings game and everyone was flipping out. Getting there early to check in our bags, watching the players warm-up, seeing my son walk down the tunnel and hit the ice, seeing him takes his first steps and then find his groove, all of that made everyone’s Bucket List.

I felt so happy that he was able to get this opportunity and even more proud that he didn’t waste it. He appreciated all the pregame routines and when he got on the ice … he went for it. While some kids didn’t even get a chance to touch the puck, my son went all out. Clear eyes, full hearts.

He hustled, took the puck away, then went left,  right then left again. He went around and through a couple of players made it to his goal, slapped that puck with an awesome swing, it skidded through a diving player …

And then …

Then by the hair on the chinny-chin-chin the goalie narrowly blocked that shot. My son put his hands up in the air, he couldn’t believe it. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Even though the puck didn’t find the back of the net, watching that move, seeing him go all out made my day, week, month.

That right there … that was a bottle-me-up memory which I uncorked today. Sandbox List Adventures working it’s magic. It brought a smile to my face, when I felt disappointment, warmed my heart when it was feeling cold, made me smile when I was sad, and changed my perspective when I needed to find a new one.

Guatemalan Wayne Gretzky to the rescue on a Friday night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

28 Sep

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Whether it’s happening in The Great Outdoors, or sitting in front of my computer ready to start writing Chapter 1, The Quest is always a good road trip to self discovery.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

 

 

Memories, Monster Mutt, and Duct Tape

5 Sep

“You’re making some great childhood memories.”

That’s what someone told me, when I mentioned our recent Guat Adventure. I wasn’t purposely trying to make memories, I was just trying to have a good time and do something with my kids. The fact that someone saw it that way made me smile, because maybe when my kids look back on their childhood, they’ll remember our trips to the beach every weekend during the summer, our Staycations, book festivals, adventure races and this …

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Our annual cardboard yacht regatta that often reminds me of my own childhood wish to build something and enter a wacky race. Maybe they will look back at growing up with me and it will make them smile.

We came off of this year’s race victorious, beating Minecraft and a Piece of Cherry Pie. We won our heat and it felt awesome to get to the finish line without tipping over. Many boats didn’t seem to make it to the half way point. But we built a seaworthy vessel and it wouldn’t have been possible without duct tape, and multiple trips to our neighborhood Do It Yourself Center. But not just any duct tape … Gorilla Duct Tape … It’s pretty powerful stuff … 9 rolls … had to be right?

I liked the fact that with a little bit of imagination, and a lot of patience and duct tape we turned a measly cardboard box into something pretty awesome. Last year my son decided on Optimist Prime, this year my daughter decided to choose one of her favorites …

 

Monster Mutt Monster Truck.

And just like last year, every part of the process was fun, from the duct tape, to the coloring, to the anticipation of the race, to the spectators judging your boat, to the actual race. Every part of the journey was felt and enjoyed. Those memories were happening and I had no idea because we were just in the moment.

Just like every one else I imagine …

 

 

Memories, Monster Mutt, and duct tape. They made for a great weekend, hopefully one that they’ll want to put away in one of those memory mason jars I keep talking about.

 

 

Buen Camino my friends …

 

 

Yellow Brick Road Stepping Stones

30 Apr

It was a funny thing being in the front.

I’m not used to it.

I wasn’t only told to do so, but I was strongly encouraged to do it the easy way … voluntarily, otherwise I would have been dragged out of the audience.

And that, I did not want.

So I stood there, among the other writers, in my New York & Company 7th Avenue Slacks and black converse, while other lady writers were in dresses and high heels, waving to the people who were clapping.

I thought it was going to end there … but no … the director of the theater thought it would be a good idea to introduce the writers, one by one. So … there I was at the end of the line, nervously waiting my turn. When he finally introduced me, I announced that I had written La Visita … and they applauded.

 

 

It’s not like I didn’t think they were going to applaud, they clapped for everyone else, but somehow it was different. Other than my kids, I don’t think anyone has ever applauded for me. Maybe volunteers during a race, or at graduation. But nothing like this … this was for imagination, for story, for my words.

I looked at my friends who were sitting in the audience waving at me, and I waved back. I was grateful for their presence and those that had come to the previous shows. The praise and kind words were humbling.

But that was not my favorite part.

I like being behind the scenes.

I liked sitting in the audience and watching their reaction, watching people that I didn’t even know smile at little nuances I had written and hear their laughter during comedic moments. I loved hearing my friends laugh at what I had written. I enjoyed watching the actors become my characters and live out my words on stage. I enjoyed watching the impact of my story.

Most of the time with fiction, I don’t hear or see anyone’s reaction, unless they write to me and mention something. So I’m usually hidden away in the lonely writer sanctuary in the middle of the night, high-fiving myself. But this time around, their smiles and laughter were some of the best high-fives. The hugs from my friends meant a great deal. The compliments from the other writers and actors in the festival were reassuring.

Being in the audience took me back to that good feeling, that girl-scout shindig during my elementary school years, where I stood next to my troop leader, Maria, and watched as the girl scout masses at the camp  watched the show I had helped write and put together.

I felt good and I was proud.

I had landed on another stepping stone in my yellow brick road, one that also took me on a Bucket List Adventure … seeing my words come to life.

And now I’m back in my WordPress community sharing the news and catching up on some reading, and comments. I’ve been on a semi-hiatus for some time because of all the work it took to put this together, but now I return even more inspired to follow the writing journey and take you along with me, if you want to ride on this bus.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

Sandbox List Adventure 33 … The Building and Dreaming Continues

18 Jan

They’re everywhere. Ask any parent of a seven-year old kid. They’ll tell you.

First it’s Thomas The Train sets, then it’s construction Mighty Machine vehicles, Hot Wheels, monster trucks, and then the Big One.

LEGOS.

They’re a part of parenthood.

I hadn’t known much about the LEGO world until my son decided he liked them … now he loves them … and they’re everywhere.

Despite his LEGO storage set and cabinet, I still find helmets, light sabers, blasters, Batarangs, sirens, and lone pieces scattered about. I find them next to backpacks, under the table, in seat cushions, behind cabinets, and under my bare feet in the middle of the night.

But now, I’ve learned to find the awesome potential in these little plastic pieces.

So much so that we’ve made multiple trips to Legoland and continue to do so every year. But just recently I was able to add another LEGO adventure and it blew my son’s LEGO mind. He came back with a burst of imagination and even more enthusiasm to build, dream, build, and dream some more. I definitely got a high-five at the end of the day.

Sandbox List Adventure # 33 The Bricks Convention.

There have been plenty since #32, but I’ve forgotten to post about them, just like any parent, I’m always playing catch-up.

But I did manage to make it to this one. We missed it last year because I had no idea it existed, but I was made aware of it and so was my son.

So The Guats went on a field trip to discover what the imagination can do with small interlocking pieces of plastic.

Apparently a lot.

These are just the highlights …

 

 

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Bucket List in The Kitchen

4 Jan

I’m not gonna lie. The expectations were big.

I mean having tasted the best of the best while growing up I knew it was going to be a big challenge. I was going up against years and years of Dona Irma’s and Dona Maria’s expertise where measurements and timers weren’t needed. It was all done through smell and taste. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be an epic kitchen fail or a Guat success.

I didn’t have the magic of the senses, not with this dish and I was worried.

But let me tell you … I’m so glad I took on this challenge. My taste buds are still high-fiving me.

Pozole.

It’s my all-time favorite comfort food and I’ve never attempted to make it because the deliciousness contained in that ginormous soup pot seemed to be too big. With the pork shoulder and baby back ribs creating a rich broth, followed by the spicy kick of the Chile Guajillo and Chile Ancho peppers I was making Guat culinary history.

It looked right. It smelled right and as I took the first sip it definitely felt right. I closed my eyes and let the broth and hominy sit in my mouth. I just wanted to taste it, and it took me back to La Vecindad – the old neighborhood – where potlucks and block parties where the norm and where Dona Irma and Dona Maria would create huge pots of this tasty stew.

Now it might not have been of Dona Irma and Dona Maria caliber, but it sure was in the same arena. They would have been proud of me.

The fact that the one spoonful took me back, definitely means it was a success.

And it was right there and then that I realized I had done something else, something other than creating one of my childhood favorite dishes. It occurred to me that I had just checked something off my Bucket List.

 

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This was my prize.

 

That was a win-win for me. I rode that cloud nine for a couple of days. Something I thought was nearly impossible proved to be within my reach and what was even better was that the whole family was there to enjoy it as well.

If there was any doubt to the tastiness of my stew, it was soon dismissed. The pozole was gone in three days. But I still have a smile.

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The Guat Makes It To 40 … Smiling

27 Jul

I knew I’d be scared. I knew I’d be nervous.

But it was going to happen anyway.

Regardless.

It had to, there was no turning back. My life had taken a step forward and I had to follow, whether I was ready to or not. Just had to be done. So I thought I’d do something scarier than turning 40 on my 40th birthday. Something to start off this decade in a way that would change my perspective on life moving forward.

You see I wasn’t having a big party, and I wasn’t taking a great vacation somewhere. I wasn’t doing any of the awesome things that people do when they turn 40. I wasn’t able to, but I told myself I still needed to do something, something just for me, something to make me forget that I had a really tough month. Something that was bigger than 40, but something I’d always remember doing when I turned 40. Something I’d be grateful for and something that would change me. Something off The Bucket List.

And so … I went skydiving.

I didn’t tell too many people my plans, wasn’t sure if things were going to pan out, considering the personal drama I was undergoing that week and the fact that I had a vacancy in the best friend department that left me having many conversations with myself in an attempt to make sense of it all. And even though the week, or the month, didn’t go as I imagined it to be, this day did.

This day turned out exactly the way it was supposed to … and that made me smile, that made my heart feel good, the kind of good you get when someone who loves you gives you a strong hug, and holds you a little bit longer. That’s the kind of feeling I got. I had a moment that lasted the whole day. I had a Super Soul Sunday moment myself and it happened at 10,000 feet.

Perspective, passion, happiness, gratitude, inner peace, strength, vitality, amazement, and reaching Zen happens all at once.

It doesn’t hit you when you’re approaching the Pacific Coast Skydiving hanger, or when they’re strapping on the harness and belts. It doesn’t hit you when you get into the plane, or when you’re flying over the California coast and can see the Pacific Ocean. No. It happens after you face the scariest part.

The door opens and he says scoot over.

Dude.

I felt my heart drop.

There I was, my legs dangling over the edge and an inch of my butt barely touching the door frame of the plane.

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There I am the most scared I’d ever been in a long time and there’s Tom, skydiving master extraordinaire … smiling.

Holy crap.

This is it. I mean I know it’s it. That’s why I flew up here. For the “it” moment. My heart started beating faster, and the nervousness was building into anxiety and fear.

This is it.

This is really it.

“Ready? I’m gonna say one, two, three,” Tom said smiling.

One … I closed my eyes.

Two … I took a deep breath.

Thr–You know, I don’t remember him saying three, I just remember opening my eyes as he pushed us forward and out of the plane.

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I hate taking selfies and usually want no part in them, but having Tom take one at this point in the adventure was an awesome exception.

I screamed.

I laughed.

And then I screamed and laughed some more.

I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it.

The feeling made me forget about everything crappy that happened during the week. It made me forget about cold feet before 40, made me forget about losing a friend, made me forget about my writer’s block, made me forget gray hairs and anti-aging creams, made me forget the stress in my life and the wrongs that were in it.

It made me present in the moment, the most present I’d probably ever been.

I don’t know how long I was free-falling, I just remember how it made me feel and how glad I was for feeling it.

Then the parachute deployed, the straps tightened, and I eased my way down to the field below, but not before Tom, my skydiving partner who was keeping me alive, did some stuntman swirlee-twirlee tricks reminding me why I don’t get on the Scrambler Zero Gravity carnival rides. I laughed and screamed through that and then we landed safely.

I high-fived Tom and smiled.

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I made it. I had done it and it was an awesome way to start the morning of my 40th Birthday.

40 felt good then.

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