Tiny Lessons: Lesson Learned

GRIT: You get your a$$ out of bed and you go to school. Mama taught me GRIT before I even knew that working hard had another acronym. Growing up, Mama was put in situations that can’t even be put into words. Let alone, this slice! She fought for her life and lived to be the oldest person I had ever come across (even though she would occasionally act as if the world was coming to an end and taking JUST her with). She taught me how to fight for my life and all those things that I ever wanted. “You don’t give up! What would Jesus Do? Hey, hold your nappy head up!” Some day’s I can hardly hold my a$$ up, but the struggle is real and the fight goes on.

Love: I can’t help it. With the exceptions of falling into the society “hater” trap for a brief moment in my life, I love(d) everybody who I have crossed paths with. Mama never turned a person away! She believed that love was more than just a noun. It was her verb. She loved everything and everybody. I mean she faced occasional situations where her toleration level fell below the belt but trust me, most of the time, her decisions were made for sound reasons. Why did I have to take on such a great but sometimes debilitating characteristic? I have had my heart thrown from the top of mountains, stepped on pumped up again and then crushed, left for dead on the side of the road, and forgotten. There has also been those times were my heart has beat faster than ever, expanded, and acknowledged. The tough times may not outweigh the good but the good have sure made me yearn for more. So I love! I love in many ways and there’s just nothing I can do to change that.

I say all of this to say… days may get tough. Life may feel like it has you by the tiniest hair of your mustache (yup, been there). The real challenge is to keep going. To keep a smile on your face as you create the memories of a new day. To be thankful for cycling through emotions that either bring you down to the lowest of lows or push you to be your best you. To be grateful for those in and out of your life even though many may not have your best interests. So, thanks Mama for making this life my best life (that I know of).

Advertisements

Tiny Lessons

Age: When I was younger, I found myself getting “smart” with Mama and mumbling  because I wouldn’t dare say it out loud “I can’t wait until I turn 18!” What this really meant was that I couldn’t wait to grow up and get out of the house. Well, when 18 finally hit, I found myself still mumbling “I can’t wait until I turn 21!” See age, is really nothing but a number that does not define our maturity levels. I have had conversations with 50-year-olds who still act as if they are in high school and 7-year-olds who were born with old souls. Some people just have mature thinking patterns and others…well, they don’t. Wait! Age and maturity mean much more to me than this short dislodged paragraph that I wrote, but my brain says to summarize and that’s just what I did.

Reflection: Mama would wake up out of her sleep somedays with either a big smile, tears, or a semi-permanent grumpy face. Before she let her feet touch the ground, she wrote down her dreams or thoughts that abruptly awakened her and brought her back to reality. Next to her bedside lay a journal, detective notepads (mini notepads), a Dream Book, lottery tickets, a cross, a rosary, obituaries, coffee stains, a Mountain Dew, chewed up orange slice candy (Mama was losing teeth), two pencils, an eraser, and pens from companies I’ve never heard of. Mama was big on reflection. Things would take place in her life… things that she out of all people could not make sense of. Events would take place in her REM dreams that required the Dream Book and much thought…she would write it down. Sometimes, our report cards would sit next to her bedside. Yep! She would think about those too! Needless, to say Mama taught me how to reflect, create a plan, and make sense of what might have seemed like a mystery in my life.

TBC

 

 

 

Blank

Finding balance can be so hard in a world where everything is so off-centered. 

The weekend really made me think about the relationships that I allow into my life. A few years ago, I was advised that “it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.” I didn’t quite understand the quote under the context in which it was mentioned. This weekend, it all made sense. 

Get out of the darkness… Speak of the positives!

Phew! Ok!

Today, my mind is blank. I looked at my list of potential blogging titles…still blank. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. I guess I have distractions to blame for that.

To clarify, when I say blank, I mean my face is emotionless, my words are bare, and my thoughts are not shareable… very incomplete. Blank! Don’t get me wrong, when I am excited to talk to someone my thoughts do end up going every which way… and becoming incomplete but there’s a difference.

When I was younger I remember blanking out in class a lot. Most of the time my mind was hungry (I was starving) or simply waiting for my teacher to challenge me. Other times, more than others, my mind would race through a list of what ifs big dreams, and how to’s. I would physically be sitting in a place but my mind would be elsewhere. This seemed to be the best time for the teacher to call on me. I would scramble to find the paragraph to read or solve the problem at hand.

These days, when my mind is blank, it is more of a feeling of being unfulfilled than big dreaming and how to-ing. It is more than just thinking or countless what ifs. Today was one of those days. I fell asleep with good intentions, woke up with good intentions, but I am feeling like a wind-up toy that has run its last course.

I haven’t quite figured out how to handle these days!

Weekend’s

This weekend was amazing. Everything went as planned. I invited my sister and cousin out for some St. Patrick’s day festivities. I invited my best friend from college and her husband out so that we could do some catching up. I really couldn’t have asked fro anything more…except… the above is no true at all.

This weekend was absolutely one of the worst weekends I’ve has this year. I tried to pull everyone together with hopes that I could start to rebuild what was never built and overlook issues that needed immediate attention. It all blew up in my  face.

I meditated before I began the day with intentions to be open, accepting, and forgiving. I recharged a group of stone used for calming, bagged them, and place them in my purse. I mellowed my feelings down sticking to me but assuring to be cognizant of those around me. I didn’t boast or brag, I made everyone else the center of attention. I even used my imagination and pretended that this all was a new start.

This weekend was one that I hoped for the best and slighted the worst. I prayed that maybe, just maybe, for once, we could all coexist. I imagined this weekend being the one where my sister and I could finally see eye to eye. By the end of the night, my stones no longer served a purpose. The damage was done. I guess, everything happens for a reason.

Akashic Reading

“The Akashic Records are the energetic records of all souls about their past lives, the present lives, and possible future lives. Each soul has its Akashic Records, like a series of books with each book representing one lifetime. ”

One of my best friends invited me to have my Akashic Records read. Sounds weird but apparently its a real thing. Usually, when thinking about finding answers that I have been searching for, I become nervous. A little afraid of the truth…. As anyone would do, I questioned the authenticity of this practice and wondered would it be beneficial.

When we arrived at her mothers house where the reading would be hosted, three of  her family members had already had their reading done. For the most part they seemed pleased with what they had heard. Not excited, just pleased. I immediately jumped on Google and began to search what I needed to do to have better results with my reading. Clearly, my best friend didn’t alert me of having to create a list of questions, eat a clean meal, and avoid alcohol. I was already a glass or two in.

When it was time for my reading I felt the nervousness about the unknown come over me. I was able to prepare an infinite amount of questions, most of them coming directly from the web. The reader started with an “opening prayer” and then began to look off to the right side of my body. For those of you that have been reading my blogs, I’m sure you are aware with Mama! She was there. I guess, Mama was slapping me on the back of my head (not unusual for her). She is very proud of me. She was very excited to be in the room and she let me in on a few things.

Mama wanted me to know that she is with me at all times, she wants me to watch the relationships around me, and  she would like for me to continue to work on meditating and shifting my energy. Along with Mama came my great grandfather (her husband) and Chris (Yes! Chris the cat was there and he is always very close to me). It appears that Mama is enjoying the “white light”  and being there with her boys. A few others came through and sent messages that I can’t quit understand just yet. The reader was pretty on point with a lot of the things happening in my life as well as with the questions that I asked her.

Overall, I would say having my Akashic Records read was an amazing experience. Now, it seems that I have a bit of work to get started with.

The Lion Who Tamed Us (This is it!)

Mama provided the cat with warm milk, corned beef hash, and a nice thick blanket that she semi stuffed inside of the shoe box. That seemed to calm the kitten down!  We actually got a chance to rub our fingers through the faded grey coat. Of course mama had to guide our hands in the right direction grabbing one finger firmly and gently forcing it touch the kitten’s full belly. Later that day, mama let us name the cat. Since it was so close to Christmas we decided to go with the name Chris or Christina. We had no clue as to what the sex of the cat was.

Chris got older. He basically ran the place. His nails got longer, his acrobatic skills grew stronger, and his vocals were amazing. You could literally hear him hissing or meowing from the 1st floor (we were on the 4th).

Mama never got Chris neutered which meant that on his down time, he enjoyed humping all of my teddy bears and Barbie dolls. He also enjoyed marking his territory which meant that our entire apartment was covered in sticky Mountain Dew colored stains that smelled like a busy city alley on a hot summer day. This only made my school life worse.

Chris had to have everything his way. If you didn’t feed him at 5 a.m. he would meow angrily and pretend to sob. 5 a.m. was my talking time. If you didn’t rub his belly at noon he would hide under the couch and scratch at your ankles as you walk past. When visitors would come over and he wasn’t the center of attention, he would pounce on the table from the head of the couch. If you didn’t refill his water bowl at 10 p.m., he would wait for you to enter the kitchen for a late night snack… you could see his beady eyes glowing from the top of the refrigerator.  He would leap from the refrigerator and snag your clothing. Sometimes digging his nails deep into wherever he needed to brace his fall.

After a year with Chris, my sister and I literally looked like we were in a fight and had lost the battle. Chris clawed and bit us so frequently that we became used to it. Chris ruined my love for cats! Mama and her big heart!

The Lion Who Tamed Us (pt.2)

Image result for cat with dreadlocksMama made us give up our pets. She couldn’t fathom dealing with additional unexpected house guests. She had enough of those.

Close to Christmas morning, Uncle Art, Mama’s oldest son, came over with a shoebox and some free orange juice… the best orange juice I have ever had in my entire life. I was a fat kid… back to the shoe box.

The shoe box was odd looking. Torn on one edge, damp looking, labels hanging off. Couldn’t be a brand new pair of shoes. I have always had a resting BI&%# face. I looked at him, I looked at the box, I looked at Mama who was ready to share the latest tea regarding my sister and I and our strange behavior, I looked at my sister who was busy rocking back and forth on the couch (sometimes our only entertainment), and then walked close to the box. I was very curious as to why he would bring a dirty shoe box to Mama’s house. Suddenly, the shoe box started to rock, soft humming echoed…wait a minute… a set of freakish eyes glimmered through the shoe box ventilation hole.

Some nerve my uncle had. “Jay” my sister yelled, “is that you?”

Mama screamed, my sister wet her Barbie Pj bottoms (they were actually my Barbie Pj’s but I couldn’t fit the bottom’s and Mama couldn’t cut any more of the pant cuff off so I enjoyed the Barbie Pj top), and I ran. Jay wasn’t in that box, it was a cat. A malnourished cat with dreadlocks. Initially, I thought that this was a punishment for all of the terrible things that I may or may not have done, but as my uncle started to explain, the story became clear. It was an alley cat, literally.

On the way over, my uncle saw this poor cat in between the haunted church and our building. Feeling sorry, he picked up the cat and I never really figured out where the shoe box came from. He said that having a cat would be great for us…we wouldn’t have to worry about Jay or his friends making any more unannounced visits, having a cat would scare away any critters, and the cat would keep us company. I didn’t buy it, not one bit. Mama did. Why was her heart so big.? Why was she always letting anybody who needed a place to stay come into our domain? Doesn’t matter, I would never question her authority. My uncle left, laying down one more “here kitty, kitty”  and leaving that old shoe box behind. I knew that something was not right. The kitten, who initially started off very shy and reserved, jumped right out of that shoe box and began to hiss. My sister and I cried hysterically as we leaped on top of the couch cushions praying that this ferocious beast wouldn’t make his way up the arm of the couch. Mama, being a foreigner, took an old wicker broom and lightly swept the cat into the spare bedroom. For 30 minutes, the roars that came from the other side of that door were unforgettable. I thought to myself…life is over.

The Lion Who Tamed Us (pt.1)

toy_bubble_ballsJoyous, you wanted to know about my experience with pets. This one is for you!

Mama wasn’t a big fan of four-legged creatures.

Growing up, Mama had a gruesome encounter with a dog that decided to chase her from her hut to the beach where she finally surrendered. The dog surrendered too and took a little piece of her @$$ as a parting gift. Mama adored animals that she could control like birds, fish, other low maintenance animals. I was okay with that. Besides, my sister and I had a few pets (pest) of our own. On the 7th Floor, near the elevator, there were huge cockroaches. We never got near them, never had an interest in touching them, but we most definitely named them. We also had a dilapidated mouse who would stop in every so often. Mama would blame my uncle for letting Jay in. Jay was a tortured soul. Battered and abused by Charles, a kid who was fearless and deranged. Set on fire by Poochie Man, my 4th-grade crush and a kid who had seen way too much in his short lifetime. Jay hung out on the 4th floor and would always stop by apartment 407 for a daily treat. Mama would  set the trap, my sister and I would reset the trap freeing the cheese (one time my sister actually ate the cheese), Jay would walk in take the cheese and we would quietly watch him. We got caught a few months later by my uncle, stumbling In on a late Friday night. That didn’t stop us,  there were others and it took one resident to breed and share them all, for free. One by one they invaded every floor of the apartment building bringing their children, their children’s children, Grandpa’s, aunts, and uncles… you guessed it roaches (dirty bastards).

I’m not going to lie, I was a little intrigued by them. I mean, before they decided to move in, I watched one climb up my classroom wall next to Brittany (we’ll talk about her later). I learned so much that day as I watched them very closely.  ” Various shades of brown, not very strategic, greedy, scary looking, sat on a Cheeto for two hours, stared at me,  savage…” my observation were intense.

On hallway play dates, my sister and I and a few other apartment-hood kids would go around and collect a few of these interesting brown creatures and display them in bubble gum containers. When Mama found out, la chancla flew around the corner and found the backs of both our heads.

~TBC Tomorrow

Shoes

I was raised in a time where name brand shoes were really starting taking off. Jordan’s, Nike’s, Timberland’s, K-Swiss… advertisements reigned everywhere but didn’t move me.

My sister and I were granted one pair of shoes per year along with a pair of sandals for the summer. For the longest time, we had two choices Kenny’s Shoe Store or Payless. We would make our first stop at Kenny’s, it was on the way. Kenny’s sold the highest of the highest shoes to the lowest of the low. We would always find ourselves looking for shoes in between low and medium-low. For the first time ever, my sister and I were able to find the perfect pair of shoes without taking the hike to Payless, which was located near Comiskey Park (White Sox Stadium).

I was so freaking proud of my shoes. My sister picked out a pair of suede gym shoes that resembled Adidas (minus 1 stripe) and I picked out an all-white pair of faux leather gym shoes. Mama even threw in some white shoe polish just in case I discolored my shoes during recess. Mama was not a big fan of dirty gym shoes. I couldn’t wait to get home and break in my shoes.

That day, my sister and I played in our shoes. We watched Ghost Writer and Reading Rainbow in our shoes. We even ate dinner in our shoes. I looked down at my shoes during each activity to make sure that they remained bright white. I loved the way the light glistened off of the tips of the shoelaces. Clearly, I was obsessed.

I woke up extra early the next day! The first day of school, a new pair of shoes, new school uniform. Nothing could stop me. Mama put on her light jacket even though it was 80 degrees out and walked my sister and me to school. I walked gently looking down at my shoes every step of the way. I lined up with my new classmates, waving vigorously at each and every member of my 3rd-grade classroom. With every wave came an introduction and overwhelming excitement to show off new shoes…it was literally the only thing that set us all apart.  All Nike’s with a mix of Jordan’s, then there was me. I became slightly discouraged but tried my best not to show it. I moved slowly, as to not draw the same attention to my own feet.  I waved goodbye to Mama, wishing that she could take me with her.

By the time we made it in the building, no one cared about shoes, it was all about finding our new classrooms and meeting our new teacher. I was so excited for my seating arrangement which included a few peers that looked familiar from previous grades and two super nice newbies. We had 10 minutes for get to know you games and small talk. Immediately, the conversation about shoes and new backpacks came up. Some kid thought it would be great to go around and talk about our new shoes, school supplies, and backpacks. My palms began to get sweaty (they always are), I felt a knot in my throat that grew as each student completed their last statement when it was my turn I nearly passed out. Stuck without words, everyone looked down. “Those are um, cute” someone muttered while others snickered. “I got them from Kenny’s” I exclaimed. “Kenny’s” the class clown yelled. “Those aren’t name brand, those are clown shoes.” My heart dropped, I was sad. Mama had worked so hard to get us the shoes we wanted. I was so proud to have picked the shoes I wanted… and one tiny turd took my joy away.

Before I knew it, the day was over with. The walk home was silent. My sister who was in kindergarten went on and on about her day. I heard nothing. I said nothing. That night, I took out a Sharpie marker and drew three lines on my shoes just like the pair of basketball shoes that my cousin had. The lines were awful. I literally ruined my shoes, but couldn’t face my table area again with my off brand Bozo the Clown shoes.

Mama found the pair the next morning. She was almost in tears. “Bickie, goddammit” (she struggled with pronunciation and would often mix Spanish and English alphabet together creating words that I still don’t know). I had no words for her. She took out some Tide and bleach and scrubbed until her fingers were pink. She shook the white shoe polish with a slight grimace on her face, happy to be making progress and laid on coat after coat being sure to dry each layer with the fan in between. 20 minutes later, my shoes were brought back to life. I never had the opportunity to share my intentions with Mama, but I know in my heart that she had an idea.

Secretly, watching her clean the peer pressure lines off my shoes made my heart hurt. I was always an emotional kid (still am) and this took all.

The next year, Mama had saved every penny she could. She even reached out to my mom for assistance with school clothes and such. Mama purchased us three pair of shoes, one school pair, a pair for playtime, and one pair of sandals. They were even name brand.

Mama prepared for our walk to school. Being sure to wear her light jacket even though it was 80 degrees out. Walking to school didn’t feel any different in my new Nike sneakers. I walked up and greeted everyone in the 4th grade line. Conversations sparked about and backpacks.This time, they found a new kid to pick on. They pointed, made stupid jokes, enjoyed knee bent laughs with each other. That night, I pulled out my Bozo shoes and tidied them up carefully using the right bleach to Tied ratio. I pulled out the shoe polish and applied more coats than needed.

The next day, I proudly wore my double dipped all white shoes to school.

Life Changing Decisions…

JROTC Logo 3

Freshman year I was faced with the choice to take P.E. Or the JROTC program as a 4-year elective. Both the P.E. students and JROTC students came to the large gym during orientation to show us the benefits of joining either program. I was very familiar with JROTC because I decided to begin the beginner program in 7th grade. My decision was clear, I would join the JROTC program and spend my next 4-years on the “military” side of my high school building.

The first few days were amazing! All of the JROTC students would take classes together (same side of the building) for the first two years. Each class began with the JROTC cadet creed. “I am an Army JROTC cadet. I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, country, school…” every class, every day. On Physical Training (PT) days, we would have to report to school at 5:30 am, run 2-5 miles, complete synchronized exercises to a count, and practice skills such as handling a rifle, marching, and cadences to keep everyone on step.

By the second week, I was very confident about the decision I had made. It took a lot of getting used to, but I loved every single moment of it. I loved being different, I enjoyed the organizational skills that I was learning and knowing what would come next, most important, I loved having the consistent support from leaders who would ultimately shape my life.

~TBC