Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Trusting your instincts

How do you know when to trust what feels RIGHT even though it seems like pure craziness to everyone else??

I used to never think twice... just follow my heart wherever it led me.

Sometimes that road ended in serious heartbreak.

But as I look back, it was much, much worse when I tried to game it out. Maybe I am just no good at looking at all the angles. Maybe I have blinders. I just know that each time I thought it out, it never turned out right. It turned out exactly like I didn't think it would.

So, how do I know when I am following my instincts vs having wishful thinking?

The only thing I am really sure about now is that wherever I go, I need to go there whole-heartedly. If I can't do that, then I don't think I should do it all. Is that following my instincts or just being a fool?

How can you claim the gifts from the universe when you can't name them?


Ok, ok... so for the one or two faithful readers, I humbly apologize, I have, in point of fact, four posts in draft form that I need to sit down and just finish. Please come back and check, I promise to get at least one of them up tonight!

Happy Wednesday...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Noah's Wind

As long as I can remember, I have associated wind with rain.

I love wind.

I hate rain.

Maybe hate is too strong a word for the emotion, as I have come to enjoy the feel of rain on my face. Since I gave up umbrellas, I get really wet when it rains, but I also get to revel.

Now that I have more and varied experience with rain, I can distinguish between the wind that is bringing rain, and the one that comes after rain.

I call the one that comes after, Noah's Wind. It is rough and wild. It is determined and powerful. I imagine Noah's Wind feeling as though it has the responsibility of drying up the flood.

Today, coming out of my lunch meeting, I came face to face with Noah's Wind.

I love it. It's like a rainbow... it means the sky is tired of dropping rain. It is like the eraser earnestly removing every speck of writing. Dry it up, remove all memory of the rain.

If we're lucky we won't get anymore rain after Noah's Wind, but sometimes, it's just a tease.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gratitude Month

Teachers --
I was blessed with the best middle school experience ever... not what you expect as most folks think that life between the ages 11-13 are the most awkward and therefore, least desirable... Maybe it was just in comparison to my previous experience, but with the value of hindsight, I still see it as the best.

It was my first public school experience; my parents thought that parochial school would seal my soul's fate. It was considered the worst school in the city. Long before I arrived there, the world had decided that the school and its inhabitants were not worth much. When the windows were first broken, they were replaced with plexiglass. When the plexiglass was treated badly, it was replaced with wood. There were a great number of classrooms at that school with rows of plywood instead of windows. By the time I got there, it had long been forgotten by the powers that be.

But not by most of the teachers and the administrators. I can truly say that I have never experienced such a dedicated staff, as a student or as a teacher. These teachers and students did know that they were teaching at the Rodney Dangerfield of schools, but they never treated us that way. And many of them went on to become administrators at other schools and bigshots in the district. Regardless of whether or not they were using the experience as a stepping stone, more power to them, we only knew their best.

These were the only guidance counselors I knew as a student who actually took the time to get to know all the students, not just the ones with a problem. And these were the teachers who knew how to deal with our raging hormones and still teach us.

I learned things from my literature teacher, Mrs. Davis, and studied pieces of literature with her that I didn't see again until twelfth grade. She made everything very real for us, but never in a patronizing way. She never treated us like the poor kids with no culture and no class... she elevated us and taught us what we needed to know. Thanks to her, I saw La Boheme, The Mikado and various other plays with my classmates, after having read them. We knew more about George Bernard Shaw probably than the actors who starred in West Side Story... and we read the original Pygmalion, from the Greek, as well. We were her Eliza's ... but she never made us feel that way.

I could go on and on... but maybe, that's enough. To all those teachers, who demonstrated true dedication to one's craft, I dedicate this gratitude month. I hope that as a teacher, I gave my students one tenth of what I got from that phenomenal staff. I hope I have the chance to give them my gratitude in a more tangible way some day.

We always forget and underestimate the value of the thank you.

There are countless other things in my life for which to be grateful, but in my present profession, I have been earnestly contemplating my educational experiences, particularly those in public school, and imagining what I would like for other children/youth to have in California. Those teachers I had in middle school, those are the ones I wish for the children/youth of California: ambitious, caring, earnest, and willing to go with the kids where you need to go to get them where you want them to be.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Adventures with small children

I celebrated the day after Thanksgiving by accompanying my 18 month old nephew on his first real transit adventure. We started bright and early with a train. He loves trains. I am not so sure once we got on the train that he knew that's where we were, but we enjoyed listening for the whistle and watching it pull up.

Oh! Wow! He is fond of saying when he sees something he really likes.

We probably should have taken a shorter train ride because sitting in the seat and looking out the window only happened in five to ten minute spurts. We could capture his attention with the animals and the water... AGUA he yells everytime he sees it. But then he wanted to run up and down the train and talk to all the people. Good thing he's cute.

When we pulled into Union Station, I offered to take care of him while my sister and brother-in-law used the facilities. As soon as we could, I took him to my favorite place at Union Station. There on the side is a little garden with a fountain, beautiful benches and trees. It is a quiet oasis next to the bustling station. The first time I ever saw it, it was full of people in period costumes waiting to get on the mystery train (Sherlock Holmes era I suspected). It was a beautiful and mysterious place where you could really feel transported back in time. Everytime I am in Union Station, I think I can see and hear the soldiers moving around during WWII.

Well mijo loved the garden, but mostly that he could run around and, of course, the fountain. He ran up to it exclaiming, "AGUA!" and proceeded to get as close as possible without climbing in. Just mesmerized to watch the water go up and come down.

He probably could have stayed at the station all day, there was another fountain on the other side, not as fascinating to me as it is more modern, but enchanting to him because it was full of fish.

We headed over to Olvera Street for breakfast -- it was a difficult half an hour because mijo really wanted to run and Olvera Street is not really for running. I managed to keep him busy while his mom and dad ate, but he wasn't really having the stroller.

Next we went back to Union Station to get the Red Line of the Metro. I had foolishly envisioned walking off all the turkey feast once we got out of the metro, but my brother-in-law's knee wasn't up to the trek, so we caught a bus. The only thing mijo loves more than AGUA is the bus. It was dicey at the end because it was morning nap time... but we made it.

The La Brea Tar Pits is a great place to take young children (all children really) because it is mostly a park with a small museum. The grounds have tar pits still bubbling. My brother-in-law could not believe that the bubbles could hold us spellbound, but they did. Like clock work, old faithful my sister thought, a small eruption that turned into a thin bubble shimmering in the sunlight and then POP. A few seconds later, it started all over again.

We looked at the tar pits and thought about going into the museum, but then mijo spied another of his favorite things, a ball. A soccer ball to be exact. I tried to tell him that he couldn't just grab someone else's soccer ball, but the little boy who owned it, kicked it right over to mijo. Mijo is not a kicker, he's a thrower. The little boy's grandma was telling him to let the baby play with the ball, in Spanish, and Mijo was trying to throw the ball at her.

Eventually he got bored with the ball and ran up the hill. That's the thing when you are a kid in a candy store, you just don't know where to go next. The steep hill leads to the cieling of the tarpits look down into the center garden of the museum. Mijo wanted to jump into the garden, so we figured we better go inside.

My sister has been teaching mijo how to say the sounds of the animals; so far he has cow, dog, cat, LION or TIGER, snake and fish. I know, I know, fish don't really make noise, but mijo makes the cutest fish lips ever when you ask him what does the fish do? So we went inside and every time mijo saw the Saber Toothed Tiger, he roared.

Pretending to be fearless as usual, he ran from exhibit to exhibit until we met up with the museum lady. She had some re-creations of the fossils they have found, specifically she had the heads of several prehistoric tigers and wolves as well as one big tooth. Mijo loved the tooth and hit the floor with it. But when the lady brought out the tiger head with the moving jaw, he jumped back.

Eventually we ended up in the garden. Mijo was getting more and more tired, you could tell, especially when he went up to a little girl his size and hit her. He likes little girls, and big ones too, for that matter. Usually he turns on the charm and says "HI," in his cute fast way. But his crabbiness was showing when he hit the little girl, no smile, no "hi", just pow.

After a challenging time in the museum store, we finally went outside again to drink some AGUA and run around some more. While my sister talked to the fiddle player and mijo tried to grab all the money in the fiddler's box, I was watching two young boys roll down the hill mijo had run up.

Not many people know this, but I am an expert at hill rolling. Over the years, I have perfected the technique and feel it is my duty to help fledgeling rollers to become experts. When mijo noticed the boys rolling, he ran right over to them; actually into their path. This gave me the opportunity to impart some lessons. I showed them the hand tucking and feet together tricks. But, of course, you can't really teach kids to roll properly unless you actually SHOW them. So I went to the top of the hill, took off my hair clip, and showed them how to do it. Afterall, you don't become an expert hill roller by allowing prime opportunities to roll slip by.

After the hill, mijo had a little lunch and then was ready to start running again. We explored the rest of the park, and when my sister and brother-in-law needed a little break, I ran after the mijo. We went everywhere and fast. He tried to take someone's soda, almost crashed a romantic picnic, and tried to climb on the giant concrete sloth. There was a little playing in the dirt. There were some attempts to pick flowers and climb trees, and there was an awful lot of running. Eventually it was time to head back to Union Station.

We left the park and got on the bus... this time mijo really understood that we were ON THE BUS. He kept telling the lady sitting beside us, just in case she hadn't noticed, "BUS!" We looked out the window, said hi to everyone we could, and then, he turned around, sat down on my lap, and finally fell asleep. Smooth sailing after that for about an hour... he slept right through the metro and our drinks and nachos on Olvera Street.

But he woke up again when we got on the train, perhaps a little bit too early... the ride back on the train was more trouble than the ride there. A very grouchy and still tired little one who wanted to run up and down with three adults with no energy left to chase.

Believe it or not, after that wild adventure, we went to a wedding reception where I had the pleasure to run after mijo for another hour.

It was great fun, and I am pretty sure I worked off all the turkey as well as the nachos and the taquitos and the sangria. And it was great to be part of his first transit adventure.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Kitchen Table Talk

Whenever I get home, to my mother's house, no matter the time of day or how long I have been traveling, you can be sure there will be kitchen table talk.

And it will take all night. This time around, my dad came into the kitchen to announce to my mother, my sister and myself that it was 1 am. We looked at him and kept talking. He walked back out of the kitchen.

I think it became a tradition when I lived 3000 miles away and only visited once or twice a year, if I was lucky. And even now that I am only 300 miles away, the tradition continues. It doesn't matter if we talked the entire drive home or if we talked several times in the week leading up to the visit. When I get home, all bets are off, and we are going to have a throw down in the kitchen.

And don't think it's small talk. It's everything you've ever felt or believed as well as any chisme about any person you might know in common, and even some you don't. It's a snowball and free association on steroids. I can't even recall all the themes that we covered on this last visit.

When I recall it, though, I realize how much I have to say ... and how much others want to hear it.

There is something very special about the in person talk that can't happen over the phone. I can't explain it, I just know it when I experience it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I believe, I believe, it's silly, but I believe

Favorite quote from one of my all time favorite movies.

Right now, every time it seems impossible, I remember this quote...
and hope for the miracle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Strength, Courage, Staying Power?

Not sure which I need... but I need something.
Why isn't articulating enough?
A friend said recently, I just want a place to rest my head at the end of a long, hard day. And my immediate reaction to that was...but you need to be that for yourself.

I believe it. Not just I want to believe it. I believe it.

Yet, despite more than just surviving the past week, I am not buoyed by the successes. I am exhausted. I feel like I am just treading water and not moving forward. Worse, I feel like I fall off the edge so easily...and then I am desperately measuring myself against the reactions of the world around me.

Maybe I just need some sleep, but I think I need more than that... just not sure what or how to get it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sharing wisdom, sort of

Trying to help myself hear the messages, I share one with the readership.
Yesterday's Mastery of Love card:
To master love, you have to practice love. (emphasis in the original)
On the back, the toltec (or his helpers) continues:
The art of relationship is a whole mastery, and the only way to reach mastery is with practice.
To master a relationship is, therefore, about action; it is not about attainging knowledge.

So, when I read it, I said to myself, Yes, almost, DUH...because attaining knowledge and action are such wildly different skills.

I read with both the recognition that this is true, and necessary, and very difficult indeed.

We keep trying, I guess, until we figure it out; or get tired and settle for something easier if less satisfying.

That's the thing, though, I have already done what was, in theory, less challenging and it was absolutely less satisfying but really not easier.

I am working on the longer piece that this card and other recent events have had me pondering, but it's not ready for release.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Self Love

I may have discovered the missing link, or rediscovered it. The questions had always been: “So what are the practical steps to do this? How does someone learn to love oneself?”

The question itself belies the crux of the issue for me... first, you have to love yourself. You have to believe yourself LOVE-able... That first wall always stopped me from getting any farther. I have been feeling like just because I can trace back where that notion started, it doesn’t mean I can really change it. First I accepted that it was something that someone else had imprinted on me. I acknowledged it was the best she could do. Not forgiving, but not dwelling. But it just didn’t make me feel loveable. I kept looking for and waiting for the magic bullet that would make it ok. Some of the false bullets were more detrimental than the original hurt.

After long, painful work, I realized that I was the only one standing in the way of being loveable. I had to believe. All the rest are habits of the mind. Learning to reprogram the self talk. Learning to rewrite the story of your SELF where your actions and characteristics don't have to be categorized as GOOD or BAD. Learning to love all your parts, inside and out. Those are the practical steps. I knew it. I guess I have always known it. I have just been unwilling to start at the beginning. I have been unwilling to face the self-perception of myself as intrinsically unworthy.

And, yet, the truly destructive and sinful action of looking for external validators took over my life.

You can always find people to prove you right if you think you are a horrible person. Hardly anyone walks around with compassion on his/her sleeves. We are more often ready to pounce on words and actions and criticize. So, any of us hoping for someone to demonstrate our true dastardliness can hear that criticism in a word, sigh, look or lack thereof. That kind of external validation is plentiful.

We don't tell people that we are grateful for their presence. We don't always even recognize that we are. We don't just need and want happy, peppy, perfect (non-existent) people. Every one around us has worth for which we are unconsciously grateful. We hardly ever acknowledge it to ourselves let alone share that kind of external validation with those around us, and less with those who we know we love and admire.

So, make to the self-love. How can I love myself when I don't LOVE those around me? I feel as though I have been walking around the world on-guard, for at least the last four years, probably much longer. And the on-guard description is the most benign way I know to describe it. I am great at tearing myself apart with criticism of the slightest detail. Sometimes I have been walking around with the sword out, ready to give the first blow.

I am not sure I know how to put down the sword. I don’t know if I can reach back in and figure out how to wear my compassion on my sleeve. I don’t know if I ever did.

I have to learn to love that defensive part of me, too, even though it makes me hang my head in shame.

Where was I going with this?

I can’t remember, it’s been two days and it’s still not finished and keeping me up at night.

Every once in a while, when the nasty voices start pulling apart my every action, thought and word, there is a little, quiet voice reminding me to be more gentle with myself. I hear her as some disembodied piece of my self…she is weak yet strong. She is resilient. I want her to win, but I am afraid to believe in her either…

Maybe the shell is breaking…maybe I am just tired. Maybe it will get better.

Maybe when I really believe that I deserve what I want, I will get it.

Maybe is such a better place than before. I am trying to be grateful just for maybe right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Book

Most true happiness comes from one's inner life, from the disposition of the mind and soul. Admittedly, a good inner life is hard to achieve, especially in these trying times. It takes reflection and contemplation and self-discipline.
- W. L. Shirer

For a long while, I have been collecting quotes. Almost four years ago, I started making a book of quotes for a very dear friend. Even when we weren't talking and hadn't seen each other for a year, I was still collecting quotes.

I just opened the word doc where I have been collecting the quotes of late to put in a new one, and I found this one.

I have been living inside myself, in my head, in my heart, in my soul, for a while now. I don't really feel like talking to my friends, and I am enjoying, perhaps a little too much, going to the cafe by myself. I almost feel like if I don't stay inside that I won't get the work done... and I feel like the intensity of the work is lessened when I talk about it before I really understand it.

In the last month, though, I have begun to talk again... sometimes to complete strangers. I am also practicing listening. I am good at noticing, but not always patient enough to listen. I too often rely on my ability to intuit people's emotions, struggles, concerns, that I don't cultivate my listening skills. I need to listen with my ears as well as my heart.

Here's the latest quote, found it on another bloggers musings, I don't think she'll mind if I share it:
"La ausencia disminuye las pequeñas pasiones y aumenta las grandes, lo mismo que el viento apaga las velas y aviva las hogueras" -- François de la Rochefoucauld
Translation: Absence diminishes the small passions and increases the great ones, just as the wind blows out the candles and revives the bonfires.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


So, although I am never quite sure who is reading the blog or whether or not anyone is... I am feeling guilty about the negative nature of the postings of late...

Why is that when I am feeling great there is no post?

Why is it that giddiness is never reflected here?

Sometimes I think it is because that might betray some confidence I imagine myself to be keeping... or maybe I am just not as good as relating that in an anonymous way...

This morning I treated myself to breakfast before I went to work... some might see this as something routine, but I usually do work if I get up early, or get up with just enough time to get out the door. This morning, I got up early in order to make myself breakfast. I did have oatmeal and a little herbal tea, trying to decaffeinate, so it wasn't like having a spa day; but it was a little, I love you, I am going to do something nice and good for you.

Perhaps as a way of rewarding me, the universe then conspired to have someone call me just as I finished that breakfast who made me smile from ear to ear. The giddiness that ensued lasted for a good long while... til someone said something stupid at work and tried to crush it.

I did my best to keep that giddiness all day, and I am sitting here grinning right now.

Every day can be a great day, I just need to keep on trying to make it happen.

Happy Tuesday for today, and Happy Wednesday for tomorrow, dear anonymous readers.

Monday, November 07, 2005

darkening around the edges

Today, to match the weather, everything is gray and turning darker. The storm clouds gather, and I feel like crying all the time. Yet, I know it will pass, I want so badly to make the demons go away on my own and not need help...

maybe it's hormones, seasonal affect disorder or just plain tiredness...but the need to get pep-talked or to pep-talk oneself creeps up on me. Like the clouds that have threatened all day, and now drop their angel spittle, I feel the dams about to burst.

Keep treading water, I admonish myself, the flood is bound to subside at any moment.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

ugly, probably best not to read it

Inside my darkest insecurities I watch my dearest held dream turn into pain and dread and punishment. I do it to myself...that is I allow my insecurities to overtake my mind and turn goodness into evil.

I don't know if I can take my feelings out of the trash can and dust them off, but I know my heart and soul ache believing I am playing a horrible trick on myself.

Is this all about claiming what I want?

Does it matter what anyone deserves?

Are there answers to any questions?

Do we use our humanity against one another?

I feel like nothing makes sense, and maybe it shouldn't. Maybe it should just be and naming anything sense or non-sensical is the folly.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

And one more thing

While wandering around the National Zoo, Renea and I happened upon a family sitting on a park bench. We were trying to figure out if when they were on display, the wild lion tamarinds had really been on the loose with just radio collars on so that the zoo keepers would know where the "lions" were. We knew that they were no longer in the trees, we were just looking around and imagining it. In fact, if they were still out we might not have been there at all...someone was afraid of monkeys throwing poop.

In any case, out of one ear I hear, "and one more thing, there are no animals here." I am getting the quote wrong now. Try to hear the indignance in the voice of the rather small potentially 7-8 year old child. He had been addressing his parents in Chinese, but dropped that last argument in English. Then he turned to me and said, "they are in the small animal house." (he left out the "stupid" he really wanted to add to his sentence.) I knew that, I had read the sign, but it was fun to play along with his parents.

I asked him what the other things were, but he refused to tell me, and this really amused his parents. Finally, he gave up trying to reason with them, opened up his book, and sat down on the bench.

There they stayed as we went on towards more animals who were actually outside... I really did want to know what the other arguments were, though.

Other overheard comments:
"Don't stop until we get to the restaurant, we didn't come to the zoo to see animals!" -- I kid you not. She was pushing a stroller and surrounded by many other adults and children who really did want to stop and see some animals on the way to the restaurant

"Hippo!" -- imagine it yelled, over and over, loudly, as a way of trying to wake the hippo and get her (renea decided the hippo was a she) to turn over.

"Howling sound" emitted from small child as a way of getting the wolves to come out where we could see them.

"I guess that's where the saying, busy beavers, comes from" upon seeing a beaver working on a lock. It had been hooked on a little pole where the beavers could keep themselves entertained for hours. I cannot repeat the suggestions being made about one of the beavers who refused to leave the jets.

Adults on the loose in the National Zoo... we should have had cameras following us, some of it was quite good, on the other hand, there were no binobos.