Monday, September 28, 2009

Is there help for a hair-product-aholic?

This is a time when I wish that moving metaphorically would take precedence over moving physically. Unfortunately, this isn't one of those times...although I must admit to loving the exploration of metaphorical scenarios. :)

This weekend we moved all the major, large pieces of furniture into our new home. The new home is smaller, a lot brighter (lots of windows...I LOVE windows!!!), cozier (another word for smaller). The dogs are in heaven in the back yard...Mamita already knows that standing by the back door and barking with a sharp, distinct, demanding sound she will arouse her humans to get off their behinds and come open it to let her out. Once out, she then proceeds to inspect the whole back yard, which is laid-out in a u-shape around the West, South and East sides of the house. She's an extremely intelligent dog who happens to think she rules the world. Well, at least the little world she lives in. :)

The other three dogs seem a bit overwhelmed. Widdle runs around the back yard stopping at every bush, tree and overgrown weed to 'leave his mark' and proclaim it as his territory; Lumpy runs around trying to avoid Widdle's markers while silently leaving his own (competition runs between the two); Piggy just seems to be working on her tan - seriously - she loves to sunbathe. There would be times, in the old house, where she would lay sprawled out at the base of the front door where a bit of sunshine leeked in. Since she has one, dark stripe on her back it looks like she tanned through the door crack. (Yes, the hubby and I actually have serious conversations like this. Sick. I know.)

The nice thing about this move is that it seems to be the most stress-free move we've ever had. If you read my previous blogs you might recall that I mentioned the number of moves we've made since we've been living in Phoenix. Well, as you can imagine, we've had some funny adventures through each move. Not that we like chaos or frustration added to our lives, but I must admit, we're both a bit adventurous. I don't like doing the same thing over and over again and I'm one to make the most of each situation.

During one infamous and quite memorable move, which was our drive from Florida to Arizona, we sold all of our furniture and packed our two vehicles with clothes, computers, books, our TV, and other desired items and along with our brother/best friend, Wayne, we trekked out of Florida via I-10, which runs from Florida to California, for those of you who may not know. It was quite an adventure to travel with two men who were on a quest for a rare brand of malt liquor (yuk) that, from all I can recall, had a red bull on the bottle. During every food stop, gas fill-up and restroom stop, if there was a small market, which there usually was, the guys would run in to see if they could find their bottle of hard to find beverage. I have pictures to prove it. It's quite humorous. Really.

On another move, we hired a moving company and let's just say that the experience's tone was set the minute they drove up in a big truck that had, what I can only describe as a horse-trailer, attached at the back. I'll admit, I wasn't very optimistic. But, I'm married to a man who usually always sees the silver-lining of every cloud, which I'm grateful for, don't get me wrong. But, at times, I'm right and his optimism is wrong. This was one of those instances. The move ended up taking the two men, who admitted to not really being movers about 10 hours to move us from one apartment to the same complex. The kicker was that they weren't even done when they gave out at the end of the day. Our plasma screen tv was still left in the old place with their promise to return the next day to move it for us. For free. They didn't return but we did get our tv moved, thanks to my dad. Sigh.

I like to liken my adventures in moving to something that my closest friend, Elsa (family, aunt, sister, best friend - she has many titles), pointed out about me during one of my moves that she helped me with - there have been a few. Anyhow, while helping me pack up the restroom toiletries one move, she mentioned that I had quite a collection of half-used shampoo and conditioner bottles. While packing up she asked me if there was a reason I had over a dozen of these bottles. She found it odd that I would have so many half-empty bottles of hair products. She wanted to know why I didn't use one up before buying another. I laughed when she asked and realized how ridiculous this might look to her - or anyone else for that matter. Between giggles I explained to her I had a problem, I liked trying new hair products. I then continued to introduce myself in the style of someone attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Needless to say, Elsa reasoned that if I had a bottle of shampoo that I hadn't used in over six months, I probably should quit carting it around from move to move. We threw many half-full (I prefer to see things in a more positive light, thank-you-very-much) bottles of shampoo, conditioner and styling gel that day.

My affinity for trying different hair products has tapered down as I've gotten older. I still alternate between one to three different types of shampoos of which I switch through on a regular basis but I've made a commitment to one hair conditioner - I swear by it. Proof that there is hope for other serial-hair-product-aholics out there. Elsa would be proud.

Anyhow, now that I've written down the likening of these two topics, the more I realize how different they are. Yet, they still tie in my head. Every time I've moved, there is an excitement that builds up in me. I like change. I like having to search for a new home and when found there are empty cabinets to fill, empty rooms to occupy. I enjoy a different neighborhood to explore and new neighbors to meet (or avoid - come on, you have some of those too). As mentioned before, the process of moving is a pain, but I'll admit I honestly don't mind it. It's worth it just to have the opportunities I've described above. Adventurous, and at times, chaotic.

I guess what I've realized is that the adventurous spirit I've been born with has been charging full steam ahead in the past 12 years. Why the past 12 years? Well, these are the years which I've been on my own as an adult. (Yes, it's only been 12 years...what can I say, I was a late bloomer). So until I've reached the point of committing to one residence for more than two years, I'll continue to allow myself to explore new places while enjoying new adventures.

Now it's time to get the rest of the boxes here. Sigh.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The blowing winds of change...thank you Mother Nature.

There are times in our lives when we are forced to make choices that we don't necessarily want to choose at the time. Then, there are other times when the decision is made for us, whether we want it or not. That's what happened to me. A man, who shall remain nameless because it really doesn't matter who he is, made a decision for me. And if I thought he was important enough, I would thank him. But I'm not going to because I realize he was just a small, speck in my life that shall be forgotten as quickly as he was brought into. What I do thank and appreciate is that, as with every experience in my life, I have learned something significant that will remain with me always.

A little over two months ago I was informed that my position had been eliminated. I'll admit, at the moment, I was shocked. I didn't see it coming. For those of you who don't know, when the economy is bad, the higher education industry soars. I, mistakenly, assumed I was safe. Safe from being 'let go' or 'laid off'. Boy, was I wrong. I won't lie and say that I didn't contribute to a few issues I had in the workplace - none of us are perfect. But what I will say is that this experience, in another director role with a different university, not only gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons in a professional capacity, but it also reminded me that I'm not a corporate slave. I will not be someone I'm not to fit into a mold that would require me to suppress who I really am.

Last night I started teaching a new group of undergraduate students. The course is titled "Management: Theory, Practice and Application". It's a junior level course and I had 25 very active students. We took care of the housekeeping type of activities, such as introductions and course assignment details, then we began discussing the topic of management with a focus on how management is impacted by the state of our current economy. It was quite interesting and the experience reminded me of why I love teaching. Teaching older students, anyway. (For those of you who teach at the K-12 levels...God bless you. I admire that you can do it).

Anyhow, after a great night of discussions and interactions, the night ended with a handful of students coming up to me to ask questions or give me comments. One, in specific, stands out. He told me that he needed to tell me on his way out of class that my class was the best one he's had, thus far. He told me that my style of teaching, which is to integrate the course topics of the week with practicality and theory combined, was great for learning. I thanked him and then he added that most of his instructors would bore him because they lectured only. He continued to tell me that most faculty didn't keep his interest, but I did.

Needless to say, I was touched. Mostly because I was reminded of what I truly enjoy and excel at. I was forced into this; I didn't choose to go back to teaching. However, I know it's only because this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I love it. Standing in front of those students brought back the memories of why I love teaching. It reminded me of the blessings that my education has given me. At one point last night, the discussion surrounded the topic of higher ed. It gave me the opportunity to be reminded that I am where I am today despite the statistics. And I'll never again, take that for granted.

Thank you Mother Nature...your winds of change are a welcome breeze.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To write or not to write???...that is the question.

I've been inspired to write for a couple of weeks now; for years now actually. Those closest to me know I've always had a goal of writing a book but haven't done it yet. With anything that is a labor of love, you have to know deep in your heart that it's the right thing to do. It has to be so ingrained in your soul that you are passionate enough to lose sleep over it. Most importantly, I've accepted that in order to write, I must move myself to the backseat. For so long, I've contemplated writing what has been in my heart out of fear for what people would think about me.

I've been one to say, many times and to many friends, that you can't care what people say or think about you. Yet, I've realized that I was saying this in vain because I truly hadn't accepted that personally about my writing. (Forgive me friends if I told you this. I lied. I didn't mean to, didn't think I was. But I did.) I do care what people think about me. Not to the point of allowing my life to be dictated by others views and perceptions of me, but enough to question my ability to write for a public audience.

A couple of things happened in the past few weeks that have forced me to self-analyze this issue. First, I met a new friend. He's also a writer. He's actually a published author and writes his own blog. In one of his blog entries entitled Art vs. Addiction, his words spoke true to me. They actually punched me in the gut and forced me to realize that I had been harboring this and had not dealt with it. I wasn't free to write because I put myself in my own writer's-block-jail. I was too concerned about writing for man, instead of writing for God, as quoted in Art vs. Addiction. I've been pondering this for days now and today, over coffee and discussion with my hubby, it came to me.

My desire to write has always been there, but the direction and audience for which I'm meant to write, wasn't clear to me. It finally is and I have my wonderful hubby, as well as my new friend, to thank for helping me see the light.

So now...the writing begins!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The joys of moving...

Moving is a pain in the butt! I could use more colorful words but I'll save them for the moments when I'm lugging yet another box out of the old house and into the new. I'm not excited about moving. I hate packing, unpacking. The whole process of moving is torturous. Except it's exciting at the same time. It means a new start. New chapter. New ground to explore. It means cleaning house, literally- and metaphorically-speaking.

Although I could go on and on about the literal pain of moving, for this post I'll focus on the metaphorical aspect of it. One might say that moving from place to place might be be an external action influenced by an internal force. In other words, I might internally be against or resistant to living in one place for a long period of time. I'm sure, if I did enough research, I'd find some sort of phobia on the books for it. I counted that in the past 10 years I've lived in 12 different places. I know that if averaged out it would appear I've lived less than 8 months at each place. That's not the case though. A few of those places were temporary residences or in between stops. Not that it matters, regardless I've lived in 12 residences over a 10-year span. That's more than I care to realize.

Maybe I was a gypsy or nomad in another life. For some reason, I really do enjoy a change of scenery. I like the sunlight entering the windows from a different angle. I enjoy the freshness of a clean home not yet littered with cat and dog hair. I enjoy getting rid of things that I don't use or have any need for. Maybe moving is my spring cleaning method. That would at least justify the number of times we've moved.

Let's break that down a bit further. Psychologists might postulate that my actions involving moving from one residence to another in the 
short span of time might be some sort of psychological reflection of what is going on inside of me. It might have underlying messages about my commitment to one place. Which could possibly reflect on my general feel of commitment. Yes, I know all that's possible. Fortunately, though, my commitment to a residence hasn't flowed into my commitment to my marriage. Seven years, blessed and strong...thank God!

Psychological interpretation aside, as much as I hate moving..the packing, unpacking, cleaning, sweating, frustration... I also enjoy the freshness that moving brings. Let the fun begin!

Monday, September 21, 2009

100 pounds less than...

Six years and one month ago, I had been married just eight months. It was a huge decision. One might say a decision that could have been a matter of life or death. I was taking a big chance. Aware that I wasn’t taking the ‘easy’ way out. Knowing some people thought I was. It’s not like I didn’t think this decision through thoroughly. It’s not like I didn’t weigh the pros and cons. I spent countless hours researching. Reading the topic on discussion boards. Attending information meetings. Talking it through, for hours, with my husband, my best friend and my mother-in-law (who had become one of my closest friends).

In the end, I didn’t make this decision alone. I made it with my husband. We discussed my fears and his fears. We shared our pros and cons list. We cried together at the scary “what-if’s”. We imagined the benefits it would bring into our lives. And in the end, that is what confirmed my decision. Our decision.

Six years and one month ago, I laid on a hospital bed; fluorescent light blazing in my eyes. I actually said ‘goodbye’ to my best friend, my husband and my amazing mother-in law, Theresa; you know, just in case. I cried a bit. I remember feeling cold and alone. Scared; yet strong and determined. Enough strength to push out the fear. Or...maybe the yummy-knock-me-to-sleep drugs finally kicked in.

In the end, I woke up. I felt pain. But not fear. I felt victorious. But I still felt pain. My best friend, my angel; she was there the whole time. She helped me the whole way through. She helped feed me the liquid food they provided. Beef broth and hot tea; actually tasty when your stomach can suddenly not hold anything more than a pinky-tip amount of liquid. She encouraged me to release a certain bodily vapor that would be a sign that I would be released from the hospital soon. She helped me walk, with my IV-bag–on-wheels, up and down the hall. My best friend.

Six years and one month ago, I witnessed the pros of this decision, almost immediately. I questioned the nurse to be sure I heard her right. Had my blood sugar levels dropped to normal so soon? It had been mere hours since the recovery room. Could my blood pressure be down? Had I really lost 10 pounds? Already? That soon? Some nurses were nice; others withdrawn or quiet. More walking up and down the hall. Very slow paces at first; now beginning to speed up.

In the end, it was the best decision I ever made. No more Diabetes; no more high blood pressure. No more food. I could barely sip the broth. One teaspoon felt like Thanksgiving dinner. Solid food was but a dim memory. It was the best decision I ever made.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Racking the brain, trying not to cause a concusion.

I have a lot to say. A lot. Why? Because my mind rarely seems to take a break. I’m sure many of you can relate. This morning and for the past couple of days I’ve been racking my brain on what the topic of my next blog will be. I’ve even started a couple of posts on two different topics and basically walked away from completing them. The topics just didn’t seem right. I think what I’ve determined is that, to my own surprise, I worry about what people will think about me and my writing. And this needs to change.

The funny thing about this is that insecurity is only in specific areas of my life. In some areas of my life I don’t really acknowledge what people think about me. schooling. I know many people are truly happy that I’ve been able to make it as far as I have in my educational goals. But I also know that others either envy it or resent that I’ve made it this far. I am always grateful for any positive reinforcement or encouragement, but for negative talk...I just don’t let it impact me. I made a decision long ago that my education was a priority in my life. I’m doing it for me. For my own knowledge and personal goals. Why should I let others opinions impact me about it? Right?

Yet, for some reason, exposing myself for who I really am for anyone to read about....well, that is nerve-wrecking! This is something I need to get over because if I don’t, I’ll never reach my ultimate goal, which is to write a book. For years I’ve talked about doing this but I haven’t. For many reasons, I suppose, but mostly because I can’t seem to find that spark, that push, that inspiration that I need to reach this goal. I feel like I’ve got a ‘lack-of-confidence-writing disorder'. Let’s ponder that.

I’ll compare it to someone who has an eating disorder* (Disclaimer: I am not mocking, pointing out anyone, or belittling this disease - just using it metaphorically).

Similar to someone who looks in the mirror and sees someone who is fatter than they really are, I look at my writing and wish I could do better. I see the errors and flaws. I worry about the grammar. I’m grateful for spell-checker. Also similar is when people compliment and tell them they look great and don’t need to lose anymore weight – I get many compliments on my writing and yet, it’s hard to believe it truly in my heart. Or maybe it’s not that I don’t believe it, but rather, I have this fear of acknowledging that maybe, just maybe I am a good writer. Why fear acknowledging it? I’m not quite sure but I will ponder that further.

So I’ve decided that from now on I am going to just write my thoughts out. Maybe some people will get it; some won’t. Either way, I’m writing. 

Random thoughts of the day:

What is wrong with the family unit? What is wrong with people? Every week, if not a couple times a week, we see on the news that someone knocked off their family. Their whole family. A couple of weeks ago it was eight family members killed in their home...the one charged? A troubled son. Today, a man killed his family – wife and six children in Naples, Florida then flees to Haiti via the Miami International Airport. Nationally we see people dying at the hands of supposed loved ones. Even locally, there are stories of family members killing other family members. It’s out of hand!

Now, maybe it’s because I’m not in their position (and hope never to be) but the thought of laying a hand on someone I love and taking their life...well, I can’t even fathom it. Respect of life seems to be at an all time low and it truly is scary. Who can you trust if you can’t trust the people around you, people you call family, friends. Scary thought, right? The stories are all different. They come from all levels of socio-economical and socio-demographics. They are of every nationality and of both sexes. They are the least suspected. They are normal looking.

There are so many external and internal factors that contribute to the mental and emotional ‘snap’ that a killer goes through. I won’t sit here and pretend to be a psychological expert in any way, but I imagine that most of what goes on in the mind of a killer are rarely vocalized or shared with others. It’s all in their head. The voices, some say, arguing within on what is right or wrong. Justifying their actions. This is the extent of what I can imagine. Going any further, even in thought, makes my stomach uneasy.

What’s wrong with the family unit? What’s wrong with people?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are you safe?

Feeling safe. Isn't that an amazing feeling? I imagine that feeling safe is something that many people never have the opportunity to feel in their lifetime. It actually scares me to think of the possibility of never feeling safe. And when I think about that further, feeling safe is produced by something very different to each one of us. For example, I might feel safe because I have enough money in the bank to pay the bills and enjoy life a little. Someone else might think that feeling safe is having a solid relationship or having the ability to own a home.

I am driven in life to feel two different types of safe. The first one is the one that most of us desire, which is to feel the safety of love. We spend our lives trying to find love; feel it. More than anything we want to experience its passion, joy, frustration, humbling moments, connection with another. Some people will kill for love; others will run from it their whole lives. But me, I just want to feel safe in its arms. Feeling safe in love is something I’ve been blessed with. Not meeting true love of another until the ripe-old age of 29, I thought I would never find it. But that wasn’t without being hopeful. On the outside, I didn’t care, wasn’t looking. On the inside, I remained hopeful and kept an eye on the lookout, you know, just in case. (smile) And then without believing it would fall into my laps, it did. And it hasn’t left. Not that I haven’t done my best to scare it away through many lapses of judgment. But fortunately, love has remained and I continue to feel its safety.

The second type of safe I strive to feel is the safety of financial security. I don’t want to be rich. I don’t care to have an excessive amount of material wealth. I’m not into name brands...well, except for my purses...give me one thing, okay? For goodness sakes, I love shopping at consignment stores and won’t hesitate to buy an outfit from Target if I like it. I love flip-flops (2 for $5 at Old Navy, thank you very much) and would live life in comfy, cotton clothing if it were allowed. But to feel financially secure is important to me. Maybe it’s the way I was raised, which was in a very financially tight, yet well-provided-for environment, that led me to be this way. For some reason I have always worried that I wouldn’t have the money to cover my life expenditures. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with the ability to feel financially secure but not without being reminded and humbled from time-to-time (and right now is a time of humble-reminding, unfortunately).

I am always reminded, by my wonderful life-partner, best friend and husband Carlos, that anything that can be bought or replaced with money is nothing to get worried sick over. I’m actually grateful for that reminder but if he wasn’t there to remind me, I might flip-out in a very mentally incapacitating way, which would only make things worse, of course. So while these two feelings of safety are important to me, I’m grateful that I have them in the correct order of importance.

Random thoughts of the day:

In the news this week we’ve seen stories of a missing child case going unsolved, a murder victim with a promising future and career found dead with her corpse hidden in the wall of a Yale University lab basement and the discovery of bones found on the property of a man who kidnapped, raped and imprisoned an 11-year old girl for 18 years. What disconnection did these people have? What emotional embolism could have occurred in the hearts and minds of these people that drove them to the darkest, most unforgiving parts of their souls? What safety could these perpetrators have missed in their lives?

My guess, it’s probably the safety of love. Whether it be parental, significant other or friendship love...somehow they probably never felt that true connection to the one safety we all desire. And how sad to know that some people never find it. And how grateful we should all be for having found it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The light shines on...

I haven’t written in a blog for a very long time. So long, it’s been years rather than months. When my hubby and I moved to Phoenix in 2004, I blogged religiously on at least a weekly basis. Then, little-by-little I got busier and life got more hectic. My blogs dwindled down to once a month. Then, less and less. Then altogether I stopped. There are many reasons for that, busy life aside. I was going through a very dark time in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time; or rather, I chose to ignore it. Not completely out of character for me, as much as I hate to admit that. I’ll admit that I learned long ago how to cope with certain unhealthy-mainstays in my life, as I’m sure you can relate to. It was these coping mechanisms that I resorted to, in addition to some new-found bad behaviors that blossomed more out of control than I ever would have thought.
Yes, it was a dark time in my life. And unfortunately, those who are most close to me felt the repercussion of this, even if they had nothing to do with contributing to it. I can’t even begin to figure out how to apologize and make amends with those who I shut out the most. All I can do is work on this in baby-steps and that’s what I’m doing. Makes the most sense to me. Contrary to popular belief, I am a very shy person. Stems from being a shy and insecure child. I’m extrovert, don’t mind public speaking and can stand in front of a group of adults in a classroom setting to teach them; yet, I’m shy as heck. Really?? Yes, really!

Anyhow, where there is dark, there shall also be light. And I’m finally seeing the light again. I told my hubby that I feel as if the past two years have been a blur. Like living in a vortex of sorts. For those hippie friends of mine, you can relate it to a trip on a hit of acid (which I have not tried) or mushrooms (which I have.      never.       again!).  I’m a firm believer in God and know that everything that happens in our life is for a reason. Each door that closes is just making way for another one to open. A different chapter. A new start. A new day. (Etc. Etc. I think you get the drift.)

I know I’m pretty vague in this introduction blog but as time goes on, details will most likely emerge to fill in the blanks and questions you may have after digesting my words. (Hopefully no one regurgitated in the process). Something that I have realized out of these past few years of experience is that I still have not learned how not to resort to my coping-mechanisms (see above). And I also realize that it’s something that I have to learn how to overcome because some coping-mechanisms may not be healthy for us. Mine surely weren’t. Someday in the future I hope to post an entry into this blog that tells you I have finally overcome that hurdle in my life. (Just typing these words tells me that I will be doing that in the future).

Random Thoughts of the Day

So, I’ll now share some random thoughts for the day. I’ve already shared my thoughts with my hubby and my BGBF, Cory, who I had lunch with today. Why, oh why, was President Obama’s speech to our school children made such a big deal of in the media? Why were so many of my conservative friends so against their children hearing what he head to say? I honestly cannot understand and it’s not because I don’t have children of my own, although I’m sure some may think that’s the reason. The reason I don’t understand it is because although we are a divided country when it comes to politics and religion, we all still fall under the umbrella that we call and claim as our country, the United States of America. Right? And if that’s the case, that means that whoever is president of our country has the right to impart knowledge and wisdom into the young minds of our children. Even President Obama’s republican rival, Sen. John McCain publicly stated his support for our new president after acknowledging he lost the race to the White House. In my opinion, as parents and leaders, it is our responsibility to impart fair and impartial wisdom to our children by allowing them to hear and see all sides of the coin, whatever that coin may be. Now, by saying that I’m not saying that this should supersede any religious or spiritual beliefs that you may be raising your children in; rather, it should coincide with that. I just have a hard time believing we can raise children to use the free will that God gives us without allowing them the capability to critically think about all things presented to them.

And that’s my rant on that. Until the next blog post...