Listening to my Instincts: Happily Ever After

Listening to my Instincts: Happily Ever After

*this essay contains an affiliate link to the book Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. I am a big fan of hers, so I would highly recommend it, especially if you’re into meditation. If you click the link and buy the book, or anything else, I will make a small commission, at no additional cost to you. So thank you if you do, because that means you are supporting my writing!

Countless times in my life I have been in a position where my instincts are driving me like an undeniable force. Many of those times begin with some message from outside. I have received messages from a variety of sources, children, cartoons, friends, magazines, books, music, even church.

And over time I have realized that these messages are always out there, all day every day messages are desperately trying to call to us. What I have learned is that I have to be in a place to listen to my instincts in order to hear the messages. Because that is where opportunity lies.

Opportunity

Opportunity can be anything – a new job, a new friendship that you really need at that moment in your life, the love of your life, or opportunity for growth.

My life has been filled with these opportunities. And they have always come in the strangest forms. But whenever they have come, that driving force inside me has given me a push: “this is it,” the force says. “This is what you want. This is for you. Take it.”

And I always do. Continue reading…    

Don’t Tell Me How to Live My Life: Health and Fitness

Don’t Tell Me How to Live My Life: Health and Fitness

*this post contains an affiliate link to Healthy Wage, where I am betting on my own weight loss. If you click and join, you get $40 and so do I! So if you do decide to take the leap and do it let me know so we can share our successes with each other!

“The Best Way to Lose Weight!”

“You cannot lose weight unless you do this.”

“Take this juice to curb your appetite!”

“You must combine your foods in exactly this way if you want optimum weight loss.”

“Weight loss is 80 percent diet, 20 percent exercise.”

And on and on and on.

I have friends and family with the perfect strategy. My connections on Linked In all have it figured out. Facebook friends have the exact approach. And my Instagram feed is filled with fitness gurus.

And I always think with each one I see: “don’t tell me how to live my life.”

You see, I’ve already figured it all out. Continue reading…    

Monterey Trip Round Two: Letting Go of My Husband

Monterey Trip Round Two: Letting Go of My Husband

“Oh it’ll be so nice this time around.” I thought to myself. “Carlos will be with us, the kids will have fun with their papa, and we’ll get to enjoy Monterey as a family.”

These thoughts filled my head as I planned a second trip to Monterey in two weeks. For our first trip, Carlos couldn’t come, so when he said he wanted to bring his family while they were here from Mexico, I thought “perfect!”

This would be our chance to do it right.

Wrong.

Instead, it turned out to be my lesson in letting go of my husband.

Double Consciousness

For the first time in over a decade together, I was able to give him up completely, take care of my kids, and trust that I would get him back in a week.

You see, my husband becomes a different person when his family visits. Carlos was born and raised by his mother, his aunt, his grandmother, and his older sisters as a child. He grew up both in a small town a few hours outside of Mexico City and in Mexico City itself. His entire childhood was a world away from my own.

Then, he came here as a 17 year old and has spent the last twenty years becoming American. He is now much more American than he is Mexican. But, he is still, of course, Mexican. So he lives in a constant state of double consciousness, a duality that only really rears its head when he is caught up in both worlds, like when his family visits and he finds one foot in each world.

Every single time his family visits things get tense in our house.Continue reading…    

Black History Month: In Praise of Black Women

Black History Month: In Praise of Black Women

This essay has been in and out of my head for months. I have intended to write down these words in praise of black women as they flow in and out of my life, in and out of my mind, in and out of my heart, perhaps for years. Black women shaped my childhood, my young adulthood, my education, my relationship to television, and my relationship to reading. They influenced my love life and my role as a mother. I haven’t written this essay until now because I never felt like I could do it justice. The words could just never be right enough. I’m still not sure they are.Continue reading…    

Letting Go of Fear: Our Road Trip to Monterey

Letting Go of Fear: Our Road Trip to Monterey

*this article contains an affiliate link to the book The Universe Has Your Back. If you click on the link and make any purchase through Amazon, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. I would highly recommend this book, so if you do buy it, thank you for trusting my recommendation and for supporting my writing!

I’m not sure if I have written this down before, but I know I have told this story in person to many people. Six months ago, when this whole journey into becoming a full time writer, a public speaker, a force for good in the world, a big part of that beginning was letting go of fear. I had to confront demons that were flying in my face faster by the day, by the hour, by the minute. I had to look them in the beady little eyes and say, firmly, “I am not afraid of you. Because you are not real.”

I have come a long way since that day. And I remember it quite clearly. I remember letting it all go and surrendering to the beautiful possibilities of life. I remember knowing, from a place deep within, that whatever happened, wherever my path led, it would be beautiful, and I would welcome it as a new experience to be enjoyed.

Best Laid Plans

So when the opportunity came up to take a weekend trip to Monterey as part of a homeschool trip with our meetup group, I jumped at the chance. My husband and I take Celaya a couple of times a year. The drive down from Hayward is under two hours, and there is so much to do that the trip is worth it every time.

I figured we’d go as a family, stay in a nice hotel, I’d get in a couple of runs on the beach, and we’d look for butterflies at the sanctuary in Pacific Grove. We’d hit the aquarium Monday before heading home.

Then my husband couldn’t get Monday off from work.

Well, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I could take a road trip with my two girls. I had done it plenty of times with Celaya, and could do it with Celaya and Matilda.

Then Celaya got a cold.

Then Matilda got her one year vaccines: varicella (chicken pox) and hepatitis B the Friday before we were planning on leaving.

And she got a fever. And the fever persisted through two days, through Tylenol and Motrin.

And here is where my fear would normally creep in. Here is where I would tell myself that I had done something wrong. I shouldn’t have made those plans. I shouldn’t have schedule her vaccines before a trip. I shouldn’t be taking my kids on a road trip with colds and fevers. I shouldn’t vaccinate my children!Continue reading…    

A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

I was on deadline Friday night. I stayed up until 2AM writing for a client to push to get it all done. I had already extended the deadline far too many times, and I knew if I didn’t get all the writing done before bed, it would spill into the next week. Why? My daughter’s first birthday party was the next day and my whole family was coming to stay for two days. And this is why I forced myself to finally get all my backlogged work done, and after that, why I unplugged: I wanted to take a vacation in my own home.

Vacation From What?

I am starting my own business; it is messy; it is busy; it is organized chaos. My days typically consist of morning writing, a quick motivational piece for my Facebook group for empowered women, then catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, and my own website. All of this takes about an hour, involved finding a quote I love that relates to the empowerment theme of the day, writing my response to said quote, posting on social media, and responding to others’ comments from the night before.

Often, amid this work my children wake up, jump on me, and require breakfast, and, you know, attention. Continue reading…    

Always Be Compassionate: Let Me Persuade You

Always Be Compassionate: Let Me Persuade You

Because I write for clients and I have a million things going on in my head at once, I typically have no problem hitting a 500 word a day limit without addressing the prompts given in my Facebook group, so I don’t always address them. But today’s prompt kept nagging me. “What would you write to persuade someone of something?” Finally, I realized why. I do in fact want to influence every single person I meet to always be compassionate.

Always Be Compassionate

The ABCs of life, right? There are so many opportunities to be kind to others, and you will find, once you try it, that it becomes infectious. It is like a drug. You want more – more opportunities to make people smile, to make people feel good about themselves.

Smile at someone. I am sure you have heard this before. It is really hard not to smile at someone who is smiling at you, especially one of those big, wide, Julia Roberts smiles. You just have to smile back. Try to be the one who initiates the smile. Go around grinning. Why the hell not?

Image: Getty Images North America

Yes, I know Americans are joked about. Why do we insist on smiling all the time? And I’ve heard the feminist argument: “stop telling women to smile!”

But so what? Just freaking smile. It is amazing the effect a smile can have on others as well as on yourself.

Don’t Forget Yourself

In fact, start with yourself. Yes, you count here. Why, why, why do we forget in all of our acts of kindness to also be kind to ourselves?Continue reading…    

The Thing About Advice: You Have to Be Ready

The Thing About Advice: You Have to Be Ready

I typically don’t look for writing prompts. I find inspiration throughout the day, through reading others’ essays, blogs, books, through conversation or an experience. But I am part of this writing group, 500 Words a Day, and a recent prompt asks what advice you would give yourself 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or 1 year ago. I thought about it for a few hours. What advice would I give my past self? But here’s the thing about advice: you have to be ready for it.

Ready For It

In fact, that’s the thing about everything. You could meet the love of your life on the subway 15 years before you are actually ready to connect to him, and you will walk right past each other, uninterested, if you are not ready.

Your dream job will remain completely unavailable to you until you are ready for it, and then you will kill the interview and shoot for the stars in your new position.

I tell my students this all the time. If that college doesn’t accept you, another one will, and you will do well in college when you are ready to. Period. The colleges that don’t accept you aren’t ready for someone like you, and your performance will be based on what you are ready for.Continue reading…    

The Most Important Day of My Life: I Lost Everything

The Most Important Day of My Life: I Lost Everything

I am involved in a 500 words a day challenge with a group led by a writer I admire, Jeff Goins. He recently wrote a book I am listening to called Real Artists Don’t Starve. I am a firm believer in this concept, so I bought the book, and so far, so good. So when the opportunity to join his Facebook group “500 Words a Day” came up, I jumped. Yesterday, I was supposed to write about the most important day of my life.

No Brainer

I thought I had it all figured out. Duh, the day I ran away from home.

I was all set to write about it, until I was talking with my mother this morning.

“I’m at rock bottom.” She sobbed into the phone. “Rock bottom.”

Now, let me say, my mother tends toward the dramatic. She is most certainly not at rock bottom. She is actually at one of the greatest moments of her life. But my mother’s blessing and curse is that she is very childlike. She lives in the moment, like an innocent child does.

This is a truly beautiful thing in many ways.

She gulps down happiness in great waves. She reaches highs like few people I’ve seen.

The downside to this is that the slightest thing can send her spiraling downward.

“Good.” I said calmly into the phone. “Good.”Continue reading…    

Adolescent Freedom: Giving My Children What I Never Had

Adolescent Freedom: Giving My Children What I Never Had

“Ugh, I know, I know.” My mother sighs, on her recent trip here for the New Year. “I was a horrible mother, and I didn’t protect you. I think I’m ready for some tequila now.”

She was, kind of, being dramatic.

And also kind of not.

It is true that she didn’t protect me from my stepfather. He came into my life when I was seven years old. I was willful, strong, confident, and sure of what I wanted. My mother was young and lost in love, stars in her eyes over the high school sweetheart that had returned to her.

He was macho, all bluster and ball swinging.

“You want me to take care of it?” He turned to my mother and asked one night. I was fighting bedtime again, as I always did. He had just moved in with us. I was eight.

And she let him. Continue reading…