My Happy Place

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Sometimes our expectations do not match our reality, and that can cause quite a bit of internal conflict.

I expect my home to be my happy place. Where I relax, unwind, meditate, and rejuvenate. I expect to be in my room in silence. To watch television, read a book, or write without interruptions. I expect for things to be where I left them, and to have my privacy respected. Unfortunately, I live with 4 other people who have differing opinions on what privacy and personal space mean. I’m asked a series of questions the moment I step into the house. I am the family psychologist, pharmacist, scapegoat, and emotional interpreter, among other things.

Yet, I still come home every day under the delusion that I will have quiet/peaceful time. When that doesn’t happen I become upset, tense, and because it’s too late to begin a discussion on why I don’t want to hear a laundry list of problems as I eat my dinner, I hold it all in and push through.

We can’t change anyone but ourselves. Sometimes we can’t explain our needs with any more clarity or patience. The only solution is to manage your own expectations, emotions, and reactions.

I have learned that my home is not my happy place, despite being grateful to have it, and usually being eager to return to it. No, my happy place is walking aimlessly on my lunch break. It’s window shopping in Soho and 34th street. It’s walking through the aisles of Barnes and Noble, reading back covers, and feeling the texture of brand new journals. Home is where ever I am alone with my thoughts.

When we can’t change our reality, we must adapt to it. It’s time to find and create our happiness elsewhere.

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I Did Everything Right

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Humans of New York published a story about a woman who witnessed her friend die. She stepped away for a few minutes, and returned to see her friend face down at the bottom of her pool. She goes on to explain how much she prayed while the ambulance was on it’s way. She explained how close she’d been feeling to God lately. Explained all the things she’d been doing to strengthen her faith and her relationship with God. She was hoping her friend would live and this would be part of her testimony.

He didn’t make it.

Now she wakes up and says Thank You, but her relationship with God is strained.

I recall a friend asking me, what kind of God allows children to be murdered? I didn’t have an answer for her.

What I did have were examples of overwhelming faith. People who had every reason to give up, to decide this life just wasn’t for them. People who have gone through gut wrenching tragedies but still managed to keep going, to stand tall. They attributed their strength, their peace in the mist of chaos, to their faith.

What I know now and what I choose to believe is that God is not a puppeteer. He is not manipulating events to create a Utopia for His followers. We pray, but this isn’t Burger King, we don’t get to have it our way just because we ask. He answers our prayers because of grace. There’s no correlation to our actions, past or present.

I continue to believe because I’m aware that believing in God, is what has allowed me to make peace with a lot of my experiences, and anxieties.

So to this young woman I say, continue saying Thank You. I wish you peace, and I hope one day you can reconcile your heart and your mind in regards to your faith and this experience.

 

 

 

Not About That Life

I’ve been reading Quiet by Susan Cain for months now. As a proud introvert, this book has changed my life! I’ve never been able to so eloquently and clearly describe what I’ve been feeling my entire life, the way Cain and all her sources have. Quiet describes introverts from a historical, social, and scientific perspective and is a gold mine of information.

I’ve even gone as far as underlining key parts. I’ve defiled a book! That’s how great this information is.

I’m up to the part where Cain is describing how parents (introverted/extroverted) should handle an introverted child. She’s giving all this advice about baby steps, encouragement, understanding etc., and I’m all about it. I think to myself I lived this! I can totally help my kid feel comfortable and at ease with their own temperament.

When discussing recess or play dates, Cain suggested the parent could even make the introduction between the children to get things started. Immediately a surge of anxiety and fear shot through me. It just got real! I literally sat on the train trying to figure out how 1) I’d get the courage to walk up to a child I do not know and say hi, and 2) What I would say to a five year old to get them to play with my kid. I could not come up with one opener…for a conversation with a 5 year old.

After considering my dilemma for a couple more minutes, I decided my husband will just have to pick up the burden of making friends for the whole family. There’s just no other option. Like, I’ll make an effort to work on this before any kids come into the picture, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t just sit with my kid in a corner and play…

Safe to say, I’m not ready!

Something Borrowed

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In the past few weeks, I lost someone I cared about, and 3 of my friends also lost a loved one. Unfortunately, you never think it’ll happen to you until it does. You never think you’ll be reading news articles about someone you know, or planning a funeral for a friend your age, until you get the air knocked out of you and you realize this isn’t a terrible dream.

These past few weeks have made me think carefully about what makes me happy, and how I interact with the people around me. I don’t want to spend my life in an apathetic haze, when there are people actively chasing their dreams, being gunned down, or diagnosed with terminable illnesses. I also don’t want to be in a position where I lose someone and am overwhelmed with the guilt of not telling them how much they meant to me, not giving them enough of me while I still could.

I think about my partner, and I’m anxious for the day we can wake up to each other, and spend our mornings and evenings together. Yet, I also consider all the moments tragedy could strike. We have discussed marriage, children, future Halloween and Comic Con outfits, you name it, we’ve probably talked about it. He’s the type of guy you can’t wait to introduce your kids to. Like fresh out the womb I want to be like “Hey kid, you see this guy right here? He’s you dad, best man in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and he’s 100% yours. He was made for this job! You sir/madam have the best dad ever, now go and squeeze his finger.” That’s legit the first conversation I’ll have with my child. Now imagine wrapping your head around the idea that just days after that beautiful moment, this wonderful man can be taken away from you.

Crazy right?

Let’s take a bit further, you’re 80 years old, you have kids, and grandchildren, you’ve been through it all. He’s become a part of your every day, of every moment. Then without warning, one morning he doesn’t wake up. The decades you shared together aren’t comforting. It almost makes it much worse to have these thoughts to look back on. Not too long ago, I told myself my heart couldn’t bear it. I prefer not to be lifted up, if I’ll eventually come crashing down. I thought it better to shield myself and keep myself leveled, instead of basking in joy.

But that’s no way to live.

Spending your life “protecting yourself” can bring on even more guilt, when you realize how your happiness affects those around you. How cherishing the moments of pure joy can be enough to get someone through a terrible time. Why keep that away from someone? I can’t even begin to prepare myself for the awful things the future can hold, but I can enjoy today. I can be present today, today I can make the decision to love and be kind. I can decide to take the high road, to lose this particular battle in the interest of peace. I’ve read and been told that nothing we have in this world belongs to us, not material things, not family, not friends. Everything we consider ours we’re actually just borrowing. So enjoy what you have, while you have it, so that when it’s time to let go you can do so with a full heart.

 

 

 

 

Keep Moving

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Pause is not a function life offers.

After work last night I went out for drinks with 2 women who exude strength and confidence. We spent hours at a bar discussing our career woes, family drama, and relationships. The theme of the night seemed to be ish is hitting the fan, ALL the fans. Actually ish is hitting the fan, the walls, the windows. Things just aren’t going well, yet every morning we suit up, get to work, and do what has to be done. We take the foolishness people throw our way, we run errands, make plans to rule the world. And we do it all whether through smiles or tears.

We do not stop. This is life, something will always go wrong, and you can’t live waiting for the good days. This is the journey and we have to accept it, all of it.

Recently it seems like I’ve been getting a series of bad news. Yet, after returning from vacation and learning about the loss of a friend I feel impenetrable. I am not concerned about the impossible deadlines, the disrespect, and outright plagiarism of my work. I’m not allowing myself to get sucked into this dark cloud of worry, anxiety, and pity. It won’t help me get out of my current situation so I’m trying my absolute best not to straight up pounce on some people.  Life cannot be wasted away with all this foolishness, it’s not healthy, and certainly not worth it.

During those 4/5 hours at the bar I realized just how strong we are. We are taking on the world despite the constant battles we face from all areas. People are really trying to tear us down on a regular basis, but we are straight annihilating the game! We know our skill level, our worth, and we are not letting anyone take us down. So if it seems like everything is going wrong, I say keep going! Slow down to reflect, regroup, create plan B, C, or X, but do not give up. Don’t lock yourself away, do not resign yourself to the circumstances.

Keep going, trust me you got it in you.

 

 

There’s A Plan

The past few days I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to reflecting on Yordan, his life and his death. As a Christian I believe there’s a purpose for everything, and God has a plan for our lives. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of plan involves a healthy, happy, hard working 27 year old to be shot and killed just a year after arriving in the US. Here is what I came up with:

In about a years time, Yordan traveled through and explored several countries on his journey to the US. Lived and experienced life in NYC with his family, visited his friends in Miami, and finally his friends in Texas. Considering he’d only seen Cuba up until he was 26, this must have been a pretty spectacular year for him.  He stepped foot in countries some of us have only seen in pictures, and was able to reunite with friends and family he’d recently only seen through Facebook and old photographs.

What if God’s plan was to give Yordan 1 final, epic year? What if the plan was to have him experience things he’s been dreaming about all his life, and then end that year with a moment that would serve as a catalyst in the lives of everyone he cared about? What if the purpose of his death was to give everyone who knew and loved him a wake up call? We’re living on borrowed time, and nothing we have actually belongs to us.Yet, we hold on to material things, we hold off on following our dreams, we settle for mediocrity,  we let the smallest infractions ruin our days,weeks, and relationships. We focus so much of our energy on inciting conflict, noting the negative, getting the upper hand.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us in line, to force us to reevaluate our choices. Maybe Yordan is at God’s right hand at this moment basking in understanding, looking down at his loved ones and seeing their hearts change. Seeing their minds recalculating and deciding on something better. Maybe God’s smiling at him and saying “That’s all you, you’re saving all those lives.” Heck, maybe his dad is with him too saying “Estoy tan orgulloso de ti hijo.”

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Sure this is all speculation, and I can’t pretend to know God’s plan for anyone, but I say this is a solid guess. With this theory I’ve made peace with his death, and I’m started to realize the importance of showing love in the smallest of ways. Interestingly enough, I’ve reunited with a family who has a knack for it. Folks who have a way of making you feel special and loved within minutes.

Can’t be a coincidence, right?

 

Be Kind

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The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions.

I spent a magical 10 days in the Dominican Republic, getting to know my homeland and spending time with my mother’s childhood/life friends. I saw a happiness in my mother I hadn’t seen in years. I saw her laugh wholeheartedly, smile broadly, and share her day to day frustrations with someone who understood her in a much deeper level than I. My heart was warmed by everything I took in those 10 days.

Prior to returning to NYC, my grandmother suddenly became blind in one eye. The week of our return was spent in and out of the hospital, translating, praying, and waiting for results. She’s still blind in one eye, but she’s home. My anxiety and my fears were heightened for a while, but have now lowered to a lull. I’m thankful her blindness was not an indication of something much worse.

I spent several days with my boyfriend once back in NYC. We laughed, had dinner, went shopping, partied. We enjoyed each other’s company completely. We basked in our joy, discussed our future, and spend time with close friends. We were on a high.

Yesterday afternoon my heart sank deep into my chest at the receipt of terrible news. A close friend was gunned down in the Texas club V Live. He was the nephew of my brother’s girlfriend, his name was Yordan Izquierdo. He arrived from Cuba about a year ago, hoping to work and provide for his family back home. He spent the holidays, and most BBQ’s with my family, so he was family. He moved to Texas about a month ago for a business opportunity. He was 27, kind, hard working, a chill dude. His family would like for him to return home to Cuba. I’m heart broken, I wish I could have embraced him tighter the last time we said goodbye.

Between tears and moments of reflection, the words that keep coming back to me are, be kind. Our time, our energy, should be spent being kind. It should be spent telling those we love how we feel about them, and showing it to them. The things we worry about, get worked up about, all seem irrelevant when we consider our entire world can change in one second. There are so many things out of our control, but kindness is something we can share to ease the pain of what we may come our way.

Let’s be kind.

 

 

 

Unsolicited Advice #01

You do not live in a vacuum. Your actions affect the people around you. There’s a thread woven between you and all those who you come into contact with. Never assume you can live your life as you please and it not in some way impact others. Whether you see the effects of your decisions or not, something is changing, someone is seeing or feeling things a bit differently. It’s never just you.

Now whether your care what that impact is, or consider the consequences your problem, is a different matter entirely. I say aim to live a life cognizant of the potential aftermath of your decisions, words, and actions, good or bad. 

Road Trip

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Sort of…

I’ve had my license for about 4/5 years now. I don’t drive often because I’m usually in Manhattan where parking is such a hassle, I’m better off commuting for an hour. Unfortunately, my ENTIRE family has little to no trust in my driving skills. If I’m the only option for a driver, usually folks opt out of the activity, super rude.

Over the years the trust has improved, but not by much. The farthest I’ve driven is to Long Island, considering I live in Queens and right next to LI, that’s not saying much. So when my partner and I had to get to Palmerton, PA for the Spartan race and there was no public transportation available, I knew I had to drive.

We rented a car, a lovely red Kia Versa I’ve fallen in love with. It was the first time I’ve ever rented a car. With my partner as GPS extraordinaire I set off on what should have been a 2 hour trip to Palmerton, PA. I got on bridges, drove through tolls, next to 16 wheelers, on the interstate, and after 3 hours and wading through traffic we made it! In one piece.  At one point I even hit up a drive thru. It was GLORIOUS!

The trip was littered with firsts. When I returned 2 days later, I felt incredibly proud and 100% confident in my driving skills. This experience won’t effect my family’s opinion much, but from now on when people second guess my driving skills I’ll smile and bask in how utterly wrong they are.

Lesson? Listen to your gut feeling and go for it! Your assessment is probably on target.