Category:

Confessions

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will, envy, pushing past fear, being your best self

On the wall in my office, these words, “Doubt Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Will,” are posted as a reminder. A reminder to not compare myself to others but to work my tail off to be my best self. I want to do better and be better as a human being; as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and writer. First thing’s first, stay in my own lane and don’t even look to the other lanes.

Let’s talk about envy and competition. I hate both because it involves comparing myself against others which is unfair because we’re not the same. Competition takes life and turns it into an unending race rather than the journey that it’s meant to be. It’s exhausting and seldom enjoyable. It’s not the road I want to take.

READ ALSO: A Life that’s Good

How can we enjoy life when we’re constantly measuring ourselves against someone else. How can we compare our worst day to their best and ever feel like we’ve succeeded? How can we even have authentic relationships if comparison enters the picture? My whole life I’ve been pushing comparison to others to the side and trying to ignore it but still, it remains like a soft whisper reminding me of ways that I’m falling short.

I’ll be 1000% honest with you, I struggle with not using others as a measuring stick of my own success. It’s hard because I’m always striving for perfection and that doesn’t even exist so not only am I running this constant race but the finish line keeps moving. Did I mention that I hate running?

Envy steals rational thought

I have the privilege of surrounding myself with hardworking, overachievers and I’m so happy and proud of them. Their hard work is paying off. But sometimes, I find myself asking, “Why not me?” I know it’s petty and childish but it’s not something I deliberately do. I’m genuinely happy for their success and at the same time disappointed in myself. There I go comparing myself to them.

I don’t think any of this is luck. They are not lucky. In fact, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, we know why “other people” are living their best lives and seemingly always succeeding. They are tirelessly working to achieve their goals, they are pushing past the fears to make their dreams a reality and they are sacrificing. There is no such thing as luck, it’s hard work.

Maybe I’m succeeding by someone else’s standards but by my own, I’m treading water. I take full responsibility for this situation. I’m dead afraid of failure. I want to succeed but sometimes I’m so afraid of being exposed as an imposter that it’s easier to hide behind the status quo. I’m a control freak so when I fail the onus is directly on me.

READ ALSO: Words Matter

I try to do everything myself. I have issues trusting others to complete tasks and I always find it easier in the short run to only depend on myself and that’s also a part of why I can’t achieve what I want to. No woman is an island. We all have different strengths. We need each other to succeed. I need to let go. I’m working on that. I’m trying to ask for help when I need it without worrying that I’ll be outed as an imposter.

When I find myself envying my friends, my brain says don’t compare yourself to others but something small inside me feels less than for a moment. I feel like I’ve failed myself. Worse, I feel like I’m not good enough because if I were I’d be the one getting chosen. Then, rational thought kicks in and I remember to stay in my lane. It’s a process.

Success is relative. If I were basing my success on my relationship with my girls and the Big Guy, I’m winning. If I’m basing it on my Instagram, I’m failing. If I’m basing it on my opportunities, it depends on the day of the week.

READ ALSO: Other Shoe Syndrome

For now, I’m trying to follow my own advice and remember that I’m not you and you’re not me. Our definition of success is probably different, as are our priorities. I’m trying to learn to measure myself only against who I was yesterday compared to who I want to be tomorrow. I want to be the best me that I can be and I really am happy for you, even if for 1 split second I wonder why not me.

Do you ever struggle with feeling like an imposter? Do you ever experience envy? Do you ever find yourself asking, “Why not me?” You are not alone, we all have those moments. We’re only human. They key is not to dwell there. Don’t live there. You are better than that and so am I.

How do you move past your envy and remind yourself that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will?

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new year, new perspective, gratitude, rejoice, positivity, happiness

It’s January 2, 2019 and I am finally physically (and mentally) released from restrictions. New Year + New Perspective + gratitude = Happiness! This is what I’m living by these days. My word of year for 2019 is positivity and I want it sprinkled all over my world like confetti.

My priorities are myself, my family, good friends, my health and pursuing my passion in a way that allows me to stay open to all opportunities. I want to be the best me there is. I want to grow deeper in my faith and stiller in my soul.

“I refuse to waste another new year with an old mind. I will rejoice.”

This is my mantra. This year, as the end of 2018 approached, I wasn’t disgusted by 2018. I wasn’t waiting for 2019 to start anew. I had a peaceful feeling wash over me sometime between the time I had my hysterectomy and Christmas where I just started feeling better, more positive. I think I finally hit my rock bottom and just let it all go.

READ ALSO: Resolving to Incite a Revolution

It was weird because I’ve been feeling pretty negative since I broke my leg in 2015. If were being completely honest, I haven’t felt myself since my miscarriage in 2012. I’ve been surviving, making it just in time to put out each next fire. Trying to fake it until I make it but I never really felt like I was going to be myself again. I just kept thinking of that old adage that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I took comfort that someday, I would be stronger.

But after what seemed like forever of feeling like I was hidden from the sunshine under my own personal cloud of despair, suddenly, I felt elated. I felt hopeful in the realest way that I have in years. I felt positive. Positive that my situation was not unsurmountable. That through determination and purposeful intentions, I.Can.Do.Anything. More importantly, I could be fully happy without remorse, pain or guilt.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sitting around giving up. I kept fighting to come back to myself from all the things that were holding me back and pulling me down. I never gave up on myself because I’ve hit rock bottom before and I know that you can come back to a world of beauty and blessing and I know that my life is full of blessings; the Big Guy, my girls, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my health, my career and my opportunities. Things may not be where I want them to be but they could be much worse.

I needed new perspective to overcome the situation. Mentally, I knew that none of these situations were unsurmountable but spiritually, I felt deflated and weak. I knew that I needed to see things from another side to appreciate what I have. But how do you get a new perspective from the bottom of the same hole that you’ve been living in for the past 6 years. The hole that you’ve desperately been trying to pull yourself out of, so much so that your arms are too weak to any longer pull you up but you aren’t ready to give up? That is the question. I didn’t have an answer and then my salvation came from an unexpected place, as it always has for me.

In came in the form of a letter, from my priest reminding me that I needed to attend mass more regularly. It came in the form of a gynecologist who kept her sense of humor when I was desperate for answers. It came in the form of my parents showing up to take care of me when I had my surgery. It came in the form of a friend online who checks on me weekly to make sure that I’m ok and another who sent my family food when I was unable to cook. It came in the form of a husband who never complained when he had to pick up all the slack and always put my health above his sheer exhaustion.

READ ALSO: Best Tech to Help you Get Healthy in the New Year

It came in the form of my daughters making me laugh and talking to me about everything happening in their lives. It came in random hugs, kisses and smiles. It came from a friend online who inspired me with her beginning and her results. It came in the form of a mother-in-law who let me know she always had my back. It came in the form of our dog who sat by my side the whole time I recovered. It came in the form of fresh air and twinkling lights. It came in the form of late night talks with my sister in law, the smiles of my nieces and nephews and my family dancing in the kitchen for no reason at all. It came in the form of more love being bestowed upon me than I thought I deserved.

It came in the form of one editor telling me how important my words were and another giving me a job when I needed it most. It came in the form of a tattoo that helped me process my grief; to let go of the sadness and replace it with peace. It came in the form of driving the entire break to see family and finally on th last day of 2018, driving a couple hours to meet with a couple of my closest friends and talking…letting it all out. These small things, hundreds of what may seem like inconsequential things, filled my soul, gave me a life buoy when I was drowning and gave me the new perspective I needed to push through the misery and into the light.

I’m a work in progress. This is just the beginning. Or maybe it’s the middle because when I think of it, this shift in perspective started when I got my memorial tattoo in November 2017. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, this may all be some foray back into mania, though I hope not. For now, I am being purposeful with my intentions. I am choosing my path instead of running down the dark alley of someone else’s expectations.

Last month, I wrote a list of things that I want to accomplish personally and professionally this year. I’m working on putting my intentions and goals out into the universe, I’m taking action and I’m willfully remaining positive. I’m staying open to all opportunities and saying yes. I’m turning my struggles into fuel that feeds my soul. I am a survivor.

READ ALSO: Firework

Today, I was finally released from physical restrictions and I feel like I can breathe again. I’m moving. I am prioritizing myself. I am not allowing myself to be distracted by things that don’t better me. I am leaving behind people who are toxic to my soul and embracing those who empower and inspire me. Today, I start my journey to becoming more healthy, self aware and not letting fear stand in the way of my dreams.

I’ve been listening to this song “Rejoice” for inspiration and reflective introspection. Maybe it will inspire you to follow your bliss too because we are good enough. We deserve all the blessings and we can make all of our dreams come true.

What inspires you? Are you embracing  New Year + New Perspective + Gratitude + Positivity = Happiness ? If so how?

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The True Story behind my Ghost Photo

Ever wonder how to catch a ghost in a photo? I know some people do. People want proof of the supernatural. I’ve seen some really cool ones of shadowy figures,  legless confederate soldiers floating in a field and orbs but never anything like the one I caught in my photo of my toddler.

It seems like everyone these days have been touched by the supernatural. We live in a world where people enjoy having the piss scared out of them but ghost stories have never much scared me. Zombies are laughable, Vampires are a sexy fetish and werewolves are just big hairy dogs with bad attitudes.

Ghosts are snapshots of the past caught in a loop. Someone dies so suddenly that they don’t realize it and they get stuck but I don’t bother them and they don’t care about me. It’s the same way I think about aliens; maybe they’re out there but I don’t care. I’m not afraid. Life’s too short. I have real living breathing people problems to fixate on like Trump or crazed mass shooters. Who has time to look for ghosts?

I myself am a longtime lover of the horror genre. I watched my first horror movie in the theater when I was 7-years-old. My aunt and Uncle took my 5-year-old brother and I to see it with them. It was a baby swap. They swapped their newborn for the two of us. From then on, I got all my horror books and movies from my 16-year-old aunt. I loved it.

Not only did I watch the Exorcist when I was a kid, I even read the book. I devoured Stephen King. I watched every horror movie I could. They didn’t scare me so much as they intrigued me, with the exception of the Exorcist.

I’m Catholic, I was raised to believe in that shit so that one still scares me. The rest of it, it thrills me but no fear here. Hell, I may have even wished and tried to have telekinesis as a child, like Carrie. I’d totally endure pig blood prom to be able to move shit with my mind. But normally, I don’t believe in what’s not real. However, I may have been made into a believer at my last house.

Now, let me preface this by saying that our house was a new build. I’m leery about old houses because…hello, someone has definitely died in almost every old house. It’s inevitable. But this was a new build. Apparently, I clearly forgot about the Poltergeist loophole. Obviously, having children left me vulnerable and not on my haunted game.

When we lived in that house, the girls were really small. We bought the house when Bella was 5 months old; Gabi was born while we lived there. We live there until Bella was 6.

From the time we moved in, we had lights flicker and our ceiling fan light would come on by itself in the middle of the night. In our previous house (also a new build) stereos and lights would come on in the middle of the night too. The Big Guy always rational would make it all make sense to my superstitious mind.

I was exhausted from babies and the Big Guy would tell me that it was just probably some neighbor who had the same remote and it flipped our lights on. It never dawned on me to question why the hell the neighbor was waking up at 3 a.m. flipping on all the damn lights. I’d snuggle back into my co-sleeping baby and forget about it.

When the girls were about 2 and 4-years-old, the Big Guy had to go live in another state to work so that left me alone with the girls. No coincidence, this is also when I started my blog.

I’d stay up late at night writing and I’d always turn to the hallway where our bedrooms were because I kept catching glimpses of a little girl standing in the hall. I thought it was my girls. And every time, I would walk to the hallway and then enter the bedrooms and my girls were sleeping. They were never in the hallway. NEVER.

I remember having 2 am writing sessions where all the hair would stand up on my neck and I’d get the chills. I just assumed that my body was boycotting my insomniac self. You know how that happens sometimes. Your body gives you a big F you because it needs sleep.

Then there was the time my brothers and the Big Guy were in our media room in the basement late one-night playing video games. When it came time to shut it all down and all the lights were off, all 3 of them saw a red light moving around the room. There was no source. They checked. Again, the Big Guy reasoned it away. My little brother would never spend the night at my house after that.

When Gabs was old enough to stand, we’d catch her in her room sometimes standing in her crib jibber jabbing to the corner. Looking directly up into the corner like someone was there. It creeped me out, a lot but nothing really had happened. Maybe I was just being my usual superstitious Latina self. So, I crossed myself and pretended it wasn’t happening and it was all in my mind.

I’d bring it up to the Big Guy but every single time, his rational engineering mind would say it wasn’t so. In retrospect, I think he was just trying to stop me from becoming all out, balls to the wall drama queen hysterical.

Then after about a year of this happening, one day Gabs comes running into the living room and tells me, “Mommy, Bella just told me…..” and I looked at her and said, “Gabs, Bella’s not here. Remember, Bella is at Kindergarten?”

She looked at me dead serious and said, “No, mommy. I was just playing with her in my room.”

There.was.no.one.in.the.room. I don’t know who the hell she was playing with, but it wasn’t my 5-year-old who was not in the building.

That one freaked me out. Still, nothing tangible. Maybe a toddler with an overactive imagination. That’s good, right?

My husband was still living out of state 5-6 days a week. I was still alone. I had two little girls. I didn’t have time to be ghostbusting or looking for shit that wasn’t there. Plus, I believe that ghosts are snapshots. I’m not scared of some poor sucker that died so suddenly that they don’t realize that they’re gone and they can’t move on. I feel sorry for them. They don’t bother me. I don’t bother me. In case you were wondering about my policy on such things.

However, Exorcist scared the shit out of me. I still haven’t been able to watch The Conjuring again since the first time, when I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks.

Then, one day my sweet toddler who was between 2-3 years old walked up to me while I was sitting in my kitchen chair. She was tiny, so I shot the photo at a down angle. No one else was in the room with us (that we could see).

When I saw the photo, a photo that she has still not seen and probably never will, I literally almost passed out. I legit freaked out like nothing before. My first instinct was that OMG, my husband was in an accident and died or something and this was his spirit…on a loop.

I frantically called my husband, in another state, but no answer which only intensified my belief that something terrible had happened to him. 5 hours later when I finally reached him ( he had been in meetings all day) I sent him the picture, to which he replied, “Gabs looks adorable!”

To which I responded, “Look next to her at.the.disembodied.head!!!!!!!”

Luckily, he was on his way home. I didn’t know what to do. You know that instinct you have set the house on fire and burn it down when you find a monster spider? Well, times that times a million and that’s how I felt. I felt invaded and vulnerable and scared. Was it trying to make contact? Had it already made contact with my baby? Was that who she was talking to?

And then, I learned to live with it. Many people have asked me why didn’t you leave the house. My answer is this, because I couldn’t. My husband lived in a tiny apartment in Iowa at a contracted job. The kids had school and commitments. I had commitments. We had friends and a life. I couldn’t let it all be toppled by a head that photobombed my baby. Right?

It was always in the back of my head. I got used to knowing that something that I couldn’t see but could feel was there. All those “probably nothing” moments became something but I had to choose to not live my life afraid. I had to put my money where my mouth was and not be afraid of ghosts.

I still don’t know who or what was in my house. I never tried to make contact. I’ve watched enough horror movies in my life to know better than to open a gateway of communication. It never bothered us, other than lights coming on and photobombing us this once.

I also stopped watching all of those paranormal investigation shows because, honestly, activity seemed to pick up around Halloween when we’d watch those shows. Maybe it was a coincidence but the first time the radio came on by itself blaring at 3 a.m., it was Halloween night.

We lived there for 2 more years, just me, the girls and our ghost. Yep, I was scared. Nope, I didn’t sleep but we survived. And hell yeah, capturing a ghost in a picture is a lot scarier and a lot less cool than one might think, especially when it is in your own house.

What would you have done if you snapped that photo in your house? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do? Please don’t share your opinion that spirits can attach to people, I’m trying to ignore the sound of someone walking around upstairs. I choose to believe it’s my old house settling.

 

P.S. If you know my Gabs, never speak of this photo to her. She doesn’t know it exists and it would probably freak her out.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Five years ago this morning, I broke the news of my miscarriage to you in a blog post, as I was undergoing my D & E. It was the only way that I could process any of it. It was the only way that I could carry on and your support meant everything to me but every day since, I’ve had to live alone with that loss like we all do. Try to make sense of something so senseless.

Recently, I did something that surprised even me. I shouldn’t have looked. Until, I saw it, in person, in the flesh, it wasn’t “real”. It was just this terrible thing that happened to me five years ago. It was the bill I paid for what is referred to by the medical billing department as a “missed abortion”. It was a child I will never hold. It is the faint whisper of sadness that lingers forever and leaves me melancholy just around the edges. It wasn’t real in the way that you could see it with your own eyes.

But I’ve seen it now and I can’t unsee it.

Last month, we took the girls to Chicago for Spring break. It’s my hometown and the girls have been many times but they’ve never done the touristy things so we took them to some museums and the zoo. It was a fantastic trip.

Then, I saw something that I’ve seen before but with fresh eyes and a heart that’s survived a miscarriage.

As we entered the exhibit, one I’d seen before, I suddenly felt anxious. Like I needed to know. I was borderline obsessive and I couldn’t control myself. No one noticed what I was doing but I think the Big Guy caught a glimpse of the desperation in my eyes as I walked up to the dial upon entering the Your Beginning exhibit and turned it to the first trimester; I wanted to pinpoint specifically the 4th day of the 11th week. What could he do?

grief, loss, anniversary, parenting, miscarriage

 

The exhibit was different than before. It was completely in black, darkness was everywhere and only the fetuses were lit up as if my very soul had put this exhibit together. It is somber. I tried not to do it. You’re not supposed to do it. You’re supposed to carry on. Push it down and pretend it never happened. You’re supposed to move on. Go on living as if your entire life is not tinged by the hole in your heart. 

I didn’t want to make a spectacle with my mom, my sister, my daughters and my husband there. I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole of grief facing anger and sadness head on but I had to know, so I turned the dial.

Such a little thing and to anyone who didn’t know or even just wasn’t paying attention, this was naturally inquisitive behavior. Only I never twisted the dial to progress to the second trimester. Instead, I left it frozen in time, suspended in disbelief, as is my daily existence since that day 5 years ago.

I try not to overthink it or linger too long in my loss. The emotional time bombs are less and less frequent but I remember every single day. I have two children but I am the mother of three but most people don’t know that.

It’s not like I wear a t-shirt that says so. It’s not like I’m marked in any way but on the inside, I am scarred. I don’t howl like an injured animal as I did on that day or fall apart anymore; so silently I continue on, remembering but not making too big of a deal about it.

Pregnancy loss is so common that some people believe it’s almost normal. I could never subscribe to that way of thinking because for me it was profound. For me, losing my pregnancy changed me forever. But still, after a while, it feels like it happened to someone else and you learn to live with it. It feels like a wound that’s healed and the scar has faded and you hide it beneath your clothes so no one has to look at it or think about it or feel sorry for you ever again.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

But you want to feel it. The pain makes it real. It reminds you that it happened. The pain is the only thing that proves your baby was here at all. So, I looked and now, I can never forget.

The scarred wound of my miscarriage has been ripped wide open.

On the morning of my D & E, I frantically demanded that they perform another ultrasound. In complete desperation, I refused surgery without one more ultrasound. I was desperate for rescue. I needed this to all be a mistake. I needed my baby to be alive.

But when they did the ultrasound, there in black and white, the perfect baby with absolutely no heartbeat. He looked like he was sleeping. Like a little astronaut exploring the space of my uterus and that was the last thing I saw before my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. I broke, just before they wheeled me into the operating room and I’ve detached myself as much as I can since.

My heart still aches but it’s in survival mode. But on that day in April at the Museum of Science and Industry, I purposefully opened my wound. The pain makes me feel closer to my baby. I walked into the exhibit and I slowly made my way to the 11 wks. Fetus. Yes, the exhibit has fetuses from conception until 40 weeks in formaldehyde. Then, I saw it, the closest thing to my reality; 11-weks and 4 days and 11-weeks and 6-days.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

I felt the wind get knocked out of me as it has been almost every time I think of what will never be. My eyes began to go blurry and the room began to spin. It was hard to breathe. There it was; bigger than I’d thought; a fully formed person; with 10- fingers and 10-toes and ears and a tiny little mouth and eyes. It wasn’t a “pregnancy” that I lost, it was a person.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

 

I wanted to run away and howl, like I did in my car on that day 5 years ago. But I was frozen and trying to digest the truth. I couldn’t speak. I only lingered. Truthfully, part of me never wanted to leave because it was like seeing my baby for the first time. I know it wasn’t my baby but it was what my baby would have looked like could I have seen him; touched him; held him in my arms.

My miscarriage robbed me of all of that.

No one said a word. I was like thin glass in an earthquake and it was taking everything inside me to not collapse and sob like a baby on the floor. My legs were shaky. I could feel myself getting wobbly. It hurt reopening that wound but it was something I needed to do. In some small way, it gave me closure just knowing/seeing what was. It made him real and less than a memory cloaked in sadness and emptiness.

On this day, I forgive myself and give myself over to the grief. I get no birthdays to celebrate with my third baby but I will never forget he existed, if only briefly. Every year on the 1st of May, for the rest of my life, I will be alone with my grief and allow myself to remember the worst day of my life because it’s the only tangible memory I have of my third child.

Today, I am frail and vulnerable and my heart is heavy because my arms are empty and my house is filled with the laughter of one less than it is supposed to be and I can never forget any of that.

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fat, weight loss, change, women's health, on being fat, obesity

Being fat is not what I wanted to be. Admitting that I am fat is even harder. I hate saying those words. For me, it’s admitting defeat. As if somehow writing it down and posting it makes it real.

I have eyes. I can plainly see that I’m overweight. I have been for years and all the pulling and tugging at my clothes will not change that. Most days I feel like I’m wearing a suit of shame like my weight is some sort of punishment.

Being fat is hard.

It’s even harder being out of shape. I’ve decided to start working out again. These days working on my abs feels like working out while being 9-months pregnant because I am so out of shape and my stomach is so massive. When I sit down, my stomach literally touches my lap. It disgusts me. When did this happen?

I wish I were one of those women who didn’t care what size her clothes were, what her body looked like in clothes or what people thought of her looks. It’s weird because while I couldn’t care less what people think of my opinions or beliefs or me as a person, I have always been consumed by what people might think of what I look like, more specifically my body. Believe me, I’ve tried to change my way of thinking but still, I feel like being fat is my biggest and most embarrassing failure in life.

I’ve been binge watching TLC shows about being overweight; My 600 lb. life and My Big Fat Fabulous Life. I find myself baffled that people have let themselves get that overweight. Then afraid it could happen to me. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to finding fabulousness in being overweight at all but I am glad others can love their bodies at all sizes.

I used to restrict calories and work out to the extreme. I used to be good at it; too good at it. I was masterful at the art of willpower and self-control, where eating was concerned. The rest of the world could be spinning out of control but I held tight the reins on my food intake. My entire world could be off the hook but my stomach was always tight. When people told me that I looked “sick”, it made me happy because I felt like I was doing something right.

Food is an addiction, worse than any other because while if you are an alcoholic or a drug addict you can choose not to partake. You can quit drugs and you can quit alcohol. It’s f*cking hard but you can do it. You can’t quit food. Well, you can, but you will die. I know, I’ve tried and was pretty successful and unfortunately, being too thin because you are obsessed with your weight and food intake is just as terrible as being too fat because you are eating too much. Being too skinny is just as unhealthy as being too fat. I know because I’ve been both.

My food issues started around the time I turned 7, at least that’s when the photos show that I gained weight. I wasn’t overweight at all but I wasn’t rail thin anymore. I’d love to be able to tell you what triggered it but I can’t because, honestly, I can’t remember most of what happened the years of my life between the summer I turned 7 and sophomore year in high school. It’s all a blur. I just remember wanting to fade into the background.

My dad was an abusive alcoholic who was always angry and my mom shut down to survive. I felt abandoned and the only attention I got was unwanted so I wanted to be invisible and somewhere along the way, I did that because everyone knows the quickest way to not be seen is to become overweight so I hid there, unnoticed. People stare at beautiful things but no one wants to make eye contact with the ugly of the world.

Being fat was my way to disappear.

fat, weight loss, change, women's health, being fat, obesity

I’m realizing that somewhere in that haze is the answer to the question of why I have always battled my own self-image and why I have such a problem accepting the skin I live in. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been at war with my body, my health. Always beating it into submission or ignoring it all together. When I write it down, it looks like a metaphor for my childhood. Maybe that’s the entire issue.

But how do I stop? How do I learn to love my body, myself, unconditionally when I never felt that as a child? It always felt conditional. I feel like by having my own daughters and loving them so fiercely and unconditionally, I’m slowly learning that everyone deserves that kind of love and acceptance…even me.

Even if you haven’t experienced being fat, how do you learn to love something that you’ve spent your entire life wishing you could change?

02172015

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Leukemia, Pediatric cancer, leukemia & lymphoma society, how to survive leukemia

My nephew was diagnosed with Leukemia at 2-years-old. I don’t normally share this story because it’s not my story to share but today, it’s time to speak the words.

“My nephew had leukemia.”

To be honest, I’ve been too afraid to say the words out loud like somehow the words themselves might give the leukemia power and bring the blood cancer fates down on us again.

As a mother, one of my biggest fears is losing one of my children. I often say that I don’t know how I would survive it but the truth is, I know exactly how one survives it. I just don’t ever want to have to.

In 1996, a decade before I was a mother, myself, I was an aunt. Yes, I was that crazy, (probably) over doting, obnoxious aunt to my first nephew, Alex. I’m serious, I had his baby pictures on my nightstand. It scared many of a date when I was single.

I come from a large Latino family and, in our family, family is everything. Mi casa es su casa. What’s mine is yours and we love each other’s children as much as we love our own so baby Alex was fair game as far as all of us were concerned. Alex was the pride and joy of my brother, Carlos and his wife, Jodie. Alex was the first of the next generation of the Cruz kids and we loved that kid more than a fat kid loves cake. If only love could make you immune to the cruelties of the world.

Leukemia, Pediatric cancer, leukemia & lymphoma society, how to survive leukemia

When Alex was only 2-years-old the unthinkable happened, Alex was diagnosed with T-Cell A.L.L (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).

With that diagnosis of leukemia, as a family, our world crashed down all around us. The world as we knew it ceased to make sense. I questioned everything I’d ever believed or knew because how could this be happening to a child.

I wasn’t a mother myself at the time so I couldn’t fully understand what that diagnosis felt like as a parent. Hearing my brother’s voice on the phone, hundreds of miles away, with no family around; the pain and anguish in his voice was palpable when he delivered the news. I knew he was broken but he was stoic for his son.

I hung up the phone and sobbed, cursed and prayed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. I just knew that this couldn’t be happening. That moment changed all of us. In many ways, it has defined the person I am today.

Experiencing that kind of vulnerability and helplessness makes you realize that every single day is important. Every moment counts. Every word, deed and action of your life means something because your moment may be someone else’s lifetime so embrace life.

Life is fickle and just as quickly as you are crying tears of joy as they are laying your precious newborn baby onto your chest, you can be holding back tears of sadness as you fight for their life. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are someone’s everything.

My brother and his wife are two of the strongest people I know. When you are a parent of a seriously ill child, you lose the luxury of choosing to collapse in a pool of snot and tears when the world beats you down, you just have to suck it up and be strong for your children no matter how broken and vulnerable you are feeling yourself. Once you get behind closed doors, you can collapse, cry, scream and rage against the world.

You have to be brave for the both of you. You stay strong for your child until you make it out the other side; healthy and happy. My brother and his wife are still two of the strongest people that I’ve ever known.

Back in those days, I was terrified every time the phone rang when I saw North Carolina on the caller I.D. On one particular night, I saw my brother’s number. I held my breath and answered the phone, as I always did in those days. My brother recounted the day’s events, heavily uttering the words that he had to lay across his toddler to hold him down so the doctors could do a spinal tap as my confused 2-year-old nephew screamed,

“I hate you, Papi!”

I could hear my brother’s voice cracking as his heart was breaking.

That’s cancer. Doing the hard things to save your loved one even when it breaks your heart. Watching as the person you love is in pain, wanting desperately to take their place and being helpless to take it away.

This all happened when Carlos was only 22-years-old. My brother and his wife survived Alex’s leukemia with grace, love and hope. Thanks to so many amazing people (doctors, nurses, family and friends) including Wake Forest Baptist Medical Hospital and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They went on to have 3 more beautiful children.

Leukemia, Pediatric cancer, leukemia & lymphoma society, how to survive leukemia

Alex went into remission and has not had any relapses. Today, my beautiful nephew, the firstborn Cruz grandchild is a 21-year-old sweet, caring young man. He is our miracle. He is a survivor and we are blessed every single day that we have him here with us. Other families are not so fortunate.

Since then, my brother and his family have hosted countless events to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. It’s the one charity that I never say no to when asked it donate. How can we ever repay the debt of a child’s life?

This year my brother was nominated for the honor of being The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2017 Man & Woman of the Year campaign. He deserves it. He is a devoted husband and father who is a pillar of the community and does his best to give back to a world that gave him his son back.

Leukemia, Pediatric cancer, leukemia & lymphoma society, how to survive leukemia

As a family, we have set a goal to raise $100,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society between today and June 1, 2017. I know it’s ambitious but that’s how we Cruz kids roll. We go big, especially when it’s such an important cause.

I am humbly asking for your support in our efforts to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers and to assist patients and families as they battle this disease. No donation is too small or too large. Every single dollar counts towards finding a cure. Your donation could help save another parent from having to live through this excruciating experience.

There are two easy ways to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society find a cure:

 

  1. Make a personal gift. (Your donation is a tax-deductible contribution.). Go to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society campaign Web site and make your contribution at https://www.mwoy.org/pages/in/neindiana17/dbeckp

 

  1. Invite your business or organization to be a corporate sponsor.

$25,000 – Presenting Sponsor

$ 15,000 – Platinum

$ 10,000 – Gold

$ 5,000 – Silver

$ 2,500 – Bronze

$ 1,000 – Bronze

$1,000, $500 or $250 – Grand Finale Program Ad

I want to personally say thank you from all of us; it truly means everything to us.If you want to learn more about what the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is doing please go here for latest updates.

Leukemia, Pediatric cancer, leukemia & lymphoma society, how to survive leukemia

If you can donate to help us meet our goal of raising $100,000 by June 1, 2017 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society please go here and donate whatever you can.

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Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Do you love music? I think most people do. I feel like there should be a soundtrack to life and for each milestone, there should be a designated song playing in the background always. I think the world would be a better place if music was just always running in the background.

It probably has something to do with the way I grew up. My parents are both very big music lovers and there was always some kind of music playing in the house when I was growing up. Whether it was Mexican music playing softly in the background during dinner while my dad told us stories of growing up in Mexico, nursery rhymes playing when one of the children was small of soft jazz playing as my dad held my mom and swayed through the house on any given Sunday, music was always playing. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

We do the same at our house. But instead of playing music on huge speakers we use portable speakers and instead of blasting a boom box in one room of the house, we now have Google Chromecast which makes it easy and affordable to play our music from our devices in any room, or multiple rooms in the house.

 

Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

 

Google Chromecast Audio is available at Best Buy. Google Chromecast Audio enables you to play music on your speakers, new or old, wirelessly from your phone, laptop or tablet.  Because Chromecast Audio uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, you can stream crystal clear hi res sound. It is the best of all worlds and makes the transition from the boom box to your tech devices effortless. Because Chromecast Audio uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, you can stream crystal clear hi res sound on your new or old speakers.

Listen to your favorite tunes on your speaker/

By using your phone, it’s easy to play, pause, or change the volume from anywhere in the home. And while streaming, you can still text or call without interrupting what’s playing or draining your battery.

1)      Crystal clear sound, powered by the cloud     Use Chromecast Audio to stream over Wi-Fi which has many advantages over Bluetooth including higher sound quality.

2)      Enjoy hundreds of your favorite audio apps

Stream millions of songs, radio stations, and podcasts through apps like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Google Play Music. Find more at chromecast.com/apps

3) Play music everywhere with Multi-room

Now you can easily fill every room in your home with synchronous music. Simply group Chromecast Audio devices together so you can listen to the same song on multiple speakers making curating the best life soundtrack that much easier.

Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

What would be the top three songs on the soundtrack for your life and why?

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mom low point, parenting, motherhood, doing your best, parenting fail, judgement

Have you ever had a mom low point that was so rough that it knocked you right back on your butt and made you feel like you were doing absolutely everything wrong? Being a mom is hard. I mean question yourself, cry after they go to bed, guilt-ridden, love them so fiercely that sometimes it feels like you might die…hard. Sometimes it’s so hard that I just want to throw my hands up and walk away and other times, I want to crumple up on the floor and assume the fetal position but other times, like tonight, when I feel like a complete failure, my instinct is to fight as hard as I can for what is certainly the most precious and important thing in my life, my girls.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t post too often during the holidays. I was in a proverbial Nutcracker dug hole. You see, I had this dream of what my daughters’ childhood would look like and it was the complete opposite of mine. I wanted them to have extravagant parties (because I had none). I wanted them to be well rounded and that meant culture so there needed to play an instrument, play a sport and learn a language and on top of all of that, I expected good no GREAT grades. Okay, I had some of that but I had a lot of hard times and dysfunction and I never wanted any of that for them. Bottom line, I wanted to protect them from any hardship but I’ve realized hardships come in many different forms.

My rule was if they wanted to try it, I was going to support it but still, I had expectations of my daughters but I was mindful not to put labels on them or to compare them to others or to be too hard on them. When I was a small child, I was labeled “gifted” (I hate that stupid term. It’s meaningless.) because of my IQ but all that did was pigeonhole me onto the college prep FastTrack, from about 7-years-old on, I had no choice in the matter. My life was laid out for me.

Even when all my grades were A’s, the unavoidable, “why aren’t they A+s?” always followed. I never felt good enough and there was no time or budget for me to do frivolous things like extracurriculars unless they were school provided. In fact, when all of my friends were taking things like typing and art in high school, I was taking what today would be considered AP everything, plus on the newspaper, the yearbook and taking 2 foreign languages. I graduated with a gold seal on my diploma but I hated school because it was just layered upon layer of expectations for me. It wasn’t about experiences; it was about winning. What the prize was, I never figured out. It must have been that f*cking meaningless gold seal. In return, I have never felt adequate enough. Ever. That is the last thing I want for my children.

I’ve been keeping my mom shit together pretty good over the years, sure it’s held together by duct tape and bubble gum like I’m the effing mom MacGyver but I thought I was doing a good job. Sure, I have an occasional mom low point but mostly, I thought my mom skills were on point. I tell my kids not to measure themselves against others, and yet, I almost constantly measure my failures against my friend’s perceived triumphs. I tell my girls they are perfect but all I do is see my own flaws. I am parenting the do as I say not as I do way and it’s not what I wanted. Not at all.

Anyways, the girls are, by all accounts, thriving. They play the violin, dance in the city’s ballet youth company, they tap and do jazz, there is gymnastics and cheer and oh, yes, choir plus the grades are always all “A”s but there are no recesses, no playdates, no rest and no down time. Every minute is filled with STUFF and for what? In 12 years, who is going to care if they did all of this? They’re missing experiences and for the first time ever, the report card didn’t show all “A”s. I’m failing my children again. Alert: Mom low point!

I know that is not the end of the world but the thing is it wasn’t because my kids aren’t smart enough, it’s because they simply didn’t have the time to dedicate to their homework because they were so overbooked. They had to miss school for performances and then they got sick because they were so run down. Now, I’m sitting here feeling like the world’s shittiest mom because I let this happen to them. I allowed this perfect storm of disappointment to come into their lives when I’m the one who should have protected them from it.

Friends and family (including the Big Guy) have been telling me for years to cut it back to save myself a headache but I would not relent because it felt selfish. Now, I see that I need to cut things back because it’s too much for them and that’s all it’s ever really been about. So today, I’m getting rid of things in our lives. I’m cutting the fat so that we can enjoy these few years they have left at home. I don’t care if they are not doing all the things.

Parenting today is nothing like when my parents raised me. We did less and they were accountable for less. My God, I grew up in the time of no seatbelts and riding in the back of pick-up trucks. I played outside until the streetlights came on and I walked all over town with my friends, with no cell phone or chip. The goal was graduating high school without going to jail or ending up pregnant or a serial killer. By the standards, my parents did a bang up job. But things are different now, parenting is not about getting by. It’s a measure of your worth as a human being, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent because if it’s not about the kids…what’s it all been for? That’s not just my own opinion, it’s societies. If you’re a stay-at-home parent and your child is not perfect, you suck. Well, I SUCK.

Some days I feel like I am failing so hard at being a mom but then other days, I feel like I am absolutely killing it. You know those days when everything goes smoothly and no one is throwing a tantrum, stomping or arguing? The days when you are so happy to be their mom that you feel like your heart just might burst wide open. All the terrible mom low points are worth those days. The days when you are driving in the car singing at the top of your lungs and laughing and loving each other so hard that you feel invincible. Those days rock my world. For me, happiness is this.

mom low point, parenting, motherhood, doing your best, parenting fail, judgement

My goal is to be more present, more engaged and focus on moments with my children not all the things or all the benchmarks of what is expected of a “good mom”. I am a good mom. I love my girls. We just got so caught up in doing what was expected of us that we forgot to do what feels best for our family; what actually is best for our family.

Have you ever had a moment in parenting that made you reassess your entire process? What was your mom low point?

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mommy coma,motherhood, coma, parenting

I feel like I’ve been in a mommy coma for the past 10 years. While all of you are trying to find your way back to who you were before you had your kids, I think I’ve spent so much time putting out fires that I forgot to enjoy the last 10 years of motherhood. I know I was there, I saw the photos and I have the wrinkles to prove it. I just wish that I could have actually been in the moment more.

There’s been so much “getting by” that I completely forgot to be present. I’m not sure what suddenly jarred me awake this week. I think it was the funeral Tuesday that reminded me of how temporary life is. Nothing is forever and time is ticking away whether we’re enjoying it or not. I know I can’t be present for every single thing but I want to at least be mentally present for those things I am there for because if not, what’s the point of any of it?

Why am I wasting my time putting out fires and worrying about what other people think my life should look like? I should be having tea parties and soaking in every single second that I am privileged enough to have with these amazing people I get to call my daughters and my husband. I should be creating experiences not worrying about having all the things or capturing the perfect photo. I just want the perfect moment of being there. Life is messy and beautiful and not always picture perfect.

motherhood, coma, parenting, mommy coma

I should be writing from my heart not overthinking things? When did this all happen? Sometime in my coma, I became someone I don’t even recognize. I’ve put myself into a prison cell made up of what I thought my life should look like instead of following my heart and making this life of mine, this world I live in look and feel the way I want it to; the way my daughters deserve. I’m a grown up, I can choose my own way; my own happiness. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to but for some reason, I’ve put these rules and expectations in place of what I think I should be by other people’s standards and not meeting those standards means failure and, anyone who knows me, knows I hate failure.

I’ve been angry disguised as disgruntled by the status quo when really I could just choose to be happy doing more to be the change and talking less; being less filled with angst. Who am I tantruming for anyways? Certainly not my children.

They need me to be their champion not a martyr. I’ve spent so much time trying to teach them to become who I think they should be that I forgot to just listen and appreciate them for exactly who they are because really, they’re pretty fucking great.

I’ve spent years telling them to be who they are and to never let anyone make them into someone else when all the while they were, only I didn’t see it. I was blind in my mom coma trying to make this picture perfect childhood and life, when there is no such thing. There is only happiness. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for them.

Once again in motherhood, as in the rest of my life, I’ve found myself in my own way. I’m the one stopping me. So, I’m reprioritizing. There’s going to be more listening, more laughing and more doing and a lot less talking, and less yelling and being frustrated. I’m letting go a little bit.

The goal is happiness. Period.

How do you avoid the mommy coma and find your happiness?

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