Class of 2016

Equity School

 

It is an honor for me to stand before you tonight.   I take this privilege with great appreciation.  There is always a first time for everything, and this is my first time to be granted with this grand honor. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity and the trust placed in me.

A few months have gone by after my visit to you in your school grounds.  I was kindly invited by Mr. Rodríguez to meet with you and share about my passion in the world of psychology that day.  I don’t recall the exact nature of what I shared with you, all I know is that I was among a group of people who shared significant stories of success and inspiration, I must admit even I was deeply moved and inspired by what the others had to share.  So I ask myself, what could I have possibly said, that granted me this privilege to address these words to you tonight? Yes…. The very familiar voice of Self doubt has been lurking in my soul and mind up to this day.   I have learned through my almost half century of life, that self doubt is my own worst enemy.

Self doubt has a very convincing voice.  I wish it didn’t, but it does.  Let me share with you a few of her lines about my being here tonight.  “ They invited you because they must have been desperate”.  Their preferred option must have cancelled on them. They really don’t know who you are and they are terribly mistaken….and so many more such messages…   Self-doubt has a very loud internal voice, we hear its voice clearly, constantly.  The world seldom offers spaces in which we can voice our fears, our insecurities, or our questioning of ourselves. We attempt to silence it by comparing ourselves to others, by pushing ourselves into being all of what we think we must be, or all of what we are asked to be.  So our major challenge is our fight against that inner voice that destroys us.  You see, Passion lives on the other side of this voice. Self doubt is the obstacle we must overcome so we can claim our sense of our true selves, what I call our self worth.

Let me define self worth for a bit.  Self worth is not the same as self esteem.  Self esteem sometimes might trick us into thinking it is who we truly are.  It is not.  Self esteem is what we build through our interaction with others.  Their approval or not of our actions become our sense of identity.  If we have approval we feel good about ourselves, if we don’t, our sense of identity gets shaken.  Self worth on the other hand is a more internal experience.  It is about advocating on our own behalf.  It is about believing in ourselves despite the response of the outer world.  It is about going against the currents, it is about defiance… (in the good sense), it is about claiming the new and all of  what still remains unknown, and it is about all of what is yet to be discovered.  It is about all the things only we, individuals can bring forth to the world.  It is our calling, our mission, and it is only up to us to discover what those gifts are and how we might bring them as an offering to the world.

This venture in not an easy one.  I know that I have always been dependent, hoping, praying that someone might come and save me from my own fear and show the way.  And yes indeed, I have encountered a few angels in my path through self discovery.  Self discovery requires the help of others.  It requires people who inspire us.  We are not alone.  The most important thing to remember is that inspiration from others must not be confused with feeling obligated to be as they are.  Inspiration is about how others share their life experience so we might use their wisdom as building blocks in the creation of our own work of art.

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Let me tell you a few things that I have learned in the world of art.  As a child I always dreamed of being able to recreate my most beloved characters.  Snoopy for example, was a treasure for me as I knew he was my sister´s favorite character to reproduce. She, at a very young age was very prolific in her drawing abilities and I struggled to find the same talent to my own dismay.  Frustration always came instead.  I desperately wanted to be like her. My relationship with my sister was one of my early experiences of failure to try to become who I was not.  As I compared myself to her, I decided very consciously that art was not for me.  I claimed a disability. I crushed one of my dreams at a very young age.  Comparing myself to my sister, made me destroy every fiber of my desire to be who I wanted to become.  So you see, self doubt comes in many disguises.

Luckily, the voice of who we are is a flame that never dies.  It waits patiently for our time to turn towards it. Pencils, paints, paintbrushes, watercolors, markers, inks, pens, crayons, every art media that I can think of always waved at me fervently, reminding me of my deepest self.

I recently decided that I needed to unearth the artist fibers that I had buried long ago.  I declared myself a learner.  I accepted I had no talent but I decided to be courageous enough to face my frustration and disability by granting myself the courage to step into my own sense of incapacity and build a path towards accomplishment step by step.  I knew I would have to confront my monsters of self doubt and self criticism.  I knew their voice would be loud, and that have been.  My self critical monsters are many, they visit me often, but I have found a few friends that have helped me enter battle with them.

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In the world of mixed media, the blank page is the first obstacle we encounter.  Blank pages are like new beginnings, and they can be quite intimidating.  A blank page sets the stage for “don’t you dare ruin it”.  Don’t ruin it pushes us into perfectionism, and perfectionism paralyses our soul.  So the first thing to do in a piece of mixed media art is to get rid of the blank page.  This is an example of the description of the process of a mixed media piece.  I find it fascinating.  “Paste collage pieces or begin applying random colors….make sure you use some darks.  Darks are important as they offer the depth of the piece.  The more darks we use, the more contrasting and vibrating our colors will be.  Be sure not to think too much, don’t try to make many plans, just let your soul play and allow the colors to emerge and be blended with each other one by one.

Hearing these instructions referring to mixed media, inevitably spoke to me about life.  The darkest the background, the more vibrating our colors will be.

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This was a new, very exciting concept for me.  I had always run away from what felt dark, fearful and painful.  Mixed media urges me to embrace every bit of it.  To keep it in my background providing me with depth and meaning.  So new beginnings, fear of the unknown and pain of what I used to consider failure have now become my new companions for depth.  I know now that as I embrace them, they will be the clay that will shape my new form.

The second layer of a mixed media piece is what I love the most.  The layer of Gesso. Gesso has become my new best friend.  The background now gets covered with a light layer of gesso.  A white out.  A medium that allows for pieces to be pushed to the background.  We get to choose how thick we want the white out to be.  We can always go back to plain white, but there is no way to deny that a previous layer lies beneath.  It already tells a story, it already provides with depth.  Gesso gives us the opportunity to decide what to do with our previous layer, how much do we want it to show through or how much we want to hide it. Gesso doesn’t care, it doesn’t judge us, it is at our service, providing gentle acceptance of our very personal process.  After gesso is dry, we get to design the shape and color of our new creation.  Gesso gives us the doorway to new beginnings, a pathway to choose again.  It doesn’t matter how many layers of color and gesso we do.  The more layers we have, the more character we build.  Don’t be afraid to build your character.

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Adversity will visit you, be sure of that.  Sometimes adversity will be of our own creation, but most of the time adversity will come without our consent and without previous notice.    It will shake our foundations and our previous sense of stability.  Adversity will challenge us, it will break us, it will deprive us of what we once considered safe and familiar. Our sense of identity might get stripped away from us, and we might enter a deep questioning of our own existence. Stay firm in the face of adversity.  Let it transform you.  Let it burn the old sense of who you were and be present for the new version of you.  It is after adversity when we get to use gesso, take the fire to the background and begin building again, one color at a time.

Be sure protect yourselves in your path.  As much as we wish to have someone to protect us, remember only you can do that for yourselves. Discernment on what is good to us can be very tricky. Our brain is hardwired for blocking pain and it will respond automatically in the face of threat. The part of our brain that protects us is instinctive and very faithful to the preservation of our biology.  This part of our brain has a very loud voice and it will bypass the voice of our higher reasoning. When we feel tense or anxious, our instinctive brain will urge us to seek behaviors and consumptions that provide us with immediate relief.  This part of the brain is only interested in the relief of the moment, and it does not care about the future. The typical options for relief are fight, flight, or freeze responses.  There are many ways in which these responses get played out.  Some examples are the use of alcohol, drugs, compulsive sex, control, compulsive spending, compulsive eating and many others…  Numbing emotions and running from what feels uncomfortable is something that we learn well at a very young age.  This part of our brain thinks that surviving is in our best interest when in truth it keeps the other part of our brain which is of higher functioning out of line.  Stress response blocks us from accomplishing our goals, constructing plans for our future and pursuing our dreams.

We must strive to keep our top brain online.  It is in our top brain where our dreams and aspirations are built.  Drugs, alcohol, and compulsions give us momentary pleasure but destroy every possibility of a bright future.  They are thieves of our gold, don’t let them rob you.  To avoid threat we must build safety.  Safety is based in trust, and trust can only happen if we feel appreciated and accepted.  Be sure to build relationships in which you feel celebrated and in which you have no restriction to celebrate others.  Empowerment of others is our strongest asset.  Being critical sets the stage to be criticized and our self worth will never grow.  Be gentle with each other, be patient, be kind…this is the type of nourishment that the world is lacking today, multiply it by giving it freely.

A note to parents…as much as you would like to hear me say that your work as parents is done, I need to say it is not. Our job as parents will never done.  But you see, in terms of safety and trust, it is we who play the most important role in instilling safety in our children.    We must believe in them, we must show them we trust them even if they are showing us confusion and disorientation.  Trust that they will find their own way, let’s support them in their steps through self discovery. Our fears and insecurities must NOT be imposed on them.  They have their own fears to manage, lets not weigh them down with ours.  Trust that if we support them and believe in their ways of creating a life of their own, they will soar and become who they are meant be.  Please don’t try to invent them, be present to watch the unfolding of who they really are.  Be in awe of their uniqueness.  Our fears come in the form of judgement and control.  These don’t serve them, they need to experience our unconditional love.  Let us be that and only that for them.  Allow enough space for them to explore, to invite and live their new experiences.  They will surely trip and fall, let’s be a safe haven for them when they need to come rest and charge batteries. Our unconditional love is their best medicine.  If we want to protect them lets don’t judge them, let’s celebrate them, and they will surely show us the best version of who they are.

And finally, to the Class of 2016, let me remind you that fear will be your constant companion.  Don’t run away from it, embrace it, breathe through it, and exercise your muscles of vulnerability.  The most courageous are those who are unafraid of their inner fire.  Do not harm your brain, preserve it, and let your brain be clear enough to dream the most unimaginable dreams.  Keep your paintbrushes in hand, your palette of every color handy, don’t forget your darks to provide you with your depth.  Keep gesso at hand, and color our world beautiful.  Lead us.  Show us your masterpiece, let us be in awe of you.

 

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ZOMBIES AND OTHER GATEKEEPERS

Very often I feel depressed. It is not a very happy thing to confess. I wonder why there is a wave of shame as I say this. Even as a child, when tears would come, (and they came very often), I was ridiculed by them. Somehow crying and feeling miserable made others miserable too. But stronger than shame are those deep feelings of sadness that seem to rob life away from me. They come and hijack my desire to do, to move, to create. When energy to live life in its full velocity and intensity is down, the word that comes to me as a name for it is depression. It is a scary word. The images that come usually include a sense of loneliness, of stagnation, of abandon and death.

My sadness and depression seem to take me to other places though. They take me to a space of darkness that I have grown fond of. When one speaks of darkness, our imagination takes us to images of monsters, ghosts and zombies.  These creatures succeeded for many years to keep me away from crossing their locked up fortress. The avoidance of them came in the urgency to find laughter, friends and success. The inevitability of depression has kept me very close to these gates, and as I see these creatures closer to me, the friendlier they appear to be. The eyeless drooling zombie who promises to take away every loved being from my side is the one I fear the most.

So one day I decided to have a conversation with him. He couldn’t look at me straight in the eye for obvious reasons, but he leaned forward as a sign that he was interested in what I was petitioning.

-Would you let me in the fortress? I asked.

He smiled mockingly and opened the heavy gate. As heavy as it it seemed, he was very proficient in his ability to slide it to let me in . He smelled me as I walked past him and followed me in. Shivers.

My heart raced and my breathing grew shallow as I feared dying in that instant, so I turned around to see how close the zombie was to me, just to find that there was no zombie behind me and all I could see was a beautiful sunset and a orange and purple colors of dusk. The soft colors brought my breath back to me and I stopped to take it all in.

Crossing the gate of my fear and befriending my monsters have brought me to beauty. The pain of loss, the pain of cancer, slow death of angel face to a disease too difficult to mention has been a hard thing to carry. It has been difficult to try to understand how the choosing goes. Who gets cancer? Who gets to live more than 2 years? Who grows and who dies before learning to walk? I have never found answers to these questions.

Murder beats it all though. There are no words that can describe the horror of such an act that robbed the most perfect mother from my side. As much as I know I will never recover from these losses, in my fortress, which by the way is no fortress at all, I have found a boundaryless space of grass that invites me to wander and wonder without the demand to arrive at any place or be anything or anybody. I get to ask all these questions and have the answers come to me in a soft breeze of Truth expressed in the images and sounds that this space brings to me.

When early morning comes, I walk out and I am greeted with sounds of birds and roosters.  I wish I was more knowledgeable about birds to tell you about the variety of what I hear. I also wish I had more technology awareness to have you hear my recording of this morning´s greeting.   They speak to me of a new day, of a new beginning, of all that is before me that is familiar and yet so new. Sounds that welcome me into the adventure of what I am willing to create in a space of both the predictable and the unpredictable. They teach me that there is no way of knowing what will come, but our true nature makes us sing our own song, for today, and only today.

I take a deep breath with that realization and my gaze turns downward. I find the exuberance of a blooming so magnificent that words are too limited to express the image. Every tiny bloom making its way to express its full potencial. Every other bloom making way for each one to form precious bouquets that would only be possible with the existence of each one. Aren´t they telling me to accept my space in this world and to contribute to the masterpiece of humanity as a whole in my ability to bloom along with others, not more, but nevertheless, not less either?

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I take a walk on the beach. Yes my ocean is there before me bringing the salty mist that reminds me of the taste of tears. Waves crashing constantly, some small, other big. Some calm, others fierce. They come. No force can ever stop them. Like life. Some small waves, some big. Some calm, some fierce. Why? No reason. Just the way of life. No one at the choosing booth.

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As I sit with this realization, I look to my side and I have the cutest being looking at me with an investigative gaze. He lets me pet him, he doesn’t seem to be afraid of me even though he doesn’t know me. He has no judgment and no paradigm that speaks to him about me before his experience of me. We granted each other an experience of each other. I inevitably fell in love with him, to the point of wanting to own him. He followed me for a bit, and I feared hurting him when I had to abandon him. I stayed for another while until he decided it was time to continue on his way. I watched him walk away. He didn’t look back. We had had our moment. We had had our experience of each other. Love wants to possess, and he taught me to love and let go.  I do hope and wish he had a nourishing moment and significant as what he was for me. I will never know what I meant to him, but what I am sure of is that he seemed to be fine with letting go.

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I return to get my early morning lime water and I find that we are out of limes in the kitchen. After a moment of freak, I walk to the lime tree to see if they are in their offering time.   Ahhhhhh the delight I find… Offering is their word. “Take me and serve yourself”, they tell me. Oh what a lesson.

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What is my existence about if not one of offering.? I understand now how service is what I am in this world for. Sometimes sadness and grief are all about my pain. Pain and suffering dissolves with such ease once I focus on using myself for service. Pain doesn’t go away but I seem to be able to carry it with more ease.

The brightness of sun makes my dark place pretty bright and colorful. It turns everything around me into a display of shapes and color that inevitably makes me smile.

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Pain will never cease. Of that I am sure. I have learned that monsters, ghosts and zombies are my illusion that keep me from confronting my fears about having another one of life´s waves be huge and bring me to the ground again. I understand today that I have no power to either predict the size of my next wave nor the power to stop it. In my walk through life I will stop more and look down to the blooms making space for one another. I will allow an open door for new friends, for as long as they remain, and I will continue to learn to say good-bye, until the next hello.

Sensitive.  We all are.

I know that I am. I also know that because of this, I will be a trigger to others and others will be triggers to me.  There is no way of predicting, and even less, controlling how and when we will be triggered.  Life seems to be a battle ground in which we are constantly wounded without having a place to heal.

A few years back when I was being trained as a yoga teacher, I was introduced to a fascinating world that I had no idea existed.  I was struck by the immensity and depth of it.  I was totally captured by the essence of the philosophy and grew eager to learn how to offer it back to others. Savasana, the final posture of practice is said to be the most important posture of all.  It means corpse pose.  The moment in which we die to the present moment so we may be reborn into the next.  A moment of surrender, of acceptance of things as they are, a moment to trust that we are being held by an energy greater than us.  A moment in which we lose control and rejoice in our mere existence.  A moment of allowing ourselves to just be.  The instructor holds space for the practitioners, and becomes the time keeper and the one who leads the “dead” back into a renewed life.  The instructor has the honor to offer that rest space and uses his creativity to construct a taste of the sacred. I was deeply touched when I became aware of the sanctity of the moment.  I had seen people leave class before the time of savasana by thinking that excersise was over and “resting” was not only unnecessary, but a waste of time.  I must confess there were times when I thought the same, but I stayed as a sign of respect for the instructor.  As I stayed, I grew more fond of the gift that it is and I am totally devoted to savasana today.

Anyway, during my training, I continued with my personal morning practice.  The instructor that I went to for my daily practice led us up to savasana and then he would walk out of class leaving us there to awaken on our own.  All of us practitioners would get up after what felt like ages, noting that there was evidence that we were leaderless.  This went on for a few days and I began feeling very uncomfortable.  I felt disrespected in what I had learned was a sacred moment. His walking away felt like an abandonment.  It felt as if he was careless about the holiness of the moment.  I wanted to share my feelings with him but I was hesitant as I did not want to offend him.  However, I wanted to express my dislike of the way he was managing savasana.

I decided I would write him an email.  I remember I was mindful about my potential to be a trigger to him.  I knew how hard it is to get negative feedback from a student, so I chose my words carefully. What happened next has many details that i will spare you with, but in conclusion, I was expelled from his studio.  One of the things he told me was “what an EGO you have”.   In his mind, I was a student who had to be respectful of my teacher´s wisdom.  Telling him that his ways were not in sync with what I was learning insulted him as he felt I was outsmarting him.  Although this was never my intention, it became evident that my actions had been hurtful and massively misinterpreted.

“What an EGO I have”.  For many days (weeks), I ruminated over this phrase.  In my mind, I strived to convince him and the world that my petition had not come from ego, that it had come from my desire to receive a gift that I had grown hungry for.  Ego, ego, ego.  In many ways i tried to eliminate it, I fought it, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have it. In my mind I practiced endless conversations with with my teacher convincing him that he was wrong, I even practiced court room dialogues attempting to be ruled NOT GUILTY.

G U I L T Y.

The verdict came soon enough.  It was an inner veridict.  I did have an ego. I still do, and will continue to have it until I die.  I understood its purpose.  My battle had to do with my hurt and from what I interpreted as an unfair treatment.  He had his personal reasons based on his personal standards, and my standards collided with his.  I was trying to convince him to teach in my preferred style, and by my doing so I offended him.  His ego protected him by expelling me from his studio, and my ego protected me from feeling rejected and abused.  I wanted to tell this story in full detail, accusing him of his wrongdoings.   I wanted the world to be his jury and to rule against him. I felt hurt.

In that instant when I realized i was hurt, was when the understanding came. Ego was yelling out “IT HURTS”.  Ego wanted the blessing, it wanted to be held. I did not want to feel abandoned nor forgotten.  I had a moment of clarity.  I finally understood that ego plays an important role in my life.  It protects me.  It is up to me to be able to listen to his childish language  that attempts to communicate that it needs caring.  The type of caring that ego is urging for is kindness.  Ego comes forth in aggressive ways.  It fights when it feels hurt.  However, in its darkened way, it urges us to look for our wrongdoings so we may choose the enlightened option.  It alerts us.  It tells us that something is wrong, that darkness is close.  it is a call to our awakening desire of seeing the light within us.

I am grateful to my teacher.  I learned that indeed I do have a friend called ego who will constantly be on call nudging me onto a gentle, compassionate way of being.  I understand it is the only way to be able to offer the same to others.  Everyone is thirsty for kindness, ego protects us from the hurt that our sensitive selves feel.  It relentlessly offers opportunities to choose.  Today I choose kindness, gentleness, compassion, and acceptance of what is different.  Thank you ego…my friend.

And I continue to enjoy my time at savasan.  Well… when my agitated mind allows me.  Sometimes my mind wanders and appears like the photo below…but I continue my practice, day in and day out…so I find the peace within where only light resides.IMG_2956

It is my birthday today.  I am 48 years old and i am finding it hard to integrate such truth.  For most of my life i have felt like a child. I was never told what a grown up should look like or behave like.  So today, as I reach 48, I still don´t know.  In the moments when mirror and I meet, I understand that the years are showing a child no more.  Beauty, as it is portrayed to us through the images of marketers, at 48, their definition is definitely not something that applies to me.  I regret my years of unconsciousness.  I wish i could go back and embrace the look of being and feeling young.  Are we ever aware of the good fortune of mobility, of strength, of muscle tone? I wonder.

Thank God there are other things in life other than the mirror.  I understand today that I must grieve beauty.  I need to learn to age more gracefully so I may continue to honor the body that carries my Soul.  Grief is not only about saying goodbye to the beauty of youth.  It is also about saying good bye to so many true treasures that came to me and I took for granted.  The lives of those who have departed before me, the things unsaid, the moments unlived, the times spent doing other things I thought were more valuable.

Today, at 48 I am aware not of beauty but of all things beautiful.  Beautiful soothes my soul.  Beautiful is what allows me to smile when the rest is lost.  I was granted the grand opportunity to live in the country of eternal spring.  Bursts of flowers shower me with color so intense that Crayola loses their desire to even attempt to name it.

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Little beings.  Those who unconditionally care and never cease to pay attention to every move I make, continuously bring me joy.   Maple, she makes me feel special and important.  She lets me know that I am wanted and needed, my presence is apparently all that she needs.  She returns the most beautiful of images that cracks my shell and makes me smile.  It is in those moments of sweet when I realize that those exact precious instances is what life is made of.  Yes, in that instant of beautiful, I lose the weight and the heaviness of pain, of grief, or of whatever worry I carry on my shoulders.IMG_2961

Repetition…ohhhhhh the blessing of the repetition of stitches that allows me to create something out of nothing.  Yarn of every color are a typical companion when vacation comes my way.  They are always patiently waiting to be picked for my new creation. This time it was a yarnbomb.  Although some consider this a waste of both time and yarn, it is a delightful task for me.  To sit with my niece and my sister on rocking chairs, to the sound of sweet music, in the perfect warmth of the tropical pacific coast, letting the sun set at its pace, and having no other place to be at than the place we are at, is one of the most nourishing experiences.  To enter the timelessness in conversation of nothing and everything.  Laughs about old times, and deep breaths about  the discovery of who we are at the moment.  The indescribable sensation of familiarity that brings that delightful sense of belonging so many kill for, is something that comes easy in the soft light of sunset. There is something about the peace, the tranquility and the calmness that comes forth when yarn, stitches and hooks come together. The repetition of those movements that have reached the level of automaticity creates a sense of relaxation that allows for the Spirit to manifest itself in the most unpretentious of manners.  The effect of it all is that of falling in love all over again with those newly discovered beings we thought we knew well.  In collaboration we reached our goal of four stripes of color for one of the columns of our beach house. The sense of awe that it brings and the smiles that arise inevitably from those who glance at it, are enough reasons to make the task worthwhile.  Another version of what I call beautiful.

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Grief hits hard trying to make himself be noticed  through the spell of color, repetition and connection.  He is strong and powerful so manages to settle in my heart again, making me aware of his heaviness.  A deep sense of loneliness and abandonment drags my heart to my depths as I long for the yesterdays that allowed for a rich sustenance.  A day of resurrection, the Christian world celebrates today, Easter Sunday.  Today nothing seems to be born in me.  As I try to collect my traditions in an attempt to fill the deepest of voids, grief robs my colors…yet not my desire to create.

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Life continues nevertheless, and time takes me to midnight as my sweet Mel prepares my birthday cake, and Anthony manages to shower us with his midnight intensity that comes in a mix of hyperactivity, pesty behavior and 500% charm.  As I write this blog they surprise me with their voices tuned to the first happy birthday in unison with the 12 bells of grandfather clock welcoming me into my special day. Life can’t get more beautiful than that.IMG_3090

So 48 it is.  April 5th.  Beauty at the mirror is gone, but more of the beautiful is what I will live for, and count on so I may carry on.

She was born to fly. Every morning she had a new goal of reaching the highest cloud she could see.  She giggled as she felt tickled when she landed on the soft cotton of the newest conquered white friend.
One gray day, she saw too many clouds.  The grayness of the sky reflected the grayness of her heart. Even fairies have sad days.  She felt like flying as flying was her nature, but on days like these, her heart begged for down time.
In down time she walked. She closed her eyes and walked as slow as she could.  She breathed deeply until she could feel her heartbeat. She felt cold, her heart missed the warmth.

“If only I could eat something sweet”, she said to herself.

Something sweet always brought her a sense of an inner hug.  She sighed as she saw only gloom, fog and darkness before her.
She found a thick furry leaf that invited her to crawl in.  She curled up like a baby and she soon fell asleep.  Sleep eased her heavy load.  Soon she arrived into dream world.  In dream world she saw herself in a strawberry field.  The smell of the sweet filled her soul, fed her heart.  She saw herself smiling.

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She flew from one strawberry to the next.  She chose the one with the brightest red and she ate it delightfully.  A stream of juice covered her little fingers and chin. So abundant was the juice that she began to choke on it. This woke her up.  She thought of the strawberries in her dream and she smiled.  Her wings fluttered and she took flight into the gray clouds.  They tickled her the same.  She sighed and understood that this, was just another day in fairy world.

She was born to fly. Every morning she had a new goal of reaching the highest cloud she could see. She giggled as she felt tickled when she landed on the soft cotton of the newest conquered white friend.

One gray day, she saw too many clouds. The grayness of the sky reflected the grayness of her heart. Even fairies have sad days. She felt like flying as flying was her nature, but on days like these, her heart begged for down time.
In down time she walked. She closed her eyes and walked as slow as she could. She breathed deeply until she could feel her heartbeat. She felt cold, her heart missed the warmth. “If only I could eat something sweet”, she said to herself. Something sweet always brought her a sense of an inner hug. She sighed as she saw only gloom, fog and darkness before her.

She found a thick furry leaf that invited her to crawl in. She curled up like a baby and she soon fell asleep. Sleep eased her heavy load. Soon she arrived into dream world. In dream world, she found herself in a strawberry field. The smell of the sweet filled her soul, fed her heart. She saw herself smiling.

She flew from one strawberry to the next. She chose the one with the brightest red and she ate it delightfully. A stream of juice covered her little fingers and chin. So abundant was the juice that she began to choke on it. This woke her up. She thought of the strawberries in her dream and she smiled. Her wings fluttered and she took flight into the gray clouds. They tickled her the same. She sighed and understood that this, was just another day in fairy world.

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CARTA AL CIELO

Dicen que tienes que estar en un lugar bello y maravilloso, madre de mi corazón. Esa idea me gusta mucho, pero no lo se. Quisiera creerlo con certeza, como esa certeza que me decías que tu también hubieras querido tener como lo tiene tu hermanita y otras personas religiosas quienes aceptan y creen por fe en esa vida eterna. Como te digo, no lo pongo en duda, admiro a esas personas tanto como tu. Sin embargo, como tu, me gusta creer y dejar de creer. A pesar de que esa incertidumbre a veces es tortuosa (y sí que lo es para mí en este dia), el hecho de que nunca me obligaras a aferrarme a una idea fija sobre algo, me ha permitido abrir mi mente a tantas otras opciones. Sí que existen ideas maravillosas en los pensamientos y creencias de las diferentes culturas y visiones del mundo y de la vida de los seres humanos. Es ese misterio misterioso lo que nos mantiene buscando, es lo que nos mantiene en constante crecimiento no crees? Se que tú estuviste en esa búsqueda madrecita adorada, y lo que más me enseñaste sobre lo que realmente significa encontrar la paz y significado   es en amar incondicionalmente. Lo que buscabas en una idea lo vivías en cada uno de tus gestos amorosos. Me haces tanta falta.

Este año es el primer año que estaré en casa después de la dolorosa partida tuya. Algunos creen que los últimos dos años me he escapado del dolor al “huir” de casa para Navidad. Pero ¿Cómo se huye del corazón roto? ¿Cómo se escapa del dolor de nunca más escuchar tu voz y de sentir tu abrazo amoroso? No hay manera de escapar de eso…   Sin embargo, otra cosa que me enesñaste fue la habilidad tan espontánea que tenías para disfrutar de todo lo bello. El conocer lugares nuevos, ver las sonrisas de tus adorados nietos, probar sabores nuevos, y visitar a tu adorada Angela. Todas ellas fueron maneras de recordarte y sentirme acompañada de lo que tu corazón amaba.

Pues este año estoy en casa. En una casa llena de amor pero con un gran, enorme y espantoso vacío. He cumplido con cada uno de tus detalles. Las galletas están todas hechas. Cada una trae ese sabor delicioso que amé desde que tengo noción de memoria. Esa delicia de la mantequilla con azúcar batida a mano. Recuerdo tus manitas adoloridas que masajeabas en cada momento de pausa. Gracias a tu regalo de mi maravillosa batidora, no tengo que sufrir de esa manera, me quedan unicamente los momentos de silencio en los que formo las bolitas, corto formitas de todos los animales del bosque, estrellas y por supuesto, corazones de todos los tamaños, y traigo a mi recuerdo esas trades y noches en los que no te cansabas de adularme en mi paciencia para hacerlas así pequeñitas como te gustaban.

Sabes? Hicimos casitas de gengibre con tu receta de las galletas de miel. Cortamos cada pared y cada techo con cuchillo. Fue una odisea pero quedaron deliciosas. Junté a tus adorados nietos para armarlas y decorarlas. Todos fueron unos arquitectos maravillosos y diseñadores estupendos!!! La pobre Nikki sufrió al ver la casita de ellas tres colapsar por tanta Nutella y gomitas que le pusieron a sus techos.  Como siempre, ella nos trae risas y carcajadas. La sangre tuya que corre en las venas de cada uno de tus nietos hizo posible que a pesar del desagradable sabor a fracaso, sus primos la halagaran con abrazos, ayuda y por supuesto mucho amor y aceptación. En una corrida a la cocina a traer paletas para poder sostner la casita se trabó a una paleta el cucharón que me regalaste. Este cayó al suelo haciendo un pequeño extra escándalo. Eras tu? Era esa la manera en la que te hiciste presente para ayudar a tu adorada Nikki? No lo se. Pero me gusta creer que así fue. Estuviste presente madre adorada, entre todos tus nietos (menos Jose quien nos hace tanta falta).

Temo, que las únicas galletas que no hice fueron tus favoritas. Si….las de anís duras. Las que te llevaba después de la Navidad que a nadie le gustaban por ser tan duras. Recuerdo la felicidad con la que recibiás ese bote. Me decías que te gustaban porque te servían de digestivo despues de tus comidas. Veo tus manitas remojándolas en el te para suavizarlas un poco. Reíamos cuando te decía que solo una gordita podía creer que una galleta podía ser algo digestivo. Pero te las comías con las mismas ganas y placer. Esas galletas… esas… no las pude hacer aun. Ese sabor digestivo, aun me revuelve por dentro con solo el recuerdo.

Fui a visitar a tu hermanita. Ella me hizo un desayuno delicioso y nos sentamos en su comedor que ya te imaginarás tan bellamente adornado. A la izquierda estaba un regalito, con una tarjetita escrita con su letra inigualable que decía “el angelito quiere que lo cuides”. Me contó la historia de ese angelito. El angelito de la abuelita Adelita que siempre deseaste. Ella sin conocer tu humilde deseo se lo regaló a tu hermana.  La tia al conocer tu deseo, te lo regaló un año. Transcurridos los años, tu se lo volviste a regalar a ella. Este año, tuve la suerte de que ella me lo regalara a mi. Ese angelito que capturó tu corazón está hoy en mi vitrina. Que dicha! En él tengo a mi abuelita, a mi tía y a tu humilde corazón. Todos los días lo veo a través del vidrio que lo protege y sonrío. Me hace tomar conciencia de tu capacidad de dar a otros lo que mas amabas. Además, tu humildad y tu sencillez tan característico, vivo para ser como tu en ese sentido madrecita. Cómo eras de bella. No existe nadie como tu.

Los domingos de adviento ya han pasado. Respiré profundo cuando encendí las cuatro candelitas el último domingo. Melanie con sus intrumentos de musicoterapia trajo un agregado especial para los rítmos y acompañamientos de nuestras tradicionales canciones, pero tristemente ningun instrumento pudo sustituír tu inigualable voz de angel que siempre nos daba la entonación adecuada y el sonido dulce que nos abrazaba por dentro. Esa luz de candela que nos acompañaba durante las canciones eras tu. Esa certeza si tuve. No se porque. Solo la sentí. Quizá esa es la certeza que sienten los que creen. No lo se. Quizá.

El pavo está en salmuera. Mis tendencias vegetarianas fueron grandemente puestas a prueba. Fue horrible… H O R R I B L E sacar el corazón del pavo, lavarlo y cocinarlo… quería llorar!!! Su pescuezo doblado en dos!!!!… Madre pura que masacre!!! De verdad quería llorar. Y luego me recordé de la película de Como Agua para Chocolate, el dia que ella lloró sobre las codornices y luego todos terminaron vomitando por haber comido la tristeza profunda de ella. Ese recuerdo de vómitos comunales ayudó a que pudiera respirar profundo y absorber mis lágrimas. Hice una pausa, me imaginé al pavito con vida y le brindé una reverencia. Le di gracias., lo hice mi amigo y lo prepare con tu receta. Huele delicioso, es el aroma de tu casa de cada 23 de Diciembre.

Mañana es Navidad. No me anticipo a nada. Caminaré hacia la hora de la cena lo más lento posible. Pondré el mantel que me regalaste. Me vesitré con un sueter rojo, como el que tenías esa última Navidad en que estuviste con nosotros. Brindaremos con jugo de uva… si, ese sin alcohol porque también me enseñaste a que las lágrimas no pueden anestesiarse, solo se derraman para volver a la calma. Vendrán muchas de ellas estoy segura madrecita, así como vienen en lo que escribo estas líneas. Pero ellas, cada una de ellas son un amoroso recuerdo de lo que fuiste y de lo que continúas siendo hoy y todos los días en mi corazón.

FELIZ NAVIDAD MADRECITA ADORADA.

butterfly

Sweet and tender being, you take me to deep wonderings of soul.   During your time through soil you devour everything that you encounter along your way, growing ten thousand times your size in a brief period of time.   Nothing distracts you from the steps that you take onto the new world that awaits for you.

I find myself crawling among this world devouring everything that comes along my way, in the hope to create a false grandiose self I think I need to become. Is there a world out there waiting on my arrival?

Predators threaten you but you don´t  seem to be disturbed by them. It seems like your own personal nature is the only thing that moves you. You know there will be a day that you will come to the threshold of pause, but you never pray that this day comes sooner.

Predators hunt me down too. Their biggest weapons are the words they use that burn me to ashes. I cannot but turn and see them in the eye in the hope that I can find a way to befriend them. Unlike you, I deviate from my goal and follow the path I hear they want me to take.   But oh the call of the pause is too strong to forget. My body soon reaches the time for the pause but I force myself to wait a little longer. I resist my pause, I know it is needed, but my new path seems to have taken over and all I can do is to continue eating this world away. I can´t stop, I want to and I cant find the way back to my simple way of being.

The day comes, sure enough in which you take yourself into the dark pause.   You weave yourself dlligently into the calm, into the silence, into the trust.

I dream of the day when I can give myself the gift of going into the calm. Fear is too big for me to drop into trust. I cling to those things that give me false sense of confidence as my soul cries in its desire to convince me to let go and dive into the the darkness of the unknown.

Soon the space is too small to hold you in your new dimensions and you struggle and fight to release yourself of your own woven place you once called home. You discover your new strengths and you take flights without remorse of leaving behind what you once had and where you once belonged. Your path is now a path of the sweet. You land swiftly on the colors of pink, yellow, blue, violet and red. The sweet nectar is where you pose and the only thing that is worth your visit and time.

I wonder how I can leave behind everything that I have worked so hard to accomplish. I feel weak if I am not among those who make me feel strong and I fail to embrace my own sense of the ability to fly. The chains of dependence drag me down and I crawl in the dirt where I no longer want to remain. My wings flap with the intent to take flight, but the fear of the heights convinces me to remain in the comfort of the familiar.

I dream of the sweet. I dream of the colorful palette of life and a world full of shapes, scents and tastes I was born to indulge in. Butterfly? Will you show me the way?

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Many say that becoming a mother is the grandest blessing a woman can have. Yes… I couldn’t disagree with such a claim. Blessing is a right word for me. However, the experience also brings other words that are also accurate. Doubt is a big one. On becoming a mother, I was driven to every book, every article and every anecdote anybody could share with me so that I might become the best mother to my children.   Devouring those books and black on white scribbles only led me to more questions and more self doubt. No book ever described the exact details of my experiences.

Where was the book that told about the celebration of a baby boy coming into my life after I had decided that I would be a mother of an only child? Where was I to find the description of a love so deep towards another little human being who I had never conceived in my mind before? How was I to welcome someone who came rushing into my life with no previous announcement? He came without my consent, he didn’t seem to be asking for my permission either, he was coming to stay. He never seemed to have any respect for my boundaries. My body was his for almost 3 years of breastfeeding. All of what was mine, his sister´s or anybody else’s was automatically considered his, if he found a liking to it.

Scolding him, time outs, punishments, adult conversations with a three year old, and a five year old and a thirteen year old and an eighteen year old, were all failed attempts at taming his wild soul. Parent-teacher conferences filled with “your son needs confinement” kinds of statements only took me to ahh yes another word…frustration!!!!!  How in the world could I teach my son to be who the world wanted him to be? I continued reading books and encountered sleepless nights trying to figure out the code that would unlock the equation that would allow me to masterfully deliver a flawless being into the world.

Regardless of my attempts, he seemed to have plans of his own. He would always defy me whislt figuring out ways in which he could get away from his time in the corner. He continued eating everyone of his sister’s chocolates if he found them available. In school, he learned to laugh people out of their frustration and disciplinary methods. No one, could seem to interfere with who he was.  All he has ever known how to be is himself, and he seems to have a pretty good time with being exactly that.

On a day that my foggy mind was a little clearer, I came across an idea that seemed to make sense to me. I made the decision to step aside from my attempts of correcting him since it was evident that my attempts of disciplining him were being totally unsuccessful. It appeared that i was messing up a pretty amazing masterpiece that was only needing space to become. My frustration took me to surrender. I decided to step away from my attempts of molding him, and I allowed him the space to fail, to fall, to hurt, all of which were my greatest fears that drove me to control him.

The next word that washed over me was DOUBT. Did stepping back mean I didn’t care anymore? Was I going to be an abandoning mother if I let him have his downfalls? Was I being a good enough mother if I DIDN’T show him the way?

I decided to step aside anyway, since it seemed to be the only thing left to do. I watched him grow and I became an active observer of his becoming ways. I found no book on how to do this either. No book ever teaches us how to contain our impending fear. An abyss of darkness was my holding space, and all I could do was observe and take another ride of the rollercoaster of feelings that I was unaware of.

I fell in love… inevitably. My attempts to change him through my rigid discipline was only distorting his precious way of being. He was throwing back at me all of what he was not, and striving to be all that he was meant to be. When I stepped to the side I was slowly (rapidly) confronted with the most incredible display of humor, intensity and genuineness I have ever been witness of. In short, I found I smiled a lot when I saw him. I fell in love with who he really was as soon as I let go of the person who only existed in my limited (very limited) imagination. I learned to know his heart. I found he was made of gold.

The next fear that overcame me was when I realized others could harm him in ways in which I had harmed him before. I wanted to ensure that his heart would be loved unconditionally.  He needed to find  a special person, and I thought there would be no one out there that could love him enough, or at least as i wanted them to love him.  Once more, I was intending to create someone out of my imagination.   I decided to let go of my controlling ways and allow him to make the choosing. A special one surly found her way to his heart  and again without my consent or permission he is now in the making of yet another masterpiece: The shape of love.

A part of me craves to be included as an instrument of his fine carvings, but he doesn’t seem to be needing much of my help. I must confess that in a way I feel saddened to not be called in to participate in his struggles, fears, and joys. I remind myself constantly to simply step aside and watch him glow. I show him my love and appreciation of who he is. I tell him I hope he is being loved by a special one and he always replies “ She’s awesome mom”. I breathe and thank God. I wish I could be more  a part of his unfolding, but it seems like he is the one who sets the dosage of how much mom is needed.

Today was his first anniversary. He came to me and asked for a favor. He had prepared a special lunch for his girl, and needed to pick her up at 1:00.   He  had no time to get the roses to the restaurant so that they’d prepare the table with red rose petals. He asked me if I could buy the roses and take them to the restaurant for him. Time seemed to stand still that moment as I realized he was making me be part of his plans. I was asked to be THE ROSE PICKER UPPER. Speechless with the grand honor and swallowing the deep well of tears of joy,  I muttered “of course darling”.

I had been considered in his plans. I was in his list of people to be taken into account for assisting him in his special occasions. Stepping aside has given me a space to step forward in spaces I never imagined could be possible for me.  The creation of who I thought I needed to be interrupted the possibilities to become the mother he needs me to be.  I will continue to be open to new learnings.  He has been a Master in my life, and for that I am blessed.

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Having had a mother who always offered me the certainty of her presence either spoiled me or gave me the best of life’s vaccines. I remember clearly how aunts, uncles, grandparents, and sisters thought I was the most unpleasant girl growing up. Unpleasant because when I wanted or needed safety, the only person that would do the trick to bring me such safety was Mom. If she wasn’t around I literally drove everyone crazy with my constant cry until Mom was finally summoned to my side. In a way this made Mom proud, she felt special by being wanted and needed so badly.
I have always had a sense of being an old soul. My earliest memories are of a big interest in cooking, in taking care of children, knitting, embroidering, listening to soul stories, as well as having simple, deep conversations that were only possible with those older than me. As a child, being around adults was always more comfortable than being with my peers. And Mom was always my favorite.
I was lucky to have her caring soul by my side the day I delivered my first baby when, though I was little more than a child myself. As much as that drastic change of life could have threatened my closeness to her, our Latin way of being ensured that she was an integral part of my pregnancy, delivery and care of baby. Her openness to be part of my life and of her first grandchild allowed me to have her shoulder to cry on when my baby boy was diagnosed with leukodystrophy. A disease which meant we were to have him in our lives for just a few precious years. In her way of expressing love, she turned into the best nurse for both he and I. She was by my side that one rainy day in August when his little heart beat for the final time.
As adults, living all together on the family compound, my brother and sisters, and I bathed our families in the rich blessings of the intimate contact with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents. As the years went by, I realized that this deep connection could also have its dark side. For over a decade as a young mother, wife, aunt, and daughter I struggled for my independence, autonomy, affective needs, appropriate boundaries, growing into my marriage, and learning how to love while staying detached. I had chaffed at Mom’s need to control, with her hearing impairment, with her manipulative ways, her painful judgments, and her lack of boundaries. One day, I received my own little miracle. My battle was over. I remember making a conscious decision on that day to love mother just as she was. In that moment I suddenly understood, without a doubt, that all of her behaviors stemmed from an endless deep love for all of us. I finally understood that her intentions were always to show and express her love for us, and that she was a woman who exuded love through every pore.
Our lives together opened up to include each other even more. We shared hobbies, tea, paint class and our favorite subject, bee keeping. It seems mother nature had decided, without consulting us of course, that our compound was just the right place for bees to live. When they first arrived we were frightened by their presence, they didn’t seem to notice, however, and began building their hives in various places in our homes. As was Mom’s nature, she was convinced that we had been given a special opportunity to learn how to welcome them and discover how to care for them, rather than fight them. She led us to see them as a blessing rather than a nuisance. She convinced us that it was our duty to become trained to create a home for them and to care for them; suggesting in return they would bless us through the gift of their golden nectar. Little did I know that there would be another lesson for me as a result of allowing them into my life. So, we hired a professional beekeeper and met with him for hours each week as we learned about this special creature and its gifts to humankind. Our life was so blissful, precious and simple. My intention was to be able to be with mom until her last heartbeat. To be with her, just as she had been with my son in that very difficult night so many years ago. I had my heart set on holding her hand the day of her passing, until she would let go of my hand as her soul lifted.
This fantasy was crushed two months ago when dearest mom was shot to death, murdered, on her front doorstep. Right in front of me. Just 30 yards away. It happened as I was literally walking out my front door, on my way to pick her up for our usually early morning time together. As I walked out the door I heard her yelling something. I thought she was calling after the dogs. I know now that she was pleading for her life. The insane behavior of a man we had trusted for over a decade exploded in the form of gunshots marking the murder of my dear mother.
Our family was been shattered. I found myself struggling with a broken sense of spirituality. Being a yoga teacher, a therapist, being a person who had built (what I thought) was a strong sense of the meaning of life and death. I had developed a strong connection to a God I had learned to trust and a belief that we never truly die, we only change suits. The sudden tragic and inexplicable loss my Mom, my number-one sense of connection and love, took all that away in an instant like a tsunami. My sense of identity was shaken to the core. I knew how to be Marie’s daughter, but I had (and still have) no idea of how to be Marie’s orphan.
So, sensing my need to rediscover my spiritual connection, my teacher and mentor invited me to a spiritual retreat in South Dakota. There he introduced me to the ways of the Lakota. The first day of the retreat we were to answer some very ” light” questions as we hiked into those undeveloped hills.
The first question I set about to answer was, “Imagine that your spirit has led you to this place and time to teach you something. What would it want you to know?” As I walked towards a bluff where I had hoped to catch the sunrise, the mountain seemed to pull me into the thick forest. I walked until I saw a large rock that seemed to draw me towards it. I felt compelled to sit down there. As I pondered the question of what my spirit might want me to know, I realized that what I wanted to know of my spirit was whether or not my mom lived on. The days after her death had been filled with comments from others like “your mom is in a better place”, “that God has a plan for everyone”, “that we will be joined one day”, though well-intended, had simply not helped. In fact they had made me feel even more alone, because I wasn’t so sure that I believed any of that anymore. I needed certainty. I wanted an experience, not someone’s thought, their belief or an idea.
I found myself writing the word “Certainty” over, and over, and over again. After what felt like the hundredth time, something happened that literally paralyzed me. A bee landed in the middle of my paper. A bee….a honey bee. In the middle of the mountains. I found out later that there aren’t supposed to be bees at the altitude we were at in the mountains. My knowledge about bees told me that that the little critter had no business on my white paper, her main interest is pollen and nectar, she has no time to waste, what was it doing on a white piece of paper?? Suddenly a question formed and I asked it out loud……. Is this you mom? Immediately tears started pouring out, not in the usual way, they were literally shooting out from my eyes dropping and dampening my paper, the deluge not seeming to bother my friend who danced in eight shapes before me. I knew that that dance was a way bees have about signaling other bees about the distance and direction of nectar and pollen, but why was it performing it’s dance on a white very wet piece of paper? Was she informing me about the distance between my soul and my mothers? Had this little creature been a delivery of a so desired message?
I knew at that moment what I was experiencing was what the Native people of the Black Hills of South Dakota teach. They teach that we can learn to read the invisible world through the messages of nature. I had just had my own experience. Not someone’s idea or my own, but a real, amazing, instantly transforming experience. My body literally began shaking and shivering. My body was speaking to me of the certainty (there is that word again) of my mother’s continued existence. I could feel her embrace in a very subtle yet powerful way. I cried both in joy and sadness, breaths in awe and disbelief.. A delightful mix of emotions giving me one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. That little creature of less than an inch in size had been able to instantly repair my broken heart in ways impossible to explain in written words.
Other phenomenal experiences continued to touch my heart and spirit during those magically blessed days of the retreat, and have continued to do so since I returned home. I have been more open to those messages from the invisible world. More and more am I being able to have a new relationship with my dear mother, a more subtle, intimate and real relationship through them. I still miss her never ending physical kisses and expressions of love, but I am learning to see her love appear in different forms, through the beautiful colors of birds, and in the unfolding of roses. Today I have the certainty that mother lives on in many ways, I just hope I will be able to give and show love to others as she taught and gave me. I have since created that as my mission in life. It will be my inspiration, a way to honor her and the magnificent gifts she gave me by simply being who she was.