Mami Musings: Bloogy Bootcamp Lesson

Yesterday I mentioned that the thing I realized at Bloggy Bootcamp was that I could do this! But as I was putting the frog princess to bed tonight (way past her bedtime as her sleep schedule is in need of a little "adjustment") the following words came into my head as I thought about the conference: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.  Of course, I lost that train of thought at least twice afterwards and isn't that the most annoying thing in the world? I am a capable human being with a pretty descent IQ score but these mami moments can make me feel like an idiot sometimes! I would like to say real quick that I am suffering from post-conference blues.  I have to do my dishes, make up my bed and no one has held a raffle all day today although the frog princess did hand me a previously licked and fallen piece of goldfish cracker earlier.  For the record, I didn't eat it (though I wondered if it had passed the 3 second rule when she first handed it over).

Of course, we hear this all the time (the be true to yourself part not the, you're an idiot part) and as I was chatting it up with my bloggy friends on The Twitter today, it sounds like something you'd write in a yearbook.  But ultimately, in blog (as in life) this holds true.

You can't force something that's not going to work.  That's not to say that you should not try but, knowing who you are is important as you shape what you will become.

As a blogger (I don't think I've ever referred to myself as this) I don't know if I have a "niche".  I write about my life.  My journey through this crazy world.  My feelings at any given point in time about motherhood, friendships, family, work, dating (coming in the future), caregiving, etc. I need to be true to that. To me. To my life and the things that I hold near and dear to my heart.  I can't stray from that otherwise, I will fail.  I remember when I tried to do my first giveaway and, though I loved the idea and the product, I don't know if it worked for me.

I feel that this will get me to the next level and closer to my dreams.  Being true to myself has not let me down yet so, I doubt if it's going to stop working for me now.  What areas of your life do you feel you need this advice in? Where in your path do you need a reminder that you need to stay true to yourself?

Monday Musings: Remembering to Live

Tonight, I awaited in distress patiently for my frog princess to finally go to sleep (she skipped another nap today and she gets very aggravated though I don't know if she realizes she's doing it to herself).  I had a lot to say. I planned on writing a blog about women.  How we pass judgement (myself included), how instead of helping out at times (because of that same judgement) we allow other women to drown in their personal sea of decisions when we could very well throw a life raft to help them out or at least be honest enough in our love for them to explain ourselves while still honoring the love and bond that we share (before all hell breaks loose).  I was going to write about how some women, so unhappy in their own lives will add to a situation that they are not even a part of, their own flare of bullshit and drama, simply to watch the fire burn because it is easier to do that than to face their own iniquities, disappointments and sad lives. Then my sister posted something on FB and tagged me on it.  It was a video of someone I knew and the story of his graduation day.  And as usual, God used a very real, very painful thing to redirect my attention.

See, my sister posted the video because she had heard that John had died.  John.  Dead.  Ms. Tweeka Weed herself gone from this earth?  I'm pissed with myself that I didn't keep in touch but, I do not lie when I tell you that I thought of him often.  You might be confused at this point in time and asking yourself: who is she talking about? Is it a he or is it a she?

John was his birth name but Tweeka was his personality.  See, John dressed in drag. Well, scratch that, John owned drag.  Tweeka was fabulous, fantastic and fine!  All over-the-top and wonderful. Always with a beautiful smile plastered on that bright face.

I won't ever forget the day that he was lusciously shampooing my hair (I swear, I think he's the only man that probably could've made me orgasm from a shampoo! A fact which he loved to remind me of) and with the same bright smile on his face told me in the most nonchalant way that he was HIV positive.  He said he wanted me to know because he considered me a friend but that he was going to be okay.  And I believed that.  Because when Tweeka spoke, people listened.  I believe it's why he was such an influential advocate in the community.

Tweeka was diagnosed with sinonasal carcinoma earlier in the year and this is what ultimately took his life.  I'm pissed off at cancer right now because that's two people that were so full of life and THE WANT TO LIVE gone this year.  You might not understand why I am writing about this today since Monday Musings is about finding the beauty in life in order to make it through the week.  That's simple to answer:

LIFE IS SHORT. LIVE IT! That's the one thing that I can say about Tweeka, SHE LIVED!  And although I didn't keep up with my sweet friend, I never once had a doubt in my mind that John was out there doing the best he could to fulfill his purpose in life.  I knew that he was out there STILL SMILING IN SPITE OF HIS CIRCUMSTANCES.  Still motivating others and above all always making people laugh (oh and using his easy bake oven ;-) ).

One day Tweeka made this comment to me and I always found it eerie.  I have this dress that looks rather fabulous on me and he was in love with it.  That day I walked in the shop and he handed me my glass of wine and in a very matter of fact way he told me that he wanted my dress and then he said he wanted to be buried in it. In my mind, I thought: NO! You are going to be fine.  But even then it seemed that he was okay with whatever life might bring.  I think it's because he was living at that moment, in that space.  I'm not saying he didn't get concerned, I'm sure he did.  But his spirit was such that all he could stand to do was live in the now.  Although I have cleared out my closet several times since, that dress still hangs in it.  I loved it before but his appreciation for it made me love it more.  And not a time goes by when I wear that dress that I do not think of Ms. Tweeka Weed herself!  The bitch would probably look better than me in it!  And if she wants it, she can certainly have it!

So, are you ready to get past the petty bullshit of this world, the judgement of others (and yourself) and get down and dirty and look at your own life, your own decisions, your own situation and simply, beautifully, live?

I will enjoy this moment a little bit more.  I will enjoy the struggles, the betrayals, the disappointments.  Because I want to concentrate on living.  Now.  Because tomorrow is never promised.

Monday Musings: Love Volume I

Could it really be? Do I not remember that exact moment when I first felt my frog princess move inside of me?  I tell you, thank gawd for me writing things down.  Tonight, I was sharing some poetry with a friend and remembered my blogspot site.  I looked through it and found this little nugget.  Today, I am most grateful and blessed for this poem which brought with it a flood of memories.  The first time I saw her heartbeat (at 6 weeks), finding out she was a girl (at 18 weeks), remembering how blessed I felt being pregnant, how I had never felt more beautiful and how I never thought that moment would come because I'd been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 26.  And how, in the early morning of June 18th, I felt the very first flutter of the little girl growing inside of me. But here she is.  And here, is the poem...

Love Volume I

There have been no words dedicated to you No poem to tell you how I feel No volumes explaining this journey No verse to make this magic real

It has taken me 10 weeks of thinking And feeling guilty at not working my craft All it took was a few minutes before dawn And at the simplicity I just laughed

Saved up deep in my heart Was this wish I couldn’t speak Although mothering’s apparent The force of it had made me weak

Years have passed where I have questioned Whether I’d ever see this day To stand before a mirror And see things look a different way

But here I am after all this time Feeling a flutter as I laid still Amazed and humbled by the thought That all that matters is God’s will

You were made in perfect calm With assurances of love and dedication Without the stresses of daily life We ended up with a perfect creation

I’m overwhelmed with feelings of joy As God looked down and smiled At the moment that my life forever changed When I finally felt my child © 2009

Mondays are usually The Suck but, if you take a moment to think about something wonderful, your week will begin in a fabulous way!  What are you grateful for today?

Monday Musings: Following Your Passion

That's how I remember my brother.  Short, sweet, funny and every once in a while (when he wasn't kicking me in my budding breasts) loving.  He's still short and funny. He's also sweet but generally, only with the frog princess.

This past Friday I got a chance to see my baby brother play at The Social in town.  Now, you might think: what do you know about punk metal, mami? Well, after having been through 40 hours of labor, I pretty much feel like I can talk about anything so, punk metal it is!

So, let me preface this by saying that, at bedtime, the frog princess was acting like she'd had sugar all day long.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it because it took me an hour to get her down.  Once she was asleep, I jumped up and "got ready".  No, I had no time for a shower but my sister told me no one would notice.  I threw on a pair of jeans, some cute flip flops and My A Dying Regime t-shirt (which you can purchase for a mere $10 that would basically ensure my frog princess gets a nice birthday present from her uncle Peee). I didn't want to mess with the hair and I threw them in two pony tails. I don't know, I felt like maybe it would make me feel young.  It didn't.  However, as I passed by a mirror I noticed that my pony tails reached my nipples and that made me happy because it means my hair is growing.  But, I digress!

Ah, yes! I get to the show where I rub elbows with...12 year olds.  I mean, really.  What was I doing there? Oh that's right! I was there to be all supportive big sister like and whatnot.  After heading to the "band area" I managed to strike conversations with some of my bros friends. I'd missed the first act thanks to the frog princess's shenanigans but, I hadn't missed the band which my shirt announced.

Yada yada yada, long story short, the band was great.  Now, sure I listen to Christian music and occasional gangsta rap (don't judge me!) but it doesn't mean I don't enjoy other types of music.  In my iPod you can find 80's big hair band and Enya.  Music is music and depending on how I feel, I'm drawn to a particular type of beat. Good music is good music and these guys are good (and not just because my bro is in the band. I'd totally tell him he sucked if he did!).

I'd seen the guys play a few months back and I will say that they sounded a lot better than before. It just seemed like they were more in synch on stage.  The vibe was really there and it had a good feeling about it.  As I stood there listening, people were jamming and commenting and generally sounding pleased.  Two incidents were slightly troublesome: 1. the moshing that took place and the beer that was sadly wasted (no, I wasn't in that area because, hello? I know better!) and 2. the jackass who felt the need to tug at one of my ponytails while walking by. I don't know who it was but as I looked, this chick who was holding hands with a douchebag in front of her looked back with a semi apologetic/it wasn't me face.  I didn't have bail money so, I decided to let it go.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering why the hell I chose this story as my Monday Musings considering that it's supposed to be all uplifting and feel good.  I'm getting to that! Don't rush me!

My brother is very talented.  He is a superb visual artist and he basically taught himself to play the guitar and all kinds of other instruments.  He gave up music a few years back.  After mami passed away, he was drawn back to it.  I can't help but think that it was the message that mami left written on his acoustic guitar.

You see, mami loved the guitar. Always wanted to learn how to play it but was content that her son did.  The message is a private one so I won't share it here as he has no idea I'm writing this.  But, being at the show this weekend reminded me of something: to follow my passion.  My brother works day and night for his art.  Both the visual and the musical.  He has a full time job yet finds time for classes towards his degree in graphic arts as well as practice time and endless hours working on his art projects (he's a perfectionist at heart).

On Friday I was given more reinforcement to the messages that have been flowing into my space since the beginning of September. That I need to follow my heart and do what I love.  By doing what I love I will find the space in which to grow that seed and with it I will plant my dreams.

What's your passion and what are you doing to follow it?

Monday Musings: Community

These thoughts led to my current situation and how comfortable and comforting this move has been. Don't get me wrong, I've been stressed out dealing with clutter in 2 homes, having to make decisions about keeping or trashing things in mami's house without papi around to ask (I don't want to upset him by getting rid of something that he might be emotionally attached to) and a myriad of other things going on in life (did I mention I lost my job a couple of days after I started the move?). But, I like being at home.  Like the fact that I can chat with my brother while he is doing his art projects for school.  That my cousin brings his baby boy over and our kids can play.  I like feeling like this place is the center of the world once again and I am right in it.

In Dominican Republic, it is perfectly acceptable for familial compounds to be built.  What this means is that your father is more than happy to add a house in the back or an extra floor to his house to accommodate a growing family (daughters or sons getting married and having children of their own).  I used to be horrified by the idea.  Too Americanized and headstrong in my independence to give it a second thought. But then I remembered taking a multi-cultural psych class in school and I remember the professor speaking about inter-dependence and how many different cultures around the world have this philosophy (different from you Americans, he used to chide us).

While I was not born in the states, I came here one month before my 5th birthday and consider myself most definitely American (and I have the papers to prove it).  But thinking back to where I came from, I can now appreciate some of the things that I have fought for so long.  The deep understanding of family that only comes when you start your own.  The appreciation for closeness and community that you once ran away from (well, at least I did).

It is good to be home.  Good to be in community.  As I think about it, this is the reason why I called my blog Mamihood.  For the sense of community and camaraderie that comes along with this position we call mami.  This week I will be celebrating my FIRST BLOGOVERSARY. I hope that I have established a sense of community within the words on this page and that you know just how big a part you play in my mamihood with your comments, tweets, emails and prayers.

What makes you feel part of a community?

Monday Musings: In My Mother's House

This morning brought forth a new routine.  A new bed and a new room to wake up in.  New things to do in the morning, new times to do them.  Of course, it was completely off schedule.  The frog princess woke up later than usual (7:20 a.m.!).  She's been beat by this past weekend courtesy of having stayed up late 2 nights in a row.  Last night at midnight, we experienced a night terror but thankfully she was back in bed within the hour. As I rushed this morning to find something to wear, shoes, a shirt, etc. I realized that this is a beginning and I am happy even if a tad bit frazzled.  And shoeless.  I am shoeless.  The big box of shoes sitting happily in the walk-in closet at the other house. Thank God I can wear flip flops to work!  I left my oatmeal on the go in a box in the living room along with Ritz crackers, lime tortilla chips and spaghetti sauce. But I think I had my sanity in my back pocket.

I came home and the bedtime routine is completely off.  Leaving the frog princess in her new room sans the fairies on the wall or her name with butterflies perched on the ends doesn't seem right.  It doesn't help that she starts wailing as not only is this a new room in a house that she is familiar with but the crib has been dropped for her safety.  I take her back into my bed.  I got bed rails to make sure she doesn't fall from my old new bed (it's a queen).  After much winking, grinning, singing and threats that I do not mean, she falls asleep. I'm beat.  But I am also hungry.

I get up out of bed and sit on the couch.  Watch a little television.  Finally, I rise from my perch and do dishes (I think something is wrong with the dishwasher that no one ever uses and I'm none too happy about this travesty).  I make my famous love pasta (wouldn't you like the recipe!).  I eat. I sit some more.

I realize I am sitting in silence.  In my mother's house.  Alone.  I don't think that's ever happened. My frog princess is asleep in what used to be my mother's room.  I cooked in her prized pots, washed dishes in the sink she also stood over.  I have a deep sense of peace about me.

Today was not an easy day but, my mother's house is once again my own.  She is tucked away in places all around this house.  The paint she picked out for the family room.  The chandeliers I bought her for Christmas one year (much to her delight).  The beautiful curtains that she made for the front living room that are exquisite, regal and simple all at the same time.  That makes me happy.  To be in my mother's house.  To  now call it my own again.

On this Monday, I am grateful for little things that are now big and for big things that I now realize are little.  How was your day?

Monday Musings: The Things She Left Behind

Mondays are a day of reflection and gratefulness.  I try to look for something that will make Mondays not such a drag.  This week, I don't know if this has been accomplished though in some sense I'd have to answer yes. Today I got a chance to go through some of mami's clothes.  I sit here on the floor in my family room after a warm shower with her signature capri sweats on.  I thought about the title of this blog immediately as dad set out the clothes he'd boxed up unto his bed in the new room he has moved himself into in preparation for the frog princess and I moving in with him.

I couldn't help but cry as I set clothes aside.  I tried not to keep too many.  Dad is planning on boxing up the rest and sending it to Dominican Republic to hand out to needy people in the countryside.  Something she did often and lovingly.  Something I know I'll pick up doing just as soon as I get through the rough part of this grieving period.  I didn't get through it all.  And I probably kept too much to being with.

I was upset that dad went through all that himself.  That he had to feel the pain that I felt.  But, in going through it I realized that he'd just taken everything and thrown it in a box.  I think it had been too much for him and rightfully so.  It dawned on me when I got to her purse.  The brown Rosetti that I always threatened to take from her because it was so cute.  It was still full of her things.  Little notes with people's phone numbers or the name of a store, miscellaneous cards.  Treasures like hers and dad's ID badges from the hospital the day after the frog princess was born worn down from the time that's passed but with their names clearly printed along with our room number.

In the midst of my tears I had gotten a lull in the snot and sobs.  That is, until I found them.  The bit of wisdom that only a fortune cookie can carry.  I told my sister and she said she wondered what made her keep these. I have no clue of when it was.  I'm guessing on one of our excursions to The Crazy Buffet which she loved.  Thinking about those outings make me smile.  It's where the picture below was taken. More and more I see her in my mind as she was while healthy.  Looking through her clothes I remember her modeling for me and always using her hand to press her stomach down as if it was an iron pressing away the wrinkles.  She would pose, one foot in front of the other, one hand on her hip, and a funny look on her face.  And then she'd make a comment about something not looking good and I'd tell her she was crazy, that it looked adorable.  Then, she'd give me her big smile and pucker her lips at me.

The fortunes are her message to me on this night.  And so, although you might think this is a sad post and not at all what I told you Monday Musings (I finally settled on a name) was going to be about, it is.  I am most grateful for the message she sent me from beyond the grave.  Things that ring true for me at this point in my life as I go through so much flux.  So much doubt with where I stand at work, what my future holds in my personal life and my state of happiness in general.

The first fortune had a Chinese word on the back with its English translation.  The word, you ask? FAMILY.  The fortune? Your love of life can carry you through any circumstance.  I won't give you the lucky numbers because I'm planning on running out and getting a lotto ticket and don't feel like sharing the pot with the <insert number of subscribers here> of you.

The second fortune, and the one that got me bawling all over again because I can tell you that I am tired, weary and trying to make some very tough decisions on every aspect of my life: The Chinese word: SCHOOL (I think this was her way of telling me that life is a school and I am doing a whole lot of learning at the moment).  The fortune: Don't stop now! (with the exclamation point).

I couldn't believe it.  Through the tears I am feeling blessed and thankful to still have my connection with mami.  She taught me that, while I get to touch, feel, smell and hug the things she left behind ultimately, all the things of worth that she gave me are not things.  They lie in the faces of my dad, my sister, my brother.  In the smile of my child who I, without realizing she was sick, named her after. She taught me about family and about school and the importance of both.  And she appears to still be teaching me through the things she left behind.

I was able to get on Skype with my baby sister.  Eyes all swollen from hours of crying.  She's the only one I wanted to talk to.  Because she's the only one that could understand my words and the spaces in between.  Tonight, she lightened my load by carrying some of the weight for me. So, I find myself doubly thankful for the additional gift that mami gave me: a sister to share my grief, memories and smiles with.

What are you thankful for today? What has made you smile on this manic Monday?