Hermandad (Sisterhood)

Niños gritando y peleando por el mismo juguete, canciones de Sabina a todo volumen, papas con chile viendo una pelicula, historias de la familia, en fin, memorias inolvidables que se quedaran marcados para siempre en mi corazón. Esta fue la visita recente de mi hermana y su peque en pocas palabras.

Nuestra amistad no empezó asi. Hemos ido construyéndola desde hace muchos años pues entre nosotros hay 15 años de diferencia, y ha sido hasta los últimos años ya como madres las dos que nos hemos acercado mucho más y desarrollado una amistad, una amistad que nos une aún más que nuestro lazo de familia.

sisters-feetMi hermana y yo somos distintas, tenemos una manera de ver la vida diferente y al mismo tiempo nos complementamos mucho pues lo que una ve, la otra no. Hemos aprendido que es necesario tolerarnos y respetarnos mutuamente para tener una buena relación. Y asi en los momentos donde nuestras emociones nos ciegan, la confianza entre nosotros prevalece.

Vivir en distintos países no es fácil, sin embargo nuestra unidad y amistad prevalece en la distancia, se hace grande y más sólida cada día y cada vez que la vida nos regala tiempo juntas, puertas se abren y aprendo cosas nuevas. Esta visita me hace contemplar la tolerancia y la conexión, las cualidades que crearon una experiencia mágica de nuestro tiempo juntas. Cualidades que son también los pilares que necesitamos para crear un mundo sin violencia.

“Qué grande es el mundo, mami” le decía a mi hermana mi sobrinito de 4 años mientras cruzábamos el lago Washington y sus palabras por alguna razón se quedaron en mí.  Si, el mundo es grande y las posibilidades en él, inmensas.

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Children screaming and fighting over the same toy, singing Sabina’s songs out loud,  sharing chips and salsa while watching a movie, family stories, and unforgettable moments that will be in my heart forever. This was my sister and her little boy’s recent visit.

My friendship with my sister has not always been like this. We have been building it for many years now as there is a 15 year age difference between us. It wasn’t until recently, when we both became mothers, that we have become much closer and developed a friendship, a friendship that unites us even more than being sisters.

My sister and I are very different; we have different ways of seeing the world. What one of us sees, the other does not. We have learned that for our relationship to be a good one, we must tolerate and respect our differences. In moments where our emotions blind us, trust between us prevails.

Living in different countries is not easy, yet our unity and friendship prevails in the distance, it becomes bigger and more solid every day, and every time that life gives us time together, doors open and I learn new things. This visit made me think about tolerance and connection. They are what make our time together so magical. And they are the pillars we all need to create a world without violence.

“How big the world is, mami!” my four-year-old nephew told my sister while we were crossing Lake Washington. His words for some reason stayed in me. Yes, the world is big and the possibilities in it, immense.

Can you talk to a friend about their abusive behavior?

Yes, you can! But it’s not easy and you could probably use some advice, right?

It’s hard to admit or even recognize when someone we care about is being abusive. When we do start to see it, some of us want to vote them off the island and some of us want to stick our head in the sand. But what if we want to continue to be in community with folks who have done harm? We’ve got a new guide How’s Your Relationship? Conversations with someone about their abusive behavior that will help you talk with a person in your life who is struggling in their relationship, who maybe isn’t their best self, and who has the will to change.

 How’s Your Relationship? Conversations with someone about their abusive behavior

 

It starts with love

Recently I have been recapturing my glory days. Around the time I had two kids under the age of five, my mom asked me how I was doing. While I felt like things were going pretty well―I love my family and my job―I found myself saying, “I am totally happy and grateful and all that jazz but I feel like I am treading water. I don’t know what I’m missing, but I am missing something.” A few days later she called and told that she wanted to buy me a membership at the local tennis club. I hadn’t even picked up a racquet in 15 years! I had all the excuses: I was too busy, it was too expensive, I would be terrible. But she persisted (mother knows best) and encouraged me to do it anyway. Well four years later I have reclaimed my youthful love for tennis (and trophies). As it turns out, it was just what I needed.

Tennis TrophyNow, I don’t spend all my time playing tennis of course. I also spend a lot of time thinking about relationships, and what it takes to make them work. It turns out that everything you ever wanted to learn about relationships, you can learn from tennis:

In tennis love means nothing (actually zero). It’s not that love isn’t important, it’s that that is the starting point for everything else. If you want to play, you’ve got to start with love.

Tennis is a sport where you have to actually win (or lose) the final point. Time doesn’t run out―you keep playing until it’s over. That means you have to be committed. You can’t just wait it out, you have to engage.

In tennis, you always have a chance to come back. Because time never runs out, you’ve always got a chance to make things right. You can start doing things differently. If your groundstrokes from the baseline aren’t working, come to the net more. If your powerful returns aren’t getting you going, try lobbing. Just like in relationships you can try something new/different.

Tennis is fun. Or it should be. If you’re not enjoying yourself, take a deep breath and remember what you love about it and try again. Relationships are the same deal. If you’re not feeling good about things, pause and remember the good stuff and see if you can get back there. And if you can’t, it’s ok to lay down your racquet and play another day.

I love what I’ve learned from tennis and am so appreciative that I have come back to it. It has reminded me of who I am (and want to be) at my core―a powerful woman who starts with love in everything I do.

Hablemos de racismo (Let’s talk about racism)

ignore-me-elephantAyer por la noche mientras mi pequeño se preparaba para dormir después de un dia difícil, se acercó muy tiernamente, me abrazo y me pidió disculpas por haberme respondido no de la mejor manera durante la tarde y se disculpó diciendo que estaba muy cansado. Lo escuche, lo abracé y con todo amor y mirándolo a los ojos le explique que cuando uno se disculpa es mejor hacerlo sin presentar la excusa.

Ya dormido me puse a pensar lo importante de ser responsable de nuestros actos y no pude evitar pensar en lo que está ocurriendo a nuestro alrededor con todas las ofensas y racismo abierto y descarado que se escucha de los aspirantes a ser candidatos presidenciales y además de todos aquellos que en este país se sienten superiores a inmigrantes y personas que ellos consideran distintas. Yo me pregunto, ¿cómo hacer para que estas personas se hagan responsables de sus acciones y del impacto del odio que están sembrando en contra de lo diverso?

Es triste a lo que hemos llegando y al mismo tiempo puede que no sea tan malo pues tal vez es necesario llegar a lo más bajo para que ya de una vez por todas sea hable abiertamente de lo que siempre ha estado presente de una manera silenciosa: El racismo. Si, ya la esclavitud no es legal pero fuera de ahí, el odio, el miedo a lo diferente y distinto, y la necesidad de marcar la superioridad siempre han estado presentes. Es incómodo, triste, pero es una realidad y la única manera de que haya un cambio es que se vea y se palpe de una manera real y abierta.

Ahora bien, ¿qué podemos hacer al respecto? ¿Cuál es mi parte en todo esto? ¿Responder con odio, sentirme ofendida, atacar, estar a la defensiva? Creo que no. Como inmigrante por supuesto que he sentido todas estas emociones pero si realmente quiero formar parte de un cambio o mejor aún de una transformación social donde la tolerancia, inclusión y aceptación sean parte del  mundo donde nos desenvolvemos mi respuesta tiene que ser proactiva, pensada, con estrategia y con la intención de crear una mejor sociedad.

Por mi parte continuaré cuestionándome y haciéndome responsable de mis acciones. Crearé espacios donde se pueda conversar al respecto, en fin es un granito de arena, y si cada quien pone un poquito quien quita y esta vez realmente sea el inicio de una transformación en la conciencia social para vivir mejor.

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Last night while my son was getting ready for bed after a rough day, he very kindly came and hugged me. He apologized for not having responded in the best way that afternoon and he excused himself, telling me that it happened because he was very tired. I listened to him, hugged him, and with all my love, looked into his eyes and explained to him that when you apologize it is best done without an excuse.

Once he was asleep I started thinking about how important it is to be accountable for our actions. I could not help thinking about what is happening around us in politics;  all the offensive remarks and the open racism that we are hearing from  aspiring presidential candidates  as well as from all those in this country who feel superior to immigrants and people they consider different. I wonder, what needs to be done for these people to be accountable for their actions and for the impact the hate they are spreading against diversity is causing.

It’s sad what we have come to, and at the same time it may not be as bad as we think.  Maybe it is necessary to get to this low point, so we can start speaking openly about what has always been there in a silent way: Racism. Yes, slavery is not legal but the hate, fear of the different and diverse, and the need to show superiority has always been there. It is uncomfortable, it hurts,  it’s sad, but it is a reality and the only way to change it is to see it and examine it in a real and open way.

Now, what can we do about it? What is my part in this? Responding with hate? Feel offended? Attack back? Be defensive? I don’t think so. As an immigrant, of course I have felt all these emotions, but if I really want to be part of a real change—or, even better, a social transformation where tolerance, inclusion, and acceptance are part of the world where we live—my response has to be proactive, thoughtful and strategic, with the intention of creating a better society.

For my part, I will continue questioning and being accountable for my actions. I will work to create spaces where we can talk, discuss, and learn about racism. It is not much but if everyone does a little, maybe this time really is the beginning of a transformation in the social conscience.

Wisdom from the Biebs?

Sometimes, when I’ve been working on a particularly challenging project, I like to reward myself by watching a video from Urban Dance Camp . (Seriously, if you have not checked them out, do it now, I’ll wait.) That is how I came to love the dancing couple and choreographers Keone and Mari Madrid. So when I heard that they did Justin Bieber’s new video, I had to check it out. No surprise I loved the dancing but I was also struck by the lyrics. They are actually pretty wise.

Love Yourself lays out a pretty solid checklist of when you might consider walking away from a crappy relationship:

Lyrics Takeaway
For all the times that you rain on my parade Not cool – you want your partner to throw you a parade, not rain on it!
My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone When people who love and care about you don’t like your partner that may be something to listen to.
And when you told me that you hated my friends
The only problem was with you and not them
Honestly if your partner doesn’t like your friends, they may not actually like the real you either. And why would you stay with someone who doesn’t like you or wants to keep you away from your friends?
And every time you told me my opinion was wrong
And tried to make me forget where I came from
Having differences of opinions is fine, but telling someone they’re wrong or to forget their roots isn’t great.
For all the times that you made me feel small
I fell in love. Now I feel nothin’ at all
Your partner should build you up, not break you down. No wonder you fell out of love!

 

When your relationship makes you feel this way, it’s a pretty good idea to move on. And “you should go and love yourself” is a pretty good way to end things.

Way to go, Biebs!

Desacelerando (Slow down)

Tengo la mala costumbre de tratar de hacer demasiado, en poco tiempo. Nadie puede decir que no soy eficaz. Sin embargo, vivir de prisa simplemente me ha evitado disfrutar y estar presente en muchos momentos, momentos que pasan y no suelen repetirse.

to-do-list-breath-inHace unos meses, mi hijo de 7 años me compartió algo que estaban practicando en la escuela, me trajo un velocímetro con tres niveles: el nivel azul, cuando esta uno sumamente tranquilo; el nivel verde cuando uno está en la velocidad adecuada; y el nivel rojo, cuando uno está acelerado. Los dos nos pusimos a practicar nuestros niveles de velocidad. O sorpresa, más de una vez escuche, “mama, estas en rojo, ¿cuál es la prisa?”. En ese momento, entendí el  como estoy viviendo mi vida.

El estar viviendo en ‘rojo’ me hace sentir saturada, cansada, mi creatividad disminuye, pero lo más triste es que mis relaciones personales se ven afectadas también. No dedico tiempo de calidad y muchas veces debido a todo lo anterior estoy irritable, o impaciente. Y esto está escalando, no tiene mucho deje comida en la estufa mientras salía a hacer unos mandados. ¿En qué estaba pensando? Gracias a los bomberos y excelentes vecinos no pasó a mayores.

Mi tranquilidad mental y espiritualidad definitivamente se han visto afectadas también. Por un lado quiero vivir en armonía, feliz, disfrutando cada instante tanto con mi familia como en mi trabajo y por otro lado me saturo a más no poder, hago, hago y hago pero no vivo, no estoy presente, estoy en piloto automático siempre haciendo o produciendo algo. Esto tiene que parar, quiero y estoy dispuesta a cambiar esto. Una amiga sabia me sugirió empezar con cosas pequeñas, como tres minutos de yoga al día, detenerme constantemente y hacer respiraciones profundas, alimentarme bien, tratar de ir a la cama a buena hora.

Todavía me cacho en rojo más de una vez al día, pero por lo menos ya estoy más consciente de esos momentos. Cada día es un nuevo empezar, una oportunidad a ser mejor. Día a día continuaré siendo consciente de mi velocidad y la ajustaré cuantas veces sea necesario. Te invito a hacer lo mismo, no perdemos nada y podemos ganar mucho!

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I have a bad habit of trying to do too much in a short period of time. No one can say I’m not effective. However, living in a hurry has kept me from enjoying and being present in many moments; moments that I can never get back.

A few months ago, my seven-year-old son shared with me a tool they were using at his school; he brought home a speedometer with three levels: the blue level, when you are very calm; green when you’re at the right speed; and the red level, when you are in a hurry. We immediately set out to practice our speed levels at home. Surprise! More than once I heard, “Mom, you are in the red, what’s the hurry?” Right then, I realized the problem with how I’ve been living my life.

Living in the red makes me feel saturated, tired, and less creative. But the saddest part is that my personal relationships are affected as well. I do not spend quality time with those I love and many times, due to all of the above, I am irritable or impatient. And this is escalating—not too long ago, I left food on the stove while I went to do some errands. What was I thinking? Thanks to firefighters and great neighbors, it did not get as bad as it could have been.

My spirituality has definitely been affected as well. On one hand, I want to live in harmony, happiness, enjoying every moment, both with my family and my work. But on the other hand, I saturate myself to the top and I do and do without living. I am not in the present—I am living on autopilot, always producing or doing something. This has to stop. I want and am willing to change this. A wise friend suggested I start with small things: like three minutes of yoga during my day; pause often and take deep breaths; eat well and try to go to bed early.

I still catch myself in a hurry more than once a day, but at least now I am more aware of these moments. Every day is a beginning, a chance to be better. I will continue to be aware of my speed and I will adjust it as many times as necessary. I invite you to do the same—we can’t really lose anything and we can gain a lot!

What I’m saying to my kids

My mom asked me the other day what I’ve said to my kids about the state of the world these days. It made me  pause, because I’m at a point in time where I don’t have to say anything. We don’t actually watch the news in our house, I turn down NPR when the kids are in the car, and the only TV we do watch are Netflix kid shows or silly YouTube videos. (Just so you know this is the kind of nonsense my kids have been watching lately.)

It’s different than the world I grew up in where even watching Punky Brewster, I ran the risk of seeing war, terrorism, and murder. Now even though in reality there is more media and more stimulation, my little family can be insulated from it. And while I appreciate that, I also feel like I am not living up to my responsibility as a parent to help my children react to and deal with the realities of human suffering and injustice.

For instance, we just celebrated Thanksgiving and each year I am more aware of the lies I was taught as a child about the way white settlers treated the Native people they encountered. It makes me want to simultaneously scream, “Everything is terrible!” and hold my children close and wonder at the beauty of a world that has them in it.

And so, I realize that I must talk with my children about the state of the world. Talk with them about the real history of Thanksgiving and a new way forward. Talk with them about our responsibility to stand up for refugees in need. Talk with them about striving for kindness and gratitude, and about forgiveness and accountability when we fail. Talk with them about flowers and small acts of rebellion in a world that seems filled with violence.

So here is what I commit to saying to my children. In the midst of the violence, know that I love you and that I want a just world for us all, so let’s try to bring about peace together.