Outnumbered

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I have a house full of men.  This means a lot of things, like round the clock not so noble gases.  There is a lot of : “where is _____ (fill with anything, you name it, they can’t find it)?  And for some reason they can’t figure out how to use a hamper.  I also get a lot of blank stares when I get poetic about my emotions.  There is so much testosterone in this house I swear I can smell it, and it doesn’t smell like roses.

I have to admit occasionally I feel outnumbered and misunderstood.  But there is a silver lining to my predicament, while it might not seem like it to innocent eyes, I am the  master of the house.  A lot of responsibility comes with the title but also a lot of perks. For all the cleaning, organizing, nourishing, strategizing and mediating I get absolute loyalty and love.  Plus my wardrobe is the only one that really matters (at least for now, Lucas is proving to be a little fashionista).

My men might drive me crazy sometimes but they value their queen above all. For all you master strategists out there you know that once you lose the queen the game is over.

So today I am thankful for being outnumbered in my home.  I am thankful for the wonderful men that make my home a home.  I am grateful for the kisses on demand.  I am thankful that even though I know my way around hanging a curtain, I don’t have to. I am blessed because they love me as much as I love them. Because I know that deep down my wish is their command, I am for ever grateful.

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So for all you ladies with a house full of men I raise my glass.  May your kingdom be happy and prosperous!

 

Music hour

Music hour

 

My husband loves taking pictures…NOT

My husband loves taking pictures…NOT

My favorite hug monsters!

My favorite hug monsters!

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Mumra, my first boy

Your heart was scratched

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I am not always the best mami.  Sometimes I loose my temper and I act like a 4 year old, in front of my 4 year old.  This morning was one of those occasions.

Like most moms/dads I wake up every morning with a series of duties that would put my liver to shame.  I have to make breakfast, let the dogs out, dress the boys, change diapers, pack lunches, mediate, be loving, deal with last minute school stuff, hopefully brush me teeth, change, drive Lucas to school, etc, etc, etc.  All this activities take place in the span of 45 minutes, yes that is right, sometimes less.

This morning I had to add to the mix the packing of some goodies as holiday thank you’s to Luca’s teachers etc.  I had five bags of David’s famous kettle corn for five people.  Now, I am not crazy, I saved some for Lucas and placed it in a container in his lunchbox.  Not so surprisingly, Lucas wanted his kettle corn in one of the gift bags.  I had no more gift bags.  I tried to explain it to him but his face turned sour and as he prepared to whine I found myself whining first!  I pretend cried and raised my voice in frustration. Not my finest moment, I know.

My ill-conceived plan backfired. He retaliated with lots of fake crying and shutting down. At this point we are running late for school and I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  We both whined and protested while Marcos watched silently and a little shocked.   This went on for about five minutes that felt like five hours.  Finally he calmed down, gave me a second to regroup and proceeded to fight with me about wearing his coat.   I found myself putting the coat in my face in order to muffle a scream.  What can I say, I am only human.

Long story short we got in the car eventually and headed for school.

As I drove in creepy silence (considering I had a 1 and 4-year-old in the car) I thought about what had happened.  I was a pressure cooker and the pressure valve was released.  I had unraveled.  There is a lot going on in my life, but it is not Luca’s fault.  I stopped the car so I could apologize.  I told him I was trying to do my best.  I told him I got frustrated because he would not listen to me. I told him things could not always be how he wanted and it was my job to take care of him.   I told him I was sorry I lost my temper and that I should do better.  He looked at me and said: “it was like your heart got scratched”.  It was exactly like that!  Like all my efforts to make everything great for everybody had gone unnoticed.  Like nobody could hear or appreciate me.  I know I was wrong to think that, but honestly that is how it felt. But I realized I had under estimated him.

We kept talking and all was good between us.  He still likes me and I know I am the best mami for him.  He is the wisest little man I know.  Seemingly non-sensical but always making the most sense.  And in his childlike madness he has the treasure of clarity.  His vision is not clouded by judgement, sarcasm, fear or resentment.  He sees things and reacts, not always in a calm manner but always in truth.

Today I am thankful for clarity.  I am grateful for the lessons Lucas is teaching me.  I am thankful for all the love and support that surrounds me.  I am thankful for this wonderful life.  And I will try to weight all else against it.  Because nothing is more important than this  moment.  I have so much to be thankful for and, with a little clarity, that is not hard to see.  Even if my heart got scratched :).

 

 

Despierta

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“Despierta! Tu Puedes! Ahora!”  read the last pages of my dad’s book Asi Piensan las Hormiguitas.  It means: wake up, you can do it, now!  They are brief  but  powerful words.

Sometimes we feel small and powerless.  Sometimes we think the world is conspiring against us.  Sometimes we might give up.  But never forget, it is our choice.  Surrender or conquer, it is up to us.

Within each of us there is a mighty T-Rex, I have learned this from Lucas.  Our lives are a reflection of our connection to the power within.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson so wonderfully put it: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”  Once we realize this our perspective will change for the better and so will our lives.

Today, on day 4 of gratitude fest, I am thankful for the giant within.  I am grateful for all the times I fell and picked myself up.  I am grateful for all the despair that lead to faith.  I am thankful for all the times I was thought of as a mice only to prove myself a lion.

I invite you to let that powerful T-Rex roar.  You are only as small as you think you are.  So think BIG!

Despierta! Tu Puedes! Ahora!

 

Every breath…

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Lately I have been a little bit out of sorts.  A lot is going on in the mist of great loss.  It is taking some effort on my part to stay present and more than once I have caught myself holding my breath.

When I was fourteen I was on a swimming team.   I remember it was a conflictive activity for me.  It was both mystical and terrifying.  I was enamored with water.  The feeling of buoyancy and silence felt like I was in a magical realm that allowed me to escape  my teenage anxiety.  Then there was the competition, the exhaustion, the cramps and holding my breath.  I never knew what I was going to get.  I would either feel the peace and wonder that came with the numbness of doing 20 laps at a comfortable pace or the agitation that came with  not being able to keep up.  Sometimes it felt like I could easily drown.   It was during that time in my life I got a deep appreciation for breathing calmly.  Even though it would seem I have forgotten that lesson, many times since, I haven’t.   In the end it was my breath that determined whether it would be a wonderful or disturbing experience.  Needless to say I wasn’t built for competition.  I was built for breathing :).

Today I vow to breathe mindfully.  I will try to remember that when things seem hopeless, there is always my breath.  And as long as I have that anything is possible .

On day number 3 of my gratitude fest I am thankful for every breath.  For every breath that has kept me here, transforming, loving, feeling and learning.  If you can breathe you can live, if you can live you can change and if you can change  life can be the way you want it to be.

To every breath, may it always bring you closer to the life you want.  May every breath be filled with love and gratitude.  I wish you many more and the wisdom to make each one worth while.

 

Did you know that, when you where a kid?

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“Do you think coyotes sound like a chicken or a wolf? They sound like a wolf.  Did you know that, when you where a kid, like me?” said Lucas this morning on our way to school.  “I don’t think I knew about coyotes when I was a kid, like you.”  I replied.  Lucas continued to explain to me how wolves and coyotes make the same sound. “Awwoooooo!!!! That is how the wolf goes.  Awwoooooo!!!! That is how the coyote goes. And that is why they are friends.”  Marcos joined in the awwoooing and what followed was a serenade of howling all the way to school.

As I think of this I can’t help but smile. It made me think of how curious, brave, imaginative, creative and kind kids can be (remember I am a glass half full kind of girl).  It made me understand it is in our nature to be kind and creative.  It is not in our nature to be destructive and cruel.  It is possible that our circumstances could make us question our innate inclinations.  It is unavoidable to get lost sometimes.  But the strong and determined will always find their way back to kindness and creation.

Listening to my children is a constant reminder of that.  No matter how lost, scared or confused we can always rely on kindness to pull us through.  While we can not always count on the kindness of others, we can always rely on ourselves.  Being kind to ourselves is the first step into a happy life.  Do you remember that, from when you were a kid?

On day two of gratitude,  I am grateful for children.  I am grateful for their lessons about a life we might have forgotten.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to create every day.

To children, may they always be loved, may their hearts be full of kindness.  Listen to your inner child and be kind to yourself and others.  Create the life you want for yourself and those you love.  Surround yourself with a little innocence and a lot of wonder.  Let your true nature always shine through, no matter what.

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Twelve Days of Gratitude

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Four days ago my dear Mumra was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  As the waterworks inevitably came I was filled with sadness, anger and guilt.  The next two days where a roller coaster of emotions.  For a brief moment I felt hope.  If we could take him to an oncologist and put him in treatment, he could stay with us for a while longer.  I talked to the oncologist only to realize this would not be an option for us.  With anguish in our hearts we made the decision to work with our vet in order to keep him as comfortable as possible for as long as we can.  I am scared of losing him, but mostly I am scared to witness his  suffering.

This  has taken me back a few months ago when I had to say goodbye to my beloved Abuelo.   I am reminded too soon of the inevitable cycle of life.  And I can’t help but to feel my heart-break.  But as I look into Mumra’s innocent eyes I know I have to stay here, now.

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All this pain I am experiencing is anchored in the future and the past.  Now I have Mumra with me, seemingly full of life.  Now I have my beloved family in health.  Now I have strength and determination.  Now I have all I need and more.  I have the world at my feet because I have love, health, stability and joy.  I have the opportunity to live, and today that is all that really matters.

Last year I started the twelve days of gratitude in my previous blog.  It was a wonderful experience and it rippled.  People started their own twelve days of gratitude leading to Christmas.  It filled my heart with joy and gave me perspective.  So I decided to make it a tradition.

Today, twelve days to Christmas, I once more vow to be grateful every day.  To say thank you out loud.  To count my blessing and not my losses.  To stay here now.

So today on day one I am grateful for Mumra and Abuelo.  I am grateful for all the love, kindness, respect, happiness  and wisdom they have bestowed in me.  Because of them my life is better.  And because they gave me their love everlasting, that is what I am going to give to the world.

To love everlasting, may it never leave our sight and may we never stop giving it to the world.  No matter what hand you are dealt, handle it with love and you will never, ever be without it.

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Oh Sugar

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I have said before and I will say it again, sugar is the main culprit for our current health epidemic.  Let me count the reasons why, it is harmful to our bodies, it is addictive, it is readily available, it is in 74% of pre-packed foods, it is hidden under over 50 aliases, it is one of the biggest industries and worst of all it is marketed as a sweet innocent treat ( so much so we give it to our children without a second thought).  Today I am not here to tell you about all the dangers about sugar, for more information on that you can read my article: “Save Your Child from Sugar Addiction.”  Or you can search for a gazillion articles on the subject.

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Today I would like to give you a little perspective and ask you to do a simple experiment.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day.  One teaspoon contains 4 grams of sugar.

 Ok here is what I would like you to do, read the labels of the foods that you consume or give your child today.  Look at the sugar content of each serving and add it all up.  That is it.  

You might be surprised to see that just  8oz of orange juice contains about 24 grams of sugar!  That is more than the daily allowance for a child and your whole daily allowance.  Add a cookie, sweetened cup of coffee, a banana and you and your child are in dangerous territory.

I also wanted to share this amazing website called Sugar Science.  It is an evidence-based website that provides scientific information about sugar and it’s impact on health.  It is super easy to navigate and it could help you take a step towards a healthier life.

Information is power, I urge you to take action and take charge of your heath and your family.  You can do it!

Carte de Visite

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Aside from being a Captain I am a photographer.  Photography has been a great passion of mine since I was a child.  When time came to go to college I decided to turn this love for photography into a career.  My studies keep my affair with photography heated and it culminated with a MFA that has influenced my work ever since.  I considered myself lucky to be able to work doing what I loved, but photography had to take a backseat once I had my first child.  When Lucas was born I took a step back and focused on being a mom.  Years later came my second child and my mom career lead me to studies on nutrition and health.  That is how I became a Captain :).   But my love for photography never faded and I have a gazillion pictures of my family to prove it.

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Photography helps keep people together when apart.  In 1854 french photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri patented the carte de visit.   These visiting cards where photographs mounted on cards 2-1/2 by 4 inches.  These small portraits became wildly popular because for the fist time photography was accessible to the masses.  They could be reproduced numerous times (contrary to the daguerreotype ) and they where easy to mail and share.  People would collect them and had special albums for them.  This marked a new era for portraiture and could be considered the beginning of social media.  Today we get to snap a picture and share it with the world in a matter of seconds!  And that is a great privilege if you ask me. 

Recently I decided it was time to create a family portrait.  In the past people always wondered why ( with me  being a photographer) I never sent photo/christmas cards.  Well, honestly my brain was fried from sheer exhaustion.  Sending, let alone taking a picture of my whole family, dealing with wardrobe malfunctions, unwilling subjects and all the drama, was not in my top ten ways to spend the day.  But times are changing and this year I women up and did it.  I orchestrated and successfully photographed my family.  It wasn’t as simple as taking a selfie.  I must say I feel way more comfortable behind the camera.   Trying to be both behind and front was a challenge.  But now I hold in my virtual hands our very own holiday visiting card.

I wanted to share this experience with you to assure you that true passion never extinguishes.  The things you love to do are within your reach.  Sometimes you might have to set them aside to discover new passions.  But the flame in your hearts will always be there.  Life is ever-changing and letting go doesn’t mean it’s the end.  By staying loose and fluid we can enjoy what each moment brings and it might just be what you need to find your way back.

Today I feel inspired, loved and grateful.  For all the loves of my life have made me better.  At this moment I am even more in love than the day I took my first Polaroid.  But most importantly at this moment I have all of you to share it with.

There was a lot of this and then some.  But in the end there was so much more.

There was a lot of this and then some. But in the end there was so much more.

 

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Hasta siempre

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Last night at 9:30 my beloved Abuelo drifted into his next adventure.  He always said he wanted to leave this world in his sleep and that was why he constantly napped  during his Platinum years.  He was a flawed and wonderful man and I love him with all my might.  He was a tall and intimidating individual but his heart melted when ever he looked at me.  He used to call me “lagrimita” because I cried at the drop of the hat but deep down I knew he was the same way.  He was always extra kind to me, extra tolerant, extra supportive, extra devoted.  I could see that in his eyes I was a wonderful treasure and he made sure to care for me as such.  I didn’t always agree with him, in fact I mostly disagreed with his opinions and choices, but I always loved him.

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A few weeks ago I had the chance to go visit Abuelo in Puerto Rico.  He was on his way out, I could tell.  His arms shook uncontrollably, his words were unintelligible  and his eyes were empty pools.  But I still saw him, the man he was in my heart, full of unimaginable love and strength.  In that body, he was there, waiting for release. I hugged him, I held his hand, I talked about the weather, about my undying love and I thanked him for making me his princess all these years.  My last visit was the hardest, I held him and cried and eventually had to leave.  My heart broke that day as I walked away from him, knowing I would never see him again.

Today my broken heart is like an open wound.  And I hurt in a way I can not explain.  But in the mist of all this feelings I feel love.  I feel love never-ending.  I feel gratitude and love, love and more love.

Life is a treasure.  Life is all this things that happen.  Life is exhilarating joy and pain.  But mostly life is love.  And love, well, there is nothing as powerful as love.

So today I invite you to love.  Love hard, love fast, love strong and love without fear.  Even if your heart is broken, love.  Because true love is all that is good. True love will heal your deepest wounds.  True love will elevate you to heaven.   Sure with love comes pain, but also the ultimate gift.  Because you will never be stronger than when you are surrounded by love.   Because when all else is gone, love will remain.

One day we will all depart to our new adventure.  Till then make sure you fill every day with love, with kindness, with laughter and acceptance. Do what ever you need to do, what ever is important to you and do it with love.  In this life, and after,  love is all there is.

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