Monday, December 31, 2012

Adios 2012, it's been real...

Everyone is posting Happy New Year this and Happy New Year that... Well, here's my end of year post and it comes in the most honest and open way I am ever so able to share will all of you.

In many ways, 2012 and I were either in sync or at odds with each other, just like many of you can relate when it comes to relationships or events in your lives.

Oh 2012 what a year you and I had. I must start with this letter to you ('twas not the original idea, but it works) mainly because I feel I owe you an honest account of all that happened between us, some good, some not so good, but all very much needed.

A year ago I welcomed you with so much hope, anticipation and faith in a new life, opportunities and a renewed spirit with an open heart to take on any challenge life would bring. Little did I know some of the biggest challenges were quickly to come and make appearances to disrupt the somewhat peaceful new life I had carved for myself and the kid.

You brought me a new home, new friends and a community to be part of my every day. Thank you for that. You challenged my work and skills to consider the remote possibilities of thinking outside of the box, while putting in my path teachers that will support me and check in on me, from time to time.

You showed me people's true colors. Perceptions and suspicions were confirmed. Actions spoke louder than words. People truly love from their heart. People also hate with envy. You showed it all to me this year and it was like a veil was lifted. To see a person deliberately hurt another, admit it and feel no remorse. You showed me that. But, in the midst of it all, I witnessed it first hand and emerged a different person. So thanks to you, 2012, I know how NOT to be, how NOT to treat others and how to respect and love people, regardless of what may seem... that is the lesson I learned from you.

2012, you also gave me love and abruptly snatched it away disguised in advice, better judgement and common sense. Understood. Still, it hurt, but it's better this way.

You slapped me with the reality check of significant losses when wins seemed so far away and unreachable. Why? Why the daily ying and yang of happy and sad, peace and turmoil, excitement and fear? Because that's life, the voice says---Ah, hi there, God, I know you have heard this song before, but it's appropriate given then it's time to kiss 2012 good bye. Yes, it is. Thanks. I am glad you approve. It's OK, I am ready.

______________Pause for disclaimer_________________ and change of tune!________________

2012 was a hell of a year, YES, damn it, a hell of a year. I lost loved ones, changed jobs, left a city I had never thought I would ever love so much, and said good bye to dear friends. In exchange, 2012, I now thank you, speaking as the person that emerged, scarred for life, out of the darkness of the turmoil you put me through.

You reminded me of a few things. You can go home, even when home is not "home home", but your adopted home. You never let me take for granted those people that have been part of my life for years. The same ones that have taught me perseverance, patience ( and I need it!), professional development and to believe in myself. You closed doors, but opened many windows. French-door windows with beautiful drapery full of colors, sequence and bling that opened themselves to a whole new world. A world I am falling head over heals for, even though, it looks, oh so familiar. How wonderful to look at things from a fresh, new perspective. Thank you. I love it!

2012 showed me who my friends are, how much my family means to me (not that I didn't know, but I took them for granted- don't deny it, you do it too!), how much a daily hug from my kid means more than any material possession I could ever desire. This year gave me so much, so much, that even those packages that come wrapped in negative, yet glittery and attractive paper, were gifts that taught me the lessons I needed to learn.

As much as it pains me to say good bye to some of the memories of 2012, I must. It's OK. Memories remain and while I have to remind myself that I cannot dwell on them, I am glad they represent beautiful events, people, and places that will be with me forever. They have been part of a most significant year in my life.

Dearest 2012, I do now, honestly, and whole-heartedly thank you. I am ready for the new year and what it will bring. A smile carves my face as I type this, for the anticipation of what is to come, in whatever shape it does come, brings a smile to my face. If my aunt was sitting here, she'd know what smile I am talking about. It's the fun, sneaky one! The one that makes you think I am keeping some secret from the rest of you. A delicious secret that only I know and will enjoy until it's time to share it with the world. I am in a good place. I have learned to let go of those things I can't control- even though, I wish I could- and enjoy what it is here, in my reach, now.

Don't feel bad, 2012. What happened had to happen. There was no choice and so we move on. Last week I went to see "Les Miserables" and the one line that keeps serenading my mind, like a daily prayer comes from Jean Valjean, in his hour of redemption..."you gave me hope, when hope was gone; you gave me strength to journey on..." and so hope fills my daily and faith-filled prayer for the new year. A prayer I share with you all. May hope and excitement for what is to come in 2013 fill your lives, as well as bring you blessings and happiness, always.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dear friends... aqui y alla, near and far.

Christmas eve, 2012, or as it's called here at home, Noche Buena... Blessed, or "good" night.
It is good indeed, for we are home, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After two years of a self-imposed hiatus, a cameo at the family Christmas shindig was a must.  :) In all seriousness, where else would I want to be, need to be, at this time of the year. No offense to my adoptive homes of Christmas past, but to me, Christmas does come in the form of open toe shoes, sleeveless LBDs and a lot of bling! But, child, please, I draw the line at the palm tree with lights on. Bring me a blue spruce any day, even if it's plastic. SMILE.

For the last three days I have been catching up with family and friends, re-connecting with the culture in the island that watched me grow. Even though I have had to wrap myself in patience and embrace the 90% humidity that allows for creativity to kick in the "my hair will be up in a ponytail for the next 5 days" department, I am good. I am home.

We got here on Friday and  it's already Monday. The time does fly when you are having fun, or watching movies with Pops, the bro and the kid. Somethings sure don't change in two years, or four, or ten. Others, they sure do. As we get older and are more experienced in life, relationships, life, and, (did I mention life already?) everything that comes with it, responsibilities and ups and downs, appreciation kicks in. The cool thing, at least for me, is that I appreciate the little things, those things, or people that you don't get to see or embrace every day.

Two nights ago, my dearest friends, all proud University of Dayton graduates, some roommates, others almost roommates, fake roommates, you name it, loved friends, and I, got together for our usual gathering. Like two of them said, they only get together when I come to visit, so as the responsible party for this example of quality over quantity, I MUST come home more often. We laughed, we could have cried- some tears came but from laughter!- and candid and honest conversations were shared. On my part, and to quote the great Ricky Ricardo, this Lucy had "a lot of eesssplaining to do!" Moves, changes of jobs, custody battles, you have heard it all, but they had not, not all. And they, my friends and co-conspirators in all things college, are the mirrors I can't ever avoid. I look at them and they reflect myself, my thoughts, my heart, my feelings. They not only know me, but they get me. Talking to them was like talking to myself and guess what, myself answered back! :)

As friends we have all known each other for twenty-plus years, starting with a random trip to visit UD and Xavier U. our senior year in high school. Who would have known that for some of us, our lives were about to change forever. Not only we all decided to enroll in the place that would educate, challenge, thrill and even bore us at times, we all, collectively, welcomed the daring invitation to an adventure that would take us hundreds of miles away from our families. To that, we said "bring it!"

The transformative years as university undergraduate and graduate students, taught us to live, love, cry, study, ask questions, search for truth, OUR own truth and our purpose in life. Admittingly, some of us figured ourselves out quicker than others, but nevertheless, and while we all took very different paths upon our "St. Elmo's Fire" time ended, the memories remain. CUE "St. Elmo's Fire" theme song- classic David Foster.

As adults we have gotten married, had babies, divorced, found loving life partners, rented, owned, loved and lost. We have agreed and disagreed, but most important, agreed to disagree. We don't judge, because we have learned that it only hurts us. We are not perfect. We wouldn't change anything about any of us----except for the claim that one of my friends made of the non-negotiable need for THEM to have a say in who I date next, for I clearly have issues- LOL!!!---- I love them all. They are the sisters I didn't have and the brothers I CHOSE to have. Three of us have kids the same age. Three of us have lost our mothers. We have lost jobs, gotten promoted, started our own businesses, jumped started careers more than once. We love music, but have a unique and random fascination with the Indigo Girls. Don't ask, just love us. :)

Being a University of Dayton graduate means you have been exposed to the meaning of the word community. Community is about the members and the impact each member has, with his/her gifts and talents, on the greater community in this world. I am proud to be a member of this, some might say, small community. Each of us lived our UD experience to the fullest, in different ways, but as a tight, cultural unit, together. And so, here we are twenty -plus years later, making our worlds better places for those we touch every single day.

Dear friends of the time that has not been forgotten, from the land of Lawnview, and College Park and, Alberta! The land of the Joseph's and the Jesse Phillips and the Myriam's and Kettering Hall's. Where we jumped over the rainbow taking the magical mystery tour making stops at the Shed, that old Blue Moon Saloon and the still-standing, classy, checkered floored Timothy's. May WE continue to be in each others lives, in each other's hearts. May the memories we shared continue to bring us laughter, tears, and the joy de vivre we embraced so long ago!

Merry Christmas to all! Family and friends. To all who have friends who are part of your families, hug and hug a lot, love and love hard, laugh and laugh often. Live, ALWAYS, and live fully.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Smile. Eyes. Hug. Kiss. Tear. Goodbye.

A smile. Eyes locked in a deep stare. A hug. A kiss. A tear. A wave good bye.

These are moments we all have experience at some point or another. From the time we are born we have been exposed to these very basic, somewhat natural reflexes we often take for granted. Yet somehow they leave a deep scar, at times painful, yet unforgettable.

How many times we as kids smiled at our parents? I know I did. I smiled my smile of very crooked teeth (and that is not counting the many years I lived toothless- don't ask!) when dad and I had played movie trivia and I got all the answers right! Meaningless and worthless classic Hollywood trivia, anyone? At 10, I was an expert and pops was proud! Smile. When mama spoiled me with the microwave pizza I craved for, while knowing very well I was growing side ways. Oops. Pizza, it's an emotional trigger any day! Smile. A Hello Kitty pencil case, pencil sharpener and a eraser. So cute. Mama knew what made me smile.

When I seriously discovered books, I read Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella ---What, disappointed? No, my first favorite novel was not Anne of Green Gables, or Little Women, although I own both of them, and more. Heidi, Black Beauty, you name it. All the classics. However, the first novel I fully recollect devouring and thoroughly enjoying was Shoeless Joe. Hello love affair with baseball!
Now, books make me smile. My son, now 10 and already a ferocious reader, asked for To Kill A Mockingbird for Christmas- if you follow this blog you know why, if you don't know why, follow this blog. ;) Smile.

I now sit here, 3 days before we get on a plane and fly home to San Juan for a fun, family-filled Navidad, and smile. The day will start early, typical if I have anything to do with planning a trip. A small cup of stress, sprinkled with a dash of anxiety with added excitement as garnish! Bring it. Huge smile, for we will be home with dad, kid, brother, aunts, cousins, uncles, even grandma. It won't get better than that.

When eyes lock in a deep stare is like a door opens and you can almost see inside a person's soul. I love that feeling. It has meant a lot to experience it and I a blessed for having shared that moment with another person. Like two people sharing this little secret, sweet and saved only for them. Locked eyes in a deep stare with a person you love. Heavenly. With your kids because you love them that much. With your best friend after a tough, perhaps painful conversation where hurtful words were exchanged, but friendship prevails and now is stronger. With your parents when you realize you love each other in spite of growing up, growing old, because that love is more powerful than any petty disagreement from the past. Sometimes you don't want to look away. You can't, you won't, but you must. That's OK. Smile. You just shared a unique moment. Smile because it happened.

I am a hugger. I am Puerto Rican, can't help it. Although, Lord, living in Ohio I have had to miserably restrain myself. OK, as long as I can hug the life out of my kid, I get my fix. Living in a culture where physical emotions and expressions are often at arms length, I will argue on the need and positive influence a hug can have. A hug can show support when we are feeling weak in the knees. Hugs can be strength and courage when we are afraid and weary. Hugs congratulate us on special occasions. When the high five or the fist pump are not enough, give a hug. I guarantee you it will have a better, more meaningful affect. Give a hug, get a hug. It will make a difference.

A kiss on the cheek, on the lips, on the hand, on the forehead. A sweeter, lovelier expression of affection there is none. A kiss from the person you love. Smile. A kiss from the child you are watching grow up, even a sloppy one, is welcome with unconditional love. There is no agenda, there is no question. It's love. A kiss on the hand, on the forehead, from your dad, uncle or grandpa. A simple gesture or affection. No agenda, no expectation. Just love.

Many tears are shed by many. Some days more tears are shed then others. Tears are cleansing. Tears are painful. Tears leave this fine line, like a path on the road, that leads down your cheek, down your face. You can see them. They are real. Tears are signs of weakness for some, but represent strength and perseverance to others. Tears are indeed cleansing, for when tears are done streaming down your face and you wipe them off, clarity kicks in. Tears remind you of the lessons you might not have signed up for, yet aced. Tears are OK sometimes.

A wave goodbye, like I have written about before, is part of daily routines. You wave when you greet, when you part. Ciao, bye, see you later. A wave goodbye may be the last one directed at a certain somebody. A wave goodbye means you and a person, or a group, or a congregation, shared a moment, a conversation, a service, a meal, a movie, a wine tasting. You shared time together, but now you part. We may say the time and experience is more valuable than that wave goodbye. Sure, no argument there. However, the wave goodbye often comes with that last hug, a last deep stare among two people, some times that last kiss, that last tear and that last smile.

As we continue to hear about distress and tragedy in our communities, let's not forget those very things we often forget with haste. Let's not forget those little details, gestures and beautifully simple moments we share with those in our lives... Savor the smile, the deep stare in each other's eyes, the hug, the kiss, the tear and the wave. Life is for living... every minute of it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I want my MTV!

The 12/12/12 Concert for Hurricane Sandy relief is on. When I turned the TV Eddie Vedder was singing praises to Pink Floyd. Admittedly I was not an original fan, a new appreciation experienced.
Adam Sandler's rendition of "Broken Halleluyah" hilarious, yet poignant and heart-felt.
Jon Bon JOvi is singing "Livin on a Prayer" and it seems all of Madison Square Garden is singing along. Thanks, Glee! ;) The Boss, Springsteen performed a minute before. Too cool!

As they announce the next acts: Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, along with Chris Martin, Alicia Keyes and Paul McCartney, I can't help but regress back to the summer 1985. I want my MTV! I don't quite recall how it all started. What came first, the music or the artist? The wake up call and discovery of music, music videos and the great musicians, singers that created magic. And it was ON TV!! 
It was the year of "We Are The World", "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin" and when Cyndi Lauper showed me how to have fun- with funky, spiky colored hair! Yeah, yeah, it was the age of Duran Duran, Michael Jackson's Thriller and Bad and wait for it, wait for it..."Can't Fight this Feeling" by REO, "Careless Whispers" by Wham!- George, you are a such a hot mess now! :) and the best, "I want to know what Love is" by Foreigner. What a year... and I didn't even get into the St. Elmo's Fire soundtrack.

Mind you, this was a time in my life when I was also embracing English, not only as my second language, but as my favorite- yes, favorite- and fun- wait, what? -yes, FUN, subject in school! Appreciation of music in my native Spanish came a bit later as significant as "American Rock and Roll" was, mind you. Hombres G, Los Sacados, Joaquin Sabina and Jose Luis Rodriguez, el Puma! LOVE them all. Later came the love of the true LATINO, Puerto Rican "popular" music, rock en espanol, salsa and merengue. While not as cool for high schoolers at the time, always part of our lives. Now, of course, I can't get enough of El Gran Combo and the likes...Sabor!

-----Hold the phone, back to the 80s------ ;)

What I always thought it was kind of weird, and yes, I am kind of weird, was that while I identified with everything, and I mean, everything, pop rock and MTV, I was also fascinated with the likes of The Eagles, The Doobey Brothers, Kansas, Chicago, Air Supply. The "slightly older" crowd-pleasing performers. Also, Queen, Rolling Stones, and so many more... I learned about Jim Morrison and The Doors' music, which was more poetry and therapy, than music, piercing the heart and soul of the ears that dared to listen carefully to the lyrics. Pain and heartbreak beautifully masked in songs of love and loss.

The Beatles were a favorite. I know my dad loved their music and was a big John Lennon fan. Imagine all the people... Yesterday, all my troubles seems so far away. I believe in yesterday. I also have to give a shout out to my aunt, who belted out songs from Toto, humoring me, as I attempted to learn how to use my vocal chords. Sing from the stomach, she would always say. I learned a few years later, right G? :)

I thought I was only suppose to like one kind of music, one genre, one language. I can't, I refuse. I even had a RATT LP and remember wanting to go see KISS in concert. Gene Simmons and his family jewels rock!

Wait... here comes Sugar Lips Mick Jagger!!  LOVE the fact that he is still rockin' at 70?? Bring on Steve Tyler and Aerosmith and Sir Paul. You got me rockin', baby!  Pause for Public Service Announcement in thanksgiving to Disney for hiring Keith Richards to play Jack Sparrow's dad in Pirates. Johnny Depp couldn't have any other man play his dad. It was type-casting genius and now a new generation will, hopefully, recognize him tonight even if he is sober. :) I love it!

Dear higher power above, whether or not we have YOU to thank for the invention of melody, lyrics, instruments that make sound, noise and whatever makes IT happen, Thank you! Music, the instrumental kind, classical, rock and roll, gospel, rap, the hideous reggaetton I have come to like and merengue hip hop, all mean something to some one.

Music can help you get up in the morning. It can serenade you with an instant shot of feelings, emotions, energy and memories. Some may by sad, but most should be good. Music can help you remember loved ones. I remember that afternoon drive to the city when the sun was shining, we rolled down the windows and cranked up the volume of "Walking on Sunshine". I remember singing "NY State of Mind" and "Empire State of Mind" in the plane on my way to NYC. Smile!

Music can help you heal. Every time I hear Bruce Springsteen sing "Born in the USA" I remember how much my mother loved the Boss. Tear. Smile. She used to play "Memory" from CATS. If I could "stage" her funeral again, I would play that song. Smile.

Music will also trigger signals and inside "jokes" that only a certain few understand and get. My roommates, myself and a couple other friends had a code for when parties in our house would start to get a bit out of hand and we wanted them to end. We would yell "Pavarotti?". Yes, please! We'd play certain kinds of songs, those only we knew the words to, and the crowd slowly thinned out. Ha! It may sound a bit mean, but these are the great memories of college for some of us. Sitting on the floor, 4-6 of our closest and dearest friends, singing OUR songs! At that moment, on those few nights together, singing, being together, we made memories to last a lifetime. Magic.

Music represents a year in your life. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes are simply words. As words are gibberish, mean nothing. Add a tune and a melody and it symbolizes the year after I graduated college and traveled the world with 163 of my closest friends by bus! "Seasons of Love" is a song that celebrates a year in the life of friends... AMEN!

I may not watch MTV now a days. Quite frankly, MTV doesn't play much music anymore, in my opinion. That's OK. Years ago it taught me who great artists were. It taught me history, artistry and appreciation of popular music and more important, international, popular music. It was new; different from what I knew up until that moment. Even if it's through the ipod, YouTube, Pandora, CDs, or Siruis, music is the gift that keeps on giving. Therapy can't get better than that.

Music is now the vehicle for "relief" and with songs of faith, love, a little fun and hope, it is bringing communities together, locally and globally. Smile. I loved my MTV. I still want my MTV! :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I say a little prayer...

Is it that bad to know what you want? Is it wrong to be ambitious and goal oriented when part of you knows there are certain things you won't be able to achieve? I don't know. I don't think so. I hope not. That might be the answer, I guess, but I really don't know. It seems that the daily prayer, the mantra, or motto-whatever we want to call the instant replay reminder, I for one, must hear in my head every day, often more than once, or twice, or three times a day- gets louder, clearer each time.

How do I properly and justly explain what my mantra, my prayer is? Humor me as I take a stab at it.
Be patient, everything will be OK. Patient... be patient. That is certainly one that I know others may say to themselves, might attempt to gain more, or to learn to be, just patient.

Yes, say hello to the most impatient person in the world! I stand in line to get my coffee, and goodness, why is it that the baristas must be in full TMI detailed conversation mode from the night before when my peppermint mocha needs to be brewed? Never mind that I have a whole 20 minutes before I need to be at work and Starbucks is only 3 minutes away. LOL! I know, I am a mess! :)

The planner in me is also so high maintenance I don't leave for my trip for two weeks but TODAY I tried on three possible outfits to wear Christmas eve. Yes, my bags are almost packed- on the floor, neatly piled. Do I have time? Of course, but why not start planning now. That way I don't have to worry about it at the last minute. I am so not last minute, yet when I work on a tight deadline, I am ON, I focus, I get it done and done well! Random, I am, master Yoda.

What I am rambling about again? Oh yes, knowing what I want, not being patient and planning things out so pathetically precised, it makes Franklyn Covey want MY 7 steps program. Actually, it's more like 3 steps: plan, plan and yes, plan.

Hold the phone! This is what I do and I am fully aware of it, BUT and that is a BIG BUT (hehehehe, c'mon, admit it, you smiled), the more days go by, the more I actually think about it, in the middle of the planning and obsessing of things to come, I stop, think, and force myself to breathe. I take a deep breath, make sure God knows I am trying to be patient, and say "be patient, everything will be OK."

Last year I went to see the cutest, made for the over 55 and retiree, British flick, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." While the movie is clearly meant for those a generation older than mine, I loved it. All the characters were experiencing life changes and life changes are timeless, ageless. The best line in the movie is "Everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it is not yet the end." So what?  If that doesn't teach you to be patient and open to things to come, then I don't know what will.

Are we the fools for believing and hoping and praying and making wishes at night before we go to bed, or on our birthdays before we blow out the candles? Or are we fools for having very specific ambitions, goals and making plans for our careers, families and life without flexibility, slightly dusted with powdered dreams that may never come true?

I don't have the answers for everything. As I type this, the voice tells me to repeat the mantra, the prayer, the wish I wish for every day... "Be patient. Everything will be OK."  Patience, waiting. Such an advent"y" reflection when I was not intentionally planning (no pun intended!) on writing about advent. I guess we all have to be patient about something. We all have to wait for someone to come into our lives for whatever reason; something to happen at work in order for us to feel we are working for the right reason; a holiday to come so we can spend it with loved ones; a call, a text, a dinner date. We are all waiting, and so we must be patient. I must be patient. Life still happens; things will come.

For now I sit here, savoring the smells of Christmas that are coming from the kitchen, from the living room, and close my eyes. I take a deep breath and promise myself to be patient, to take one day at a time, and while I giggle at my silly ways of figuring out how many pairs of shoes can I pack for a week-long's trip, I stop and say... "everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it is not yet the end." ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Some enchanted... meeting?

Thank you God for taking me there and back and bringing me home again.

After a long travel -day on Sunday, arriving on a foggy night, the Dayton International Airport was a comfortable sight to see. I was home. Let's not discard the fact that I had an amazing weekend working the Marianists and Marianist Universities booth at a Youth Ministry conference in Orlando.
There will certainly be some blogging and reflecting on the FUN we had WORKING, but that is for another time. What happens at the booth, stays at the booth. LOL ;)

Drove home, got settled after lighting the yummy pumpkin spice candle, and while the flat bread was in the oven, I turned on the TV and found that PBS had a special on the music of Oscar Hammerstein II. Yes, that one, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Hammerstein that gave us, Sound of Music, The King and I, Oklahoma! and South Pacific. Heaven!

They spent more time on South Pacific. It was written and released post WWII in a time when the world was very sensitive and pointing fingers at "them", the bad guys, whoever they were, whatever they looked like. And, at a time when political correctness was not in style, they went there! The theme of prejudice and racism is prevalent and "in your face" but sugar coated (kind of) by having two very different couples fall in love. I don't have to get into details about the story. The American soldier and the Polynesian girl; the older Frenchman and the young American nurse. It all happened one enchanted evening...

Falling in love is something I have not specifically blogged about but have alluded to several times. It is part of life, it is life giving and heart breaking. While having my share of heartaches and heartbreaks, the kind that hurts so much physically that you can't breath, I have learned to compartmentalize. It helps a bit.

Loving a person is multifaceted, multilayer and multi-full of drama! Maybe just among Puerto Ricans, because at least in my family, the level of drama hits very high notes. However, there are different kinds of love... The one that keeps me going these days is the love of a mother to her son. Boy, can that kid make my heart melt with a smile, a devilish bat of the eyelashes and his hugs. I love hugs! What Luis does that surely re boosts my heart and refills it with love every single time is when he insists on holding my hand when he is tucked in at night. He won't let go! I love it... and I know it won't last long, for he will soon not want to spend so much time with Mama. I guess that's OK, right? It's part of life.

The other kinds of love, for family and friends, I have experienced to get better with time. With time you see how you have grown up around cousins, parents, grandparents who, given all the quirks, personality clashes, likes and dislikes, love you and better yet, like you! I love my family, you kind of have to, but I actually LIKE them too! Countdown for champagne Noche Buena toasts has begun!

Ok, ok, I know you are waiting... now comes the romantic love. Oh, that one. I could totally be the debbie downer and write all depressed about my bad luck in that department. How at a young age I lived in a cloud, so up above in the sky, pretending my true feelings, what my gut was telling me, was not true, I had to fall fast and hard thousands and thousands feet to the ground to wake up and speak up, and get out! It wasn't love... it was a dream. It was an illusion and a hunger for approval that kept getting fed with ideas, expectations, plans... someone else's, not mine. Done. Moving on!

When a person goes through heartaches and heartbreaks, what happens is not necessarily a loss. Yes, there is loss, but there is gain. New energy emerges, new opportunities come and every day, the sun comes out- cue "Annie" :)

On a serious note, when it comes to relationships and falling in love with a person, it is true that you can't control when and how it happens. It could happen at the mall, at work, in a retreat, at a conference. No, it's not a lightning bolt, not love at first sight, but there can be a click. Right?  I can only vouch for my own journey. I have loved and I have lost... but I still hope and believe again. I don't believe in love at first sight, but I DO believe in the CLICK. ;)

I know now, with all my heart, a few things too... My heart leaps when I am around passionate people, who are goal oriented, and are do-ers. Without judging, but for me personally, the biggest turn-off is being indifferent and indifference breaks hearts. I love being around believers; believers in what they do and who they are. Whatever you do, do it with integrity, respect and with a little bit of humility. Like my hero archetype, Atticus Finch, with authority without being authoritarian and dictatorial. Take a stand, but do it with respect.

Two people can come from the same place, yeah, that is a bonus, they may speak the same language, but not understand each other at all. Engage me in depth and thought-provoking conversations, while knowing very well, I will need a dose of reality TV from time to time, or ESPN! I love my work and my commitment to education makes me who I am. My friends and family know that makes me, it feeds my mind, my heart, my soul. My faith too. It defines me, even though my church is challenging and often at odds with my own personal beliefs. It has been a blessing to love and be loved by people who feel the same way about their work and their faith. Like Barbara Streisand said after her own "reality check" in "The Mirror has Two Faces" - I want it all. :)

The PBS special on Oscar Hammerstein got me to listen to the lyrics of songs I have heard a million times, seen on the stage and screen, beautifully performed. Had I ever really understood the words? Perhaps not until now. "Some enchanted evening you may see a stranger, you may see a stranger
across a crowded room and somehow you know, you know even then that somewhere you'll see her
again and again."

Are you still there, God? I know you have heard me (in my head, yes!) before, I just don't want to bore you. Just a little nudge to make YOU aware too, that I get what you are doing, I think. You are teaching me, you are helping me and guiding me. You sure have an interesting way of doing it. ;)

What more can I say... I believe. But Oscar wrote it best..."Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, wise men never try."