Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There and back like Bilbo Baggins?? Truth is... I never left.

Many of you have heard my story, feel my words take life as they jump off the page when ever I am asked. I tell my story.  It's mine to tell and while I have been the main protagonist, the hero of my adventure and underdog of the challenging crossroads, there have also been antagonists, antiheroes and decision makers that worked very hard to leave a blotchy ink print on my story.

Eh, so what? Today I celebrated my story. Today I was reminded of aspects of my story that some judged. Today, I appreciated and celebrated my story with renewed commitment to my vocation, my career path, my personal journey, my real friends, all my loyal companions on this journey. Loyal followers of my story.

In a prayer service with my community of educators, we publicly committed and re-commited ourselves to an educational philosophy several embraced whole-heartedly. To most of us it is not just work related, it's a way of life. We are committed to Catholic and Marianist Education, specifically, Catholic higher education. Our commitment is to asking questions, to seek and discover new knowledge, while educating to serve others. We educate for justice, with a responsibility to community, ours and theirs... faceless brothers and sisters that don't have a voice or access to the possibility of what our learning spaces can provide. Magic.

We have faith. We believe in a greater being that gave us a gift. The gift of life, or of learning, is not for us to keep. The gift we receive, we give as gift. That is what we believe in and we hope that everyday this same seed is planted for our students to be nourished with.

One distinctive quality we maintain is a sense of stability. Stability may be measured by movement, physical or emotional perceptions, decisions and outcomes.

The stability of a program may be measured by the success of its purpose, strategy. Stability of a person? Usually by staying put- physically. Well, in my case, I have learned to embraced a holistic view of stability. While some people may be judged and labeled as stable because they have never left one place, never dared to move across the country, needless to say stand out of their comfort zone. "My, she is very stable- everything must be "together."'  He, on the other hand has moved all over the place, make decisions that are perceived by all who know him as lacking depth and common sense. He is impulsive and forward-thinking. His energy is contagious, yet questioned. He is goal-oriented and always challenges himself to ask questions and to want more. He usually wants and strives for that very thing others say he can't have. They say... "my, he is a little unstable." However, there is a common thread, a chain linked by something bigger than him. A belief, a promise...

They way I see this and how it all relates to my story is that I have a common thread, my own unbreakable chain and the "thing" bigger than me and my adventures of going there and back, like Bilbo Baggins. My stability comes from my commitment to this educational philosophy. Since I went through formal formation, May 2005, I have lived it, prayed about it, and through its intercession, I am the educator and pathetically committed college-geek that I am. I left and came back. I left again and you know what--- it left with me. I came back again to work and live in an environment of knowledge and scholarship beautifully blended in compassion and leadership. All of this pointing to the direction of making and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. Cliche, right? Bring it... 

The truth is, and today I proved it, I might have left the physical space and community I was a member of for years and now I am back, loving every minute of it. We may leave our homes after we become adults--- some people never really leave and that's OK---we may change jobs, ministries, even leave our churches or religious denominations. The question is do we really leave certain things behind? I don't think so. Some memories are stronger than others and therefore, difficult to forget. This is certainly not about dwelling in the past. This is about the voice that stays with us; the thread that weaves our beliefs, likes and dislikes, the gut feeling that talks to us and the heart that beats and makes us who we are. No matter where we go, no one can take that away from us.

That is what stability means to me... so the truth is, I took it with me. It never left me, therefore, I never left.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Today's conversation with God includes the usual raised head and stare into the blue (OK, gray) sky, shaking my head in a combination of marvel and pure dumbstruckness -- I might have just invented a word. ;) I feel dumbstruck or maybe just numb attempting to process thoughts and feelings from the last 48-72 hours.

Many friends and acquaintances have posted "Why?" I believe they were having a similar conversation with the boss upstairs. We all wonder why certain things happen. Why do they happen to us? Why do they happen to them? Why does a person have the need to be rude? Mean? Put another person down... Why? Why does a friend, young mother of two little ones, wife and role model, die prematurely? Why does a person or persons feel the need to hurt others?

There are so many possible answers to the questions above. Reasons to explain the "why's." I certainly am not in a position to answer any of them. That is not my job. The questions I can answer are the ones that I can control. The questions I can answer, I do with the right tools: attitude, education, loyalty and commitment. I can answer the phone when it rings. I can go to my kid when he needs me. I can pick my battles at work to make the best of a situation. I can celebrate the blessings and gifts in my life. I can change what I have wronged. I can ask for forgiveness. I can say I love you when my heart aches to say it, but my voice (and my head) stops me. I can celebrate my friend that died yesterday. I can hug my cousin when I see her later tonight. I can say nothing.

There are things we can't control, but those we can, let's, shall we? However, let's control them for the good; the good of our community, the good of our family and friends, the good of the world. Good is so much more powerful than fear, hate and envy.

Today's entry (and I realize I owed you all one!) is about just that: Today, this very moment and what is in my mind. Processing losses, generosity, challenges, friendships and betrayals is hard, but you know what? I accept what I can control and what I can't, so be it. Simple... Well, easier said than done. No, it's not easy. We've had this conversation before. We take the events of the last few days, whatever those were, process and heal--only what you/I can control. But don't forget, it's OK if you can't... is what you CAN control that makes all the difference. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Time is a medicine man...

We learn lessons about life, its ups and downs, challenges and blessings, every single day. Sometimes we even believe that our dear life is over just because something ends or changes.  As drastic as that sounds, yes, we believe that life is over. Life, over?? How dramatic.  Puerto Rican genes kicking, I guess. Oh, yeah, it must be because I indulged in the kitchen during Easter and fried plantains. ;) La mancha de platano no desaparece. The “stain of the plantain never fades”-we say, NEVER! ;) That means that aspects of what makes us who we are never leaves us... stays with us forever!

Anyway, back to change or endings or life...whatever.  Maybe we changed jobs, or a project we put our hearts into comes to a halt, or an academic year ends or we move to a new house.  The lesson, not necessarily learned, but I guess appreciated this time around is that life goes on.  Sounds cliche, I know. Sounds easier said than done.  But the magic word, the secret ingredient, the key to open this particularly “normal” pandora’s box, is not just saying that life goes on. What makes things work, life indeed go on, is time.

Time is an incredible medicine man that shows up unexpectedly. He shows up right when you are at your most vulnerable, at your lowest and feeling not so good about yourself because of whatever this new change, or ending brings.  The medicine man called time knows to always dry those tears streaming down your face after the last sob and last gasp of air is breathed. He holds you in his arms when you are curled up in a ball, sitting on the bathroom floor, feeling cold and lonely. My life is over. The medicine man of time is there... right at that moment.  You are not alone. He helps you up, hugs you again and looks into your eyes (no, you are looking into the mirror and see yourself) sweetly whispering “it will be ok, just give it time.” 

Just because something ends or changes, life goes on and time helps you (helps me!!) cope with the chaotic, yet exciting unknown.  I used to think in chapters, deadlines, goals. I am a planner. That, I don’t think will ever change, but what I have learn to appreciate lately is being a little bit more flexible and open to letting time take care of things. Yes, of course, there are many aspects of our lives we must at least attempt to control, but come on, let’s face it. Not everything is in our control. Time helps. Time heals.

The kid, soft-spoken and sleepy before heading to school, paused and said “Mama, I am going to miss this house.”  He is a very emotional 10 yr old boy.  In less than a moment a thousand flashbacks came rushing through my mind. I mean, not too many things took place in the old place, but the few that did, meant a lot.  We had moved back from St. Louis. Hosted loved ones, celebrated birthdays and watched many a baseball and basketball games.   Life has been good, but we must change and say goodbye to this space. Time will help us celebrate the lovely memories of old and appreciate the new ones to come.

In life, work, faith and spirit I am looking at things with a perspective of openness, excitement for that very same unknown that can freak out at first.  Just because something changes or ends, doesn’t mean things/life is over. On the contrary... it is a journey. It continues... Talk about a cliche, but life does indeed go on. .. and I like it!