Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy New Year!

As 2013 comes to a close, reflections come pouring in like a flood threatening to drown you. What to do? Do you run and take cover in an elevated area or do you brace yourself for impact and prepare to swim in order to float and survive? Both options seems reasonable under the circumstances; both have consequences as risky moves you must make in order to move on.
I used this comparison because for the last week I have seen quite the array of "2014 will bring..." or "2013 has been ..." Should I join my fellow cyberspace neighbors and add one more reflection or do I read long and reflect on my own, while having one of my many conversations with you know who "Upstairs", and simply wish everyone a happy and blessed 2014?
Decision made. I will do both. :) There are certainly a few items on my reflection agenda I must leave inside my own heart and mind. You understand, don't you? I share plenty in this platform, but do respect the fact that the art of discretion, or being discrete, is a gift I received from my family. ;) However, I will indeed write a little something about this incredible year that is coming to an end.
When we closed 2012 ("closed" used literally) chapters in our histories, our stories, they closed like a snap of a ginormous novel when you complete reading the last of its 350 pages. Snap. Shut. Done. Closed. Closing and ending chapters of our stories can be a very good thing. Like goodbyes bringing change and change bringing good byes. We can also say, like the great Mother Superior told Maria (and if you don't immediately know what I am talking about, google it!;)), "when the Lord closes a door, somewhere, HE opens a window." So in fact a year ended, it closed. But a new one began and opened windows, doors, hearts to many unknowns and exciting "what ifs..."
The year 2013 has brought incredible challenges, personal conflicts, misunderstandings that resulted in friendships practically ending, resistance from accepting the unavoidable and real; denial that certain truths are meant to first be respected, then accepted in faith and trust.
This year has also brought about clarity and reassurance, and while circumstances proved to be this way and that, one question constantly appeared: is it worth it? The reason I bring this up is because this year, more than I believe ever before, many of us where faced with the following scenario. There is something we want, someone to see or talk to, a goal to reach, a project to tackle and every time we make an attempt to do it, we are either brushed away, ignored or our hopes and dreams crushed. What to do? Is it worth the rejection and constant hearing of "nos" haunting your mind, or do we just let it go?  Aren't we all faced with situations like these? As the year draws to an end, and 2014 is about to begin, let it begin with a splash. A splash of courage, hope, faith and love. For the courage to look at those very situations were we got nowhere and asses the worth of it. Believe me, some ARE worth persevering, while others, with confidence that you have done EVERYTHING you could, are simply not. The lesson here is that it IS OK to let it be and let it go. It happened for a reason.
With an open heart allowing love, friendship, faith and family to come in, I am standing firm on a few things. My house, my family, my life,  are about love, peace, faith and FUN. Forces opposing these very fundamental principles for happiness will loom, no doubt. Unfortunately for them, they will not be allowed in. Some may sneak in and if they do, we will just have to either shush them away or give them a spoonful of sugar... it will either make them smile or annoy the heck out of them so they will go away on their own. Problem solved. LOL :)
This year has been incredible and the blessings were abundant. An appreciation for the little things has been a gift I had taken for granted. The amount of gorgeous landscapes this world has given us, I saw with new eyes, as well as a sense of awareness of what's in front of me. May 2014 bring you love like a wrecking ball (sorry, I couldn't help it, Miley is in the background :)) and adventure quickly follows. May it open your hearts to all kinds of love and your minds to all kinds of possibilities. May you dream big and work hard to make those dreams come true. May you never take for granted what you see every day, who you love, what you do, because life is precious and too short. May you be at peace with your inner you, as well as your outer and public you. For they both should be one in the same. May you be happy, like we all strive to be. Happy New Year... and may you say BRING IT!

Christmas 2013

A year ago I was in sunny, warm Puerto Rico, enjoying the joy of being with family and friends that only comes accompanied with the drama, like a committed relationship for life. Sound familiar? Ha. It's all about being home for the holidays isn't it. Well, this year, mostly due to ridiculously prized airfares, we stayed in Ohio. Let's not forget the small, tiny it detail that I scheduled the test of my life on December 27. At least Iam focused on that this week, which is helping deal with being homesick.

What a year it has been... and I am so grateful. It has been challenging, especially from the professional side, but as challenges go, bring these on for they are providing more clarity and direction than ever before. Hence, subjecting myself to sitting in front of a computer for 4 hours exposed to having to think about circumferences, percentages and ratios. Math, ugh! ;) At least I own the fact that I "do words, not numbers!" Let's pass this test and apply away. Life has kickstarted again, classes also begin soon and I am on a deadline. The inner nerd speaks!

If I were to summarize this year in one word it would FUN. No, I don't mean the year has all been fun and games, or that everything in life, moving forward should be all about fun... or should it? :) My dearest reality check reminds me occasionally that rule number one is: to have FUN. If you are not having fun why do it. I take this to heart and am working hard to implement it in all I do.

Why can't work be fun? Shouldn't life, while balancing all that comes with it, also be fun? Every day should have something FUN about it. The morning routine, while the kid may drive me up the wall with his need to take 20 minutes to brush his teeth can be fun when he starts singing the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants. I have to laugh! Although, this time of the year he is obsessed with Bing Crosby's "Mele Kalikimaka" -thanks Chevy Chase! LOL

The drive to work can be hysterically funny as I listen to Tu Mañana LIVE and its innapropriate comments and jokes. Sorry, it's gotta be a Puerto Rican thing that morning radio shows ARE suppose to be FUNNY!

Finding the fun in every day life may not be as easy as I make it sound, but actually spending time thinking about it and committing yourself to that quest, will bring at least a smile to your face. I know. I am living it. Truth be told, life's wicked stepsister, insecurity and her best friend, loneliness, loom around and do their best to suck the fun out of everything. Don't let them in. Say, thanks, but no thank you. We have fun in this life. We see fun in the backyard hammock, in the bonfire warming our hearts, in the morning cup of coffee, in the smile on our kids' faces. In how precious life and its most simplest of things are bound to be fun, or at least bring joy to our lives.

For some of us an evening by the shore, looking up and gazing at a starry night is as fun as it is medicinal. It is a retreat, a conversation with the most High. A thank you, in a way, for bringing fun to our lives or all the beauty and love that surrounds us. For others, a empty movie theatre where life's challenges and previous conversations with insecurity and loneliness are forgotten and imagination runs wild. A journey immersed into the abyss of movie magic and storytelling is so much fun, as it is also peaceful and spiritual. A connection of somesort that only few undestand. And, yes, that can be fun.

Christmas is certainly a season that we often forget the fun that comes with the sacred. A baby was born and babies bring joy to our lives. THAT is fun. We decorate a church and set up a manger scene and make memories. That is also fun. We share meals, laughter and dance with friends and loved ones. How fun!

Today, Christmas eve 2013, as homesick as I am and as much as I need bear hugs from the most important people in my life, I plan to have fun.

My wish for you this Christmas is to look for the fun in everything. The rule number one is to have fun, especially in life. Let's have fun and enjoy what we have in our lives, the blessings, the challenges, the lessons, the people. Oh how Iove you all, my people, even if I am not with you.

Note to self: Go home for Christmas next year! ;)

Feliz Navidad a todos. Que Dios los bendiga con solo felicidad y amor.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

If I could turn back time... but make TODAY count!

"...If I can find the way, I'd take back those words that hurt you... " No, this is not quote your favorite Cher song moment. However, admit it, you are all humming it now and picturing the skanky, risqué, sequenced, see-through black outfit she wore in the video... Classic! :)

Don't we sometimes wish we could turn back time. Don't we want to be back to the age of 8 this time of the year, sit down and write Santa a letter of all the the toys you want? Don't we wish we could have Christmas morning be as magical as it was then... If I could turn back time.

Perhaps if we could go back to high school we would pay a little more attention to the teacher, listen with more attentive ears to the geometry tutor (that's a whole different blog!) and actually care about how stretching in gym class IS good for you and necessary for your health. I DO regret that one, for my back could use major stretching to re-adjust every morning! I wish I could have also not eaten the extra strawberry i-cee from the school snack bar, because that, along with the chips and the extra Cornuts on the side, only ballooned me to chubby stage that took (and has taken) years to get over: the comments, not the taste of the food. ;) Although I admit, I have not touched a Cornut ever since high school. If I could turn back time.

I had a couple of best friends growing up. We were very close, lived in the same neighborhood. I wish I would have done a better job at keeping in touch. We connected again a few years ago, but, maybe, if I made a little bit more effort, we'd be closer still. If I could turn back time.

If only I could talk to my mother now. She died. She was sick. I was twelve. So many conversations that, even though I feel at times we do indeed have, it is only in my dreams. I should have hugged her more. I should have learned at a very young age to say "I love you" to my loved ones... for this is perhaps one of the most life and soul-saving skills I only developed as an adult. I should have told her I loved her. I never did. If I could turn back time.

I am not perfect. None of us is... but in my quest and obsession to be the good, slightly "perfect" daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, girlfriend, mother, wife, whatever, I forgot to be ME. I have, I think, learned to accept a lot about who people are, others, about myself. I have hurt some of my most beloved partners in crime and I don't mean to... for by trying to be who they want, who they need, I forget to be me. It backfires. I forget how people are complicated and perfectly imperfect, like me, and it's frustrating. I must remember to keep my self in -check. Let, love and accept people are who they are, for what they are and what they bring to this world... what they bring to me. For they compliment me and if it reflects back... WIN.

For many years I felt a bit like things in life were out of my control. Maybe they were. What I have learned recently is that I had been living in some kind of fog, waiting, waiting and waiting some more for someone to clear it for me to get out. In a way, the more I tried to get out I felt stuck. Then, recently, and thanks for a very loud "here we go again!!!" I realized I was treading water, so to speak, or walking in circles, still inside the fog.  When the "here we go again" happened, I chuckled because I couldn't believe it... Seriously, THIS? AGAIN? Carajo!  That's when I looked across the living room and saw an image, two eyes stared back at me in defiance, almost saying "No, you can't, you are stuck." Well, at that moment, I stopped, stretched my back (see, I remembered gym class!), stood up straight and stared right back and said: This is MY life and I am in control.  I can decide when to have a conversation if I need to, but if I need to wait, I will... I can make a decision, carefully and patiently analyzed and not worry about what others will say, if it's the best thing for me (and the kid!),  or decide HOW to react if a reaction is in order as a result of some one's actions.

In this season of Advent... waiting, hoping to celebrate Christmas, my wish for you, my lesson NOW, based on lessons from times past, is to indeed learn and respect from that past, live the present with appreciation for what's in front of you and make your future YOURS!

I wish I could have learned a lot of this years ago... If I could turn back time. At least I can  say I did TODAY!

PS. To my family and loved ones I don't say I LOVE YOU enough, I just did!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A few thoughts from last week...

After a year of monthly, at times, very long 8 day courses in what is described as a MBA certificate program on leadership, I can say it is done. Indeed, a year-long program successfully ended last Thursday. However, it only spring-boarded my mind, thoughts, heart and energy to look ahead, plan ahead and above all, be honest and true to my wants, hopes and dreams, both personally and professionally. And so I will...

I was honored to have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of my Emerging Leader co-hort last Thursday at the graduation reception. I was blessed to have my loved ones with me, including my kiddo, who I hope felt proud of mom's accomplishments.  Below is what I wrote, then read to the attendees.

.....Thank you Brent, Lisa and the rest of the University of Dayton’s Center for Leadership staff. It is truly an honor to stand here in front my co-hort of emerging leaders. Of course we are all here due to the support, faith and generosity of our supervisors, so on behalf to the co-hort, supervisors, I thank you very much for allowing each and everyone of us to participate in this year-long program.

Much appreciation also goes to our mentors who have been sounding boards, supportive, yet challenging and always available to keep us in check when we needed them. Your advice and encouraging words gave us incredible and invaluable perspective as we developed or fine tuned our skills.

Never the less, my deepest, our most heart-felt thanks to our families. Our spouses, partners in crime and in life, who had to deal with us when some days were long and multiple juggling acts had to take center stage. To chuckle and get dinner ready when at times mom or dad also had to get some homework done.

We came together on a cold, gray morning in January and here we are… on a cold gray evening in December. (smile) It sure has gone by fast. From Myers-Briggs, to accounting and finance, management and marketing- how many of us opened a Twitter account because Irene Dickey said it’s not a question anymore, you HAVE to be o Twitter. Our colleagues and peers, bosses and mentors embarked on this journey with us, whether they wanted to or not and for that we are grateful.

I think, I hope, we are better employees, supervisors, mentors, professionals, leaders, better people, now than in January. On a personal note, and in attempt to eloquently and appropriately represent my fellow emerging leaders, I can only describe this experience as transformative. I am certainly not the same person I was when we first began this journey together. Dare I say none of us is. We now are roughly 20 plus strong. We shared personal and professional stories, frustrations and successes. We have built community within the professional leadership community.

When we first met, we were strangers. Now, we may not be sending each other Christmas cards... or will we? Now, we are colleagues, we are resources. Maybe, we are friends. Some of us perhaps interacted with others in passing. When we next meet up in the hallway, around the corner, across campus, we can honestly say we have something unique in common: we were part of the EL co-hort for 2013. I’d like to think we also have each other's backs, for I know in my heart and mind that if I need the latest technology being researched at UDRI, I have Tim or Bang to hook me up! If I need an in with scoop at the DOD, that’s Department of Defense, I can call any of my new peers from the base. There are many more examples we can discuss but the point is that they are only possible to share because we have shared in this gift of meeting, learning, thinking, problem solving, strategizing, dreaming... hoping. Believing in what others believed was/is IN us, our leadership skills. Believing in ourselves and what our ultimate mission is.
As we now conclude the adventure that has been the emerging leader program and prepare to experience our reentry into our work lives with a keen sense of who we are, or at least the feeling that a match was lit and the fire in our hearts now burns with such intensity and power so we believe that we indeed are the best version of ourselves, we say, bring it!

Thank you to the many who again enabled us to be here, to our facilitators and teachers who have planted many seeds in our hearts and minds, seeds that will be fed and nourished to grow and become the strong branches of trees, trees that will bring shade when it's too hot and fruit to feed others, trees with deep roots that keep us grounded, while standing tall. May we remember to manage our energy so that we can better manage our time. May we remember to celebrate the small wins, so that they may contribute to the positive influence we inspire in others. May we also remember to celebrate what’s right in the world because celebrating what’s right in the world will give us the energy to fix what’s wrong...

 Lesson learned in all of this, my friends, is that it is never too late to keep yourself "in check" and making the necessary adjustments to be a better "whatever." I have a feeling you will feel empowered and confident to be not just the best version of yourself in the world, but FOR the world.