Take A Look in the Mirror

Dressed up for church and then dressed down for spin class, my daughter and I spent a Sunday morning together. Post-spin we were sweaty and makeup-less but stopped at the grocery store to get food for what’s become Sunday night tradition, dinner for J⁴.

Parking outside the store, my daughter and I sat in the car for awhile, talking about how great spin class had been and what we should make for J⁴’s dinner.  Entering the store, my daughter looked down at her sweaty clothes and said,

‘I sure hope I don’t see anyone I know in here.’

I told her that I’d cover for her if she’d run into someone she knew. Although I had no idea how I’d cover for her, I thought my assurance would help her insecurities.  I walked through the produce section to the lettuce section.  I sent my daughter to search for avocados.

Returning to my side, my daughter rubbed up next to me as I inspected the lettuces, and she whispered in my ear,

“I think that might be so-n-so, but I’m not sure.  You both were standing side by side, and when she saw it was you, she grabbed her cart and bolted for the deli.”

Really? oh, dear.

So instead of me covering for my daughter, my daughter covered for me, seeing a person avoid me.  My daughter then saw the insecurities that surfaced within me.

I looked over at the deli and confirmed who my daughter thought the person to be.

What have I done to make someone want to bolt away from me?

What’s wrong with me?

What did I do wrong?

My daughter had gone into the store, worrying about running into someone she knew and instead saw someone worried about running into her mother.

Life lessons can be found everywhere – even in a Fry’s produce section.

Our own insecurities leave people questioning and feeling insecure, too – it’s universal.

We care so much about what if – what if that person judges me, what if that person doesn’t like me, what if that person thinks I’m avoiding them, and we care not enough about so what? so what if I see a person sweaty and makeup-less, so what if I say the wrong thing, so what if I’m not liked.

What about if I acknowledge others no matter what.

Who would you run away from if you saw them across a crowded Sunday morning produce section?  Why would you run away?  What is it about you that makes you want to avoid that person?

********

This week is the one year anniversary of my dear friend, Mark’s suicide. He died on July 21, 2016.  Along with teaching me about workouts and diet, Mark taught me a lot about life. Mark  explained, “there are three universal commonalities:

  1. we all want to be loved.
  2. we all want to get the joke.
  3. we all don’t want to be the butt of the joke.

“It is easy to dismiss people you don’t even see” – Canvas SF guest speaker

I believe by saying a hello, a positive acknowledgment or by smiling, we could change our world and heal our world’s insecurities from the outside-in.

We all need to take a look in the mirror, looking not at what’s perfectly reflecting in the mirror but rather at what or who we see staring back at us – what are we projecting into the world? It may be uncomfortable, but it reminds us of another universal commonality:

4. We all want to be seen.

IMG_5789

“Trees of Life often symbolize growth into a beautiful and unique person. When trees are young, they pretty much all look the same. But, as they grow older, they weather storms and are battered by the forces of wind and water.

Their branches may break and grow back in a different direction, or the very soil beneath them will erode away, causing them to grow even stronger roots to hold on.

Over time, they become very unique and beautiful in their eccentricity and idiosyncrasies. They are just as we all wish to become – shaped into fascinating, intriguing individuals who have weathered hardships and broad experiences in life that have made us into who we are.” – Woot & Hammy

 

We are all imperfect. We are all worthy of acknowledgment.

 

Mark, I see you even after you’re gone. You’re missed.

Thank you for coaching me to look in the mirror and not run away.

Earth Angel

For my birthday, LCP, my daughter, gave me a trip to Puerto Vallarta, using her mileage points.  She flew from SJC to SNA, and I flew from PHX to SNA. Meeting in the middle, we then traveled together to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

On the first leg, flying SWA, I had A37. I chose an aisle seat in a 3-seat row where a man was already sitting by the window, and as the plane began to fill, a flight attendant announced it was a full flight.  Minutes before the plane’s doors were closed, a woman asked me if she could sit in the middle seat next to me. I stood up, allowing her to move past me into the seat. As she shoved her carry-on under the seat in front of her, I noticed she, too, carried a black pack.  I commented, smiling, “nice backpack, that’s the only way to go.”

She responded, “yes, a purse doesn’t work for me.”

It doesn’t work for me either.

We began a conversation that lasted the duration of the 55-minute flight to SNA.

“I have my work and personal stuff plus my daughter – who I take everywhere with me when I can – so I need a bag to carry it all.”

She has a daughter, too.

I used to take my daughters to work when they were young. Instead of play dates, we had work dates.  We needed our load to be light, too, and a purse was extra baggage.

I got an SWA drink coupon out of my backpack and offered one to her.  She said, “no, thank you, I have one of my own, but I’d like to have a drink with you.  Is it bad to drink this early in the morning?”

Don’t worry about what other’s think – if you want a drink, have a drink.

I felt like her mother.

She told me about her job – that she works for an organic food brokerage company. During her pregnancy with her daughter, she was exhausted, stocking shelves and doing manual labor at a local organic grocery store.  She worked 14 hour days. Her body ached, and her legs swelled from her pregnancy.  She was a mess, worrying about how she’d be able to sustain this pace after her child’s birth.  One day, while stocking shelves, a man approached her, asking if she’d be interested in a sales position with his company.  He said, “you have a twinkle in your eye, and I know you’d be great.”

She was dumbfounded – how could this happen?  A stranger randomly hired her, and now she has this great job that allows her to travel, and often, when in-state, with her daughter – she says, it was God.

She told me about her travels all over southern Arizona, her work territory.  Often she takes her daughter, who sits in her car seat in the backseat of her car.  They talk about the beauty of the desert (she says, Patagonia is awesome right now!) and try local restaurants, together. She mentioned a great pizza place in Sierra Vista, and I mentioned I’d recently been to a great, pizza place in Florence.  She related that she goes to Florence quite a bit. I told her the only thing I knew about Florence, before finding the pizza place via Yelp, was the prison that’s there. She said, “yes, I actually have a friend who’s in that prison who I try to visit pretty regularly.”

I asked what the charge is –

Armed robbery and car theft.

“He likes to fight, so he’s in trouble quite a bit. Lots of times I don’t get to see him during prison visitation because he’s being disciplined.”

I asked her how she knows him.

“We lived together throughout our childhoods – so he’s like a brother.  Our parents were meth addicts –  3 couples and their children lived with my parents.  When the parents would go on drug binges, we children would be handcuffed to a metal pole for hours. We were forced to do meth at around age 11, and there were times that we’d be up for 6 days straight, tweaking.  It’s weird though when our parents would disappear, we’d sneak up to the top of this hill near our house and just hang out – we felt like we were good.  It was in those moments that I’d talk to God, and know that everything would be OK, that He would take care of me.”

The children of meth-addicted parents craving love from mothers and fathers, only to be shackled to a metal post and abandoned for their parents’ highs.

“Just yesterday I had work that took me back home – I visited my mother, who’s still using. I had to tell her that she couldn’t take care of my daughter.  She was outraged.  I left with her being mad.”

You don’t have to feel guilty for leaving your mother yesterday. You can love her, but you can’t fix her.  The drugs are her daughter, not you.  She’s attentive to the meth, but you’ve been abused.  You can’t return to your abuser and allow it to infect you. As you love your own child today, you’re clean and sharing the beauty of this world with her.  Who knows – but I’d put money on it– your daughter will be taking you on a trip when she grows up and is out on her own.  She’ll be meeting you half way and helping you carry the load because you’re deserving. You share hard work, respect, and love, and with that cocktail, healthy relationships are born and nourished.

We each have our own drink coupons and mileage points – our own culminations of life experiences and influences.  Not all comes free – some of us have had to pay and to sacrifice enormously and to learn really hard lessons the hard way. However, finding happiness through goodness is free, as is trusting we’re never alone.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be a good mother. Be a good daughter. Be a good father. Be a good son. Make a new friend or visit an old friend who needs reminding of the good in the world.

Change the world by changing the cycle. Rejoice when it’s awesome and believe

Good can come from the weirdest places, like sharing a drink on an airplane flight before 9 –

Life exists beyond the handcuffs –

Those cuffs make both prisoners and earth angels.

As children, we often have little choice,

but as adults, we choose.

Growing up and old has its perks –

Drink in these moments.

IMG_3004

IMG_3010

¡Viva México!

“Everyone is going to go to the cry tonight, but I’m not sure if it’s safe.”

What’s a cry?

****

The Cry of Dolores (Spanish: Grito de Dolores) was uttered from the small town of Dolores Hidalgo, near Guanajuato in Mexico, on September 16, 1810. This event is considered the beginning of theMexican War of Independence. The “grito” was the pronunciamiento of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest. Since October 1825, the anniversary of the event is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.

Since the late 20th century, Hidalgo’s “cry of independence” has become emblematic of Mexican independence.

Each year on the night of September 15, at around eleven in the evening, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. After the ringing of the bell, he repeats a shout of patriotism (a Grito Mexicano) based upon the “Grito de Dolores”, with the names of the important heroes of the Mexican War of Independence who were there on that very historical moment included, and ending with the threefold shout of ¡Viva México! from the balcony of the palace to the assembled crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. After the shouting, he rings the bell again and waves the Flag of Mexico to the applause of the crowd, and is followed by the playing and mass singing of the Himno Nacional Mexicano, the national anthem, with a military band from the Mexican Armed Forces playing. This event draws up to half a million spectators from all over Mexico and tourists worldwide. On the morning of September 16, or Independence Day, the national military parade (the September 16 military parade) in honor of the holiday starts in the Zócalo and its outskirts, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard, passing the El Ángel memorial column and other places along the way. – Wikipedia

I now better understand the daunting atmosphere of Mexico City’s city center “Zócalo”-

Had I not faced some of my own fears by traveling here,

I wouldn’t have a picture of the many who’ve cried here

and why…

img_0136
Metropolitan Cathedral, Zócalo, Mexico DF

img_0148

img_0139
Metropolitan Cathedral interior
img_0177
Bell hung over the entrance to Zócalo for Independence Day

img_0269¡Viva México!

Being independent gives everyone reason to cry.