Category Archives: A Better Me

To New Beginnings and 18 Years of Marriage

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You might be wondering where I’ve been in the last month. Long story short. We moved back to California, moving company was 2 weeks late in delivering our stuff and all 3 kiddos began a new school year while my husband transitioned to a new work setting. As for me? A million crazy, outlandish things happened and at a certain point all I could do was laugh. So many great stories to share and I will at a certain point. For now, I am relishing in being home where I belong and creating my new normal. Work has picked up and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do meaningful work with nonprofit organizations that are changing lives.

On this Labor Day, I’m thinking about my husband and one of the greatest journeys I ever embarked on- getting married 18 years ago. I literally had no idea what I was doing but in a way I think that’s the way it should be- that’s life- stepping off the ledge- hoping for the best and knowing you’ve got to prepare for a little turbulence. So- here’s to new beginnings- that we never grow so comfortable that we are afraid to step off that ledge. I’m off to push my family into joining me for a hike in our beloved canyons this morning. In the meantime, while I catch my breath- I leave you with this piece written during my last week in St. Louis. Many blessings to you all…

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The cicada’s song has returned and serenades us upon dusk. The out of nowhere monsoon thunder and lightning storms have resumed as well.We chase the fireflies around the yard and marvel at their lights. The ground smells strong after a good storm and the birds and bunnies remind us of how much life there is in the world.

I’m not scared anymore.

One year ago we landed in St. Louis, ready for an adventure and yet so sad to leave California. Also scared because I knew this move would bring so many changes and I was afraid of how those changes might affect us.

The past few years had caught up with us. My father-in-law’s stage IV cancer diagnosis and subsequent passing along with the aftermath. Ever watched a person die before your eyes? It’s a frightful thing and as you watch the horror unfold in front of you, control is slipping out of your hands and you realize this is how we all end. Life and marriage and kids and problems had turned us into shells of what we had been in our younger days, we found ourselves scrapping through, with no gusto for life- our feet heavy upon waking and hitting the hardwood floor most mornings. And then out of nowhere- poof- we were moving to St. Louis! Everything you thought about your life and what you knew about gone in that instant.

Although we didn’t know it at the time- we had just hit the re-start button for our lives. What an incredible gift. People entered our lives that we didn’t even know we needed. Experiences were had that we didn’t even know we needed to experience. But most importantly- our most valuable lesson is that we learned to laugh and find the joy in life and in each other again.

It is time for this family to go home back to California. We will pick up where we left off but from a different place. Continue our adventure we will- seeking out those people who are a bit different- the outsiders if you will- realizing how hard it is to be the person that no one talks or relates to, the person that doesn’t quite fit the narrative. Always looking for new places to discover, new journeys to travel, new experiences to have so we can continue to learn about ourselves.  We will challenge ourselves to be more empathetic, caring, loving and open. We will try our hardest to protect our sacred family time and space amidst the crazy of life and not overburden ourselves with outside commitments.

I’m not scared anymore.

 

 

Silent No Longer

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I just can’t anymore. It’s been a long, emotionally trying week here in America. I find myself at a loss for something. Not quite sure. Loss of innocence? Loss of trust? Loss of life and love and compassion for other human beings? 

All over social media – you are either on one side or the other, it’s us vs. them.  The comments that people write are horrible. And I’m exhausted. I’m sorry but it is not my job to educate you on what white privilege is. It’s not on me to have to explain why every life is precious- regardless of prior criminal record and socio-economic level. 

You feel empathy for me because you can’t imagine how hard it must be right now to be a mother of black sons in America? Well- don’t. Don’t feel sorry for me. Do me a favor. Educate yourself. Take a course on “witnessing whiteness” through your local YWCA. Read books – lots of them- I have a long list if you are interested. Learn the history of this country- not the one they taught you a long time ago back in high school from an outdated textbook but learn the history from black, Latino, Asian and Native American perspectives. You will be shocked of what you learn and it will give you a much richer perspective of the diversity of America.

Please- don’t post that it’s not a black man issue. That you are going to educate your children to respect authority (as if that was the issue), that it came down to personal choice (as if they had a choice). Don’t send me videos through messenger that explain why police killing these black men was justified (your side of things as you put it- I’m not against you or what you stand for but this is how I see things you said). We are better than all of this and it’s insulting. 

It’s on all of us. This issue will not go away. We need serious changes in this country when it comes to criminal justice and law enforcement systems. But it all starts with each individual acknowledging that there are serious problems here.

Really take a deep look at yourself and ask these questions-

What internal racisms and biases do I personally have? (We ALL have them- to admit otherwise is naive) 

How are those biases being passed on to my children? 

Finally- what can I personally do to confront those biases? This will involve doing lots of things outside of your comfort zone. Go meet people who are completely different than yourself- go to places that you normally don’t go to. Challenge yourself to learn something new about a different culture every day. 

This is our defining moment people. Years from now the history books will paint this time of 2016 in a certain light- similar perhaps to the year -1968? 

Where we go from here matters. The world, this country, our legacy, our children’s futures depend on it. 

The Dot

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dotIn case you didn’t know, this past Tuesday, September 15 was International Dot Day. I know, I know. You were completely unaware that something like that even existed. When I first heard about it at the elementary school’s PTA meeting last week, I’ll admit that I cringed and thought- seriously?  But it turned out to be more than rummaging through your closet for your cutest polka dot outfit. So much more.

The Dot was written by Peter H. Reynolds. It is about a girl named Vashti who doesn’t believe she can draw. Her teacher tells her “to make a mark and see where it takes you.” Inspired and encouraged by that teacher, she realizes that she can be so much more and that she is an artist.

georges_seurat_eiffel_tower_lgOn International Dot Day, in C’s class, each child spent time creating their very own dots. The class blog has entries written by students who explain how they are making their own marks on the world. In I’s class, in addition to many creating dot drawings they also talked about different artists, art movements and cultures that use dots as a way of mark making. Roy Lichtenstein and Pop Art. Georges Seurat and Pointillism. I had never thought about dots in that way. Yes, it’s true, one dot by itself is just a dot. But many dots together is really something. The overarching question boils down to this- HOW WILL YOU MAKE YOUR MARK? Read the rest of this entry

Unpredictability

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FullSizeRender (1)Okay, I’ll confess- I got cocky and confident. I thought I had this Mid-West weather thing all figured out. See, what I’ve been doing is checking my weather app at least once or twice a day. It’s pretty accurate and so when Team Jackson attended our first Cardinals baseball game this past week, I knew it would be a cool evening in the 60’s. We all had our sweaters and I even took umbrellas just in case and we did get rained out at the top of the 6th inning and it was okay because it was 8 p.m. on a school night and we needed to get home anyways. Silly, silly me thinking I had this whole weather thing under control.

FullSizeRenderFast forward to this morning. When I checked the weather app last night, it didn’t show rain until at least the middle of next week. I set out for my usual Saturday morning walk. I looked up at the sky and thought- hmmm – well it is a little overcast but it should be fine. Walked for about 30 minutes with a little drizzle and I’m thinking well there are a lot of trees and if it should perhaps rain a little harder I could always run for cover under the trees. But then- BAM! From one minute to the next, it completely poured down on me. There was no warning. No rain one minute and then complete downpour the next. I tried finding a tree- I really did but I had no idea that rain could come down so hard in such a short amount of time. I finally found a solid, broad tree and huddled over my phone under my shirt. My phone! That’s all I cared about. I thought to myself how in the world will I get home? I’m literally trapped under this tree and I’m getting wetter and wetter by the minute. The wierd thing too is that when it downpours like that- all you see is white mist everywhere and all of a sudden you feel like you are in an episode of the Walking Dead and you are the last person left alive- no cars, complete quiet except rain. Then I thought- I’m not going out like that – I need to keep moving. Read the rest of this entry

Beauty and Rhythm

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I swam laps in the pool this morning. Broke out my pink Speedo swim cap, pink goggles and TYR reversible swimsuit and carried them off in my bag. The swim cap had sand on it from the Pacific- from a very long time ago.  I noticed the gear in my bag of course and asked me – “Momma, you going swimming without us?” Yes, dear heart- Momma is swimming without you. I felt a slight wave of guilt. I dropped the kiddos off at school and drove right over to the gym. The water was slightly cold as my body slipped in. I swam tenatively at first- freestyle strokes to warm up and find my rhythm. It took about 15 minutes but I found my groove and just like that I was swimming again. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Repeat for 20 minutes.

I seem to have found my rhythm again and it feels right and good. All 3 kids have started school and are thriving. Not just surviving but thriving. We are only 3 days into this journey but I am filled with a renewed sense of gratitude and optimism for our life and the people in it.

FullSizeRender (1)A monarch butterfly visited me yesterday as I was reading “The Lowland” on the back porch. Every now and then, a butterfly visits us and stays awhile. He does not fly away. He makes sure that we notice him and then hangs around. I silently push my tears away. I know that Trevor Sr. is near. He’s watching over us, keeping a close eye on our journey- this I know in my heart. We’re going to be okay and he’s okay too. The life cycle continues. Read the rest of this entry

And Then There Was Just Love

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I’m surrounded by moving boxes. The house is bare. Surprisingly, I am very calm. I woke up this morning around 3 a.m.- sweaty and anxious. Fell back asleep and when I woke up, I felt God’s presence. And I became very calm. He was reminding me that he is right next to me- wherever I may go. Cue to a meditative prose that a friend had sent me the day before. It had read:

“Wading wearily through the debris of our sixth house move in 25 years, I found a slip of paper my daughter had taped near her bed. “Put off till tomorrow those tears…Because between now and tomorrow, maybe I, God, will have passed your way.” …And with every challenge, he inquires: What is it you really need to be happy? Is it this job? this house? These transitions are his way of guiding us to the door of our one true home.”

Thank you Lord. Thank you for the reminder. In so many ways.

IMG_12951These past few weeks have been filled with love. I am overflowing with love. Thank you sisters. Thank you family. Thank you friends. I have been processing all the events from the past few weeks and here’s where I am at.

My sisters really love me. Sometimes they get on my nerves. Sometimes I get on theirs. They can frustrate me to all end. But at the end of the day, who knows you better and calls you on your shit better than your sisters? Nobody that’s who. I am beyond blessed to have four- count ’em four sisters all with different, colorful personalities. Yes, God knew exactly what he was doing. We left behind the 17 kids we gave birth to and spent some much needed quality time together- just the five Sanchez girls. They took me out to dinner followed by a wine and painting class. Also, I discovered I am not a painter. Read the rest of this entry