Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sitcom storyline


La verdad and we ain't ashamed: some of our family is spent watching TV. We don’t just settle on the couch, Simpsons style, zoning out before anything. Now that M is 6, we are much more thoughtful about what we watch together. Gone are the days of watching trashy VH1 reality shows (thank goodness M was a baby and will never remember I Love Money) or hoping that the Glee storylines wouldn’t get too sexy because those musical numbers were so awesome (Rumor has it/Someone like you mashup days). In recent months, we have been watching sitcoms about families not unlike our own, namely Fresh off the Boat, Cristela, and Blackish. Interestingly enough, we are living one of the storylines.


Rambo’s mom now lives with us. M gets to enjoy spending more time with her Nana. Rambo is watching his use of profanity. Yes, the house is tidier. But, as witnessed on a few of the episodes of the previously mentioned sitcoms, living in a multigenerational household has challenges—and we don’t have the benefit of writers crafting a script that resolves those in half an hour.

Lest you think I’m living out a Monster-in-Law feud, I’m blessed.  Nana and I have never exchanged unkind words and probably won’t, given the positive nature of our relationship over the last seven years. An old friend of mine used to endure insults about her appearance from her longtime boyfriend’s mother.  In spite of that, she would bring the woman souvenirs from business trips, only to have them rejected.  Not surprisingly, the relationship ended when the boyfriend stated his intention to have his mother move in when they married.  I took notes on that situation. I am grateful for a decent suegra.



Nana has joined us in watching our shows. She was not too impressed with Cristela (too Americanized) and Blackish (she thought it wasn’t funny) but she did like Fresh off the Boat. What we love about watching these shows together is that they speak to and for us. They reflect loving families, families that we can relate to culturally, philosophically, and experientially. Besides, a thirty-minute time limit on any family problem is a good goal to have.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Oasis

"In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery. It's the place of reflection and contemplation, and it's the place where we can connect with the deep knowing, to the deep wisdom way." Angeles Arrien
"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." Antoine Saint-Exupery
I am nearing the end of my 40 days in the desert of my own making. While I have felt isolated at times, the positive changes I have experienced have made up for the occasional duda.
For 40 days, I have renewed my commitment to contemplation. I began my mornings with Dynamic Catholic’s “Best Lent Ever”, a collection of videos featuring author Matthew Kelly, quotes, and questions meant to prompt reflection on readings and themes. I now write in my Mass journal during every Mass I attend. I have committed to spiritual reading as a daily practice.

In 40 days, my professional life underwent a significant transformation. I went from being fearful, complacent, and exhausted to feeling empowered, focused, and re-energized. All it took was heart-to-heart chats with my credential coach and my longtime mentor and most importantly, prayer. I prayed for clarity and strength. Reading Father Greg Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart helped me revisit my commitment to young people. I needed to revisit "vocation" and "mission" over "job" and "career."  

In 40 days, I have realized that disconnection can lead to reconnection. I am still seeing friends, taking my daughter on adventures, and communicating with folks who make me laugh. I haven’t missed the noise and information overload that often makes me want to give up social networking altogether.

For 40 days, I have read and listened to more books than I have in years. I read M her first chapter book, Charlotte’s Web.  M has declared “books are magic.” 
Caral Peru.
Photo by Julie Ann Calderon. 


Every year, I cherish my Lenten experience. Then, on Easter Sunday night, I promptly return to my old habits. But, now, with another surgery expected in summer, I need to do what nurtures my family, my health, and my faith. I resolve to stay in the desert every day.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An old friend resurfaces


At one point in my life, I seriously considered becoming a lay member of a monastic community.  I wanted to leave the world of work and personal life, if only seasonally, and focus on contemplation, prayer, and learning more about my faith. Inspired by poet and author Kathleen Norris, I specifically explored how I might become a Benedictine oblate.  Many events and people drew me away from this plan; however, some of what I learned sustained me through life’s challenges. How wonderful to know that Saint Benedict will be rejoining my daily litany.


Saint Benedict, apart from being a founding father of Western monasticism, is also the patron saint of gall bladder disease and inflammatory disease.  Two birds with one stone, pun absolutely intended.  


One of the stories told about him is that some of the monks, newly introduced to him and his Rule, decided to rebel and attempted to poison him during Mass. Benedict survived because the chalice broke and a raven stole the bread before Communion.  



The surgery I will have in the summer is elective; in the words of my new surgeon,  I’m “not on fire.” Still it is reassuring to know that I can literally call on Saint Benedict.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My newest theme song

“Once I get you up there, where the air is rarified
We’ll just glide, starry-eyed
Once I get you up there, I’ll be holding you so near
You may hear angels cheer ‘cause we’re together,” Come Fly with Me”

La vida da vueltas. Life moves in cycles.  At least once in a week in our house, these cycles can be broken down into choreography, “all the way around…all the way around”. My daughter is now a competitive dancer and more than ever, she is dancing with all of her being. She dances with her limbs and, when her confidence is strong and the music fills her, with her eyes and her smile.  She is beginning to understand why dancing is such a wonderful expression of self and joy.

It has been a season of milestones. As we prepared for M to take part in her first competition, I underwent a new series of medical examinations. At first I suspected a flare-up in my IGM. So we began a round of antibiotics. After an ultrasound revealed changes in my gall bladder, I have been assigned a new surgeon (the wonderful surgeon who oversaw my recovery last years has retired) and I will soon be discussing next steps. I am feeling better physically but emotionally I have my moments of panic and wistfulness. Last year’s journey was challenging. I don’t want to miss out on M’s season of competitions and shows. I don’t want to miss out on another Carnaval. It doesn't take much for me to become tearful.  

As one of my favorite writers Hettie Jones writes, “See we tender women live on.” I was grateful to focus my energy on M’s dance journey. It was a whirlwind weekend in Dance World. Her costumes were adorable. Her makeup looked great.  My mom and I were schooled in the art of putting up thick, heavy hair into a French twist. I cried happy tears as M danced her first routine before the judges. The song they danced to felt like an anthem. 

When we got home, I continued to sing or whistle “Come Fly with Me, “both at home and at work.  Why had it resonated with me? The lyrics are a romantic invitation to travel.  The song is a reminder of the importance of taking opportunities to enjoy love and life. I realized that it is my time to fly with my daughter and my loved ones. No matter what doctors may tell me, my heart needs to rise and soar. Every day, I am invited to fly.  Every day, I will take flight.