Saturday, February 14, 2015

Evolution of a half-marathoner

It began as a bet. Under the mentorship of the amazing Mama L of East Bay Team in Training, my fabulous best friend had recently earned her first half-marathon medal.  At the time, I didn’t run (ok that one time in college at the Q-Dogs party when someone shouted that there was a gun; I ran then), not since high school PE. In fact, I barely passed high school PE. I always had a twisted ankle, an infected bug bite, or cramps. Nevertheless, I had signed up for a fitness boot camp.  My best friend pointed out that I would likely run at each workout. I complained that I’d likely strain my bad ankle. So she bet me I would survive without injury and that if I did, I would run alongside her at the inaugural Rock N’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon. Fine, I said.

It wasn’t fine. It was miserable. I could deal with everything but the running. I hated every second of it. The sweat. The breathing. The impact of my feet on cement. How damn slow I was. But I never got hurt. So I joined my best friend at the San Leandro Marina for my first training run with Mama L. She helped me adjust my posture and my stride. She taught me how to breathe while running (3 inhales through the nose, 1 exhale from the mouth). She was easily the most positive person I had met, full of insightful advice about life as a whole. Despite the physical challenge, I found myself motivated by the mental training. So I committed. 

In the eight and a half years I have been a runner, my commitment has never wavered. I’ve had to drop out of races at least three times, twice because of tendonitis in my bad ankle (see I wasn’t whining) and once due to my long recovery from surgery. But as soon as my body felt ready, I was back out on the asphalt and the trail. Running has become such a part of me. It is my time to meditate, to celebrate, and to just be. I owe my best friend and my running coach many thanks. 

Those first two miles are never going to be exhilarating. I will probably never get much faster. I may never look like a runner. But I run. 
* Today marks my fifteenth half-marathon!  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Because it's my year to review

I clicked on the Facebook year in review. It wasn’t all bad. As a matter of fact, it featured postings and photos relating to my samba school, my beautiful, loving tribe that truly deserves a piece of writing dedicated to them(2015 seems a good time to do so). While I smile when I remember all the dancing, laughing, and celebrating we did, I realize that the story of my year is much more complex. Facebook may have some matrix that detects the number of likes and comments; I know better.

In terms of my personal growth and the strength of my family, 2014 was a challenging and therefore inspirational year. We have weathered illness( and major surgery)and the death of loved ones among other troubles. I learned a long time ago that my attitude in trying moments is in my control. I can choose to love, smile, pray, breathe, be.

The following are seven photos from last year. I look forward to another year of love, unity, and peace.  
Great America Dance Day 2014 : By then, I was on my third round of antibiotics and within two weeks I would be hospitalized for emergency surgery. Pero ni modo, my baby comes first. I love to watch her dance so this day was no different. 
Photo by Elise Evans.  Look closely at my right shoulder. I am wearing Mr. Backpack. I had to make my final payment on my Carnaval costume even though I knew I most likely wouldn't be able to wear it. So even though I was sad, angry, and exhausted, I was happy to see my dance family practice. 
Mr. Backpack: gone but never forgotten

Photo by Rambo. The Four Generations photo he had planned since we decided we were going to Peru. 
My family at the most beautiful place on Earth  
Photo by Soul Brasil Magazine.  San Diego Brazilian Day Parade.  I finally did get to dance with my samba community.
My inspiration

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The mommy fail that wasn't

Some of the best memories aren’t recorded on film. My brother and I were recently discussing one of the memorable moments from our days watching Cal basketball. We had gathered on Sproul Plaza to cheer on our NCAA-bound Cal Bears. Each player had his chance in the spotlight. Then one of the weaker players stood up. The crowd began to boo and jeer.  The poor guy kept a grin on his face. Bless his heart. 
These were the days before cell phone cameras and social media. But those images are as fresh as if they happened yesterday.

When M was two, we made our first road trip to LA with her. On our drive home, she entertained us with a giggly rendition of a favorite from our Music Together classes, “John the Rabbit.” These were the days before I had gotten hooked on Facebook and Instagram. There is no video but Rambo and I will always treasure that sweet serenade.

This weekend, M and I went to Fairyland to watch her friends dance.  As sometimes happens, the phone battery died.  Instead of focusing of taking photos or being distracted by the news feed, I simply watched her. I got to see her natural smiles, how she interacts with other children, and how she loves to play outdoors.  Those moments were ours.

I look forward to lots of dead phone batteries this holiday season and in the next year. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Confessions of a domestic goddess

I hate housework. Once in a while, I’ll take initiative to scrub a floor or wash windows but usually that happens because I want to punch someone. I’m no fighter. I may fantasize about throwing a hook; there’s a 99.9% chance I will scour toilet bowls instead.  But these moments don’t happen on a daily or weekly basis. 
My mother and my suegra disapprove, sometimes out loud.  This does little to motivate me. I visit friends’ homes and feel slightly embarrassed when I think of my own house.  I take note but I don’t take notes. I could allow Rambo to hire a housekeeper. I could keep a calendar, make a chore chart, or set up reminders on my phone.

We’re not headed for an intervention on Hoarders. We team up to take care of the basics. We make an extra effort for visitors and parties. But I never hesitate to postpone housework. In my mother’s house, chores were a weekly Saturday routine. The majority of the day was spent on vacuuming, cleaning floors, dusting, doing laundry. In our house, exercise and outings are the usual Saturday plan. There's a dicho in Spanish, "Como es la mujer, asi es la casa." Why should I, as a mother and a woman, be defined by how clean my house is? I  have so much more to offer my daughter. 

I chose sanity and happiness over duty a long time ago. M is happy, healthy, and thriving. I am, too.  If housekeeping is my weakness, I accept it.