Worthy Adversity

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Growing up my family and I, moved around a lot. We never stayed in any one place for more  than a few years. I went to five different elementry schools in six years. I never could develop healthy attachments with anyone.

I remeber being the new kid in junior high and getting in a fight the second week of school. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last. This would happen whenever we changed schools, and girls picked on me.

At the time, I was just coming out of that awkward gaukines, one can only attain in adolescents.

I was blossoming into womanhood.

This did me no favors, being the new girl and all. I remember not feeling comfortable in my own skin, and being the mean girls target. It didn’t take long for me to get sick of their shit, which lead to me getting beat up under the oak tree at lunch time.

Oh, to be young again.

Deep down I was always looking for someone, anyone to see my worth. To feel like I was seen. Truly seen. Not just for how I looked, but for who I was and what I could become.

I did have worth, I just didn’t know it yet.

I was constantly trying to fit in where I didn’t belong.

I have spent most of my life with this burden. Trying to connect with others is just straight up hard for me. The awkward adolescent still lurks beneath. On the outside I have been called pretty,  beautiful even. The inside never matched the outside.

Even now, I feel tattered and worn. I have seen to much ugliness with these eyes. My body has suffered as well. From weight gain to child birth, I have not been kind to my body. Our body is our temple, and mine is a little worse for the wear.

I’m working on changing all that.

Although, I feel the exhaustion of life, I also have new feelings like hope, and gratitude for the experiences that made me who I am. I am no longer looking for my worth in others. I now look to myself for my happiness.

It helps that I finally learned to form healthy attachments the day I met my other half. He sees me. He sees my worth and pushes me to do whatever I need to, to attain my own happiness.

He’s secure enough in himself, to want me to to have that same security within my own self. He wants me to go back to school at 33 years old and become a nurse.

Even if it takes me years.

He’s willing to take care of everything else financially for me, so I can do this one thing for myself. He believes I can do it. Even better, I know I can.

We shouldn’t look to others for our worth, but sometimes it gets lost for awhile, and we need that extra set of eyes to help us find it.

“His love roared louder than her demons”

~ unkown

Raising A Strong-willed Child

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Having a strong willed child is definitely a blessing, and at times a curse. This is the one thing no one ever tells you: Some kids are made for pushing limits, and you just might end up with your hands full.

My little girl is very smart and independent. She is also strong willed. What does that mean? Some might say it’s code for a rotten brat. The ones who say that usually have really easy-going kids. Those parents will never fully understand how it is to have a strong-willed kid.

Like most kids my little princess can be a brat, and maybe a bit more often than most. She is also really smart and knows what she wants and screw the rest. Parenting her means there is never a dull moment.

She is really one of the funniest kids I have ever been around. She even has her very own cake face for when she wants cake (gets me every time). She’s super creative and makes her own accessories videos. In these mock YouTube videos, she puts on a bunch of hair accessories and describes them in great detail.

She is also only four years old, so if she didn’t sound remarkable before, she should now.

So far what I have learned is that parenting her can be extremely entertaining and equally trying. I have also learned to roll with the punches and choose my battles wisely. This means if she wants to wear a black and white polka dot skirt with a long sleeve My Little Pony pajama top, by all means, be my guest.

What I have also learned are my limits. This means that if I’m shopping, and she wants a new toy EVERY time we go out, she is out of luck. She can cry it out, and she does.

Strong-willed kids need limits. Otherwise, they are smart enough to know who they can run right over, and they will. This does not mean she will stop trying to get her way; it just means she isn’t going to.

The hardest thing is taking a strong-willed child around other parents. It’s easy to stand back and judge another mom. We all do it.

Being on both sides of that fence, I have learned that parenting is not easy — period. Some of us are just barely hanging in there. Sometimes we just have to learn not to care what others think and ask for support when its needed.

If you’re raising a strong-willed child, keep in mind that they grow up. They will be the leaders one day, not the followers. They will rule the world!

So the next time you find yourself ready to pull your hair out or lock yourself in a bathroom, just try and picture them as the C.E.O of a fortune five hundred company or the head of the world’s largest conglomerate of deliciously scented candles.

Who knows? The sky’s the limit!

The Wait

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This post was originally published on RAWrWords: http://rawrwords.com/2016/06/18/the-wait/

When I was five years old, my parents lost our house and their business. I don’t know all the details, but I do know we ended up on my aunt’s doorstep in the middle of the night. My memories of that night are the reminiscences of a small child still full of innocence. They are tarnished and worn like an old picture. But they remain, forever etched on my skin like a scar that will never fade.

My mother, who loved us completely could not afford to take care of my three-year-old little brother and me, as well as my two older siblings. So she left us, the two youngest, in the care of family, out of sheer desperation.

What I do remember of that night, is having the worst earache, ever. My mother spent the rest of that night on the stairs rocking me to sleep, while I screamed my head off. I awoke the next morning on the stairs alone.

It was unclear where exactly my mother and siblings had gone. I heard stories later that they slept in a van and collected cans from recycling for food money. What was clear, was I was an unwanted burden, who wasn’t allowed to talk about my mother. We were told nothing about where she went or when she was coming back.

The next three years, I spent desiring only my mother.

Which made me a problem…

With the need for my mother my driving force, I didn’t conform to living the life that was expected of me. I don’t remember being a particularly bad child, only that I got in trouble a lot. Which meant, regularly, people were not happy with me.

I struggled in school, and I struggled at home.

Three years later my mom finally had a place for us; we finally went home.

My life didn’t get easier from there but at least I was wanted again. I was loved. In fact within years of going home to my mother, her mental illness would spiral out of control, and change our lives forever. But that’s another story…

When I look back on that night, and the subsequent morning after, waking up alone without my mother and not fully understanding why I realize that was a defining moment in my life. It helped shaped me into the parent and person; I am today.

I can’t imagine what my mother must have gone through deciding it was better to leave us than to drag her smallest children through the mud with her.

Sometimes being a good parent, is knowing when to step away, or asking for help when it’s needed.

I use to think everything happens for a reason. Today I think shit happens, and all we can do is try to make the best decisions we can to get us and the one’s we care for through it. We can’t let our past experiences rule our future. We are far greater than merely what has happened to us.

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Vegas Vacation

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file00056133704Disclaimer: this is my version of events. No children were harmed in the making of this trip. Some names will be left out to protect the innocent.

It was a early Friday morning when I woke up to my husband (will call him Joel) asking me what I thought about us skipping out for the weekend to Las Vegas. This was very last-minute, and would mean we would have to be packed and in the car within the HOUR.

Of course me being the awesome and very attentive mother that I am, said I had to think on it.  Thirty seconds later we were running around the house like crazy people trying to pack.

My two daughters who are ages five and nine, immediately started following me around asking questions like “What’s Las  Vegas mama?”  and  “Will there be a pool?”

 

As I was rushing through the house throwing random stuff in bags, I rationalized it to myself that Las Vegas could be fun for kids. I’m sure there were plenty of things for a five-year old to do in Vegas right?

Plus we had the trump card: We had  the grandparents who were already there visiting family. That was really the main reason we were even going. To visit family.

This was still my first trip to Las Vegas however and Joel had advised me it would only take us six to eight hours tops to get there. So I packed up some snacks, a few dvds, and a halfway charged tablet.

We were on our way.

I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t the most exciting thing we had ever done last-minute as a family.

Visions of the movie Vegas Vacation kept dancing through my head.

Of course for me it was mainly the parts where the parents were alone in Vegas doing fun things like gambling and meeting Wayne Newton.

I’m not a big fan but it sounded like a lot more fun than cleaning my house and taking care of kids at home all weekend.

Not to mention we were getting a chance to visit with a part of my husband’s family we rarely get to see. This was going to be the best trip ever!

Fast forward an hour later: the girls were fighting, the tablet was dead, and our DVD player we realized was to dark for daylight viewing. In not so many words, we were screwed.

Four hours in, and we had hit a huge traffic jam. It was the middle of October but in California that means nothing. The heat was blazing and at one point our truck started to make a funny noise. “Joel is that our truck?” I said with a tinge of fear in my voice. “Maybe it needs water?”  “No!’ Joel answered “It’s just the air conditioner. I will turn it off”

The truck deciding instead that wasn’t good enough, made a final sputter and then nothing. The truck had died.

Over heated in the full death grip of the angry October sun.

We sat there for a while letting it cool off. It was then that I noticed cars in front of us pulling onto the other side of the highway, and heading back the opposite direction.

The truck next to us rolled his window down to tell us there had been a huge mudslide a few miles ahead.

Luckily for us after a few minutes and some water, our truck started with no problems. We eventually we made to the front of the line just to be detoured back the way we came.

Afterwards I thought about how I should have let Joel make that illegal U-turn he wanted to make hours ago.

Nothing we can do about it now. No reason to make that thought public. Besides he didn’t listen to me about the whole water fiasco earlier. So by my count we were even.
In the end it took us 13 hours to make it to Las Vegas. That’s five hours longer than I had originally anticipated being locked in the car with two little tiny crazy people.

Not to mention a very irritated Joel.

We reached the hotel around midnight to find most of the highway traffic was now in line in front of us at Circus Circus.

We had now entered the seventh circle of hell.

My five-year old looked at me and then back at the smiling clown with the evil gleam and then back at me. The clown was offering her what appeared to be some sort of balloon animal.

That. Was. It. Her breaking point.

She began to sob heavily. The tired look in her eye forced me to hold her dead weight for the rest of the lines duration.

Would this day ever end? 

Finally we reached the room. I tucked the littles in bed with me. Joel who was still pumped from the ride over took off to hit the casino for a while. I just needed sleep.

Tomorrow would be better. It had to be better. 

The next day we took the girls to the The Pawn Stars Pawn Shop. We waited twenty minutes in line to walk a crowded 10 paces ahead and turn around to go right back out the front again. Not bad. At least it killed time and it was free.

Later we met up with the family and afterwards we were given the chance to really experience Las Vegas. Without kids.
First things first, we went back to the room so I could change. As I was getting dressed I started noticing Joel skulking around the room. It look like he lost something. “Joel honey did you lose something?” I said sweetly to my husband.

“Ugh it’s nothing. I think I might have lost a 25$ poker chip in here somewhere” he said.
30 minutes later I was ready. Joel on the other hand was still looking for this chip which I finally convinced him was no big deal and to forget about it.

He later told me he didn’t want to ruin my night but it was a 100$ poker chip, not 25$. He had taken a 100$ and tripled it on the black jack table in three hands the night before. That was a third of his winnings!

After we ate dinner and gambled a bit we walked down the strip. I had a couple of drinks at dinner and really wanted to take in a show.

Suddenly a young women stepped in front of us. She was offering two tickets to a show with a limo ride included. What luck I thought. I was in!  Joel (who never drinks) politely declined as she handed him a card.

To a strip club. In the worst part of town.

This was the city of sin right? No reason to be shocked at the lack of respect this women had for the sanctity of marriage. Besides apparently she was willing to give us a two for one deal.

A little while later we ran into another man who was trying to sell us some tickets. This time it was to a club event that Bruno Mars was going to be hosting that night. He had to tickets for 60$. We said no and kept walking.

An hour later we saw the same man. He told us he only had two tickets left and that he would give them to us for half price. I looked at Joel and said “why not?”

So we did it.

I figured worst case scenario: we lose 30$. Which I could easily have lost playing the slots. Best case: we get the best night of our lives. It’s Bruno Mars people!
The club which we had passed on the way into Vegas was on the opposite end of the strip and we held in our hands the best counterfeit tickets those bouncers had ever seen.

Yes we got ripped off. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Not one of my proudest moments.

Plus I’m sure Joel was kicking himself by now that he let me talk him out if that live Brittany Spears show earlier. To his dismay she even managed to have some sort of wardrobe malfunction that night.

It took us an hour and a half to get back to our room on the bus.

The next morning we picked up the kids and headed back home. The detour was still in effect and it took us another 12 hours to get back. On our way out we stopped at a drive through for breakfast.

At least we can save some money somewhere on this trip I thought. We where only in Vegas 36 hours and had spent close to $1000!

We should have stopped and ate somewhere else. Anywhere else. All the rest of the trip my five-year old had the runs. I was down to using puppy training pads I had got off the grandparents.

Thank god they followed us back! I probably would have resorted to using every article of clothing we brought otherwise.
While we were trying to maneuver our way home we got lost. Two hours later we finally saw a gas station. My husband pulled over to use the bathroom and pay for gas. Meanwhile I changed another puppy pad and then we hit the road again.

It wasn’t until we were ten miles down the road that we realized we never pumped the gas we originally stopped for! It was at the point I felt my emotions get the best of me.

This was my breaking point.

I could feel the tears prick the back of my eyes. As we were driving back to the gas station I looked my husband dead in the eye and said : (okay I’m not going to lie, I may have screamed it)  “This is the worst trip ever!”

I knew as soon as I said it was a mistake. The look in his eyes told me so. I hurt his feelings. After all he was just trying to take his family on a last-minute fun-filled road trip. He couldn’t control a damn mudslide, shitty people, or even shitty food (literally) for that matter.

Later after first apologizing to my family, I realized something: life is full of unexpected events and missed opportunities. It’s who we experience those moments with that matters most.

For now anyways I’m pretty sure my Vegas days are behind me. Unless of course Bruno Mars is hosting at one of the hottest night clubs in town! 

From The Depths Of Hell

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From the depths of hell I see the world on fire all around me. As the days pass my soul fades gently. The world around grows darker with each breath.

With age comes intelligence.

My thoughtful eyes soon realize my realty is all wrong. Why me? I think to myself as I look amid my uncertain world.

An unsettling thought from an innocent child.

My unforgiving demons recede in and out of my unconscious mind.

They whisper to me ever so softly “you are mine now and forever “. For once you have seen the darkness it never lets you go.

Who here knows of the horrors I speak?

Who here has watched the shadows fade with time?

Who here has come from the depths of hell and lived to tell the tale?

~ Dearest Mommy

Videos Games And Why They’re Not The Devil

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I am one of those eighties babies who grew up on Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and their cooler younger brother PlayStation. I have been lucky enough to witness and enjoy the evolution of videogames.

 

I started out small as a kid playing Mario Bros on regular Nintendo and gradually progressed to Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64 and then PlayStation. 007 was the first first person shooter game I ever played.

It was awesome! You really felt like you were in the game. It was miles apart from my beloved Mario Bros and the graphics were amazing.

Eventually I took a long hiatus to adult and stuff. I became a mother to a blended family of two girls (9 & 5) and a boy in college (20).

Raising kids in this technical age means most families have at least one game system or computer in their house. So I know I’m not alone in having kids who love video games.

The weird part is I never really grew out of my love for video games. The urge to play came back small at first. Here and there I would watch my daughter play Super Mario Bros on her Wii. I found myself taking the controller when she asked for help, and having a hard time giving it back when I was done.

Finally I said screw it one summer vacation when the kids were driving me nuts. I turned the Wii on and we all sat down and played on a split screen. My three year old just held the extra controller as I pointed to my character and told her it was hers.

Oh the small joys of parenting a toddler.

Two Christmases ago we bought our first PlayStation 4. I was shocked by how good the graphics were. I mean seriously on a big screen TV you can see each blade of grass move in the wind. Wow just wow. Remember I started out on Tetris, PACMan and Mario Bros. So best believe I was astonished to say the least.

 

I have to say there is certainly a lot of stigma attached to video games. Recently I watched an interview on CNN where someone was blaming video games like Call Of Duty and violent television shows like The Walking Dead for the Sandy Hook shooting. The unidentified women said the shooter practiced for days on Call Of Duty before the shootings.

Umm okay… How the hell do you practice shooting a real gun on a video game with a controller?  

I have to say I call bullshit on that. I have played video games off and on all my life and never had a violent outburst.  At least not unprovoked. 😉

 What happened at Sandy Hook was extremly sad and my heart goes out to anyone who was affected by that tragedy or others like it.

I am personally more inclined to blame the perpetrator who was obviously very unstable and in no way should have ever had access to any kind of weapon. 

The truth is some people are violent and some aren’t. Everyone has choices. You can’t go around blaming (at least in part) video games, TV shows and Twinkies for other others horrible actions. 

For my family I find that video games monitored, and in (mostly) small doses bring my family closer together. Currently I have a PlayStation 4 in three rooms of my house.

It sounds excessive I know, but in order to play some of our games like Star Wars Battlefront (definitely recommended) online together you need one system per person.

My five year old still holds the extra controller and thinks she’s playing. Thank the gods for small miracles. 

We are a video game family and honestly I love it. Not to mention my nine year old daughter is a dancing machine now that she has Just Dance 2016. Entertainment and exercise all rolled up into one awesome game!  What more could you ask for?  

Not every parent will agree with my stance on video games and that’s okay. Every parent is different, and only they know what’s best for their family.

As for me I think I feel a dance off coming on right about now. Time to go school my girls in some Just Dance interpretive dance. Watch out now! 

 

The Worst Word

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I have this fear. It follows me around everywhere I go. It’s never far. It lingers in the back of my mind whispering to my subconscious that no one I love is safe. What’s my biggest fear you may ask? The simple answer to that is Cancer.

My first real experience with this unforgiving disease was in January of 2013. That was the year my life changed forever.

  “It’s stage four Cancer”  was what my husband told me. We weren’t exactly sure what that meant only that it was bad. At that moment it seemed like my world was spiraling out of control. I knew then that nothing would ever be the same.  

My husband and I just stood there stunned.  As soon as it hit me I began to cry. My husband looked at me and said “what?”. Now at this point I’m pretty sure my husband was in shock (we both were), and it hadn’t exactly sunk in yet. ” He’s dying” was all I said.

The person in question was our friend Jason. He was my husband’s boss and both of our good friend. We had met him, and several other close friends in October 2010 at a poker game we attended.

Jason was a husband to a very interesting and intriguing women who in time I grew to love whole heartedly. He was also a father to two of the most awesome kids I know. He was quiet and smart and one of the best Texas hold ’em players I had ever met.

He was also blessed with a fairly wry sense of humor. For example one of the nights he was at our weekly poker tournament and was sitting at my table. Now usually there is anywhere from 15 to 27 players at these games. We had been playing with this group every weekend for a few months already. Poker was the first thing I found that I was a natural at. I loved it!

On that night when it was my turn to shuffle then deal, and since my shuffling was so terribly slow, I had resorted to politely asking whoever was lucky enough to be sitting near, if they would shuffle for me.

Lets be honest here, I was still new to the whole poker thing, and as I like to say I was the best worst dealer around.

I thought I was doing everyone a favor by not taking up anymore time as it was.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement to my left. It was Jason. He had gotten up, walked to the kitchen picked something up, and proceeded to walk with it over to me and set it down right in front of me. To my horror it was a shuffling machine!

All you had to do was cut the deck in half. Place each half on either side of the machine, press the botton, and viola your deck is shuffled!

I will never live it down.

This was probably the most embarrassing thing that had happened to me since I started playing Texas hold ’em.

So of course I did the only thing I could think of. I used it the rest of the night. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em right?

The very next week I was shuffling on my own.

I’m not sure he ever knew it but I was in in constant competition with Jason. My husband and I played every Friday night for the next three years with that group. They became like family, and still are.

Jason in my eyes was the best player there, so of course in my mind I needed to beat him as much as I possibly could. That didn’t work out so well for me on many occasions, but that didn’t mean I would ever stop trying.

In January of 2013 two years and three months after I met him, Jason my friend was diagnosed with Stage four terminal cancer. With in six weeks he was gone. He was 38 years old.

The one thing I learned from his passing was that this life is a fleeting gift. You have to make the most of it, and never look back. I hold my family even closer now then ever.

I quit smoking and took up writing instead. The first thing I ever wrote was a poem which I read at the spreading of his ashes. I didn’t keep a copy, and I don’t remember the words. It was just for him.

The truth is I can’t stop cancer from happening but at least I can try and leave my mark on this world through my words as well as my actions.

Last week one of my family members was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately my anxiety kicked into overdrive and I have been having trouble sleeping again. I imagine until we find out more I will continue to have this problem.

The fear is real. No matter what happens though I will push on, and help him fight in anyway I can. Sometimes all we can do is be there and that’s what I intend to do.

Oh and fuck you Cancer!

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For my friend Jason, gone but never forgotten