R.I.P. Dad

Rest in peace, Dad (12/9/1933 -12/22/2016)

So thankful for who you were and who you evolved to be.
“I love you so much, too.”

My dad was a man who had four girls, me being the youngest. He was a strong, funny, and sometimes quiet man. He was a man who loved football (soccer) and was a fan of Pelé. He liked the beach, the sun and fishing. He liked action-packed, old westerns and movies with Doris Day. He could cook the best Carbonara and Spaghetti Bolognese. He believed in education, family, and that a woman (especially his girls) could do anything a man could do.

By the time I was 3 years old, he made plans to move his family to the U.S. because of the government issues in Peru, but primarily for our education.

dad-and-me-in-peru   dad-n-me

My dad raised me to be a strong, independent woman. He showed me first hand equality between the sexes (Feminism). Besides being the primary bread-winner, he tended to his daughters. He cooked and showed me how to cook (‘if you love shrimp and bacon you have to learn to deal with being stung by the grease sometimes’). He cleaned around the house and he showed me how to take care of my cars. And, most importantly he taught me how to think for myself, that you needed to do the research-read, learn and find out things for yourself, instead of just listening to someone else or one person’s opinion. I’m sure all this helped me when I was left to be a single mother many years later.

My dad, unfortunately, was also co-dependent to my mother (she is an alcoholic). He kept his family together because he thought he was doing the right thing. He had loyalty and he sacrificed his life for my mom and us. In the end, he stuck by my mom because he could not give up on their vows and he knew what would possibly happen to her if there was no one there to take care of her. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him, even at the expense of losing touch with me back in 2011 because I could no longer accept my mom in my life. He thought that he was doing the right thing and I do not, nor did back then, blame him for the choices he made then and all our years. I realized, back in 2011, that it was okay because it was “their” journey together. Since 2011, I had only seen him once when my son graduated from high school.

My dad showed me in my lifetime, and especially in the last 20 years, that he was truly a loving man and a father that really did love me. Sometimes when you grow up in an alcoholic home, you aren’t quite sure how much the co-dependent parent loves you.

My dad showed me that he could have very deep conversations, expressing one another’s opinions and thoughts that were maybe contradictory to his daughter’s. My dad showed me that he could have these conversations with me that would never lead into an argument (that wasn’t the case many years earlier). I believe it was important for him to share some things with me and to also to really get to know me.

My dad showed me what a father should be after I had my son. The few months we lived together after I had my son, he stepped in-to let me eat, to sooth my son’s colic because I couldn’t, and to let me rest or just have a break.

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My dad showed me what it was to work hard, to never rely on a handout or rely on a man.

My dad showed me to move forward in life despite all the storms that life may throw your way.

I was told in the hospital before he passed that this last decade or so that he struggled with illnesses, like Leukemia, Diabetes, and Anemia that he wanted to be part of any clinical trials, so that maybe by doing so his life could be used to benefit others. I love this!

My dad was my very important to me and I was very fortunate and grateful to see him again before he passed. He wasn’t well, but he somehow managed to say to me, “I love you so much.” I told him, “I love you more.”

I will move on as my dad only wished for me to live. I will countlessly remind my son what it is to be a strong, loving man and father (with the exception of ever becoming co-dependent and sacrificing yourself for another). I will remind my son that a man should also cook, clean, and be a caretaker to his kids. I will continue my dad’s legacy and I hope to continue to make him proud for generations to come.

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Previous posts on my dad’s final days.

https://gracelozada.com/2016/12/13/making-amends-before-its-too-late/

https://gracelozada.com/2016/12/18/a-week-later/

https://gracelozada.com/2016/12/21/trip-back-to-the…al-to-see-my-dad/

#agingparents #rip #ripdad

Trip back to the hospital to see my dad. 

On the train, back to see my dad. He’s still very critical. He was admitted a day before his birthday, December 8th. I went down from Los Angeles to San Diego that Sunday, a few days after and stayed until late Saturday, living in the waiting room or with my mom in his room. Never knew, whom ever knows, how the end of someone’s life will go. We all just wished that he’d die peacefully in his sleep. He deserved to go that way. He has had a long life, he’s 83, and even though there were very horrendous times, there were also many beautiful times. 

He has come a long way. From a man so happy of the possibilities, marrying a well-to-do, beautiful woman to having four girls and moving to a country that had, in his eyes, a better education (for his girls) and the endless opportunities the U.S. could provide. Mind you, parts of him, I’m sure, would have loved to stay in Peru. But, the way things were going with the government, he made the choice to what he believed, would be a better life.

The transition wasn’t easy, especially for his wife and his unknowing of what it took to raise a family. 

Despite all the heartbreak and turmoil that was endured within our home, there were caring, funny, and educational times. He loves us as best he can and he evolved to a man that could have serious talks with me without it turning into an argument of whether what we were sharing was wrong or right. 

He loved my son and felt closer to him because they both didn’t have their fathers in their life. He tended to my son, each and every day, when I couldn’t ease my son’s colic. He showed me first hand truly what feminism – equality – was. He cooked, cleaned, and took physical and loving care of his children. He showed me how to be independent, check all my fluids and tires on my cars. We’ve shared the love of cars and racing. He showed me to give my all when I workout – make it count! Growing up I heard he came to this country for our education and I hope that despite dropping out of high school, I made him proud with the two degrees I ended up getting and I’m sure he is so happy that my son is a senior at one of the most prominent universities in Southern California. 

I so wish the last few years could have been different. It was so hard in 2011 to close him out of my life, but a few months ago he read my memoir and all I hope is that he completely understands that despite everything I love him.

#agingparents #loss #grief 

A week later.

Hello lovelies!

Just got back home late last night from spending the last week in the hospital with my dad. He’s still in icu, still on the ventilator, and still sedated. They found 2 bacteria strains, which is causing his bacterial pneumonia, but they can’t understand why his lungs are bleeding. Tests still have yet to be back and he’s wasn’t running a temp today – which is great! But ots still a day to day, hour to hour situation. 😔
Hold your love ones closely, tell them you l0ve them all the time.

holding-hands
You never know when you may get another chance.

 

 

 

#agingparents

November 14th – 5 years later

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It is amazing that it has been 5 years since you went away. I feel like it was yesterday that it was the last time I saw you. We were sitting in my car and you were telling me how hard every morning was because of the disappointment you felt that you let everyone down again. I made you feel better by telling you we didn’t care about the past and that you should let go of that guilt that, all we cared about was that you stayed healthy and you were happy. Little did I know how hard it really was for you. I should have known. I had been there – feeling like I can not move on from those negative thoughts.

I will carry a bit of your essence always in my heart. 

He was The Nicest Thing I had ever seen
https://gracelozada.com/2014/11/14/he-was-the-nices…-i-had-ever-seen/

Butterfly Beach Butterfly Beach, CA, 3.7.14He was everything quote297816_2274135206657_1027169808_n

#loss

September the 13th

RIP, Lily (25yrs ago) and Tupac (20yrs ago).
Such amazing souls and very similar.
Enthusiastic, happy, fun loving friends of mine that were appreciative for the moments life was giving them.
Lily, you changed my life.
Tupac, you said things I needed to hear at a very lonely time.

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Thank you both for coming into my life and touching my soul!

Lttr to the suffering, hold on.

Dear ones that are suffering,

Please hold on. Don’t give up. Life will get better.

It took me a long time to get to other side of feeling hopeless, like life was always going to be hopeless. I am so beyond happy that I survived to the point I never want to leave this world.
PLEASE, seek help. Counselors, psychologists. Talk to someone. Find someone to help you find someone.
When life is over, it’s over. No more chances to do the things you love, no more chances to experience something you’ve always wanted to try, no more saying, “fuck you” and finally walking away from that thing or people that add to your depression.
Please never give up. Life is beautiful.

Much love,
Grace

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#fightdepression

Where does our life and journey begin – Peru

Does our life and journey really begin at birth, or does our lineage collide with us to lay the foundation to our journey once we are born? Is our spirit passed on from lifetimes before, making amends, learning, and trying to evolve? I’ve always also felt that generations of my past did influence my upbringing. Some habits, traditions, stories, and experiences are passed on from generation to generation, good and bad, just as they are in any family. I’m a melting pot of different cultures—Peruvian, Spanish, Irish, and German, but mainly my heritage for the last few generations is from a country that is somewhat foreign to me, Peru—a place unknown to me because we left there to move to the United States when I was just three years old. Peru’s rich and varied heritage includes the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco and the lost city of Machu Picchu.

I’ve read that it’s one of the most mesmerizing, spiritual places in the world. People visit Peru because it has so many attractions, such as its archaeological treasures, the Andes mountain range, and the Amazon rain forest. In 2011, it was estimated the population was around 29.4 million.

Peruvian territory was home to ancient cultures, spanning from the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, to the Inca Empire, the largest state in pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the sixteenth century. The earliest evidences of human presence in Peru have been dated to approximately 9000 BCE. The oldest known complex society, Norte Chico civilization, flourished along the coast of the Pacific Ocean between 3000 and 1800 BCE. Peru has been described as having three regions: the costa (coast), the sierra (highlands/mountains), and the selva (jungle). It is a multiethnic country formed by different groups over five centuries. Amerindians inhabited Peru for several millennia before the Spanish conquest of the sixteenth century. Spanish and Africans arrived in large numbers under colonial rule. Gradual European immigration from England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain followed. Chinese arrived in the 1850s, replacing slave workers, and have greatly influenced Peruvian society. Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions, though it has also been influenced by the various ethnic groups.
Lima, the capital of Peru, which is where I was born, is the largest city in Peru and one of the largest financial hubs in Latin America. It’s referred to as the City of the Kings (Ciudad de los Reyes) and was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535. Mestizos are a mix of Amerindian and European (mostly Spanish and Italian) ancestry and are now the largest ethnic group. Lima is on the coast facing the Pacific Ocean; I’d later hear that California reminded my parents of their home country. European Peruvians are the second-largest group. Lima has the largest ethnic Chinese community in Latin America.

Peruvian cuisine combines Amerindian and Spanish food with influences from African, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese cooking. Besides its delish variety of great Peruvian seafood dishes, Chifa, Peruvian-Chinese cuisine, was something our family centered on when we lived in and visited Peru. Lima is known as the gastronomical capital of the Americas. It’s my favorite cuisine and is finally becoming well-known and awarded worldwide.

As in most families, our family converges around food, primarily Peruvian food. It is the root of getting together or when there is something to celebrate; we make an abundance of dishes that we grew up with. I’m proud to say that I’m Peruvian, even though I’ve become an American citizen, and I was almost completely brought up as any other middle-class female in the United States. I’ll be thrilled when I can reconnect with my beloved birthplace and show my son some of our true culture, history, and sights of this lovely place, Peru.
#peru #family #history #book #memoir #books #amazon #goodreads #kdp

What Grace means to me

Grace by definition is:
simple elegance or refinement of movement or in Christian belief – the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Besides “Grace” being one of my  birth names, translated from Spanish, Grace has many meanings for me and what I consider Grace to be.

Since I do not follow any organized religion, I don’t think of Grace in that sense and even though I believe in a soul and spirit, I am far from truly saying for sure that there is one divine creator. I am just a human being that does not know for sure. I do believe in past lives. I relish in my love and connection I feel for the universe-which includes Mother Earth and Inti (the sun-god) and I think that it is bigger and more important than we treat it as.

I believe we all have souls that pass on – eventually, to a new life until we reach our peak of divineness. I believe that it is okay whatever others believe. I just believe in being good toward yourself and others; having compassion, love and understanding as best you can. And lastly, I believe in giving back – helping whomever you can.

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When I titled my memoir, Evolving to Grace, I thought of how my journey was desperately trying to find the path back to Grace – to me. That spiritual being that came into this world so peaceful, so happy, so centered.

Life happened though, and how we all do, I lost my way to who my real self was. We lose touch with our soul, at least partially. We let pain, suffering, hurt in. It is unfortunately a part of life. But, it not only changes who we are, steers us away from why we are here, but it also takes away that state of grace we have when we are in touch with ourselves, in touch with the universe, and in touch with what life is supposed to be. I didn’t realize until I completed my book that this was exactly what I was desperately trying to fight for, for so many years. I wanted and needed to change, so that I can be realigned with my grace. 527302_4671234532642_653853301_n

Grace also means to me, moments of grace. Are they divine? I don’t know because my belief is that I won’t truly know what is for sure until I pass. I do believe though that there are loved ones that have passed on that are present in moments of need. But, I also believe in ourselves and that our inner wisdom that has been learning or at least trying to from past lives is speaking out to our current self. Some may refer to this as “inner voice”. In my book, Evolving to Grace, I wrote about a moment I had of clarity about my parents while driving to a loved one’s service. So many years before, I struggled with the pain of letting go of family and then just in an instant it all made sense. Finally, without any conflict in my heart and head, grace happened, and I was able to understand that it was okay to let go.

Temple in SB

 

 

Grace means something different to everyone. But, these are my thoughts and feelings of what Grace means to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#peace #grace #book #memoir #amazon #goodreads 

Never as I seem

We should never judge a book by its cover. I was “alternative” before that was even a thing and I was living in a town that was very conservative; all I got were stares. I feel that back then I had more style than I do now and I was trying new things, definitely with my hair and clothes. I wasn’t doing drugs (yet), but I could only imagine that that was what everybody thought.
And here I was at 16, innocent as could be, but as closed off to the cold, cold judgemental world. With a slightly grown out shaved head, no one ever could have imagine that I was anything but happy because of the smile on my face. I was also good at disguises, I was battling depression then, so I’m sure it wasn’t pure “happiness”. Or maybe, I just very seldomly wore my emotions on my sleeve lIke I  seemed to be doing that day. 
In this picture  I was more relieved than happy because that day meant to me, a celebration of freedom. Freedom from the put downs, freedom from inferiority, freedom from the physical attacks, freedom to now be good enough, and mostly freedom to no longer be just “her sister”.

I love my sis, but I was always in her shadow. Now was the first time I saw that I could break free to be me!
Read more in Evolving to Grace.
Available at Amazon.com 

LGBT – Love is Love

Right before I became a teenager, I was living outside of Houston. It was the early 80’s. My two eldest sisters used to run away from our nightmarish home to downtown, where they used to go and hang out with their friends in the clubs. My parents weren’t okay with their friends because most of them were gay.
The years of hearing my parents speak badly about their friends and anyone who was gay made me dislike yet another viewpoint of their’s.
My nature was all accepting.
I never understood why humans disliked other humans because of the color of their skin, or now, who they loved. And, after I met my sister’s friends, I never had any other thought or feeling that 1 that loves someone of the same-sex was anything but normal. It’s never been a second thought or feeling and thankfully I have passed that on to my son.
Anyone who hates #lgbt should lay down their judgements and remember that #loveislove. And at least for me, I’d rather love than hate.
This pick is of one of my sisters’ friends, Kent & I, when I was 16 and visiting Chicago in 1986.

Kent & Kiki_redo

 

#lgbt

Where I am in my life, for now.

It has been many years since I finished Evolving to Grace. Since then, I’ve come a long way from being that woman that was confused by what life was having her go through. I learned that whatever happens to us or the people that come into our lives are all opportunities for us to learn from, whether they are good or bad. I don’t believe that anything happens by accident or is coincidental. I am also no longer that girl that was destructive and a victim, losing herself in alcohol and countless bad choices. Though I am not “cured” or “normal”, whatever that means, I acknowledge I do still have some things to work on, but I have done a damn good job on the things I have overcome. I know that nothing becomes perfect or changes overnight–it is a process. So, year by year, things have gotten better. There are moments that are challenging for me, but those times are regular life situations that I am dealing with rather than the toxic, negative, dysfunctional behavior or situations that I used to be around. It is all about finding hope, optimism and a good perspective on things, which I work on having on a daily basis, and for the most part, I would say I have most of the time. On the days that I am not working, I choose to do what I want to do with my time. I am usually relaxing, spending time with people I enjoy, doing something productive that makes my brain and body feel good, or just investing in something that motivates me more to be a better person. In my real life–my 9-5, I work in Accounting. I like what I do in my career life, but I am working on leaving behind the corporate world in hopes that one day I will be doing photography and writing on a full-time basis, because returning back to my creative side is what I am truly passionate about.

I couldn’t be happier for my son, also. He is at a prominent university in Southern California and enjoying life. He loves film, music and is a happy, hilarious, and a compassionate young man with so many possibilities in front of him. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for him.

I am a warrior, a survivor, and optimist. Life is not dark anymore. I’ve triumphed, because I am still a loving, kind, compassionate, and giving individual. I still smile at strangers because why not, you never know who needs it. And, I still have my sense of humor, despite everything. And, though my memoir ends on a sad note and after the grief I had to go through, my life is actually pretty good now. I am happy and content. I live my life on my terms and have positive, supportive people in it. There have been good times throughout my life. Yes, some tragic things may have happened to me, but life is better and I look forward to what lies in my future. I don’t dwell on the past, even though I speak of it from time to time. My past, my heart, and my mind have made me who I am today. I had to experience what I experienced, the good and bad, so that I could learn, grow and love ever so deeply. There is this deep sense of gratitude and love for life, because I have seen darkness, and now all I want to experience is the beauty that life has to offer. I am excited of every day that comes and the endless possibilities–places to see and re-see, new things to experience, people to meet, loves or a love to have in my life, and definitely more books to write–next time, possibly fiction.

I hope my story taught others that the cycle of dysfunction–alcoholism and abuse, can lead to dark paths, but that you can awaken, learn and change your life to break the cycle, because in the end, life is beautiful and amazing! I believe that we all can learn from one another or at least find more compassion and understanding. I, myself, cherish the good moments, and I am excited of what my future holds. I know now that I can overcome anything, and all that I want to do besides writing and photographing is share my story with anyone who will listen so that I can tell them, “You are not alone. You can overcome whatever you are going through. Just believe, find hope, seek help, make better choices and be patient. It will happen. Your life can be different.”

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20151017_180658 20151018_163255-1 IMG-20130918-00743 Santa Barbara-20120812-00350 KK in SB