You really can’t take anything for granted. Family, friends, work, a paycheck, bike rides, sunsets, days off, taking pictures, hugs, kisses, holding hands, the beach, the sun, a walk at the beach or through a favorite museum, ACA meetings, eating out, and sitting in the sun for hours.Whatever it is, try to never take anything for granted. And know, that we make this little sacrifice to save lives.
Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.
Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.
I saw this at the mall and it spoke to me.
I probably have a connection to it because it has water, looks like it was taken under the sea. And, I probably feel a close connection because I’m such a Pisces, water girl, mermaid. I even take baths, a couple a week, and they usually are as long as 30-45 minutes long. Sometimes taking baths like this reminds me of Big Fish, the movie. ☺ But, this #art piece made me also feel and think of how there are days/times in my life that I need to just flow, swim, or reach with what the current tide in life is bringing me.
Today is one of those days. Today is the 1 year anniversary of my dad’s passing. Even though there are important things I need to deal with, calls to return, all I’m going to do and focus on is the time I’m going to have with my son down at the beach. My dad (& family) loved the beach, the ocean, the water. I want to remember him there.
I want to laugh, cry, and feel his love there.
R.I.P. Dad. I love you!
What a rollercoaster ride of emotions today. I’m experiencing soon one of my happiest and proudest days of my life ~ my son will be graduating from UCLA tomorrow with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Music Industry. It has been one amazing journey to get here with the struggles, disappointments, challenges, laughter, and many all-nighters. And, I’ll never forget all the driving every morning to Brentwood and later to Pacific Palisades.
But, I can’t help to think of the ones that won’t be sharing in knowing and seeing what a great, accomplished young man he has become. The very first one, Tupac (Happy Birthday), that knew I was going to be a great mother ~ Uncle Tupac as he wanted to be. The words of wisdom and kindness he wrote to me while he was away in NY were what I so desperately needed to hear at that time. How happy he would be tomorrow for my son and I! And, then my father, who just passed in December. He brought us to this country for our education. Furthering one’s education beyond high school was so important to him because he hadn’t done it and he knew the value in it. I’m grateful that he at least knew that my son was graduating soon, as we told him in December in the hospital bed. How proud he would be!
So, really, a world of emotions – but good ones. Because in the end it is nothing but pure joy of my son’s accomplished that brings it all to this.
#beatingtheodds #persevere #2pac
She was a girl of abuse
She was a girl of silence
Those tears were hidden behind
those sad eyes
But, one day she found beauty
Beauty in the sky
Beauty in the trees
Beauty in the birds
Beauty in the lady bugs
Beauty in all things
Even beauty in hurt and pain
because through that she learned
to love life and all things deeper than ever before.
Last weekend I decided to take my bike out for one of my rides. The weather had cooled down and I had been back to the gym. I thought to myself, I can do this! I can power through 15+miles and conquer the slops on the boulevard for a bike ride, and just maybe I can slide in the Santa Monica Stairs while I’m at it.
I so needed this! I finally have some free time to get back into shape. Well, not completely free because I do need to do other things while I have time off from work. But, I should try really hard though to squeeze in some time to get back into shape because who knows when I will have this time again.
Earlier in the week I had been to the gym and successfully went everyday. I always begin my workouts at the gym on the treadmill – 30 minutes are required, but 45 minutes are better! I love to run on the treadmill. I have only been walking though because I am worried of getting shin splints, again. I’ve been told that I should ease into running, so possibly in the next coming weeks I will be running. I’ve always been a runner since junior high. And, I was so good that the high school I went to wanted me to be a runner for their school. Running, nowadays, is my form of relieving stress and it helps me with making any decisions on situations I am trying to work out in my life. On top of running being therapy for me, when I run I feel I am actual burning and shedding some fat, which makes me feel proud about what I am doing. So, I thought since I seemed to be able to just glide back into the gym and have the endurance to walk for 30 minutes, that I could do a little over 15 miles on my bike. Was I delusional? This 1st ride back after so many months was going to be a challenge for me, I thought.
My bike rides take me back to my Houston days before I was a teenager. We had moved there when I was 10 and almost immediately my sisters and I all got our 10 speed Schwinn’s. I could ride mine for forever though I don’t remember going much further than our neighboring neighborhoods or my school. I have had a bike since I was a very young child and until I was 16. Bike riding was in my DNA. And somehow, as many adults do, I lost touch with this thing I used to do that brought me so much joy. I went many years without riding. But, a few years back, I bought my son and I bikes. I still have mine. Every time I ride it, I am brought back to being that 12-year-old girl who could ride without holding the handle bars, wind blowing in her face. I have to hold onto the handle bars nowadays, though. I’ve kinda try it out, but haven’t gone all the way. I get scared because it gets shaky. But, maybe because it is the type of bike I have or maybe it is just the fear of being old that holds me back – knowing – I don’t have the balance that the young me used to have.
So, I headed out early on Saturday, about 9:30a.m. I took the hilly path, down the boulevard, so that I can do a better strength enduring workout than the alternative – a flat-level path. The first time I took this path, after the first incline, I had to stop and throw up a little. It’s not a piece of cake, but now I don’t stop or get sick to my stomach, which I am so happy because throwing up a little bit of your morning coffee at the side of the road is no way to start your morning. While riding I listen to music on my Walkman – yes, I have a mp3 Walkman. I have had it for years and my better excuse is that: I am a product or in love with everything from the 80’s. Sorry that’s just me!
After about 5 miles of riding and a block away, the beach was in front of me. I made a right to head over to downtown Santa Monica, which is about another 2 miles away. I wanted to walk through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. I always like to pick up a plum or a peach at the market. After I take my walk through the market of so many things I would like to take home with me, I get onto the next street and take it all the way to where it ends.
This is where I find 2 sets of steep stairs. I am not quite sure if both of them are The Santa Monica Stairs. The first set is made of cement and has a few turns while going up and down. The second set of stairs, a little walk from 4th Street, are wooden stairs and go straight up and down. The people who you will see here are intense. They are either professional fitness gurus, athletes, or the ones like me that think – I just want to do something extreme to shed an inch or 2. And, yes, I can shed an inch or 2, but I know it takes coming back, which I hope I will do.
View of the ocean from the SM Stairs
Thankfully, both stairs have handrails because anyone who knows me, knows I am scared of heights, so I have to hold on, at least going down. There are times when I have started down the wooden stairs and think to myself – why I am doing this? I get scared. If I think about it for too long, I mess up and trip myself up, so I try to focus – or not to. Is this what vertigo is? Anyhow, I ended up doing 2 sets of the wooden stairs. To me, the cement ones are harder to do, so I will do them when I am better fit to do so.
I got back on my bike and rode down another boulevard, parallel to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). This ride is probably the most serene part out of the whole ride. Palm trees everywhere. Luxury condos to my left. The Pacific Ocean to my right. And, the endless sight of sand and water is just what a mermaid like me dreams of.
Finally, I reached the Santa Monica – PCH connector road. I was happy to see that it had been finished. It was being redone for the last year or so and was closed. I didn’t go down the bike path to PCH or the ocean, but I decided to stop off right after it to just sit, view and have a moment before I headed back home.
I thought about how I love sitting here and seeing what I was seeing. I was proud of myself that I could arrive at the SM Stairs without feeling like I wanted to die. My body felt good about the ride so far and for doing the stairs. I thought of how great it is going to be when I finally have a professional camera so that I can capture everything I had seen on this trip. In the meantime, the phone will do! And, then after taking some pictures, enjoying the sun, people watching, and eating my plum, I really took a look at my lovely bike that got me here. My cute, blue, Schwinn. Schwinn, of all the bikes, I bought a Schwinn! I giggled at myself. And, it is blue. I giggled some more. My first bike in Ohio, I must have been 5, was blue. Lastly, my bell on my bike. It has Mickey (Mickey Mouse) on it. I used to watch the Mickey Mouse club with my Mickey Mouse ears on when I was a child and just absolutely adored Mickey and Minnie.
I laughed, well, giggled to myself some more. How embarrassed I would be if anyone pointed this out to me. Well, maybe some would think it was cute, like I did. And, I know this about myself already, but in this moment I saw how in touch I am with the different stages of my life. They show up, like on a bike ride or when I take my road trips and blast my music in the car. How funny it is or how ridiculous it was at that moment that this 46 year old was sitting here with all the things I was seeing before my eyes.
For most of us, we don’t lose a sense of who we are at any age we’ve been. We may not realize it, but we are a sum of all our years and some of us have the fortunate sense to reach back to our childhood and grab the parts of what we liked and bring them into the present. We should just have fun with it, carry the things we loved or loved to do and keep doing them because life is too short, and at least for me, I never want to completely grow up. It is an essence of me I like about myself.
Before I hopped back on my bike, I embraced my younger self with a big smile and rode off to finish my 15+miles.
The plan for the future is to continue hitting the gym as often during the week and then cycle 1 day on the weekend – other weekend day is for rest! Wish me luck!
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.
Thank you both for coming into my life and touching my soul!
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.”
As I drove over to Silverlake through downtown L.A. seeing the skyscrapers and mountains in the horizon I thought of every achievement I had accomplished over the years.
I had overcome a not so perfect childhood that was intertwined with alcoholism, abuse, and love. I had somehow not let the fact that my virginity was stripped away from me at the tender age of 16 stop me from wanting to be loved and to love in return. I had challenged myself to continue my education to get two degrees even though I hadn’t passed to 10th grade. And, despite being left completely alone to raise a son on my own, I somehow knew how to raise him, making a somewhat happy life for him and I and would find the smarts to deal with the justice system to win child support and my rights toward who I had technically been his whole life – his 1 and only parent.
I don’t know how I’ve made it so far and doing so many great things in my life. How was I so blessed to continue to have such a big heart, so much more love to give and not be so jadded from my miscomings? Maybe it is just because this – we are given life, it may not be perfect, a dream come true with the fancy house on the hill, the Mercedes in the driveway and the perfect man, but once we are on our own away from the grips of our parents or whomever, our life is ours to make our own! You choose who you want in your life, what you want to do, where you want to live and what you want to experience. Life is your journey and yours alone. Experience it! Good and bad, learn from it. Find out what you want and go after it! It may not happen overnight, but work towards it and one day you will look back, like I did today, and smile.
Fajitas for lunch – my fav!
Massage – relaxation – taking care of myself!
The beauty of it all! The end of a beautiful day!
#birthday #March #LosAngeles
In Evolving to Grace my first dedication is to “DD”- Duran Duran. I wrote briefly in EtG about how I used to listen to their music, dreaming of going on tour with them, photographing them.
“MTV had just aired a few years earlier, and punk and New Wave music trends were happening across the country, and we loved it. The new British invasion included a band called Duran Duran, and I wrapped myself up in everything that had to do with them. They were my escape from what was going on around me, the only pleasure and happiness I could find. I’d just have to put on one of their albums, lock myself up in my room, and dream of being on tour with them, photographing them, not being in this hellhole. There were a few times later that their music helped me hold on for just one more day and try not to end my life. To this day, I’m so thankful for their music, because it helped me get through very tough times.
I can’t always remember what led up to the very critical points and traumas of my life. Maybe that night I was up in my room, listening to Duran Duran, trying to escape and dream away my reality while I tried to fall asleep. As I got the story from my mother in 1992, she may never understand that this was traumatizing to me, even though I told her that this incident was maybe the most heartbreaking thing up until then that I had ever had to experience in my life besides a friend’s death in 1991. It was a time when I thought I was going to live without my mother.”
There is such a bigger picture to what I wrote. Even if you read Evolving to Grace you may not grasp how deep my thankfulness goes and why they were one of my dedications. The thing is is that they saved me for many years.
When you are a teenager and living with depression, sometimes suicidal, and also having to cope with a vulgar alcoholic mother, a shut-down father and the sometimes violence, it can just be 1 thing that can help you go on. It could be sports, your friends, or theater in school that can help you cope-or distract you from the severe unhappiness you are living with. You just want to spend your time escaping or feeling happy with that 1 thing that comforts you and gets you through hard times. For me that 1 thing was Duran Duran.
It all began when I was 11. Things at home were really bad. Also, I was secluding myself from friends more and more and just starting to withdraw from school. I felt alone. Maybe because I thought no one could understand or help us. Over the next few years my life seemed hopeless. Most days, weeks, months then years, I thought there was no point. But, when I felt like this the only thing that kept me going, brought me some joy and helped me escape from my reality was the music, the videos, the photographs, and the lyrics of Duran Duran.
There were nights, in between the suicide attempts, that their music helped me not try to end it all.
When the time came that I was no longer a young girl living with my parents, having the constant feeling of wanting it all to end, their music still helped me. As a young twenty and thirty something trying to find my way, thankfully rarely having any bouts of suicidal depression and no longer having to witness my drunk mother or my once in a while father having bits of rage, I’d still find comfort listening to DD. When I broke up with a boy or cried when life was feeling too hard, listening to Duran Duran brought a non-spoken feeling. A feeling that everything was going to be alright and a reminder of what was important-me, my future and the things that make me happy.
It has now been decades since that little girl first watched, “Planet Earth” on MTV and that she found something meaningful in her life. It’s been many years that I have “needed” to lean on Duran Duran’s music for comfort or guidance. But, I was reminded months ago when I was driving to see them at a signing of what they did for me and how deep that went. I brought them each a copy of my book, Evolving to Grace (minus Andy. One day I will get his to him.) to say, “thank you” but that they wouldn’t grasp how big the thank you was until they read it. On that partially sunny, rainy Los Angeles afternoon, I didn’t get it until then either. It had been so many years.
I overcame and lived through some things I hope my son will never have to witness. I changed my life for the better. I have had good experiences that I wouldn’t have had if that 1 thing in my life wasn’t there. I am here because 5 guys in Birmingham decided to get together for the love of music, for the love of girls, for the love of being in a band. And, all I can think of is that “Thank you” isn’t enough. They all have a piece of my heart filled with gratitude for the life I have.
Read about how Grace overcame more challenges and heartbreak to find enlightenment, compassion, hope and love in Evolving to Grace.
Now available at: Amazon, B&N, IBookstore, Vroman’s, BookSoup
What do you do when life throws you trials and tribulations? You can start off having a great Monday with unlimited possibilities with a new job or with a new love, but then you find yourself by Friday with nothing. Those great interviews you had that you had beaten out countless candidates, whittle to “thank you, but we went with a better suited candidate” and that guy that was what you thought was the best catch for you, also said, “sorry, I’m going to give it a go with this other girl that I have been out with the last two nights”.
So, what is a girl to do? No job. No love or love interest.
What I will do is lay this soul to rest tonight in a tub filled with lavender bath salts and try to wake up early enough to put her big panties on (well, maybe not be panties. Don’t own any), make a cup of Joe (Folgers), and jump on her computer to continue looking for that perfect or perfect enough, great paying job that will let me do what I do best and appreciate and value my strengths.
As far as the guy thing goes, I’ve loved and I’ve lost. I know “HE” will come. I don’t know when, but I’ve waited a long time (and learned) that when he does show up I will be ready to greet him with a gracious glass of lemonade that has endured lots of trials and tribulations, but didn’t let it affect her or her smile and her twinkle in her eyes.