Several years ago, I wrote about the blessing of a busy schedule (La leyenda de SuperMama) and how it positively affected my mental health. Fast forward to the present and many of these ideas hold true. While time management usually presents challenge, it feels like a blessing during Carnaval season.
Baby queens practicing for Carnaval
Some may look at my schedule during Carnaval prep season and think that I’m insane. Sunday, we had our usual 2+ hours practice in addition to the additional choreography practice several of us have been doing. I also had a meeting with my dance sisters to rehearse a number we are preparing for my daughter’s school. That meant 4 hours of dance. Monday, M has 90 minutes of dance class every week. She also was rehearsing for the school event. Tuesday, M has 30 minutes of piano followed by 45 minutes of dance. That week, I stayed at work a little later due to a management meeting. Wednesday, I had an event committee meeting and then a 90 minute class with Bay Area Flash Mob in San Francisco. Thursday, I go to boot camp, M has another hour-long dance class, and then I have a samba workshop. Friday is the special event where M and I will each perform with two different dance groups. Saturday is Carnaval rehearsal followed by church ministry at evening Mass. Some might ask why I would do this to myself and my child. This is part of the Carnaval lifestyle. We haven’t participated in the weekday practices or any of our samba school’s performances this Carnaval season. It is a very busy time. Somehow, we have to squeeze in costume work and typical errands. I have never been this far behind in preparing my costume and makeup. As a 5th year OG, I feel like I can handle what little time I have left. It’s an exciting time.
Tools of the carnavalesco trade
As exhausted as I am, I am truly grateful to be able to express myself in this way. It’s a celebration of my new job, the end of another school year, and our communities. This is our life. Beautiful memories are made. These experiences feed our souls. Carnaval soon come!
A week ago, I received an invite to the Red Wedding. I’m still feeling some kind of way about it. I am a recent convert to Game of Thrones. We are nearly done with Season 4. I watched the infamous Red Wedding episode over two weeks ago and I’m still recovering from the trauma of the experience. I cried so much, more than I remember doing in a long time. Anyway, I was sent a message that on the surface seems like a goodwill gesture. If I didn’t know any better, I might think it’s a peace offering. I know good and well it’s not an olive branch unless it’s one with a pointy end for stabbing me.
The Red Wedding represents the ultimate betrayal of trust. If you are invited to the Red Wedding, you’re being bamboozled into a trap.
I’m not going to accept this invitation. I’ve looked at it. I’ve read it. I thought to myself this is some Game of Thrones ish. This message was strategic. The sender has a history of saying one thing and doing another. This individual has given me good reason to not trust their words, whether spoken or written. I may be cynical but I read the message as an attempt to get me to trust again. Nope not today. I don’t want to hear “The Rains of Castamere.” If you hear this song playing, you best get out and quickly.
I will admit I felt somewhat vindicated by the message. There was some attempt at making peace. I have already reflected on my history with rattlesnake in pocket syndrome(The plague on all our houses), on channeling my inner mongoose (A fearless favorite,) and giving myself permission to go into Ivan Drago mode. I won’t be duped again. I’m a person of patience and compassion but my eyes are open. I will pray for those who have hurt me. Jesus is going to be the strongest fence that ever was. I will smile and be polite. I know who you are. No Red Wedding for me, no gracias.
Over the years, I have been successful in attaining my professional goals. I have been thoughtful about finding opportunities that match my skill set, my vision, and my goals. Then I pursue those opportunities. I have continued to succeed.
I began this piece nearly a month ago when I received a phone call following a series of job interviews. During my reflection, I spoke to the power of believing in myself. I used to doubt everything I did, said, and thought. I felt like a victim. Then I had enough. I made sure my life would be different. It took many tears, moments of anger, lots of soul-searching but I made it happen and will continue to do so. I am committed to becoming the best version of myself each and every day. I owe that to my God, my family, and myself. I won’t ever go back to the way things were.
I know I will struggle. I will continue to experience doubt, anxiety, and fear. I’m not weak and I will not lose any fight. I will succeed. So I am proud to say I got the job. Now I can truly say I’m a leader.
I made an exception to my morning soundtrack this Friday. I listened to a different sort of gospel music. I listened to the testimony of a man named Prince Rogers Nelson. A year ago, we lost a beautiful man , a revolutionary voice, a musical genius. A year later, many of us are still in shock and experiencing grief. We continue to celebrate life and joy in his honor.
I first saw Prince in his “Controversy” video on MTV. Who was this handsome man playing that song with the funky beat? From 8th grade on, I was best friends with a Prince freak. Though I don’t consider myself a super fan like some of my friends, I loved his music, style, and political boldness.
The day Prince died, I was in a state of shock. My brother had sent me a text. I said it was a hoax or a joke. I was aware Prince had been hospitalized due to exhaustion. It never occurred to me that there might be any other reason for an emergency. I did not cry that day. I reached out immediately to my best friend and one of my dance sisters who is a devoted Prince fan. I wanted to be sure they were all right and I sent them virtual love and hugs.
The following day, radio stations devoted time to playing Prince’s hits. I was driving on a rainy morning to work when “Purple Rain” was played. I broke down and wept. That morning, I decided I wasn’t going to dwell on the reasons for Prince’s death. He lived fully. Prince was committed to veganism, animal rights, his faith in God, his craft; he pursued his passions to the fullest. I would remember his life and legacy.
Many of my friends fell into deep depression when Prince died. Still, the loss brought us closer together. His death reminded us not only to continue loving his music but to love one another. I was blessed to take part in a Prince Tribute dance with Bay Area Flash Mob. I committed to weeknight classes during the busy beginning of the school year because I wanted to show my love, respect, and admiration for Prince through dance. We were lucky to be able to reprise that dance for my friends who are Prince super fans. It was an honor to share that experience with them and the warm and loving Prince fan community.
Prince blessed us with so many gifts. We still feel the loss and will likely always feel it. I take comfort in knowing Prince is with God. #wemissyouPrince #Princeforever
Alleluia! It is Easter Sunday 2017. I am very happy to have experienced the Triduum and Lent. I had a wonderful journey, full of challenges that ultimately helped me grow as an individual and better understand my mission in being a servant to others. Today’s Gospel from John describes the different reactions of the disciples to Jesus being gone from the tomb. Jesus’s rising teaches us how to live our lives. His rising helps us understand that hope prevails through the losses and challenges. God does not abandon us. He will strengthen us.
My secretary and my mother in law both wanted to know if M had an Easter basket. I got some strange looks when I admitted I didn’t make her an Easter basket.(I haven’t done so since she was in diapers.) In bringing up M, I want her to understand how important my faith is in my life. We are the only Catholics in our small household so we share our faith. We are in Mass weekly. We take part in Reconciliation. We took part in the Triduum. We’re not holiday-only Catholics who only go to church on Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Mother’s Day. We are there every week; I like to attend daily Mass when time permits. I take part in rosaries, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration when I can. Church is important to me and therefore the focus of Easter. I asked M about the meaning of Easter. She said it celebrates Jesus’s rising. She doesn’t ask to color eggs or request candy but it’s not a priority. I liken Easter to New Year’s. At midnight, as we came home from the Carnaval royalty competition, M announced Alleluia. I want her to know Easter is the big holiday in the church.
I don’t mind being questioned about my faith. Why do I believe? Do I live what I believe? Am I truly upholding those principles and values? What do I gain from the readings and from church experiences? My faith has helped me in my mental health journey. My faith helps me be disciplined. I am a flawed person. My being in church consistently doesn’t make me better than others; I am open about my struggles with pettiness, resentment, and self-righteousness. My faith has helped me move forward. Following Christ is not easy but I will continue to do so because He has given me so many gifts. He loves me. He is risen! Alleluia!
I had the privilege of serving as a Eucharistic minister at Holy Thursday Mass. Ministry has been a gift. I have difficulty forgiving myself for the sinful choices I make and I wonder if I will collapse on the altar someday. It is a blessing to be able to offer Eucharist to my fellow parishioners. Those intimate moments when we look at one another and sometimes share smiles are beautiful. I feel small and humble. I am reminded of my call to service.
All the Eucharistic ministers were asked to take part in a procession during the transfer of the Eucharist. It was a simple procession around the church. We walked in lines of two. I was so proud to show reverence. As we approached the Blessed Sacrament, I sensed my loved ones who have died: Brett, Don, Charlene, David, both of my grandfathers. They were there as all the candles were gathered around the Blessed Sacrament. As we knelt, I felt the love of everyone around me including those who have crossed over. It was a perfect way to end Lent.
I am truly grateful for these last 40 days. Despite my struggles, I gained so much. I recognize the blessing of being M’s mother and to model love the way God loves me. Listening to music that promotes spiritual reflection and speaking and speaking daily about my faith and experiences has been transformative. Writing for 40 days has changed me. I will soon be announcing a major change in my life. That would not have been possible if I hadn’t been in the middle of my Lenten journey. I’m more aware of who I am and of who God intends me to be. I am grateful to God. This is a very Good Friday.
I don’t forgive betrayal. There I said it. My struggles with resentment and self-righteousness are rooted in betrayals by those I have loved and trusted. I pray for an open heart. A few years ago, I served as friend and mentor to someone by sharing my experiences and advice. I was betrayed when this individual compromise my safety and that of my child. (Betrayal blues) I still have not forgiven this person. I pray for the open heart to do so. I stay praying.
On Holy Thursday, the Gospel and Mass call us to reflect on Jesus and the washing of feet. Jesus’s act of humility is met with resistance. Peter tells Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Peter has respect for his teacher. He doesn’t understand why he’s on the ground washing others’ dirty feet. Jesus tells them he is modeling how they will live. Peter may be a potential leader but he has not learned that true leaders are servants. Jesus even washes Judas’ feet. Jesus knows Judas is his betrayer. Washing his feet won’t change that. Yet Jesus serves him in the same way he does for all the disciples.
Caravaggio’s Betrayal of Jesus
People will turn on me and disappoint me. I have to serve them. I struggle with being a servant for everyone. I will be civil and polite but I will bear a grudge. I pray that I can be a humble servant to all. I pray that I love those who are not equipped to love others or even themselves. May my love help inspire others to serve the world.