Tag Archive | warrior

Best Laugh

tumblr_inline_n43dmoiZHR1qme1ze

An old opponent resurfaced last week in a serendipitous way. This person misbehaved in typical fashion. I had to laugh. There’s comedy in someone intentionally acting spiteful to no avail.

In the moments that I experienced with this person, I felt great fear. (Lessons from The Exorcist) It was the deep intense fear of the devil I felt as a six year old watching The Exorcist. (Boy, bye)But I can now discuss my experiences and even find them humorous.  It could be the beginning of feeling at peace with what happened. Someday I may forgive the actions taken.  Life shaped this person into who they are; I often wonder if the behavior can be helped. This is someone in great need of prayer so, despite my history, I offer prayers.

ede47e0b262582d8c554c67c61c55b56I have to be able to laugh at my past trials. I have withstood physical, mental, and emotional health challenges. Now I’m pushing myself to be physically stronger. When I’m sweating and panting during my workouts, I am empowered by that struggle. I laugh because I’m joyful. I have often prayed to God to soften my heart and the hearts of others. We have to be inspired to open ourselves to light, love, and laughter. We have to be willing and brave. I was a very different person internally ten, twenty, thirty years ago. We all age and mature. I made the effort to change. I opened myself to becoming a better person. I pray that this person find the strength. It’s transformative.

I laugh because I came back from the dead. I laugh because I continue to look evil in the face and stand, possibly not as tall or as strong as I would like, but I stand. I feel indebted to God for being my shield in those awful moments when I wanted to run or hide. I laugh, despite my enemy. I laugh because I survived.

In celebration of mujeres

adelita we can do it

M and I didn’t take part in the January 21st Women’s March. She was nursing a cold that rainy morning and had cheer sometime that day. I had mixed feelings about it. I was a student activist at Cal. I fought for tenure of professors of color, the expansion of Ethnic Studies, protested anti-POC investments and connections the University had made, and rallied against Prop 187 and then-Governor Pete Wilson. I took part in walkouts, marches and expressed my views via my writing and through discussions, and also participated in positive events like Raza Day. I believe in taking it to the streets but the pink pussy hats didn’t speak for me. I grapple with the idea of a monolithic unity. We are divided along lines of ethnicity, class, and life experience. Though I don’t often speak on it, I feel like a distinct sense of difference and otherness, particularly in my professional life more so than in my personal life. Those circles do not co-exist; they are very separate. While I do cultivate positive relationships with the women in my immediate work circle, there is room for growth.

16700340_10155299197602784_709153436450112029_o

Tee says it all

 

As I strive to foster strong connections with other women, I am modeling that commitment for my daughter. As I wrote in my blog,”Mothering a warrior,” I want to empower my daughter to be a chingona, una mujer poderosa y fuerte in the face of challenges. She’s growing up in a different time. She’s not held back by the cultural ideas that held me back.  I’m a lot more introverted and am less confident than my daughter. Many Latinas grapple with confidence issues which are rooted in cultural experiences. I was blessed I didn’t have a machista dad. I am blessed to have a badass for a mother. My daughter has the advantage of having a mujerista for her mom. Despite his quirks, Rambo loves that M is a powerful girl. Rambo and I have recently started watching Game of Thrones and we both have been impressed with the character Arya Stark. I’ve pointed out, “That’s your daughter” and he agrees. M is the daughter of a feminist and soldier. M is Wonder Woman. She is powerful. I love that she is growing up in a time when powerful women are celebrated. I am, however, conscious of the many ways sexism continues to pervade popular culture. I want my daughter to be aware of sexism and misogyny along with racism and white privilege. I want her to be active and not allow these realities to oppress her.

On International Women’s Day, I reflect on the importance and power of women. I honor my mother and my wonderful friends. I am surrounded by strength, beauty, grace, and integrity. I am a greater person because of the women I am related to and those I have chosen as my extended family. My daughter and I are blessed to have so many beautiful mujeres in our lives.

 

The 365 day a year challenge

15776686_10155151684942784_865932210786828553_o

Tank says it all: Better sore than sorry

As I move forward with my 4 challenges in 40 days, there is a goal I didn’t set for the 40 days. An ongoing goal is my fitness challenge.

I have struggled with my weight and my relationship with food for my entire life. As experienced by many people, food has been an emotional outlet. This continues to be an area with which I struggle but over the years, I’ve gotten control of it. I eat healthy and cook regularly despite my busy schedule. It’s easy to cook two or three meals on the weekend. Often I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Sometimes I forget to get that one ingredient that’s going to make a meal hearty or tasty. In the past few years, my weight has yo-yoed.  Since joining my new gym, I have maintained my weight loss and made gains in muscle tone and strength.  I didn’t always have those specific fitness goals. I always wanted to lose weight and be fit. This is the first time I care about being stronger and being toned, not simply because of Carnaval or other performances but because it’s good for my body.

I have struggled with health issues. Last year was the first year in three that I didn’t have major surgery. The summer before that, I was diagnosed with gallstones and had my gall bladder removed. Before that I had a rare inflammatory condition that affected my breast tissue and required  invasive surgery. I medicate for IGM daily. It was frightening. I continue to be very scared. I’ve lost a lot of family members to cancer and heart disease. Health fears are constantly in the back of my mind. My daughter is the reason I wouldn’t want anything to compromise my health. Being a mom inspired me to become more healthy in my 40s than I was when I was younger.

16797743_10155335614727784_5221038115127522750_o

Walking lunges with Bulgarian bag.  Photo by M.

In December, I joined a new gym. My samba sisters, specifically those who’ve attended this gym, inspired me. I had often flirted with the idea of taking on a fitness challenge there but I was intimidated. I am not a weight lifter. During my first two years in college, you could find me at the gym lifting weights. When I first started teaching during my 20s, I did weight training with a personal trainer. So it had been decades. It’s not been something I’ve been drawn to do. I like to run. I like to dance. I like cardio. My new workouts have required me to change my way of thinking and to push myself hard. It’s not easy. I struggle. I am smaller and slower and weaker than a lot of people. I gauge myself against myself so that if I can do something I was never able to do before then that is meeting my goal. This week at samba, we did abs and pushups and other muscle work. In the past, I would cringe and groan, “I can’t do this.” It came much more easily. My teacher passed me and said, “Well you train all the time.” One of my samba sisters who inspired me in my fitness journey told me I looked great. She is committed to fitness so her compliment meant so much to me.  It felt good to receive reassurance and validation from those I respect and love.

Fitness is not a 40 day challenge. It is a fun mental and emotional outlet which will extend my life. While I like that my clothes fit more loosely, I love that I am modeling health and wellness for my daughter.  She comes to the gym with me at least once a week and watches me sweat it out. Getting a thumbs-up from her is great motivation. Fitness will continue to be an everyday challenge and a lifelong goal.

17103569_10155369517867784_414599716022395487_n

Boy, bye; How I stopped being so scared of evil

 

58bbbe5babbc090758f40cc45e3595fc

Illustration in my Children’s Bible

The Gospel on the first Sunday of Lent describes Jesus’s temptation in the desert. Jesus is tempted by the devil.  The devil is an instigator. He is manipulative especially as he constantly seeks to gain power. Going after Jesus is evidence of the arrogance, narcissism, egoism that comes with being evil. Jesus is able to resist. He is all powerful. Jesus demonstrates the strength and authority needed to resist temptations that we all experience. We all want to attend to our immediate needs. I’m starving so let’s turn these rocks into bread. We want youth, physical strength, and immortality. I’m going to drink my liver into disease because it feels good. Because I’m young, I’ma be all right. We want wealth and power.  Life owes me these things.  Jesus rises above those desires. He sees the ultimate goal. The 40 days have been a test. They’ve been physically hard but he has stayed faithful and strong. He is preparing for what is going to be more difficult. He is finding the discipline before he begins his ministry. Jesus does not fear the devil and sends him away like the nuisance he is.

I grew up very fearful of the devil (What I learned watching The Exorcist). I was much too young(six!) to learn about possession, that the devil was a real entity that could take over a person. It made me much more fearful than my daughter is at that age.  On the other hand, I grew up as a spiritual child. I was drawn to the Bible. I was reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Luke at age 7 because I wanted to do so. One reason I haven’t exposed to her more horror movies or pop culture interpretations of the devil is I find them scary. About 15 years ago, I made a survey and asked my friends when they first saw The Exorcist and what were its long-term effects. I continued to do other readings about exorcism. Those fears stuck with me.

r12mwvNow I’m older and I have had life experiences with different facets of evil. I’m not fearful because I know good prevails. I’ve done a lot of writing about my thoughts as I “exorcised “a “devil.” (My second career as an exorcist) I gained a lot of strength from those experiences. I may laugh when I say “the devil is a lie” and “not today, Satan” but those are true statements. I have been able to look at that evil, at that enemy, to look it in the face and say I’m not afraid of you. That’s powerful.

ckpr_x-wsaanvim

the-exorcist-season-2-tv-fox

Father Tomas is played by Rebelde cutie Alfonso Herrera

On a related note, while dealing with real-life drama, the TV show, The Exorcist, premiered on Fox. While it wasn’t a ratings hit, it was a critical hit and a hit in my household. We watched it every week and analyzed it. I connected it back to what I was living. I found parts of it hilarious. I would argue it is better than the original novel and original film.   Those were good but the TV show’s acting and writing took it to another level. Geena Davis was brilliant. The show explored what is happening in the church regarding the role of lay people, the role of women, and the behind the scenes politics which you may not know about if you haven’t been involved in ministry. I like that the show spoke to the power of family and faith.  As I wait along with other fans to learn if the show will get renewed, I would recommend binge-watching on Hulu or Fox. Don’t be too scared.  Y’all know who wins and who always will.

Watch Season 1 of  The Exorcist

temptation-bida

Jesus saying “Largate!”

 

Fighting temptation

fyfsyxq

Mama Mary will knock you out

The devil is busy.  Ash Wednesday was unbelievably tough.  After a challenging day, I was pushed to my limit at the very end of the night.

I am involved in an ongoing and tense correspondence which is a direct result of someone else’s actions.  The person responsible for the mess is someone who has created lots of problems for me in recent years.(An epilogue) While this person is no longer physically around me, I’m resentful I have to resolve the aftermath. In the latest exchange, the person affected by the poor decisions told me (and two colleagues!) how we should handle the situation. Though I was livid, I responded in my usual way. I was polite, clear, and firm as I clarified my understanding of the problem and how I would be handling the situation. I didn’t reveal that this was that other person’s fault. Why shift responsibility when I’m being held accountable? The good news is that my message seems to have been received both literally and figuratively.

evil-kermit

I’m often tempted to take the low road. There’s a part of me that fantasizes about telling people off and putting people in their place in the most explicit, vehement, and aggressive way possible to really mandarlos a volar. Yet that type of behavior goes against my nature, my upbringing, and the values I hold dearest:  integrity, compassion, community, altruism, and mercy.   I try not to be petty and passive-aggressive; this is one of my greatest sins. It’s very hard for me to express my anger with someone. I struggle to come up with a way that’s going to be in line with the rest of the way I live my life. So it’s kept under wraps.  My true feelings get expressed in my writing or my body language, the side eye, the tone in the email or in my voice.  I vent with others who may be removed from the situation but that type of venting (aka gossip, another of my sins) goes against the values of community, compassion, and mercy. I have to stay true to myself.  I can’t give in to my worst self. My evil Kermit may seem hilarious but in real life, that side of me will wreak havoc. Though I have struggled through years of emotional and spiritual work, I wrestle with this temptation every day.

ablpaq

Lent reminds me of my mortality, my weakness, and my need for a clean heart. It’s my will power and my willingness to be part of the solution. I am here to do right.  There’s a whole lot of wrong in the world. Each day, I experience misplaced, misdirected, misunderstood, and misguided pain and anger that those around me do not know how to manage. Sometimes I don’t know how to handle their emotions or my own. Yet every day, I see love and compassion. I stay strong. I remember that my focus is to be a better version of myself for my own well-being but more importantly for the growth of my child. She has so much potential to be an amazing woman someday. I need to do what I can to help get her there. The Lord is testing me this Lent as He should. I am challenged to be strong and brave, and to take comfort in the Lord.  Miracles don’t happen without faith and discipline. That’s the truth about many tests that I have faced. They result in growth, peace, and happiness. At the end of this season of struggle, there will be resurrection.

A.D. The Bible Continues

Can-do attitude

When I was a little girl, my father worked in a food canning factory.  Canning plants could be found all over the Bay Area back in the day: the Shasta soda plant we saw on the drive across the San Mateo Bridge 812f141d-5bac-40e1-b164-8e391df5afb8_d

or the smells associated with various foods being processed in Hayward or San Leandro.  In my own home, an elderly neighbor taught my mother how to can jams and jellies.  This personal history with canning has been lost on me.  canning-button-026I have lost my ability to can.

When did this happen?  When this 45th Republican regime came into power?  When the third white boy from Peyton Place Bay Area cussed me out at work?  There was some kind of perfect storm this fall. sean-beanWinter isn’t coming, y’all.  It came. Ya llegó.

I have fought back in the usual way. I have been focusing on getting fit.  I have continued to dance. I have taken refuge in TV shows and books.  But my signature patience has worn thin.

Given the current state of the state, lacking patience may be a good thing.  It’s time to stop suffering like a santita and get into warrior mode.

barbieecu-318x570

My favorite saints carry swords. Saint Barbara

My fear is that I’m taking it out on the wrong people.  I have become much less patient with my partner and my child.  Y eso no está bien.

Rambo was and is a soldier. He can take my stank attitude for the most part. He also has no problem checking me when I get to be too much.  M, on the other hand, is sensitive.  Don’t let the sass and side-eye fool you. My daughter is sensitive and I am the person who has the capacity to hurt her feelings the most.  She has told me so.  I am committed to being the great mother she deserves.

So while I’m freezing, it’s time to power through this change of seasons. winter-is-coming-1050x600While I may not be able to can with the trifling behavior of spoiled teens or the shenanigans occurring on a national scale, I know damn well there’s nothing to stop me from being my best self.  I can and I will.

wonder-woman-punches-trump

An epilogue

Peru 2014 139.JPG

Caral, Peru. Photo by J. Calderon, 2014.

“..we found you lying

Choking on the dirt and sand

Your former glories and all the stories

Dragged and washed with eager hands

But, oh, your city lies in dust…” “Cities in Dust” by Siouxsie and The Banshees

A terrible situation I have experienced for many years recently ended. (Year of milagros) Though I claimed I would samba in joy, I didn’t. Nor did I throw confetti, pop bottles or make it rain.  Certain routines feel awkward. Certain places bring back memories.  The reality of victory is simply that, a reality. Life has moved forward quietly.

I do ask if it’s really over. I wonder if my work with this particular situation is done.(My second career as an exorcist)Call it PTSD (though I don’t like to, given my personal experience loving someone with true PTSD) or shock, I have moments when I brace myself for more fighting.  After years of experiencing abuse, it will take time to resolve these reactions.

I wonder about the other party. Has this person reflected on choices made and actions taken? Can this person heal?  I don’t have it in me to truly hate this individual. Deep inside, underneath layers and strata, yes strata, of God only knows what, this person is in so much pain. It is a pain so visceral and so overwhelming that it has terrorized others for decades. That’s some mierda.   I will continue to lift this person up in prayer. Fix this person, Jesus.

Though I say “icant”

20161225_061515

My secretary gave me this paperweight for Christmas. To know me is to love me.

or “I’m unable to can”

20161216_093209

Team Petty. T-shirt collection to prove it.

for a laugh or to keep from cursing on the daily, I know I can. Taking on a malicious individual has taught me that I can stand strong. I can fight back without compromising my better self. I can win.