Being BiLingual

I grew up the product of Spanish speaking parents. My mom and dad were in their 20’s when they arrived in this country from Spain after leaving Cuba as exiles.  They arrived in the late 60’s and early 70’s.   They arrived at a time when NO ONE and I mean NO ONE spoke Spanish in this country.  They had the added hurdle of having to get to work immediately.  Learning English was not high on their list of priorities.  Working and making money so they could eat and keep a roof over their heads was. Eventually they started learning and getting accustomed to the language, but it was still very difficult for them, and what they did learn was broken and heavily accented.  Learning a second language as an adult is difficult, learning a second language while simultaneously trying to make a new life is nearly impossible.  But they did it.  To say that they have my admiration and respect is an understatement.

Since English was their second language, they spoke Spanish at home.  That meant I spoke Spanish at home.  In fact Spanish was my first language, I didn’t learn to speak English until I started school when I was approximately three.  Growing up I didn’t realize how lucky I was and how unique I was to speak one language at home and one language at school.  This was because where I lived I was only ever around people just like me, meaning kids who’s parents, like mine, had learned to speak English late in life.  I didn’t realize until I was in high school that not everyone spoke two languages, one at home one at school.

At home, growing up I heard, “we only speak Spanish in this house” a lot.  My parents had a twofold reason for this.  First and foremost they wanted me to learn to speak Spanish, really learn, the language. They wanted me as comfortable speaking Spanish as I was speaking English.  Also, they were proud of where they came from and they wanted me to be proud too.  Secondly, they were more comfortable speaking Spanish.

My parents were so insistent on me learning Spanish they enrolled me in lessons after school.  On Fridays.  Yup, you read it right, more school after a full week of school.  The classes were held at a local Spanish social center which offered classes for children of Spanish speakers.  When you are 9 and have spent an entire week in school the last thing you want to do on a Friday night is take more classes.  I would bitch and moan about going, my mom turned a deaf ear every time.  The one constant was them telling me, “you’ll thank us when you’re older”.  Because I was a massive brat and not getting my way I would roll my eyes and grumble under my breath – pouted too – and I would go.  Mostly because I didn’t have a choice because my mom drove me and waited while I was in class.  I remember thinking that she was wrong that she didn’t know what she was talking about.  Turns out I was the one that was wrong.

When I went out into the world, I very quickly learned that while there are a lot of people that speak Spanish, there are not a lot of people that speak it properly.  That’s what my mom was trying to instill in me.  Speaking a second language and speaking it well, is an advantage.

My life has taken many turns in the last few months.  I just got my real estate license and I live in Western North Carolina.  As realtor you are always looking for any advantage and any way to distinguish yourself from the crowd.  In my area I’m one of three brokers that speaks Spanish, and just like that I have managed to distinguish myself with out even trying.

As a kid I didn’t understand how much being bilingual would affect my life.  As an adult I’m infinitely grateful to my parents for making me take those lessons.  At the time they knew something I didn’t, being bilingual and being well spoken in both languages would be an advantage throughout my life.

So thank you mom and dad for noting better than me what I needed.

Gracias Maye y Pache por saber mejor que yo lo que yo necesitaba.

The Internet

I think we can all agree the internet at large can be a scary place if you’re not careful.  We are constantly being bombarded with news, and people’s opinions on anything and everything.  Some of it good, some of it bad, all of it in your face.  Like literally RIGHTTHERE.  It doesn’t help that we all have a computer in our pockets that connects to the world beyond our immediate sphere.

I got to thinking just recently about life in general, letting my mind wander as it were.  And one of the topics my mind wandered to is, the internet and this digital age that we are living in.  Lately it seems that all we hear about are people trolling each other, bullying, and being douchy in general.  I’ve been very lucky that my experience has been a positive one, very much so.

I have two published novels, (two – holy crap – sorry I digress) and since I published my first one, my activity on Twitter and Facebook have gone from Tweets and posts about my self mostly and the things that I enjoy, to posts about my book, but more importantly, posts about the books my Twitter friends have written.  You see I’ve become part of a great group of people on Twitter called the writing community.  We come from all walks of life and all corners of the world.  Through this I’ve met people from the UK, from Australia, Spain, France, you get my drift. E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.  And you know what?  It’s awesome.  We support each other, retweet each other’s books promos and just generally support each other.

I’ve been really fortunate to have had this experience and I consider myself blessed to have this wonderful tool at my fingers tips to connect with the broader world around me.  So, thank you #writingcommunity you are my people and I am yours and I couldn’t be happier to have found such a positive supportive group of individuals out there.

Everything Happens For A Reason

I’ve always loved the Garth Brooks song, “Unanswered Prayers“.  If you haven’t heard the song, it starts out with him going back home and attending a high school football game.  At this game he runs into the girl he was madly in love with in high school, and as he looks at her and looks at his wife he realizes that if he’d gotten what he asked for at that time, he wouldn’t be where he is at that moment.  And suddenly it all becomes clear.  That song has always resonated with me.

I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason.  Even though you may not realize it at the time, the universe, God, destiny – whatever you call the higher power that’s out there – has a plan for all of us.  I fully believe that the things that happen, happen because we need to get out of our comfort zone and grow and unless we are uncomfortable growth doesn’t happen.

I was laid off from my job of eight years recently.  And at first I was more than slightly panicked.  We are, after all a two income household, we depend on my income and more importantly my job provided our health insurance.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still worried about all those things.  But I know there’s a plan for me.  You see the day before I was laid off I took a personal day to do some stuff I had been putting off for some time.  Among those things was signing up for a real estate licensing class.  I start in two weeks.  At the moment I found out I was getting laid off I had just completed the process to publish my second novel.  I had been thinking in the last few months that I needed a job with more flexibility to spend more time with my daughter and taking her to her different activities.  The universe heard me and gave me what I didn’t know I needed.

I am very lucky.  My husband has been super supportive reminding me that I’m smart and capable and can do anything I set my mind to.  After I got the news about my lay off, I texted a good, very very good friend, who came and got me out of the house for a few hours so I wouldn’t dwell.  Then I texted another friend who reminded me what I told her when she lost her job a few years ago, that being, that something had to be removed for me to move forward.  And she’s right.  The future is full of possibilities for me and I can make my own way forward, and I will.  My friends and family have all rallied around me, checking making sure I’m good, and I am – it’s all good.

So, yes while it may not be immediately clear to us, everything that happens, happens for a reason.

Proud Momma Moment

Hello and Happy New Year!  I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, between life and my book the time has just gotten away from me.  Aside from that, I don’t really feel the need to blog constantly unless I have something to say that really moves me.  That happened to me this weekend.

I’m a mom, first and foremost.  From the day that test popped up and said “pregnant” in the little window, I ceased to be first and my baby stepped into the number one role in my life.  As a parent all I have ever wanted for my child is for her to be healthy and happy.  My hope is that I’m raising a child that will eventually go on to make this world a better place.  Most every parent thinks their child is the most magical, wonderful pile of DNA that has ever been engendered, and as their parent, you should.  Although my kid can be a little – well, a little shit – I do lean more toward the former line of thinking than the latter.

Due to the magic that is Facebook, Twitter, the internet, etc. we are bombarded with stories of autistic kids who didn’t have anyone come to their birthday party, and autistic kids who have issues being mainstreamed in their classrooms, etc.  We rarely hear the stories of the kids who are being kind to each other.   This week my daughter was part of one of the stories of kindness.

About a year and a half ago we moved to North Carolina, which meant a new school for my daughter.  At the time I was concerned about her fitting in and how she would be received in the new school.  My fears were quickly allayed as everyone in her new school was wonderful and she immediately began making friends.  She’s been coming home since last year talking about one little boy in particular and she talks about him often and with affection and talks about how he’s her best friend.  This week my husband and I found out this little boy is autistic.

This is what happened.  My daughter’s classmate plays basketball in a youth league and is very proud of his accomplishments, he’s been wanting my daughter to come see him play for a while now.  Earlier this week my husband was picking her up from school and ran into his mom who happened to mention the basketball game.  In the course of the conversation, she mentioned to my husband that her son is autistic and that he loves my daughter because she is kind to him and plays with him at school.   Needless to say when my husband related the story to me I was floored.  Firstly, had she not told him about the autism, we would  never have known.  Secondly, my heart soared because I realized in that moment that nothing else I do will be as important as raising a child who is kind and compassionate and understanding of her friends idiosyncrasies.

Needless to say, we went to his game, his day was made and we met some great people.  My daughter got to see her friend play basketball and play with him for a bit and I realized my kid is the kind kid.  And that folks is my proud momma moment!

 

The Second Time Around

Are relationships better the second time around?  Can you find love after you’ve been married and divorced?  The answer to the first question is maybe.  The answer to the second question is undeniably yes.  I have seen this first hand in two of my best friends.  And in myself.  But most recently and wonderfully for two women who I hold near and dear to my heart.

Marriage and relationships are inherently difficult.  You have two people from different backgrounds, who were raised differently coming together to form one unit.  Quite often there’s a lot of push and pull with each side believing they are right and the other is wrong but eventually you both learn to compromise and you become a cohesive unit.  But what happens when one side or the other isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, or changes into someone you don’t recognize, or you’ve given it your all and there’s nothing left of the relationship to salvage?  What if in the course of life you’ve had children with this person, what then?  Do you stay for the sake of the children?  Or do you leave and in leaving know that initially you are ripping apart your family and there will be pain and hurt but ultimately are doing what’s best for everyone?  In the case of these two women they chose option two.

They are both mothers and they are my heroes.  They understood that staying in an unhealthy and often toxic relationship does more damage to the kids than leaving.  While yes on the surface keeping the family together is a nice fantasy, when you look deeper the children benefit more from seeing their mom and dad happy than from living in a home fraught with tension.  About two years ago give or take both these ladies took a leap to leave unhappy relationships that were no longer healthy and take care of themselves.  And their children.

I’ve watched them both handle the ups and downs and loops of ending a years long relationships with poise, grace and integrity.  Like I said, they are my heroes.  Over the course of the last year, they’ve both found love again.  Their children are happy, happier than they’ve been in a long time.  They are both in loving, beautiful relationships and they are happier than I’ve seen them, I think, ever.

I was contacted recently by someone who had decided to read my book to help her get through her divorce.  First off, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  Secondly, if that is what your heart wants then I promise you, you will find love once again.  And you may even find that it is sweeter the second time around.

The Value of Female Friendships

Women as whole tend to be judgmental, catty bitches.  Let’s face it ladies, this reputation we have has been earned and while it’s not the case for everyone, for the most part, there’s always an undercurrent of competition between women.  It’s everywhere.  In the work place for example – you’ve uttered the words “I hate that bitch” at one time or another when referring to a female co-worker, be honest.  Mom’s are super judgmental of each other – how we dress our kids in comparison to other mom’s, what we let our kids eat, how much TV time they get, what activities our kids are involved in, the list goes on and on – judgy moms are the worst.  Wives love to tout how great their husband is while looking at other husbands and thinking – “I have it so much better than you” as they show off their most recent purse, shoes, jewelry, or even their homes and all the possessions in said homes.

Making women friends as an adult can be extremely difficult.   Be it because of the aforementioned cattiness and competitiveness between us as a gender, or because in order to keep your life drama free you’ve decided to keep your circle small, true female friendships are rare.  I’ve been lucky.  I have a great group of women in my life that I can truly call friends.  We’ve been friends since we were girls and maintained the friendship over the years and distance between us.  These are my Ride or Die Bitches.  I can call on them at any time for any reason and they’ll be there for me and vice versa.  I would trust these women with my life, the life of my child, and my husband.  And I’d like to think they’d do the same for me.

I’ve been fortunate enough in my adult life to have made two very good friends.  One of them I met about 13 years ago give or take and I’m pretty sure we were sisters in a past life, that’s how similar we are.  I know in my soul that she will always give me the advice and kick in the ass I need when I need it.  Recently, I moved out of Florida to North Carolina.  As I’ve stated I like to keep my circle small, however I was fortunate enough to meet a woman that I have in a very, very short time come to consider a very good friend.  We come from similar backgrounds and can be open and honest with each other.  I am extremely blessed to have found this person and to have her in my life.  I can be myself (which is quite often hard to take) and know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not going to offend her, and the same goes for me.  This is extremely rare in adult women.

This blog was inspired by a Facebook post a friend recently wrote about her life, she mentioned how even though we weren’t close in high school we’ve learned to appreciate each other as adults.  That got me to thinking about my life and my friendships.  I have several, let’s call them quirks, which make me hard to handle at time.  My friends understand who I am and know my heart and know that I’m always coming from a good place even though I can be rough at times.  Knowing I have people in my life that accept me warts and all is invaluable to me.  I love these women with all my heart, and I hope that in being supportive of each other’s endeavors and being each others shoulders to cry on, each others sounding boards, that we’re teaching our daughters to do the same with their friends.

To Natalia, thank you for your kind words and yes, I moved and I know you don’t judge, you are a special part of my life and I’m always here for whatever you need.  Ali, Lisi, and Laly – I love you crazy bitches and miss you more than you know.  Thank you for always being there for my loud, crass, obnoxious behind.  Maverick – what can I say except I’m happy I found my sister across many lifetimes, thank you for everything.  Carin, our daily talks are as important to me as my morning coffee.  Thank you for coming into my life, I appreciate you!

 

My Feminist Father

I’m an only child.  My dad was born on July 16, 1940 in Santa Clara, Cuba.  He was nearly forty years old when I was born.  In a lot of ways my dad is very traditional and old school.  My dad however is a feminist.  I didn’t realize that until very recently how very lucky I am that he was.  There’s been a lot of talk lately of empowering women and teaching our daughters that it is not ok to be taken advantage of ever.  My dad taught me that from a very early age.

When I was little, the girls in my class were taking dance and gymnastics lessons.  I was taking Tae Kwon Do.  My dad believed that it was important that I learned to defend myself at an early age.  Learning this at an early age helped me understand what was and wasn’t ok.  I always had a “keep away” vibe surrounding me.  I would watch football with my dad on Sundays and baseball in the summers.  There was never any talk of me being less than, less important, than boys.  Coming from a family full of strong women you would think I would have known that from the womb.  And while yes, I did get my strength from the badass women that I grew up around, my sense of self worth and knowledge that I am and have always been equal to any man came from my dad.

My dad always told me, no man is worth putting up bullshit, make sure you like the person that you are going to marry because the 15 minutes of pleasure you get in bed are not worth 23 hours and 45 minutes of aggravation for the rest of your life, the woman has the power in a relationship.  These words of advice and many more shaped the woman I am today.  I have never seen my self as less than completely equal to my male counterparts.  I have never believed there is anything I couldn’t do.  This is all thanks to my dad, who to this day, even though I’m a married woman with a child of my own, continues to remind me that I am equal and that I am capable of greatness and that no man is better than me simply because he is a man.

Men, teach your daughters that they are equal.  Put them on a pedestal.  Put their moms on a pedestal.  Teach them that there is NOTHING they can’t do.  Self empowerment starts at home. Mother’s have a lot of influence over their children and I have friends that are pulling double duty – they are my heroes (you know who you are Wonder Woman) – but when a woman has a great dad who teaches her she has value and makes her believe she is equal to any man she can and will conquer the world.

My daughter got lucky, she has an all star Dad who is teaching her everyday her self worth and making sure that she knows she is every bit as good and equal to boys.  Let’s teach our boys to be respectful and teach them to be feminists too.  It’s not a bad thing, I promise you.