Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2nd Installment of the Dear Thirteen Year Olds Series, by Guest Author, Alicia Lozano.

Dear Thirteen Year Olds,     
“Who are you?” It’s a question I’m sure you’ve all heard at some point in your life. It’s a fairly simple question, but not always easy to answer. You may be at a point in your life where you feel you know who you are, or you have no clue who you are. 

Now is the time you are beginning to discover what “Who are you?” really means to you. It is a time that will bring some of your best of times and what may seem as some of your hardest times. Trust me when I say, there will be times in your life when you feel like nothing is right and everything is wrong. There will be times when you want nothing more than to be loved, you’ll want to be “the one” and it feels as if nothing else would feel better than to be picked, picked by the popular girls or by that cute boy in your English class. There will be times when you feel as if your world is crashing down right before your eyes and it seems as if your world is coming to an end, and you know what, we all have been there. Inside all of us is that thirteen year old who once wanted to be loved and picked, inside all of us is that same thirteen year old who has felt the excitement that comes with being a teenager and the pain of that first heartbreak. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it would be to learn to love yourself. It may sound cheesy, however, it’s the truth.

I have only been on this earth for two decades. I have had plenty of time to learn about myself and I still have so much more to learn. The one lesson I have taken with me throughout my life is learning how to love myself.  Not just simply loving myself, but being able to love myself without looking outside of me to feel loved. To some this comes as a second nature, but to other women like myself, you may find it becomes a reoccurring theme as you go through life. It’s hard because we have so many outside pressures to look a certain way or to be a certain way that we find ourselves changing to fit these molds that have been created for us. It is only recently that I have been able to step back and really look at this concept. I may not be the fastest or the smartest. I am not the tallest or the thinnest. No, I'm not any of those things. However, there is one thing that I am the best at and that’s being me!

I can tell you one thing, there is no one out there who will be a better me than I am, and as long as I can be the best me that I can, I know nothing can touch me. This is the same advice I give to you. Be the best you that you can possibly be and no one will be able to tell you you’re doing that wrong.  

The way I see it, in life you will have your ups and downs, however, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life may not always give us what we want, however, it doesn't give us more than we can handle. 

Take care of you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Author Julia Harrington's article "Dear Thirteen Year Olds"

After celebrating my twentieth birthday recently, I was stuck by how excited I was to start a new decade and phase in my life. I began to reflect on the past seven years of being a teenager. Here is what wisdom I have gathered and would share with my thirteen year old self, and all those starting their teenage years.

Dear Thirteen Year-Olds,

The first thing that I would like to tell you is to always speak your truth. Always act in a way that is true to yourself, it will always lead you in the right direction. I’m not saying that being true to your self isn’t hard or will result in the easiest path. It takes great strength to be your self. What will result from this is a peace within that is more comforting than you yet know. Your strong sense of self will help you in all situations.

The next piece of advice that I would like to help you with is how to deal with loss. When you are a teen it is hard to handle loss and it might feel like you need to be sad to truly miss a lost loved one. What is important is to get to a place where you are able to look back fondly on the time that you shared with them. Cherish the person they were, and the person that they helped mold you to be. Allow your self to grieve, but also allow your self to celebrate their life. Be happy that they are at peace, and be thankful that they are always with you.

During your teen years, you will have to deal with many friendship hardships but also will make lifelong friends. My advice for the hardships may be one that you already know, but you will master it during your teen years. Don’t take yourself to seriously, and know that it is okay to poke fun at yourself. Having a good sense of humor is helpful in all situations. Your sense of humor will help when you need to defend others and when you need to defend yourself. Know that any hardships will pass and spend your time focusing on your true friends. This is the same for relationships; focus on the people that care for you. Be thankful for all those that are there for you, friends and family.
An important part of being a teenager is to have fun! Don’t be an excessive worrier. While it is important to have a healthy sense of precaution to keep yourself safe, make sure you don’t manifest that into worrying.  Take risks, try everything and embrace things that you enjoy doing. It is exciting to find yourself during this time. The best way to do this is try anything that you find even remotely interesting. Try things even if your group of friends won’t try it with you. The best experiences come from learning new things about yourself and engaging with new people. Trying new things can be a lot of fun, discovery is an important part of this time.
Here are some final words of wisdom that I would like to share with you. Keep a journal to help get over sad moments and to cherish good memories. Find songs that speak to your soul and play them whenever the mood strikes. Know that you are never alone and are cared for, even when it seems that no one understands. . Have a lot of fun, but don’t forget to also learn a lot, you will see knowledge really is power. I hope this helps and I know that you will be able to get through and enjoy this time in your life!

Julia Harrington

Monday, May 10, 2010

Human Kind

Recently, I was shopping in a department store for some odds and ends. In this particular store, there was a place where you could buy tasty coffee drinks.

After paying for my purchases, I got in line to order one of my favorite drinks. In front of me was a women harried with the stress of not finding her gift card, in which to purchase her drink. At this time, a woman and a man walked into the refreshment area. The man sat down and the woman walked to the counter where you could buy a fountain drink and a variety of food items.

A few moments passed and the man began to scream in frustration. The type of scream one would hear from a toddler who is frustrated. It was clear to me that this gentleman was mentally challenged and his care giver, whom I assumed to be his mother became anxious as people began to look her direction. The man, every few moments, would erupt with a scream.  Feeling the need to explain, the mother told those of us waiting, that he was learning patience and he didn't like to wait. The person working the refreshment area was alone and providing coffee drinks as well as manning the food area. She was pouring the harried women's drink, who finally did find her gift card, and I was next in line. I heard the mother tell the son, that he had to wait and that they were next in line after me. I told her, I was not in any hurry and would she like to be the next person to be helped. She thank me and said yes, that would be wonderful. She purchased a fountain drink and popcorn. The man's face lit up. He was so happy to receive a bag of popcorn. They both sat at the table quietly drinking a fountain drink and eating popcorn.

While I waited for my drink to be made, the mother began to  talk with me and the woman standing behind me. She said he is having difficulty learning patience. The woman behind me and I looked at one another and said, "Aren't we all" I said, he is doing what most of wish we could do, show emotion. Express ourselves. Be human. I told her I have felt that way many times and I wish I could just scream. The woman behind me said she felt the same way. She wished she could be herself and not just someone who smiles and nods that everything is fine when it is not. What started out as an embarrassing moment for the mother of this man became a honest discussion about taking the mask off and getting real. A discussion about taking care of ones self and stop working at pleasing everyone else. To be honest and say what is their truth. A discussion about kindness and compassion, tolerance and truth. I shared with the them the bumper sticker I had seen earlier that morning, "Humankind, be both" and how those words touched me.

As I said good-bye to my new friends. The mother touched my arm and said thank you. I said, no, thank you for reminding me to be both. 

Miraculous moments happen when you allow yourself to see with your heart. The eyes of the heart lead you to see the beauty in every person, every situation. They are there, if you choose to look, even in the refreshment area of a department store.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heart's Unite

Life never ceases to amaze me. The warmth of the human spirit and the connection between women reaches far beneath what is seen with the human eye. It was about a year ago, my Aunt Martha passed away. She hadn’t been feeling well and drove herself to the hospital to see a doctor. They admitted her and the family were notified.  When I arrived my aunt was not very coherent. Visitor’s had to put on gloves and a mask, in order to go into the room, this way very difficult for me. I didn’t like the barrier between our skins.  My other aunt’s were in the room spending time talking and visiting with their sister, Martha.  One of my aunts approached me and asked me if there was anybody around my Aunt Martha from the other side. I lifted the veil and saw my Father sitting next her, my Grandfather, Great Grandmother standing next to her along with some other people I did not recognize. My Aunt Martha was my father’s sister and he passed away 16 years ago.  I shared what I saw with my Aunt and she was relieved. She said she could let my Aunt go, with the knowledge she would not be alone.  It was soon after I shared what I saw with my aunt, my cousin and uncle arrived with my Grandmother.  I was not looking forward to that moment. My Grandmother is in her nineties and my heart was saddened by the fact she would have to say good-bye to another child.  My Grandmother may be small in stature, however, she is a powerful woman whose strength and courage inspire me. She visited with her daughter in private.  I stood outside and cried. My heart cried, my Grandmother was saying good-bye to another child.  I hope to never know that kind of pain.

That evening after we finished dinner, I sat next to my Grandmother, who was sitting in the living room alone. We didn’t say much, just held each other’s hands and allowed the tears to flow down our face. I heard a couple of people say they were going back to the hospital. I went with them.
It was very quiet in my Aunt’s hospital room. I stood on one side, representing my father, my aunt, her sister, stood on the other side, my cousin Lisa, who was the daughter of the other sister, sat in a chair at the foot of the bed, my Aunt Martha’s son, my cousin, would come in and out of the room. I could see beyond the veil and began to see the room light up. I sensed the time was near. I saw my father and asked him, what do I do, how can I help her. He told me the best gift you can give her is love, just send her love and that is what I did. At that moment, my cousin walked in the room and touched his mother’s face. She smiled and with her family around her, she crossed over.

The next day, as I watched my cousin make beaded bracelets and listened to my Aunt’s Martha’s granddaughter sharing her fears about being a new mother and feeling disconnected I got an idea.  Inspired by the events of the week, my cousin Lisa and I created a bracelet for each woman, young and old in our family. Each bracelet had one heart on it and was surrounded by different shades of reds and pinks. We called the bracelet the Heart’s Unite bracelet.

The night before my Aunt’s funeral, I placed a bracelet in her casket. On the day we honored the life of my beautiful and spunky Aunt Martha, we gathered the women together and each put on our Heart’s Unite bracelet. The intention of the bracelet was to remind one another that we are not alone. We are supported by the one heart that connects each one of us. We come from a lineage of amazing women and their blood flows through us. We are connected to the community of women and their blood runs through us and supports us on our journey.  The bracelet serves as a reminder that we are not alone. When I feel sad or lonely, I look down at the bracelet I wear on my wrist and feel the touch of my Grandmother hand on my arm and hear my Great Grandmothers heart felt laugh. I am reminded that I am not alone. I carry in my heart the support and love of the community of women. I am grateful to my Aunt Martha for uniting us and to my father for reminding me that the most important thing we can give is love.

Each and every one of us is united by one heart. How we treat one another is how we treat ourselves.  The grace you give to one, you give to all. Today, I give you an energetic Heart’s Unite bracelet. May you always know that you are connected to one heart that loves, guides and supports you on your journey. May you find solace in knowing that you are part of a unique and miraculous group of individuals that create a world filled with possibilities.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Road Traveled

If one thing changed in your life, would you be who you are today? If one event had a different outcome, whom would you see when you looked in the mirror? 
The road "not" traveled is a road filled with wonder and regret. It is the road of "If only". "If only I had different parents then..." or, "If only this didn't happen to me, then my life would have turned out differently." The "if only" road takes you nowhere. You see the same scenery over and over again. It isn't until you let go of the wheel that you are able to see the turn off for the road of "right now".  The road of "right now" is where your life is created. Right now you can choose who you want to be and what you want to do which impacts the road yet to be traveled. The road of "right now" is a road of choices. Events happen in life and you can choose to allow them to define you or you can choose to define yourself. 

Is the past in power over you? Are you ready to empower yourself? Let go of the wheel and turn off the road of "if only" onto the road of "right now”. The road of "right now" does not ask you to forget the past. It asks you to let go of judgment and look at yourself with compassion. The past made you who you are today, it had a purpose. Learn from it and let it go, because today is where your life begins. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Slaying Dragons

Have you ever read your old journals?  It is an enlightening read. I found a box containing some of my old journals and began to read them. Although I recognized my handwriting, I didn’t recognize the person. The person writing hadn’t embraced who she was. There was fear in her voice and her heart was broken.  She was afraid and unsure of herself and didn’t know how to pick herself up. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t see that she was perfect, whole and complete. What she saw was imperfection and insecurity.

It takes courage to embrace the true essence of who you are.  To see yourself as perfect, and believe that you are perfection. It takes courage to see yourself with the same grace in which you see others. With the same compassion and love that you can give another, and yet withhold from yourself.  Yet, that is what the person writing these journals did, she found the courage and embarked on the journey of self-discovery and self-realization.

It takes courage to cast your beliefs about yourself aside and face the fear that is staring you in the face. To courageously face life in spite of whatever adversity you have been through in the past, and realizing it is the past. You cannot move through fear if you are afraid to face it. The first step is to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. To acknowledge it and say I see you, I know you, I understand you and I release you. When you allow yourself the courage to face your fear at each step, you take the power of fear away, and own your power. You feel the strength rise up and take hold. You look at yourself straight in the eye and say I LOVE YOU. I AM Perfect and I EMBRACE the true essence of who I AM! It is not an easy journey, however, it is a powerful journey. A journey that once taken changes your life in ways that before you had only imagined. 

My journey through the valley of fear did not happen overnight, nor has it ended.  It is a continuous journey and there are times when I find myself traveling the path of fear. The beauty is, I know I have slain the dragon of fear before and I know I can do it again.  You have the power to face whatever you are facing in your life right now. Surrender into the true essence of who you are and embrace the light that lives inside you. Allow it to guide you as you courageously slay the dragon of fear.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Measure of Beauty

When I was a little girl, I loved playing with paper dolls, making mud pies and playing dress up with my Mother's clothes. I would sit for hours underneath the dining room table playing with the paper dolls that I cut out from the catalogs my Grandmother kept in a box underneath the phone table.

The requirements for making the "cut" were precise. They had to be complete, meaning nothing or no one could be blocking any part of their body, their outfit had to be stylish and most importantly they had to be pretty.

At the ripe old age of six, I had set my standards and defined beauty. I would spend hours, turning page after page looking at each potential paper doll, deciding if they met the criteria I had set. Looking back at this, I ask myself these questions, how did I decide who was beautiful and who wasn't? What influenced this decision? Well, could it have been the catalogs I was looking through or the magazines on my Mother's coffee table?

For years, print and broadcast media have defined beauty. There was a time in the not so distant past where voluptuous women like Marilyn Monroe, Mae West and Jayne Mansfield were the "hot" commodities. They were the pin-up girls who women wanted to be like and men drooled over. They were a size 14 or above. By today's standards they would be obese women on the cover of tabloids with some horrifying caption. So, when did the standard of beauty change from healthy and curvy to unhealthy and straight? When did a woman having a boy's body with breasts become the "hot" commodity? Who is defining beauty and why as a society are we buying it? It is time to change this way of thinking and honor our bodies at each age and size.

The Maiden's body beginning to form and develop, flowing with creative juices as she begins to paint on the blank canvas of life. The Mother's body full, juicy and ripe, ready to birth life in all forms, and the Crone, whose body carries confidence, wisdom and grace from a life lived. Honoring the wisdom and the curves of our bodies is a testament to true beauty. Embracing each curve, stretch mark and wrinkle is testimony to living an alive and full life.

In the last few days of my Grandmother's life, I would sit next to her bed, holding her hands. She had beautiful hands. I looked at her hands and thought about the number of tortillas these hands made, how many quilts these hands made that keep her grandchildren and great grandchildren warm. I thought about how these hands worked on a farm and held her children, grand children and great grandchildren. I looked at her face and touched her cheek and thought about, how many smiles were on this face, how many tears streamed down these cheeks. I looked at my Grandmother and saw the beauty of a life lived. The beauty of a women who touched many lives, fed many people, cried many tears. At that moment, the size of her clothes did not matter, it was the size of her heart that defined true beauty.

In the end it is not the size of your clothes that matters, it is the size of your heart. Live from the beauty of your heart. Do not let a number on a tag define you, let the number of people whose heart you touch be the meter of true beauty.