Controlling Emotions

It’s always been easy to not take complete ownership of how I react to situations. And you know what makes it easy? That I can relegate it to astrology. I’m a Cancer; actually, more of a hybrid of a Cancer and a Leo. My birthday is July 22 and it’s the last day of the Cancer calendar so, technically a Cancerian, but have many attributes and characteristics of a Leo.

My family has always called me moody and I blame it on the Moon. I say I’m like the tide; ebbing. I don’t ignore the fact that sometimes I’m out of line or that I could have handled things differently. I’m actually working on it and giving credit to one of my mentors guiding me and pointing me towards Stoicism. It’s so amazing, you guys. I really recommend reading into it. I didn’t have a perception of Stoicism before, but philosophy has always interested me and this has been a wonderful experience.

So what have I been doing? I’m still a huge work in progress, but I’ve learned to do better reflection of the self. I’m learning to accept this as they are, to accept that I don’t have control over the actions of others. And going through this process I’ve been working on challenging myself to take control over the things I do have influence on. And this applies to all aspects of my life – personal, professional, and recreational.

In my reflections I have come to understand that my reactions have an impact. That I am creating a perception of myself to other individuals. And with these perceptions I can either be casted off or be welcomed. Stoic philosophers are of the idea that we are not to banish emotion from life but to banish the negative ones. They are also of the belief that our ultimate goal is to reach tranquility and constantly work for it while acknowledging and recognizing the forces that work against attaining that goal. For me, I have to work on controlling these reactionary emotions and practice negative visualization to better prepare for situations in the future. Has this been working for me? Sometimes. There are times I’m in the middle of my negative emotion and reacting – sometimes and most of the time – unjustly, but I let pride get in the way and keep trudging forward fully knowing I’m headed in the wrong direction. Other times I react and stop myself. I take a deep breath and let it all play out, staying silent and truly think of my words, my body language, and my thoughts. At this point, I go back and reflect. I literally sit down and do a play by play to pin point where I lost it, where I stopped myself, and how I could make a similar experience different in the future.

In all, practicing Stoicism has been rewarding.

– M

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Writing Out My Dream(s)

Lucid [ˈlo͞osəd] Adjective. 1. Expressed clearly; easy to understand. 2. Literary: bright or luminous

Dream [drēm] Noun. 1. a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. Verb. 1. experience dreams during sleep.

Lucid Dream – any dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may allegedly be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.

Every once in a while I experience a lucid dream. I don’t know why, but they are always fun to tell and remember. One of my most recent lucid dreams has revealed and mirrored a lot of what I’ve been going through. Think of it as … part of my continuing metamorphosis. I don’t really want to write about the last dream I had but more about the dream I had in which my Nina was dying. I’ll list the characters in my dream.

  • Nina: my grandma, mi abuelita that doesn’t like to be called Abuela or Abuelita. She’s always said that name was her mom, Abuelita Goya. I spent every summer, weekend, long weekend, etc. with her and learning from her. She’s the one that gave quince minutos mas de dormir three times making it 45 additional minutes. The one that would wake me up with breakfast and the one I would take her cafecito to in her mug. I remember pouring the coffee and then taking it to her and she’d be like: pa’la otra me llenas la taza hasta arriba y caminas mas despacio.
  • Mami: my mom. Mother of 4 girls. She’s selfless and unselfish when it comes to caring for Nina and her girls.
  • Sandy: my oldest sister. The one that can make me laugh and the one I can share the dumbest things with. The first one of my sisters to become a mom and the one that doubtlessly underestimates her hard work as a momma to my two wonderful nieces.
  • Martha: the oldest female cousin, second oldest of all my grandmas 30+ nietos.

This dream was colorful and full of my Nina’s scent- you know that old abuela smell that is unmistakably your grandma’s smell? Yep, that one. Well in this dream I was taking my Nina to the store and on our way back she asks me to take her to the hospital. A bit odd, but I thought that no matter where I go with my Nina I know it’s special and she’s always with a purpose. She ends up checking herself in and in her hospital room I’m sitting crossed legged on her bed. She begins to tell me that she’s known for a while that she’s going to depart this earth and this life and that she’s OK with it. Pero, que le tengo que traer unas cuantas cocitas de la casa. I’m looking at her and noticing the details in that damned ugly green beanie she likes to wear and asking myself why the hell she’s so calm? Tears start rolling out of my eyes and I keep wiping them away telling myself that if she’s OK with this I should too and I should get myself together for her.

When I talk to the doctor she’s explaining everything she’s already explained to my grandma and I keep telling myself to focus because more than likely I’ll be the one to have to tell all of this my Mami. Me dice que hace tiempo noto un tumor y que aun no maligno, es causante de muchos sintomas que han afectado la salud en general. I’m standing there and I look over my grandma and she’s just chillin’ on the bed knitting and whistling softly. The doctor’s voice fades away and here comes my Mami rushing with a look of confusion and desperation. She holds it together as I tell her what the doctor just told me. And even though she wants to talk to my Nina I tell her we have to go; we need to get some stuff from the house to bring to her. She acquiesces and we  drive to my Nina’s house.

The drive was silent. And unlike other dreams, I’m able to move in real time; there is no slowing of movements, no blurry or fuzziness of anything and I’m following traffic signals and look both ways before turning the corner. When we arrive at the house I tell my mom what my grandma wanted us t get and she begins searching for it. The whole time I stand by the doorway observing my mom shuffling through drawers, clothes, and papers. She looks over at my and gives me that look, the are-you-serious-this-is-happening look of sadness. I smirk at her and shrug my shoulders. Defeated by her thoughts she slumps on the edge of the bed and begins to cry slowly covering her face in shame. I walk over to her and tell her it’s going to be OK. I bend down to hug her and clearly, without any doubt she says, “I hate this, Mona. My mom can’t die.” We’re hugging and her chin rests on my head as my arms are wrapped around her waist. Then I posture up and hold her face and tell her that it’s out of our control. That’s when she hugs me, tightly (I felt it, in my body as I slept and knowing this felt so weird), and she begins to sob. Now it’s me resting my head on hers and softly petting her head as I, too cry, silently. She asks quietly: what am I going to do with my days, Mona? Que voy hacer ahora? Mona, what am I going to do with my days?

At that moment Sandy walks in laughing with Martha. Unknowing as to why we were hugging and crying Martha politely steps outside the room and Sandy jumps on the bed in an attempt to lighten up the situation. I tell her that Nina is dying and that we have to be OK with it because she’s okay with it. She starts to cry too, but with an understanding that we have to now look out for our Mami because she’s going to fall apart without Nina. #end

What woke me up was my own sobbing and the feeling of my body reacting. The tears were flowing, I tell you. I look at the time and it’s 8:24am. 24 minutes after I’m already supposed to be at work. I immediately call my timekeeper, still crying. Then I call my boss, still crying telling him that I’ll be in as soon as I can. He asks me if I’m okay and I tell him that I had an incredibly realistic dream about my family. He tells me that I should take my time, but most importantly, am I okay? I assure him that I am and that I’ll see him in a bit.

In a deeper analysis of this dream my boss and I have determined that I have taken an archetype role of wise old woman. The grandmother typically represents the sage, wisdom, etc. I became the mother to my mother. Literally in my dream we switched rolls. And I explained to him what the death of a grandmother means in Dream World: the death of an old self [read: my old self] and the birth of a new self. It’s a telling of how I have come to take control of the things I can and affirm the decisions that come from that control. To be OK with those decisions… isn’t it all crazy? I mean… the change that people go through is not overnight. And I am proof of that. It’s been months that I have been struggling with defining me, and who I am, and wearing the different masks but all in play with my true self and leaving any false selfs in the past. I am maturing in front of my own eyes.

My Nina means so much to me. When I face tough decisions I go to her. I ask her what I should do and she never speaks in terms of finiteness but in terms of not doubting your gut. She’s asked me before… y que te dice to mente? And when I tell her and she usually responds with: entonces no es mal. Si es algo que tu quieres hacer tu sabes lo bueno de esa decicion. Mira, tu sabes que aqui estamos para ti si no te va bien. I don’t know why but I love that as she continues her advice she keeps knitting. She never stops only when I lean in to hug her.

Latinas For Latinas

Back when I started this blog site my intent was to speak on my Latina-ness. That may sound odd or perhaps broad yet very specific. My first post was on being a Revolutionary Girl. Here is a link to the post: The Revolutionary Girl. The following posts were more or less along those lines of speaking to being a Revolutionary and on topics that I felt contribute to my greater being but with ties to my Latina-ness. Somehow I lost focus and it went to posts about me and my personal life. If my intent was to create awareness of the issues that are important to me or perhaps particular to me and my intended audience is women like me, I should have at least tagged my posts with latina blogger, latinas for latinas, mexican-american. I believe these tags help us find each other, much like how when I searched for these tags I found other Latina women posting and writing and doing outreach and spreading awareness. The beauty and amazingness of tags led me to read and in essence listen to voices that sound like my own.

Today one of my life’s mentors linked me to this: Latinas of Influence Conference 2016. March is Women’s History Month and Hispanic Lifestyle will be highlighting Latinas for each day in March. Amazing, right? Well this conference has a special meaning to my mentor. Her cousin Irma Ramos has been nominated and will be present at this year’s conference. My mentor asked me if I had noticed anything about the site. When I made the connection I felt so much joy. I know how much Irma means to Rose (oh my God! I have revealed her name). I’ve met Irma and she’s a wonderful person and when Rose speaks to me about her I know that she respects her as a relative, a friend, and as a professional.

Here is what the highlight of Irma Ramos means to me:

I am in the Human Resources line of business and so is she. Her official title is Vice Chancellor of Human Resources for the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD). Rose has given briefs every now and then on her career path and it’s impressive and commendable. But for some reason to see her being honored and acknowledged by way of nomination did something to me. In no way do I dismiss her work prior to this mention, but I saw my reflection in her in that moment. The work I am doing now is very important to me. The “added duties” that are outside my position description are welcomed and I am enjoying every part of my job.

Back to how I saw myself in her… The closest people around me tell me how great I would do in a position of higher rank and how well I would do managing people because I genuinely care and present integrity and character in every situation I am in. As much as it’s nice to hear such things, it’s also hard to believe. It seems so far fetched and sometimes too crazy of an idea or thought. There are not many women around me that hold high level positions and there are even less women that look like me- Latinas with brown skin and Spanish surnames that also speak and relate to Mexican / Mexican-American culture, that have a connection to and with a minority background, etc. So, not only learning about these 31 women that will be presented at this year’s conference, but actually knowing one of them, albeit not really personally, is so inspiring. I finally believed that I can be the person Rose sees I am. I can believe that I will be the HRO one day. For the first time felt that I could stand among those “executive leadership” types. The even greater part of experiencing these emotions was that I know I will one day be well qualified for such a position. I never thought it possible until now.

I scrolled back through my posts and came across this one: Direction. At this point in my life I was lost. The job that I was in felt like a dead-end. I remember not wanting to go in and I was constantly late and barely meeting my performance measures. That’s when I realized how important it was for me to get back into HR. In all honesty it’s a truly rewarding career. There are many that warn me about what it can do me physically and emotionally, but I now feel I have the skills to make it work for me. Again, I may be naive and very much green in this field, but the best part of it all is that I believe in myself now. And you know what, it’s not only that she’s also in the same profession, but that she’s faced adversity and overcame it. I don’t know her personal struggles, but I know part of her general family history and that’s enough for me to relate.

An Analysis of My Recent Situation

A couple of posts ago I wrote about how I was told I create my own problems. I was really hurt by that conversation and I have been thinking a lot about it lately. Am I creating my own problems? Am I being irrational and illogical?

I have a friend that I go to for everything. She’s been my rock for as long as I can remember. She’s been through my fails, my falls, my victories and everything in between. It’s beautiful to know that I have someone like her in my life. I spoke to her about what I’m going through and this funk that I desperately want to get rid of but can’t seem to shrug off. I told her about the okay-ness I feel with not talking to my mom, or my sisters as often (which wasn’t frequent to begin with), and the sense that I am losing what I thought I had with my BF. I was so glad she called me. She listened.

Today I spoke to someone else about it. He is a very unlikely person for this type of insight into my life but very much approachable and I’m happy that he was there and offered to be here for me if I need him to. In no way am I diminishing my dear old friend, but it kind of makes a difference speaking to someone about what’s going on in person. In different words but similar lenses and voices, they told me the same thing. It seems as if I’m going through a change. This change is one that is bound to happen to a person my situation-away from family and the usual friends, a new job and career path, a new state, a greater sense of self realization due to living on my own (again), etc. But there is something I am not letting go of… allusions of past, present, and future. These allusions have instilled a fear in me creating guilt and resentment of myself.

Yea, I guess that can be it. In one my favorite episodes from That’s Deep Bro, Christina Pazsitzky talks about letting go. That episode has been resonating for a while and it deserves another listen. And then here he is, my unlikely confidant, talking about letting go of these allusions and accepting the metamorphosis that is happening to me. And here she is, my guardian angel in the flesh (well, over the phone) telling me it’s OK to feel alright with myself for not wanting to talk to my family. I guess the guilt I feel is because they haven’t done anything wrong for me to want to feel like I need distance from them (which to be fair, sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason other than this how I feel). I have to remind myself that my feelings are valid and no one should feel entitled enough to denigrate them.

Now, for the feelings about the BF. It’s so painful to write these thoughts out, but it helps. I had a dream last night and I love dreams. I’m a believer in the sense that they are subconscious thoughts and feelings making themselves known in order for us to deal with them. Anyway, I had a dream in which I decided to stop waiting for him. As he angrily accepted me walking away from him he decided to leave himself- I mean, that is what I was implying right, for him to be gone? As he rode off in his bike with his hiking backpack on and a blue-green mullet I wanted to chase him. But like in most dreams I couldn’t move. As much as I wanted to I couldn’t run after him so I thought that maybe running backwards would help (go ahead, laugh). Then I woke up! In my Five Years From Now post I speak briefly about where I see myself with him. It goes much deeper than that, but I don’t want to get into it. So what does it mean?

I’m afraid that I am becoming more and more OK with the distance between us. I am also angry with him for … for … things I cannot bring myself to write out. It hurts me to think he’s not meant for me, or worse that I am not meant for him. I don’t usually have set timelines in my life, but I want to do something about this distance and I am expecting to hear the worst come this next month. There goes the allusion of the future- of what I want it to be and what I fear it can be and what it will be. The present? Well, I’d like for it to be better between us, but like I said in another post “as the worst saying in the world goes… it is what it is.” The past? Well, the past has shaped notions of what the future can be and mean.

I suppose I am maturing and I just haven’t come to grips with my new self. This maturity process that I am going through means that I have become a new person willing and able to lead a different life than what I originally thought. So what’s my life line? How do I manage to put aside all these emotions and continue to be a capable person? The brain is tricky that way. I suppose this is how compartmentalization works. It’s work. My job is what I feel I have control over right now and I’d like to keep it that way because if I lose that control I fear it will be the end of it. There is stupid Fear again. But it’s the honest truth. I’m going to write “I know” in my next sentence even though I really don’t. I know that if I let go of going to work in order to deal with all of this I will go down that spiral I was in six/seven years ago. I don’t want to, but I also don’t know how to deal with this metamorphosis if this what it is because it feels like depression.

When You Create Your Own Problems

Maybe I should title this post “When I’m Told I Create My Own Problems”. In a twisted way this is a solid thing to hear during an episode of mild hysteria. But, on the other hand, it’s also the shittiest thing to be told. This goes back to the whole thing of talking to someone just for the simple fact of knowing (sometimes wrongfully expecting) that the other person is there for you. Most of the time during these venting sessions I’m not looking for a solution, or for a diagnosis. I’m just looking for a bit of validation, a little sympathy, or maybe just the opportunity to say the crazy shit that runs through my head out loud.

I didn’t get that today so I’m writing it out as I enjoy a cigarette. Yeah, a fucken cigarette. I’m not proud but it’s been relaxing me this last month and a half. I said today that I am not in a good place and it’s the truest statement I’ve made about myself in a while. These last couple of months I have not been eating well- no food in my fridge, not eating at all, eating fast food, smoking, and not working out. That is the perfect combination for someone to not be in a good place mentally. I put on a pretty good act for people not to notice. The last time I went through something similar was about six years ago. That was straight up depression.

Going through depression sucks fucken balls. I knew I was in it and as much as I told myself that I could get up and do things I couldn’t. It’s a mental fatigue I would not wish on my worst enemies. I fear that’s what’s happening to me again. I wish I knew what was bringing this on so that I can do something about it. Is it my relationship and my SO? Is it that I feel horrible for being OK with not being physically active and eating healthily? Is it that I am ashamed of how much I am OK with not talking to my family? Could it possibly be the stresses of my job but dealing with them all because I really love it? Is it my financial situation? Everyone and everything annoys me and has been for some time. All of the above?

Well, like I said, I put on a pretty good act.

Madly Chasing Peace: How I Went From Hell to Happy in Nine Minutes a Day by Dina Proctor – Book Review

I’m currently reading 10% Happier : How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works- A True Story by Dan Harris. Man that was a mouth-full. It reminded me much of this other book I read (read the title of this post) that was recommended to me by my younger sister. Below is the review I wrote on goodreads.

Almost done with 10% Happier … so I’ll be reviewing that shortly

Mady Chasing Peace

If I’m correct in my thoughts about this being my first self-help book then I’m so happy that this has been my first. For almost a year I have tapped the waters of meditation, higher conscious, and what may seem like atheism but its what I believe to be connecting to spirituality rather than a defined God or religion.

The part of the book that resonates loudest to me is when she quotes Jack Canfield on living life with the emergency break on. I am still driving with the break on and so many times I’ve reached to release but moved away. I believe that now, with Dina’s experience in my literary canon, I can begin to reach, grab, and release that break. The negative thoughts that have held me back have been what others might think. But as long as I find that connection with my being’s center I know now that I will be OK. I shan’t be afraid- only free.

I cannot believe how much I love this book, Dina’s experiences, and what can become of me when I apply and play the games. I’ve heard and read about many similar experiences but felt skeptical- almost as if the individuals going through them were telling fantasies. I believe that I felt this way because I was feeling jealousy of the control and freedom they had on their thoughts and lives. I’m ready to be centered.

Writing this review/self-reflection almost feels unnatural; not only because I’ve never written a review on any other book without feeling I HAD TO, but because I feel like everything that is being transcribed is happening on auto. I just felt compelled to write a about it and well, there it is.

*written 2/4/2013

Five Years From Now

Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have and it’s a question my boyfriend and I have gotten into an argument over. The first time it was just an awkward silence after he raised his voice due to getting frustrated at the question. The second time he walked out on the conversation and I ended up getting an anxiety attack. The latter was shortly before I made my move out of state due to my decision to make a career move.

Five years ago I would not have guessed or predicted for myself that I would be living out of my home state, but I am. I would not have thought I wold be in the position to have to make such a decision either. Things happen, people change and adapt, and others, like me – even though afraid of change – are always looking for something different.

It’s almost a year now and I can’t believe I have survived. I say survived because before I made the move I experienced anxiety and was put on mild medication to relieve the symptoms. I was afraid of the changes and I was even more panicked over trusting myself to make it work. Depending on my mood I say that it has been a very fast year or very snail paced one. Regardless, I’ve made it. I can’t say that it has been easy or financially steady, but I am proud of myself.

I consider myself to be independent and self-reliant. I see my boyfriend as such as well. However, we have varying definitions (so it seems) of living comfortably or of success. I want to say he’s a minimalist but I don’t know if he’d agree with that. We’re not complete opposites, but I do feel that he challenges me in my way of thinking and my way of seeing things. His opinions either reinforce my own or they allow me to expand and question. Can I say the same of him? I’m not sure; he seems to be pretty set.

Admitting to how much of a consumer I am shames me. It shouldn’t but it does. I have debt. I’ve cleared it and then allowed it to creep up on me over and over. I wish I was more logical in my spending and it’s something I’m working on. I use the “it’s American of me to be in such a position” excuse. or reasoning, to cut myself some slack – but that’s lazy. I need to practice saying no or perhaps say “maybe”.

Saying “maybe” is what my bf does best. He doesn’t like to commit because “something else might come up”. Oh that bugs me. I, on the other hand, say “yes” too freely and often don’t come through. Most of the time it’s my laziness and when it comes to the both of us it is me failing to convince him to join me. I should adopt the “maybe” strategy.

I love this guy. I see myself with him and I want the rest of my life with him. So, what does the above have to do with five years from now? I’ll tell you…

Five years from now I want to be back in California close to my family living with him and talking about expanding our family. If it’s not in California I want to be where I am and have him move in with me. And if it’s not either then I want to be on my own living my life – accepting that despite all the love I have for him, not being on the same page in terms of goals is something that I can’t change and will not compromise. I don’t want to resent anyone I love for not doing what I want them to knowing that they don’t want to and them not being 100% with it. I also don’t want to blame him for something I could have done without him.

That scares me. Am I self-centered? It is me just knowing what my priorities are and working for them? Is he being too careless with me and my plans? He can change his mind and I can change mine. Nothing is definite in this life except death. I just don’t like the “what if’s” in life when I feel I can control the positive what ifs. For example, I was unhappy in my last job, I was living at home again sharing a room with my 18 year old sister at the time. I was paying a monthly fee to have all my things in a storage unit and I hated it. It wasn’t fun.

Living at home and having less expenses. although a good thing, was driving me up the wall insane. I know that if I wouldn’t have taken this position I would most likely still be in the same place wondering what could have been if I’d taken the job. I controlled that what if and in turn made myself happier. Yes, there were sacrifices, like having to be in a long distance relationship, but it’s not half bad when we both have mutual respect and maintain communicative. For the most part it’s doable. Sometimes it sucks, but … as the worst saying in the world goes: it is what it is.