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

Advertisements

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.

Fork in the Road

fork-in-the-road2I’m standing at the tip of the road trying to figure out which path to take. Both roads have a certain predictability to them but I would say an equal amount of uncertainty as well. I keep saying I will do a pros and cons list but I haven’t because I’m afraid. I’m not even sure what I’m afraid of, but it’s been the reason I have delayed this exercise. Because the probability of me actually doing this is very unlikely I will just write it out here in a very informal manner.

Situation: I submitted my application to go back home without being certain I was ready to actually move back to LA. I have a second interview this evening and the likelihood of me getting the job offer is HIGH!

Self: Why would you do that if you were not 100% sure that you were ready to make the decision to move back?

Me: Well, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to move back when the chance presented itself. I thought that the process would be longer and I didn’t think I would be so hesitant. Maybe I should tank this second interview and then … end to worry! But what about when I’m actually ready (the way life works no opportunity will be available). *shakes fists to the heavens*

Who/what has weight/impact on my decision? My boyfriend and our long distance relationship. My mom. The fact that I care about what I’m doing where I actually am. That I still feel I haven’t done everything – or close to half the things – I thought I’d do while away from my home city and family. That being where I am feels right. But I miss being around my family; I feel I’m missing out on them.

What if I go:

What if I stay:

What does this mean?

Fears:

To be continued …

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.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak – Book Review

One More Thing Cover.jpg

I had this book on my radar for quite some time. Enough time that I thought I had it on pre-sale. I didn’t. On my last Barnes and Noble haul I purchased it and I couldn’t have done anything more rightly at that moment.

I wish I had the book with me so that I would be able to be more precise but since I finished it at the BF’s house that’s where it stayed. I did just finish it a few hours ago, so I’m hoping my memory of it is still on point.

To start off I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter, or story (the book IS titled One More Thing Stories and More Stories). The story’s perspective was what reallyl got me. After reading it I experienced that, “Hu. Wow! I can’t believe I never saw it that way. It’s so simple and I never saw it differently.” Maybe I had already been given this vantage point but since I feel so enlightened about it I perhaps have not.

We’ve all heard the saying “Slow and steady wins the race” and I believe we all know where it hails from, right? B.J. Novak has changed that lifelong notion that the tortoise is the one to learn from the most. Most people I know that refer to this tale of life lesson have charged the hare with conceit and self-destruction, and have given so much credit to the tortoise. So much so that in this story the tortoise has now made a living on conferences and appearances speaking on how slow and steady gets the job done. The hare, poor hare, has lived long enough in this perceived failure and attempted to restart his life but to no avail. I’m turning this long story turned short story into a long story. I’ll speed it up. The hare requests a rematch. The tortoise declines. The hare trains and begins to convince others that a rematch would be the best thing to do. After much pressure from those around him, the tortoise agrees. The hare wins setting new records and is celebrated. The closing to that story went something like this: slow and steady wins the race. Until hard work and talent take its place.

I mean, you always hear of the person who sat around and waited and finally got the victory. You root for him because well, something WAS accomplished; technically. And you always hear of the undisciplined athlete who should have been at the top and he becomes a clichĂ© because he didn’t. But he becomes the clichĂ© because he didn’t attempt to persevere. That’s what the hare did, that’s what the story wants to convey- that there is a second chance out there after your fuck-up- if you want it badly enough. (At least that’s what I took from it.)

This book is filled with observational commentary of today’s society. There’s a story on how the calendar was invented, which is quite funny because the person who created it is going about his day and journal writing as anyone in today’s world would. The Elvis story is another favorite. Novak has challenged what I think of writers of my generation to be (I think I’m in the same generation, but he’s published so
). For the Elvis one he spins the narrative in such a way that Elvis himself had something to do with all of the Elvis’ in Las Vegas; that he, Elvis, is living and reliving the best Elvis he’s ever been and has always wanted to be.

There’s a story, a script actually, on the Roast of Nelson Mandela. Seriously? I love how there are no boundaries for Novak.

One story connects with another in an unexpected way, which gave me joy because since they were narrated in different styles I wouldn’t think there would be a connection to any previous one.

There are a few one page, simple, deep and insightful stories and there are funny, longer, light hearted ones.

This one story is about a man who purchased a sex robot and returned it because the robot fell in love with him. This guy became the butt of every late night comedians joke and a headline on news sites. The criticism in this one is how society has decided to focus on the fact that he returned a sex robot rather than the fact that a robot could fall in love. Continuing to push the boundary, he questions the motives behind the constant attack of the choices private individuals make by asking what if he had requested for the robot to fall in love with him but didn’t. Would the weight of judgement be the same?

My favorite are the ones about love.

I wouldn’t doubt that this book will end up being a classroom reading assignment. I hope it doesn’t (there’s a story about that, actually). There is so much to pick and reflect on that it can speak to generations now and in the future. I want to buy a bunch of copies and pass them out to young readers because I feel there is much to learn from this book. A lot of critical analysis has gone into every story. If I were to ever think of writing something such as Novak has, I would pass out. His work and writing skills seem to be effortless, but nonetheless impacting.

Doing Crazy Things While Half Asleep and Naked

Living on my own has given me complete freedom and comfortability within my home. I love walking around my house in just my underwear and bra, or short and bra, or shirt and underwear. The best is being able to walk around completely nekkid. The only worry I have is just making sure the blinds are closed. I like on the second floor, so sometimes I don’t even have that reservation.

I like reading while nekkid, cooking while nekkid with my apron on (think what you want, I’m the only one eating the food), watching TV while nekkid (are you annoyed that I’m writing “nekkid” instead of naked?). Bottom line, being naked is awesome. It’s given me the opportunity to love myself (which has been a slow and constant process) and to accept my body.

OK, now to the reason of my post. Last night I went to sleep … guess how? NEKKID! I had clean sheets and had showered and was feeling super fresh. In the middle of the night, maybe around 3am I woke up to pee. I did my business. However, instead of going back to bed I walked my naked ass over to my kitchen and grabbed a handful of yogurt covered almonds. I ate a couple as I walked back to my room and another as I lay back in my bed. All of this with my eyes closed. Because I was technically in sleep I didn’t finish the almonds I had. I carefully placed the leftover snack items next to me on my bed.

This morning I woke up normally. But as i was feeling myself and body in all its naked glory I felt something on my stomach. I threw the covers off and guess what? A solo almond was there just staring at me with it’s little almond eyes. I look down at the sheets and they had melted yogurt all over. I look at my belly and I have a blotch of yogurt here, and there, and what,  there too? You can assume why that was, I suppose: during my night moves (did Bob Seger come to mind?) that damned almond rolled under me and the rest is history.

Book Review: A Piece of Cake A Memoir by Cupcake Brown

cake

Last night I went to sleep late. That’s actually not worth mentioning since I stay up late all the damned time anyway. But, this time it wasn’t because I was watching fail videos on Instagram, or trying to find a good DIY project for all the wine bottles I have at home. I stayed up late because I couldn’t put down Cupcake Brown’s memoir A Piece of Cake.

I picked  up this book only having read the back of it and I thought: why not? I kept putting it off and finally I read it.

Maybe universal powers are playing a role in the stories I come across because there is a theme at play. These stories are of people that have had fucked up lives. Not because they chose to, but because … I don’t know, they just do. But despite those obstacles they have come out alive and  stronger and able to touch lives. I would really like to get into what I’m saying, but this is a book review.

La’Vette is the name on the birth certificate (I’m sure it’s legally changed now) but Cupcake is the name of choice. According to Cupcake that’s the name her mother gave to the nurse after being asked what the baby will be named. It’s the sweetest story. But, when her biological father, whom she refers to as Sperm Donor heard of it he immediately changed it to La’Vette.

Cupcake, at the age of eleven found her mother dead in her bedroom. That’s the day it all changed. She recalls not one family member offering to watch over her or her brother, Larry. During that time she found out that her Daddy wasn’t her daddy; she had a biological father. With the intent of coming up on their trust fund money Sperm Donor reached out to take his children. After finding out that the money was under the guardianship of Cupcake’s uncle, Jr. and with age stipulations, Sperm Donor had a change of heart. As much as her Daddy and Jr. begged to take the children the court wasn’t able to release the children from the biological father. Jr. lived alone and her Daddy obviously had no blood relation.

Shortly after the car ride to Sperm Donor’s house, without even stepping inside he transferred them over to Diane, a foster parent. Enduring physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional abuse she decided to run away. During this escape she came across Candy, a prostitute who offered her weed and showed her how to get a quick money (turning a trick). From the age of eleven to twenty-seven she turned tricks, had “business partners/arrangements”, sold furniture and appliances to buy booze, weed, crack, pills. She partied, drugged, drank. She moved from house to house, faced eviction, joined a gang, got shot, banged, and made friends, lost friends. She lied, cheated, stole. She wronged and eventually did right. These experiences, however, led her to have very strong opinions on men, judges, “the system”, police, friends, and family. I don’t blame her. She didn’t have the chance to be a child and have a childhood. She was robbed and survived to tell of it all. She hit rock bottom.

After making the decision to make a change she went through a rehab program and the 12-step program of AA. That’s where she met her Sponsor, Venita (aka V). She relapsed with alcohol. She struggled and fought urges. She cut people out of her life and allowed new ones in. She started school, dedicatated herself to it and made it out on top as a lawyer.

Cupcake’s story is uplifting and impactful. It showed me the road that I’m glad I never had to travel, or even had to come across. It gave me appreciation for my childhood and my life. It gave me another insight into humanity: the good and the horrible.

I am so happy to have read her story. I cried throughout the book because it pained me to imagine that there might be (and most likely) a little girl out there being robbed of her childhood because the system mishandled a case, a little girl being taken advantage of because of her innocence and vulnerability, a child being told she’s worth nothing, a child being starved, beaten, forced into drugs and alcohol because they don’t know any better.