Hello, It’s Me

Greeting strangers! It seems like FOREVER since I wrote something here (January 1st to be exact). As usual, adulting has gotten in the way of writing, thinking, bathing… However, just because I haven’t posted anything, it doesn’t mean you haven’t been on my mind.

I did work on some unpublished posts and wondered if they were ever going to see the light of day. So, I got to thinking and decided that I was going to post it in a new series called ‘Hindsight.’ The purpose of this series is to catch you up on things that have happened in my life as well as bring some flavor back into our relationship (I love you)… This series will also have some insight to my current thoughts about my past experiences and how they have shaped me in the present day (Get it? Cause its Hind –sight? Get it? You got it. I’m funny.)

As part of my comeback (Move over Adele!), I will also work on another series called ‘The Harvest.’ This one is different from my other works because it involves art. This series was inspired by stories I have heard or been gifted through my most recent life experiences. You’d be surprised how much people are willing to share when you give them the time and space to do so. I have taken these stories and offered an artistic response to them as a way of honoring their strength and beauty. The art you will see in this series is comprised of drawing, painting, poems and even clay work. The stories will not be told so as to protect the people who shared them. Nevertheless, some essence of what they are going through or went through will be within the artistic response.

I will also work on posting some random stuff of my life as they pop up. I really hope ya’ll (country!) are as excited about my comeback as I am. I have so much to share that I feel like I’m going to overload on all these thoughts. Also, I know most of you are silent readers and rarely, if ever, comment on my posts. Just know that you are welcomed to comment and share your thoughts and experiences. Nevertheless, I will not tolerate sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or any denigration of any person. You can share your thoughts in a respectful way and, as always, if you got nothing nice to say, then don’t say it.

Finally, I would like to keep doing artistic responses to people’s lives. If you have something you would like to share and have it transformed into an artistic response, please feel free to send me a private message or email.

As always, you guys rock. May you know happiness on this day. May you know peace. And may you be at ease.

Signing off, TWS

 P.S. Have Adele’s new song ‘Hello.’ Why? Çause it’s awesome!

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Bus Stop: Feminist Ln

Where I come from public transportation is not very prominent. There are taxis and an off-shoot of it called ‘public cars’ but there are not many buses. It was not until recently that my small town acquired a trolley and those are really used by old people. In my old university there were buses but they were used for the students and the trolley system was sometimes used for the general public. In general, I have never used public transportation to get around. If I needed to go to a place I’d walk, even if it took me 30 minutes to walk there and 30 more minutes to walk back. Nevertheless, here it’s different and buses are not only extremely useful but a real necessity. In my stubbornness, I had to cave in and start using the buses to get around, especially for grocery shopping.

This new collection of works will detail my observations and participation in the usage of public transportation and in meeting with other people.

The first time I used the bus I was very paranoid about the schedule and the time it would arrive to the bus stop. Back home buses are never on time and there is no real schedule. You just stand there waiting and waiting until some bus passes by. The worst part was that if you were late for a class and you were waiting for the bus you would never make it.

The bus arrived one minute late; my surprise was monumental and my joy unexpected. Once I got on, like a cub being born into the world, I didn’t know anything. I knew where I wanted to stop but I didn’t know where to signal for the stop. Do I tell the bus driver? Do I pull a lever? So, like I was taught in anthropology, I watched my surroundings and the people on the bus. I quickly learned that there was a small rope-like-lever which I pulled and it signaled the bus driver I wanted to be dropped off.

My destination was Walmart, yet when we passed by I noticed that the bus did not stop nor did it announce that Walmart stop. I freaked out and pulled the lever and was dropped off close to the Applebees. It was not far from Walmart but I felt foolish for freaking out. I felt even more foolish when I remembered that the route made a turn and would leave me directly in front of the Walmart.

No time for regrets. I made my shopping; oh hail the Dollar tree! When I had finished I remembered to go to the Walmart stop. The problem was that I didn’t know where it was. I knew the Applebees stop. After 15 minutes of searching for the Walmart stop I caved and walked all the way to Applebees. There my adventure really started.

At that stop, under the hot sun, I was accompanied by two suspiciously drunk men. Some will call them white trash, but I don’t like that term. Anywho, they were talking in their heavy country drawl that I could not understand. I being a woman in a patriarchal society, I was afraid. Afraid of what they might say. Afraid of what they might do. I held my ground and did not make eye contact. Just the usual for a woman anywhere where you’re objectified.

The bus made its stop. We all got on. Unfortunately, the drunken men sat across from me. I kept myself sitting tight, my legs crossed, my mouth shut and my eyes averted. Yes, this is how society has made us women believe we’re safe. Nevertheless, I kept my ears open for any sign of danger; like a frightened woodland animal.

The men went about with their drunken slurs. They’re ‘I love you man’ and ‘we are brothers’. This went on for most of the trip but at some point they began to whisper. It was there that I knew I was in trouble. At some point one of them turns to me and I knew I had been sighted like the prey they believe me I am. I hold back, act blasé.

Purdy girl like ya’ shouldn’ be frownin’. Ya’ll should smile.

I smile but turn my head. He keeps trying to hit me up. Asks my name. I don’t look at him. He asks if I speak English. I don’t talk. He then proceeds to talk in Spanish. I don’t say anything. He keeps rambling. At some point I’ve had enough. I turn and say:

I know English.

And I give him my best bitch smile. He gets the hint. He frowns.

‘k, I won’ bother youse no mo’.

I sigh in relief. I am safe for a couple more minutes before he tries to talk to me again. I’m not out of the woods yet. I know I need to get to my stop. It’s close. He turns to me again and at that moment the bus stops and a couple of recently out of jail junkies (I know because they practically announced it to the whole bus) get in. They all know each other. The drunken man focuses his attention at the other fellow junkies.

I still don’t feel safe. The bus signals for my stop but I notice that it’s not in front of the building but across. I can’t chance another encounter with these people. I pull the lever, I get off. I believe I am safe. I have trouble crossing but I manage. Afraid they might follow me I decide to go around the building I usually get picked up by the bus. I go through the back of the building where there’s five more buildings. It takes longer to get home but I make it.

I don’t want to get political but there is clearly a problem with the society we live in where a woman can’t feel safe at a bus stop or within a bus even though there are at least 10 more people in there. There is nothing wrong with a man talking to a woman but there is something eerily disturbing when a man tells a woman to smile. My smile is not there for your amusement. I am not a doll nor a piece of meat that has to look pleasing to your eyes every time you feel like it. I am a human being like you. I do not exist for the amusement of any man and I do not need men degrading me into a sexual object by telling me to smile. I do not need your attention. I do not need any man pointing out I am beautiful, pretty or sexy. I know what I am and these comments are unnecessary, disgusting and sexist.

Signing off, TWS

Standing

Hello again! As my disclaimer said, the last post was written before my trip. However, since I have missed so many post days I have already taken my magical trip and I am officially at the Appalachian Mountains (Go Mountaineers!). Nevertheless, this means that I have to put you guys up to date with everything. So let’s start with the post-engagement and the advice people have given me.

Getting engaged was a big decision from my part and from Mr. Grumpy’s as well. We are not planning on getting married right away. This is due to the lack of money and the lack of preparation. We have decided to first work on our main goal which is to obtain our Master degree’s. So we have postponed it to a total of 3 years, give or take. Our decision to get engaged right as I was about to leave stems from our desire to take our relation to a higher level. I mean, what we feel for each other we haven’t felt for anyone else. And when we are together life just clicks. There is no hassle, no pressure and absolutely no judgment. It is based on these feeling and positive atmosphere which we share with each other that we decided to make our relationship something more serious.

Getting engaged is just another step which brings me closer to adulthood and to anxiety. Some people, though not up front, have expressed their concern for our ‘hasty’ decision. Others just refrain from commenting or from giving it its due value. Mr. G and I were concerned about this but after a lengthy conversation we noticed that we did this for us, for our happiness, and not for anyone else’s. This decision to care for our well-being and that of our relationship was confirmed to me by a fellow church woman and friend of the family which had a daughter who also left for the states to be able to study.

As soon as she saw me she sat me down and told me how she felt as a mother about her daughter leaving and how my experience has revived those feelings. She told me that it is difficult for parents to let their children go. It’s strange to see them go off their own way and make their life in a different way and place from that of the parents. However, as the parents starts’ shifting their view about the trip they start to realize that what matters is the happiness of their children. Even when their children do different things from what they believe, or they think, if the child is happy and thriving that they will also be happy. This idea of me being able to stretch out my wings in my own space, time and strength and fly away while my parents supported my flight was what I needed to continue.

I don’t know if this makes sense to you reader. But I will try to clarify it this way: I come from a highly religious family and the idea of me getting engaged is a big thing. However, the idea of me living with my boyfriend before marriage is a bigger thing. All these things shook the foundation of my family and it has caused a riff. However, it was at the words of the church woman that I noticed that it was necessary for me to take all these decisions for my well-being. One can please their parents so much until you notice that you have not pleased yourself. I love my parents and all but my happiness comes above their own. They have taken their decision and paths as human beings and adults, and I have taken mine. They may not be to their liking but they are what holds me and makes me grow. Just as I have no right to tell them how to live their lives, they have no right to tell me how to live mine.

Reader, what I am trying to convey is that your life is your own. Only you can decide, only you can act and only you can be you. It is important to care for others but when their values, beliefs and actions serve to hurt you, to cripple you and to stray you from your path, you must take a stand and go your way. Where their rights end, yours begin and no one in any way has the right to control your life. Your decisions in life will probably hurt people, but you must keep in mind that you must first work on who you are before you can provide for others. You must first learn to be happy before you can make others happy. Just remember, that you may go and do as you please as long as you don’t hurt others emotionally, physically or psychologically. Never let others control you. You were born free, you were born strong. Make your life as you dreamed it; you’ll be happier when you make a stand for your dreams, for yourself and for your future.

Signing off, TWS

The Rain and The Ring

Disclaimer: This was written before my trip.

 

Hello reader, I’d like to apologize for my small hiatus. It’s been a hectic week. First on my birthday I was greeted with a horrible toothache (which has not lessened); second I got engaged and finally I’m preparing my luggage has been a real hassle. Nevertheless, do not fret; I will make it up to you all.

Let us go back, you and I, and let me tell you about my engagement, how it happened and what it brought. It was on the day after my birthday, July 17. We (my aunt, my two female cousins my Mr. Grumpy and me) went to El Yunque;  Puerto Rico’s national rain forest. Believe you me, it’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend a family vacation there. The only warning I have, be prepared to walk. And I mean like a 5K walk. There are various places you can go to, such as the main tower, the replica tower or go down to the Mina Falls; which are all beautiful.

I won’t feed you any Indiana Jones-like story but our walk up to the tower was brutal. Walking through a rain forest ain’t no joke. All the fauna and flora is out to get you and if you stray from the path (which was very slippery), you might get lost. Any who, it was a trying experience considering the risks and how my day had started out. Reader, I have no shame in saying that that day i spent  most of my day on a toilet. You see, I have a crippling anxiety of travelling to far away places (oh the irony), especially in the early morning. So, needless to say it was not my day. Nevertheless, I knew something was going down that day. Mr. G and I had talked about getting engaged and I was in a state of peril because i didn’t know when he was going to spring the question on me.

This trip meant more to me than anything. First off, I have been planning it for days, second it was the first time I would be going to El Yunque and third, I had to find out if Mr.G would propose. Needles to say there was a lot at stake. So I held myself down and made my way up the mountain. Nonetheless, it was a difficult trip for me because it challenged me physically, emotionally and psychologically. This trip helped to reinforce my belief and strife in what I will be doing in the next couple of years. Also, as the date for my trip nears I fear more for myself and if I want to do this or not. However, when I find myself wavering or doubting myself I remember that one hour hike to the mountains and how much I got from it when arrived.

Reader, it is unnecessary for me to tell you that I made it and that I did got engaged. However, I believe I owe you a description of that moment. Between that huffing, puffing and the complaining when we got there we looked up at that tower amazed at its grandeur. More than that we stood awestruck at the nature around us. Never has a more beautiful treasure stood in front of me. When we made it up to the top of the tower, the mountains, the sky and God himself smiled at us. Yet, the greatest moment came when the rain, as I said yes, came down us. It washed our strain and pain and gave us the gift of happiness and family. Like Rip Van Winkle, we went into nature; we were struck with the sublime of it and we came down anew. We were now one and a great future is awaiting us.

Reader, my gift from life I will share with you: you may plan great things and you may have great hope for yourself. However, your efforts are only measured by how much strength you have to make it possible. The climb may be steep and there will be moments you’ll want to quit; and it is at this moment that you have to remember how much you put into making this happen. It is then that you must keep true to your path and make it through no matter what. And I promise you that when you do make it, that victory will be so much greater.

 Signing off, TWS

Where There is Will There is Grace

Today I finished re-watching the whole series of Will and Grace. For all of you who haven’t watched it, I recommend it. It’s the story of Will, a homosexual, and his best friend Grace, which is straight, and how they face life, friends, work, relationships and so on. They are joined by Jack, another homosexual, and Karen a hetero rich woman; and together they face shenanigans, gay trivia and comedy, and what true friendship is about. Watching the end of the series (again) made me realize how much I craved that kind of friendship. More than that, how much I craved for that feeling of home.

At the end of the series (spoiler!) they all meet up like old times. However, this time they have all aged (except Karen). Nevertheless, it is that moment when they are reunited after years of separation, which I want to talk about. Even after each one took their different ways they ended up together, like fate, to toast about family and their unity. In their case family is not blood related but a bond stronger than that; a bond forged through growing up, growing pains and the hardships of life and being friends.

I have already talked to you guys about finding people who appreciate you, and making friends that are healthy to your life and your self-esteem. I gave you a preview of it in my past post “Strength, Friends and Esteem” but in this post I want to talk about the reality of a friend. I remember saying:

Friendship is obviously a relationship between two people; it does not go into sexual affection but it does have emotional affection. Much like a normal relationship, there is an obligation for honesty, communication and interest in maintaining said friendship. As part of a healthy friendship you must both feel comfortable with whom you are and who your friend is; and any attempt to change the other is solely based on trying to help each other to become a better person. Finally, a good friendship will withstand any trouble or fight by facing the situation as friends and talking it out (or drinking and yelling). Also, as a side note, said friends do not have to be 24/7 with you; the emotional and intellectual bond must be strong enough to withstand distance and come back as if it had never existed.

And yes, this is what Will and Grace is about; and this is what every friendship should be like. However, what happens in that period when you’re gone? When your life takes a different path than your close friend and you need to chase what you want. That’s when you start making sacrifices and hard life choices. That is when you go through the trials of fire and it is up to you to come back strong and victorious. More than that, as you wave goodbye to your past life and friends, and step into your new life with your new friends a part of you hopes that the past will be there when you come back. However, there is no security that they will be there when you’re done chasing your goal. Not even a promise, written or spoken, can assure you that things will be as you left them. And I ask you, why would you want it to be the same as before you left? When you leave, and take that road to your life’s goal you change; you grow up, you mature, you do things you have never done before and when you come back you’re a whole new you. And the things you left behind will also change. Friends will walk away, some will stay, the topics you talk about will change and how you see each other will also be different.

As you move in one direction, the people you know move in another direction; And you can’t expect to leave, come back and pick up where you left off. No, just as you come back anew, the people you left behind will also be new. They will not only look different, they will think different; they will talk about things you don’t understand and things you’ve never heard about. More than that, they will have a million things to talk to you about; just as you will have a million things to talk about too. It is at this moment that new ties with old friends are made. It is at this moment that you notice how you have changed and how you have grown.

Change is good. It takes you to different places, makes you think differently, it offers you new goals and tools to make your life happen and most of all, it makes life worthwhile. When you change and you share that change with others it’s like a big bang; a universe of possibility happens.  More than that, when you change with those around you (each one taking on a new adventure), relationships grow stronger. And that is what you should strive for; making relationships better by making yourself a better person. It’s like a domino effect. One thing falls in front of the other; always forward, always together.

True friends will grow with you, but not necessarily by your side. True friends will let you go and will let you come back a bigger and stronger person. And you should do the same for your friends; remember, it’s a two-way street. When you both grow you make a stronger and lasting relationship. That is why after Grace went to Rome with her husband and Will stayed in New York with his husband, they still found each other, forgave each other and had a stronger relationship. I know I am basing myself off a TV show but it still is very real. When you fight for something and when you love someone, things just click. The main point is to make it happen, not just leave it completely to fate or luck. Sometimes you just need to stand up and leave and know when to come back.

Signing off,

TWS

P.S. Here is the final scene of Will and Grace. I apologize for the bad video quality, I couldn’t find a better version.

Negativity: The Other Side of the Coin

Today was another successful day with the family. This time I went north to meet up with my cousins from my mother’s side. It was a good reunion but somewhat short. Nonetheless, it was at this time that I experienced, for the first time, a negative response to my trip.

Usually, one is happy to take a step forward and to go through with their dreams. In this state of euphoria we believe that everyone else is on board with our success and our go-getting attitude, but the reality is that not everybody is happy for you. Some people will pretend to be happy for you, others (like today) will just straight up and say it.

The situation was not of hostility but of passive-aggressiveness. At a random point in my day I was asked why I was so bent on travelling every day and meeting up with friends, to which I replied that I did not know when I’ll be back and I would love to make new memories and relive old ones in the last few days I have left. This, without a warning, ensued from the other person a train of snide words with an aggressive undertone. Said person’s response though not actively, had actually shifted to attack on my desire to keep my ties and memories with my Island. This may seem weird but it is a mechanism that is often used by people who could not or did not find the way to reach their potential. Their intent on attacking my beliefs and desires stems from their desire to destroy what helps me continue or what builds me; this way they will transform me to what they have become, a bitter person.

This whole encounter just flipped me into a 180, leaving me dumbfounded. Out of respect I did not return the attack but rather told them that was my way of life, I liked it and that their permission was not needed though their opinion was appreciated. I believe we all encounter people who want to pull us down and excrement on our hopes and dreams; I was lucky and unlucky enough of not receiving this type of negativism until now. Lucky, because it gave me more wind beneath my wing and unlucky because I was completely unprepared for what happened today.

Negativity is essential for our struggles because it build us, it makes us more determined. It is this negative attitude that drives us to continue and prove all those people wrong. However, too much negative force can pulverize us and our dreams. It can take away our life force and our desire to continue. Now, as explained in my example, the lack of negativity in your life can also be a bad thing. When you don’t know what the other side of the coin looks like you don’t know how much it is worth in your life. Thus, the lack of negativity can harm your esteem. If you’re only fed good things, small bad things can seem like a big deal when it isn’t. This sudden negative comment hurt me not just because it showed the pettiness of someone I love but also because it shows how far people will go to hurt you.

It is for this reason that we need to surround us with people who have similar dreams as ours. More than that, we should not turn into that Negative Nancy that kills the dreams of others. As ‘Fighting Dreamers’ (yes, Naruto), we need to support the dreams of others. We need to be able to build other’s dreams by supporting them as they have supported us. This does not mean that we make their dreams happen or that we choose their dreams for them but rather add water to that plant and hope it becomes a stable tree. A positive comment, constructive criticism, a high-five, a pat in the back; all these things are small gestures that pave a long and strong road to the future.

Reader, fear not the negative. Embrace all the good and the bad that you will encounter in your path; it will only serve to make you stronger. When the sun is shining, enjoy it because it won’t last forever. And when it’s raining, remember that the sun will shine tomorrow. Your dream should always be your goal to reach. Changes will be made; obstacles will appear but never cease to fight for what you want. As one teacher once told me, “History books only talk about the brave and willing.” So be brave! Be willing! There are more people who did not make it than those who made it; and you’re just one more person that will make it if you work for it.

Signing Off,

TWS

Mumbo-Jumbo and Self Love

Today was another beach day. I’m more burnt than a forgotten piece of bacon on the frying pan. Anyway, today’s topic is brought to you guys by a conversation I had with my two cousins while I was at the beach; It’s about loving yourself.

The question one of them kept asking was ‘do you love me?’(now that I can dance) But I believe the better question was ‘do you love yourself?’ It may seem like a psychological mumbo-jumbo but it’s not. At some point, in our live, we have all asked someone (or many people) if they love us, yet we have never asked ourselves if we love us. More than that, we have never asked ourselves, in those moments of inquiries, why we want to be loved by others to the point of nagging the other person or worst, changing ourselves to please this person.

In psychological terms this issue of love and loving one’s self has to do with our self-esteem. Now, let me clarify that we have more than one self-esteem depending on the area in our lives. By this I mean, that we have a high self-esteem in areas we know like studying a certain subject, or doing a certain sport and so on. And it is the same for the opposite; we have low self-esteem in areas we don’t feel confident doing or don’t understand like cooking or dancing. Another thing about self-esteem that we must realize is that our self-esteem (about anything in life) is never set in stone; today we feel confident about our math abilities and tomorrow we might doubt our understanding of it. What I’m getting at with this is that how we see ourselves and how we love ourselves is not a linear view but a non-linear, rocky view of ourselves, where some days we love what we are and who we are and then there are days that we wish we were invisible.

Loving ourselves is of the up most importance for us to be able to seek out a mate, a friend or simply go out in life. When we start from zero in our Self-love meter we end up having doubts about who we are, what we are, where we are going and what we are doing. These doubts transfer from our psyche to our body position, our language and how we present ourselves. In conclusion, it gives off something that we are not. Self love is not easy, it takes years to obtain but I believe that we must all strife to love ourselves as much as we can. When we learn to love ourselves we become likeable, we become happier, we become more positive, we become stronger and we solidify our identity. More than that, we become sure of what we want in life and how to obtain it; this permits us to stay away from toxic relationships, bad decisions in life and from falling into depression.

I may seem like I am preaching but let me tell you a story about a girl who faked it until she made it. I was 12 when I started noticing I was a person. I noticed that I had a face with dimples, white freckled skin and long black hair which I did not like. I was a bit overweight at this time, but nothing too medical; just some pounds with a nice figure. However, all of these things, though acceptable and charming in me, were not fully appreciated. I could not stand the look of my face so I opted by doing my hair in the dark. I did not like the look of my body, so I dressed without a mirror. And this went on for years until one day I woke up sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was angry at the world for not liking me when I noticed that the world was only treating me as I treated myself. Then the rage turned against me. Determined to love myself I woke up every morning and braced myself for what I would see in my mirror. Once the light was finally turned on and the mirror was facing me, I noticed I was more beautiful that I could see. I may have not been skinny like my friends, or tall, or had an even skin color but I was me. Every little freckle, dimple and hair was me; and there was no one like me. This realization lead me to talking more positive about myself, to not being afraid of speaking out and demonstrating I was there; I even went so far as getting a new hairdo and wardrobe change. I made myself the woman I am today; and she keeps changing every day for the better and on my own terms.

Reader, what I am trying to say is that we all have hardships; we all may go through that ‘I hate myself’ phase, but it is up to us to work through that phase. We think that we will start loving ourselves when we find someone who loves us but that is not true. You won’t love yourself then; you will only love the attention and care that person is giving you, and what he/she likes about you. You have to learn to love yourself, alone. You have to learn to love the good and the bad things of yourself. If there is something you don’t like, change it. You are the owner and master of who and what you are, and you can be whatever you want to be; just make sure that you like what you see. Never change for someone, because when that person is gone that persona you made will go as well. Also, and I stress this one, never compare yourself to others. You were not built like the others and the others weren’t build like you. You are unique in your own way; be it because you are tall, white, black, have curly or straight hair and so on.

Loving yourself is one of the hardest thing you will do in your life, but it will be the best thing you have ever done. Once you know who you are and you know how to value it, no one can take that away from you. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are you and no can take that away.

Signing off,

TWS

P.S. Here’s a picture of today’s beach trip.

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