The hurricane season has not ended, debris is still to be picked up from many streets, some parts of Florida are not back to normal and other storms have hit the Caribbean with unprecedented destruction. Seems like a new day has dawned and it doesn’t look promising.
Mother Nature has being more cruel and active than in many years, on the other hand we have a global sense of complete breakdown of humanity and values. There is so much hate, so many hurtful messages. What can we do?? We must give better examples, less extreme opinions and we need to remember, that if we want it or not……life goes on and we need to live with each other!!!
At this time in our lives, we have a clear vision of what we want, how to achieve it and how to enjoy it. Our generation of women has their lives well in hand. We are well rounded and navigate the waters of our lives with ease and determination. We stop at all ports that bring us joy…..the way it should be.
Every time we do, we must share those joys and those experiences. We must be aware of the fact that no matter what people think……women are the ones that can change the world. All of us, but specially the older generation: the Crones, the Wise Women of Old, the Keepers of Memories and the Givers of Hope……
Many would think me naive and even stupid. That’s alright, I am not looking for accolades or acceptance. I am just trying to make, my corner of the world a bit more livable. Let’s plan, let’s look ahead and make it so.
Photo 1: courtesy of Alan Maduro…..crack of dawn in Curaçao
Photo 2: Dreamtime CCO
We are back home, have been for almost two weeks. Have to say the way back was much better. There was still moderate traffic and we had a hard time getting reservations, but nothing too bad. I was grateful since I could not even contemplate driving back without a place to rest at the end of the day. We stayed in Pensacola and in Orlando.
We took three days and two nights. At the end of each day, we went out for a nice dinner and a drink. Early to bed to start fresh in the morning. There was gasoline most everywhere, so one less thing to worry about.
This time I drove longer to give my husband a break. Somehow we had less stuff to pack…..maybe because we had things to eat on our way up. There were dozens of Disaster Relief trucks, delivery trucks from different companies hauling food stuff and medicines and other necessities. There were also trucks from electrical companies from as far away as Maine, Illinois and Ohio. A welcome sight!!!
There were trees down, others completely bare of leaves, water puddled on the side of the roads, homes with tarps covering roofs. It was not a pretty sight, but it could have been worse. Considering what we were expecting, I would say Florida was spared…….not the Keys and South Florida, though.
These days back home getting back to normal have been a time of reflexion. This is what I have learned:
1- In so many ways my perception of people has changed. For the better and for the worse, as it happens. The sense of community and the help so generously offered have been amazing. There are so many instances of selflessness and true caring, we could write a book about it…and someone should!!! On the other hand, looting, road rage incidents, breaking into abandoned home and taking the few possessions left have rendered me speechless.
2- Our island suffered little, but still is not the same. We who live here can tell. I had envisioned us staying in our apartment on Brickell Key indefinitely. We love the island, we love the neighborhood. High water, downed trees, building materials everywhere, big traffic jams have made us think twice about staying.
3- Since construction in the area is only getting worse and storms like IRMA might keep coming, the area is just a major disaster waiting to happen. I do not believe our city and county government will stop giving permits to build higher and higher dwellings. Therefore, nothing will change that can make this neighborhood safer.
4- Life continues no matter what has happened to us. So you walk or drive around Miami and it seems everything is slowly getting back to normal. Nobody seems interested in the piles of branches, leaves, trees that are still to be picked up. In the news there is a mention here and there, but something else has taken the place of IRMA in the news.
5- It is not that I am insensitive to the other tragedies in the Caribbean, it’s that once something is out of sight is out of mind and the party continues. Until when are we going to ignore what is happening around us?
6- Last, but not least, I have learned that there are so many signs of what unite us, so many things that can bring us together, but we only notice when there is a tragedy. How sad!!!
Yes, it has come. My daughter is getting married and the planning is on. I am sure it is not only me……mothers are all the same when it comes to planning their daughter’s wedding. I have no illusions that the planning it’s done by me. It is, after all, not my wedding but hers. Camille will plan, I will be consultant-in-chief.
Why do we need as much as a year to plan a wedding? I planned mine in a couple of days, had only eight people attend and we are still married. Have no idea if one thing has anything to do with the other, but I figure I would mention it. After all, we are living in a world where everyone plans weddings with the precision of a military operation. I mean this in the best way: precise, detailed, perfectly executed.
I am fortunate that Camille knows what she wants and has a supportive and helpful fiancé. Still, there is so much to do and, it seems, so little time. Nevertheless, I am refusing to rush, get in a tizzy or run for the hills. This is a joyous occasion, a wonderful event and I intend to enjoy everything!!!
So far, we have gone through venues, music, menus, decorations and hotel reservations. We have a clear idea when it will be and where; the numbers of guests, and where are they coming from. We have discussed if children should or shouldn’t be invited, who would the bride and groom want there, what faces they want to see when they turn around after the ceremony and face family and friends.
Of course, there is still much to do. Weddings, for some reasons are never considered so easy to plan. Everyone tells me, I am only starting and should be prepared for disagreements, crying spells, arguments. So far, we have not run into any of these. Should I be worried??? I don’t think so. This is too important to just let small things interfere. I want to be there for my daughter, it is her wedding after all. She needs to know I will be there to make her achieve her perfect wedding.
Now…what is the perfect wedding? Is there some kind of model to which everyone subscribe that tell us this? Or is the perfect wedding something each bride knows in her heart? I’ll wager it’s a very personal thing. What seems perfect to you might not be perfect for me. Rules people have developed throughout the years are not necessarily what this bride is looking for. Let her find her way, let her plan what her heart tells her is the perfect wedding!!!
I will keep you posted on this, my latest aventure. We will see what is the process she follows and the final result. Knowing my daughter, I know it will be just perfect. Something as special as she is and just as wonderful. Cannot wait, in the meantime, break out the champagne and let the planning continue!!!
After all, not everyone does. How many times have we heard this? How many times have we really consider that fact? For one, I have and countless times. As you probably do, I ignored it. Now, that has changed, like so many other things in my life. It is simple.
We, as a society, are so self-involved, so preoccupied with our self-importance that we fail to see that others do not really care about our opinions, our rules or our dictates. In this time and age, you would be ignored unless you are a celebrity, or a trendsetter or a politician. Yes, people imitate and take seriously the most unlikely people.
Most people have strong opinions about everything and assume others do. If not, they assume those others do not know anything. These opinions are taken very seriously and expressed in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, those listening also have their strong opinions. I have learned that there is nothing to gain by admonishing anyone on the right or wrong way of doing things. Nothing to gain about expecting others to adhering to rules you find essential. Really, is it a wonder why some of us are not laughed at out loud more often or worse.
Yes, continue to do things as you seem fit or as you like. By all means, you have to live life in your own terms. Do not expect everyone to admire you or follow your lead or accept you are right. On the contrary, most may just roll their eyes, laugh condescendingly or they will yell and insult you. It’s the way it is, accept it and move on.
Never mind what others think, dress as you like, do what you love. The problem is not that, the problem is that we do not respect anyone’s opinions, we don’t allow anything we disagree with to be expressed. People want to be taken seriously all the time. Their opinions are the right ones, their views are sacrosanct. Anything else must be excluded, made fun of and suppressed.
How sad!!! How are we going to grow intellectually and spiritually and socially if are never challenged or contradicted? How are we going to make this a better world if do not engage with the ones we disagree with? So, yes, be yourself, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Above all, respect others and their right to differ with you. It is that, in my humble opinion, the cause of all the hatred in the world today. Do not tell me it’s the lack of love, you cannot love what you do not respect.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when a discovery, a piece of news, a flash of understanding changes it forever. That is what happened to me in 2015. It has been a long 18 months, a time of adjusting, of accepting and of working on moving forward. What I have to share, in the hopes that it could help others, is about living with a chronic illness.
For months, years even, I experienced all sorts of odd symptoms seemly unrelated: low-grade fever, joint pain, unexplained cough, upset stomach and on and on. Everyone told me that we all get some aches and pains as we age and we should not over think that. What do you do? you begin to doubt yourself, you begin to think everyone is right and you are just not accepting your age or the changes in your body.
I kept trying until finally, I found a doctor willing to run tests until she found what was wrong. This is most important. A doctor that listens and is willing to go along until the reason for your symptoms is found. I have been lucky with that and are doing better because of it.
Just before Christmas 2015, I received a call from my doctor’s office. She wanted to see me that afternoon. I immediately thought: this cannot be good. It wasn’t. The tests were back and the doctor said the four words that have changed my life: You have Rheumatoid Arthritis. At the moment, I was not familiar with what all that meant. Arthritis didn’t sound good, thought. Well, it was worst than that.
RA is an autoimmune disease that presents many symptoms and causes untold damage to the human body. It is in the same group as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease and other illnesses. It causes the immune system to attack healthy tissues in your body. There is no cure and produces painful inflammation not only in the joints, but the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, kidneys and any other part of your body.
Pain is your constant companion and fatigue is ever-present. Insomnia, brain fog, dry-eyes, forgetfulness are just a few symptoms. Left untreated can be deadly, but known treatments can slow the progress and help with symptoms. Unfortunately, they could also cause untold damage since they involved chemotherapy and steroids. There most be a balance so you need to research and read, inform yourself. Ask questions and go for second opinions. When you find a doctor that understands you, keep her!!!
Most of people suffering from RA have a hard time explaining the illness. It is difficult because most of us do not look sick, we continue our lives as normally as we can and try not to complain. Besides, not everyone is comfortable to sharing everything with everyone.
Each day brings new challenges and we deal with them as best we can. We can make plans and cancel them unexpectedly. There is always a possibility of a flare that will take us to bed and keep us there for a while. A day of activity can render us useless for many days afterwards. So understanding is an important part of what our friends and loved ones can do for us.
Taking care of ourselves is a priority, more than ever. Becoming selfish is a most. You cannot help anyone if you are not fit to help yourself. You learn not to feel bad about standing your ground and saying no when needed. RA is something that will shape your days for the rest of your life.
Each one of us deals with this in our own way, but it is important to realize that we must have a plan. Make changes in our way of doing things, our diet, anything that needs changing. Keep active as much as we can, don’t give up on what we enjoy. Also we must accept that we might need help to do the smallest things and must learn to accept it. Finally, love yourself and take care.
P.S. “The beauty of life and the reality we live with” — perfectly captured in this photo of a Curaçao sunset by Neelam Melwani. Thank you!!!
This past week my daughter moved again. Camille has lived in different cities, countries. She has studied here in the States, in Europe and has worked in both places. She adapts easily, as a third culture child, to circumstances and places. She makes friends and truly blooms where she is planted: the first rule of a happy expat.
For the last 4 years, she has been with us. Working and living in Miami, it’s never easy for a young single woman. Camille adapted, but was never in her element. This move will be wonderful for her. Not only is she moving to a Caribbean island, but she is moving to be with her fiancé. She already has friends there, a job and all she wants at this time in her life.
This makes moving sound very simplistic, but we know for a fact, nothing is this easy. Moving and uprooting yourself take a toll on you. It is not as if we pack, get there, unpack and we walk into our new life. It is not as if we just wake up in our new home and we feel at home, if you know what I mean. There are steps we go through and some of them are not easy.
I am not an expert by far, but I have moved a few times. It was hard the first time and was hard the last time. So, first thing: be prepared to deal with heartache, exhaustion, anger, denial, elation, happiness, excitement and so many other emotions. It is part of the game.
Then there are the situations you encounter: locating a good mover, packing or letting them pack, what to take, what to discard or donate or sell. This is followed by regretting not taking this or that once you get to your new home!!! Getting and filling countless forms and lists would make your head spin.
All along, you have been saying goodbye, promising to be in touch (much easier nowadays), trying to see all your favorite spots, accumulating memories. This part is emotionally draining, no matter the reason you have for moving. The last round of parties, lunches and such will help get you through the last days. Enjoy them, take photos,
Once everything is settled, boxes packed, container filled and tickets bought, there is a lull in the process. You are able to breathe. For some reason, when this all is done you’d feel you are going to enjoy the move. There is the emotion and excitement of going to a new place. In a way, it is starting your life again. Go with that feeling!!!
Finally, the day of departure arrives. Try to relax and concentrate on what needs to be done. Go over your lists and forms, get your documents ready, make sure all your bags are labeled and easily recognizable. Leave for the airport with plenty of time, it’s better to wait there.
Once you are in the air, look forward. Concentrate on the trip, the plans for arrival in your new home, then breathe and try to relax. Regardless of the lenght of the flight, take the time to rest. Close your eyes, listen to music, watch a movie. You’ve made it, you are on your way…..goodbyes are part of the past.
Last weekend, my daughter organized a Spring Yard Sale. After spending weeks getting everything together, pricing, etc., we dropped all the goodies for sale at her cousin’s home on Friday. On Saturday, earlier than my usual wake up time, we left our apartment and headed to Vivi’s home.
She had already set up the tables, chairs and was waiting for us. Everything was unpacked and displayed. Water containers with lemon slices and plastic cups were set up in the shade……it promised to be a very hot day. People were already waiting to check out the stuff for sale.
I have to admit, garage or yard sales are not my thing. Staying out in the heat and sweating are completely against my better judgement, but this was important for Camille. What else could I do, but enjoy the adventure. I was also in charge of the money, sort of the banker. Big responsibility, but it allowed me to stay out of the sun and try to sell anything. Not very good at that and haggling is another trick I have not mastered.
So I took a large cup of lemon water, put my chair in the shade and observed the girls in action. Soon, they were selling, haggling, taking money for me to give change. Camille was smooth and collected, very friendly. She talked about everything with the potential buyers, got to know a bit about them and tried to find out what she could sell them.
Many came already for some specific item, others browsed and looked things over. Those were the ones that bought more!!! Haggling, as I said, it’s not my strength and I cannot sell water to a thirsty man, but my daughter can do this with such ease. I was impressed.
Once we got back home on the Sunday, counted our profits and ready to give away what was left…..I reflected on what did I learned. We always learn wanting to or not. So here it is.
I learned that you must never underestimate the power of young women out on a mission. Never, ever think you can teach them, but not learn from them. It was something I am sure I have learned before, but after years of being a mother…..I have conveniently forgotten.
I learned that a glass of lemon water in your hand can lead to conversation. Can start an exchange of ideas and can make you wonder why didn’t you think of that before.
I learned that sitting in the shade, under a canopy of trees, can offer more than comfort. It can attract others and soon laughter and chatter will surround you……you’ll be completely at easy with strangers.
I learned that no matter how much you think you know about something, there are people who would present you with another view, another twist to the story or another solution to a problem….and you just met them!!
I learned that age has nothing to do with anything and at the end of the day you have found so much in common with young women that could be your daughters. Just listen, watch their passion, it’s refreshing.
I learned that politics can be discuss in harmony, without offending anyone. There is not need for insults of any kind, there is a better way because we all are looking for the best for those we love.
I learned that I would do this again in a second because life is short and everything we enjoyed should be repeated.
Thank you, Camille, Vivi and Karina
Getting to a certain age gives us a new perspective in life. Having lived more years than some of us want to admit, we look at everything through the eyes of experience. Others will say, we are just rediscovering everything, so we should behave accordingly. I have to agree with this.
Stop sometimes and look at children playing. Anything holds fascination, everything makes them laugh and nothing goes unnoticed. They go about the business of living with bright eyes and open hearts. I firmly believe we go back to this, but refuse to acknowledge the fact. Most of us think it is silly, for sure we should be serious and dignified……whatever that means. Well, I refuse to do that, not anymore.
Very few of my friends and family know I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Contrary to what the name implies, arthritis is the least of our problems, even if it is the most painful. This is an autoimmune disease that affects your whole body in many ways. I will not go into details, RA is not who I am, but you can read about it HERE.
As I have learned to cope and accept this new reality in my life, I have decided to be aware of every little pleasure that comes my way. I am taking time to stop and enjoy what makes me happy and what brings me joy. I have stopped getting involved in arguments and have stopped trying to change anyone’s mind on anything. I still have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I have decided I am not going to change anyone’s mind. So why argue?What I can do is nurture the other things I have in common with people I care for and love.
First of all, I am grateful for all I have and for the people in my life. I keep in touch with friends and family, even if they are some times too busy with their lives to reach back out to me. I avoid anyone with a negative outlook or a grudge, even if I truly care for them. There is no need to get into discussions about things we cannot change, not in the near future. Arguments only bring bad feelings and who needs that.
I go out and look around in wonder, I laugh any chance I get, I tend my orchids and rejoice in the fact that I am able to get them flowering. I take walks, I enjoy my family and spend as much time as I can with them. I am reading every book I get my hands on, I am decluttering my home until I have only what gives me pleasure and makes me comfortable. I have even started to enjoy shopping!!! I try to find ways of helping others, be it donating to charities or keeping in touch with people I know are lonely. Life is not easy for many, trying to help, helps me.
Nowadays, I watch less television, read less news, smile at strangers and love it when they smile back. I give myself a break or a nap when needed. There are some difficult things I’ve still to overcome: stop before I am going to snap at someone, try being considerate and non judgmental, ignore rude comments made by people close to me, feeling I have the right to correct someone…….It is a work in progress!!!
As I often say, we have more years behind us than in front, I have no intentions of squandering the small things that bring me joy. I try, not always successful I must admit, not to get involved in other people’s lives, not to care about what others do or have. Each one of us will do and say living our lives as we feel. The only thing I would say is: give this a try!!!
P.S. The inquisitive toddler is Anaaira, my friend Seema’s adorable granddaughter. Thank you for letting me use her picture!!! The other photos are mine: a cobbled sidewalk in the Grove, the view from my balcony, a small brook at Fairchild Botanical Gardens and my orchids in bloom.