Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Unexpected Gift

My mom is my best friend. We share nearly everything: laughs, smiles, stories, ups and downs. She is a wise woman and I owe my identity to her.

These things have always been well known to me, but it didn't dawn on me until today just  how similar we truly are...

One thing I've always kept private is my passion for poetry. She knows I loved writing as a kid, but over the years I've struggled to maintain my voice. Chalk it up to focusing on work, being distracted by fun, and fear of putting myself out there.

Today on Christmas, I decided to reveal that unknown side of myself to my parents. I showed them some of my work as well as this very blog.

My mom listened intently, teared up with pride, and showered me with compliments. I was expecting that. :) But what she did next was a total surprise.  She got up and went to a kitchen drawer. She pulled out a private journal...and to my utter disbelief.... she read me HER poetry.

Beautiful, rhythmic, hidden lines I never even knew existed. Handwritten in a floral journal, marked up and dog eared from re-reads and revisions. All these years I have been struggling to nail down my style in a vacuum, scared to share it with anyone. And while I felt alone with my inspiration, the answer to my struggles was in front of me all along: in my loving mom, in my very own genes, in my family history. Ironically, it was intimate for the both of us and we been sharing in the same experience unknowingly for many years.

For those of you who understand Spanish, here is a special treat - Elvira Abate's first ever written poem with my translation below. I hope you are as inspired to follow your dreams as I am, and equally as  inspired to share those pursuits with your family. Family is really where the heart is.

Merry Christmas from the Abate Family.

Mi Tristeza 

 De esta vida
Al fin he podido rescatar
a mi alma dormida que
no queria despertar.

Despues de su letargo
ha podido comprobar que
tambien las amapolas
se cansan de esperar.

Que los perros lloran
cuando estan dormidos
y le duele el hambre
que tienen muchos ninos.

Me ha dicho que las
tumbas necesitan flores
?o a caso no vivieron  con lagrimas y amores?
o a caso no se fueron con lagrimas y honores.

De unas ella escucha
clamores de perdon
de seres que perdieron
su vida en el error.

De otros que vinieron
en total indiferencia
ahora es el silencio
su mas cruel penitencia.

---- Translation (which of course loses the rhythm and flow)----

My Sadness 

From my soul
finally I can rescue
my sleeping soul
that didn't want to wake.

After the lethargy
I finally realize
that even the poppies
get tired of waiting.

I now see that dogs cry while sleeping,
and it hurts that children go to bed hungry.

My soul is telling me
that the graves need flowers.
Perhaps they didn't come with tears and love.
Or perhaps they didn't leave with tears and honor.

For some of them I hear
cries for forgiveness
for souls that lost their lives in mistake.

For others that lived
in total indifference
now its the silence
which is the most cruel punishment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NOW is the Time

The year end holidays are the most opportune time to express our love. What better moment than this to dig deep and pick up the phone?

It might be hard - people are busy, it might be awkward, we might not know what to say.

But in the grand scheme of things, those little doubts, fears and worries are insignificant.  I recently received tragic news from my best friend. Her little niece passed away without warning. When I heard, I was numb from shock. No words can express the pain or grief. And instead of answers, we are just left with questions.

 Death is life's most sobering lesson. My mind keeps going back to a song by The Flaming Lips called "Do You Realize?" Give it a listen and you'll hear the lyrics:

"Do you realize - that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
let them know that life goes fast
it's hard to make the good times last.
You realize the sun doesn't go down
it's an illusion caused by the world spinning round."

I'm not trying to put a damper on the cheery holiday season, but I need to put things into perspective. During the  holidays, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to cherish these moments with every fiber within our beings.

 In memory of my friend's niece, our little angel, let's honor life through love.

Whoever we spend these holidays with - make it count. The same goes for anyone spending the holidays "alone" - you are not alone, you are with yourself. And you, yourself, should be equally as cherished.

 NOW is the time to say "I love you." Let's open our hearts and find the love and then verbalize it. Let's say it to our families, our friends, to ourselves in the mirror. Let's say it to whoever we can. While we can.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Catching life's curve balls

Let me share my greatest lesson from 2011: The joy of catching life's curve balls. With life's ups and downs, sometimes not getting what we want is a wonderful stroke of luck. 

There is a Chinese proverb 塞翁失馬 about a man who lost his horse (bad news), but then the horse returned with another beautiful horse (good news). Sadly, his son fell off the new horse and broke his leg (bad news) and couldn't get recruited into the army because of his injury (more bad news). During his recovery time, war broke out and most of the soldiers died in the war (horrific news), however since his son was safe at home with a broken leg he maintained his life (a blessing!). 

The moral of the story is there is no such thing as good news or bad news, just the ebb and flow of life. 

When misfortune strikes, I know first hand how easy it is to get caught up in a web of disappointment, frustration, and sadness. But I've learned a very important 4-letter word: next. As in, "This job ended? NEXT!" or "This relationship ended? NEXT!"

Change is constant. Everything has a life cyclebirth, existence, and death. When it comes time to let go of something or someone you cherish, there's no getting around the pain. But people who are loving, optimistic, and grateful will always rise above. They have the strength to seize the opportunity and catch that wild curve ball.

In honor of 塞翁失馬, I dug up a picture from Halloween 2006 a week after I moved to Seattle. I had never been to Seattle, but the move was encouraged by my wonderful friend Lauren who promised I would love it.  That Halloween, I was a Cowgirl to honor my hometown San Antonio, Texas, and Lauren dressed as my noble steed. 5 years later after going through both good times and bad, I am exactly where I need to be.  Which proves you never know what gifts your horse may bring.