Finding my voice

People close to me say that I have a voice and that I must stop being afraid to exercise it. I’d forgotten about this blog until I started following another blog and I wanted to comment. In the past, I thought that I would use this forum to work through my desire to allow myself to be transparent in my imperfections. I planned to bring readers through my journey from being a people pleasing “good girl” to a more accepting and self-affirming person. The only issue was my desire to get things right prevented me from continuing to write. Writing is not so easy when you immediately police what you say or how you say it. So in my quest to relinquish my perfectionism, I stopped dead in my tracks and left you hanging.

Feeling inspired to write and writing with inspiration are two different things. Here I am just writing to dust away the cobwebs from the recesses of my brain. I used to love reading, writing and discovering new worlds. Right now, I feel overfull and overflowing with other people’s ideas and beliefs. Do you ever feel so many things but not know whether any of them are yours? Have you ever taken on the mood of another person? Well, I’m that person- I am influenced by the people and places around me. Sometimes my blue skies turn gray without my input. How does someone who is profoundly empathic find their voice?

We are living in profound times right now. For the first time in my life, we are living through a pandemic that has shut down not just New York City but the world. Outside of the pandemic, the streets around the world are filled with people protesting police brutality of black people and systemic racism. The streets are tense with people who have been cooped up inside for the last three months and the energy outside is contagious. I’ve been inside for most of the last three months working, praying and dancing. Despite my isolation, there are so many issues, people and problems vying for my attention. Sometimes I just wish for quiet to be able to sift through all the noise.

With so much activity going on, I’m not sure what to focus on. What is it that you might need to hear from me? I co-exist in many worlds being a New Yorker. I pray for peace, justice and the well-being of all. I thought that the pandemic would show people that we are all connected whether you live in Laos, Brazil, Michigan or London. For those who don’t know it- we are all connected and interdependent. What happens to people in Pakistan may seem isolated to them but in this global world, it is not. I know that the discrimination black people face in the United States is connected to the discrimination that black people face in other places. We are all connected. My greatest prayer for the world is that we will join and work through our differences, prejudices and pain. That is what I want more than anything. I want there to be no more ‘us’ vs. ‘them’…

Yes. It is not that simple. I know that it takes more than just a wish for peace, unity and justice. Nevertheless, we can’t get what we want unless we acknowledge it. Is it so pollyanna-ish to want people to see that we are all in this together? I’m not pretending that any of this is easy or will be easy. We will get things wrong in the process. I want this time spent with the world on pause to mean something. We were all put on pause for a reason. My belief is that we have to shift the direction we are going. We have to look deeply at ourselves, our lives and the direction the world is heading collectively. This pandemic has shown the light on the inequalities around the world. I have been blessed to have a job, home and food. There are people who were struggling before the pandemic and now are in dire need.

You might not have financial means to help someone at this time. That is fine as well. You can still help. There may be elderly people in your community who need a hand or a neighbor who benefit from a kind word. For many people who have been sheltering in place for the last three months, it’s been a struggle. I thought I would not last two weeks working from home and I recently completed week 12. We all have been forced to exercise resilience. At this point, you may be tired of it and ready to go back to business as usual. Before you return, ask yourself- what can I do to prevent this from happening again? What can I do to be a part of the solution?

For many of my friends, they are ready for 2020 to be over. They were waiting with great expectation for the arrival of 2020. This year has brought us some really tough challenges. Nevertheless, it is a turning point. We have the power to make 2020 the start of a better tomorrow.

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Celia Cruz speaks to me from heaven

I must admit that I believe that God and the angels send us messages sometimes in the form of signs, songs and random encounters with strangers. I’ve had moments while dancing where everything seemed to stop around me and a message came through via a song. Before you call Bellevue and have me committed, I’m not hearing voices or talking back to myself. It’s more that I get an inner nudge to listen to lyrics and I realize that there is a relevant message for me.

Just yesterday as I was dancing in a class at the gym to “Rie y Llora” by Celia Cruz, I had this feeling while singing the song that I might want to really listen to the lyrics and take note. The song is all about living your life and enjoying it to the fullest. That Celia, she knew how to live life and spread her love and azucar! It made me think to myself- am I living my life to its fullest? Am I going after life and love with my full heart? I remember watching Celia perform on stage a couple years before her death and remarking at how she danced and sang full of sabor and love for her art. I want to be like that. Full of life and sharing it to the end. So, Celia, I got the message. Thank you for the reminder.

Woohoo! Seamless loves me…

Just opened my email to learn that I won a prize of free lunch on Seamless and earlier today they sent me a discount code for filling out a survey. You might think this is trivial but I am taking it that things are working in my favor. Today Seamless… who knows what tomorrow may hold… maybe I’ll find $1 or run into Laz Alonso on the streets of NY. It doesn’t hurt to dream a little bit. I’m going to take this little bit of good news and amplify it so that maybe, just maybe there will be more for me where that came from. 

Still Imperfect, still on the journey

Much to my surprise, almost two years have passed since my last blog entry. Why is it that we start things with the best intention only to crash and burn a short while later? Sometimes I find that I set my intention and start taking steps into the unknown realm of change and all of a sudden I’ve taken the off ramp to distraction without being the least bit aware. I’ve read tons of books that talk about how challenging change is and that our habits make it nearly impossible to be successful on this quest. Yes and no. Change can sometimes feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain but I’ve had some things that were easy. For me, juicing in the mornings came easy once I realized that you can almost never go wrong when creating a juice (unless you add carrots or beats to my lovely greens). However, I found meditating in the morning before getting started a battle that I hardly ever win. I’m ok with that. I know that some things will be tougher for me than others. I say all this to say that I intend to write more but sharing my feelings in a public way makes me feel vulnerable so it is one of those habits I will have to develop slowly. Be patient with me- I am shy about sharing my thoughts with the world. 

Cheers,

E

Not quite Ebeneezer…

Although the commercials for the holidays are filled with smiling people exchanging warm glances, thoughtful gifts and conversation, sometimes reality is quite different.  For me, the Thankgiving- New Year’s season confronts me with jarring questions of identity, friendships, relationship status or lack thereof, dreams deferred or unfulfilled and mortality. I find that I avoid holiday parties during this period because I find that I am searching for answers to the very questions people always ask. Who is it that I want to be? What am I doing to make things happen? How has the year been?

At the end of the year, I find myself in a pensive stateof mind and unable to focus on the frivolities of the holidays. My sister often accuses me of being a Scrooge. However, she does not realize that the year end means reflection, planning and evaluation and not spending my time outside in the cold looking at some banal Christmas displays with thousands of other people. Besides, I hate huge crowds and cold weather- the combination is enough to test my patience. Being expected to be jolly irks me when there a pressing matters at hand that have to do with the trajectory of my life and the status of my dreams and goals.  I find I mostly want to be alone at the end of the year instead of toasting to Santa!

I must admit that my first inclination in reflecting over the year is to focus on my shortcomings, perceived failures, mistakes, etc. I know I was conditioned to examine what I’ve done wrong more so than what I’ve done right. I have to consciously remind myself to focus on what I did right and what worked. I mention this because at the end of the year I find myself automatically falling back into old patterns of self-criticism, judgment and punishment. I am an expert in beating myself up. One of my lessons in this lifetime is to learn to be more gentle with myself and loving.

As 2011 grinds to a halt and I look back over the year, I survived a pretty challenging year filled with medical issues, stressful work situations, financial turmoil and lifestyle changes. Over the year, I successfully altered my diet after many trials. I also recognized the essential nature of dance in my life. I’ve always danced but this year it has been almost daily activity. Dance lifts the dark clouds for me and provides me with a spiritual, physical and emotional release. Never has this been more important.

In 2011, I was forced to listen to my body. I have always abhorred practicing law. I’ve forced myself to work in the legal industry for many years. I developed irritable bowel syndrome during my first legal job back in law school. I learned to force myself to do work I despise for the sake of a paycheck. Well this year, after many years of ignoring the signs my body was giving me, I was forced to take notice. All the years of stress and doing work that made me physically ill culminated into a period where eating became a painful and scary experience.  For months I endured various medical tests and specialists to learn that the distress I experienced had transformed various common foods into immune system triggers. No longer could I eat things like lemon, sugar or honey to name a few without my body launching into an attack of my immune system.

It was clear to me that the stress of living a life unfulfilled and full of stress lead my body to attack itself. The message my body was giving me was pretty clear- get out of the law or I’m really going to give you hell. No longer can I do work that is without personal meaning without consequence. I made it this far forcing myself to work long hours. My next phase will require me to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with some avenues I’ve only dreamed of. Some of my dreams I’ve kept hidden because they are so immense that they scare me. However, as 2012 approaches, I know that I must cast aside my fears and try something new on. My largest and most profound lesson of this year is that my body and soul will no longer allow themselves to be suppressed. Learning the language of my body and connecting with my higher self is new to me. My analytical mind usually runs the show. I am a little green when it comes to listening to my heart but I am a quick study. I’ll be a master at it very soon.

Welcome to the journey!

As we get acquainted, I want to admit that life is messy, unpredictable, fabulous and downright frustrating at times. If you’re like me, I thought that if I worked tremendously hard, attended the right schools, competed for the prestigious jobs and listened to my elders that life would then be a cake walk. Well, I followed the rules, chased money and prestige only to find the promises made as a child to be empty and fraught with pain.  The only thing left to do was to pick up the pieces and to assemble them into a masterpiece of my desire. Since the beginning of my journey, I have seen glimpses of new possibilities and a new direction- only to end up at a crossroads and facing tough decisions. No one forewarned me that when you veer off the traditional career paths that guidance would be nonexistent and murky at times. I am still making my way through these new world of self-made possibilities.

My ultimate desire in navigating life is to help others along the way from the lessons I’ve learned. I have learned that aspiring to perfection and focusing on pleasing others does not serve me or my highest good. I was the quintessential “good girl” who tried not to upset people, do good things for others, avoid conflict, help others get what they want and accept whatever came my way.  I’ve outgrown being a “good girl” or rather being perceived as a “good girl“. Don’t get me wrong- I have no intentions of pushing someone in front of an incoming subway train, stealing Times Square or anything nefarious! The main difference is the focus of my activity; whether I do something that feels right to me vs. what will be accepted, praised, criticized or rejected by other people (this includes family and friends). The process is about becoming more fully myself- thorns, horns and all!