entering a new decade

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my twenties consisted of college, graduation, marriage, and having our baby girl, izabella. that decade will always be special for those reasons. alot happened in those ten years–mostly sweet memories but also some bitter moments too. growing pains, struggles and  heartbreak just to name a few. there were big milestones but also big disappointments. sometimes it felt like i was taking five steps forward and two steps back [gasp]. nonetheless, i’m here. i made it to the big 3-0, thanks to my loved ones and God’s mercy. you know that saying “you live and you learn”?  i’d like to think the learning part, is what you do while transitioning into your thirties. don’t get me wrong, my troubles are far from over and my flaws are a sight for sore eyes. despite my weaknesses, i’ve matured through the years.

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her kisses melt my heart. it’s exactly what i needed on such a cold, snowy day. i wish i could keep them in my back pocket whenever we’re apart. which i hope is never, but surely she’ll need to fly out of the nest. someday ;-)

i recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery. it’s been liberating but also quite scary. losing sight of that shore can be intimating. yet when i explored beyond the horizon, i expanded my perspective. i become more informed about myself, the people in and out of life and those things which float somewhere in between. it hasn’t been smooth sailing, if you know what i mean. not everything i discovered was lovely. i’m still working on accepting those realities–those things which i can’t change. the ugly truth is still ugly, even with the rosiest colored-glasses. it’s a part of the risk of exploring unknown territory. it’s probably why some people may never leave their comfort zone. yes, i’d agree…ignorance is bliss, but you can’t disagree that knowledge is power. when you know better, you do better. i’m feeling wiser and more confident about my decisions. a little more book smart and hopefully, more street smart too.

goodbye twenty-nine! it was nice knowing you.

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^^^ these two kids over here. they love to play. all the time. supergirl izzie pretends she has super-duper strength and can defeat even the world’s strongest man. they also enjoying “rarr-ing” at each other while playing catch and hide-and-go-seek. the latest is the over-dramatic, fake cough to get daddy’s attention.

hello thirty!

you came to me with a bang blizzard, a northeastern snow storm on the exact date of my birthday. what are the odds of that?! even weirder, was the name. ‘nemo’, as in the clown fish from the disney animated movie, ‘ finding nemo’ (at least that’s what comes to my mind). i couldn’t help but ponder of the symbolism of this, because that’s what i do–think and over-think things. i blame my anxiety and attention to detail [big sigh]. so anyway…before getting carried away into another direction, (i may also have slight ADD <—- the downfall of being a creative) i wanted to share the words of dory:

“when life gets you down, you know whatcha got do? just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming.”

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if only you could hear that laugh. it’s the type of laugh, a parent would do anything for. even the most embarrassing things. this is not one of them. thankfully!

even though dory was the fun, forgetful, care-free fish in the film, her sayings were meaningful. i know this is a silly kid’s movie, but there’s something more substantial and identifiable, especially for me. it’s hard! life, that is. it’s really, really hard sometimes. like unbearable-knock-you-off-your-feet, sort of hard. there’s loss and life threatening situations. like the kind Marlin had when his son, nemo was taken away from him. the majority of the movie is a loving father overcoming obstacles, conquering the sea and his fears in order to rescue his child. which he does, by the way (sorry–spoiler alert!) but not without feeling hopeless and defeated in the process. a caring friend (dory) reminds him to continue forward and have faith. she even gives (the above quote) a catchy, slightly annoying ring to it (almost a song), as she swims by his side. that is the same tune which played in my head, every time i heard about the storm. i also added my own words, “i must keep moving. i must push forward. i have to. i need to”.

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if it seems like my locks got (even) shorter, that’s because it did! i figured my big birthday storm should be paired with an extreme haircut to match.

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^^^ this is how you spell L-O-V-E <3

 i’ve been telling myself this for a really long time actually. these past ten months (especially) have been a grueling boot camp. it wasn’t about finishing first, but about raw, hard-core survival. i gave it all i had and stayed focused, even when i had my moments of despair. i had that initial adrenaline rush, but then it wore off. perhaps, my pace slowed down. maybe i had to take breaks every now and then. perhaps i needed extra support when i did fall. i’m human. i’m not a robot and i’m surely not superwoman (although that would be fantastic). i may have trouble catching up with others, mostly because i’ve been injured and i’m still recovering. i have my limitations and perhaps that’s due to the muddy paths and dangerous terrain i’ve encountered. i’m not as fast or feeling as strong as i used to, but i still have determination. slow and steady…slow and steady wins the race.

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note to self: baby should have a snow suit on, even if it’s just for a couple minutes. i’m paying dearly for this mommy fail. poor izzie has been sick since then :(

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i was told that “noo” is a delicious, refreshing snack.

so there i was, snowed-in and reminiscing on my special day. i’d gotten this far with a massive blizzard to mark the entrance into my thirties. to tell you the truth, i was feeling a little down in the morning. i’m not a fan of cold weather or the snow. what can i say– i’m a winter baby stuck in a summer baby’s birth date. there i was, sipping coffee watching the snow fall. i was thinking back to the whirlwind of my twenties, while also going seventy-five miles ahead. my poor brain was hurting! my heart was hurting too, because i was getting emotional. i saw a parallel with the unexpected, unpleasant times of my life with this storm. it reminded me of the hardships. when it snows, it snows….or something along those lines, right?

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izabella is a july baby who loves the snow! …and i’m a february baby who isn’t the biggest fan :-/

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^^^ that’s a film camera my hubby is using. yes, you read correctly….film! it’s a vintage 1981 canon. we can’t wait to see the developed prints!

it also made me think about the big production of this day. it wasn’t a regular ‘ol friday. no, it was news-worthy and memorable. it was nothing short of  dramatic and eventful. it made me think even harder and deeper. sometimes storms push us forward, if we dare to go with the current. sometimes we go off course, because we try to avoid it all together. i’m no surfer (or swimmer for that matter), but i know one basic rule: if you don’t want to be swallowed and spit out by a gigantic wave, you need to surrender to it. i hope this birthday storm of mine is a sign. a foreshadowing of this new chapter of my life: it will be big and bold in the most positive way. i can’t say “adieu” to my umbrella or my snow boots. i know storms come and go with each passing season. what i am hoping, believing and praying, is that better days are in the forecast.

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my sweethearts. i love them to the moon and back!

so what’s a beach lovin’ girl to do a very wintry day? why, she cuddles with her husband and daughter and plays with the fluffy white stuff. “if you can’t beat them, join them”…is what i say.

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okay, so i had a little fun too :)

despite it all, boy–i’m a lucky girl! i really do count my blessings and seeing these pictures, makes me all the more thankful. watching the wonder in my daughter’s eyes, the love she shared with us and the extra hugs and kisses made my day special. birthday calls from family, facebook wishes, yummy cake and beautiful roses were the perfect ending to the beginning of a new and exciting decade.

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these were the most cheery, orange-hued flowers for such a wintery occasion. just gorgeous!

how did you spend winter storm memo? hopefully it was safe and warm surrounded by the ones you love.

raquel

mind over mattress

if we could play word association and i mentioned the word ‘bed’, you might have the following responses:

• sleep • sex • cuddling • sick • insomnia • reading • watching t.v • headboard • comforter • duvet • pillows • murphy • bunk • twin • queen • king • sheets • room • dream • tired • nap • rest • snore •  morning night • relaxing • talking • feathers • cushion • soft • firm • spring • mattress.

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unless you’ve experienced it or love someone who has, this one could easily slip your mind…

de·pres·sion

/diˈpreSHən/ noun:

 1. severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.

 2. a condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life.

i’ve personally witnessed this ten letter word misused in casual conversations — “they didn’t have that shoe in my size!…i’m soooo depressed”.  sometimes it’s belittled and treated like a chipped nail — “she says she’s depressed. i personally think she’s…. lazy, because she misses so many work days.” depending who you speak with, you’ll be sure to hear an assortment of opinions. some good, and others are just plain stupid (excuse my lack of a better word). even in this day and age, it carries so many misconceptions and stigma.

smile. be happy”  −  “just get over it already”  − “you’re so sensitive”  −  “why do you take everything so personal”  − “stop crying already”  − “shake it off”  − “pull yourself together”  − “think happy thoughts, and you’ll be happy”  − “why are you always so negative?”  − “you’re being over dramatic right now”  − “you have so much to be grateful for, why are you sad?”  − “can’t you just snap out of it?”  − “when are you going to be your old self again?”  −  “is this how you want to live your life?”  − “well then, i guess you need to try harder”  − “there’s children starving in africa and people dying of cancer. there’s no reason why you should be depressed”  − “just be positive and everything will work out”  − “happiness is a choice.”  −  “staying miserable isnt going to get you anywhere”  −  “i can’t believe you’ve been in bed all day. you need to get up and get out already!”

it’s these statements which leaves people (like myself) feeling misunderstood and alone in their struggles.

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ain’t nothing like a having a bed to surrender to

there’s something comforting in knowing it will support my aching body and heart. when i’ve given all that i’ve got, i’m left with very little. maybe just enough energy to do the bare minimum. at that point, i really just want to crawl into bed. preferably mine, but anything with a semi-firm mattress will do. the second my head hits it, i instantly feel i rush of relief. a very similar feeling when i (actually) made it to first base playing baseball. ohh–i hated gym class more than anything! i’ll confess, i was “that girl”. the last one standing because nobody wanted to pick me for their team. i may just be the most pathetic person ever to attempt sports. so while reaching that base was insignificant to others (because sadly, i never made it to second), i literally exhaled. seriously, i’m not even kidding. i exhaled because i made it. in that same matter, i feel i’ve reached my safe place when i hug my pillow. i bury my face into it and it soaks up my tears. the comforter (which by the way, i think is an appropriate name) swallows me into an abyss of feather-filled puffiness. i get into my typical fetal position and i embrace my weakness. i accept i’ve done my very best to fight this battle. i’ve tried so hard to stay strong. to push forward with every little ounce i have. i’ve smiled beyond the sorrow, i’ve dragged myself hour after hour, day after day in fulfilling my obligations. i continue to push forward with all my might to cope with the the pain, and constant worries. then one day, “i… just… can’t… any more.” –those are my exact words. it feels like i’ve held my breath underwater forever. and while others may cheering “just a little bit longer…you can do it!”, i bring my head up for air. i’m struggling to catch my breath. i’m in severe distress and that’s when the bed lures me in. when i’m in that state of great vulnerability, i feel safe and my pain seems pacified. i like to believe it’s part of my recovery process. most people struggling with depression would agree. we so desperately need our rest. it’s not just emotional exhaustion, but our bodies take a beating too. i could literally stay there forever if we could. it encourages and satisfies my desire to give up for a while, and so i give in.

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fast forward a few days later

that same bed is completely transformed. maybe i changed too, but i certainly feel betrayed sort of speak. she (or he…the gender is debatable, right?), was my best friend. after all, it heard my prayers, caught my tears and excepted me just as i was — unshowered, dirty hair and a complete mess. it embraced me and brought comfort during my times of distress. when i closed off the world, that bed was mine. i become attached to it, because i felt this is where i belong. just as i’m reconnecting with my on-and-off buddy, i feel the knife in my back. i feel trapped, sometimes even handcuffed to this furniture. even when i finally feel the need to clean myself up, i can’t move. i want to go out. i want to do something fun and crafty with my daughter. go on a date with my hubby. chat with a friend. visit my sisters. have a play date with my niece and nephew. write a new post on my blog. work on opening up an etsy shop. cook a yummy meal. do the laundry (and fold it too). i want to do of all this so bad, but now i’m a captive. it’s like i signed my body and mind over to this bed. as you can see, we have a love/hate relationship.

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eventually, my caring husband will open the blinds and the warmth of the sun will touch me ever so perfectly

i feel a tiny bit courageous and i attempt what (almost) seems impossible for me. i have to say that getting up after a few days, is so darn hard! almost just as hard as when i toke my first steps after my awful c-section. the physical, mental and emotional pain is intense. i feel incredibly weak, nauseous, sad and fearful. i hold on to that little ray of hope. i complete each task one at a time. in between, i also take breaks–that’s how distraught and overwhelmed i feel. with the help of those who love me, i regain my strength little by little.

it’s a big milestone, when the bed no longer has control over me. until next time, that is. it’s a constant battle. one i’ve fought since my late childhood. so far, i can’t say it’s gotten easier. it’s just that i know the drill. of course, i’m currently working on my coping skills, but it’s tough. i have a long ways to go.

*i recently came across this non-profit organization. i think it’s a great site for those struggling with depression, anxiety or any form of mental/emotional distress. also, it’s a wonderful way for spouses, family and friends to educate themselves for the sake of their loved ones.

yours truly,

raquel

Dancing in the rain is kinda hard when you have 80 mph wind gusts

Dear Sandy,

You’ve left a path of chaos and destruction. You were one vicious storm. I learned about two tragic occurrences. A mother lost both of her toddlers by powerful wave currents in Staten Island. I also read about two kids in Westchester who lost their lives by a fallen tree on their neighborhood’s sidewalk. My thoughts and prayers go out for those affected to such a devastating degree. It’s heartbreaking that families have been ripped apart by you, Irene, Katrina and so many other hurricanes in the past. I was one of those simply inconvenienced with power outages. I’m not undermining your wrath towards us, but those who suffered major damages and flooding to their home and/or business weren’t as fortunate. You came and went with a vengeance, and the northeast must deal with the aftermath. No heat, spoiled food, cold water, no modern day technology, being cooped up for days, trying to keep little ones entertained, major gas shortages and so forth.

Blogging during physical and emotional exhaustion isn’t a pretty sight. Here I am unshowered, complete with dark circles, messy hair, an overwhelmed mind and a heavy heart. A teeny tiny glimpse of what I look like when I’m “walking through the storm”

By the way, are you familiar with your competition: lies, deception, arrogance, selfishness, ignorance and narrow-mindedness?

You may be fierce, but nothing compares to the strength of a cruel and cold heart. Sandy, I wish you were the only storm there was to deal with.

As if you weren’t a handful, some of us had to confront the metaphoric ones this week also. The kind which come way too close and cripple our spirit. No meteorologist could ever predict or prepare one for this category 5 destruction. It’s devastating when a loved one holds your hand for a moment and just lets go. With every ounce of adrenaline, one reaches out as far as possible. Sadly, the person on the other end doesn’t make the same effort. If only they were just as determined to stretch their fingers an extra half an inch.

After the cries for help are ignored, survival mode kicks in. The struggle to save oneself and the ones we care for is a brutal uphill battle. We are at the mercy of the harsh conditions. Sandy, you are despised by so many, but don’t think for one second you are stealing this storm’s thunder. Haven’t you ever heard the phase, “when it rains it pours?”  You may be one tough gal, but you never fight alone. In a scale of short term to long term destruction, life’s grueling dark moments goes off the charts. Materialistic pocessions can eventually be restored and replaced in time. People, on the other hand, can’t. Once they’re gone, it’s too late to repair the damage. No point in saying “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. Suffering through serious heartache is far more detrimental than you Sandy. It’s quite possible more people have been mistreated, hurt and placed in life threatening situations due to human nature rather than “mother nature”.

Sincerely,
Wet, cold and infuriated

p.s – I will get back on my feet, and so will the rest of us. After all, there must first be rain in order to have a rainbow. With storms like you Sandy and Mister I-don’t-care-about-how-much-we’ve-been-hit, we can only hope for a brighter and bigger arch. One day.