Sunday, June 06, 2010
The other day I went to the mall to buy something new to wear to the Art Fair opening.
There I was at the store’s shoe department, 3:00 p.m. (Art Fair opening hour: 7:30 p.m.), looking and looking to see if something would caught my eye.
After going around the shoe-laden islands, like 200 times, all I saw were flats, or skyscrapers, that looked like models from Frank Gerhy, Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad or any other famous architect studio. Six inches tall, designed like an aerodynamic something, but meant to be worn by tortured female feet.
“And we are supposed to walk in THOSE?” My left knee asked, bringing back memories of walking with crutches, while I healed from my back-to-back knee surgeries, in my late twenties. I didn’t have to answer: My right knee just stopped and said, full of attitude: “Poor you, always poor you. While I’ve been doing YOUR share of the work for the past 25 years! And she was skinny then…”
But I was feeling sassy, and decided not to listen to them. In fact, I started to look at the ladies around me, trying them on, and they look hot, like 10 feet tall! Hey: Giselle Bundchen: here I come! So I asked the poor guy to bring me a couple of models that I’ve liked, and I sat and waited for my bungee jumping trial.
So the 5’4” salesman comes with the 2 boxes. My feet, ready for the challenge, tried the first pair. Sitting down, the shoes felt good. Great design, they looked amazing. I could picture myself walking on them: a runway model. Then I stepped on the first elevator, and I left the guy behind, his head, at my waist. At least I can use him as a cane, should an accident occur, I thought. And I started to walk… or move forward… Giselle Bundchen? I think I looked more like a giant baby taking her first steps on stilts! Not glamorous, nope.
So the model-to-be listened to her wise knees, and she went to the Fair with some clothes she had at home, and a pair of safe middle-of-the-road-shoes, previously test-driven by the owner. I didn’t have to focus on what I was wearing, or the fact that my life was in danger, but on the people and the celebration of art. And everybody said I looked fantastic. They could even look at me in the eyes, not the navel, while they were talking to me.
How many times do we do or wear something just to look good to others? Don’t take me wrong: I like fashion, and I don’t dress that bad, but we can go to extremes, for what we *think* makes us look good to others.
I remember the time, during HS, when my best friend and I were getting ready to go to a dance. We went to an all-girls Catholic school, so a dance with guys was as exhilarating, as it was nerve-wrecking. Yes, we saw them at parties and stuff, but back then, they were Martians: They had this out-of-this-world power to make Miss Always Knew what to Say at school and with friends (*me*), turned into a petrified mute. And that lasted for years to come.
So we decided we wanted to look HOT: 14 years-old and irresistibly hot. First: the hair. At the time, having a wave was a sin, with a curl you were not worthy of breathing; all this in a 10000% humidity climate. I mean: The Skipper was my idol.
So, after washing our hair with a concoction that a Skipper-like friend had suggested, we started with *the* tool: a hot iron. I cannot remember exactly how it happened, but I sure can remember the smell... and the sound. I fried my hair!
Then, these trailblazers were dreaming of a white smile, long-before the White Strips were in the minds of Procter & Gamble product development teams. Go figure why that was so important: I know I barely smiled at the guys, though my friend was a lot more out there. Or maybe I did smile, like a petrified mute.
So anyways, we decided to wash our teeth with baking soda –hey, if it was good for the fridge…-, and a little bit of toothpaste. Hmmm: not bad: Our teeth did look whiter. But so did our gums! I cannot describe how weird looking that was. Like we had this disease, or something.
So, the 2 geniuses, now short of time –the designated chauffeur already in the car waiting for us (*my Mom*)-, decided to look for something in the bathroom, that could turn our gums back to some sort of normality, fast. And bingo. We found it: Merthiolate and Q’tips as utensils!
I can still picture ourselves looking at the mirror, with the whitest of teeth now being surrounded by orange rivers of sheer hellish pain, laughing and crying our way to the car.
I don't know how good we looked, and that was not what really mattered. We had a blast, and we were weaving memories of those times we wanted to look like grown-up divas, with white smiles of confidence, and the perfect hair of Skipper.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Tropicana Piel Canela, aka, "Lola"
First I read KASEYCOFF's blog, and I thought "how cool"! Amazing how much one can learn from another by reading their answers to the apparently most trivial questions.
Now that I set myself to answer them, I realized that I've learned something about myself by doing so!
So, here it is: my take on the stolen blog...
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hard to choose: Haven’t gone to Eastern Europe yet (Prague, Budapest)… or Turkey, Greece…
If you could have your dream job, it would be...what?
The one I have is pretty close to my dream job, but maybe… full-time writer, with someone to pay my bills for me, so I don’t have to worry about that.
What would you like people to say about you after you're gone?
She was such a nice and fun person, and we’ll sure miss her, yet they’ll keep smiling when they think about me.
What are 3 things you'd like to do before you die?
Write more, love powerfully, and live every second, fully aware.
What movie star would you love to look like?
What is your biggest weakness?
No matter how much I’ve accomplished, not believing I’m good enough.
What is your favorite color?
Red… and black…. very “Stendhal”, hahaha...
What obstacle would you like to overcome?
Do you drive fast or slow...or right at the speed limit?
Kind of fast, really.
Are you a rule keeper or a rule breaker?
It depends. If it doesn’t hurt anybody, I’m always one to ask: Who said so, or how come, or why?
What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
Hmmmm, not bad, not bad at all, hahaha... Actually, I keep on liking the smiley eyes.
When is the last time you cried?
Cry-cry, a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes I think I’ve already cried way to much, but then again, whenever I see something unfair that makes me mad, or that moves me, or that makes me happy, my eyes well up.
When is the last time you laughed?
Right this minute.
Are you weak or strong?
Stronger than I wish sometimes, weaker than I look, I think.
Are you serious or carefree?
I was born carefree, made into a serious kid, and now learning to be carefree again, and succeeding at it!!
What is the one thing you can't live without?
Daniel and Nicole -my 2 amazing kids-, my dogs, my friends (don’t tell them I put them after my 4-legged kids, please), art, music, books, books, books… , i.e. my other friends.
What movie do you never get tired of seeing?
Full Monty, Harold & Maude
What book have you read more than 3 times?
Anything by Julio Cortazar, Albert Camus, Ernesto Sábato; Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar… the list is vast.
If you could have any kind of car, what would it be?
Anything with 4 wheels, the best air conditioner in the world, and a pretty good sound system, will do. (My son could kill me with this answer…, and he positively knows this is exactly what I think, hahaha).
Do you like yourself?
Most of the time, I’m ok. There are some days, however…
Do you sing when you're by yourself?
In the car, thus the good sound system and air conditioner requirements!
If you were to give a speech, what topic would you choose?
Anything about art, creativity, education…
Ohhhh, I just thought of the time I had to give a speech to 400 of the top lawyers and bankers in Zurich, Switzerland, about Panamanian Law. Now: that’s something I’d NEVER, EVER like to do again, yuck!
Do you think people like you?
I guess those I like, do, and I kind of like people.
What sport do you wish you could participate in?
Tennis. I used to enjoy playing tennis, but since I had my knee problems and surgeries, years ago- I can’t do it anymore.
Do you spend more time looking back or looking ahead?
Looking ahead, hands down. I take my past as a treasure, even the not-so-nice parts, as they are learning experiences, and they made me who I am, but I’m a dreamer. I’m always planning something, creating something. Yeap: looking ahead, without missing the present.
Finish this sentence: Someday, I'd like to....?
Fall in love again, and for all the good reasons. How corny, isn’t it?
What is your favorite thing to daydream about?
So many things! Looking my best again, the next show at the gallery, getting the nerve to go out again… meeting someone…
Do you spend more time being happy or sad?
Now: Happy, but it wasn’t so before. Now, even though my life has gone through very difficult paths, I focus on happiness. I truly believe we owe it to ourselves to be happy, and that’s an expanding wave of great energy.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Kind of a private, extrovert.
What is your pet peeve?
I despise hypocrisy, people pretending something. On the other hand, there is nothing I value more than authenticity.
What makes you smile?
My kids’ laughter, my Havanese antics, an intelligent subtle comment, especially if it was not meant to be as funny as it turned out to be.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Actually, not what animal (a dog) but which one would I be? Lola, my eldest Havanese. I’d love to be Lola: she’s smart as a whip, funny as hell, she lives life in her own terms, cuddly enough, but not needy; looks like a lady, but is as street-wise as they come… The best!
What charity do you support the most?
Los niños del Darién, a charity here at home.
What is your favorite time of day?
Daybreak, so full of promises. Then I love to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, hahaha…
What is your favorite number?
Seven, or three, or five…
What is your favorite day of the week?
I don’t have one in particular: All are good in my book.
Hugs to all!
The blog thief
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By all accounts, yesterday was a regular day. Morning coffee, working out, breakfast as usual, going to work, lunch, more work, dinner, some Sparking, reading, some TV, fall asleep, zzzzzzz
But: Was it?
Yesterday I started working out again. I couldn’ t last as long as I had prior to my “break”, but sweating felt good. Just getting to the home-gym felt fantastic.
Then I shared my breakfast with Titín, one of the 2 adopted cats in the house. She was beaming as we ate our Special K just by ourselves, the dogs downstairs. She was Queen Titín, and she loved it. She’s besides me while I write this. Now, when the dogs go downstairs for breakfast, she comes as fast as she can to stay with me at my room. It’s our time together.
The son of my best friend –who lives in Florida- surprised me with a visit at the gallery. I felt a stare and, when I looked up from my computer, there she was: a tiny princess smiling at me! First trip of Lily to her dad’s country, and she was having a blast. They even liked a painting and bought it for Lily’s room. How about that: an 8-months-old art collector!
Tomorrow opens the first Art Fair here at home. We had to buy a couple of chairs and table for our space, as the ones they provide are hideous… So yesterday afternoon I went shopping for the gallery, with Monica, one of the girls that works with me at the gallery. Yeah, yeah: shopping for the gallery… We came out with a set of silverware for me, and the nicest dish to serve “Ceviche” for her, that she was going to show off at dinner last night.
We finished at rush hour, and the gallery’s driver had to deliver something to a client. There was no time to go back to the gallery, so we went along with him, with a million cars not moving… As I was not driving and the traffic was so sloooowww, I could see all the new skyscrapers being built in front of the Bay of Panama. One too many, but something I would not had noticed if I had not had to make the errand with them.
Back at work, we had Gallery talk night, the topic was the work of Conceptual artist Alfredo Jaar. Not a big turnout yesterday, due to an impending rain, but a great debate about his take on art was the prize.
When we finished our chat, and I finally went out: there was Daniel, my son, waiting for me. How about going out to dinner, Mom? And we did, to a Greek place close to the gallery for the sweetest time with him and great healthy food! Just a bite of his “Flan” (Crème Caramel), the best in the whole wide world hands-down.
Finally home, close to 10 pm, with my computer kind of dying on me –the fan is not working properly and it turns off by itself- I could only do a bit of sparking, a bummer, I thought, but it gave me more time to spend with David Foster Wallace, all snuggled in bed with Lola and Caramelo, two of my Havanese, and my bed companions yesterday.
Ahhh, what a treat the new book I’m reading is! “Although you end up becoming yourself” is like being with him, sharing his process as a writer, his life: way too short, but full of wisdom and insights.
And then Nicole came home, straight to my room. How was your day, Mom? And by that she meant she wanted to know about mine, but had tons of things to share too. And we lay in the bed –with Lola and Caramelo deep asleep- talking and talking, until our eyes were closing, and the words were less important than just being together.
A bit of TV –have no clue what I was watching-, and the lights went out at around 1:30 am. A long ordinary, nothing-wow-to-remember day…
Or: was it?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sometimes it seems easier than it really is to find out the reasons behind our actions… or lack-of-them. We know something is not right, but don’t want to really acknowledge what it is. We focus on the small things, the ones that seem more “apparent”, but just because they are easy to blame, and won’t hurt as bad.
I had been so focused, so enthusiastic, and then, for what seem like no apparent reason, I began to find excuses, to feel tired or like I was getting something. Just not OK, not like myself. First I thought it was because the darn scale had not moved a bit, but I knew I was not eating as well as I should have. So that was not the reason, but a consequence.
I thought I had already gone through all the sadness of my divorce, but a devastating split like that hurts us in so many ways. I even wrote my last blog trying to understand; sort of like a way to give me direction, a point to focus again, but not even that was helping too much.
I had to see my ex-husband like a month ago, and the encounter left me so off-balance, that it has taken me weeks to recuperate or to acknowledge how hard it hit me. How come my well-being is in somebody else’s hands? How can a strong person, who understands “rationally” what happened and would not go back to what it was, feel so incredibly fragile and hopeless? So much so, that I didn’t even feel that I was worthy of looking good, or eating well. And it’s a sneaky feeling: overwhelming, but dark as a shadow.
Divorce sucks. It makes you question every single thing your life was based upon. It makes you wonder who you are: your past, your future. It makes you doubt yourself in your core. I could never go back to where I was, but we tend to sugar-coat everything, especially when the reasons behind it and the way the other person acts –or doesn’t- are not your typical black-and-white ones. However huge they are, the gray is so dark and vast, it swallows you, and it taints everything that surrounds you, everything that is good and luminous. One day you’re ok, and then, the next…
But I cannot stay here, I have to keep going. I deserve it. I’m all I have, and however small and overwhelmed I may feel, I have to find my spark again. And it’s even harder when you’re the Mom, the one who knows…, the strong friend, the positive pal, the funny one, the fun-to-be-around one. You’re the head of your business: people look up to you, they “know” you’ll be alright. But then, sometimes is so hard.
I decided to set up goals, small steps to follow, so I can keep walking in the right direction.
• I’m going to work out 5 days a week at least. No matter how I feel, I’ll push myself to get dressed and go to the gym. Even if I have to stay there and look like a moron not doing anything or not feeling strong enough, I WILL get there. It is 2 doors down my room, for god sakes!
• I will do so every morning, because when I tell myself I’ll do it later, *later* never comes.
• I’ll post in my status, everyday, that I’m done working out, and what I did.
• I will go back to entering the food I eat in the nutrition tracker.
• My goal will be to loose 5 pounds per month. I know I can do it. But if something happens and Ms. Perfection cannot accomplish it, I won’t beat myself for it.
• I’ll take time for myself to do the things I like to do. I adore my work, but I have to draw the line to where does work end, and my life begins.
• I’ll go back to reading like the world is going to end and there are so many great books to read!
• I will go out with my friends and my kids. I won’t make cheap excuses not to go. I have to thank God for my two kids, and my many amazing friends, and how they love to be with me, even when I don’t think I’m such good company…
• I’ll keep on taking photographs. Nope: I’ll learn how to do it, so I don’t have to ask for forgiveness every time I take my camera out, and I take the pictures in AUTO…. Ouch!
• I’ll blog every day, even if I might not think I have anything important to say.
• I will write again, and find myself in my words.
I won’t try to move faster than I can, though. When something so big has happened, when one is devastated by the sadness of it all, it doesn’t mean one is weak. It means I loved with all my heart, I tried with all my powers, and I cared.
Every bit of support and cheers from you guys, will be more than welcome. Every time I read you accomplishments, I’m inspired by the strength and will of each one. I’ll strive to be a source of inspiration for some other’s who’ll follow.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Jaume Plensa, Les Voleurs des Mots, 2008
I believe this is the perfect time for a reassessment. On one hand, I just had my 3 months Spark anniversary. On the other, 4 months from today, will be my birthday.
In 3 months I’ve learned a lot. Yet, I also know I have not been as firm as I should be to get the maximum results. So, this is the perfect moment to evaluate what I’ve learned, and to set new goals.
What I’ve learned so far
1. WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE FEEDING OUR BODIES
This has been an eye opener for me. One thing is to add the food already on the data base. Manually entering a new food has made me realize that we are a lab experiment!
2. The PORTIONS we have gotten used to are enough to feed us for a whole day, or more. We eat them in one meal, and have no clue what we’re doing.
3. FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY
We need to be aware of what and how we eat, to feed our body, to treat it with respect and love.
4. WORKING OUT CAN BE FUN
Just the words “working out” or, in Spanish, “hacer ejercicio” seem like a job, a burden. We also call “ejercicios” the tests we take in school. If that’s not a burden, I don’t know what is!
Yet, when we were children, working out used to be called “play”. We ran, we skate, we jumped rope, we biked. We wanted to be the fastest of the neighborhood! Our parents had to beg us to stop, to be still, to get inside. It was fun, and that’s what it needs to go back to.
And everybody is different, and that’s perfect! For instance, I despise the treadmill, or the elliptical. The feeling of moving but not getting anywhere does something funny to my brain: I find it frustrating! Yet, when I discovered Zumba, for instance, I absolutely loved it. I’m Latin American: rhythm and music flow in my bloodstream like a primitive calling. So, it doesn’t feel like a job, but a party!
5. THE MEDIA SUCKS
One has to be aware of that, and keep our priorities straight. On one hand, the food business bombards us with the unhealthiest foods. Since childhood, we are brainwashed to think McDonald’s is the coolest; it doesn’t matter if it tastes like crap, it’s cool to go there! The same goes with everything else: we are fed through our eyes straight into our psyche.
Yet, you turn the page, and there they are: dressed in the most beautiful woman fashion, border-anorexic kids wearing size 0! So, we are pushed to eat junk, but expected to look like models out of a Photoshop editing department. No wonder people are frustrated, which leads to feeling like a failure and eating more.
6. WWASPD? Or: WHAT WOULD A SKINNY PERSON DO?
I don’t see skinny people thinking about food all the time. OK: there are a couple that eat whatever they want, and it seems that they do it whenever they want, but if you watch closely, they eat when they’re hungry, and stop when they’re full. It’s not like: I’m going to have a “free” night, so I’ll binge, or I eat the universe today, because I’m starting a diet tomorrow, or Monday or… (this is experience talking… oh, how many pound I’ve gained thinking like this!). There is no good food or bad food: there is food, and usually they’ll go for the good one because it makes them feel better. That simple.
Bottom line: in a way, I think skinny people listen to their bodies, and make life a priority, not diet, or food or thinking about it 24/7.
7. THE JOURNEY IS THE TREASURE, THE NOW IS ALL WE HAVE
I realized that, for me, loving who I am, how I am in the present, is the best motivator to want to be better. If I eat or work out to “be” better in the future, I will be setting myself for failure.
I know this might sound like a contradiction, but when the future is the only motivator, one misses the now. And, when we get there, not only have we missed the journey, but we might discover that happiness was not obtained by being there, but by getting there. No wonder the word “present” means “regalo”: It is the gift we have to make our lives whole.
I’ve also found out that, when I put my value in someone else’s hands, when my worth is not measured by me, but by others, I tend to loose focus, and it’s so easy to get lost here. It just happened to me a few weeks ago, and I missed my rhythm. For a moment I didn’t feel worth it of the best I could be, excuses began popping out, working out slowed down, food began to lure me as a palliative, not the celebration for a healthy lifestyle I was focusing on before. It was time to go back to square one, to re-think my goals, to reassess.
8. HAPPINESS MAKES YOU FEEL LIGHTER; FEELING LIKE A FAILURE WILL DOOM YOU
When one sees life in a positive light, when I see this road as a life journey, nor even a destination, everything changes. Having a positive attitude is the greatest tool, and laughing, the best way to sort life’s toughest moments.
9. NOT ALL OF US WANT TO BE THE "BIGGEST LOOSER"
I don’t want to, at least not in a week! For me, focusing 100% on diet and working out, doesn’t leave enough space to enjoy the journey itself: real life. Eating great food with friends or family is a fantastic experience. Look at the Europeans: they seat in the longest tables and ENJOY what they are eating, celebrate the moment, the time together. Yet they are not as overweight. They eat in moderation, and treasure the time they’re sharing . Don’t get me wrong: I want to part with these bloody pounds (! ), but by living, not avoiding life.
10. WE'VE BECOME A "MICROWAVE SOCIETY"
And no, I don’t mean they way we cook, but how fast we’ve come to expect results out of everything, how our lives are lived on a continuous rush. No wonder we’re all stressed out, and gaining weight like crazy, if that’s just the way we’re living. I took us time to gain the weight; it’ll take time to loose it. We’re not being a failure: we are being normal human beings.
11. If the motivation has to come from the inside, FRIENDS inspire, sustain and encourage us like nothing else.
Today was “census” day in Panama. Last time (10 years ago), there were just 3 million of us in the country. When I look at Spark and I read that there are over 3 million people here, I’m in awe. Can you believe the population of a country striving to live a better life, inspiring one another, pushing forward to achieve common goals? That is mind boggling! Imagine the positive energy!
I recently read an article in the NY Times, entitled: “Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That you know”. It was about literature, but it got me thinking that, one of the motors of a place like SP is knowing that they know that you know.
I’ve met the most wonderful people here. To know that there are people who care, and that they know that you know they’re there for you, serves as inspiration and, in a way, as accountability too.
To feel that we’re not alone, that we can help one another, or that someone will be there watching for you, is incredibly empowering. The success of one feels like the success of all.
12. Yet, KNOWLEDGE ALONE DOES NOT MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
It is a huge step forward, but just the first one. Goals are the stepping stones to success, and I had to refocus mine. I’ll walk slowly, but knowing that I’m worth it, and counting on each one of you, I’m positive I’ll conquer them: I’m worth it, my life is unique, and I owe it to myself to make the best of it, helping my friends along the way.
I’ll be here for you, and I know that you know that I know, that you’ll be there for me.
And that’s is simply amazing.
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