Playing the Odds

I always find it interesting when people decide to point out how skewed the odds may be, especially when they appear not to be in my favor. It’s like, “hey, this looks really bleak… So how do you feel about it?”

Um, what?

I’m not big on worrying about the odds, whether they’re in my favor or not. If I gave up every time my chances weren’t great, I might as well have just stayed in bed. Why try at all? And this can apply to dating, job opportunities — anything where you’re putting yourself out there and taking a chance.

We face challenges on a daily basis. Sometimes we know we’re in for an uphill battle. Sometimes we know we’ll have smooth sailings. But isn’t life about the journey? Isn’t a part of the point that we will have a story to bear witness to others? If we were to always operate based on the odds, should we just give up when the odds aren’t good? And, if the answer is no, what is the true point in declaring that the odds are unfavorable to others that have to face them? Is it a passive-aggressive thing?

I get the sense that sometimes this is meant as a dose of reality, a “face the facts” sort of alert. But your reality may be different from mine. Just because you think I should be worried doesn’t mean I will be. That’s not really how this works, at least not in my reality.

I’m not going to worry about the odds. There’s always a curveball that can be thrown, and as long as you expect that from life, you’re about as equipped as you can be. I believe in myself, my resilience, and I surely believe in miracles, because I fall short.

Life doesn’t feel a whole lot like risk when you factor in faith. Stay positive, try anyway (regardless of the odds) and see what happens. Maybe you can change the odds.

Building a Sisterhood

The end of June is always a tough month for me and for my family. June 26th this year marked the 11th anniversary of my younger sister’s passing.

Some years are harder than others, and this year has been especially rough because she would have turned 30 years old this fall. I think my family has been hit especially hard this year. I can hear it in my mother’s voice.

I miss her. It’s like the air I breathe is thinner without her. My quality of life is different. My longing for her and the relationship we built grows stronger each year. My wondering what she would be or how she would be now rack my thoughts all the time.

A dear friend of mine pointed out to me last week that I make great efforts to build a strong network of sisters around me, not necessarily just for my own benefit, but to support and encourage each other. I’d never thought of it that way before, but it’s true.

When I feel my lowest, I look to these sisters I’ve found over the years. A few particularly special ones have helped me keep it together when I couldn’t do it on my own; when I didn’t feel I had enough to take care of myself after taking care of my family. They’re who saw me grieve when I couldn’t allow my parents to see; they’re who checked on me and sat with me as I dealt with family complexities.

When I was the one who had to be strong for the family, to be their rock, these sisters made sure they were mine. And, in turn, I make sure that I do everything in my power to take care of them. I don’t look to them to replace my sister that is no longer with me, but I look to them for outlets to provide support, love and encouragement that I can no longer use toward her. It’s still in me, and it has to go somewhere. She would approve.

I think of my accomplishments, and I think of the opportunities I’ve had to be there for people the way that I’ve wanted to be there for my own sister. I hope that she would be proud. I hope that she would smile and laugh, and when I meet her next in heaven, I hope she does a little dance before she throws her arms around me. I can’t wait.

I will continue my efforts and being who I am for her, in her memory. I am nothing if not dedicated to my sisters: my rocks, my inspiration, my advisors and confidants. I had almost 19 years with my own, and I have my entire adulthood to enjoy these new chances at sisterhood. That means everything to me.

Reminiscing

A little piece if my heart is still in México…

Bands competing for attention en el Zócalo. Families walking, couples kissing, wrapped in each other’s arms like they’d lose each other if they let go. Little kids toting balloons.

Breeze floating dry leaves. Street performers dancing to whistles and cheers, a drum line marches in.

Everyone is so relaxed. No one is rushing into the streets. Lazily sitting in benched in the shade or under big umbrellas enjoying crepes and churros. Strolling while eating an ice cream cone.

Es Puebla.

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Flake-ish

Are you the dependable one or the flake?

I find that, oftentimes, I am bothered by even the idea that people will say they’re going to do something and then they don’t. Without notice, without a reason, without any consideration for your time. And it could be anything — meeting you for lunch, calling you, going on a trip. Don’t put me in a position where I’m waiting for you, and you don’t even have the courtesy to call.

Worse still, don’t call me at the EXACT minute you’re supposed to be somewhere to tell me you’re running 20 minutes late. You probably knew that 30 minutes ago. At this point, I already know you’re late.

I do my best to surround myself with like-minded people, but it takes time to weed out who I can rock with long term. If you can’t respect my time the way I respect yours, this friendship will be short-lived.

I guarantee it.

New Year, New Opportunity

Are you one of those people that puts everyone ahead of yourself? I am, but I’m finding that to be a blessing and a curse.

I’m one of those people that would give my last to make sure everyone I care about is taken care of, even if it’s to my detriment. I want the people I love to be happy, to have what they need, and to feel like they’re progressing. I always figured that I would take care of me when everyone else was covered.

Slowly, I’ve come to the realization that needs are constant. Everyone always needs SOMEthing. And that’s not a negative, per se. It’s truth. At some point, we have to prioritize these needs, and I had to admit (to myself) that I can’t help you if I’m not helping myself. I can’t provide for you and yours, and subsequently leave myself in a position where I’m not cared for.

More often than not, I’ve found that some of the outreached hands will take and just continue taking, but they never offer anything back. They never reach back to try to lift me up when I’m struggling, nor do they try to provide for me when I’m in need. And I’m not saying everyone is in the same position to give in the same way or to the same magnitude, but you can always give SOMEthing. When you can’t give financially or tangibly, give encouragement, give kindness, give acknowledgement. Give from your heart.

In a nutshell, give a shit about someone other than yourself and your interests.

This year, I’m moving forward with an understanding that I’m not anyone else’s priority, especially if I’m not my own. I need to make sure I’m taken care of BEFORE I try to help everyone else.

BEFORE I give my last, I need to make sure I have a contingency. I can’t save anything for future or for emergency if I give everything away. There’s no rainy day fund. There’s no savings, because I exhausted it trying to help.

I find a joy in cooking and feeding others, but cared little about doing that for myself. About carving out that “me time” or making sure that I was getting what I needed emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, or intellectually.

This year is my opportunity to begin righting some of those wrongs. And it’s not about regrets, life is about learning and progress.

How will your priorities change in 2014?

Temper Tantrums

A little kid flying business class with his parents threw the most epic tantrum I’ve ever seen. Never mind that it was 3 am and everyone was trying to sleep, he was jumping up and down so hard that the plane shook, clapping to wake people up, throwing his head phones because he wanted to watch Pokemon, jumping off the footrest so hard that he broke it, and screeching so loud that his dad finally dragged him into a lavatory just to buffer the sound. He literally shook a stranger until she woke up. His parents kept passing him back and forth because neither of them knew what to do.

Question: remember the fear? What happened?? I know I’m not the only one who could feel their mom’s eyes on us the second we started cutting up. She didn’t even have to be on the same side of the room; I could feel the threat of proximity if I took a wrong step. Shoot, I’m 31 years old, but I STILL know better than to act a fool in my mother’s presence. Never in my life has she had to say “please” or beg me to act right.

When did obedience become optional?

Truth be told, I felt bad for the parents. I could see how exasperated they were. And I think there’s only so much you can blame the parents. At some point, each child becomes their own individual person. They make choices and mistakes, just like the rest of us. This kid may have been spoiled coming up, may have never had a spanking, may never have even sat through a full time out. You can attribute some to the parents, maybe, but I just don’t think it’s all them. It’s hard to say what was done right or wrong from the outside, and I don’t think there’s just one way to parent effectively.

I hope those parents find something that gives them more confidence in their ability to parent and run their household. Otherwise, that kid is going to run all over them.

Taking Advantage

I’m no Mother Teresa, but I would say that I am generous with those that I care about.  I genuinely care for the well-being of those around me, and it matters to me that the people I love have what they need to get by.

That being said, I’m not stupid, nor am I a doormat.  My generosity and kindness should not be mistaken for weakness or vulnerability.  Attempts to take advantage or exploit are hardly going unnoticed.  But I think this is the point where people sometimes get a little lost.

Often, when people realize that someone is taking them for granted, they get down on themselves.  Maybe it cracks their confidence, or maybe it makes them feel like a prize idiot.  Damn that.  Don’t let someone make you feel bad for being who you are.  Remember that what you did came from a good place.  There’s no sense in feeling bad for doing something good.

People are taken for granted all the time.  Rather than let what happened defeat you or eat away at your will and drive, let it fuel you.  Use that experience as motivation, and most of all, learn from it.  At the end of the day, if you’re not making the most of your life, you’re giving in to the negative energy that came to steal away your livelihood.

I am a true believer that you get what you put out into the universe.  Call it Karma, call it an eye for an eye, Yin and Yang, call it comeuppance.  I don’t have to do or say anything, try to get even, yell, or even be angry.  I feel sorry for anyone that would take advantage, because it says something about where they are in their life — maybe they’re going through something.  And I forgive.  There’s no use in hanging onto negativity; it’s just a waste of energy that could be put to better use.

I won’t change who I am or how I treat people.  I won’t stop caring, because that’s now how I operate.  But I will keep my distance.