Halloween

Halloween

Another Halloween has arrived. And this day filled with tradition is being fought over in a way I don’t ever remember hearing about before.

Some people are batty (pun intended) to abolish the holiday because the argument goes: Halloween is evil, it promotes worship of the devil and is the secular version of the wicca day of samhain.

On the other side of the argument people feel Halloween is a festive opportunity to dress up, throw parties and enjoy the camaraderie with friends, neighbors and family.

What stands out to me is that this is just another topic to have an argument about and pick sides for!

Here is what I suggest we do about Halloween:

If you don’t want to celebrate Halloween, participate in the dressing up and the giving of candy to trick or treaters–don’t.

Don’t call it Halloween, call it Wednesday. Go about your normal day and turn your porch light off so kids don’t ring your bell.

If someone happens to ring your bell or knock on your door- feel free to ignore it. The door belongs to you, after all, and you are under no obligation to open it.

However, if you are a big Halloween person–enjoy it! Decorate, dress up and give out all the candy you want.

While you are enjoying it, you don’t have to worry about the folks that don’t want to participate.

It is none of our business what our neighbors do or think about this day–and it is not worth the argument or the taking of sides.

As for me, I have never been a big Halloween person. But when my girls were little we did dress up and go trick or treating, we gave out candy and we enjoyed the outside time with our neighbors.

When the kids outgrew it, we ordered pizza, gave out candy some years and not on other years. It was never a thing.

And that is my point–don’t make it a thing. In these times of so much division do we have to take sides on this as well?

In the very sage words of Linus, Charlie Brown’s best friend: “There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

Happy Wednesday!

El Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos

This week we will celebrate not only Halloween but a very significant and cultural holiday for Hispanics-the day of the dead.

It is culturally not a celebration of ghosts and goblins but a celebration of the lives of our loved ones that are no longer with us.

There has been some comments I’ve heard lately that Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos are un-Christian and further inspired by the devil himself!

It never ceases to surprise me how people who know nothing about a subject will have the strongest opinions about it. So let me tell you a little about how I understand El Dia de los Muertos.

Although this is not part of my cultural heritage it is part of my husband’s and many friends’ culture–and over the years, one that I have come to respect and enjoy.

The idea behind it is that we are provided a day in which we can remember and celebrate those that came before us–our parents, grandparents, children–that were once our family and have passed away.

Altars are created with their pictures, their favorite foods, and candles to light their way as they visit us here on earth.

Sugar skulls representing the souls of our dearly departed are also placed on the alters-which are called ofrendas- and hand decorated.

Believing that those that have gone before us visit us on this particular day feels to me to be extremely Christian.

It means–and as closely as we can almost, prove–that there is a heaven. That our loved ones are at peace and watching over us and that they have the ability to visit us here on earth.

It feels good to me to know that I can still communicate with my abuela, and my grandfather and my aunt and uncle who impacted me so much in life–and that they can communicate with me.

El Dia de los Muertos is a day each year when we have the opportunity to connect–with the past, with the future and with ourselves.

Enjoy the journey.

Vision Boards for Finding Clarity

Vision Boards for Finding Clarity

A long time ago, I started creating visions boards….in the 80’s, when I was in high school, I would comb through magazines and cut out pictures of things I liked, places I wanted to go, ideas for future adventures.  I would stick all these pictures on a poster board I would hang in my room.

I cannot tell you where I learned to make them or the fact that it is a form of positive thinking and manifesting, and setting goals for your life.

Like most teenagers my boards centered around–well me.  They didn’t necessarily have any specific goals in mind and were certainly market driven–based on the magazines I chose, but they did help clarify what I wanted out of life.

If I remember correctly some of the things I put on those boards were definately expensive (I remember having a fondness for diamonds) and I would need to have a college degree in order to achieve them.

Did that goal manifest itself?  It did.  I did, thankfully, attend and finish college successfully and been able, over time, to have all the I’ve wanted (although now I am not too impressed by diamonds anymore.)

The boards also helped solidify my values–because on them I have always placed pictures that represented family, work, God, service and country.

I’m a nerd like that–and I have always been blessed to have these strong foundations in my life, because I sought them out–at least my brain did.

In college I made vision boards too, and throughout my life as an adult.  I have even shared this little goal setting craft with my girls.  And I hope it helps them focus on what they want as well.

It used to  surprise me when something on my boards would manifest itself in my life–although it really should not have surprised me at all.  These were things that I had on my mind and the mind is so much stronger than we know.

Now that I am older–I still make them on a smaller scale, using a 12 x 12 sheet of scrapbook paper and the pictures I print at home after collecting visual images of my ideas from the internet.

I have my vision boards where I can see them daily.  And while our hurry up run around life may not allow for study of the boards–our mind’s eye sees them and goes to work.

The clarity they provide is one of honing in on the things that are really important in your life.

Now, I am not sure how it works, but I do know that it does work. I am not a scientist and cannot break down the steps the brain takes to create the vibrations from this visualization exercise to in turn create the energy in you and the world to make things happen.

But I do know this. Our brain, once it has clarity, subconsciously will lead us in the right path.  It will tell us when to turn right instead of left to find those things, events, people, and circumstances that we are meant to interact with.

When we don’t have clarity–in our lives–there are moments when things are unorganized, in chaos, and indistinct. Bad things happen to us.  We have a car accident, we make a bad financial decision, we come in contact with people who mean to do us harm. And things seem to be out of control.

Even in a world that is out of control–look at the people it does not affect.  Is it because those people are better, smarter or richer?  Or is it because they practice positivity in their lives regardless of the insanity around them?

Imagine if everyone created vision boards–and were able to create their positive energy that could mix with other people’s positive energy.  What would our world look like?  It would certainly be a different place.

My thoughts today, as I watch the chaos in the world on the news, is that they are manifesting exactly what the talking heads see in their mind’s eye. Their lives are in turmoil and it shows in their broadcasts.  Long time politicians are losing their foothold because the negativity itself is bringing them to their knees. People are being used because they cannot visualize a different way and are vulnerable to the suggestions of others, of promises that will not come true.

Each one of us is responsible for our energy–vision boards are one way–to clarify and direct that energy for good.

Rights and Responsibility

Rights and Responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility.  Powerful words used in a Spiderman movie.  Powerful words and true words.

The United States is the most powerful country in the world.  Because we are are powerful we must live up to the great responsibilities we have to lead the world by example.

This great nation has the responsibility to establish a more perfect union–we are not perfect but we must continue to strive to be the best.

Our country has the responsibility to establish justice for our citizens, to keep them safe from criminals that would do our society harm.

This nation has the responsibility to insure domestic tranquility–so we can lead ordered and calm lives.

The United States has the responsibility to provide for the common defense to protect us from bad actors from other countries who want to destroy our way of life.

This country has the responsibility to promote the general welfare of our citizenry by encouraging people to educate themselves and provide the necessary services for each other: police, fire, medical, agriculture, education.

Our nation has the responsibility to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our future generations to have the ability to pursue our God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These are the principles our established government has promised to its citizens–to protect us and our rights.

We the people then, have the power–the government was established by us, for us.

And with that power comes great responsibility.

As citizens we have the responsibility to support and defend the Constitution, respect and obey federal, state, and local laws, respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others, participate and stay informed of issues affecting your community, pay income taxes on time, serve on a jury when called upon, defend the country if the need should arise and participate in the democratic process.

As citizens, we are not here to just sit back and receive from the government. That is not the reason we set up our government. We are here to live in a free society in which we have the resources to help ourselves and our communities and the government protects our rights to do so.

As citizens we must participate in the democratic process so we can knowledgeably chose people to represent our best interests–this above all is extremely important.

Use your power–fulfill your responsibility–participate in your democracy!

Early voting opens today!  Go out and vote!

Stand Up

Stand Up

I have always been an advocate of the underdog.  I have never liked situations that are unfair, or unequal or that are set up to do harm to others deliberately.  Name calling, bullying, unfair treatment of those that don’t have the resources to stand up for themselves.

By “resources”, I am not just talking about money. Some people do no have the physical resources, the intellectual resources, the political resources, or the emotional resources to deal with the life circumstances they find themselves in.

And they are being taken advantage of by the exploitation of countries, politicians, education systems, societal pressures and economic threats that push them to make decisions that are not in their best interests–just to serve the wants of the current power structure.

For those who do not know me, let me describe myself a little.  I am a woman, 4′ 11, 124 lbs.  Not large by any means.  As an empty nester, I have reached the beautiful age of 50, so I am not young, but also not old or infirm.  I am a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, and wife.  I am a teacher, a life long learner, an advocate of others. I am a very proud American of hispanic descent.

Those attributes make me stronger not weaker.  I have been attacked and bullied, mostly verbally, at times, because I do not conform to the waves of thought that go through this country from time to time in regards to women’s rights, education, work place politics, gender and ethnicity roles and the larger rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

What people fail to see in me and more importantly, in themselves, is the power they have in their own opinions.  No one has to believe what they are told if they can see something different with their own eyes.  No one has to take at face value that things are right if they feel in their gut that things are wrong. Yet they do, every day, and then are sorry whey they are manipulated, bullied, and taken advantage of.

Here is a list of examples we should all take a hard look at in our own lives and stand up for what we truly believe–whether you are right or wrong.  Find your compass, listen to your gut–not to the thousands of screaming heads we encounter in our daily lives:

  1. The “me too” mentality–we all encounter some sort of sexism in the world during our lives. All of us, at one time or another, men as well as women.  Pick a side, once and for all.  It is up to you–not to the person using sexism as a weapon or to the people around you that have an opinion about it–you. Decide if you want to be a victim and wallow in self pity, never moving forward in your life or decide if you want to stand up for yourself, own it and put it behind you.
  2. Our education system–our education system is broken, it has been for a long time but at the same time forms the backbone for developing our children’s ability to question, study, research and learn.  We cannot blame the system itself if people–you and me–do not stand up and either change it, or if we cannot, then use it for good.  As parents we have the responsibility and the right to teach our children MORE than what they are learning from their books and curriculums in school.  Decide if you want the current powers that be mold the minds of your children or if you want to take the responsibility of building the minds of your children to be critical thinkers.
  3. The wage disparity among men and women.  It may exist.  I don’t really know because I have been able to find and read research on both sides of this argument that sound credible.  Here is what I know.  We live in a wonderful country that lets us choose our line of work.  If you accept a job at a certain amount of compensation for certain duties then that is your choice.  If you feel that you are not being compensated fairly for your work because of your gender–then you have the choice to CHANGE YOUR JOB.  Decide what you want to do with your life and work hard at it, the money will come.
  4. The immigration issue.  I believe in the rights of the underdog.  I always have and I have often stood up for others that cannot stand up for themselves. But I have also always said and lived the fact that “if you are going to do something, do it right.”  There is always a right and wrong way of doing things.  The current immigration situation in our country is a problem of our own making.  We must take care of ourselves–our citizens–FIRST, before we attempt to help citizens of other countries that want to come here. It is the responsibility of other countries to take care of their people FIRST, if they are not doing that–IT IS NOT OUR FAULT or OUR RESPONSIBILITY to make up for their failures. Decide which side of the issue you are on.  If we ruin this country, we will no longer have the power to help the people of other countries.
  5. Our ethnicity and our responsibilities as Americans.  I am proud to be of hispanic descent. I am proud that I am bilingual.  But I am more proud that I am American–that I live in a country in which many cultures can live together and work towards a common goal:  keeping America a free, safe and prosperous nation. That comes first–ALWAYS–before any other consideration of cultural celebrations and traditions, language rights, or family loyalties from other countries. Decide if you really want to be American, and if you are willing to live up to the responsibilities of what that requires.  We all have a choice here.  Decide if you want to not just live in this country but be a PART of it–if not then decide where you would be happier and go there.

It is time to stand up! It is time to decide what you want for you and your family. There is no right or wrong in this decision. There is power in your thoughts and in how you want to live your life.  It is your choice.  Make it!

Don’t be the underdog, stand up for your convictions. Don’t play the victim, the only person that allows victimhood is yourself.  Don’t stop learning because someone told you this is all there is, there is always more. Don’t accept that others are telling you you don’t get paid what you deserve–work harder, Don’t allow others to call you names because you want to protect your country from the problems of the world, take care of your country and let others take care of theirs. Don’t let people view you as a part of a minority when you are in the majority as an American, you give them your POWER when you let them. The world is a beautiful place–Stand up and find your place in it.

Change of Weather

Change of Weather

In the last 48 hours, in Texas, we have gone from the high 80’s in our “autumn” to a cold and rainy 54 degrees.  This is a major change of weather from one day to the next and it is very refreshing.   It reminds me that nothing ever stays constant.  There is always change in the air.

We can learn a great deal from mother nature if we understand that there is a season for everything–but when it is time for the season to change–we should embrace the cold front.

What am I talking about, you might think?  Well I am talking about a change in our thinking.  Sometimes we are just locked into one way of thinking and events in our lives seem to be spiraling out of control and causing harm or pain to ourselves or others.

Why does this happen? Because we are unwilling to change.  We are unwilling to see a different outcome or a different path.  We are unable to see the good side of bad situations, negative people and events that did not unfold the way we expected it to unfold.

There are many movements that have become popular now to learn how to change, to learn to think and act positively, to believe in a higher power that can lead us to the answers we are seeking.

What do all these things have in common?  Positive thinking.  It is a change of weather for many people.

I am a true believer of positive thinking, of finding the silver living in every storm, of learning from our mistakes and of putting our faith in a higher power that can help us find the miracle.

Being a believer does not make it easier–but it opens the doors to what is possible. And once we accept what is possible, opportunities will open up for us where we once thought that no path was available.

It is an amazing shift–if you allow the winds of change to bring the fresh air in!

I have seen it work powerfully in my life time and time again.  We find ourselves in a situation that we are unsure how we are going to handle and we start to panic, or we think we will just never make it through this hurdle.

But if you just stop–look at the situation honestly–and accept that there is an opportunity to change, good things can happen. Think about the outcome you would like to occur,  visualize what the situation can look like, how you intend to get over the hurdle, and the steps that will help you fix or turn around the challenge.

Then keep a positive attitude, accept the lesson the situation is teaching you and give it to God or a higher power.

Everytime, without fail, there will be a change of weather, and a way will be found where you thought there was no way.  The things and people you need will appear just when you need them and a new season will begin.

Enjoy the cooler weather–and see it as the positive change that it is–a time for renewal and an opportunity for a new way forward.

10 Things I Would Not Want to Live Without

10 Things I Would Not Want to Live Without

There is a cute survey going around on Facebook and articles online through quora.com and other sites being shared, asking people to think about and list 10 things they could not live without.

Some of the replies and lists I have read are very surprising!  And some things are really very confusing.

These are several of the funniest answers I have read that people feel they could not live without which were surprising: bathtubs, cheese, toilet paper, Netflix, eyeliner, fire, toothbrushes, television, shampoo, coffee,  and chocolate.

Yet others were confusing:  trees, credit cards, vacuum cleaner, mops, ironing boards, shaving cream, travel agents, high heels and children.

While the surveys and articles are cute and some are funny, there were very few that were serious.  I think that is because we live in a world where there is so much abundance that we no longer think about the basic needs for life.

It also shows me that a basic seriousness about life is not on the minds of most people. Which explains a great deal about our society today.

Then I also thought, what would the top 10 things be I could not live without?  As I thought about it I realized that the top 10 things for me were also the top 10 things I am grateful for:

  1. My family
  2. My freedom
  3. My health
  4. Shelter
  5. My faith
  6. Safety
  7. Clean water and healthy food
  8. Knowledge
  9. Survival skills
  10. Books

I fully believe that if I have my top 10 things all the other things we are accustomed to that we think we can’t live without will follow.  We should seriously think about these types of things once in a while, as it goes to the core of our values as humans–so open up the conversation with others and listen carefully to what others have to say.

What are the top 10 things you could not live without?