Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kindness matters....

Considering I have only made ONE entry so far this year, it is probably safe to say that 2019 has not been good to my blog. My failed blogger abilities for 2019 can possibly be attributed to multiple factors, including but not limited to, lack of time, lack of motivation, increasing work and school demands and so on...
But here I am.. back at it.. and I want to break my blogging silence by writing about my new favorite word: KINDNESS!
Last year I posted numerous entries about bullying and other unfortunate things that happened at school; I wrote about how the teachers and the school reacted to my mounting concerns and I also brushed on the subject of parenting bullies and mean children. 
Following my initial post about bullying, Gaby received an anonymous note that read "I hate you"; needless to say we were incredibly distraught and even though it was horrible, I decided on a different approach: self defense! I spoke to Gaby about the importance of standing up for herself and we researched ways of self assertion...this seems to have worked better than making complaints to school staff and even to other parents...but still more change is needed. 
Recently a fellow mom posted THIS article, which very clearly states the difference between rude, mean and bullying and I found it to be very insightful (read it if you have a chance!). The article made me think of the undeniable repercussions of not correcting our children in time; repercussions that are incredibly disturbing considering we are shaping the adults of the future...
Which.. speaking of adults...that's where kindness is most needed as evidenced by what happened to my 67 year old dad recently.  See, my dad is a college professor, one of the "good" ones that really gives it all for his students.... A few weeks ago he happened to trip and fall while walking around campus; he ended up on the floor and unable to stand from said fall.  He was appalled to see dozens of people (all adults) who walked by him and completely ignored him; not one person offered to lend a hand or help him stand, no one even asked if he was ok.  My dad very eloquently told me how people were more focused on dodging him or simply just looking at their phones while he (an elder) just sat there, hopelessly waiting for a kind gesture from a stranger... this breaks my heart in a different level... I was speechless to hear this and it still angers me... My dad was eventually able to stand up and wasn't badly hurt, but that isn't the point of the story...
I have been pondering about what can be done to shift our "unkind" culture to something kind and positive.  How can we make sure our kids don't become those adults that would walk past an elderly man on the floor without even seeming concerned?
The answer is simple.. Be Kind. Do Kind. Because kindness matters more than we know; our kids are watching, our kids are listening, our kids are imitating us and we have more control than we like to admit. 

Pretty soon our school will be launching a "Kindness Campaign", one that focuses on random acts of kindness intended to teach our kids that kindness matters and that being kind to each other can turn our lives around.  This campaign is also aimed at strengthening our kind values, beginning a culture shift and making kindness a core value that should never be overlooked.  I am lucky to be surrounded by so many people who care about this and I hope we can make a big difference in our children's lives and our own. 

Kindness Matters!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

If you want to "give it", you gotta be willing to "take it"

In this day and age where almost everyone has access to the internet and is connected through some form of social media, it is so easy to have opinions and post them online. Not only do we have an insurmountable amount of content and information, but we also live in a tense political climate where opinions are so polarized it's scary sometimes.  It's easy to hide behind a keyboard, post links to opinion articles or simply reshare passive aggressive memes that may or may not be intended to offend or trigger people who think different than we do. 
When I scroll through my FB feed I get to experience a whole range of emotions that go from contentment, to agreement, to frustration, to pity and sometimes even anger. It sounds dumb to admit that some posts even put me in a bad mood even when they seem to be so insignificant but I'm not one to lie about my feelings, so there.. I said it.. For what it's worth, we live in an era where many of us connect through social media so that's why it matters...
As much as I try to bite my tongue and stay away from politically charged posts, sometimes it's difficult to avoid commenting on things I agree or disagree with. I have friends from all walks of life, some of us are very like minded and some are not but I have always been fine with differing opinions and diverse thinking because that's what keeps things interesting and I'd like to believe that my friends and I value feelings and affection more than our political, social or ideal views. I don't feel the need to prove to anyone the kind of person or friend that I am and I also don't fear losing friends over being myself...or at least I know I shouldn't. 
But this post isn't about politics or how to handle friendships with people on the other side of the fence, this is more about my opinion on the importance of not hiding behind a keyboard and understanding that while posting opinions isn't wrong, people must always know that everything we write has consequences and most likely will elicit a reaction from someone... so if you want to "give it", you gotta be willing to "take it". 
Yesterday, one of my FB "friends" reshared an excerpt from Glenn Close's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes this past Sunday.  The exact excerpt that was shared goes as follows:

"I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. And in her 80s she said to me, "I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything."And it was so not right. And I feel like what I've learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands if we're lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, "I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that."

I happened to have watched the award ceremony and heard this very same speech, and while I clearly understand the intention of it (which is great, btw!), I took issue with the fact that she implied that having a family and a successful marriage wasn't "fulfilling". Had she used the term "professional fulfillment", or something along those lines, her speech would have been on point for me, but somehow the fact that she passive aggressively took a jab at women that "sublimate" themselves to their husbands, didn't sit well with me. I personally find that having a happy home life is extremely fulfilling but I also understand that it might not feel like it's "enough" for other women, however I don't feel like Glenn Close needed to put others down in order to validate her feelings...
And so when this "friend" posted the excerpt, I commented on her post with "...because having a family and a successful marriage isn't "fulfilling""....(end of quote).. a few minutes went by and I thought my comment could have come off as "rude" or could easily be misconstrued, so I decided to go back to add to it and explain what I meant (as stated above)... To my surprise (and within minutes of my comment), this person had unfriended me on FB.. (shocker!...not!)... So there it was.. a girl who I had been "friends" with for 10 years (we met through a pregnancy board when we were both pregnant in 2008), a person who I cried with when she lost a baby, who I prayed for when her son has been sick, who I have shared endless photos and stories with through FB for more than a decade, decided that because my comment didn't sit well with her, the easiest way to "dispose" of whatever relationship we had was to click "unfriend". Granted, we were only "cyber friends" but you get the point...  While I wholeheartedly believe that she is free to friend or unfriend whoever she wishes, I find it incredibly childish and intolerant on her part that instead of engaging in some sort of healthy debate or insightful conversation, she just decided to cut me off.  I will admit that I wouldn't have noticed this at all had I not attempted to elaborate on my initial comment, which I planned on doing out of respect for her and for anyone who read my differing opinion.. but oh well...the irony!
But again, this post isn't even about what this girl did or didn't do, but about an illustration of what happens when people hide behind a screen or a keyboard. I am using this incident to demonstrate that those that claim to be the most tolerant and accepting are usually the ones that get easily "butt hurt" when someone doesn't think like they do or simply disagree on a belief.  It happens to me all the time with this blog; I post something and people disagree.. it's ok.. the world doesn't end because of that.. 
I will, however, give credit to all of the people who genuinely stand by what they believe and are mature enough to have friendly debates that get started by a simple meme or a link shared on social media; I value those people more than I can ever say and I appreciate the fact that we share mutual respect and are able to see past our difference in ideals and opinions.  We have deeper friendships because of that and I am glad that we can continue to stimulate each other through intelligent conversations (you all know who you are!)...
So, to the girl that unfriended me because you didn't like my comment on your post "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry that what I said bothered you so much that you couldn't stand keeping me on your friend list", "I'm sorry that you're looking to surround yourself only with people who think like you", "I'm sorry that a person who doesn't think exactly like you do isn't worth your time", "I'm sorry that whatever relationship we had was dependent on me biting my tongue or giving your post a fake applause", "I'm sorry I didn't agree entirely with Glenn Close's speech" , "I'm sorry that I wasted 10 years thinking that we were connected somehow" but most of all "I'm sorry that our world has come to this...."
People.. own your opinions! Embrace diversity!..keep giving it.... and TAKING it!

Monday, December 31, 2018

End of year randomness

As another year comes to a close, I can only think of good things to say about all our experiences in 2018.  It was a year of growth, faith, love and traveling and I loved every minute of it. 
This year I turned 37, I traveled to Madrid with my family, took a couple of trips with just Iggy, spent a lot of time with my kids, started diets and broke them, learned to cook new dishes, made new friends, lost old friends, got two new baby cousins (yay Stefania & Nolan!), got visits from my international family and I'm currently on our last trip of the year.

Here's a photo recount of our year...

After ringing in the new year with some family in Ohio, we visited DC with some of our great friends!

Our niece Mariana turned one year old and we took a trip to Disney to celebrate Erika's 11th birthday!

Easter celebration at Oliver's school and enjoying the nice Florida weather

An amazing two week trip to Spain, where we met up with some of our family.  What a great time!

...also, another great trip to Disney...

..and who could forget the girls' hair donation, which still warms my heart... :)

Olivia was inducted into the Elementary Honor Society

..a visit from my uncle Alfredo...

..a fun Girl Scout Disney trip and Olivia's spring show in Universal Studios..

Fun summer activities...the kids were happy to be out of school! ;)

The most eventful moths of all.  We celebrated Iggy's 42nd birthday, welcomed our baby cousin Stefania (born in Switzerland), I took a weekend cruise with some friends, celebrated the girls' birthdays (9 &11) and then we took a trip to San Francisco with an amazing stop at Napa Valley.. 

Spent some time playing local tourists and then Iggy and I took a trip to Buenos Aires (one of my bucket list destinations) <3 p="">

Another great trip to Disney and we finally got to see the new "Toy Story" land, an amazing couple's trip to Chicago for some tennis, our boy turned 3 and we took the family on a Disney cruise to celebrate.. 

Fall fun with the family, Oliver and I took a trip to Upstate NY to see the Deso family, Olivia's first cheer showcase, Halloween fun with friends and the highlight of the month was the birth of our baby cousin Nolan...

We enjoyed a visit from my cousin and his family, who came all the way from Switzerland.  While they were here, we baptized Stefania and it was a great time to get the family together.  What a great month!

I turned 37 and we embarked on our last trip of the year, an ambitious road trip to New York, which has been nothing but fun. We have visited Charleston, Washington DC and NYC so far.. What an amazing time!

I love sitting down and reminiscing of all the good and not so good things that happened during the year that's ending, and every time, I realize that even though life isn't always perfect, it sure is fun, entertaining and we are so blessed to have each other to share the ride with. 

I thank God for every experience that he made possible.. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Operation "Give Retail a Chance"

I timed it... I spent a whole hour in line while attempting to return some "cute-but-way-too-big shoes" I bought for Oliver.
I decided I'd be patient when I walked into the store and noticed the check out line wrapped around the back wall and beyond.  I pulled out my phone and sucked up all my Candy Crush lives, cleared my inbox, scrolled through my FB and IG feeds and once I was done with that, I was still only half way to the next available cashier.  Out of 12 available registers, only 4 were open and, judging by their slow motions and lack of interest in providing any kind of customer service, the people who were working them were probably either drunk or had not slept in days
I get it, working in retail around the holidays must SUCK!- the lines, the rude customers, the mess that people leave behind when looking for the right size or their desired item, the frustration combined with everyone being in a rush for no reason.. it's mostly negative...but my perception is that the very same retail workers that complain about all these, are often the ones making it worse for everyone involved with their attitude and lack of empathy.
And while this isn't the case for every retail worker or even every retail store, the experience of shopping at the mall or a stand alone store is awful and not something I look forward to.
This year, however, I've read so much about how Amazon is killing the retail business and about how many people are out of jobs because people are shopping online instead, so I decided to give retail a chance by shopping at the mall or single stores instead of going straight to one click purchases. I tried every schedule combination possible and even started shopping well before December even rolled around and the results were always the same: a crappy experience often made worse by unhelpful staff at the stores, poor logistics, sad customer service, lack of options and non competitive prices.
I tried shopping at Macy's once and waited in line for about 40 minutes because most registers were "closed" since employees were either "on break" or "helping with inventory", as in helping customers was not a priority. Never did I perceive any willingness to make my shopping experience better, not from management and definitely not from regular store clerks.
On the flip side, I bought tons of items off Amazon and other websites with extremely prompt delivery, no hassle package, competitive prices and a smooth return/refund process whenever it was needed. There was just no comparison and my operation "Give Retail a Chance" turned into a complete failure; it was such a turn off to walk into a store only to have to deal with unruly crowds, unhelpful employees and lack of empathy, which turned into frustration and often anger.
I must point out though, that I am in no way a frantic shopper who goes crazy overspending or over buying; I'm probably just the average mom who worries about getting simple gifts for her kids, teachers and maybe a few close relatives or friends; I wasn't looking for a "hot" toy or the latest computer model, phone or watch.... I was simply trying to shop for mundane items...and the operation was still a failure.. giving retail a chance was not a good idea!
I will, however, give credit to some of the stores that did make it a pleasurable experience.  Stores such as Target where employees seemed genuinely concerned about the shopping experience and where amazing sales were available on a daily basis; Walgreens, where managers were willing to step it up and open extra registers when needed; HomeGoods, where employees were always helpful and friendly and did their best to keep the store organized among the chaos.
My worst experiences happened at Old Navy, Ross, TJMaxx, Macy's and a few other shops at the mall.  Those stores are the reason retail is becoming a thing of the past and I feel sorry for all the families who depend on these businesses to put food on their tables.  But the truth is that Amazon did not kill retail, poor customer service did.. and continues to do so...
Next year I will go straight to Amazon and I'm not looking back!

What was your shopping experience like? Did you shop mostly online or did you brave the stores?

Happy Shopping!