Friday, December 31, 2021
Monday, December 13, 2021
When I graduated college, it was time to “adult”! Once I had accepted the fact that the USA was my new home, it was time to hustle. A few visas later (and a lot of money in lawyer fees) I was already a permanent resident and was free to live my life as a quasi-American. My first job paid me a whooping $25K per year, not exactly what I had envisioned and I learned rather quickly that the lack of guidance in my pre-college years had led me to the wrong career. But I honestly didn’t have time to dwell on it and I really tried to make the best of it. I worked in the mental health field for a while and one day I got the weird itch to move out of my parents’ house and try my own luck.
In a spur of the moment decision, I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years, got a job in Tampa, rented an apartment, packed up all my stuff and left. When I look back on it, I think moving to Tampa was probably a crazy decision but at the time I felt right; it was something that was part of my process, something I needed to do. Even though most Hispanic families don’t see their children leave home until they get married, I was unknowingly raised as an American, with "American" thoughts and I was starting to realize that it just seemed “normal” to me that someone at 22 would leave home to live on their own. I often wonder how much longer I would have lived at home had we not come to the United States; I’m sure it would have been at least until marriage, maybe even beyond.
Emotionally speaking, my life in Tampa was a hot mess; I felt so lonely all the time and sadness always overtook whatever I was doing. My life was monotonous and the job I had was mediocre at best. Yes, I was working in corporate America, meeting new people and performing well, but this lonely, corporate-like life was not what I wanted for myself. And while I didn’t love it, the idea of feeling like a failure and going back to my parents’ house was even less appealing because I had already come out from under their wing and flying back to the nest didn’t exactly spell “success” so I stuck it out for a couple of months.
|With my friend (and co-worker) Jen in 2004|
|My friend Eva and I in Tampa|
By the 2nd month in Tampa, I was ready to throw in the towel; living alone was definitely not for me. I know it sounds extreme, but I literally used to cry myself to sleep 5 out of 7 days of the week; there was something about my “pretend” life dream that was making me borderline depressed. I view my time in Tampa as an out of body experience because now that I’m almost 40 I can’t really see myself living alone in another town. I made some good friends and experienced a lot of growth in my time away from home but in the end it just wasn’t enough to keep me where I was. I often wonder if I should have given the Tampa life a little more time, but if I had, I wouldn't be who I am today so I really have no regrets.
And just like I had decided to move out of my parents’ home, I decided it was time to go back, time to swallow my pride and save myself from making even more mistakes and living in perpetual depression and agony. A couple of weeks before I made the choice to scrap the “I’m ready to live alone” idea, I was hospitalized for some sort of severe food poisoning and found myself lonely in a local hospital; no one to call, no shoulder to cry on, no one to help me pack my things in a patient bag; I missed my mom and dad, I missed my sister and my cats and everything that had to do with a warm and caring family and stable home life. That hospital stay was probably a turning point for me and I’m glad I followed my heart and decided to go back home.
But before I moved back, I took a girls’ trip to NYC with my cousin Carolina and my good friend Eva. It was supposed to be a cathartic experience for me and it certainly was, the trip served as a time for me to reflect on regrets, changes, future decisions, growth, etc.
As we were walking around NYC one day, a strange looking lady grabbed my hand and said she wanted to read my palm. Me, being the skeptic I am, quickly shook my hand away and said “no, no, no!” and she kept insisting that I let her tell me about my future. I kept brushing her off and she followed me around for a bit until I finally agreed to let her tell me ONE thing. She said it was something that had to be said because she had a strong feeling about it. It was November 18th, 2004 and her exact words were “in exactly ONE year from today, you will be marrying a man you haven’t met yet and he will make you very happy, continue to follow your heart”. Of course I thought she was crazy, I was 22 years old and I wouldn’t call myself a romantic; marriage was definitely not on my mind…
(To be continued…)
Friday, December 3, 2021
Losing my sister during my junior year of high school definitely put a damper on the experience. There I was, navigating life in a foreign country, in a brand new high school with a newly shattered family. While I did try for tragedy not to define who I was, seeing my parents (particularly my mom) go through such a terrible loss was definitely a challenge. I felt lost in high school; while other kids were starting to shop around for colleges, write exceptional essays and plan out their potential careers, I was trying to figure out how I was going to move forward with a broken heart and an uncertain legal status. I was a good student, a great one actually; grades were never an issue for me but I definitely did not find the support and guidance I needed to catapult me into a stellar college experience. My parents had no clue about what was required and they weren’t involved in the process; on top of that, my sister dying showed us that our immigration challenges were just starting, and having a non-resident visa not only meant that I wouldn’t be eligible for any scholarships I’d earned but also that my parents would have to pay top dollar at any college.
|My high school graduation|
And that’s exactly what happened, my grades afforded me any scholarship a highschooler could dream of (I was at the top 5% of my class, out of 1200+ students) but I could not take any of them because I was, well, a foreigner; one that didn’t qualify for the “perks” America had to offer, the very things my parents had moved here for, but such was life and we couldn't dwell on it. I ended up attending FIU and finished my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2.5 years; I will be forever grateful for the financial sacrifices my parents made so I could graduate college. They paid upwards of $7K per semester and I can only hope I made them a little proud with my efforts because I know how difficult it was for them at the time.
Even though my college experience wasn’t what I once envisioned (I was a commuter student, never attended football games, or college parties, didn’t join a sorority, didn’t have a college sweetheart, and had very few friends) it was the experience I got and for that I am grateful. Would I have moved away from home had my situation been different? Would I have left Florida to settle elsewhere? Would I have chosen FIU had that not only been one of my few choices? I honestly don’t know but at the time I was happy to play the cards I had been dealt and I decided to make the best of it and I got a degree out of it, so it was definitely a win!
I learned a lot in my college years. I learned that dreams can change and our ability to adjust and make lemonade out of life’s lemons only improves if we really want. I learned that nobody could live life for me and even though settling might seem easier at times, sometimes the road less traveled is the one that brings the most happiness. My parents' dedication to us was once again proven and their resilience is truly admirable; their example is one of the best lessons life has given me.
I realize as I write, that this particular part of the story may sound a bit gloomy, but college was a really good time in my life; even though there was a lot to be sad about, I loved every minute of it. I grew so much as a person, I learned empathy, I made friends, I learned balance and prioritizing. It was during college that I had my first real relationship, my first conversations about conviction and so much more. And many people may argue that’s exactly what college is for but in my case, it was special because it was the time I came out of my shell and realized that I was here to stay, that the United States was my new home for real and it was time to love it as my own because it would be here that I would likely grow a family and pursue my dreams with them….and that I did!
(To be continued)
Monday, November 29, 2021
This post is a continuation of my last one (in case you're interested)
About 2 years into our new life, things were starting to look up. I had made some friends (some of which would become my lifelong best friends), my dad was already working in architecture, we had moved to a nicer area and were enrolled in a better school and I even had my first ever job, everything was definitely better.
Working as a teenager is not something I would have done had we stayed in Venezuela but I absolutely loved the fact that I could do it here; making my own money from the time I was 15 really taught me to be a hard worker and to value the effort that comes with it. I learned responsibility, work ethic, discipline, and many other skills that would prove useful in my adult life as well. I also bought my first car with my hard-earned money, so that was definitely a highlight of my first job!
See, coming to the United States was a CHOICE, there wasn’t a pressing financial or political reason to leave Venezuela at the time we did, we were just another family moving to a new country; I think my parents saw it more as a way for their children to grow up in a country with better opportunities all around, but the change did come at a price and I’d be lying if I said that even though things were better, it wasn’t a tough road. Choice aside, I am sure my sister Erika was a big motivator for that choice; she had been born in Texas in the late ’70s while my parents were in college and due to a case of medical malpractice, she ended up with mental retardation. Life in Venezuela wasn’t easy for her as a disabled person and I can imagine that it was very difficult for my parents to see her grow up in a place where there were no special considerations for anyone with her condition. In coming to the United States, my parents saw an opportunity for Erika to have a better life, to live in a place where she’d be treated humanely, somewhere she would be seen as a “handicapable” person and not some burden to society. And that is exactly what we found here; great special ed programs, incredible doctors, the right medications, the right approach. And because Erika was an American citizen all of the immigration paperwork would be made easier for the rest of the family, there was a clear path for us to become legal permanent residents and subsequent citizens once Erika turned 21; meanwhile, my dad held a professional visa (we were his dependents) while we waited for her to reach the age where she could petition the whole family.
But that day never came because Erika passed away unexpectedly on December 23rd, 1998, a month before her 21st birthday; our life was changing again, our family was crushed. Erika’s death is the single most shattering event we have gone through as a family; a part of us died with her and it took a long time for the devastation to set in and even longer for us to come out of it (not like it has ever been possible to feel completely normal again!).
With Erika’s passing came a lot of sadness, tears, setbacks, and a whole lot of reconfiguring of our plans and our lives in general. Our family was broken, our hearts were shattered and to add insult to injury, we had no place to go back to now because Venezuela was just starting its own nightmare with Hugo Chavez ascending to the presidency (if you know, you know!) and while I am sure my parents briefly considered the possibility of going back, the newly installed government quickly persuaded them to stay...and so we did.
I’d like to think that God used Erika for the very important purpose of bringing us here; it is no coincidence that her life inspired our move and the timing of her death cemented our stay. I am thankful every single day for having had the blessing of Erika in my life; there isn’t a day that I don’t think of her and I know everything that happened was part of the plan... and broken heart and all we needed to start over…
(To be continued)
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Let's start with some high school pictures...
I was 14 years old when my mom propped an empty suitcase in front of me and said “whatever fits in here, that’s what you can take with you”...
Just a few months prior my parents had decided we were leaving Venezuela and permanently relocating to the United States, so while the suitcase scene didn’t shock me, it did feel like a turning point in my teenage mind...we were leaving.. I had been asked to pack...the move was real!
I saw my childhood home come apart when my mom decided that the easiest way to get ready for the move was to sell everything in the house and start anew. I remember very clearly when strangers would walk into our home and make offers on furniture, picture frames, kitchen appliances, even our Christmas tree ornaments were for sale. I spent the last few nights sleeping on the floor because my bed had been sold and celebrated my 15th birthday in an empty house blowing candles on a cake that sat on a kitchen stool, no bells or whistles, there was no time for a “quince” party, we were leaving the country within the next week!
On December 31st, 1996 we boarded a plane and said goodbye to our native country. I can still hear my sister Claudia sobbing at the airport and screaming “please don’t take me, I don’t want to leave!”, that moment will remain a jarring memory for me. It was the first day of our new lives and at the time it sounded odd that my parents had picked that day to move to a new country but 25 years later I can see why it was the perfect date; it meant closing a chapter and starting a new one along with ending a year and ringing in a new one, the meaning is deeper than I ever thought 25 years ago.
The first few months were rough as I navigated the American high school experience as a newly arrived international freshman. Leaving my all-girl Catholic school to be “dumped” in a less than desirable public American high school wasn’t my cup of tea and I felt really lost for most of that first year. I was no longer wearing a preppy uniform every day, there were no praying nuns with cheerful attitudes or people willing to be friendly just because that was the right thing to do. Instead, I was faced with unwelcoming mean kids that made fun of me for not speaking English and for not understanding their sexual jokes, teachers that were mostly disconnected from the students’ needs, and a high school campus that looked more like a jail than it did a school. I often wondered what I had done to deserve this and so badly wanted to go back to the bubble I had lived in for the past 15 years.
Things at home weren’t great either because we had gone from living a comfortable life in a big house to being crammed in a two-bedroom rental apartment. My dad was no longer Dean of Architecture in a prestigious university; he was now a pizza delivery driver trying to make ends meet and saving every penny so we could have a decent life as immigrants. My mom was no longer the always available stay-at-home mom, she was now another breadwinner and my sisters and I were spending more time alone than we ever had. Those first few months felt lonely and ominous, they brought so much anxiety and disruption to our perfect family but they also taught me the first lessons I learned in my new life as an immigrant, as the foreigner that I had become and the one I would always be. I learned that letting go of what was would be the only way to move forward, I learned that home is where your family is and that it is in difficult times that we truly understand the value of love, resilience, and sacrifice.
Our life in the United States was just getting started…(to be continued!)
Thursday, November 18, 2021
When I look at the life we have built in the past 16 years I can't help but think "gosh, how did I get so lucky!?". And the "luck" I think about isn't about feeling a mushy kind of love every day, or never arguing about anything, or traveling together, or having healthy kids, or being able to afford a comfortable life. My "luck" is about having that one special person next to me when things don't go right, it's about knowing that even on the worst days we share a kind of love that we both guard more than anything else we have, it's about arguing and always finding a way back to each other, it's about being confident that no matter what, we'll always trust each other enough to see through whatever obstacle is thrown at us.
I am "lucky" to love a partner who loves me back just as intensely, passionately, and unconditionally as I love him. We are lucky to have each other to go through good and bad times; to celebrate the happiness and share the sadness, someone to be vulnerable around, always knowing that there will be no judgment, and having no doubts that God put us together for a reason, being certain that we have a purpose as a couple, as a family.
That's what our anniversary means to me, a reminder that the love we share is bigger than ourselves and that our marriage will always be worth fighting for!
I love you forever, my Iggy. Thanks for making me the luckiest girl alive!
Happy sweet 16!
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Oliver is the sweetest little boy I ever did see; so caring and loving, always coming up with different ways to bring happiness to whoever he meets. He loves superheroes, Math, art, and all things dessert! He enjoys sports, particularly tennis, is learning to play the piano, and has gotten quite good at reading too!
He is currently loving Kindergarten and has made lots and lots of new friends. I love to see him thriving in school and I am so proud of him. He truly is a ray of sunshine in my life and I feel so blessed to be his mom.
Oliver celebrated his birthday this past Saturday with an Avengers-themed party; he invited all of his friends and had an absolute blast. At the end of the party, he said to me "thank you, mom, for the best party!" I could truly see the light in his eye.
I love Oliver's personality and I am always in awe of how mature he is. He is incredibly self-aware and communicates his needs so well; I can definitely see the effects of having two older sisters and growing up in a "go-go-go" kind of family. He enjoys the action but also loves relaxing at home. I love that he adjusts so easily to our crazy dynamics and I can always count on him to make me laugh or lift my spirits at any given point. What a special kid!
Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful birthday wishes for Oliver. We are truly grateful for the blessing of his life.
Happy 6th birthday, buddy! We love you so much!
Thursday, September 2, 2021
this post about a perpetual state of sadness in the world, a collective "downness" that most people have experienced in the past year and a half (consider yourself lucky if you haven't).
I, like many other people, have suffered the effects of the world shift that we have absolutely no control over. A pandemic, a tense political climate, and an overall hostile environment are some of the things that have touched our lives in recent times, and in my personal life, I have also struggled with my kids experiencing anxiety and some form of "sadness" that is hard to define.
But pandemic et. al aside, the world is just "different" now, and I am not referring to acceptable societal definitions of gender, family, norms, etc (that's a whole different topic); I am referring to the way in which we see ourselves and others. Somewhere along the way we all lost respect for humankind, we lost grip of the concept of common decency, we learned to be hateful, we embraced the possibility of running people over with our beliefs and minimizing what others think or ignoring what they have to say. I am having to teach my children basic values, things that at some point seemed obvious, I find myself having to say things like "a teacher shouldn't go through your backpack without your permission" or "you don't have to say yes if you don't agree", or "it's ok if you want to be super girly", or "it's ok to believe in God and say it proudly". When did this happen? When did the world become a place where people have to be afraid to stand up for themselves?
In an attempt to be more "accepting", we have become "blind". Blind to the fact that the world is a diverse place where people still have a mind of their own and it's ok if they don't go with the flow. As a conservative, I have often felt harassed because of my beliefs; I am often "boxed" by people who don't even know me. When I got the vaccine, I had someone ask "why would you get vaccinated? aren't you a Republican?"...what does that even mean?. On the flip side, I've also had people tell me "I'm disappointed in you for getting a vaccine, I thought you were smarter"...what does THAT even mean?
Do I really have to constantly defend who I am? Do I really have to explain why I think the way I do? Why do we live in such a judgy place and does it ever get easier? Why do the ones that preach "respect" are usually the least accepting?
The truth is, I am exhausted... I have a very hard time being the "happy mom". I'm tired of living in a world of passive-aggressiveness, a world where I have to measure my words even among "friends", a place where I have to always wonder if I'm offending anyone by simply being me. I'm tired of having to question people's true motives, of not knowing who to trust, of having to read into memes because people simply don't have the backbone to just be real!
And this has nothing to do with the pandemic, this is all on US and the constant need to outdo each other, the complacency with the idea of living in a "toxic" world and not taking responsibility for it. I know we can do better! I want a better tomorrow for my kids!
Does it ever get easier?
Saturday, July 17, 2021
It turns out they didn't end up sharing a birthday but their birthdays are close enough for them to share the spotlight (although they hate it sometimes!)
Today Olivia turns 14 and even though she's probably going through the most difficult years a person can have (at least according to me), she is walking through them with grace and rocking the teenage stage like only Olivia can do. She has the best sense of humor and is a social butterfly; she enjoys meeting new people and always finds common ground with everyone to make friendships.
Olivia is a shopaholic and loves a good bargain; she is a lover of Starbucks and enjoys hanging out with her friends, always coming up with the next best hangout and begging me to drive her around town for her social commitments (slow your roll, girl!) She loves life and that makes me so happy!
But this past year, her busy social life did take away from her other responsibilities; she slacked a bit in school as she wrapped up 8th grade and lost her study habits which directly affected her once "straight A" report cards. I had to go as far as disconnecting her line because, like a typical modern teenager, her phone became a priority and blinded her for a while. There was pouting and complaining but she got over it and was able to get back on track. She also had her first boyfriend and first heartbreak but her poise and easy-going personality helped her through it and the experience was good for her.
Olivia is sweet, caring, loves to travel the world, and worries so much about everyone. She makes me so proud and I can never thank God enough for choosing me to be her mom. She makes me a better mother and a better person and I am so happy to live life with her.
On your 14th birthday, please know that I will love you forever and will always support you even when I think your ideas are crazy. Never stop loving life and always dance like no one is watching!
Happy birthday my sweet girl!
Friday, July 16, 2021
And today my "little" Gaby turns 12 so this is a big day for us! Gaby is definitely my most difficult child; she is stubborn (I wonder where she gets it from!?! LOL), hot-headed, irritable, and impulsive. But she's also sweet, inquisitive, kind, compassionate and so many other good things that would take me hours to list. I just love her so much!
This year has been a difficult one for Gaby; at age 12 she is constantly struggling to define herself and find her own space. She tends to gravitate towards solitary activities and has had many issues with sadness and lack of motivation. The isolation from the pandemic put a damper on her personality and she has been trying so hard to come out of the funk. I know she's getting there but I would be lying if I said it hasn't been a challenge. I know it hasn't been easy but I also trust her resilience so much and have seen so many positive changes lately.
Gaby is a very family-oriented girl, incredibly affectionate, an avid reader, very analytical, and such a great sister to both Olivia and Oliver. She is an organizer and loves to make plans to get her friends together. She is a cat and sugar lover, who loves cooking and painting. So many traits that make her who she is and make me such a proud mom!
Gaby, on your birthday I'd like you to know that my love for you has no end and that even when the road seems tough ahead, I will always be here to help you push through it so you come out stronger on the other side. You are a blessing to me and if I did nothing else right in my life, being your mom would be just enough!
Happy Birthday my sweet girl!
Monday, June 21, 2021
I have a way of dealing with things; I am blunt, I don't mope, I tend to focus on problem solutions rather than problem analysis. I don't get too attached, or offended, or sad about things. Some might call it "cold", others might call it "practical", either way, it's what works for me and I'm ok with that.
But because no one is invulnerable to stress and anxiety, my pragmatism can only get me so far and I too have suffered the effects of the uncertainty of these times, particularly when it comes to my two daughters. I've always been wary of the teenage years; the challenges that come with this stage of life are nothing to laugh about, especially during an era when they have access to insurmountable amounts of information and misinformation; it's hard to convince your child of something when the whole world tells them otherwise; it's hard to expect them to behave a certain way only because that is what has worked for us; it's easy to assume that their personalities will develop according to their surroundings and hard when we are faced with the opposite of that.
In the past few months, I've had to deal with teenage heartbreak (first boyfriend and subsequent break-up), isolation, panic attacks, anxiety, school neglect, a transition to high school, the realization that friends change and you can't possibly please everyone, therapy and much more; and even though these things haven't happened to ME, it definitely feels like I'm living them right along with my kids and that adds a whole new layer of complexity that I wasn't ready for. How could I truly understand all these things if it's not me they're happening to? and how could I truly help if I don't know what they really feel like?
My teenage years were a "walk in the park"; even though I moved to another country at the ripe age of 15, the fact that there were no phones and no way to bombard kids with "crap" probably made it a lot easier. Influencers, political correctness, #empowher, and the constant and exhausting need to prove yourself to others were not a thing and the world was a much happier place (according to my perception anyway!). The amount of pressure modern kids have to deal with is no joke and that in turn translates into added pressure for us parents, it really is NO JOKE! Never in a million years did I think I'd have to fear my kid committing suicide because she was bullied online, or that I'd have to fight for my kids to have a "normal life", or that I'd have to convince them of things that at some point were so obvious, or the fact that therapy is probably a "necessary evil" if I want to come out alive on the other side. And even with all that, my kids have "easy" but it does come with a cost, and anxiety catches up because just when I think I've got it all figured out, in comes the next thing to worry about, the next threat, the next issue, the next pain...
I guess what I'm trying to say is that anxiety is REAL and sometimes I fail to voice it and wait for the triggers instead of finding a shoulder to cry on or calling on a friend for a venting session. I know I'm not alone...
Tips to handle anxiety?
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021
Disclaimer: This post is about a state of "Perpetual Sadness" in our world and not indicative of personal depression or other mental health issues. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, please seek professional help.
There is something about coming to terms with raw emotions that tends to be intimidating. When I'm sad, all I want to do is sleep or be alone for a bit.
But facing struggles is part of life and I wholeheartedly believe that a good support system makes all the difference in the world. I often tell my friends and family how blessed I feel for having them in my life; how knowing that a comforting word is only a phone call away makes everything so much easier...some days that comfort is needed more than others.
I have a good life, a life filled with happy moments, amazing memories, an awesome family, and many things going for me (thank you, God!) but lately, there are times when I can't shake that feeling of perpetual sadness that often floods my days. I know sadness is a normal reaction to a loss, disappointment, problems, or other difficult situations and feeling sad from time to time is just another part of being human; but sometimes I feel like the world's current state is just so overwhelming.
I find myself crying randomly when I pick up my kids from school and see all those children in masks; I know it sounds silly but it just makes me so sad to see what things have turned into and I wonder when we'll be able to go back to some sort of "normal" (I know many people feel this way too).
I see people around me losing their common sense by the minute and our natural reaction is now to avoid physical contact or personal closeness; the very things that make our hearts beat faster, the things that make us feel loved and connected. I miss the normal and abundantly happy times that we were all so used to.
When I turn on the TV, all I see is a polarized world, a world in which feelings don't matter and the best opinion is the one that matches your own, even if it makes no sense at all. Outside of TV, I see people misconstruing intentions, trampling over moral values, imposing ideas without hearing the other side of stories, spewing insults to strangers, ignoring priorities, and simply not loving one another.
But whose fault is it? Is this the pandemic's fault? Is it the politicians' fault? or is it US?
We have become used to living in a world of perpetual sadness and I often ask myself how long is too long for sadness? How long is too long for hate? When will the world start focusing on what is good instead of what's bad or offensive?
Ironically enough, my blog's name is "Stories of a Happy Mom" and while I do still consider myself a "happy mom", I find happiness incompatible with the current state of affairs and that just makes me sad. I have lost faith in humanity, I have seen and heard things this past year that I never thought I'd see or hear. Sometimes nothing makes sense.
I find refuge in knowing that it's still very much possible to make a "u-turn", that one day we'll all wake up and say "but there's still so much good among us" and will simply act on it and move on from this worldly funk and perpetual sadness we've all become accustomed to.
I challenge every one of my readers to begin each day with a grateful heart, to make a choice to be happy and focus on the good. We can all be each other's light in the darkest times and share the joy in the brightest days!
Monday, January 11, 2021
I won't write another post about how "bad" 2020 was or how "redemptive" 2021 will be, because the truth is that we all live different experiences and any given year is what we make of it. In all honesty, 2020 was a bit uninspiring as far as writing goes but life went on, and incredibly enough, a lot of good things happened for us.
As far as updates go, I can say that we've all managed to stay healthy in the middle of this devastating pandemic, the kids have been back to in-person school, Iggy and I have been working the whole time and we bought a house! (yay!)
Here's a recount of the 3 top things that 2020 brought for us and how we managed to turn them into a positive almost every time:
1. Anxiety: Between the lockdowns and the uncertainty, I know I am not alone when I say that my anxiety was through the roof for a good few months. Not knowing what was coming next, and being bombarded with bad news on a daily basis was hard but a lot of learning came from it. I was able to turn my anxiety into coping and my coping into spirituality and I can honestly say I'm a better person now when the pandemic started... and for that I'm thankful! I can now handle anxiety better and help others to do the same. Prayer was always a part of my life, but now it's definitely the center of it. "Nothing is impossible to God!"
2. Restrictions: Everyone who knows me is well aware that I love to travel, I also love shopping and hanging out with friends, so the restrictive nature of 2020 was rough for me. Not only were we confined to certain places and spaces, but we were also constantly missing the human interaction and seeing how the world crumbled around us. The restrictions, however, brought on more family "togetherness" and with that came better family relations and a mandatory prioritizing of life in general. If this pandemic taught me anything, it was the fact that all we need to be happy is each other and I am grateful that we were able to rediscover ourselves and nurture our family life. Board games, anyone?
3. Isolation: We are relational individuals, we are used to sharing our experiences with others and that is a big part of life, especially when you are a teenager and constantly crave interactions with other teenagers and like-minded people, so the isolation part of the pandemic was particularly damaging to both Olivia and Gaby. It was hard seeing the kids so alone and at times very sad; they were isolated and relying on technology to hold on to that little bit of contact they had with their friends and with that came an obsessive addiction to social media that wa verging on dangerous. So about two months ago, we made the decision to do away with phones for the girls and help them in refocusing their energy to do more "productive" activities and we have not looked back! Some of you might remember this post from 2019 where I talked about my regrets for giving Olivia a phone at age 10. As time went on (and especially during this pandemic), I was able to take a closer look at the danger that comes with the access that a phone provides and I am 100% convinced that kids DO NOT NEED PHONES! So in a way, I am thankful to the pandemic for opening my eyes and helping me get the courage to disconnect the phones and restrict social media for the girls in a world where that seems so odd (I will write more about this in a future post- I call it the "reclaim my child's brain" movement). I must say that the girls now have even better relationships with their friends, as crazy as that sounds! ;)
Anyway, enough for a comeback post.. I promise I'll blog more this year and I hope everyone has a wonderful 2021, filled with great opportunities. I hope we all continue to be finders of the silver lining and bearers of smiles and good news. As tough as life gets, I am confident that humanity and love will always prevail!
I pray especially for anyone who has been affected by COVID whether it was losing a loved one, a job or having their life turned upside down.
Happy 2021! :)