Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mothers don't let your babies grow up to let them be what they want

I am a mom. By choice in fact. I love it. I've said that this year marks a milestone year for me in my life because it is the "same age" year as many call it for those who have lost a parent. This year, I am the same age that my mom was when she passed away from a long battle with cancer (42). Ironically, my youngest daughter is the exact same age I was when my mom passed (13). In recently months, I have watched her bloom into a typical teenager, with the hormones and the make up and the hair and the style. I now know what my mom saw from her perspective. I have attending awards presentations and performances and sent her off to her 8th grade formal dance. The proudest moments. It's amazing to think my mom was about to die at the age I am now. She missed my promotion dance. I can't imagine not being here. My life seems like it's just beginning! I remember my perspective at my daughter's age: growing up so much faster than my friends had to. But I HAD to. One of the things my wife and I do for our children is really have them understand the importance of self-sufficiency. It's hard, but it's essential. My mom started working with me and my brother at a young age (she was diagnosed when I was 4) because she didn't know what time had in store or how much time she would have. The things I learned from my mom have been long life lessons but the simple things were what I learned when I was young. Make your bed. Do the dishes. Never wash reds with whites. Be honest. Show compassion. I believe we have done these (except the making the bed part) with both our kids. It may be a struggle, but larger struggles lie ahead so you might as well get the small ones down early. In two weeks, my youngest promotes from middle school and begins her high school years. What I would have given to have my mom with me during those years. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be there for B. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Death and goodbyes

As a quick recap, this is the "same age" year for me. My mother passed away just  13 days before her 43rd birthday. I was 13 years old and my brother was 11. This year, I will turn 43 in November. My youngest daughter is currently, you guessed it, 13.  So this year I will be discussing my thoughts and feelings throughout the year, both in relation to my being my mother age as she passed and my daughter being the same age I was. 

Earlier this week, my daughter's dad's wife's mom passed away. So the mother of her step mom. Anyway, I digress. I had mentioned to her that this weekend she may go to her dad's on Saturday morning rather than Friday night because of the funeral. We started discussing saying goodbye and the grieving process. 

Now, my kiddos lost their papa when my oldest was 13 and my youngest was 6. My youngest doesn't remember a whole lot about the funeral and saying goodbye but we talked about it and that sometimes people pass into their next journey before we have the chance to see them and say goodbye. This was the case with their papa and my wife and I truly believe it was because he did not want them to see him as he was, but remember him as the strong man they loved. My daughter asked me if I saw my mom before she died. I explained the day as clear as I can remember it but that I did see her the day or two before she passed and I heard her just before she passed. We discussed how a person's body upon reaching death can no longer hold the beautiful soul within, that the body slowly begins to wither away and that remembering our loved ones in their happier times is always better. But I struggle with having the opportunity to say or not say goodbye. I told my daughter that I was given the option to see my mom after she passed; that I didn't have to but I chose to. And she asked me if my mom died peacefully. I told her I hope she had. She had been struggling for so long I hope she had some peace. When I saw my mom's body after she passed, I guess you can say she was at peace. I told my daughter that I think I would have chose not to see her had I been given the chance again; not because I didn't want to see her at peace, but because I wanted to remember her as she was when she wasn't ill. That image, which I hadn't recalled in some time, was one that haunted me early on; made me doubt my faith in God because how could someone take my mother away and leave me at my most vulnerable time. But that's another story. 

We discussed that people should be given the option to say goodbye whether it is in person, at the funeral service or in private communicating from within. She wants to go to the funeral because she does feel sad about this person passing but we discussed that you can also say your goodbyes from afar, which many of us have to do. 

What I do know is that I am going to be here for her as she needs to talk about life, to discuss death. I will always be here for both my kiddos no matter what age, as long as I am alive to do so. By the way, the irony of this particular situation, besides all of the ages? The mother of her dad's wife passed away on January 14th - same date as my mom 29 years ago. 

Until next time. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Equality in all 50 states

This morning, marriage finally became legal for same sex couples in all 50 states. Finally. I never thought I would see it in this lifetime. Two years ago when Prop 8 was finally defeated and Federal rights were granted as DOMA was lifted I thought I had seen it all. I could marry my wife legally in California and no one could do a thing about it. But today, all 50 states of these United States of America have marriage equality. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled and has changed the law of the land, giving freedoms and rights to those who want to love equally. My heart could explode with happiness. I have gone through bouts of tears and just the energy of having this news has made me so emotional. On this day. The day of decision for many decisions. I want to celebrate. I want to scream and honk my horn and show all my pride. And I will. I started this blog to express my thoughts and feelings in relation to oppression of being part of an underprivileged class. It just makes sense. My youngest daughter posted on IG and has been a part of this movement in her own right. We never forced views upon her but she has grown up loving all people regardless of race, religion, orientation and has learned to love. Love everyone for who they are despite differences. And today love wins. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Decisions, decisions...

There has been something weighing on my mind for the last six months or so.  First of all, my life is so blessed.  So full of love and experience and amazingness. In the last 7 years I have met so many people who have thoroughly filled my cup.  Many of these are all my friends and family in interpreting.  They have been the most supportive, straight-forward, honest, helpful and loving.  When I interpret, I put my whole everything into it. And I am hard on myself, which has been good and also not so good.  It creates a barrier for me that becomes hard to overcome.  My friends and family in interpreting have pushed me to strive for the best.  They have picked me up when I am down or too hard on my work.  And they have given me strength. In everything, from confidence in an assignment to strength in a decision.

Five years ago (15 days shy), I passed the written exam for NIC certification.  That is part one of two (for those who don't know).  Elated!  That was a huge success in my goal toward certification. I wanted to take my career to the next level.  I mean, after all, I just finish my interpreting education program and I had an amazing study partner who continues to inspire me to this day. However, many of my fears crept up.  I'm doing it wrong.  It's not ASL.  I'm too slow.  It doesn't make sense.  I would go out to many performance tests to work at colleges, agencies and the like, none of which panned out.  My anxiety got the best of me.  And then the feedback.  It didn't make sense. And it did a number on my confidence.  I did some college interpreting and some freelance assignments, but it got to the point that I wasn't as involved as I should be.  The feedback I got and still get from the Deaf community is "Wow, I didn't realize you were hearing!" which lifts me so high, I can't even begin to explain.  I silently do a victory dance inside because those words mean so much.  Now to back up even more...

Ten and a half years ago my life was changed by a not-so-good incident while I was cleaning my apartment.  After the tests and the hospital visits and the 3-months of medication for the one-time only seizure I had experienced left me with very fuzzy memories.  My once expansive skill of a photographic memory had waned to forgetting my train of thought during mid-sentence.  Luckily many of my memories have come back, but most are still fuzzy.  Having my job now had greatly strengthened my memory base and I can recall many things most people forget.  But at the same time, I have lost a lot of interpreting skills.  When you don't use it, you definitely lose it.

Six months ago, I had to make a decision which I have only recently made. You see, from the time you take the Knowledge Exam for NIC, you have five years to take the Performance and Interview portion of the test to become fully certified.  During that time, you need to be actively interpreting so you are fluid.  It's your life.  After all, it is your chosen career.  I decided six months ago that I was going to really evaluate if I wanted to go forward with certification.  I started studying all my written material, watching you tube videos and went to an interpreting workshop to see if I really wanted to pursue it.  I decided that I wasn't ready to decide!  But I had to.  My time was running out.  And I was living up to my childhood nickname, "Last Minute Lisa".  But I really needed to think this through!  What would I do if I became certified? How would that affect my life?  Did I want or need a change? How would it benefit me?  What if I didn't finish my goal of becoming a certified interpreter??  Would I be able to live with that?  Would I be able to live with that....  I decided not to decide, not yet.  So I delved into studying.  Downloaded an app to help memorize the tenets, because my brain couldn't remember the details of each of the sections. I continued to watch videos and ask myself those same questions: How will this benefit me? Can I live with myself if I don't finish my goal? Then I started to realize my goal had taken a new form.

My current job for the past 3 years has been a grassroots project at the public transit agency teaching seniors and people with disabilities how to access public transit so they can remain independent in their lives.  I started the program and I absolutely love it. While I oversee this program and all of its facets, I also work with Deaf seniors and Deaf young adults to access the bus to get where they need to go if they stop driving or if they don't drive. I conduct all my training in ASL, both individually and in group presentations.  I. Love. It.  And I see the benefits of being certified, but then, in my job, in my role (and there are many roles interpreters are asked to play, but sticking with the code of conduct, this could get sticky), it isn't necessary.  I want it, but do I need it? If I was certified, I wouldn't leave my job.  I created this program and seeing it blossom and grow is immensely satisfying.

So I was at a stall.  I was encouraged to contact two very dear mentors of mine from previous interpreting classes just to get their opinions.  Both had very strong points and excellent advice.  And they both individually told me in the end, it is my decision, and mine alone.  Their advice was the perfect remedy for me.  They will never know how each one individually inspired me and how their words comforted me. Shortly thereafter, I went to an event honoring my mentor and dear friend for the contributions to the Deaf community here in Riverside and she had a few of us who started the Student Association for Interpreters of the Deaf come on stage for recognition as well.  I was so proud to stand up there as the co-founder of this organization that has grown interpreters each year.  Many Deaf people came up to me that I work with in my current job and told me how awesome it was that I was a part of something so important. That was when I knew my answer to the question I had sought for so long.  I had people encouraging me and motivating me and being willing to mentor me.  I stayed up late into the evening with the co-founder of that organization; my friend and inspiration who was there with me 5 years ago taking the NIC written exam.  He imparting his knowledge of the Performance and Interview exam and his experience, and me fumbling through my own experiences and feelings. Sometimes, when the choice is clear, the decision is still hard.  You know when you are feeling pulled in both directions like a magnet pulling at its source? I felt so strongly in both directions.  Going home that night, I slept with a tennis match in my head. Weighing the pros and cons, realizing my own limitations with my memory and with my time and my own vision and hearing obstacles... In the end, once I made my decision, the load that had been weighing on me had been lifted.

I always want to be involved with the Deaf community.  The people within that community, interpreters, educators and Deaf alike, have been my brothers and sisters over these years.  I do not plan to leave this community.  But at this time in my life, I am choosing to let that certification go.  It doesn't mean I won't ever try again in the future, but right now, in my life right now, I am exactly where I want and need to be. My life took on a different path from the goal I set out 5 years ago.  I did not fail; my life path just shifted direction.  I would not be where I am today without the love and support of so many people within that community, especially those closest to me who never gave up on me: my mentors and my inspirations and my wife - all who provide unwavering support. For those of you who helped me come to my decision, whether knowingly or not, thank you. Thank you for being honest and being real.  It makes my heart swell with gratitude and smile with contentment.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A few months late, but still an update

I have been a bad blogger. But instead of badgering myself, let me give you an update.

Here we are in 2013. Last month in March, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for both Prop 8 and DOMA. The decision, THE decision, comes in the end of June. My family and I went to a candlelight vigil in hopes to light the way for justice. Our youngest has written several essays and has discussed marriage equality all on her own accord. I think it's time to finally have what we have been striving for: equal rights.

There was another tragedy that has hit the US. The bombings at the Boston marathon make us all hold our loved ones a little tighter.

Westboro Baptist Church is at it again, saying all the bombings and tragedies that have hit us are because God is punishing us for allowing gays to marry. It's absolutely ludicrous. I cannot get my head around it except that they are all fucking nuts.

My wife started her new job and our oldest daughter turned 18 and graduates next month. Crazy how time flies! We all are getting into the rhythm of things and it is pretty awesome.

Maybe my next post won't be so far away now that I have an iPhone. Until then...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day of Decision...not yet

Today we were suppose to hear from the US Supreme Court on whether or not they would take up the Prop 8 case and DOMA.  But nothing yet.  It could come as early as Monday, December 3rd or even on December 7th.  Hopefully we will hear something soon.  Patience is a virtue, but waiting is a bitch.

So tonight, I am celebrating 5 years since my first date with my lovely wife.  It was a day much like today: rainy, cold, mud everywhere.  But we had the most romantic time. The evening was filled with butterflies.  Not in the air as it was too chilly, but in our tummies.  We always giggle at that because we both were so insanely nervous.  This is where butterflies in our relationship started.  And another layer of the meaning for the sole butterfly in my ink on my arm. The catalyst for change.  The chosen direction.  Flight. Evolution. Love. Beauty. Freedom. 

My decision to be me.  My decision to live an outward life surrounded by love.  My decision to tread through the mud, the hills, any obstacle...all for the truth.  For life to be what it was meant to be.  I did not choose to be gay. I was born this way.  I made the decision to be free.

Patiently, I await the decision of the United States Supreme Court on whether they will uphold the decisions made by two previous federal courts in California that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birthday analysis

On Wednesday, November 28th, somewhere in the afternoon during the 3:00 hour, I will turn 39 years old.  I was born on a Wednesday, and I am entering into my last year of my 30's on the same day of the week.  That means my 40th birthday will be next year, and also fall exactly on Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, I will begin my 40th year of life.

When I began my 30th year of life, I was not in the best of places.  I had increasing anxiety and a fear of being around people. I would fall asleep when I was out with friends. I had very poor self-esteem and my health (apparently) was not in the best of places. About mid-way through that year of life, my body told me to slow down.  I had my only seizure thus far which made me go to the hospital for testing.  I was not healthy.  I needed to change my life or I might not see 40 without some really insane health issues.  I changed my life: began working out 5 days a week, eating lower carbs and meditating and doing yoga to calm my mind and find my center.  On my 30th birthday, I was full of energy and had a vigor for life. Of course, a few years following this is when the real self-analysis happened and I started to be honest about who I was and how I wanted to live, as fearful as it was at the time. My life changed and it was so much better in so many ways.

Somehow, I felt that I could never slip back into unhealthiness again.  I have absolutely maintained my sanity: my life is the best it has ever been.  I truly mean that when I say it.  I cry sometimes, just to myself, because I honestly never thought my life could be this full with my little family.  I honestly see my future, with my wife and girls, and it is clear and beautiful and bright.  My only concern is my health.

As this 40th year begins, I find myself sleepy (A LOT), cranky, and overweight.  I use to blame it on my boobs, saying that they were choking me when I lay down.  But honestly, it's my tummy.  Now, in case you are not aware, I like to eat.  I like curves and I am not all about the skinny figure.  My concern is that my body is not responding the way it should be.  My knees feel arthritic and no longer have the energy that I had just 10 years ago.  I have tried to start doing things but I lack commitment and always have an excuse.   But now, it is time. And I am making my commitment here.

I have no goal weight.  But I do have an exercise goal.  I am committing, to myself, my family and to anyone who reads this, to exercise 4 days of the week.  I also am committing to meditate regularly.  I cannot state a numeric goal, however, I would like to meditate when I need to.  I think it will help me stay focused.  I am also committing to eating healthier.  I need to keep portion control at the top of my list.  I am going to refrain from sugar and eat smaller portions.  I am going to do the best that I can.  It is hard to say I will eliminate processed foods and high carb foods but I will commit to thinking my meals through and doing the best I can do with what I have.

I will begin this change in my life habits on the first day of my 40th year (so that means on Thursday). I feel this is the best way to begin.  I don't want to be "bathing suit ready by summer"; I could give a shit about that. I want to be the ball of awesomeness, at my core, and ring 40 in with a lot of high fives.  I am ready.