10 Life Lessons, Courtesy of 2016

Happy New Year!

I’ve never been one of those people who ushers in the New Year with a list of resolutions firmly grasped. Nor am I an idealist who believes that when the clock strikes twelve, the slate is wiped clean. Alas, I’ve spent many years thinking the midnight toast paves the way for exciting adventures only to realize it’s simply a continuation of the same.

No, time has taught me that in not having expectations, I decrease the possibility of being disappointed. So does this mean I’m bracing myself for another crappy year? I don’t know.

I do know I’m not leaning one way or the other. Very much akin to being in a state of limbo, I greet each day with the question, “What now?”

Self reflection is one of the tools I use to battle, embrace, or accept any circumstance that is thrown my way. The minute my head hits the pillow, I play the movie of my life. Not all at once, but instead, one hour at a time; one minute at a time.

Thought after thought, I take in what I did.
Didn’t do.
Wish I’d done.
Realize I’ll never do.

I ponder ways that can help me make better decisions.
I justify my actions.
I pray there’s a reason for every choice I make, good or bad.

I’ve spent the first two weeks of 2017 reflecting on 2016. I want to share my conclusions with you.

10 Life Lessons, Courtesy of 2016

1) Nothing is the way it appears to be. We may think our situation is static but in an instant, life gets worse. Or it gets better. Though we may think we’re in control, the reality is we’re not. The faster we allow things to flow their natural course, the faster life will unfold.

2) Trust should not be given away. We’re fools if we believe we can deposit blind trust in everyone who comes into our lives. Trust should be something that is earned and as such, we should be cautious with whom we bring into our inner circle.

3) You can’t make someone love you. Sadly, they either do or they don’t and no amount of bargaining will change another person’s mind if he or she has decided love has left the building.

4) Our word is better than gold. I miss the days when a handshake was the way to sign a deal. Times when a person’s word meant he or she was trustworthy and had integrity. Sadly, those days are gone. It’s up to us to honor our word and when in doubt, not make promises we can’t keep.

5) Internal beauty exists. I used to think being beautiful on the inside was something ugly people said to make themselves feel better. Fast forward decades and I now understand no amount of makeup or fine clothes can mask an ugly interior. Kindness, empathy, and compassion should be beauty’s measuring tools.

6) The words, “I love you” are overrated. You love me? Do you really? Then don’t just tell me. Show me. Let go of selfishness, make sacrifices, think of others before yourself. But whatever you do, don’t think the words, “I love you,” mean anything to me unless they’re backed up with actions.

7) The truth can be ugly. But it can also liberate the spirit. Truth allows for a person to have closure, move on, and more importantly, heal. Honesty should always be exercised. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s ugly. Even when it means someone will be devastated. Because no matter the pain, no matter the heartache, the sun will continue to rise. Its bright light will remind us we’re still alive and while we may be broken, we can get up and start over.

8) Coffee and chocolate are always the answer. No matter how bad life seems, there’s something comforting about cradling a hot cup of coffee in your hands or savoring a piece of chocolate. Their aroma alone are testament good things don’t have to be expensive or hard to find.

9) Counting to ten before going forth can make the difference between a good or bad outcome. Fools rush in. Every single time. They don’t stop to take a breath. They don’t consider other options. They come in hot and get made. As a result, what could have been hardly ever is.

10) We are never alone. God always has our back. No matter the problem, we can trust that we are where we are supposed to be. Every tear, every moment of uncertainty, every doubt, is part of the process. Trusting in a higher power allows us to believe everything happens for a reason. Be content to sit in the copilot’s seat every now and then. Release the need to control everything and everyone. Liberate yourself from the stress that comes from thinking every decision comes down to you. Believe and have faith that while things may not happen when you want them to, eventually you will find joy.

What life lesson did 2016 teach you?

XOXO,

Living in the now with Snapchat

Colors of Autumn

Last week I received a notification that someone had subscribed to my blog. I was in shock. In shock because it’s been ages since I’ve written a blog post.

Clicking on my site, I was saddened to see it still had the autumn leaf wallpaper from last fall. I felt emotional, mental, and physical pain to realize something I had worked so hard to build had been nary but abandoned.

I cringed at the thought that I had joined the ranks of bloggers who work tirelessly to build a relationship with their readers only to stop cultivating it.

Nevertheless, in spite of my apparent indifference, someone had shown an interest in my earlier work and clicked the subscribe button.

Feeling like a wretched ingrate, I pushed myself to put things right. I updated the theme, changed the wallpaper, added some things, deleted others, and in the end, felt happy with the results.

I wish I could tell you I’ve been lazy, or that I developed writer’s block. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The truth is things have been rough at Casa Bella. In the past year, the Significant Other has had three surgeries, a close family member has ended her marriage after 25 years, and I’ve had to conquer yet another bout of pneumonia.

Yes, once again life has gotten in the way. And this time, I have not been practicing the art of “dolce far niente” for the sheer pleasure of doing so, but because I’ve been forced to do so.

During this process, I’ve given new meaning to living one day at a time. The journey has not been an easy one but we seem to be coming out of the woods. Healing has been set in motion and believe it or not, smartphone photography is one of the things that has kept me sane.

Waiting in hospital emergency rooms and in doctors’ offices lead me to the discovery of apps like Snapchat. For those of you who haven’t heard of Snapchat (something I seriously doubt), it’s an app which allows one to take pictures which once viewed, disappear instantly. That is, unless you choose to add them to your “story” or “memories,” (Snapchat’s equivalent of a cloud). Snapchat followers can view your story as many times as they like for up to 24 hours, and then like magic, it’s gone. It’s important to note they can also replay an individual snap once.

My snaps, quite like the changing seasons, have varied this past year. There have been hospital snaps, surgery snaps, and grieving snaps. There have also been funny snaps, silly snaps, and snaps that don’t seem to make much sense. And while my new “hobby” might seem a worthless pursuit, let me assure you that capturing these moments has lead to many a discovery.

The writer in me has recognized that these snaps or moments, when strung together, allow a story to unfold. This alone has allowed me to focus on the positive and stopped me from worrying about what the future holds.

I’m grateful to my new subscriber for reminding me that unlike my snaps, my writing can last for as long as I want it to. And while I’m not ready to give up snapping, I am eager to resume writing blog posts.

I don’t want to end this post without saying I have missed you, dear readers. I pray you’ve missed me too. Stay tuned for upcoming posts and if you’d like to follow my adventures and finally discover what country I live in, follow me on Snapchat! Not only will this give you a window into my day to day, you’ll also get to see what little Roxy is up to!

If you wish to do so, my Snapchat username is: curvybella. You can also add me by using the snapchat code located on the right hand column of this blog.

Thank you for your patience and loyalty. I am deeply grateful.

XOXO,

When does the suffering stop?

Writing #2

Time flies.
Ah, my favorite idiom. And quite accurate considering it seems like only yesterday I was sun worshiping on a beach in Spain.

Today is a different story.
I’m knee deep in paper–all the way from toilet paper destined to be stocked, to receipts that date as far back as the Bush administration.

You’d think it would be easier to toss everything in a Hefty bag and be done with it (something I seriously considered when the pile grew so much, I thought I’d have to name it).

But I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, I would not have come across a little folder titled, “The Son’s Poetry.” Not very eloquent on the outside, I agree, yet what lay inside brought tears to my eyes.

Though truth be told, I think most mothers will agree there’s not much a child can do, create, or perform that won’t bring us to tears. But I digress.

On this occasion, I chanced upon a series of poems written by the Son for one of his high school English classes. One of them, not only left me bawling, but also perfectly captured my sadness after the recent tragedy in Paris.

This piece raises the rhetorical question of when does it end?
When does the slaying of innocent lives stop? When can we stop blaming the thirst for power for our suffering? When do mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and children stop grieving for the loss of a loved one who has died at the hands of murderers?

I’m afraid that like most rhetorical questions, these do not have a definitive reply.

We will continue to seek answers until we realize world peace can never be achieved while there are those willing to kill to obtain power.

Yet in spite of this gloomy outlook, the idealist in me believes there is strength in unity; that together, we have what it takes to spread love. We can start in our homes, with our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our colleagues.

Kindness, respect, and compassion will reign, but only if they are present in our lives.

That said, I want to share the Son’s poem with you. May it incite you to reflect, not only on the recent tragedies, but also on why devastating circumstances such as these are still a reality.

The tragic loss of it all

We sit on the couch my mother and I
Enveloped by warmth we deeply sigh
The TV blaring we both scream out why
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

Out in the Congo, people are dying
killed by the rebels it’s not a lie
Women and children everyone dying
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

And in another corner of the planet
A father and neighbor senselessly die
A ten year old boy shamelessly planned it
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

The waves of terror rise but never fall
The killing the torture at a mighty high
They fight for their lives, the old and the small
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

And much as they try to put up a fight
The battle will never result in a tie
Victims keep dying night after night
The pain, the torment just makes us cry

Pastors and peacekeepers try to advise
Preach and bring peace as bullets fly by
Deep seeded faith is our only device
The pain, the torment just makes us cry

XOXO,

Note: The Son has allowed me to publish this piece and it has not been modified in any way. It is just as I found it.