Cake and champagne

Journal

happy-divorceAt 50, I am definitely not where I thought I would be.  I had this picture of how my life was supposed to be, but as we all know life has it’s own sense of humor.  She just loves to steer you in a direction that, at the beginning, you might not be so sure of.

After Hurricane Maria I lost my job as a full-time designer, but afterwards the same company hired me back as a freelancer.  What seemed as scary before… today is working out great.  Yesterday I became a member of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and what an experience it was.  As I look at my membership certificate in awe of how great it feels to be an entrepreneur; I remember how scared I was at the beginning of this new venture.  Luckily more clients are coming in and the fear is being replaced with excitement.  I have been waking up and going to sleep thinking about projects (and talking to myself a lot about them which has my children very confused ).  “What a ride” like the surfers say.

So it’s being going pretty exciting and fun professionally, but then…life decided to change courses yet again. This time at a personal level.  Today my now ex-husband and I got divorced. In the same courthouse where we said I do; today we said we are done.

Even after all the fights and talks of divorce, I never thought we would be done. As a Netflix fan, I always thought it would be like in the movies:  if you try hard enough…love  conquers all and we would grow old together and just laugh the hard times off.  Well, that works out very nicely in movies (Netflix is full of them) but reality is…well, quite different.

Boy did I try hard to make things work, but in the end I had to accept that it was time for yet another change.  Honestly, I miss my ex-husband who used to be my best friend as well, and I wish things worked out differently, but they didn’t.  Just like when I felt lost as I lost my job of 20 years…I felt lost again when I realized my marriage of 25 years ended.  It wasn’t a walk in the park, mind you, change is brutal and it took a lot of patience, love and support from my family and friends, and lots of chocolate and Netflix.  But just like before; there was really no choice but to move on.

I once heard that packing your spouse’s belongings was one of the hardest and saddest things during a divorce.  Let me assure you it’s true.  Packing his things was a farewell to a life I was sure would last forever. I had to accept that there was no more our life, no more us, no more we. From today on it’s just meI cried buckets, ate ridiculous amounts of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (and of course more chocolate), but slowly I have started to enjoy the new routine…the peace… just being me again. As I look around, my children are enjoying this change as well and even Mister Taquito, our mischievous sato dog, seems more at peace.

I wish I could say that we remained friends, but that is not the case.  It got very ugly at times although not “Drogon on King’s Landing ugly”.  But weirdly enough after all that has happened; as I walked out of the courtroom all I felt was peace.

I am thankful to him for our children, for loving and protecting me when he did, for teaching me how to cook (I can proudly say I don’t burn rice anymore), for making me laugh so many times, for introducing me to the wonderful world of kettlebells, for binge watching with me so many geeky series (Game of Thrones of course) and for being there for me when he did.  As we both parted ways I wished him health, love and peace while wishing the same for myself.  

A while back, my very wise aunt Olga told me: when you get a divorce, it means you believe in love.  What?  “Divorce is giving up, it’s a failure” I told her. Fast forward a few months and now I fully understand what she was trying to tell me.  Divorce doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in love, that you failed or didn’t try hard enough.  Like my aunt, now I think it means that you believe in love so much that you are not willing to be in a relationship without it.  That you are willing to change directions and let go.  That even when you love somebody; if it doesn’t work out you move on.  It’s true that not all divorces end up the same; some get Drogon ugly even years afterwards, so I am very thankfull that mine did.

In one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun, the main character celebrated her divorce with a beautiful chocolate cake.  Her best friend told her “You start a marriage with cake and champagne. Finish it that way too“.  Since I get drunk by just smelling alcohol…no champagne for me, but my Mom got me a gorgeous chocolate cake and I celebrated today with my family: Nueva Vida (A New Life).

So, to all the ones that are going thru changes in their lives right now (personal or professional): please embrace and accept them.  Trust me, with a lot of patience things will work out and you will feel even better than before.  It might get scary at times, but there is no sense on being stuck… you just have to move on.

And now I have an Annual Report to get back to…and enjoy another piece of cake.

Taquito and Marvy

Journal
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#mistertaquito

I don’t have a luxurious life money wise.  In fact, the debts just love to terrorise me each month and I cringed every time I hear the news talk about higher rates for the electricity, water, food, etc.   But I am definitely rich in love.

I have a very diverse family who are so fun to share time with.  Strong and beautiful younger sisters.  A marriage of almost 25 years with it’s ups and downs. A Mom who has been a warrior through life, my role model, and last but not least: two great children who are my pride and joy.  I tell them: the sky is the limit when it comes to your possibilities if you educate and believe in yourself.

About 5 years ago, we added two new members to our family: Marvy and Taco.  They were both rescues from the Humane Society of Puerto Rico , and for us, they are the most loving and loyal dogs in the world.  Even though their lives didn’t start in the best way; they are now adored and pampered (too much by my husband standards) by all of us.

When I was a little girl, you would have a dog to protect your house, a cat to take care of the rats and fish as soothing therapy.  They were pets not family, and never ever a would a dog sleep in your bed (at least not in mine or my Mom would make me regret it).

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Marvy

Well, that doesn’t apply at Casa Miranda Sánchez.  My furry four legged children are part of the family and stay inside the house as much as they want to.  They sleep with us (generously distributing their night time between my human children and me).  Our walks are my therapy, where I get all these aha thoughts that I quickly forget once we get home (once I started recording them on my phone but the neighbours got suspicious).  They celebrate our arrivals  with a party of barks and jumps (Marvy runs in circles like a crazy merry go round) and give us the saddest eyes when we leave.  Great listeners, comforting and good for our health.  When my pressure is up, I hold Taquito for a while and it goes back to normal.

And they are also, great role models.  Why?  Because they just want to be loved and love you.  They don’t care about riches.   A walk in the park, a belly rub, just being there with you and for you it’s all they care about ( in Marvy’s case hunting cats and lizards as well). Their love is so selfless that they have even protected me from pitbulls.  Two small doggies against  grown pitbulls!  They didn’t care about how big the challenge was, they just went on and fought them so I wouldn’t get hurt.

When I started my Instagram account, I just wanted to follow these great trainers like Chris Freytag or Don Saladino and of course The Rock (hey a woman needs inspiration right?).  I was amazed that Facebook and Instagram had so many posts about doggies.  Just watching them could turn a bad day into a good one. At some point I posted a picture of Taquito and puff, I started to have followers (okey, Taquito started having followers, Marvy is a little camera-shy).  People were asking me for more posts and I loved it!  I just loved the fact that Taquito was able to brighten someone day just like Crusoe and other poochies did for me.

We can’t control many things in our world but we can choose to stay positive and be thankful for what we do have.  I may never get a million dollars or a dinner date with The Rock (although I’ll never stop dreaming about it), but I am a millionaire in the love department and to me that is amazing.  Relatives live far away and we don’t see each other as much as we like to, children are growing up and moving on with their lives…and that it’s all OK.  Taquito and Marvy are waiting for me at home.  For them, they have a great life: simple and full of love. That is a great life lesson for me.

Even in the worst moments, I see the face of my furry friends and their little antics and can’t help but smile. So I’ll keep posting about Mister Taquito so he can bring a little joy to those that just want to laugh at this silly loving dog. As a matter of fact, what is he up to right now?

 

 

Uncle Nelson

Journal
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Nelson and me 25 years ago.  Gasp!…we need a new picture

I think we all have a favorite uncle or aunt that spoils us, keeps our secrets or just really clicks with us.  That cool buddy, that even though you love your whole family,  has a special niche in your heart that not even time can change. For me is my beloved Uncle Nelson.  He is only 8 years older than me so he is more like a big brother than an uncle. I can’t help but to smile everytime I remember something from my childhood that involves him.

 

By the time I was a teenager, he left for Miami.  I was heartbroken but never let him know because I knew it was for the better.  He has made a great career, family, always kept learning new things and had so many experiences and adventures.  He has been a great role model and I have always been so proud of him.

Because my Abuela (Grandma) has been very sick; he came back to Puerto Rico for a few days to get her settled from the hospital.  I visited them on Saturday and was touched to my core on how sweet, tender and attentive this man was with his mother.  We were talking just about everything, but he was always checking up on her every need.

It is very hard when your loved ones get sick.  My Abuela has been a strong willed, hard worker, very independent woman (and quite scary when she would get mad) until  a few years ago when she started getting sick.  Now she needs a lot of care and help. It makes me think a lot of the future and my own fragility. But watching my uncle take care of Abuela made me think of something else…love and compassion.

In our busy lives, with all the problems and difficult situations around us, it can be easy to lose that sense of love and compassion towards others.  Never ending work schedules, children to raise, bills to pay…we could get too busy to even think about it.  But, when you see it…BAM!… it hits you.  Of all of my uncle’s accomplishments (and there are so many professionally and personally) his love towards his mother is the one that makes me the most proud and I pray I can emulate.  I am so thankful to have him in my life as an uncle and as a great role model. Gracias Tio Nelson.

 

Goodbye school shoes

Journal

IMG_1409For the past 20 plus summers or so, I would take a few days off from work around this time for the infamous “Back to School”.  I would try to get everything ready quick, cheap and as painless as possible. I would be scouting for sales and calling other mothers to come up with new strategies. But for some karmic reason, I would always end up in some endless line discussing  the high prices of everything with other parents and rolling my eyes everytime something would be out of stock.  While waiting on those endless lines I would  dream that everything could be  bought online so I could stay home and watch Netflix.

The last  item on the list: school shoes.  My son prefers snickers like me and  my daughter, with her chic sense of fashion, prefers boots (the really cool ones that unfortunately won’t fit me).  It was always a yuck moment when we had to go into the store to get those shoes that none of us liked.  Those shoes would be worn until they would transform into practically  slippers and would be toss at the end of the school year with a happy little celebration.

A few days ago I was at the mall with my husband and went by the store where we would buy the dreaded shoes. As I looked inside the store and saw mothers pleading to their children to try them on; it hit me: this is the first time I won’t be buying school shoes because my youngest is going to college!  I had to stop for a second.  I stared at those shoes and I couldn’t believe I was teary eyed.  The one thing I hated to buy showed me that my kid has grown?

How funny life is. Something so simple can remind you of change. Now I am looking at my daughter’s last pair of very worned school shoes with a little nostalgia.  Memories of all those back to school moments take on a new light because they are part of the past now.  What to do? Nothing but to welcome the changes ahead. Thank you school shoes.

 

 

 

Exercise with lots of care

Journal

 

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#MisterTaquito in my last training session…for now

On my 50’th bday last week, I attempted to do a kettlebell snatch without the proper progression and bam…sayonara shoulder.  For a few days I couldn’t move my arm at all and the pain was so bad I created this mantra: “I went through labor twice so I can take this pain” (but still, I cried a few times while hiding in my closet). My doctor said that I had to stop all weight training and my beloved Wing Chun for a few weeks .  It has only been  a week but I can already feel the difference in my posture and my energy… and not for the better.  Not that I was training like The Rock or Gal Gadot, but even my simple weight training routine kept me strong and honestly very happy.  There is something to lifting weights that makes me feel like Wonder Woman…ready to save the world or maybe just finish a very complicated design project.

 

No kettlebells or wing chun? So let’s walk more.  This morning I took my dogs for a long walk (almost two hours so they hate me now) and I started thinking about how vital it is to be able to move freely.  This past week my Grandma has been in the hospital with several complications and most of them are due to the fact that because of lack of exercise her heart and lungs are very weak.  When I was 25, I wouldn’t think about exercise and movement, I would just do it.  At 50, it has become a big issue because I want to keep moving freely and healthy for years to come.

Last week after getting hurt I couldn’t work… jeez, I couldn’t even turn on my phone with my right hand. A whole routine was altered by one injured arm.  I couldn’t drive so my Mom was taking me everywhere and my husband and kids were very supportive and took great care of me.  As thankful as I am, I couldn’t help but wonder: this is just one arm and it’s a temporary injury…imagine if it was worst or a chronic condition with no cure. SCARY!

If I want to accomplish my dream of working in graphic design, practicing wing chun and weight training well into my 90’s …I have to integrate exercise and movement responsibly every day into my life.  No more cutting cornes, steps or saying I got this when I don’t (really I didn’t, the kettle bell almost flew out my terrace and would have probably kill one of the cats down the street). Even if I feel like the eternal 10 year old who get’s excited about the new Star Wars movie…my body is not, is a mature body that deserves respect and lots of care.  First lesson in my fifties: move responsibly because just one thing can affect everything else.

 

 

Job Interviews…a whole new ball game

Journal, Uncategorized
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#MisterTaquito proofreading my work

A long time but in this galaxy,  I would take my beloved printed portfolio, resume and business cards for a job interview.   While my interviewer was reviewing my pieces I would talk about them, the process and myself.  It was like telling a story in an easy flow that would lead to my rates and when could I start.

Last December, when I told my sister (also a graphic designer but 16 years younger) that I needed to buy a new portfolio since mine was so old it looked like Indiana Jones’s satchel bag, she asked me what for. Your portfolio is supposed to be online, you don’t take anything to your interviews not even your resume; you will send that ahead, she said.

What?  I honestly felt like she told me I have to go naked.  Go to an interview without my printed pieces, my book?  Have them online instead?  So they already know me and know my history beforehand? Yep, the naked feeling came back again.

Here we go again,  another lesson to be learned. I read a few articles about what to do and what not to do in an interview and set out for the adventure.  Between you and me I thought I was ready…je-je.

And off I went to two interviews recently.  I really liked the offices, projects and people that worked there.  I had butterflies in my stomach which was great because I haven’t felt like that in…okey maybe I should’t say how long. One of the firms called me back to work freelance to which I am very grateful and looking forward to working and learning new things with them.

But let me tell you, those interviews were a whole different thing.  It was a conversation about what they do and me (in my mind I was looking for my printed portfolio).  So we started talking, nice conversation and ta-da it came the question that got me tongue tied (a first)…How can you improve my brand?  It was the first question in all the articles I read.  I did research the companies I was visiting so I knew their proyects. I knew this! In my mind an array of answers kept tripping against one another: creative, hard worker, love to learn new things, loyal, responsible and I would defend your brand like a viking warrior (okey maybe I shouldn’t say this one)… but how to explain all that to someone that doesn’t know me in complete clear sentences ?

I took a breath, smiled and very slowly started to say what I was thinking (not the viking part of course); maybe I sounded like I was reciting…well  I did, but it got me through it.  When I got into my car I was laughing at my ga-ga moment and told myself…there, you got tongued tied, but it’s done.

My beloved idol, Bruce Lee said “Learning is a constant process of discovery and never a concluding one”.  How great is that? And so true. So maybe this question won’t get me tongued tied on my next interview, but honestly I can’t wait to see what will.  It’s a process right?

 

 

Yep, I’m thankful

Journal
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My office and new supervisor #MisterTaquito

It’s been seven months or so since I was let go of my job of 20 years.  What a scary thing!  On January 2, 2018 we got the electricity back and for me that is marked in calendar forever as a very special anniversary.  About a week later I started working freelance for my old job, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, and have been ever since to which I am very grateful. Due to cut backs they couldn’t rehire full time but with the hours that I have been working for them, I have been able to pay my debts and get by.  I don’t like that phrase: “get by”.  It sounds to me like the opposite of stability…peace.  But in the “getting by” I also had time to work on some personal projects that I have been putting on hold for the past 20-25 years or so. Go figure.

So, by “getting by” financially…I was able to do other things besides work.  That gave me some pause.  I realize that I have been in the rat race for so long that I didn’t even notice time passing by.  Things that I wanted to accomplish but just kept staying in the wish list year after year.  Now…I  had the time so let’s do them!  I am not talking about traveling around the world (which is in my list by the way) or jumping from a plane (not on my list).  I am talking about something as simple as exercising, keeping a journal, reading a self help book, learning a new recipe and ta-da…#WingChun.  The  kind of stuff that only would be for my benefit, but I never gave it any priority because I had a full time job, my kids were younger so I put them on hold.

On these past seven months I have learned to pause.  To see the positive out of everything. It hasn’t been easy all the time but it’s a new thing that I can add to my list of things that I have learned and try to do everyday.  A horrible hurricane destroyed my lovely island.  So many people left, so many jobs, properties and lives lost.  Sharing our experiences with friends, family, and even with strangers waiting on line I have come to realize that with perseverance, patience, and a lot of work in every aspect of our lives we are the same people but different at the same time.

Now, every morning before I get up from bed I thank the Goddess, God or my Higher Power for: my health, my family’s health and well being (dogs included of course), that we have a house with working utilities, good weather and the list goes on.  I am not a religious person. I do believe in a higher power, but I just don’t click with religion…at least not yet. I always thought what a sweet thing that the religious people in my life were always thanking God for everything good in their life.   Never gave it much thought until now.

“Getting by” has been a lesson.  Yes, I want to do many thing, yes I want to work more to have financial stability and save for my kids university, travels and so many other wonderful things.  But until I do, I am thankful for this phase in my life. So let’s get back to work #MisterTaquito.  There is lots to do yet.

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Happiness is dancing salsa by yourself at the beach

Journal

blog-photos - happiness-beach.jpgI don’t know who this lady is. She walks along the Isla Verde Beach early in the morning and then she starts dancing Salsa in front of the waves for a while.  Nobody pays attention to this happy lady dancing all by herself at the beach.  There is no music, just her, the waves and her happiness.  I don’t know her name, where she works or what her situation is…but I do know what an inspiration she has been for me.

The first time I saw her was three months ago, just after Hurricane Maria and I was very depressed.  No running water or electricity at home, food was rationed, no school, diseases that haven’t been seen on the Island since last century…it was all these bad, bad things that were crashing on me.  I went to the beach to calm down and there she was.  Dancing away with all her heart without a care in the world of who was watching or what people may think of her.  I started crying as I am crying now remembering on how a complete stranger behaving so free and happy could make me feel better.  I felt better because I realised that in spite of all the bad things that may happen, you could still find joy in something so simple as dancing salsa to the rythm of the waves.

I saw her today again and almost went to her and thank her for what she is done for me…but as I watched her, so completely into her dancing, such joy, I decided not to interrupt her.  Keep dancing happy lady and may you help other with your joy as you helped me.

 

After Hurricane María

Journal

Hurricane María took a big toll on the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC). They had to let go of more than half the staff and I was among them. What had been my home, my family, the place where I grew up as a professional and as a team player for over twenty years now belonged in the past.

No electricity, no safe running water, scarce supplies and now being unnemployed felt like swimming against the current. I thought of my favorite fish, the Koi that perserveres and even swims upstream to get where it needs to go so I tackled this new challenge as I tackled every project: I did my research and got to work.

Even though this has been the hardest project for me so far…it has been the most fun. I compiled my work into different categories so you may see what I could do as a designer and what I can bring to your team. View my Work.