“I feel [so outrageously un]stuck”

Cat wisdom #catsknowall

GrumpyCat #catsknowall

Ladies and gentlemen of the cacahuate gallery,

[FYI, y’aaaaaalll, “cacahuate” = peanut.]

Wow. It has been over two months… TWO MONTHS since I have last written a blog post. Not published a blog post, but written a blog post. And, my dear darlings (cause there are SO many of you), that is just far, far too long.

I write to you now from the Goddess Farm, aka the house of my dearest, most precious darling friend Nora, in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I have just drank 1.21 bottles of red wine, watched 2.7 episodes of Nashville (including the season 2 premiere), and am sitting with blank/not music-playing earphones at the table of the Goddess Farm.

In case you haven’t been reading along with the fun-and-sun gang (?), I was planning on moving back to the U.S. of America. Or “Awesome,” as I sometimes like to call it, depending on my mood, on the day, on the weather, on how much red wine I’ve had.

So I was going to move back to Portlandia (503 whad UP), and then I decided (it is nowhere in any blog post at all) that I was going to stay in Mexico. If not in Cuernavaca, in Mexico City. Reasonings as follows: 1) I love Mexico 2) I love Mexican men 3) I love Spanish 4) I love Mexico.

Simple enough, right?

Right.

erm, I mean, wrong.

Here is the Facebook status update that prompted me to write this semi-not-at-all-coherent blog post:

“I feel stuck. So naturally, I just ate brown sugar out of the jar and finished a bottle of white wine to compensate.”

Now, I must tell you two things:

1) I just hit the wrong button and thought I had deleted the blog post and I almost had a shit fit (then I realized that auto-save is my BESTEST of friends and ALWAYS has my back)

2) this quote was written on FBook by my Freshman year locker partner. yes, LOCKER partner. Not roomie. It was randomly assigned, and her spunk along with her creativity, cool glasses and absolutely beautiful personality just made me know in the deepest crevice of my heart that we would be friends forever (Bridge-Smidge, “you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love” [Enrique stole those lyrics from me]).

Now, you see, Bridgey and I haven’t kept in touch very much (erCHEM at all), but after our recent re-connection over Facebook just this evening (check out this video about social media sites and how the actually make us feel more alone while we are trying to avoid loneliness) and how we both just finished an entire bottle of wine (white and red, respectively), I was so inspired to just WRITE.

 

Simply, write.

Being a twenty-something is ALL about confusion. I’m not sure if I’ve made myself clear in the previous blogs about that. I hope you’ve been able to decipher my indecisiveness about life and my irritability with 14-year-olds as really being me, Maggie Jane/all twenty-somethings, uncomfortable with the unknown and the unexperienced. It’s quite terrifying. And as my friend Bridgey said about twenty-something/ any-something bloggers, “it’s not my fault bloggers all take photos of their outfits or their meals or whatever stupid thing and earn money. how can they not think that’s annoying?”

I could SO easily agree with this homegirl of mine.

And I do.

 

People post EVERYTHING nowadays, and it really goes back to wanting to NOT be alone & be connected to EVERYONE (again, I direct you to THIS video to see the proof in the pudding, even though I only would eat vegan pudding ’cause I’m a vegan-ite-ish now, dontchaknow?).

And it’s like, who the MOTHER-EFFER cares?

So……

So.

 

 

I directed her to my blog. Not because of being vain or wanting more viewers or more press (press? that’s odd Maggie Jane that you use that word cause you’re all fancy and big league big time and all with your super frequented blog). But more than anything, I wanted to show her that there are twenty-somethings (like me!) that don’t post everything under the sun (actually they hardly post anything because they are so busy living their own lives and just experiencing the moment with red wine and no apologies) and that thrive off of human interaction and speaking Spanish and having wildly fantastic romantic affairs with Mexican men (email me if you want the scoop on that one cause there is a LOT of scoop on that one).

Then, after looking at my blog in her 1-bottle-of-white-wine status, she commented “dude your blog is hilarious. a+.” A+!!! Just exactly what I’ve been working for my WHOLE LIFE! AN A++++!!!

(please re-read the last line with the thickest sarcasm).

Now, this entre-parenthesis is not to say that I was not totally and completely humbled and flattered by Bridgey’s comment about my blog (esPECIALLY because she wants to get an MFA in CREATIVE WRITING… I mean, how much more BEAUTIFUL can it get?!; ultimately, my writing is to help me understand myself better and also is SO much about connecting with others (AGAIN, and FINAL TIME, click HERE). So to hear compliments from others, more than anything that others have connected with my blog, absolutely makes me squeal for joy and makes my heart flutter in the quickest of palpitations you could every imagine. Because ultimately, that is what it (life) is all about: the human connections we make and how we sustain said vínculos (connections, thank you very much español). 

I have felt stuck now for awhile, speaking of the blog title. I don’t quite feel stuck anymore, but I did feel stuck for awhile. I felt stuck as to what I was going to do with my life, where I was going to live, where I was going to work (which depended so heavily on where I was going to live), who I was going to be around to uplift me and love me and support me (again, which depended so heavily on where I was going to live), that I literally put myself into a self-induced paralysis (as opposed to drinking a whole bottle of red wine for several nights straight) and was so, but  I mean OH SO determined that I wouldn’t be able to determine anything. And oh man, if you haven’t hear of monkey-mind, what I just detailed briefly and not-so-en-detail is what we call Monkey-Mind. And I would say that MOST people experience Monkey-Mind, especially twenty-something year olds.

Well, anywho Maggie Jane, you certainly underestimated the power of the twenty-something.

AKA, the power of yo’self.

You, twenty-something-year-old, have the power to change your life. Your life is in YOUR hands. You want to know what you are going to do with your life? Crystal balls are for know-it-alls. And you, twenty-something, are SO much more than a know-it-all. Your twenty-somethings are for figuring your sh*ish out. You’ve already figured out so, so much, and you have SO much further to go. You see, dear darling twenty-something, you have SO much life left to be lived, and the most fatal mistake that we twenty-somethings can make is to set ourselves an age/date & time by which we have to have completed a certain number of tasks on a check-list. Meet spouse-for-life. Marry spouse-for-life. Have child with spouse-for-life. Find career-for-life. Figure your shit out for-life. Everything is for-life. For ALWAYS, it seems like.

And I have one thing to say to you (eCHERM, me) you fabulous twenty-something: sloooooow your roll.

yes. white-girl done said it.

S-L-O-W your ROLL.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s not a requirement of your twenty-somethings to have it all figured out. If you do have a significant amount figured out in your twenty-somethings, then that is AWESOME and I am SO happy for you; you GO homebrother/sistah! But also equally if you DON’T have it all (or even most of it or even a little bit) figured out, that is SO okay. More than okay, that is what we would perhaps call, the “status quo.”

I just hope you know and want to convey to you, all you twenty-somethings, that wherever you are in your life right now is exACTLY where you are supposed to be; everything is good and bad, it is all black and white, Britney Spears and Pitbull, vegan curry and hamburgers: life is ALL good, all in its duality.

So, in conclusion, twenty-somethings, please be kind to yourselves, be gentle to yourselves, and especially if you don’t quite know what it is that you want to do with your life, have faith that if you put yourself out there and go with the flow, things will work out in magical and mysterious ways; the Universe is a grand ordeal and such a beautiful ride.

I love you, peace be with you; God bless, and party hard.

“Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start”

All you gotta do is start, twenty-something-loves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“19 Successful People Who Had a Rough Time in their Twenties”

Thank you, Adam Moerder! This helps calm me down about my recent binge of uncertainty.

19 Successful People Who Had A Rough Time In Their Twenties

Don’t panic, twentysomethings. Here’s further proof that life is a marathon, not a sprint. posted on June 20, 2013 at 12:34pm EDT

 

Jon Hamm

At 27, Hamm couldn’t find any work and was dropped by the William Morris Agency. He vowed to quit acting if he couldn’t get his career rolling by 30. Fortunately, he landed a role on the NBC drama Providence at age 29.

Image by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

2. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah bounced around various Baltimore news stations, including one that fired her for getting too emotionally invested in stories. Her demotion to daytime TV proved a blessing in disguise, and by 30 she had the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.

Image by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

3. Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

Struggling to make money acting, Ford supported himself as a carpenter. A chance gig building cabinets for George Lucas led to a small part in American Graffiti and the role of Han Solo.

Image by Ethan Miller / Getty Images

4. Tim Allen

Tim Allen

In his mid-twenties, Allen spent over two years in federal prison for selling cocaine. The experience forced him to turn his life around and revive his stand-up career.

Image by Angela Weiss / Getty Images

5. Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig

Wiig spent her twenties working every odd job imaginable, from selling peaches to babysitting to drawing bodies of plastic surgery patients. SNL finally noticed her work with the Groundlings and hired her at 32.

Image by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

6. Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli

To pay for singing lessons and law school, Bocelli moonlighted as a piano bar performer until he was discovered by Luciano Pavarotti at age 33.

Image by Michael Buckner / Getty Images

7. Ang Lee

Ang Lee

After earning his master of fine arts, Lee spent six years as a stay-at-home husband while his film career stalled. Ashamed, he briefly considered a career in computer science until his wife, the family’s sole earner, urged him to continue pursuing his dream.

Image by Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images

8. Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo

To focus on becoming a “serious” writer, the award-winning novelist walked away from a cushy advertising gig and moved into a $60-a-month apartment, where his main expense was paying the phone bill. He published his first novel at 35.

Image by Timothy Hiatt / Getty Images

9. Walt Disney

Walt Disney

At 24, he had Oswaldo the Rabbit, his first successful cartoon character, stolen from him by Universal Studios. At 25, MGM told him no one would ever like Mickey Mouse. At one point in his twenties, Disney was so poor that he resorted to eating dog food.

Image by R. Mitchell / Getty Images

10. Suze Orman

Suze Orman

Orman spent most of her twenties working as a waitress. After an attempt to open her own restaurant bankrupted her, she became interested in finance and pursued a career as a broker.

Image by Leigh Vogel / Getty Images

11. R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

After a successful college career, Dickey suffered so many arm injuries he couldn’t even turn a doorknob without significant pain. Desperate to stay in the game, he began experimenting with the knuckleball, worked his way back into the major leagues, and won the National League Cy Young Award at age 37.

Image by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

12. Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis

While trying to jump-start his standup career, Galifianakis spent a large portion of his twenties as a busboy in an upscale Manhattan strip club.

Image by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

13. James Murphy

James Murphy

At 22, the LCD Soundsystem front man turned down a gig writing for Seinfeld. He was in and out of various punk bands for several years before founding DFA Records at 29.

Image by Rachel Murray / Getty Images

14. Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

While shopping Rocky around Hollywood, Stallone was so poor he tearfully sold his dog Butkus for $25. Once Rocky was purchased, he bought the bullmastiff back for $3,000 and even gave the buyer a small part in the film.

Image by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

15. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Although Jobs was a millionaire by 23, he became so disliked at Apple by the end of his twenties that his own company fired him. Jobs credited this devastating setback with helping him enter “one of the most creative periods” of his life.

Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

16. Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

During her twenties, Ball was known as the “Queen of the ‘B’s” thanks to her frequent roles in B-movies. Her agent recommended she find a new career, and it wasn’t until 40 that Ball became a household name on I Love Lucy.

Image by Keystone / Getty Images

17. James Dyson

James Dyson

Relying heavily on his wife’s income, Dyson spent the majority of his twenties failing to sell his vacuum cleaner designs to major manufacturers. At 39, he sold his first U.S. patent, allowing him to open his own manufacturing company.

Image by Bruno Vincent / Getty Images

18. Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas

Thomas bounced around several amateur and international hockey leagues before becoming a starter during 2006–2007 season at age 30. In 2011, his Game 7 shutout against Vancouver helped deliver a Stanley Cup to Boston.

Image by Elsa / Getty Images

19. J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

By the end of her twenties, Rowling was a divorced, unemployed single parent on welfare. After being rejected by eight publishers, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published right before her 32nd birthday and quickly became a best-seller.

30 Quotes That Will Make You Rethink What “Love” Means

These quotes are amazing; they really make me rethink my whole perspective on love and relationships. Break the mold. Make a shift. Love makes the world go round.

Thought Catalog

“That’s when I finally got it. I finally understood. It wasn’t the thought that counted. It was the actual execution that mattered, the showing up for somebody. The intent behind it wasn’t enough. Not for me. Not anymore. It wasn’t enough to know that deep down, he loved me. You had to actually say it to somebody, show them you cared. And he just didn’t. Not enough.” ― Jenny Han
“Most men claim to desire driven, independent and confident women. Yet when confronted with such a creature reverence often evolves into resent. For just like women, men need to be needed.”  ―Tiffany Madison
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is…

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el Gato está fuera de la bolsa

LOLCATZ. 'Nuff said.

LOLCATZ. ‘Nuff said.

“The cat’s out of the bag.” That is what this title means. Sometimes, certain idioms can be translated from English to Mexican Spanish and have the same or similar meanings in both cultures.

I don’t think this is one of those idioms.

And I couldn’t care less.

I’m officially thinking (like actually seriously putting some deep slightly-high-on-mota thought) about staying in Mexico. You read that correctly. I am thinking about staying in Mexico.

There. The cat’s out of the bag. (Just don’t tell Jim and Susan [yet]).

That cat has been in the bag now for awhile. And after breaking it down with my girl Nora, There are various judgments that I have about staying in Mexico vs. going back to and being in the U.S. Various suppositions I have, “shoulds” running around in my head, “rules” of society I feel like I have to (*cough*SHOULD*cough*) go back to the U.S. People (gringos) constantly come and go from Mexico, so there is a revolving door mentality that people in the United States have about us spending time here. This is a place that could never be permanent. This is a place that isn’t the real world. This is a place that isn’t valid. It’s too dangerous. It’s too far. It’s a cop-out. “When are you coming back home?” they ask. “When are you coming back to the real world?” is what they really mean to say. But like, what the hell? This is the real world. To me, this world feels even more real than the one in the United States. This world feels more alive. Warmer. More vibrant and open. It is a world that pushes you to be more open. To enjoy life more. To slow down. Slow waaaaay down. Sometimes I miss the efficiency of the U.S., but then I am reminded that it is colder up there, even if you’re in the Sunshine State of California. People are colder. More distant. More preoccupied with the next step. More preoccupied with with the day to day routine and the hustle and bustle that entails. One could justifiably say that there are more opportunities in the states. I wouldn’t really be able to disagree. But the opportunities are different. But the economy isn’t all that super either right now. Not sayin’ that Mexico’s is better. Don’t get me wrong; I love my motherland for many reasons. I also love Mexico for many, many reasons. In fact, I believe that in a past lifetime, I was Mexican. That’s how connected I feel to this place. And I feel that right now, for Maggie Jane, this is the place where I need to be.

I thought that going back to the states and then traveling was the more courageous thing to do. But I’m realizing that it might be the other way around. They both require courage, but of a different type. The courage for either decision is empowering. But the courage to make the decision to stay here, to go against the grain and really be on my path? Well, that takes confidence, courage, listening to one’s heart.

So, I’m really quite positive that I am going to stay here. I have until Monday to make my decision, but now that I’ve felt like I’ve come close to making one and like I’ve basically already made my decision, I feel so much more at peace, at ease. The thing is, nothing is permanent. I can leave in January if I want to leave in January. I can stay for 10 years if I want to stay for 10 years. I can change my mind. I am allowed to. I just want to follow my bliss. And right now, at least for these upcoming months, my bliss tells me that it’s here in Cuernavaca where I am supposed to be.

So, boom. The cat is out of the bag. And that is where it just might stay.

*

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what you needed it to be. Don’t think that you’re lost time. It took each and every situation to bring you to right now. And now is right on time.” Asha Tyson

Voldemort Part II: the “Goodbye”s Begin

Feliz Viaje

I believe in proper greetings and proper goodbyes. They are a respect, an honor and a recognition of the people that you are with. They coincide with proper beginnings and endings of cycles, although beginnings and endings tend to mesh together rather than being black and white apart. I’m at the ending of a cycle, a period in my life of intense self-exploration and discovery here in Mexico; and I’ve had to start to say my goodbyes.

Although I still have about two months here, last Monday I said goodbye to my homeroom students. It was my last class with them, and I started off by thanking them for a wonderful year in which they have taught me just as much as I have taught them, if not more. I told them I would miss them terribly next year. Then I told them that I will miss them so because I won’t be back, that I am leaving. Of course, tears filled my eyes as I really let the feeling of leaving sink in for the first time.

I just had a conversation with my soul sister who has become my rock, my guru, my sage during the past month. She always says exactly what I need to hear and has supported my heart and soul as I work through perfectionism and negative thought patterns. We Skyped, and I burst into tears as I thought of when I will have to Skype with her because I can’t just take a cab over to her house.

Last night, my boyfriend and I talked about how much it is going to hurt when I leave. How he wants to figure out some way for it to hurt less for himself, for both of us.

I have these conversations about Voldemort, about my July 22 departure from this place  in which I have created a life for myself, a place where I call myself home more than I ever have before in my life. This is a place where I have come to know myself at my deepest, most authentic level. This is a place where I have come to know people who are real, honest, loving, compassionate… friends who have transformed my world. This is a place where I have had three transformative relationships, each of which taught me something different and helped me along my personal journey of self-discovery and growth. I don’t want to leave this place because of the people I have met here. Leaving them breaks my heart.

You see…

Those students have become my babies, my group, my community. They have taught me how to treat one another with compassion and love, and have helped keep me young and fresh. It was so hard to say goodbye.

And you see…

My friends are absolute loves. Loves of my life. They have supported and loved me beyond expectations and been my rocks through thick and thin (and boy, have I been through some thick). They want the best for me. They respect my space, my boundaries. They love my weirdness and rejoice in my victories. They are friends for life, and they mean the world to me. I don’t really talk about Voldemort with them because I’m afraid of my heart being completely smashed to pieces.

You see…

I have a boyfriend who is an absolute love, the third Mexican I’ve dated while here, and I feel like I’m finally getting it right this time. He has taught me to love and accept myself unconditionally. He has taught me how to receive love because he genuinely wants to give me love. I don’t want to leave that love, hell no. He wants to give me the world, and I want to take it open-heartedly. But how open-heartedly can I do that when I know I’m about to leave? My heart is already breaking at the thought of leaving him.

So, you see…

I am afraid that upon leaving, I will lose all of myself that I have uncovered, all of the precious diamond that I have been discovering and polishing away at for the past two years. Part of me, a big part of me, is afraid to leave this place. Afraid to leave the people I have come to know, myself included. Leaving is the hard thing to do. Leaving is the reason I stayed for one more year.

But leaving is also the right thing for me to do. Leaving the certain for the unknown is scary. It seems dark. It’s unnerving. It’s terrifying. It’s the kind of thing that gets under your skin and into your heart and can bring you down way low. But it also is the brave thing to do. It takes courage. It takes self-respect enough to honor one’s own decision. It takes strength of the ego and the heart; faith that they will be just fine when this end begins. I feel like I want nothing more than to play hooky and not go to school; simultaneously, I want nothing more than to stop time and stay at school forever. I know I need to leave, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to because I don’t want to say goodbye to these people in my life.

But I know I have to be true to myself. And my true self knows that staying here is not right for me right now, no matter how dearly these people mean to me. Because at the end of the day, it is me. I have my friends. I have my students. I have my boyfriend. But my job is not what I want to do. Not right now. And if I am not happy, how can I stay for the people around me? What if things change? What if they leave? What if things end? Then what am I left with? I have to remind myself that in September of last year, I knew that I didn’t want to be teaching anymore. It doesn’t light my fire, not teaching English. And while I can really see a life for myself here in Mexico someday, I’m not ready to settle down just yet, no matter how much my heart strings pull me to stay. I have to let myself go, I know I do. I have to let myself leave knowing that I will come back; I have to let myself leave doing my best to have faith that everything will be okay on the other side until I do return.

*

“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” Kahlil Gibran

A Walk Down Study Abroad Lane: an Encounter with Quesadillas

Prayer for Moon Pyramid

I came to study Spanish here in Cuernavaca a short (but seemingly oh-so long) three years ago, and when I was on my way down here, never, not even in a million light years, would I have imagined that I would be living in Mexico three years later, having spent the last two working as an 8th grade English teacher and learning from several not-so-healthy relationships with Mexican men (with the emotional maturity of boys).

But alas, here I have been, and here I am.

Recently, I’ve had conversations with Mexicans in which with there has been discussion about Mexico. Less of a discussion, and more of Mexicans expressing their opinions to me of their native country. I have to say that when I came down here to study, I fell in love with Mexico and if I hadn’t been in love with Mexico, I would not have decided to stay here on my own for a full year after my first break-up. Of course there were aspects of Mexican culture that didn’t quite mesh with me, but the beauty outweighed the beasts in my decision to stay.

As I have these conversations, I find that many Mexicans are resentful of their motherland. One woman stands out as having a glowing perspective of this little-big city of Cuernavaca, calling it a “paradise” and admiring the fact that I didn’t let the violence issues of Mexico impact my decision to stay here for a second year. She has a peaceful, calm demeanor and a positivity and optimism that are comforting, reassuring that Cuernavaca is a beautiful place. She is also 100% gringo blood but born, raised, and life-lived in Mexico. Perhaps that presence and true optimism are part of her gringo roots, and maybe they aren’t.

But as I mentioned, in many of the conversations I’ve had recently with Mexicans about their tierra, there is a disdain and almost a feeling of resentment bordering on apathy in some way in regards to their pais. Obviously, no place is perfect, and there are problems wherever you go (U.S., don’t pretend to be all high and mighty and like you’ve got your shit figured out because it’s not all figured out). And these are just some of the most recent conversations or information-blurbs that come to my mind. As I hear these opinions, which are based on reality, I can’t help but agree with many things that people say, regardless of my love of Mexico’s culture, traditions, and history. Especially as my time as a teacher is coming to a close and I find myself ready to be done with school, I tend to confuse my readiness to be done with school with a readiness to be done with Mexico. But until the day I leave, I won’t be ready to say goodbye to Mexico. And I won’t be done with Mexico, not even when I leave Mexico. I will never be done with Mexico. I just need to move on right now so that later, I can come back to this home that I’ve created here, even if it is just to visit and not to live.

To shake myself of the negative aspects of Mexico so that they don’t add to my confused school/Mexico apathy/readiness for departure (but also not rid myself of the negative aspects  so I can protect myself) and to remind myself of what I fell in love with originally about Mexico, I took a walk down Study Abroad lane to the blog that I wrote while I came to Cuernavaca for the very first time. And here are some things I learned about my 21-year-old self and re-learned about Mexico:

  • My Spanglish is excelente, pero I mean fantástico.
  • Mezcal is: delicious, not the same as tequila, and even more delectable when it’s free.
  • I thought Teotihuacán was an ancient city of Aztec ruins. We even had a tour guide to tell us about Teotihuacán and I still thought it was a city of Aztec ruins.
  • I can survive wearing the exact same clothes for three days (my suitcase got delayed in transit on my way down here).
  • Mexican men are sexy when you’re a foreigner and you’re enticed by this language and country and passion, especially when it’s you’re smoking-hot, exotic-looking grammar professor. But watch out, because they may just have a fiancé living in Brazil that they don’t tell you about (not my own personal Mexican-jerk experience).
  • I love comida, both as it refers to “food” and the main afternoon-time meal in which Mexicans stop time, slow down, and take their time eating and enjoying the company that is brought together by this meal time.
  • I was wildly optimistic and perhaps a bit naive when it came to my perspective of other people down here. The world and the people around you have a way of hardening you, of making you take off your rose-colored glasses and trend toward focusing on the fact that people do what they are doing out of self-preservation and self-interest, and that people’s behaviors don’t go beyond that. Cynicism, they call it.  In one post, I wrote about the most amazing champiñon (mushroom) quesadillas that we ate on San Jeronimo for comida one day. It was literally someone’s garage that opened up to someone’s home, and this impacted me deeply. In the post, I wrote:

“What was the most appealing thing about this place what that is was literally someone’s home that they had opened up so the outside world can discover the deliciousness of their cooking. Everything is open, out in the streets, asking for company and waiting for the human spirit to invigorate life into the air. Things are open, people are open, life is so much more joyful with a constant human presence, even if it’s just a passing smile and greeting of two strangers who both have the same open mind and open heart. I love my weather seasons in the states, but I am coming to realize how much more I love the constant presence of another human spirit.”

This perspective, of the good in people and the openness of the human spirit, this is part of my view of the world, of my (almost too hopeful) optimism about life and the people we encounter on our journeys. I take a taxi up calle San Jeronimo once a week, and I distinctly remember the garage door that people opened up to us so willingly. I always look at that garage door, to see if the quesadillas are there. And it’s not as much that I want to eat those mouth-watering, jaw-dropping, miraculous quesadillas, but more because I want to be reminded of the belief in people and humanity that one little quesadilla experience brought up in me.

Not once has the quesadilla garage been open, but this walk down Study Abroad lane reminds me of what I love perhaps the most about Mexico: it brings up my hope for humanity and the hope I have for myself to continue to view the world realistically, yet simultaneously keeping on my rose-colored lenses and seeing through those, as well.

*

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in the magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl

Sticks and stones may break my bones

Words hurt.

You know that saying we all grew up with? The one about the sticks and stones? And words never hurting? Yeah well, that good-ole preschool saying is a big fat lie.

We pull out that “sticks and stones” line on the playground when we’re young so we can protect our little hearts from the negative comments that little Suzy says about our icky clothes and how we smell like dog poop and how we are tattle tales and are stupid for tattling to the teacher that it was Johnny and Jimmy who drew with crayons on the wall during recess. When we were younger, little (or not-so-little) bullets of negativity were shot our way and our immediate self-defense was to respond by saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” accompanied by that classic scrunched-up-nose-and-tongue-stuck-out face we mastered by the time we hit 1st grade. I thought that saying was my invincible shield, the armor and sword that could and would protect me from all negative comments and hurtful things said to me for, well, as far as I was concerned, ever.

Now as a twenty-something adult who has experienced adult versions of elementary school playground negativity, I have found that statement to be completely and entirely untrue. The fact is that words do hurt. While 80% of communication is through body language (and 68% of statistics are made up) and the minority of communication is through the spoken or written word, that 20% (maybe only 48% of statistics are made up) sure can pack a punch. The words we choose to use in our communication with others can lift us up, lift others up, bring ourselves down, or bring others down. Of course there is potential for combination there, and often times the bullies that haggled us in middle school and the people that haggle us in adulthood have the same thing in common; they use their words to put others down so that they can feel like they are lifted up and standing a little bit higher over everyone else. But be warned: while it appears that they feel they must put others down to get ahead, in reality it’s a way for them to cover up their own flaws, a way for them not to get hurt by having to look their imperfections in the eye.

From my own time in therapy and other such introspection, I’ve been learning that what someone says to others is really just a reflection of how they feel about themselves and where they are on their individual journey at any given moment on any given day. As much as it may seem like it, what other people say to us is not personal. Even if they are hurtful words, those words are not personal. Those words are merely a reflection of the other person’s own pain and hurt. I am guilty of using hurtful words, or abstaining from using words, against others — we all are. But those words I choose are words that actually reflect my internal mumbo jumbo and chaos and pain, not those of the imperfect person in front of me.

We all have sacred places of vulnerability, and we all have things we keep close to our hearts in that guarded place. What hurts is when we trust in another enough to share those deep emotions and memories and programs from that vulnerable space with someone else and they dishonor that trust. Again this is not personal, but these words hurt deeply because the person dishonors that trust and shares those words with other people because they have no notion of respect and honor. They dishonor that trust when they take those very words that you have told them about yourself and turn them against you, blaming you and judging you and finding you guilty for your flaws, as if you were the only person who had them and you weren’t already aware that you had your own shit pickles that you’re dealing with. That is the use of words that hurt. And those words leave bruises and scars, mother truckers.

Those people that use our words against us are guilty of betraying our trust and dishonoring our vulnerability, but we’re the ones who are guilty of putting the bullet of words into the hands of heartbreakers. Does this mean that it’s our fault when someone turns our own vulnerabilities against us? Absolutely not, that’s now what I’m trying to get at, at all. The people who do that to us are to blame. I mean, we’re all human, we all make mistakes and say things we wish we could take back. But there’s a difference between a proverbial slap on the face and the kicking of the proverbial dead horse. One is a wake-up call, the other is a brutal, disrespectful beating that no one deserves (not even my asshole ex-boyfriend who used words to make me mad so I wouldn’t be sad anymore). What I’m trying to get at is that perhaps next time before opening up our vulnerable places to others, we will just have to be a little bit more wise about who we believe is worthy of hearing our stories. Not everyone will honor and cherish the blessed, magnificent compositions of our lives. So it is up to us, then; we must be more cautious of only letting those people in who will honor and respect our beautiful, precious stories and selves, broken bones and all.

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“You can attain the kingdom of heaven from this one agreement: Be impeccable with your word.” Don Miguel Ruiz