Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! – ¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

happyholidays

Credit: http://www.archerseating.com

May you all have a Merry Christmas! Although it may be a little early to wish you a happy new year, may the new year bring you blessings, prosperity, health, and above all, lots of love.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on the ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

With the new year comes a new beginning… what will you write in 2014?

Blessings,

Liz

¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

Felices Fiestas
Felices Fiestas

Credit: http://www.archerseating.com

¡Que todos tengan una muy Feliz Navidad! Es un poco temprano para desearles un próspero año nuevo, sin embargo, que el año nuevo les traiga muchas bendiciones, prosperidad, salud y sobre todo mucho amor.

“Vamos a abrir el libro. Sus páginas están en blanco. Pondremos palabras en ellas nosotros mismos. Este libro se llama Oportunidad y el primer capítulo es el primer día del año.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce.

Con el año nuevo viene un nuevo comienzo… ¿qué escriberás en 2014?

Saludos y Bendiciones,

Liz

The Falsehood of Competition – Lo Falso de la Competencia

The Falsehood of Competition

After reading Life’s Operating Manual, I started to think more and more about competition and cooperation. In his book, Tom Shayac writes, “Contrary to what we believe, cooperation not competition is the ruling order of nature.” He clarifies this by saying that nature, such as a “redwood tree”, doesn’t take more water than it needs. And if something in nature takes more, then it is killed off. Take, for example, the kudzu vine that “overtakes everything in its path.” However, with time it leads “to its own demise.” How? “By elimintating biodiversity, an essential condition for life.” There is a beautiful balance we find in nature.

Now, let’s take this viewpoint and apply it to humans and to society. 

How do we fare? From where I see- we are in a disarray.You think of things like war (them vs. us), poverty (rich and poor), education (the winners and losers), jobs (employed and unemployed), etc. Isn’t it very obvious that competition is dominant in our society?

Our culture has taught us to compete for everything.

After all, you want to be a winner and not a loser, right? Take school, for example. I can go back as far as primary school like the time I won the first grade spelling bee, the time I memorized a poem and recited it in front of the entire school, or the countless times that I received some kind of academic/citizen recognition. I felt on top of the world! Early on I learned that the more I studied the better I did, and the better I did the greater chance of me being at the top of my class.

Growing up, I felt that I needed to win in order to be someone. Good grades made me feel good, not to mention my parents loved it. I kept it up throughout high school and college, but with this came a lot of stress! You start to wonder about the college student suicide rates and depression associated with this stress.

Education should foster a love and passion for life.  We should be asking what they love instead of drilling them with facts about things that they may not be interested in. Is it no wonder that 7,000 students are dropping out of school every day in the United States?

Competition is an illusion.

The truth is we are hardwired for connection. And what do I mean by hardwired? Since  love is the foundation of who we are, then we are meant to connect to others and to be united. By being disconnected you are actually breaking this unity and creating independence. Thus, competition becomes an illusion as we are naturally dependent on each other- from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. We are one.

Herein lies the beauty of cooperation.

Ubuntu "I am because we are."
Source:www.harisingh.com

In Africa,  an anthropologist went to go study “habits and customs of tribes.” One day he told the children of one tribe that he put candy in basket by a tree, and they are to go get the candy when he says “go.” The first one to reach the basket of candy would win it all. To his surprise, when he said “go” the children joined hands and ran together. When he asked them why they did this, one little girl responded, “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” It was here that the anthropologist really understood the “true essence” of the tribe.  (to read the entire article, click here)

Since we’re hardwire to connect, to be loved, but most importantly to love, then it follows that like nature, we too could live in a state of cooperation. Instead of comepeting with one another, why not help each other out? Like the children of the African tribe, mutual support breeds a harmonious, peaceful, and happier environment and individuals You may say, “Sure, Liz. That sounds great in theory.” It need not be like this. Change begins with each one of us. It was Gandhi who once said, “We need to be the change we want to see in this world.” I honestly believe that a state of cooperation would dismantle much of the suffering going on today in our world as a result of competition.

What are your thoughts on competition and cooperation? 

Lo Falso de la Competencia

Después de haber leído Life’s Operating Manual, empecé a pensar más y más de la competencia y de cooperación. En su libro, Tom Shayac escribe, “Contrariamente a los que muchos piensan, cooperación y no competencia es el orden dominante de la naturaleza.” Él aclara  esto al decir que la naturaleza, como un “árbol de la secoya”, no toma más agua de lo que necesita. Y si algo en la naturaleza toma más, entonces se mata. Toma por ejemplo la planta kudzu que “destruye todo lo que encuentra en su paso.” No obstante, con el tiempo, “la planta desaparece.” ¿Cómo? “Elimina la biodiversidad, una condición esencial para la vida.”  Hay un balance hermoso en la naturaleza.  

Ahora, vamos a tomar esta punto de vista y aplicarlo a los seres humanos y la sociedad.

¿Cómo nos va? Estamos en una situación caótica. Vamos a ponernos a pensar en cosas como una guerra (ellos vs. nosotros), la pobreza (ricos y pobres), educación (los ganadores y los perdedores), trabajo (los empleados y desempleados), etc.  ¿No es muy obvio que la competencia domina nuestra sociedad?

Nuestra cultura nos ha enseñado a competir por todo. 

Al fin y al cabo, ¿quieres ser un ganador y no un perdedor, verdad? Toma la escuela, por ejemplo. Me pongo a pensar cuando estaba en la primaria y la vez que gané la competencia de ortografía, o la vez que me memorizé un poema y lo recité en frente de todo la escuela, o todas las veces que recibí algún reconocimiento por mis calificaciones/comportamiento. ¡Me sentía en la cima del mundo! De niña aprendí que entre más estudiaba, me iba mejor en mis exámenes y al hacer bien  en mis exámenes, sabía que tenía la mayor probabilidad de ser uno de los más inteligentes de mi clase.

Cuando era niña, sentía que necesitaba ganar para ser alguien de importancia. Buenas calificaciones me hacían sentir bien y a mis papas les encantaba.  Durante la preparatoria y la universidad continue haciendo bien, ¡pero a la vez tenía mucho estrés! Nos podemos preguntar ¿por qué hay tantos estudiantes universitarios que contemplan suicidarse o están deprimidos?

La educación debería  fomentar el amor y la pasión por la vida. Deberíamos preguntarnos ¿qué es lo que les encanta hacer? en lugar de repetir hechos de cosas que no nos interesa. ¿No es de extrañar que hay 7,000 estudiantes abandonando sus estudios cada día en los Estados Unidos?

La competencia es una ilusión. 

La verdad es que estamos programados para la conexión. ¿Y qué significa programados? El amor es la fundación de quién somos, entonces estamos destinados para conectarnos con otros y estar unidos.  Al estar desconectados, estamos quebrando nuestra unidad y creando independencia.  Así, la competencia se convierte en una ilusión y dependemos el uno del otro- desde nuestra ropa hasta lo que comemos. Somos uno. 

Ahí radica la belleza de la cooperación. 

Ubuntu "I am because we are."
Source:www.harisingh.com

 En Africa,  un antropologo fue a estudiar las “costumbres y los hábitos de las tribus.”  Un día les dijo a los niños que puso caramelos en una canasta cerca del árbol. Tenían que ir a agarrar los caramelos cuando él les dijera.  El primero que llegara a la canasta se ganaría todos los caramelos. Se sorprendió al ver que cuando empezaron a correr, los niños se dieron la mano y corrieron juntos. Cuándo les preguntó ¿por qué hicieron esto? una niña le contestó, “¿Cómo puede uno de nosotros ser feliz si todos los demás están tristes?” Fue ahí donde el antropologo entendió la “esencia verdadera” de la tribú.  (para leer el artículo, hagan clic aquí)

Ya que estamos programados a estar conectados, de ser amados y, sobretodo, de amar, entonces se deduce que al igual que la naturaleza, también nosotros podríamos vivir en un estado de cooperación. En lugar de competir unos con otros, ¿por qué no ayudar unos a otros? Como los niños de la tribú africana, el apoyo mutuo genera personas y un ambiente tranquilo, armonioso, y lleno de felicidad.  Quizás estás diciendo, “Sí, Liz. Eso suena muy bien en teoría.” No necesita hacer así. El cambio empieza con cada uno de nosotros. Fue Ghandi quien dijo, “Sé el cambio que quieres ver en el mundo.” Creo que un estado de cooperación desmantelaría mucho del sufrimiento que hay en el mundo como resultado de la competencia.

Qué opinas sobre la competencia y la cooperación?

I’m with the Band – Estoy con los Músicos

I’m with the Band

Last night, I went out with my boyfriend to see a friend of ours play with his band. As we were driving home with him, we began to talk about things we each loved like music, writing, fishing, and golfing. We talked about the music business and making it in music.

I  told him that I was once married to a musician, but we divorced. We briefly chatted on all the difficulties and adversities that comes from being with someone in a band for the musician and the family too. After dropping him off, I couldn’t help but to start thinking again about my life as a musician’s wife. As a musician’s spouse, there are sacrifices in your home and relationship. He had many practices and gigs, and I wasn’t able to go to all of them. Often times, I’d stay home alone. And many of those times, I longed to be with him, but for many reasons, I couldn’t accompany him. The times I did stay, I sometimes would go to my mom’s house, but I shunned my friends altogether. Looking back, this was the perfect opportunity to have spent time with them.

There were some times when I was able to go with him and I’d love seeing him play! The gigs were so much fun! And, of course, I’d get to go backstage with them and tell the security guards, “I’m with the band.”

Source: www.audioinkradio.com
Source: http://www.audioinkradio.com

Luckily, for us, our financial situation was good. As a struggling musician’s wife, this could have been another obstacle in our marriage, but it wasn’t.

And believe it or not, girls were not a problem either. People often would ask me, “Aren’t you jealous of the groupies and all his girls fans?” I almost always responded, “No.” I trusted him. My marriage did not end as a result of infidelity.

 In the end,  like with everything else, it was all about balancing everything. One that required a lot of communication, and above all, love. 

Are you a musician or an artist’s spouse? Are you with someone pursuing his/her passion?

Estoy con los Músicos

Anoche salí con mi novio par aver un amigo tocar con su banda. Mientras manejabamos a la casa, hablamos de todo lo que nos encanta como la música, la escritura, la pesca y el golf. Hablamos de lo que es la industria de la música  y lo difícil de ser exitoso en la música.

Le dije que estuve casada con un músico, pero nos divorciamos. También hablamos de las dificultades que vienen con estar con un músico y para su familia. Después de dejarlo en su casa, empecé a pensar otra vez de mi vida como esposa de un músico. El tenía muchos ensayos y tocadas y no podía ir todo el tiempo. A veces, me quedaba en la casa sola. Y muchas de esas veces anhelaba estar con él, pero por diferente razones no podía acompañarlo. A veces iba a la casa de mi mamá cuando me quedaba y casi dejé de hablar con mis amigos. Esta era la oportunidad perfecta para pasar tiempo con ellos.

Hubo algunas veces donde tuve la oportunidad de ir con él y verlo tocar. ¡Cómo me encantaba! ¡Me divertía mucho en las tocadas! Y, por supuesto, me gustaba ir detrás del escenario y decirle a seguridad. “Estoy con los músicos.”

Source: www.audioinkradio.com
Source: http://www.audioinkradio.com

Afortunadamente, nuestra situación económica estaba bien. Como la esposa de un artista en ciernes, esto podría haber sido un obstáculo en nuestro matrimonio, pero no lo fue.

Y créanlo o no, las chicas no eran un problema tampoco. La gente siempre me preguntaba, “No estás celosa de las groupies y de todas las muchachas que son fanáticas de ellos?” Casi siempre les contestaba, “No.” Yo confiaba en él.  Mi matrimonio no terminó por infedelidad.

Al final, era una cuestión de balancear todo. Aprendí que nuestra relación requería comunicación y, sobretodo, amor.

¿Estás con alguien que está dedicado a su pasión? ¿Cómo balanceas todo?

A Return to Love – Healing After a Divorce

“I don’t know what it means to heal emotionally, but I am doing it.” This is a promise I made to myself. I would mend my broken heart. A second promise came right after. I would also not date while I was going through my divorce ordeal. And this why…

Divorce Statistics

When I was in a divorce support group, my counselor had told us (the members) that about 50% of first marriages end in divorce in the U.S. That percentage goes to about 68% in second marriages and it jumps to about 75% if you remarry for the third time. This got me thinking. Why is this happening?

One Possible Answer

The Beatles said it perfectly with their song, All You Need Is Love. While a divorce is an emotional death and the main circumstance surrounded it is the loss of love, then it follows that to become well we need to return to love.

Healing is a return to love.

I believe that the divorce statistics are on the higher end because people do not take the time to heal, and others find it quite difficult to forgive their partners. This was the most important step for me to begin to heal. The old adage is true- “a divorce can be messy”. Emotions are running high and thoughts of revenge cross your mind. I would know. It happened to me. Given these circumstances, it is perhaps why divorcees find comfort in the arms of another person (as I did before I was married) and this may also happen for various reasons.

Is this true healing?

Perhaps, for some it may be. For me, it was essential to “work” on myself. Who was Liz? I had lost myself in my marriage and I needed to reestablish my identity as a newly single person, and more importantly, to find myself.

At the very least, your world is turned upside down and what you once knew as “life” is no longer there.

From waking up with your husband every morning, to the morning goodbye kiss, to talking and texting throughout the day, to going to your favorite sushi restaurant, to the good night kiss. Therefore,a new relationship right after a separation could perhaps not be the best solution. In one of my counseling sessions, my counselor made it very clear to me. “Dating right after separation and into the divorce is like putting a band-aid on a very large physical wound,” she said.” “It just won’t do.”

Band-Aid Heart-1
credit: Abqjournalsage.com

In Confusion, You Find Clarity

I never understood the statement “In confusion, you find clarity.” That is, until the other day. In the midst of confusion, I felt empty and hopeless. All I could do was pray and ask God for help and guidance in my life.

Needless to say, I was a hot mess as a good friend of mine says.

Doing the emotional work and reflecting on this matter brought clarity into my life. As I look back, I began to understand why all this was happening to me and I was beginning to feel better.

The Last Word on Healing…

I liken the healing experience to the pruning of rose bushes. Just like we need to be “stripped” emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to get to healing, rosebushes need to be pruned for reasons like to maintain their shape and to give us new blooms. In a mysterious way, rosebushes heal too.

And remember, if you can heal physically, then you can heal emotionally too.

What are your experiences with healing? Have you healed from a divorce?

On Being Happy…

Happy
Ever since I can remember I have always been curious about many things in life and I am constantly questioning everything. This has included happiness.  In this post, I include what I believe happiness to be and what friends and family have told me what happiness means to them. This is an excerpt from one of my chapters from the memoir: A Happy Heart of my Own.

“In general, I knew certain pleasurable experiences not only made me joyful, but others, as well. I asked friends and family what they considered happiness to be and their answers ranged from playing their favorite sport, to helping others, or simply being in nature. Marcos, a friend of mine, began his response with telling me that happiness to him meant ‘not being stressed.’ And I couldn’t agree with him more. Since when does stress and happiness occur simultaneously? It doesn’t.  One of my family members, Karina, answered by saying, ‘For me it’s when I run and feel the presence of the Lord and I have this immense feeling of gratefulness for everything in my life.’ Another family member of mine, Gloria, very humble began with, ‘I can’t explain true happiness” and added, “all I can say is that I know it when I feel it. Family, friends, humanity, humility, gratefulness, waking to another day, thunder, lighting, the sunshine, a smile, a hug, even nothing can make me feel happiness! But, I can truly say that I experienced true happiness when I learned self-love, when I leaned in to clear my mind and let peace take over. So, happiness to me turns out to be LIFE itself.’

This same harmony, joy, and peace are seen in my friend Carlos’ definition on happiness. He says, ‘For me, happiness is akin to knowing that I am alive. There is something so special going on this planet of ours, something that we’ve yet to discover anywhere else in the universe and most of us (again, particularly in industrialized nations) act as if we couldn’t care less. We have to stop every now and then and take a step back in wonder and amazement. Put things in perspective and take life, with all its glitches, and treat it like what it is: the best, most unique gift in the world.’

What a beautiful combination of different interpretations on happiness. As each expressed what happiness meant to them, I understood and felt it as a rejoicing in all that proved to be of profound delight in their hearts. What was salient in their takes on happiness was a feeling, a connection, and an alignment with spirit: a complete and selfless, unconditional love of life and love for oneself.

After my family and friends expressed what happiness meant to them, I was left with an unwavering desire to define happiness for myself. I questioned whether mere instances in our lives would be the only defining moments that made us achieve this state or could we live happily all the time?

Here is my take on happiness:

“In many ways, the result of this search for my own happiness led me to believe that it is as simple and as sweet as one’s own joie de vivre. I can’t recall the exact date when all this started to happen, but I clearly remember a consistency that came with waking up day after day and being content and filled with gratitude for the light of another day. Not to mention, how truly blessed I was for seeing my life as beautiful and, even more, living it as such. The great and late pianist of the twentieth century, Arthur Rubinstein, once said, ‘I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.’ Pure and simple. I can think of no better way of expressing this sentiment of a constant state of happiness other than to see life as beautiful and to love it. For me, this has translated as living life to the fullest with joy and peace in our hearts because this is what we feel and have within us; it’s who we are. And when we radiate this love, it follows that we not only see our environment and others in a different light, but we also take pleasure and delight through the benefit of receiving love in return. And, for the first time, I wasn’t seeing my life through rose-colored glasses. Happiness wasn’t the result of luck as I had once thought, but it was the result of my unyielding pursuit of it. I had come into harmony on my own accord and I was truly happy.”

What makes you happy? What do you define as happiness?

What’s the book about?

Memoir

“What’s  the book about?” Of course, this is the follow-up question that I get asked when I tell others that I am writing a book.

The book that I am writing is a memoir that I started  back in May 2010. I went through a devastating divorce a few years ago that lead to the desire to heal emotionally. Inspired by the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I pushed fear to the side and I did something similar to what she did. I sold my house, I quit my job, and I decided to go to Spain as a student in the fall of 2007. A much needed and well-deserved break was in order and I am very fortunate and grateful to have had this opportunity.

My life has been one continuous wave of change since then. Upon my return, I did not have a job and I substituted for a couple of years to make ends meet. Also, I decided to go back to school to get a Master’s in linguistics and a T.E.S.O.L. (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) certificate because I had loved Spain so much that I wanted to go back and teach adults English. This plan didn’t come through as I had a change of heart when I finished school and decided to stay in L.A.. About a year and a half after completing school, I got the opportunity to teach ESL classes to adults in Northern California with a non-profit organization. A little afraid of this move, I pushed fear to the side again and I would be there 7 months. After this, I moved on to high school! It’s been interesting to say the least, but I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I don’t regret a single thing that I have done in my life and I would do it all over again. To say that I have learned a lot from my experiences is an understatement.

In the memoir, I write about these changes and many other events that have transformed me as a person.  I’m currently writing a book proposal for a chance to win a $10,000 advance and to have my book published with Hay House Publishing.

This is the premise of the book:

Our life purpose is to develop our spiritual selves, which entails being happy and peaceful. The purpose of this book is to tell my story: a story that begins with a divorce and goes from emotional healing to spiritual healing. As a result, an imminent spiritual awakening and spiritual transformation was in order, and I began to create my life as I envisioned and desired it  with every day miracles.

The memoir has ten chapters and these are  the titles of the chapters:

Chapter 1: In the beginning…

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” ~Jane Austen

Chapter 2: Emotional Detachment

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~Winston Churchill

Chapter 3: On my own again… The Separation

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chapter 4: Nurturing my Spirit ~ A Well Deserved Break

“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” ~Dale Carnegie

Chapter 5: More Changes: Going Back to School – August 2009

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Chapter 6: Back home and the ‘Bumps’ in the Road

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet.” ~ Gandhi

Chapter 7:  A Happy Heart of My Own

“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.” ~ Democritus

Chapter 8: A Semester with Adults with Sprinkles of Kindness and Compassion

“Our main goal is to help others. If you cannot help them, then at least resist from hurting them.” ~Dalai Lama

Chapter 9: And a Dash of Gratitude and Patience – The High School Year

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” ~ St. Francis

Chapter 10: Coming Into my Own

“Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Have you ever thought about writing a book?  What is your book about? What are your ideas? Everyone has a story. What is yours?