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Category Archives: A Cup of Life
Mr. ShuGar and I are enjoying a mini-vacation visiting his family in Lansing, Michigan. I’m so looking forward to this much-needed time off. I really need it. This year has been a whirlwind for both of us.
I took my laptop so that I can continue blogging while away because, for me, blogging is my heart. While on the flight, I was planning on reviewing a film for this post, but I decided to go in a different direction – something more personal and raw.
Have you ever been riddled with self-doubt? Do you ever question if what you are doing is good enough?
I’m not talking about wondering if what you are wearing matches or if you should have eaten those french fries over lunch. I’m referring to that nagging voice in your head, which gnaws at your confidence. I hate that voice.
I’m usually someone that can shut self-doubt down and move forward. However, I am human and I am having a moment. Rather than allow it to poison my thoughts, I would like to share it with you in the hope of feeling not so alone. If you give it power over you, doubt can act like an infection and spread to different parts of your life. Confession: I have struggled with this for most of my life. It’s not something I am proud of, but it is true and I need to acknowledge this.
What I detest about my doubt is that it really affects my sense of being, which in turn affects those around me. It’s my own fault since my doubt is self-inflicted. Not to offer any excuses, but I think I know what some of the catalysts are.
- I am a perfectionist. – How many of us over-achievers aren’t, right? Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, since it has come in handy in my life. It’s the antithesis of apathy and I tend to never settle for second best. Yet, I end up beating myself up when I don’t measure up to my own expectations. I can be overly cruel to myself. If you could only enter my brain and hear my internal dialogue, you’d be shocked I am sure. I would never tell someone the things I say to myself. It’s great to be ambitious, but I need to remind myself to be kind.
- I compare myself to others. – I know this is so bad, but I can’t help myself sometimes. I don’t do this all the time, but, as I previously mentioned, I have my moments when I do this and it creates an avalanche of my self-doubt. I believe competition in moderation is completely acceptable, but when you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, you will inevitably find a deficiency. We are all unique and have different abilities and talents. It’s unfair to compare yourself to others when you end up viewing yourself as the weaker one. A little healthy competition is fine; It’s the obsessing over it which brings on the doubt monster.
I hope I am not the only one with these feelings – I think there are others like me out there. In one of my previous writing classes, we read a great book about the struggles of artists called, The War of Art. Many of these artistic challenges can be applicable to others who have goals and dreams in their lives. I highly recommend this book if you have ever been afflicted with doubt.
I have no answers as to how to vaporize this self-doubt virus, except to be aware of it when it begins to take over my mind. I believe this is the first step in fighting the doubt and winning the battle. The more you develop this awareness, the better you can take the doubt, put it in a box in your brain, lock it up and throw away that key. We all possess the power to kill the doubt.
Photo credit: Masters Channel
Gardening is not my thing. I have so much respect for those with a green thumb, but it’s just never been my forte. Now that my life is slowing down a bit, Mr. ShuGar and I have decided to make improvements to our house, little by little. One of the first projects has been to beautify our garden by creating a hedge in our backyard. With the help of my daddy, we planted a series of privets and jasmines along our wall so that eventually we could have some nice privacy from our neighbors.
The planting project was successful and we have maintained a strict watering regime to ensure that the plants establish roots. I don’t have a clue how long it would take for these small plants to grow month to month. All I know is that we have been diligently watering and waiting for new leaves to sprout. Most have new growth – Most, except this one stubborn jasmine.
Now, in its defense, it was smaller than the other newly planted jasmines. My daddy had already been watering the other jasmines weeks before our project, but we decided to buy one more last minute. Ever since that day, I’ve watched it struggle compared to the other plants. At some point, it even appeared to be digressing! What?
Patience is not something I have tons of. I am someone that wants immediate results. I admit this is a definite weakness. Plus, gardening is not a natural hobby of mine so I sort of was expecting instant growth since I was making an effort on my end. It was an unspoken pact between me and these plants; I water, you grow. They all appeared to be complying, except this one belligerent, tiny jasmine. Over a month had passed and still not much progress, at least not until today.
Take a look at the picture. If you look closely, you can see new leaves sprouting! There is an especially beautiful one at the very top. Finally! I think I’m learning what gardening is all about: learning to appreciate growth, even when it’s not apparent to the naked eye. It’s about having faith that your efforts are making a difference and will be fruitful one day.
No wonder I never gravitated towards gardening; I have struggled with this my entire life. I see this challenge still manifested in many areas of my life.
- I want to move forward in my career quickly. I am motivated, dedicated and work extremely hard. I would like to ascend the career ladder, sooner rather than later. However, there is growth in learning my current position and becoming an expert in my responsibilities. I can grow in other ways to prepare me for my next role, eventually.
- I want to immerse myself in blogging. I love it so much and I want to be successful at it. Yet, even though it has been a dream of mine for quite a long time, I have just started this journey. I can’t expect to have a million followers with the click of my “publish” button. I need to understand that I am growing daily because I am finally giving myself the avenue to write. This is already a huge leap in my life-long passion. I need to have faith that my words will touch someone in the blog world.
- I wish I could be like the TV mom from “Bewitched” and make all sorts of home improvements with the twitch of my nose. There are so many things I’d like to do for our house, but there is not enough time or money to do so. I would like to learn to appreciate the little things we can do and accept these as significant improvements.
- We would like to have a ShuGar baby, but it turns out it’s not that easy. I remember as a little girl thinking that as soon as you want a baby, poof, you will get pregnant! Ha! That’s SO not reality. I have to believe that our time will come and to be patient until it does. There is no point in stressing out about the “what ifs.” It’s out of our hands.
My baby jasmine serves as a metaphor for the aforementioned aspects of my life I would like to achieve. It’s about endurance, perseverance and faith. I need to keep nurtering these dreams of mine and give them time to establish roots. I must remember this because I let my impatience take over and cloud my judgment too often. Gardening is actually really relaxing. It sort of forces you to appreciate the silence. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you finally see a tiny leaf pop out. It is a physical magnification that your love and hard work inspired new life.
Photo credit: Mrs. ShuGar
In a few weeks, I will be turning thirty-five years old. I guess this will be a milestone birthday, especially since I will now officially be part of a different age bracket. I don’t anticipate transforming into another human being, but I do have one goal. On the cusp of turning thirty-five, I vow to no longer be a “meh” person. Allow me to explain.
This week hasn’t been that great. I encountered several disappointments and I reacted the way I normally do: Meh. My Cancer-Crab tendencies are to close up and act indifferent when I feel hurt. Sometimes it is true; I don’t really care or it doesn’t really bother me. However, other times I do feel hurt and a bunch of other emotions. Instead of just reverting to my “meh” ways, I want to learn how to embrace the disappointment, vocalize it and do something productive with it.
I am very expressive with Mr. ShuGar and sometimes a bit too much. It’s easy to be yourself with the person that has vowed to love you forever. Yet, I don’t want to let out my frustrations and pain out on him, as, unfortunately, I have done on many occasions. It’s rarely him who is the cause of my hurt. He deserves better than that. In fact, he has been the one person who has never disappointed me. This is just one of the billion reasons why Mr. ShuGar is my heart.
I want to remove apathy from my vocabulary. Instead, I want to immerse myself in the hurt and move forward. This blog is one avenue I now have to work through the disappointments. I am really proud and happy I am accomplishing my life-long dream of writing. Blogging nourishes my soul; it’s as if I was born to write. For many years, I ignored this part of me because it felt like a distraction to my daily responsibilities. Now, I feel whole in a way I have never felt because I am writing. I don’t even know if anyone reads this, but it doesn’t matter. Blogging fulfills me and I am loving every minute of it.
As the first step in my promise, I am signing up to take a photography class. I want to use photography as another avenue to avoid that “meh” tendency of mine. This is something I can do as an outlet when I feel blah. I have always wanted to master the art of photography and now is the time to do it. Mr. ShuGar has a new DSLR camera and I have no idea what all those buttons are, but I want to learn. Using my blog as a platform, I hope to share my photos with you so you can explore my city and life with me.
Another lesson I have learned in these thirty-four and ¾ years is that life is full of disappointments. Rarely do things go exactly how you want. You may have crafted a master plan for your life, but, as the talented John Lennon stated, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Instead of fighting this, I would like to practice a different approach. When life imposes tangents that detour my plans, I want to accept it and find the silver lining, even if it’s a tiny positive outcome. It’s the only way to not be infected by “meh.”
Thank you for reading my blog. I am excited to share much more of my heart and soul with the blogging world! I plan on taking you on my photography journey in the upcoming months. No mas “meh” for me!
Eleven letters. Fourteen characters. Three words.
I forgive you.
It has been a life-long struggle of mine to say these words and mean them. In my adult years, I have mastered the other three words – I am sorry. Those words were high priority in order to succeed in relationships and also at work. Now, I can say “I am sorry” with conviction. But those other three words – I forgive you – still cause me anguish.
I’m not referring to when someone is late to a meeting and you forgive him for being tardy. No, I am talking about the forgiveness you give when someone you loved blatantly and unequivocally broke your heart. When it comes to a broken heart, I have not mastered forgiveness.
I don’t regret having had my heart broken. In fact, I appreciate it now because it made me stronger and taught me what I deserve. I am also not still in love with him anymore. That’s not what this is about. I have moved on and found love, a deeper love, and I am thankful every moment of my existence. That heartbreak ultimately brought me to Mr. ShuGar.
However, the aftereffects of a broken heart still linger in subtle ways. Sometimes I don’t even realize the scars remain because they are usually hidden and rarely on my mind. When Mr. ShuGar and I have certain arguments, I know that it’s not always what he has done, but what someone else in my past has done to me. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I understand now that in order for me to release this ghost I must forgive him. Three not-so-easy words.
This is not the time or place to air out my dirty laundry. Nor do I want to bash him. That would mean that I hold resentment and, thankfully, I don’t any more. Yet, experiencing betrayal is earth shattering. It makes you doubt everything from that moment forward and everything before that moment. This is why trust is so valuable. It’s the foundation of a healthy relationship.
The reason I have a hard time with forgiveness is because I wonder if all was just a lie. Was he lying when he said I love you? Was he just using me from day one? What kind of a person betrays and humiliates someone they love like that? These are questions that still haunt me and remain roadblocks in my path towards forgiveness. How can I forgive what someone did to me when I would never do those same things to anyone I loved?
The challenging part is that I cannot get answers. Forgiveness comes despite getting all the answers. This kills me. If I had all the facts, then I could make an informed decision. But, life is not black and white. It’s moments of gray that are nebulous.
I don’t wish him any harm. I actually hope he is happy wherever he is. I hope I can say those three words one day so that I can feel a sense of release. Without forgiveness, there is a weight on your heart. It sometimes clouds your judgment. I know the moment you open your heart, it becomes vulnerable. That is love – a leap of faith. The heart has an amazing capacity to not only heal, but to forgive. I pray my heart mends and embraces those three words one day.
I want to forgive you….one day.
* P.S. A good friend recommended this book about forgiveness – “Forgive for Good” by Dr. Fred Luskin. It’s on my reading list and I will review it once I read it.
Don’t you wish life had a manual? I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true.
When you’re young and dreaming of your life as an adult, you see the world as your oyster. Yet, inevitably, there are naysayers around you who question your intentions. They try to “reason” with you and cause you to second guess if you should do this or be that. When you’re at that age, many of us don’t realize that we should continue pursuing what we love, no matter the risks involved. If not, you will always wonder what could have been.
Have you also noticed how easy life appears for some and not for others? Either people were already born into privilege or they just happen to have been in the right place at the right time. Or, they are lucky they are related to someone who can help them. I am none of the above; I’ve had to work really hard to get where I am. I am lucky in the sense that I have had loving parents supporting me, but it’s still been an uphill battle to achieve what I have.
Mr. ShuGar has had similar struggles. He’s such a talented artist, yet he hasn’t been able to “make it” because of external factors out of his control. It breaks my heart when I see so much potential in him and Hollywood not come knocking on his door.
I know we are not supposed to think about regrets or think about desiring what others have. This would be too pessimistic. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if I had made different choices where I would be or what I would be doing. What if I had listened to that little voice inside of me that always had an interest in art? Alas, this was not the practical thing to do. Sometimes the risks appear too high and you have to bet on the safe choice.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life were like a hopscotch that guided you step by step to achieving your dreams? You know if you want to be _______ you need to take 6 steps in this direction and….voila! Dream comes true!
Ok, I need to take my head out of the clouds and plant my feet back on the ground. But remember, as the fabulous Blondie says, “Dreaming is free.”
“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.” ~ Paulo Coelho
If I could pick 100 words to describe me, “patience” wouldn’t even make the list at #99. It would, however, make the top of my list for the words that describe my weaknesses.
I don’t have time to be patient. We are living in a world where we want instant answers (because our phone notifies us every time anyone wants anything from us). We are plugged in at all times. Work bleeds into our personal time because we are expected to provide immediate responses. As a result, we feel more stressed which, in turn, causes even more impatience. It’s a vicious cycle and I just can’t seem stop.
I am not naturally patient. Although I try consistently to be so, my attempts seem to backfire more frequently than succeed. I have gotten into many fights, made my far share of mistakes and lost friendships because of my inability to be patient. Paulo Coelho’s quote above makes me wonder if I should look at my patience deficiency in a different light – as an opportunity to (date I say it) grow . I am getting too old to continually say, “I’m sorry,” and then commit the same blunder in less than 24 hours. Now is the time to improve. And I don’t think I have to wait until I have children to acquire patience. I would like to think I have the willpower already somewhere buried in me.
Only I know how to do things right. I can’t rely on anyone else to get the job done.
Sometimes we like to think we are this self-important, but maybe the lesson lies in taking the time to breathe, let someone figure things out so that in the future there can be more collaboration. This is especially challenging at work when it comes to delegating. I find that because of my impatience I tend to do it all, overwork and then feel overwhelmed with stress. It’s astonishing what you can accomplish if you trust in people. Contrary to popular belief, we are not super human and no technological device can make us work at warp speed.
I give up. This is never going to get done or this is never going to happen. I might as well call it quits.
That’s the easy way out. True strength is comprised of patience and never losing hope. True strength is also not being pessimistic and infecting those around us with this negativity. Many of us wish we could have our dreams fulfilled now (like, right this moment), but is that really the point? Maybe there is beauty in sitting in that waiting room and looking around you. Did you know that the person next to you is also going through similar struggles like you? We are not alone. We can teach ourselves to step away from today’s rat race and just be. We might realize that we are already lucky in what we have. We may never quench this insatiable desire to want more. What if happiness is already inside of you and patience is the key to uncovering it?
I need to reevaluate my outlook on life’s challenges. It’s not a simple undertaking, but it is certainly something worth paying attention to before the years pass us by. If not now, when?
When I look back at my 34 years (soon to be 35 years), there are certain years that have made an imprint in my soul. These periods contained milestones, like graduating from college, or mere moments in time that changed me forever, like when I realized I was falling in love with Mr. ShuGar. I like to think of these pockets of time as stained glass windows, which comprise the kaleidoscope of my soul. They define me.
When I feel reflective, I can’t help but think of the year 2000. No, it’s not Y2K nonsense or thinking the world was going to end. The images of 2000 parading in my head are featured in the gallery of photos above. In 2000, I studied abroad at the University of London, Queen Mary for my final year in college. It is the year I discovered my passion for new worlds outside the bubble of Southern California.
I initially thought of the concept of life-defining “years” when I heard of Radio Dept.’s song 1995.
I discovered this band through a Sophia Coppola movie, Maria Antoinette; It’s as if Coppola and I are musical soul mates (see my earlier blog post about Lost in Translation). The song describes the memories of this monumental year of 1995; the year of the inception of the band. Some of the lyrics include:
1995 is missing buses
It’s walking 15 miles to see your love
It’s knowing you’re alive through all the fuzz
It’s never coming down from going up
1995 is cutting classes
It’s sitting over coffees talking indie treats
It’s the mere sensation of being the first one that you see
When morning opens up the skies
You see me when daylight opens up your eyes
And though I’m happier now I always long somehow
Back to 1995
To mirror the song’s message, allow me to take you to my year – 2000.
2000 is tea with milk and crumpets too.
It’s polluted London streets – gray and gloomy, but beaming with life.
Tube rides filled with quiet Londoners and loud Americans crammed into the Central Line to Zone 1.
Be careful when crossing the streets – remember to always look right and left.
It’s walking the streets of London on an architectural tour with my camera. My love for fashion was in its nascent stage – it’s the year I discovered fashion as art. Covent Garden, Oxford Circle and window shopping on Bond street were my pastimes.
No boyfriends, no husband; just me and my map ready to discover whatever café, museum, park is just around the corner. It’s attempting to balance London sightseeing with studying hard in my flat at Queen Mary University.
2000 is using the excuse of bank holidays and many other holidays to backpack through Western Europe. It’s planes, trains, buses, gondolas, and cruises. Paris can be just like an Amelie movie with endless monuments dedicated to art and love, sprinkled with a tinge of “I hate Parisians” because they really are that rude.
Italy is a country which entices all your senses and you leave it wanting more. Fresh fruits and vegetables on every block in Sienna and pasta heaven in Bologna. Athens is a jungle, but the island of Mykonos is serenity. The narrow white cobble-stoned streets on a Vespa and indulgence in every meal. In Spain, streets named after my namesake and funny Spanish accents. “Carajo”, “coño” and “vale” in every sentence. A day spent admiring the historical beauty of Granada’s Alhambra palace.
2000 is my treasure – the gift I gave to myself and it is forever mine.
Is it really that impossible to find a good doctor? I mean, I know they exist because I hear people proclaim they have a great doctor. Yet, I still haven’t found one and, frankly, I’m getting tired of searching. Specifically, I don’t know how many OBGYN’s I have to try before I find “the one.”
What makes this search even more difficult is the fact that I have had on-going “female” problems that require frequent doctor visits. In the past five years, I think I have seen five different OBGYN’s – all medically competent, but all lacking any real ability to help me. To make matters worse, they seem to lack any sensitivity to my medical condition, and it can be very emotional discussing my most intimate medical problems with someone who clearly doesn’t care. It appears bedside manners have long gone out the window!
Now, more than ever, I wish I could find a compassionate and competent doctor who cares enough to diagnose my condition. Mr. ShuGar and I would like to have a baby, but my medical situation makes it very challenging to do so. Unfortunately, every doctor I have seen has no solution but to give me antibiotics or poke around. The results are always the same – everything’s normal. Really? It sure doesn’t feel like it!
My latest OBGYN disaster was classic. I saw her with an open mind because I really wanted to find “the one.” After having two appointments with her where she made me wait for an hour and a half twice to finally get the chance to see her for a whopping five minutes both times, I have decided I need to find another doctor – once again! What really upset me was that after I was waiting in the examination room half dressed for that long, she had the audacity to come in, with no apology, and almost act annoyed that I had so many questions about my condition. Her solution was to “grin and bear it.” That’s it. That is the last time I plan on seeing her.
Alas, I am on the search once again. I am optimistic, but my patience is running thin. All I want is for someone to care enough to help me. Is that really too much to ask?
In my profession, we are in the business of being compassionate and attentive and we would never get away with how these doctors have treated me.
In response to my last doctor, I will not bear it. I will continue to search and hope. I have to. There’s no other way. And one day, I pray sooner rather than later, I will find a good doctor who can help me and I will grin – a big grin.
I have a thing for anything Brazilian; I love the whole Brazilian vibe – the beaches, the food, the people and definitely the music. Brazilians have an intoxicating joy for life. They work to live, not live to work. Marisa Monte is a perfect representation of the beauty of Brazil. Marisa is a well-established Brazilian singer whose musical genre is a blend of Brazilian pop with Bossa Nova roots. I believe she only sings in Portuguese so she probably is an unknown to most Americans. The moment I heard her voice, I was mesmerized. In Brazil, she is highly admired and if you listen to her song A Primeira Pedra (translation – The First Stone) you can see why. There is a softness to her voice and a vulnerability that touches your heart.
Although I enjoy many of Marisa Monte’s songs, I haven’t listened to her music in a while. This is a consequence to me subconsciously associating her with the heartbreak of my previous relationship. He was Brazilian and, for many years, I tried to disconnect myself from anything Brazilian-related. A good writer friend of mine described this feeling perfectly. He said that after a horrible break-up, you are very careful to not step on any “emotional land mines.” These land mines can be anything that reminds you of that relationship. The moment you stumble upon an “emotional land mine,” you can go down a quick downward spiral, even when you least expect it. You try to move forward and avoid being triggered. You destroy those pictures, cut off ties with “his” friends, move to a new city – you do whatever it takes to move on.
It took me a long time to heal from the betrayal of my previous relationship. Discovering infidelity in your partner feels like a punch in the heart. It took a lot of self-love and time to build my trust in love again. It was a painful, yet empowering process. Mr. ShuGar has also helped in the healing process. His love taught me that not all men are the same. There are still some good ones out there. I thank my lucky stars for having found one of them.
The years had gone by and I never realized I buried my love for all things Brazil. I guess this is another side effect of the break-up.
I recently fixed my iPod and I heard Marisa Monte’s A Primeira Pedra once again. The song begins by her asking who can throw the first stone who has not suffered or died because of love. Who can resist the temptations of the heart and revoke the laws of the heart? For many years, I judged myself for falling in love with the wrong man. Time has taught me to have no regrets, but, rather, to embrace all the experiences that have brought me to this moment in my life. They are all a part of me.
I am (re)embracing my love for Brazil. There’s so much beauty in its culture and I hope to take Mr. ShuGar to my favorite parts of Brazil one day. But first, I think I might start learning Portuguese again – it’s been a goal of mine for a very long time and I absolutely love the sound of the language. Brazil, muitas saudades.
Special thanks to my dear Brazilian friend who helped in the translation of Marisa Monte’s A Primeira Pedra.