Friends and Politics

This year’s presidential election leaves me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and afraid.

These feelings are not for the United States. I have faith that our country has enough freedom fighters and systems in place that it will be okay.

For me, these feelings surface as I try to understand how some friends could vote for a man who spewed such hate. It is easy enough to scroll past facebook “friends” and their political posts. But what I am having such a hard time resolving is how real friends, people who I love, could get past or ignore such hatred.

At the age of 48, just through natural attrition, I am surrounded mostly by people who love me and have my back. I have always been aware of political differences among my friends. Everyone has a right to vote for who they want. But there was an element of real hate in this campaign. And as it got more hateful, I began asking myself, how did I become friends with people who can so easily dismiss racism?

I am a Filipino immigrant, whose husband is a descendant of slaves, and whose children are bi-racial. In my hesitancy to speak up about anything controversial in daily conversations, did I give the impression that I had no opinion about race? Or that I (or my family) had never experienced any racism?

It’s always been too frustrating to have to explain why something is racist or offensive. When I hear comments like “people are too sensitive” or “all lives matter,” I can never find the right words. I always wish there was someone who was more intelligent or well-versed to explain that racism still exists. Racism is not just something manufactured by overly sensitive people who can’t get over the past.

It scares me that some people in my small community say they love diversity in one breath but also look forward to being able to “not be so politically correct all the time.” What can that possibly mean? Are people looking forward to freely saying offensive things again? Because it felt awful to be called a “chink” back in the day. I pray that’s not the direction we are headed again.

As a stay-at-home mom, I can easily limit my contact with the outside world. I could deactivate my social media accounts. I could surround myself with people who only think the way I do. But that cannot be the answer.

I have to have faith that these friends who love me, really do love me. I believe they are good people. Any difference of opinion really is just that…a difference of opinion. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I haven’t been vocal enough expressing myself when I’ve disagreed with the discussions on race. Maybe my silence gave the impression that I agreed…or worse, had no opinion.

So moving forward, I have to find my voice. I have to make it absolutely clear when something is offensive, hateful, or hurtful. I must speak out against hate. Now is not the time to be silent.

 

Sometimes It Snows In April

“Sometimes it snows in April,

Sometimes I feel so bad

Sometimes I wish that life were never ending

All good things, they say, never last.” – Prince

 

I sensed something was terribly wrong when my phone started ringing and buzzing with texts. I quickly glanced down and saw the word “Prince.” My heart sank. I prayed that it was hoax. His songs started playing on the radio:  Kiss. Little Red Corvette. Raspberry Beret. A death has been reported in Paisley Park. I turned the radio off.  By the time I walked in my front door, I was crying.

I have loved Prince for almost 30 years.

His music is like a personal soundtrack to special moments in my life.  Certain songs remind me of a moment or connection.  Certain lyrics always make me chuckle.

As a teenager listening to “Take Me With You,” I daydreamed that one day someone would sing that to me “I don’t care where we go, I don’t care what we do. I don’t care pretty baby, just take me with you.”  I remember my best friend Michelle telling me there was a secret message recorded backwards at the end of “Darling Nikki” and it completely freaked me out when she showed me.  Hear it here.

In college, my roommate Marina absolutely LOVED Prince. On Friday nights, Prince would be singing, “Hot Thang, barely 21. Hot Thang, looking for big fun,”as we got dressed to go out. Marina spent a whole semester learning Cat Glover’s rap at the end of “Alphabet Street.” Marina followed him to any nearby city he would perform.  She once brought him purple roses.

In my 30s, when my son became obsessed with Batman (the Michael Keaton one), he would dance around the room to “Partyman” and “Batdance.”  A couple of years later, I had tears in my eyes when my daughter tapped danced to “Musicology” in her first (and last) dance recital.

The “Welcome to America” tour almost put a strain on my marriage as I kept buying tickets every time a new show was announced.  First, I bought 2 tickets for Marina and me.  Then another night was added so I HAD to take my husband.  When Prince added that third night, I knew I had to go with my sister and cousin, both true funk soldiers.  Best concerts ever.  Prince performed in Madison Square Garden like it was a little club.  Everyone was singing and dancing in the aisles.

Last year when I trained for those 5K races, I trained to Prince’s new stuff, “Funknroll” and “Goldstandard.”  I became obsessed with adding new Prince pictures to my Prince Board on Pinterest.

Just this morning, Elena and I singing, “Starfish and Coffee” while getting ready for school. I was begging her to name her daughter “Cynthia Rose,” just so I can sing that song to her.  Who knew that in a couple of hours my Prince would be gone?

Rest in Peace, Prince.

I wish you heaven.

Nothing Compares 2 U.

Love is too weak to define, just what you mean to me.

prince collage

2 Things I Learned My 2nd Year (Not) Blogging

I have not posted an article in almost one year.

At first I was actively participating in a group for bloggers and sticking to a writing schedule. But I just couldn’t seem to write an article “good enough” for me. Group members were writing about surviving cancer, starting businesses, and saving the world. How could I share a post about the struggles of cleaning my basement?

I wasn’t really having any success with the things I wanted to write about. As an aspiring minimalist, I was struggling with the second layer of stuff to toss. As a gardener, I lost my enthusiasm when I found cat poo in the soil of my vegetable garden. And even though I really enjoyed running those 5K races, I did not have fun training and putting in the work.

As the weeks turned to months, I began to think maybe my website was just another phase. I didn’t like anything I was writing. Documenting my failures seemed too whiny. Writing about success seemed as unrealistic as posting only gorgeous selfies. And so I didn’t post at all.

I recently got an email reminding me that the renewal fee for my domain name was due. Did I really want to keep up this blog? After a lot of back and forth, I’ve decided to try for another year.

Here are the 2 things I learned (not) blogging this year:

  1. My fear is paralyzing. Is it a fear of failure or success?  Whatever…I have to find a way to move past it and just write. I will post and if you like it, tell me. If you don’t like it, tell me why not and offer advice on how to improve. I would love to hear either way.
  2. This is MY blog. Why am I so stressed? No one pays me to do this.  I have full creative control. I want to write good articles and establish a relationship with my readers, but it should be fun. It’s not that serious. So I will try to just write.

So, I’m back!  I’d love to hear from my readers who have stuck around.  Tell me, what’s new?

3 Things I Learned My First Year Blogging

To celebrate this blog’s 1st birthday, I’ve put together a list of the three things I learned my first year blogging.

1. I love working in my garden. YES, I stress out about what to plant, when to plant, and what bugs might eat the plants…BUT, I also love sketching new plans in my marble notebook, seeing buds peep out from the soil, harvesting lettuce for a salad, and sharing my “crops” with my sister. Starting my garden last Spring took a lot of time, but the whole process was so rewarding. I learned I really love to garden.

These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today.  Spring must be near!
These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today. Spring must be near!

2. I love trying to be a minimalist.  My house is filled with 16 years of stuff that I’ve bought, saved, or inherited. This past year, I started small with my closet. From there, I shredded old bills, letters, and kids’ school paperwork from several years. I’ve thrown away most of the “one-day-I’ll-fix-this” junk in my garage. My basement and garage are still filled, but it’s easier deciding what to toss. More importantly, I avoid bringing new junk into the house. I hope to show you the progress I make with my basement this summer.

3. I love taking time for myself again. When the kids were younger, I read their books, watched their shows, and planned their activities. Now that they are more independent, I love spending time on me. Cliché, I know.  But it’s really fun. I read (and finish) books. I watch scary or adult shows. We’re busier than ever, but now I feel good about making time for myself…and I feel healthy.

So…would I have done all of this anyway, without a blog? Possibly. But writing about my projects motivates me to actually follow through with them.

With each post, I get braver. This blog is scary to maintain. I easily talk myself out of new posts. There’s always that voice that whispers, “who cares???” I am constantly worried that something will crash and that the blog will just vanish into thin air.

But still, here we are, one year later.

As the blog grows, I will share better photos — thanks to the things I will learn from a photography class I’m taking.

Bojangles (March 2015) - the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.
Bojangles (March 2015) – the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.

I will also try to improve my writing using the tools that I’ve learned from this mini-course called, “Define Your Blog Voice,” by Daniela Uslan.  It’s quite a leap for me to join a facebook group and get feedback from strangers.

A special shout out goes to my sister, mom, husband, and kids who indulge me by reading and commenting on all my posts. I am also thankful for my readers who occasionally drop in to say hello.

Happy Birthday to www.cozintransit.com! Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts with me!

Snow Day

The kids have a snow day today.

They got up late, brought their cereal downstairs, and began watching their new DVD of “Police Squad.”

As I listen to their raucous laughter, my kill-joy instincts kick in: Clean your rooms. Study for your mid-terms. Go out and shovel.

But this time I don’t start barking these orders. Instead, I make myself a cup of coffee and take in all the noise.

In two years, my son will be in college and the house will no longer have impromptu concerts or be this chaotic. As I schedule college visits and pay college test registration fees, I can feel my reign ending. Do I want to spend my last two years ruling like a tyrant?

Probably.

But on this snow day, as I make my way to the basement to load another basket of laundry, I stop and laugh with them…who can resist Leslie Nielsen?

2015 Projects

Happy New Year! I am eager to share my first projects of 2015!

In my continued quest to get rid of stuff around the house, I found Peter Walsh‘s project 31Days2GetOrganized. I know I didn’t finish 30DaysofThanks. But these are 10-minute exercises that seem doable. Day 2 required removing items that don’t belong in the Master Bedroom. I dragged out a box of books, magazines from my side table, and a large bin of summer clothes. The exercise took less than half an hour.

I am also working on missions from the FlyLady. This week we are in the kitchen. Today’s mission was to throw out any plastic containers that were stained, broken, or didn’t have a match. I find it easier to do one simple task rather than to tackle a whole room at once.

On the fitness front, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and start a realistic workout plan at home. I am committing to 30 minutes a day on the treadmill.

To motivate myself, I am researching these two races:

The Color Run – 5K on May 23rd in Queens. A race where people splash you with color? I am going to see if I can put together a team to run with me. No pressure, just lots of fun. Right up my alley.

Diva Race – 5K on October 4 in Eisenhower Park. This race requires some running, but with a feather boa! How fun is that? Plus it’s later in the year and I’ll be really fit by then!

I am thinking of signing up for a photography class at the local community college. I’ve been taking some photos for the church website and I want to see how I can improve the pictures or better work my camera.

Here are some writers who help me stay motivated:

* My sister recommended Mastin Kipp and his posts about love and loving yourself. I follow him on Twitter and it’s like a daily dose of love and positivity.

* I’ve been a fan of Rachel Anne Ridge’s “Home Sanctuary” for a while. Her last post talked about 2015 being the “year to stop being afraid.” I always back off when I think that something bad might happen. As a result, there’s no progress. I want this to change in 2015.

* I’ve mentioned Courtney Carver before in my Project 333 post.  She inspires, encourages, and motivates me with her posts on minimalism.

Last year, I sadly said goodbye to an uncle, two good neighbors, and some really kind people in my church. On a happier note, I was able to attend a fabulous wedding and reunite with old friends, celebrate my 20th anniversary, and share special occasions with my family and friends.

Life is so precious. This will be the year I stand up to my fears. But instead of planning, and worrying, I will just start by starting.

I am looking forward to sharing my projects and hearing from you in 2015.

Let’s have a healthy, happy new year!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my readers!

It’s too late to write a post about how I struggled with minimalism and shopping for gifts. I wanted to write about my favorite ornaments and the stories that go along with them. And of course there’s a “year in review” draft sitting here, too.

But, as I wait for my coconut custard pie to come out of the oven, I know there is no time for any of that.

The new year always brings hope and excitement of what is still to come. Thanks for still hanging around.

Wishing you all a happy new year filled with blessings, peace, and joy!

IMG_1506.JPG

30 Days of Thanks

I’m usually grateful. Sometimes I get distracted.

Last week, a good friend told me that she just organized ALL her cabinets,  and I completely lost it. Wait. The meltdown wasn’t so sudden. A few weeks back (right after Halloween), the same friend and I were talking about Christmas lists. That’s when my anxiety level started rising.

A den project has made my house (more) chaotic. Boxes of books, photo albums, picture frames, and gadgets have been stacked in my living room, garage, and basement since September. Instead of digging through the boxes for office supplies, I just run out to get more.

I am a minimalist’s nightmare.

Do the boxes really need to be unpacked? Can I just donate everything? Better yet, can everything just go in the garbage?

I lose sight of how really blessed I am when I have these conversations.

I’m working on 30 Days of Thanks to help me focus. It’s a simple daily reminder to give thanks. Here are my pictures on Instagram.

I am also working on the exercises from this book,  “Simpler: Declutter Your Life and Focus on What’s Most Important,” by Mike Burns.  What’s most important…to me?  Family and experiences are more important than managing all these boxes, books and stuff that I’ve accumulated. I have to do a better job focusing.

As Thanksgiving nears, I remind myself to be thankful for where I am right now. I am thankful for a house. I am thankful that I am still in good physical and mental health to clean up my junk . I am thankful for a supportive family that can adapt to the chaos. And, of course, I’m thankful for my readers who are with me on this journey.

Please share your tips on how you stay focused on what’s important to you.

 

20th Anniversary

Del and I are celebrating our 20th Anniversary this month.

Del and me on our wedding day 20 years ago (September 1994)
Del and me on our wedding day, 20 years ago (September 1994).

I met Del my first day of college. I had no idea that he would one day grow to be such a devoted, loving husband, father, and friend. Del has stayed by my side despite my narcissism, martyrdom, and everything in between. I am so grateful that he doesn’t give up on me.

We’ve learned to make time for each other in small ways — catching a quick lunch together as he works from home or binge-watching tv shows late at night.

Years #1, #2, #7, #11, and #13 were rough. I had to learn how to compromise and share my time. We had to grow up. Those years, I often asked (sometimes out loud) could I move back home with my parents or how much jail time would I serve. But as life moved forward, “for better or for worse” events made our marriage stronger.

Over the years, we have had to say goodbye to beloved family and friends who celebrated with us on our wedding day. Rest in peace Dad, Dallas, Grandma Nema, Uncle Marcial,  Aunt Doris, Mom Pardi, Auntie Nita, Miss Rubye, Mr. Johnny, Murray Kraft, and Sis. Goodwin.

Our family has grown with many beautiful additions: Emily, Brianna, Jackson, Claudia, Elena, Ana Victoria, Noah, Team Matos, Nic and Jenn from NJ, and ALL the newborns since 1994 who became part of our lives. We are so blessed to watch our nieces and nephews reach each milestone.

I am looking forward to celebrating many more years together. Our kids are becoming more independent and interesting (and slightly less annoying). There’s so much more for us to do as a family and as a couple.

So we’re off to Puerto Rico to celebrate! It’s our first trip alone in 17 years. I think we’re both surprised that I was able to leave the kids and the dog.

But 20 years is a HUGE deal.

Here we are on vacation in Cape Cod (July 2014)
Here we are on vacation in Cape Cod (July 2014).

Happy 20th Anniversary to Del and me 🙂

First Rejection

I got my first rejection email for a press badge for New York Comic Con.  An excerpt from the email reads:

“Due to the growth of the Show and demand for tickets, NYCC relies on a more intensive application process for qualifying members of the Press. We are sorry to report your application cannot be approved after this more sensitive screening.”

Even though I knew my application was a long shot, I was surprised at how disappointed I was when I read the email.

A few weeks ago, when I was feeling really good about the posts I was writing, I began dreaming big.  Imagine if, as a blogger, I could get press passes to events.  This could eventually lead to a two-minute interview with Prince at his next concert tour.  Dream big or go home, right?

Can bloggers, who want to write about special events, get press passes?  The application seemed easy enough (three links to my writing samples).  Shame on me for thinking 25 posts about my garden and failed-workouts would get me into the largest comic convention in the world.

My initial reaction was to close up this blog and never write again.  A month later, I’m thinking this could be the turning point (like the training scene in movies), where I start banging out weekly posts to get some real writing credibility.

Perhaps I should take a refresher course in writing or join a writers’ group?  Maybe I should actually go to an event and actually write about it?  Did I really think writing would be so easy?

I can feel this blog slowly coming to a halt.  My 30-Day Ab Challenge was almost done, but I didn’t finish.  The 100HappyDays Instagram project is way past its finish date, but I’m still on Day 93.  But, at least my garden is producing delicious produce.  Today, my first sunflower is in full bloom.

First sunflower of the summer.
First sunflower of the summer.

Not really sure where to go from here.  Summer makes it so easy to put everything off until the Fall.  But I knew I had to get this post out, just to get back on track.

After a setback, how do you get back on track?  Share with us your success stories 🙂