Book Worming it to the end, and over again…

Born and raised a book worm. Groomed early by my father who took my sister and I on wondrous treks to the local library when we were little and on Saturdays took us to our most coveted spot of all – the main Library in Center City. The building was old and had a huge marble stair case. The children’s section was tucked away in a beautiful basement nook. Much more than a nook because the space was immense and the options for reading seemed endless to me at that time. It’s weird, I can almost picture my dad, the young professional dad wearing his fro shaped low holding my sister and my hand’s. Both of us wearing long pig tailed braids, with a straight part in the middle, just the way my mom liked to do our hair. striped shirts, shorts and sneakers. Skipping along side my dad as he made up some fantastical game to play on the way to the library. He was always great at that. At taking nothing and making it something amazing and fun. A walk that could have been long and hot was one of the best things we did with him.

I didn’t know it then but my dad was planting seeds in us. Seeds of a love of reading and learning. And since then I’ve loved books always being able to escape whatever surroundings I was in to immerse myself in worlds far away and detached from my own. As a young child I devoured books easily reading probably about 150 books per year. As I got older, my trips to the library became less frequent as the books became longer that I read and held me over longer. But there have been plenty a night that I’ve stayed awake until 3 or 4am, unable to go to sleep until I finished the current amazing page turner that I had in my hands.

With motherhood came change, diapers and potty training and work and school was so hard for me to juggle the necessary requirements to my life that reading became a luxury I could no longer afford. My time being too precious and reserved for so many others. But that was then and now today, we’re past the pampers, past the potty training and none of my children are actively trying to pry electrical outlet coverings to stick little pudgy fingers into. They just don’t. So time has come again.

And with that time has come books! But the books that I read now are different. No longer seeking to escape from reality, but choosing to embrace reality. I have this amazing love and passion for God who has healed me from so much in my life. And I seek him even in books! So every year long, every day there is one book that you will find me reading — the Bible. I’ve actually never read anything like it. Every single time that I sit down to read it I find out something new about God and about myself. About how much He loves me, about the depths that He will go to, about how much He waits for us, how He longs for us! It’s life, heart and spirit changing stuff!

So as I sat thinking about how many books I read per year, I thought wow, born a book worm, I never thought I would ever find a book that I couldn’t devour in under a week or two. But I’ve found one that I can devour for the rest of my life over and over again! And what joy!

thats all for now,
I’ll be where I’m at reading to the day I die,
yours In His eternal love,
Aimee (LatinaBella)

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Herencia

While your back is turned
You sit exposed drowning in thought
Sorrow over pain that was inflicted on you decades ago
Your children walk alone
And experience old hurts to You

new

fresh
On their innocent skin

Motherhood lost to indulgence in

artificial false escapes

inhaled into you lungs to appease the cries of you
Your own cries

sit Lost in the dark

drowning the cries of your children

your children wander alone searching for You

Herencia…

 

 

 

—————–

this is a poem I wrote one day on my blackberry while driving through the streets of North Philly… the pain of children needing their mothers who were so lost in their own isolated worlds of pain almost choked me… it was so thick.  the urge to cry to shake the mothers out of their own sorrow and awaken them.  Instead I wrote this  poem and offered silent prayers up to Heaven…

 

Words

Did you ever realize that there can be SO much in a word? I mean really a lot… Wanted to drop one here to turn over in your mouths, minds, and hearts for a minute

Heredity

There’s so much that can be passed down to us and that we can pass down to our own children.  Most often people think of illness or body shapes, size, appearance when they think of heredity.  But there is so much more that we can pass down to our children than has been captured by science…

  • blessings
  • gifts
  • love
  • disposition
  • sense of humor
  • intelligence
  • traits
  • curses
  • bad habits
  • fears
It’s almost like this invisible supernatural chain that links us to one another, genetically intertwining us.  Just let that word sit in your mouth for a moment.  Say it out loud, let your breath free around it.  What mysteries/ plans are in it for you?  What has been passed down to you?  What have you passed down to your children or what do you stand to pass down to them?
Heredity

Dance in my shoes…

reminisce a time
thick as thieves
never apart
Dancing til dawn
Secrets a blasphemy
to the sacred bond
forged sisterhood

Now miles
rip pages apart
and force
new walks
in solitary feet
lines drawn in the sand
Square off
i’ll turn my cheek

clambor to the throne
so feet can tap alone
on my laundry room floor
dancing
humming
singing
a joyous new tune

never alone
TRUE LOVE BORN anew
cradled in perfection
the gaping wound
sure to be filled soon

Strawberry kisses

Do you remember

blowing wishes on the wind

white thistles grabbed onto air as

your dreams floated off into the universe

to be caught only by God

and breathed back into your life

Prince Charming on White Horses

always ready with a song and a smile

curly haired cherubian babies to be born to you

laughing and smiling never a wet eye in the house

sweet kisses like strawberries always on your lips and your cheeks

every morning would be Christmas

every night would be New Years

Paradise a playground only for grown ups

remembering those wishes blown into the wind

so long ago

feeling happy that one wish did get up to God

and breathed back to me…

those strawberry kisses

Scrubbing the Tub

As I knelt in the bathroom today, scrubbing the tub, my roots came to mind. I’m one of those Latinas. Not the ones that were born in a Latin country, but one of the ones that were born here. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and raised in 2 worlds, there and here. I, on the other hand, was born here. Only visited the island once in my life. Our familial ties to the island having long been stretched too thin by the hands of time.

My parents were progressive. My father being the first in his family to graduate college, law school and go on to become a lawyer. My mother graduated high school and went on to work full time in Corporate America for 30+ years. My father was the primary nurturer to us and my mother cooked, sometimes when she felt like it anyhow. Other times, it was every person to themselves to find dinner. I am no stranger to cereal and eggs for dinner. That was normal, part of life. My mother washed her own clothing and at some point so long ago that I can’t remember when ceased to wash all of ours. I washed my clothing. My sister washed hers. And my dad washed his and my brother’s.

My husband is one of those Latinos. Not like me, but born on the island. He didn’t come here until he was 19 years old. He still struggles to speak English. His mother doted on him, his father, and the rest of his brothers and sisters. She never worked outside of the home as far as I know. Her days were filled with nurturing their family. Cooking, cleaning, washing, she does it all. When my husband came to the US, he had never lifted a mop, washed a dish, or his own clothing to say the least.

And somehow, my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. If he had known how un-domestic I was, he would never have married me. He sees me “serving” him as an act of love and devotion. I see “serving” him as being demeaning to me. So we often get mired into the same vicious circle of an argument. Him questioning my love for him because I don’t want to jump up and serve him dinner. I mean for God’s sakes, I’ve been taking care of the kids all by myself all day. Could he serve himself and give me a break? And me questioning whether he appreciates the sacrifice and the commitment that being a Latina wife and mother every minute of every day entails.

I was raised to be independent and now here I am being forced into a mold that I wasn’t built for. How do you just become the quintessential Latina when you were not raised by one? No one else seems to understand how I feel belittled, how I feel less worthy when my husband comes home and I have to jump up to serve him. Then continue to clean, help the kids with homework and so on while he sits in his boxers scratching his balls on the sofa watching ESPN. And I’m supposed to be happy. How do you find happiness in that? I look at my daughter, who is only 2 and being formed now for her future, and wonder what the future holds for her. A life of servitude for her family under the guise of nurturer? A husband who pitches in and cares equally for the children and the house? And my sons, will they do the same that they see my husband doing to their wives one day?

In the mirror, I see the marionette strings tied to my back and wait for the familiar pull of my husband’s hand. For him to guide me in the direction I should be going. For me to jump up, the happy puppet that I am, to cook, to clean, to smile, to laugh, to be reigned over. A lump forms in my throat; I swallow a tear and go back to scrubbing the tub.

The 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk Philadelphia

So what can I say about the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk in Philadelphia?  I had such high hopes and expectations for the weekend.  A journey of 60 miles.  A chance to make a difference!  To raise money to find A CURE!  I signed up for the challenge in January of this year. 

It was a walk 10 months in the planning.  Months of meetings, fundraising, planning, training, tears, loss, hope with our small team called the Pink Bees.    



I had pinned so much on the walk.  I thought that during the walk I would feel Melody there with me, her presence somehow.  After all of the planning, all of the equipment, the packing, the making plans for babysitters – the day before the walk, a Noreaster blew in and they canceled the first day of the walk, Friday.  Shortly thereafter they canceled the 2nd day of the walk, Saturday, as well.  And then we were left with one day, Sunday – just 15 miles.
 


On Sunday, we were so excited, the day had finally arrived!  Shortly after we arrived at the walk, I was briefly overcome with emotion when my team mates and I lined up at the start of the walk.  I had registered so many long months before to inspire Melody, but after she passed away in the end of May, I was now walking in her memory. And all of the months of preparation and holding off of tears, it all had culminated to that moment.  As far as we could see in front of us were a sea of pink bunny rabbit Energizer bunny ears.



The walk was difficult, after all it was cold and rainy but I know none of it compared to anything that Melody had gone through in the 8 years of the fight for her life.


It will be 5 months since she’s been gone on the 27th and it still feels like a punch in the stomach every time I remember that she is actually gone. I don’t know if I thought I would catch a glimpse of her along the way or really actually feel her but none of that happened. And I went home and felt so disappointed and my loss felt so much more real. I actually feel selfish thinking about myself, because my loss is nothing compared to her son’s, her mother’s, or her father’s. Now theirs is a loss that I don’t even want to begin to imagine. 



All in all, I was pretty uninspired by the 3 Day.  From the 2 canceled days, the disorganized chaos of the day, to the rain and the mud.  I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I was looking forward to it really kicking my butt.  But I think the biggest disappointment was not seeing her at the end.  And that’s something the 3 Day never could have given us.  But for some strange reason I almost expected it. 



To make up for the upset that all the Philadelphia walkers felt, we were given the option to walk in any other walk in any other city in the US through the remainder of this year.  But for me, I would then need to fork out money for travel and babysitters again and being recently unemployed, that’s not really an option for me.  We also were told that our $90 registration fee would be waived for next year if we wanted to participate again next year.  But we’ll again have to raise the $2300+ per person to walk in the walk.  So although the walk was for a wonderful cause and it felt good to be there and to have contributed to the over $8 million raised by the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk Philadelphia, all in all it was a real let down to me.  I hope Melody is proud of me anyhow.  I know I’m definitely proud of her, probably more than ever now.  And I still miss and love her so much.  I’ll have to find other ways to honor her memory going forward. 

How to be a Latina DRESSING the part in the Corporate World – Part 2

Workplace Fashion DON’TSThings you should not wear to work

I love going salsa dancing. And when I get a chance to get out dancing, you better believe I am coming dressed to impress – which includes being sexy. But going out salsa dancing and working at a 9 to 5 in the corporate world are 2 completely different worlds. In the beginning, it was VERY hard for me to differentiate between the two different types of “dressing up”. You dress up to go to the club and you dress up to go to work, but that doesn’t mean that you wear the same type of “dress up” outfit to both places. In the club, you WANT to get attention. At work, the LAST thing you want to get attention for, is because of what you are wearing.

  • Stiletto heels – heels higher than a 3 inch heel generally should be saved for the club. Heels that have wedges at the bottom, to create a higher heal should definitely not be worn at work, as they’re probably a little too reminiscent of working dancers. But the height of the heel isn’t the only indicator that it’s not appropriate for work. Glittery sequins, bright adorning jewels, feathers, straps that wrap around the ankle – all these things make the shoes not the best choice for work.
  • Gauzy material – we’ve all done it once or another – well I know I have anyway! Bought a sexy fitted sheer shirt and then added a sexy black lacy bra underneath to finish the look. This is something that you can definitely wear if you have the confidence out to the club, to go out dancing, but to work, no way. Your shirt, skirt, pants should not be see through at the work place.
  • Flip flops – flip flops are becoming part of fashion and aren’t only for using at the beach or the pool. However they still haven’t made it past the level of casual wear. Casual wear should not be worn in the work place – especially not flip flops. The only time I actually did wear flip flops to work was when I was pregnant and my swollen fat feet couldn’t fit into any normal foot wear. So I bought sequined flip flops and had to wear those to work. But due to my condition, I believe most people didn’t hold it against me, especially when they saw my poor swollen feet.
  • Sneakers – although fitness gear was not a topic I wanted to touch upon, as Latinas typically are very style conscious and won’t be caught dead in a sneaker all day at work – there are some who do. If you come to work in sneakers for comfort – change your shoes once you get to work. If not, you take the chance that you can look slovenly and unkempt, especially if your sneakers have not been cleaned lately. Change them as soon as you get to work. The same goes for snow boots and rain boots.
  • T-shirts with words on them – any shirt that has words written on it should not be worn to work. Unless it’s underneath a form fitting blazer and the text is either hidden or camouflaged as a design because it is not all showing.

Skin that you should not show at work

  • Too much cleavage – Well, I am a woman and I buy clothes that accentuate that fact, so how do I know when too much cleavage is being shown? If you look at yourself in the mirror and your eyes are automatically drawn to your breasts, you may be showing too much cleavage. Are you questioning whether a shirt is acceptable? Sit down in a chair and see how the shirt may shift when you are seated. Does it become tighter across the bodice? Do the buttons strain? If the answers are yes, do yourself a favor and leave it for weekend wear.
  • Your belly – Your belly should NEVER, I repeat NEVER, show while you are at work in a corporate environment. If it does, you need to consider if you raise your arms to pick up something more will show and probably expose your back as well. This is very unprofessional. CHANGE the shirt or pair it with a long tank underneath that can give you the additional coverage that you need without taking away from the look you were going for.
  • Your lower back – Like midriff tops, super low rise pants show too much skin and create a distraction. Opt for more modest styles to be taken more seriously at work.
  • Your Thighs – If your skirt is short enough that your thighs are showing, it’s probably a mini skirt and definitely not for the workplace.
  • Your shoulders – Although wearing sleeveless dresses is now becoming accepted, strapless dresses and dresses with spaghetti straps, these are still not acceptable in the workplace. Save them for the weekend.

Rules for accessories

  • Are pantyhose/stockings a must in the workplace? In the past, it was considered inappropriate and brazen for a woman to wear skirt or dress that showed her legs and not cover her legs with stockings. In 2009, we have finally gotten to a point where stockings are not a requirement to wear a skirt. If you can carry the look, there’s no harm in it. But just remember that you must make sure that your skirt length is appropriate. If you mistakenly combine a short skirt with bare legs, you can do yourself a really big disservice.
  • I went to Catholic school up until I graduated from High school – and so a lot of my thoughts on jewelry in the workplace, I’ve retained from my time in Catholic school. No hoop earrings. Earrings no larger than a quarter. One necklace. Minimalism is what I try to practice. If your jewelry seems to overpower you and your outfit than do as Coco Chanel said “When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.”.
  • Piercings, although much more common, are not seen as professional in the workplace. While you are interviewing, you want to make sure that you don’t have any noticeable body piercings, and once you are employed, you want to pretty much stick to that as well. Others can perceive you as young, immature, and it can mean you can miss out on promotions at work. Anything extreme should be minimalized – ear stretchers, more than a couple of piercings per ear, etc.
  • Tattoos – I personally love tattoos, as I see them as bodily art. And tattoos can be a very personal means of self-expression, a way of memorializing a loved one, and any other number of things. But your personal acceptance and love for tattoos doesn’t mean everyone will feel that way. My husband for example still believes that women and men that have lots of exposed tattoos are “trashy” and no way is this true. Whereas I tend to see people with heavy tattoos as artistically creative, he sees them as trashy. So what does this mean? If you work in a corporate environment, try and keep all tattoos on your body in a place that can be covered by your clothing.
  • Make-up – Yes, believe it or not, there is even a difference in the way that you do your makeup for the club versus makeup for the daytime. Excessive makeup is not appropriate in the workplace. When you make up your face for a day in the office, make yourself look fresh and alert. Dark colors and shadows are not necessary for a day time look. When it comes to jewelry and makeup at work, remember the mantra “less is more”. You don’t want to distract people with your make up.
  • Hair – JUST SAY NO to extreme colors and cuts that could leave you looking more like a wild parrot than a dedicated employee. Natural looks are always better. And if you are looking for a hair change on weekends, buy a couple of wigs to wear and change your look completely, while remaining corporate during the work week.

This topic reminds me of my first real full time corporate position. In the department where I worked, there was a woman there who I really thought was off her rocker. Her attire was risqué to say the least and her makeup wasn’t far behind. She frequently wore wigs to work, she would highlight her brows in white, wear bright colored eye shadows. Glossy bright colors in her lips, that were always lined in black eyeliner. Bright red rouge on her cheeks and colored mascara. Did she see what we all saw when we looked at her? No I’m sure she didn’t. She probably thought that her work should speak for itself and she shouldn’t be judged for her looks. But that’s not the society we live it. I always thought of her as a strange bird. And could not for the life of me, get passed her strange attire, hair and makeup. Apparently our manager couldn’t either, she never moved up beyond her entry level data entry position within the company, although she had been there for more time than most of us in the department. Her growth within the company was stagnated because of how she looked.
 
If you look like Lady Gaga when you are heading out to work in the morning, you’re going to have to turn back around and bring it down a few levels. Remember, “less is more” when it comes to accessorizing and make up at work.


 
Where do I go from here?? Still feeling a little confused after reading my blog? I suggest watching TLC’s show “WHAT NOT TO WEAR”. They remake women of all shapes and sizes to look their absolute best. Watch the shows for ideas on how to make your body shape look it’s best without being seen as provocative at work.

Time in a Cocoon

 I’ve been thinking again about blogging and have been wanting to pick it back up. Not to continue my diatribes on my relationship, but to talk about LIFE, my LIFE to be more exact. Life as a Latina in 2009. Today. While President Obama is in the White House. And the first Latina ever has been elected to the Supreme Court – Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. I’m living right now amidst change! My life every day is in a changing world. And if we don’t stop to smell the flowers, and appreciate that, sometimes it can slip right by you without even having noticed it. It’s been a while that I’ve been searching for some place on line that I could come to. Some place where women are like me. American Latinas, caught in the center of 2 completely different worlds and struggling to maintain their place in those worlds. I still haven’t found that blog, that website that is by Latinas for Latinas and that answers all of those questions. So I decided that this will be the place. It will be a place for me to bare my soul or to not bare my soul to the world. To talk about cooking, struggles, with weight, sex, work, marriage, children, family. Everything.

The Wedding Dress I lost…

Today I was digging through boxes in the garage looking for clothing. Clothing that had been boxed away that have finally begun to fit me again. Expanding my tiny wardrobe and I came across it. In a huge box, crumpled beneath layers of dresses was my wedding dress. Wrinkled and cold and long forgotten. Not delicately placed but tossed inside the box to later leave me questioning, “what did I do with my wedding dress?”

I’d repurposed it in the past. My mother had always kept her wedding dress sealed in a special air tight container just in case one day my sister or I could use it on our wedding days. But, my sister didn’t like it and it never would have fit me. So trapped it stayed in its’ cardboard shrine. No, my dress was not to be enshrined. I read a magazine article once about a table cover that had been made out of an old prom dress that was bought in a second hand store. I thought it a lovely idea. So I covered my hall table with it for a while and it gave it a fantastic touch. One day though, amidst my moves, I had boxed it up along with some others and forgot about it. Today, I pulled and tugged and dragged that huge monster box inside. I found things that I had forgotten and missed. My paddle that I wore as a neophyte in my sorority, that I had made myself. Shoes without mates.

I have come so far, but it seems just full circle. Back where I started when I used to have that dress on the side table on the top of the stairs in my own little town house. I gave up my freedom then because of fear. I was afraid to be alone. I was afraid that I couldn’t do it on my own. But my fear dragged me down deeper and deeper into the depths. Until I broke away again, only to return once more. And so here I am, here I sit. Here I stand. Here I wash, here I clean. Here I am in this house. In this place. In this marriage once more. But how could one ever expect to have a full blossoming apple tree if the seeds were planted on rocky ground… If the roots were never able to grab hold, how can the tree nourish itself and grow? One has to take that tree and find another soil that is fertile and replant that tree. Nourish it, love it, water it and watch the transformation and growth unfold. That tree is me. I am replanting myself. I want to grow. I want to change. I want to be the best me that I never even dreamed I could be. with all my fruit nearby me. 🙂 

Interested in repurposing your wedding dress?  Take a look at this article for ideas on things you can do with your dress instead of shoving it in a box or giving it away.

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