Never do you feel more small and delicate when you’re hit with yet another sense of loss. Grief arrives in many forms: loss of loved ones, watching things go in a direction you didn’t them to, being embraced by memories of your former life. And they all sting.

Today that humility arrived in the form of a friend passing on. I can’t help but be angry how Charon keeps paddling across all these wonderful, kind and inherently good people. It’s beyond unfair.

Yet I try to find the purpose and meaning in it all. Sometimes things like this happen cause the Universe is a cruel bitch, but sometimes they’re the Universe slapping you upside the face, kinda like Cher in Moonstruck, “SNAP OUT OF IT!!”

You see, the past 24 hours have been a bit of a mindfuck. I take it back, the past month has. Another round of what feels like dog years, blow after emotional blow where I feel like I cannot come up for air before something else is tying itself to my ankle to sink me back down.

What was that? It’s early February? 2020 is gonna be aces? Shit. I am not throwing in the towel by any means here. Me? But look, I was having a real “woe is me” moment. A “can I catch a break? Because I am fucking exhausted!” pity party moment.

And then I read the news and boy did I feel like such a first world problems BABY. I’m not going to diminish my struggle by any means. It doesn’t mean that some of the things I have had happen to me in the past year aren’t absolute fuckery, cause lord knows they have been. But damn…

Another friend’s heart stopped beating… another set of lungs took their last breath today.

And I am sitting here squandering those moments.

Every day I strive to be a better, stronger, more authentic version of myself. It’s a journey that will always continue because arrival is for people lying to themselves. We are never there.

And yet here is another reminder knocking near my door….
Life is short. Life is fleeting.
Why and what are you waiting for?
Don’t be safe. Be bold. Be brave. Tell fear to go fuck itself.
Want it? Then get it.
Don’t have it? Then ask for it and be ok if it isn’t the answer you hoped for.
Say what you need to say. Be authentic to yourself . Be true.
Answer truthfully when your best friend starts questions with “You need to ask yourself why….”
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and trusting even when both of those things have been absolutely decimated.

Rewiring old thoughts, habits and behaviors are hard as hell.

Recently a close and long time friend said to me…

“Remember, you were the gold Ivonne”


kintsugi.
 
Days old / thirteen

She and I have been talking a lot about gratitude lately. 

Having to be a single parent, who really has to prioritize time and money is a huge change for us. I try not to feel bad about it, but it gets me from time to time when I know I just can’t. When you want to provide the world, the experiences and having to restrain.

All things considering, I think I am doing pretty ok despite it being less than a year since I moved out. She has had to watch me rebuild my life up from next to nothing. Ground zero. Blood, sweat, scars and a fuck ton of tears. Through minimization of the struggle and sacrifice like its been easy. To see almost half of your life, love and efforts brought to a close like it was a seedy back alley business transaction. To having to hear “What DID YOU DO in those 12 years?” in a job interview and have some dude look at you with the “oh that’s cute” face when you tell him you were a stay-at-home Mother. If you only knew, sir. If you only knew just how much I did, continue to do and am capable of. I am guts, heart, truth and spine.

I protect her from the burden all while showing her my vulnerabilty. Safe-guarding her from the reality and weights I lifted, far more than I should have had to. The stress I carry within, working to heal my broken heart, while simultaneously holding her up, imparting the lessons I have learned from arduous paths, building her and us into this new normal that our lives have become.

I remind her of what we need to revel in. To focus on what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t. Focusing on needs over wants. That we have a great roof over our heads, in a city we love, the basic needs are met, we’re healthy, breathing and surrounded by an amazing tribe of support. Oh and let us not forget our two cats who know when we need it the most.

I don’t know how much longer this will last. She still comes in for hugs, climbs in bed for snuggles, reaches for my hand while we watch tv or falls asleep leaning into me. Those years of being home got me her. This amazing person I call daughter. Our bond.

This is what those 12 years got me. 

And I would do it all over again.


 

A friend shared this yesterday and it hit me hard, especially when you’ve been labeled and perceived to be in the “too much” camp. 

I’ve always said that I would rather try and fail than not try at all. Some of the best lessons I have learned have been in my failures. My mouth gets me into trouble, I say what I mean and feel – sometimes to my detriment. I extend, bend, gesture, show up, reciprocate and sometimes I don’t but I try to keep things honest and not leave people feeling like it was them.

But you know, there are people out there that want to buy into and like my kind of brand. Shit, someone will want to stock their shelves with us “too much” people. And that’s where the gold is, surrounding yourself with those who see you for your brand and love you for it.I’m not “too much”

I would rather be “too much” than “too scared” or “not enough”.

 

Boundaries.

There’s all this talk about them as of late. For those of us acknowledging our internal work and process, a lot of us are learning what these are. I have been in boundary boot camp for the past couple of years, learning to have them because for all intents and purposes, I just didn’t. I was silent. A doormat. The empty well pulling buckets of water it didn’t have to give.

The past year has been what feels like a giant SAT test of what my limits are… except there are no multiple choice answers where you can just close your eyes, point and hope it’s right. When you have no hard lines, no borders, it is really easy to allow yourself to be pushed, prodded, manipulated and ultimately, violated. Repeatedly. And never is it more apparent than when you remove yourself from the front lines of toxic fire.

I have this air that I am a hard bitch. The “she’s so fucking strong” persona that a lot of people point out. Yes, I can be strong but those who have the privilege of knowing me and my inner workings, also know I’m a half frozen ice cube, hard on the outside but the center, still water. One right word or question and I am a flood. I have that dam. I need that wall. And when my limits are pushed and tested, that is when the need for it surfaces.

There is a fragility within me that came at the expense of some very hard lessons. Some of those lessons were classes I didn’t sign up for but in order to graduate to some other level, I went through that prerequisite. Some I entered willingly, realizing that the class and professor were not what I thought or hoped they would be. So you drop the course. I’m learning to accept my frailty, trust and vulnerability as bricks of strength instead of seeing them as a weakness. I am not ashamed to have or expose them. I just need to learn to practice hesitation on who I surrender that trust to, because as I have arduously learned, not everyone is worthy of it, or me.

I’ve had some boundaries tested recently. A former friend trying to re-open doors I closed for a reason, a violation of my personal space and then one I swore to myself that I would stick to and would never subject myself to, again: Emotional manipulation, finger pointing, blame and deflection ultimately ending in inability to accept choices and behavior. Add it being accompanied by a half-assed apology as if “I’m sorry” undoes the damage. Those two words, vacant as fuck, a reaction instead of a response that mean absolutely nothing to me anymore. A hard line I will not tolerate.

Oh. Hell. No.

And then I did something different: I pushed back. Honestly and brutally. I fought for my wall. It felt good to do but then, when all was said and done I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. I literally felt like throwing up. It was uncomfortable and adrenaline inducing. My body, feeling all kinds of inexplicable, heated and awful. If it was what I fought for and believed in, why did it feel so wrong?

“That feeling? That pain? That discomfort? That’s your body rewiring behavior it isn’t used to

Pre-conditioning I had learned to normalize, now being broken down. I sat in it. I let it move around in my ribcage and then I found myself doing something constructive to release it.

Holy shit. Is this how it happens? Is THIS what healing feels like? Fuck. Ok.

This is where the real work is: Implementation over theory.

 
church

Never does one feel so small than when you stand at the prescipice of nature’s wonder. That is where I ended the last year and started the new one. Same sea, different latitude and longitude.

I almost didn’t make the pilgrimage home for a variety of reasons but I knew that seeing my Parents was important, even moreso my Mom, whose health deteriorates more and more with time.

There’s something incredibly grounding in returning to the place of my formative years: the flood of memories, flavors, sights and the walls that housed me. A culture of warmth and carefree attitudes. It is here I felt my calling to be art, fell in love for the first time and learned to see the water as my God.

Setting foot upstairs, knowing fully well what awaited me felt like the final walk toward execution. My feet heavy, my heart pacing… and there she sat. Reality and truth. Recognizable, but not herself. The light in her eyes dim but she looked up at me wide eyed and speechless. It took everything in me to not collapse into a puddle of tears. I don’t know if she knew it was me but I’m going to believe she did.

Since my arrival we’ve exchanged glances and held hands. I’ve wept and sang 50’s songs to her, got her to laugh more than once but nothing could prepare me for the brief lucid moment of “hi mija” and pursed lips asking me to lean in for a kiss. I. Lost. My. Shit.

There’s so much I wish I could have said and told her when she was still all here. I wish I could have leaned on her for comfort of my broken heart and shown her how I have put it back together. Or how absolutely brilliant and beautiful her granddaughter has turned out to be. I’ve said it out loud and sometimes to myself as I have sat by her bedside and that is the peace I choose to give myself. In the end all we can hope for is the ability to do our best with what we’re given. I’d like to hope she knew these things of me as I’ve come to understand her more since becoming a mother myself and opening my eyes to deeper understanding.

This trip has been nothing short of transformative and life altering in ways my words will not be able to describe. When you look at mortality staring back at you, in the form of the woman who so selflessly brought you into the world, it gives things an entirely different sense of purpose, perspective and meaning. Even in her silence she still teaches me more that I need to know. Louder than those with voices and full capacity. I’m just listening with more than my ears.

It is an indescribable, painful yet beautiful process that while far from over, will send me home more grounded, determined and inspired than I have ever been.

To be a better mother, person and human being. To build the life I’ve wanted. To be met and seen in ways that make my heart want to expand out of my ribcage and never settle for anything less than I deserve. To view life with an immeasurable sense of humility and gratitude. To create, provoke and evoke with what gifts I’ve been given. Time is so unbelievably fleeting and I can’t squander it. There’s so much more to learn and accomplish.

It’s a strange lullaby. A reflection. One more step… forever musing near the edge of the deep, blue sea.

 


It’s Thanksgiving morning, the skies are windy and stormy. Water in the sky. It’s a bittersweet lullaby, the silence of solitude and the light echoes of feline paws touching the floor… and the thoughts race, not so silently.

Never is the morning more silent than when the first of many different firsts arrive. They say these are the ones that hurt the most. You know that saying “that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” – It’s true but it’s a bunch of bs…. and boy has life kicked me in the proverbial dick this year.

A great deal of things have transpired since I last was in this space. Too many to list, too chaotic to relive, too painful to endure all over again. Some spots have seen so much destruction, immeasurable heartbreak and disappointment. Some have been lights in dark rooms. One thing I have learned and am actively trying to engrain is that I will never move forward if I am constantly looking back. I’m bound to trip over something. It’s all a part of the learning process. Fall, get up. Hit the floor, stay there a bit. Finding the will to rise and completely demolish the broken home in hopes that you can salvage the foundation and rebuild into something stronger, better.

I don’t expect you to know or understand me, my decisions or my space. I am not in the business of proving anything to anyone and I am sure there has been plenty of misguided judgement and blame thrown in my direction this year. Have at it. At the end of the day, I know my truth. I live my truth. I feel my truth. And some of it is heinous and cruel and despite everything, I carry it within me, more silently than I should at times. Even amongst the maelstrom, I sleep peacefully on most nights… because when you walk away for the right reasons, with the best intentions in your heart, when you know your choices are an act of love or mercy or thinking about someone other than yourself… you don’t give a fuck what anyone wants to say, do, or assume about you. I know me better than you ever will and SHE is untouchable, fallible, delicate yet steel strong in ways you will never know or have the privilege to understand.

I’m desperately trying to learn about forgiveness and surrender. The repair of fractured trust. Tending to one’s own fires instead of putting out everyone else’s with water you don’t have to spare. All while learning to stand on your own feet and build pillars for the not-so-little in the middle of it all. It’s like juggling daggers… which can be fun, exhilarating but one wrong move and you’re bleeding everywhere.

November: The month of gratitude. I try to be grateful every day… and I make those lists often and year round. And I’m so fucking thankful to have air in my lungs, a wonderful space over my head that I call home, felines who know when I need it the most, the love and respect of my radiant Daughter, my amazing Sisters, the Coven of support, love and friendship that has held my hand, wiped my tears – from far and wide- forever reminding me of who I am when I don’t see her in the fog. You know who you are… it does not go unnoticed.

I celebrated my 45th birthday last week in what ended up being one of the hardest weeks yet. My trip around the sun anniversary is like your New Year’s Eve. I look back, overthink, reflect and resolve. Boy, has my life turned up over on itself in the past year, that’s for fucking sure. Change is some tough stuff, and the best lessons never arrive easily. Healing does not arrive without discomfort.

I will say this, I go into it with more security in myself, more confidence than I had, a hell of a lot less fear and maybe just a little bit more hope that better is on its way. It already is.

Forever, North.


 

It’s a quiet Saturday, now afternoon. It rained last night and it really feels like the beginning of Autumn, at least for as much Autumn as San Diego will feel anyway. The smell of petrichor and earth mixing with our own… pipe tobacco candle, bacon, coffee, browned butter. My girl, peacefully sleeping on the couch wrapped in my blanket. Hammock and the planes roaring in their rise and fall at the airport nearby.

It’s been five months. Some of the longest days in what feels like the longest of my lifetime. And for someone who spent months bedridden, in a full body cast recovering from a severe compound fracture, I can say it’s about the same if not worse. Laying there, with constricted lungs, with the hopes that maybe tomorrow you will wake up and feel a bit more recovered. You see, you have to go through the pain of it all and in this case, I am learning to walk on my own all over…. for the third time in my life.

I took a massive step the other day. One of the hardest leaps… when you know you just have to press forward. A symbol of digital ink cementing your choice to build something better. Can’t say it didn’t kill me on the inside but sometimes we have to do things that don’t feel the best in order to grow. Change and radical self acceptance come at the expense of very valuable lessons, and unfortunately the best lessons come from painful experiences. The journey to reclamation.

There comes a time where we have to look at ourselves and our inventory. And I have. Brutally. Honestly. Truthfully. It’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve been conditioned to think in so many ways that went against your nature and intuition. Your gut feeling that tells you more than your mind and heart want you to listen to. Until one day you did. You pull the fingers out of your ears, the hands lift themselves from your eyes and you just jump off that cliff in hopes that maybe you’ll finally see the wings you knew were there the entire time. There is nothing more powerful when you realize what you’re worth. I didn’t see it for the longest of times and I searched for worth in external sources. I found my “happiness” in material bullshit, men, people who never deserved to breathe the same air as me, things that mean nothing in the end. When you find your voice, your bravery, your courage and you do it without fear? Watch how the scared and insecure scramble when you finally do. I am perfectly imperfect. Complicated. Integral. A package of complexities made of sal, agua y azucar. I look forward to the day my heart heals and I am ready to delve it out because whoever gets to have even a shard of it will be very fortunate.

All things considering, I am doing ok. There are days where I wake up with peace, some not so much. The anvil on my ribcage is still there dealing with the weight of it all: my play in my choices and also the ones I had no control over but wounded me immeasurably despite my best efforts to not let them. It’s a risk one takes when you trust your heart to others. Either it’s cherished or shattered. And the amount of shattering I have endured from so many angles, you got to wonder how I do it all. Still. I mean, I could tell you why… and it’s sleeping on the couch right now.

So I plug forward and all things considering I think I am doing pretty good for myself in such a short amount of time. I found a home to rebuild in that makes me so happy to walk into. I look at my treasures and art, things that make me happy and have been markers to so many stages of my life. Every day I am greeted with breathtaking palettes of sunsets flanked with cackling of wild parrots flying by. Every day the signs reveal themselves and I am reminded that even though I chose the hardest and most difficult of paths, the one I am on is right, even if at times I have to feel insurmountable loneliness, suffocation and disappointment. But then I look at her and it’s like aloe on a burn.

My girl and I are cultivating a wonderful life. Day by day. Creating new rituals, laughing together, bonding over our current guilty pleasures in the car, hair braiding, stepping outside to revel in nature’s majesty when the sun dips over the horizon, holding hands while watching trash tv, piled in my bed watching funny animal videos to tears, trying new things, seeing new places and all with a radical honesty and candor that’s a testament to all the love and effort I have put into us. She is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done and I would go through another 18 year heartbreak if it meant having her in my life. I will continue to live, speak and act in a manner that makes her feel safe and beam with pride. I will do it gracefully, with force, intention, authenticity and colorful profanity. She deserves the world. And so do I.

As Autumn rolls in, the symbolism isn’t lost on me. The world begins to decay around us only to resurface as something new and hopefully wonderful. Our birthdays are around the corner. 13/45 and we’re looking forward to our Halloween decorating, pumpkin carving and celebrating her crossing into the teens. And with us wrapping up another trip around the sun, I look forward to doing it together, working with what we got and hopefully transforming it into something beautiful.

It’s a journey, not a destination.







 

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