Monthly Archives: August 2013

Inspirational Labor Day video

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August 31, 2013 · 10:52 AM

Faded Roses?

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Age. Aging. Ageless.

I rarely think about my age but the body has a way of reminding me whenever I throw my back out or my knee pops. And yes, in the mirror I sometimes notice an extra line here, another wrinkle there, and as I gaze upon certain areas of my physique I find myself wondering, where did “it” go and when did “that” change?

From time to time I muse about my early years in having to grow up so fast, and then in my teens and young adulthood in raising four children. Next thing I knew my twenties were gone, and my marriage was deteriorating. Divorced in my thirties (I felt like a failure but the world did not end), and remarried by my mid-thirties (thank God for new beginnings). I can shout from the rooftop that no marriage is so good that it can’t be made better! (You see, I’ve been married most of my life.) Then when I approached my early forties, the seasons changed again for me, this time, embracing the wonders of grand-parenting.

So, in my fifties, as I reflect on this aging process—knowing I certainly don’t have all the answers—I’ve learned a thing or two about what life has dealt me.

I read in Psalms 90:12: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”  This passage speaks to me and tells me to make each day count. I must remember to live in the present, not in the yesterdays or in the tomorrows. I must laugh often, love deeply, pray sincerely, and believe that my best days are before me.

As my birthday quickly approaches around the corner, I can’t help but think: have I done all I ever wanted to do? Of course, the answer is a resounding: Not even close. Am I running out of time? That’s God’s business. I believe life is a gift from God and I’ll take each day and cherish the moment. He is the reason for every good thing, every heartbeat, and every second chance.

I love the lyrics to “Every Good Thing” by The Afters:

I tend to be busier than I should be
I tend to think that time is going to wait for me
Sometimes I forget and take for granted
That it’s a beautiful life we live
I don’t want to miss the moments like this
This is a beautiful life You give

You’re the reason for every good thing, every heartbeat
Every day we get to breathe
You’re the reason for anything that lasts, every second chance
Every laugh
Life is so sweet
You’re the reason for every good thing

There will be days that give me more than I can take
But I know that You always make beauty from my heartache
Don’t want to forget or take for granted
That it’s a beautiful life we live
I’m not going to miss the moments like this
This is a beautiful life You give

It’s our family, it’s our friends
It’s the feeling that I get when I see my children smile
You’re the reason for this life, everything we love
It’s You alive in us
You’re alive in us

You are here in every moment, and I know that You’re every good thing
You are here in every moment, and I know that You’re the reason for
You are every good thing

For the love I still see in my children’s eyes, the laughter in my grandchildren’s voices, the warmth of my husband’s embrace, the scent of rain lingering in the air, and the taste of grateful tears streaming down my cheeks, I am thankful for the goodness of God in granting me another year.

Someone said that age is a myth and beauty is a state of mind. I like that.

Faded roses? No. May I grow old gracefully, forever blooming where I am planted, one petal at a time.

A heartfelt thanks to my lovely daughter, Anna, for putting this video together

A heartfelt thanks to my lovely daughter, Anna, for putting this video together

 

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

 

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August 24, 2013 · 9:04 PM

Mi Boricuan Familia

I just returned from an accelerating  week’s vacation, which was also a surprise visit to my family in Florida. Other than planning everything with my younger brother, I didn’t want any beans spilled, so I gave no clues and left no hints. My ten-year-old grandson accompanied me; his first time on a plane. He was so excited and never at a loss for words the entire flight.IMG_0624[1]

The trip and the family time together were awesome!

My first stop was at my older brother’s. The shock on his face and the familiar choice words that he uttered in seeing me were priceless. His entire household welcomed me warmly. My three tall nephews are strapping young lads. We all talked at once and managed to hear every word. Soon, my sister-in-law and I enjoyed some overdue and much-needed girl talk alone (after kicking out all the boys).

1092153_158266174363129_1689987005_oThen we drove to my dad’s home where I was greeted with more1157638_10201825671551316_948345146_n hugs, tears and kisses. (Click on the link to a video and listen to my daddy’s exclamation phrases over and over of: “¡Ay, mi madre!” as well as, “¡Ay, Dios mio!”)

Before too long, savory food waft from the kitchen calling my name. I couldn’t wait to sample my step-mother’s Puerto Rican cuisine. She did not disappoint and prepared a delicioso feast of pollo frito arroz_con_gandules(fried chicken), plátanos fritos (fried plantains), and arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas). Mmm hmm good! ¡Que rico la comida!

IMG_0694[1]My sister later drove into town (also surprising our daddy – yes, it’s in our blood) and soon we were catching up with the latest news over family, food and fashion. I got to exchanged stories with her fine son, amazed by his sharp wit, then observed he and my grandson enjoying one another’s company with the latest video game. Finally, my dad announced it was time to play dominoes, beating everyone in the game just the way I always remembered.

In the days that followed we shopped, ate to our heart’s content, spent the day at the beach, the pool, 1095099_10201755977529307_1400669289_nand shared pictures on FaceBook (a vast differencemai kai from having to pull out dusty album books like the old days). Lastly, we enjoyed taking Daddy to Mai Kai Polynesian Dinner and Show.

I wanted — needed — to be present to help celebrate my daddy’s 80th birthday that Sunday, and so grateful to be able to escape my hectic schedule to make the grand event. If not, I would have been filled with regrets. Now I have wonderful additional memories to hold onto for a lifetime.

With every visit, conversation and reminiscing, we simply picked up where we left off so long ago. It felt good to be “home” again and reunite with my boricuan familia.

And now you know where I have been this past week.PicMonkey Collage

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

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August 17, 2013 · 1:39 PM

“God, I’m drowning!”

One hot, sticky summer afternoon we thrill-seekers strolled along Haulover Pier. The boys horsed around and dared one another to hop into the ocean, some ten, fifteen feet below. Not only was I skittish about heights, I never learned to swim.No Swimming

The boys jumped in one by one, hooting and hollering, and the girls followed. The one rule: Whoever dawdled – shoved over the side. For the benefit of all who considered me fair game, I gave all nearby a fair warning at the top of my lungs, “I Can’t Swim! Don’t Even Think About It!”

The words were no sooner out of my mouth than when a prankster shoved me over the edge. I careened into thin air and plummeted into the waters below. The deep, turquoise ocean slammed onto my face and chest, the air sucked right out of me. A solitary thought came to mind as I sank into the murky depths:

Not this, again! 

I was seven years old when my new friend, Gina, and her mom invited me to a public pool. Gina’s mom wore headbands and tie-dyed psychedelic tee shirts. Mama had labeled her a “free-spirited hippie.” I thought she knew how to have fun.

Not used to being in the water, I lay contentedly on my stomach along the edge of the pool, watching the others dive and swim.

Behind me, the hushed voice of Gina’s mom urged her to do something. How I envied Gina. She had a mother to encourage her, who enjoyed the pool instead of going out all night and sleeping during the day.

“Go on.” I heard Gina’s mom say, closer now.

Suddenly, thud! Someone shoved me over the edge.

Splash! The cold water slapped me.

The water smacked my face and swallowed me. My mouth, my eyes popped open. I saw underwater for the first time. My nose burned from the chlorine. I pushed and pulled to get air, get air!

I surfaced and tried to gasp out the word help, but water filled my mouth.

A man jumped in and pushed me toward the shallow end. I barely had the strength to hold onto the rail and reach the steps. Weak and trembling from the cold, I grabbed my towel and wrapped it around me.

Gina’s face turned pale, her eyes gawked wide with terror. I plopped down on a chair, too stunned to move, too ashamed to speak. Then I heard Gina’s mom say, “I can’t believe she couldn’t swim.”

Six years later, I still couldn’t.

As I floundered toward the surface, my eyes were burning, my throat raw. When my mouth opened, I gulped more seawater.

Choking!

I couldn’t catch my breath.

God, I’m drowning! Help me!

My lungs screamed for air. My muscles burned. I felt like lead.

So weak . . .

The current swept me farther from shore.

Too far . . .

Suddenly, a pair of hands reached for me. I saw arms. I clawed at them desperately—wildly climbing over the shoulders and heads of anyone brave enough to come near. I nearly drowned my rescuers. After an eternity, someone pulled me until I reached shallow water.

With what strength left, I paddled to shore and collapsed on the beach. The others followed and dropped next to me. Their expressions showed concern.

“That . . . that was close,” Earl croaked, coughing up mucus.

“Yeah,” his brother, John, chimed in. “We thought you were a goner for sure.”

“Man. You nearly took us down with you!” Sandra choked.

“I told you!” I grumbled. “I told you all I couldn’t swim.”

“Man, we didn’t believe you really couldn’t.”

I hated being afraid, feeling out of control.

Determined to overcome my fear of drowning, several months later, I learned to float and dive off the diving board. Although never a strong swimmer, I enjoyed swimming races underwater.

I conquered that fear.

(After having a couple of near drowning incidents – one as a youngster and one in my teens – I’m thankful for God looking out for me and giving me a way of escape. Later in life, I took swimming lessons with my own kiddos.)

An excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Drowning, teenagers