Sunday, February 15, 2015

What's in a name?

Choosing my sons first name was easy as drawing a breath. My son will have the name of David, but we will be calling him by his middle name, to avoid any confusions. My husbands fathers name is David and my own father carries the same name. However there is a deeper a reason why I wanted to give baby boy the first name of David.
My father has been a constant presence in my life, one that has provided strength and reassurance, love and guidance, humor and encouragement.  My dad hasn't been the perfect father, but he is the father that I needed in my life. He made mistakes, he is only human, but he always made sure that his daughters were taken care of. Dad always guided us to rely on our Heavenly Father, just as strongly and faithfully as he does. He loves deeply and loyally, and his family is his greatest accomplishment. Yet, he accomplished far more by being the man he is.
My dad was an immigrant, illegal at first, as many immigrants are, sadly. Yes, I know there is strong political views and arguments regarding these people, but let me tell you a true story of what an immigrant can really do.
My father was the second youngest of 12 children, his family was desperately poor, but still managed to survive. My grandparents did the best they could and provided their kids with food and shelter and the most basic of needs. My dad grew up sleeping on cowhides in a room with his brothers, having two pairs of pants that needed to last all year, and working from sunup to sundown on the family ranch. It was a difficult life at best, one that left little room for childhood. He was able to get some schooling, up to the fifth grade, which is more than most kids did in that area, yet his main duty was to contribute to family survival. With that responsibility weighing on him, he left home at the age of 12 to migrate to the United States.
Take a moment to digest this, how many 12 year old boys do you know, would leave hearth and home to confront the unknown of a new country, new language, and only knowing he MUST find work to help his family survive. I personally know none.
Dad migrated into Texas and joined the hundreds of workers that work on farms, ranches, and other menial  jobs. He did back breaking work in cotton fields in Arizona, tomato and flower fields in California, he worked dangerous highways with truckers. He washed dishes for food, and slept on mountainsides for safety at night. He did the work that makes you invisible, work that we take for granted, work that many American teenagers would not “demean” themselves to take. Yet, my dad was grateful for this work, the meager salaries he made allowed him to provide for his siblings and parents back home. I cannot begin to convey the hardships, and struggles he faced everyday, but he did it because he knew that to get something better you had to work.
Eventually he was naturalized as a legal resident some years after arriving in Texas. My dad is now an American citizen he was so proud when he accomplished his dream and was finally granted citizenship in  2012.  My dad,with his fifth grade education, the hardships he endured as a boy, his limitations of a new country, his lack of “connections”  has accomplished more in his life than others who are born privileged.  Dad  has raised a family, has owned two very successful small businesses, has owned real estate, has lived his dream of air travel, has experienced life, has seen his daughters finish college, and masters degrees. All because he had the strength of character and soul to live his life as he did.
I PRAY that my son inherits some of these traits from his Abuelo, and I will do everything in my power to teach him the virtues of hard work, integrity, love, perseverance, ambition, and hunger for better things in life. Just like his Abuelo.I want my son to know that he comes from a heritage that believes in the strength of family love, hard work, humbleness of spirit, integrity, the need to provide for others, to love both the blessings and the hardships, and always remembering our Heavenly Father. As his Abuelo does, everyday, and every night.

I cannot begin to thank my father for what he has taught me in my life, but I can always honor him, and my grandparents, and generations before them by teaching my son the morals, and values that make us the people, the family, that we are. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The best philosophers come in small packages!

   I don't consider myself a selfish person, (isn't that the first sign that you are??) but some days I really just wish that I had no responsibilities and was free of all commitments. I always try to remember the saying "if you love what you have, you will never want for anything." Don't get me wrong I absolutely love my life and everyone and everything that is a part of it. I just don't want to do anything. I want a day or two to myself when no one needs me, nothing needs to be cleaned, cooked, worked on, etc.
  Sundays are my favorite day of the week because I get the opportunity to remember that the world does not revolve around me (and Sunday Naps of course). The reason I love Sundays is church. I get to spend 40 minutes with some funny 6 and 7 year olds. I get to laugh with them, play with them, give them candy, and then send them home to their mothers.
I always grumble on my way to church, 9 am church is crummy, I whine I don't want to go and (gasp!) that I hate primary, Wa, wa, wah! I give myself quite the pity party. I have come to realize that I am not a morning person.
But when I enter my classroom, and see those smiling, shiny, little faces of those kiddos, I completely change my attitude.
  I learn so much from these kids. They display their faith so simply and easily with no embarrassment  doubt, or fears and they are always so Happy. I am not saying we aren't without our little struggles, they are 7 year olds after all. I love teaching these kids the simple truths of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, they remind me to keep a humble heart and open mind. These kids remind me that no matter how much education I have, the kind of career I build, that none of it matters unless you can take time to laugh at yourself, love the Lord, and love myself.

  I wouldn't give up or trade my life for anyone else's life. I adore my husband, I have loving parents, and a little sister who calls me her hero. I love Sundays.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Bittersweet Moment

Tonight was the last night of my MBA program and it was a bittersweet experience. I am truly happy to be done and grateful for the experience. I also have a profound feeling of accomplishment with myself and my choices. However, I was still sad to see my student days come to an end.

I wrote the following for my in class recap of my learning experience, writing it really made me reflect on my life and the new paths that are to come.

          The past 18 months has brought numerous changes in my life, both personal, and professional, which have one constant common thread running through them, my masters program. I understood that by pursuing a higher education I would gain many benefits and the probability of increasing my annual salary; however, I never expected for the changes to take the shape they have become. These new learning experiences have taught me that I am the only one that can limit me.
            My parents have a grade school and high school education between them, the idea of college was just a dream for them hard work was their reality. Higher education was not within reach for them but advocated for it strongly with their children. The ethic of hard work and honesty has been taught so well to me that it is ingrained into my genetic code. I was the first of my family to pursue a college education, quite the achievement for my family. This was not enough. I pushed myself harder and I finished with the reward being a bachelor’s degree.  For many it would have been enough. For me it wasn’t.
 I was fortunate to find employment with a Fortune 100 company that encourages employees to take advantage of the many benefits they offered. I decided to pursue my master’s in business administration. The decision was not easy for me to make because I was struggling between pursuing a master’s in Latin American history or economics. I had never considered a business degree of any type. The deciding factor was my natural aptitude and appreciation for the business field, and its varied possibilities. I credit my father for that; he embodies the American dream, an immigrant with nothing to successful business and homeowner. I always rebelled against the idea of working in commerce or business; I dismissed it as too plebeian.  I enjoy the business realm and now I wish I had done my undergraduate in business management or accounting. 
            University of Phoenix was an interesting learning experience considering I had only a one year break in my studies from undergraduate to graduate. As well coming from a traditional university to a school with a pedagogy built around working adults was quite the adjustment.  I have learned many things from the program; however the most beneficial thing I learned was people management. UOPX has built their classroom curriculum around learning teams and teamwork. I was not exposed to this much during my undergraduate so had no real experience with this setup. Then my natural talent for leadership emerged. I learned a lot on how to work with others, lead without authority and eventually project lead within each team and class.

            My formal education has come to a halt for the foreseeable future. I will continue learning
and developing, I believe that learning should be a lifetime pursuit not just a small fraction of my life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fear and Clarity

The month of July was a very scary month for my husband and me with my encounter with a medical emergency. To touch briefly on it, I needed my gallbladder removed. As my surgeon was so quick to point out “Your gallbladder was inflamed, scarred and the most diseased I have seen in a few years.” Needless to say my husband and my parents were very upset with me for not going to my doctor sooner for a checkup. Anyways, I survived and I am all better now.

Before any surgery, you are taken into a pre-op area where you are prepped for the surgical team. The room is unbelievably cold; the nursing staff though kind is dispassionate and detached. The room inspires nothing but self pity, sadness and fear of the unknown. I was alone in pre-op for about half an hour before my husband found me. I was utterly alone, lost in my thoughts and I had a moment of intense, gut wrenching, heartbreaking fear and a moment of bright clarity.

I was so afraid, laying there by myself, surrounded by people but by myself nonetheless. I was not afraid of the pain, for I had anesthesia, or even afraid of dying. I have come to understand my own mortality and I have a deep belief of the afterlife and the continuation of my existence. I was afraid of leaving Mark, afraid of losing all of my hopes for our future, afraid of losing the true and sincere love we both had been waiting so long for.
So there I was silently crying, when my husband walks in and it was like he brought a bright light with him. He was so strong and reassuring that everything was going to be fine. I have never had such a deep appreciation for another human being as I did in that moment for Mark. The ensuing days and weeks after my surgery I saw a new side to my husband. He does not like the sight of blood, and my scars were all stitched up, red, and angry looking. He never once hesitated to help me when I needed it, never grimaced or looked disgusted with what he saw. On the contrary his love and attraction for me was so evident, my husband helped me feel like a beautiful woman again.

Marriage is an act of faith, faith that the other person will uphold their vows of fidelity and love, faith in oneself to do the same for our spouse. This kind of faith requires a strong, loving, kind, generous heart, a virtuous soul and a willing spirit. I know that anything worth having in this life and the next requires hard work and faith. I have faith that my husband and I will do everything within our powers fulfill all the hopes we have for our marriage and when we begin to lag, we know that God will step in and help us.

It is so incredibly sad to me to see the way society diminishes marriage and family. Values are perceived as something trite and archaic to be mocked and ridiculed. The media is the worst offender at projecting this concept. The sudden and vicious focus on people’s lives such as recent tabloid fodder of the possible breakup of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith marriage, the circus and ridicule made of weddings and the marriage ceremony such as Kim Kardashians recent nuptials, the mocking of moments when love should be beginning between two people such as on the Bachelor, all play a part in the breakdown of values in society. The future of humanity is bleak indeed.
I am so grateful that I have a family of my own with a man who appreciates me, our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the good, decent, common sense and logic germinated in me by my parents.

Perhaps every new couple should have a close brush with mortality, so they can appreciate each other.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blink your eyes and life changes

I haven't posted on here in more than a year and yes life has changed a lot for me. The changes have come fast and furious:a new job, new home, new city, but the biggest change has been a new man in my life.
That has really surprised me, 2010 was going to be for me, to focus on getting into a masters program and just keep moving forward with my life. Then along comes one Mr. Mark A. Shaffer. I was reluctant at first to start a relationship using the classic line "lets be friends" and he was tenacious with "No, I want to date you". So here we were two strong willed individuals one fiercely independent(me) and one fiercely determined to win me. Well he won,it was the best compettition I have ever been in in my life. I am now engaged to a good man, that supports me and encourages me, and reminds me that I can take on challenges and one day I will rule the world. LoL!
I love this man and I truly believe that God placed us in each others paths for a very specific reason. We bring out the best in each other, we support each other, we listen to each other, and we trust each other. The best and brightest part of our courtship will be our wedding. Our future is brilliantly,blindingly, hopeful and bright. There are many good things to come as well as low times (it is life after all) but the best part of our future is that I know that Mark and I will stand together as friends and as partners.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A How To for Edification

I once had a professor pose a question to the class at large “When you stand before the Lord at judgment day and He asks “How did you serve your fellow man?” how will you respond?”

As Human Beings we are in possession of a great gift, a rational soul. The soul is the essence of the self it allows for logic and reason to co-exist with passion and emotion. Having this rational soul is what being human is about; we need to use this gift to serve others with the byproduct being the preservation and edification of our own humanity. In Marcus Aurelius Meditations he writes that the human soul is capable of many attributes such as: affection for its neighbors, truthfulness, and humility. He credits these attributes as some of the key components of the rational soul or humanity therefore if the soul is in possession of these components then by nature human beings “were made to help others”. It seems that lately opportunities for helping others have come pouring out from literally all over the world. Cries for help come in many forms from the current natural disaster in Haiti to helping your next door neighbor that may have lost their job or home due to current economic conditions. The question is though are we helping or better yet ask yourself “Am I helping others?” Are we fulfilling the measure of our humanity by helping others? An LDS hymn has a line that states “have you done any good today?” I know that sometimes just the sheer struggle of our own everyday life can be a hindrance; however giving help can be as simple as a smile to acknowledge a person, help can be given in so many shapes, and sizes. I have been pondering lately what more I can do to help, there are so many that need to be uplifted and reminded that they are loved, accepted, and appreciated. It’s so easy to slip into a self centered “me” mode, a mode that slowly erodes away at your humanity. I have choosen to edify my soul by helping not only those that ask, but by being more proactive in offering and seeking opportunities to help.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Choose to be Happy

Today I was able to be present at a blessing or benediction for two of my cousins, where I had the opportunity to share my testimony with the congregation and various family members. There have been times when I have shared a testimony and can't really recall what exactly I said at the pulpit. Today I had that feeling after bearing mine, the one thing I clearly remembered was this one statement "I choose to be happy". I love the word Gospel its Greek root meaning is "glad tidings" and the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is such.
I have not always been able to see a more positive outlook, because its very easy to dwell on the negative and slip into self pity, depression, denial, and anger. Those feelings are not of God, for something that makes you feel weighted down and miserable is not of divine origin. The gospel really does bring the light of Christ to our lives and when we allow these dark feelings to take hold and persist, that light cannot shine through and you can and will lose touch with God.
By choosing to be happy I have come to fully appreciate the implications and teachings of the gospel. I have learned that my choices require actions, just like having faith requires action, being happy also requires action. It is not easy to be happy all the time, and I am not advocating a constant medicated state either;however by choosing to focus on the positive happiness just follows.
The pursuit of self indulgence does not bring true happiness and yet so many prefer to follow those paths and in doing so they miss out on so much.
God created man to be happy and that feeling can come from so many avenues such as living and loving the gospel, having and accepting family for who they are, good friends, helping strangers, etc.
So to put it simply: Choose to be Happy.