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Friday, March 25, 2011

Tales of a Mid-Life Crisis

I have started and restarted this sentence several times, in an effort to make this an interesting and meaningful post.  Interestingly, this is what is happening in my life lately.  I've been stopping and starting and stopping and starting again, all in effort to make it all worthwhile and meaningful.  To give you a brief synopsis I'll start from last January, 2010.

I was holed up in a 4-star hotel which we could not afford even with the wonderful discount I'd obtained, about 10 minutes from my home, hoping to regain some rest and some clarity away from all of the noise which seemed to surround me on a daily basis.  Over the previous year I had come to the conclusion that I MUST leave my airline customer service supervisor job, lest I end up in a padded cell.  The thing is, the economy was (is) bad and jobs were (are) scarce and I felt really trapped.  Mr. Husband and I were working opposite shifts from one another in order to offer our son a family environment versus putting him in daycare.  We were the proverbial "two ships passing in the night" and it sucked.  I mean, it REALLY did suck.

We each felt we led the life of a single parent, because we hardly ever held the support of the other person being present in day-to-day childrearing.  We were burnt out emotionally, physically, and psychologically.  Something had to give.

I had just spent about 2 weeks at my mother's house with my son over the busy holiday, and after the pressures of the holiday combined with the pressures of not having my husband there with me to help with our son, along with the financial distress that was weighing on my shoulders, I needed that mini vacation.

So, there I sat, in the lovely, blissfully peaceful hotel room.  Within the first 10 minutes after I closed myself in the room, I had a mini anxiety attack, a physical manifestation of the stress I'd been under.  It was a release of sorts.  I spent the next two days drinking tea (okay, and some red wine), fasting on only fruits and veggies, reading, watching movies, and journaling my thoughts and feelings.  It was absolutely DIVINE. 

I came to a conclusion while on that idyllic retreat.  The year 2010 was going to be my year of change.  I was going to leave the airline, come what may.  I was going to find my smile again.  I was going to live. 

Oh, things changed, alright.

I should add that during this time period I was also on a leave from the airline, and I was utilizing this time to take an online course in medical transcription.  It was going fine, but taking a lot longer than I had anticipated.  I was finding that even though Mr. Husband would take our son out for a few hours a couple times a week, it just wasn't enough time for me to do it all as fast as I thought I would.  I knew I'd be able to finish by the time my leave was to be up in June, however.  It was going to work out.  I was going to get an at-home medical transcription job, and I'd be able to be a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom!

Then March rolled around.

I received notice from the airline that my leave was to be cut short due to needs of service.  I was to report back to hell within two weeks.


My life turned upside down.  I began frantically searching for other jobs, amidst anxiety attacks and night binges on wine.  I was in tears at least 5 times a day.  I couldn't understand why this was happening!  I flippin' HATED that job and with every cell in my body did NOT want to go back!  Was my life to be a prison, forever filled with disgruntled business men complaining about their coach seats, drunk college kids in the gate area, and attractive but cocky people thinking that their beauty should always buy them an aisle seat and "  I will never fly this airline again!" ringing in my ears on a daily basis???!!!  Not to mention the bad weather days.  Oh, man, I could type a book on it.  But, I digress.

I put my uniform on and dragged myself back into that airport, tears streaming down my face. 

But I had an idea.  I didn't have time to work on medical transcription, but I could be a Spanish interpreter!  That's it!!  I began looking into different interpreting agencies and sent out a gazillion resumes.  Within 2 weeks I'd heard back from three agencies.  Good enough.  I was going to get out of a job I'd long outgrown for once and for all.

I walked into work one day, strangely calm and happy.  I rolled out a piece of printer paper from the circa 1979 printer at one of the gate areas, scrawled out my two-weeks notice, marched right down to the human resources manager's office, and slipped that bad boy into her inbox.  I was going to make it happen, damn it.

Well, interpreting is a lot of fun.  But the calls were sporadic, and I found that I was earning barely enough to keep my son in his daycare/preschool 3 days a week.  But soon I wasn't earning even that much.  Then the sheriff sale notice came in the mail.  Things came apart at the seams. 

If you've been reading my other entries, you'll know the "rest is history" and you'll also know that guilt has played a large role in my struggle.  It's frustrating, because I feel like spending 12 years at a job that I began to dread about 4 years into it
should have earned me the right to leave.  I guess in some ways that's true, but what I really should have done was to have left that place 8 years ago when the job market was more steady.  Well, I didn't.  Lesson learned.  My son doesn't get his stubborness only from his daddy, you know.

So here we are.  Mr. Husband isn't happy with his work situation either.  We see our lives passing us by and we aren't even living.  Is this how we want to teach our son to be?  Can't we have a life where we get to be the real person we are at our core, and find smiles and wonder and joy in the journey?

Yes.  We can.  And we will.  And we are.

That's what this is all about.  We're going there.  We are who we are, and we are not going to allow other people, negative thoughts, preconceived notions, judgments from others or ourselves, "nor principalities nor powers nor things present or things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature separate us from the love of God."

Our heaven is going to be now.  In this life.

Love to you all.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Walk in the Dark

We've got our flashlight on, and we're headed out for a hike. It's a bit dark outside and we'll only be able to make out objects which lie within about 8 feet in front of us.  But we have a map, we know how to call for help if necessary, and we are excited to go somewhere new.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about our plans to move to Mexico.  We still haven't decided on exactly when we will be going, but we figure since we know we're going we may as well begin taking steps in that direction.

This week we are going to start the process on obtaining Mr. Husband's citizenship.  He is a legal resident, but we feel that it would be best to get his citizenship taken care of before we leave.  There have been so many wacky things going on regarding immigrants and lots of speculation on how laws may be changing here in the U.S., and we think it's better to be safe than sorry.  I'm excited for Mr. Husband and I think it's something that he'll feel really good about.

The other thing we'll be doing in the near future is enrolling me in an online TESL course, so that I can have a certificate to show potential employers in Mexico.  I have a B.A. in Spanish and Communications (I double-majored) but I don't have teaching credentials, though I do have some ESL teaching experience.  Really I'm sort of excited to take that course because it will refresh my memory on some grammar and give me some teaching ideas.  I don't know what course I'll take but I'm open to suggestions!  (Hint, hint!)

So, that's what's up for now.  We're taking those first few steps.  We have lots of questions and issues to resolve, but we know that it will all come together.  Actually, all of the unknowns make the journey more interesting! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Turning Tide........

Yesterday morning I made some choices.  I decided to not get crabby with my son while hurrying him along in order to catch the bus in time.  This allowed me to use my energy for love instead of anger.  Smiling is so much more fun than frowning, don't you think?

When I came back in the house after dropping him off I made the choice to go online, and was disheartened by an old schoolmate's reaction regarding an issue that is important to me.  I made the choice to use 45 minutes of energy trying to convince him to see things my way.  I was left feeling bitter, angry, and with a heavy heart.  I chose to leave the computer and go for a walk.

While on my walk I chose to dedicate the entire walk to thoughts of gratitude.  The first couple of minutes felt forced.  But within about 5 minutes the gratitude began to flow from me.  Soon, ideas of what to be grateful for sprang to mind faster than I could finish the previous thought.  Before I knew it I felt an extra spring in my step and a smile formed on my face and stayed there for the entire walk.  The thoughts of gratitude promoted feelings of love and wonder and awe.  I was happy.

I'm going to keep it up.  During the past few years I have been brooding over so many problems and negative situations.  What if I chose to think only on positive things for one month?  What would happen?  What if I thought of myself as a magnet for health, wealth, and happiness?

Ever heard of the Law of Attraction?  I've dabbled in it a few times in the past.  I have one amazing account to tell you about, one which should have made an immediate impact on me and motivated me to continue putting the law of attraction to use.  Read on...........

About three years ago we had two cars.  One was the 2000 Mitsubishi which we still own, and the other was a white Dodge Neon from the mid-to-late 90s.  The Neon was ready for retirement, and my husband had been planning to sell it but hadn't put a sign on it yet.  In the previous weeks I had done a bit of meditating and positive thinking, trying to put to use the Law of Attraction.  One afternoon I was upstairs, thinking, "Man, we really need to sell that car.  'Hey, Universe, you should really be sending someone to buy that car from us.  Someone should just come right up to our doorstep to buy it!'"  I swear, what happened next is absolutely  God's honest truth.  Within about 10 minutes, the doorbell rang.  I was upstairs, and my husband opened the door.  I heard the man outside asking if we were interested in selling the Neon.  There was no sign on it, remember!  He wanted to buy that car.  It was sold and gone within 30 minutes. 

Yep, it's time I put that back into practice.  The tide is turning for us, and I am SO incredibly happy and grateful!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So, What's it Gonna Be?

We need to come to a decision about this move.  I mean, really, we've already decided that we are moving, it's just that we haven't agreed upon when.  Realistically, it could be anywhere between 9 months and 2 years from now.

Personally, I think it would be nice to allow our son to finish his first year in Kindergarten here in the States, rather than uproot him right in the middle of a school year.  He's going to be attending a Spanish immersion school.  He already speaks Spanish and English, but the only person he consistently speaks Spanish with on a day-to-day basis is his papa.  When we toured the schools (we are wait listed for 2) we were delighted to find that the majority of the teachers are native Spanish speakers, and that slightly more than 50% of the students are native speakers as well.  We know that going to a school such as this is going to help ease our son's transition once we finally do go to Mexico.

There's also the issue of saving money before we go.  We're sort of in a strange position because yes, we want to save money, but not having the means to save the money is one of the key motivators that is pushing us to move to Mexico.  I know it will be easier for me to find steady work once my son enters kindergarten.  For now, we are just cutting out the frills, discount shopping, and I'm trying to pick up hours tutoring and at my part-time job.  We do not want to be dependent upon his family for everything when we get there, and the more money we have saved the more independence we'll enjoy.

So, when are we going??  I think there are many things to consider, namely all of the things on the triptik (IE. to-do list) that I presented a few entries ago.  Also, I want to allow my family the time to get used to the idea and I don't want to leave here with them angry at us.  As I type this I am coming to the frightening realization that we are nearing the time where we need to share our decision with my family.  Yikes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

We're All in This Together

Today, as I watch the news reports about the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami, one of my core beliefs is reinforced yet again; we are all in this together.

The water that rose to treacherous levels on the other side of the globe, causing tides of mayhem and destruction, comes from the same ocean that, in turn, rose on our side of the globe.  The tsunami on the shores of San Fransisco was triggered by the same disaster which is taking its toll on the shores of Mexico.  People are suffering all over the world because we all have one thing in common; we're human.  We love, we grow attached to possessions, we hope, we fear. 

God did not draw lines within each continent, creating borders, fear, distrust, and selfishness. 

I wonder how big a disaster would have to be in order for countries to forget grudges and greed and unite together as human beings?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Que te mueve!!

My waist is stiff today.  I never knew my waist could be stiff.  Why, you ask, do I have this mild discomfort?


A few years ago when my son was about 18 mos or so, I was watching an infomercial for Zumba, and I thought it looked like fun.  Also, the before and after stories sucked me in.  That happens a lot with me.  Tell me something is good for weight loss or to get you into shape and you may or may not hold my attention.  Give me a good before and after story, and I'm all ears and reaching for my checkbook.  So anyway, I ordered the darn videos.

And it was fun.  So much fun that I lost almost all of my baby weight.  Then something happened.  I still don't know what it was, but I'm guessing it was a combination of stress, bad habits creeping back in, or an age-related metabolic slow down.  Who knows.  But I gained all of the weight back and a few more pounds just to really drive home my feelings of self-loathing.

Blah, blah, blah..... felt gross............blah, blah, blah.................sort of gave up and started drinking wine every night.............. blah, blah..................only 4 pairs of pants in my closet fit me and we don't have any money to buy new ones nor do I want to because the size on the tag of the pants that actually fit me is too depressing.

Okay.  So my long-time friend drops by to see me and looks absolutely fantastic, because she's lost weight while following Weight Watchers, and she's smiling ear to ear.  She talked me into joining.  I just finished my second week.  I'm seeing results! 

This second week I decided to incorporate just a wee bit of ejercicio into my day.  So I've been popping in my Zumba DVDs, and Beto is kicking my arse, I say! 

1) The music!
2) The dance moves are easy enough for anyone to try.
3) I don't feel silly doing it, nor would I feel silly if I was in a class with others. The point of Zumba is not to show whether or not you can move like Charo (remember her?).  However, it's fun because it makes you feel like you can learn to move like Charo!  Like there's a sexy Latina in all of us! 
4) Beto is really adorable.
5) There is variety of different movements so you aren't bored.

So, anyway, I'm hoping that my inner Latina will shake and shimmy the grasa right off of this waist (and thighs, butt, and tummy!) and maybe by the time we go to Mexico I'll have whittled my size down to the happier and more energetic version of me.   It's actually one of the things that I forgot to include on my "Triptik" post of things we must do before going to Mexico! 

Gotta go now.  Time to Zumba!  Que te mueve!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mac 'n Cheese and a Midlife Crisis

This morning I'm sitting here drinking my coffee, playing around online, and thinking.  Always thinking.  My brain never seems to shut off these days.  I wonder about stuff like our moving to Mexico, the fragility of life, and whether we'll see anything amazing happen on December 21, 2012.  Then my mind drifts to thoughts like, "I wonder if they have Weight Watchers in Mexico?" and my son's question from this morning, "Do butterflies eat macaroni and cheese?" and the realization that tomorrow (after much trepidation on my part) my son is going to take the bus to school for the first time.  My baby!! 

But my big question of the day is, why is it that sometimes what we've been begging and praying for is finally offered to us after the fact?  What I mean is this:  A year ago I finally left my job with an airline (customer service stuporvisor, er, I mean, supervisor) where I'd worked for close to 12 years.  I feel guilty just typing it, given the fact that our economic situation is horrendous.  But I couldn't deal with that place ANYMORE.  For years I'd wanted to escape from the prison I called my job.  By the time I got around to actually leaving I was having chest pains and panic attacks as a result of the stress from that job and from playing "two passing ships in the night" with Mr. Husband.  It was time to change my life.  I made a go of being a freelance medical Spanish interpreter.  It went well at times, but there were too many peaks and valleys and unpredictable hours for me to continue.  We couldn't afford to pay for my son's preschool.  I applied for jobs all over the place, to no avail.  The week that we pulled my son from the preschool that we adored, I got several calls to interpret.  AAAAAGH!!!  Why???  Why couldn't they have been calling me sooner?? 

Often times I think, "Why couldn't I have just held out in that airline job until our son went to kindergarten?"  Then we probably wouldn't have slipped into financial ruin and I could have found something to do during school  hours.  But that's not how it went.  Plus, who's to say that I wouldn't have ended up in the hospital if I'd stayed with the airline?  Who knows if I'd even be alive today if I wouldn't have left there?  Okay, now I'm being dramatic.  But you never know!

Instead, what's been happening this week is this:  For the past few months I have been tutoring people in Spanish.  It's a lot of fun, but I only do it a few hours a week.  Last week I decided to put a new ad out, and I have received 3 responses already!  THEN, last night at a session with one of my students, who happens to be an ex-mechanic at the same airline where I worked, and who now owns his own business, presented an idea to me.  How about if I offer a Spanish class, and he'd "hire me" and just make it part of his business and we could advertise and see what kind of interest is out there?  I'm really excited about this.  It could be another wonderful way to save up money for our eventual move.  Also, when my son goes to kindergarten next fall I would be more available to interpret or to get another job. 

I feel like things are coming together.  Throughout the hardships over the past few years, I have made friends, mended some relationships, gotten to the root of some big issues, and learned a lot of life lessons.  I am gaining confidence and momentum, and I feel like goodness is going to shower down upon me and my family.  If we stay true to our dreams and God-given gifts and put Love first, doors open.  Maybe not right away and not the way we expect them to, but they open.

Thanks for reading.  Spread some Love today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Second Guessing

Remember my "What if" from yesterday that touched on the violence in Mexico?  Remember how confident and level-headed I seemed??  Well........

So, this morning I was looking at an expat forum, and read a horror story about these two older couples who were beaten terribly and robbed and all but left for dead, written by an expat living in Guanajuato.  It was extremely disheartening and really fear-inducing, the kind of post that makes you second guess yourself in deciding to move to Mexico.  As I sit here at my computer in our little house in Minnesota, looking out the window at the snow, a product of a weather system that has proven itself to be psychologically unbearable for us (can you say "Seasonal Affective Disorder??), I weigh our options.  I think of our son, who will be starting kindergarten in the fall.  The long, ugly, ranting, ominous warning of a post from that expat resonates in my brain and conjures up unspeakable scenarios in my mind. 

Geez.  It sort of gets me PO'd that she wrote that post.  But am I annoyed because I think she is just a bitter gringa who regrets her decision and wants to sour everyone else's milk, or is it because she's fostering the very doubts that I've had floating around in my mind and I don't want my hopes of a new life to be shot down?    I think of possible dangers that could befall us, but I don't know if I'm just getting myself all worked up for no good reason, or if I should heed her warning and rethink our decision. 

I absolutely, unequivocally, LOVE Mexico.  The time that I spent living there back in the mid-90s was just wonderful; life-changing.  I want my son to experience it, to soak in the culture so that he will identify with that part of himself in a deeper way than just eating at the local Mexican restaurants or participating in the community-sponsored Latino events here in Minnesota.  But I don't want this immersion experience at the expense of his safety.  Will his light-brown hair and my blue eyes make us moving targets for kidnappers?  We definitely have no monetary advantages to entice any criminals, but maybe they won't realize that.  I mean, according to this gringa in Guanajuato, we should be looking over our shoulders at every turn.  I hope she knows what kind of fear a post like that can induce in a person.  To be fair, much of what she said in her post was true; she not only wrote of dangerous situations in Mexico but also of the potentially uncomfortable situations that a more, shall we say, pampered gringo would suffer.  But I'm not worried about avoiding drinking tap water or watching our step on the cobblestone sidewalks.  My main concern is that we would suffer some sort of violence. 

We can't continue the lifestyle we've been living here.  A change is absolutely necessary.  I am not going to give up on our ideals where our family is concerned.  I feel it in my bones; my son is in store for a culturally rich life and broadened horizons.  I don't feel like staying here is the right thing to do.  At least not for now.  So what do I do about these fears?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What if.....

For many years we have discussed the possibility of moving to Mexico, so we've had plenty of time to think of all of the "what ifs".  For the heck of it, let me just throw a bunch out there for review.....

What if I get homesick for the U.S.?  ~Well, that's gonna suck.  Inevitably I will have moments of homesickness.  When I lived there before, I got homesick a few times, and to make myself feel better I'd do something that I'd never do at home.......I'd head to McDonald's and console myself with cheeseburgers and french fries.  That was before the Internet took the world by storm.  I imagine that in this day and age my homesickness would be a bit easier to deal with, what with Skype and Facebook.

What if we fall victim to the horrible violence that is so prevalent in the news about Mexico?  ~Well, let me begin with another question..... What if my house gets broken into tonight by the people that have been breaking into numerous other houses within my 6 block radius during these last few weeks?  Also, after Mr. Husband having taken a trip there and reporting that all is "business as usual" and people are still smiling and living their day-to-day lives, and after having spoken myself with friends in the city where we'd move to and having them tell me the same thing, I have come to a conclusion.  It would be silly to base our entire decision on what we've been seeing on the news.  Especially since in the state we're going to there have been very few incidents of violence involving gringos that didn't stem from outright stupidity, carelessness, or direct involvement with the drug scene.  That said, OF COURSE we would be careful, and not go out at night to questionable places.  We would not be hanging out with dangerous crowds.  We'd use the same common sense that we are using now! 

What if we try it and decide in a couple of years that we've made a big mistake? ~Um, well, then I guess we chalk it up to another life experience.  But a counter question might be "What if we don't go and continue in the same environment, hating the long, bitter cold winters and feeling like we are living out a life sentence instead of LIVING?"  Now, speaking practically, I will say that it would only be wise to have a little nest egg in our basket here in the USA in case we want to come back.  That's something we can start from here before we leave, and just keep dropping more eggs in the basket from warm, sunny Mexico.

What if my family and our friends get mad and everyone thinks we're crazy for moving there, given the news coverage that Mexico is receiving recently?  ~Okay, this is where I have to really put on my thick skin and realize that we will not be able to please everyone, but we absolutely must live our lives in a way that is fulfilling and that sets a good example for our son.  We are big believers in living out dreams and making the most out of the time God has given us.  We feel we have some dreams to live out in Mexico, and we want our son to know that we are doing our best.  It's clear to me that some people seem to feel that giving up on the American Dream is bordering on blasphemy.  Well, then our values are different than theirs, and that's the only way I know how to put it.  Also, to be fair, my husband has been here for 13 years and never once has he complained.  It's time to hang out with his family for awhile!

Any other "What ifs"?  Maybe.  But these were the biggest ones that pop into my head at the moment.  There is still the question of "When?" and we don't yet know the answer yet.  Patience, my little doves.......patience.