Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #49: Do a Somersault

There is a moment right before you do something that is scary where everything in you becomes still. Linger there too long and the feeling turns to fear. Fear that can paralyze you and make you second guess yourself. Sometimes you just have to let go… 

Back when I was in middle school there was a portion of gym class that was devoted to gymnastics. I hated it. As the fat girl in class I always feared injuring myself because I was unable to be as limber and graceful as all of the other girls. I have never been able to do a cartwheel. I never figured out why anyone would want to do a backhand spring. But there was one thing I could do: a somersault. There is that rush of adrenaline as you prepare yourself for the feeling of flipping upside down for a moment. You propel your body forward while pressing against the ground for support. Back then we had these flimsy mats that we tumbled across the hard gym floor.

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Fast forward to today. I am a bit older and the thought of tumbling across a hard gym floor makes my muscles want to retreat. But I wanted to relive that feeling again. That feeling of just letting go of fears and worries and just… roll. I wanted the feeling of tumbling over and over, in a safe manner of course, and landing on my feet. So I planned it out. I was definitely going to protect my muscles and joints so I dragged a mattress out into the living room. The springy coils would provide enough cushion and bounce to allow my body to tumble and fall without fear of injury.

Yet still as I crouched down on the mattress my mind began to race a bit. What if I get injured? What if I panic and forget to press my hands against the mattress? What if in some freakish way I land on my head and suffer a neck injury??? Internally I was freaking out a bit. But then I took a deep breath and just threw myself forward. Tumbling feet over head I rolled and landed comfortably on the edge of the mattress, feet on the ground, and a huge grin on my face. I was totally fine! I was better then fine! I had somersaulted again! What I had completely forgotten over all these years was how much fun somersaulting was. After that first roll I did several more before getting my family involved.

How special and unique it was to relive something like that from my childhood. We all have those little moments in our youth where we feel happiness. We can recapture that again in our adulthood if only we were to slow down a bit and give it a try. Doing a somersault reminded me that you’re never too old to feel a bit of unconventional fun. Yes you might need to make some modifications, but that doesn’t mean you are permanently on the bench. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Get out there and relive something special from your own childhood. Have a wonderful day everyone. ❤

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #6: Dance in the Rain

I live in a temperate climate. In fact, you could probably count on two hands the number of times that it actually rains here. Growing up in the Deep South, rain was a normal part of life. Nothing was more soothing then to fall asleep with the window open and rain falling down over your roof. (Where do you think the country songs got those lyrics from?). But here it is totally different. When it does happen to rain, people simply forget how to drive. Instead they become mesmerized with these tiny water-like objects falling from the sky as they stare in shock and awe. But I digress.

As parents we often have to say “No” to our kids. No you may not have a second helping of dessert. No I will not buy you a toy in the store today. No you cannot have candy from the gumball machine. No you may not hit your brother. The list goes on and on. Which is why when we say “Yes” it makes it that much sweeter. Dancing in the rain. This one was purely chosen as an activity for me and my little mensch. She didn’t know it, of course. But in a world where I am reminding her to brush her teeth and brush her hair…. this one was the complete opposite. So I waited for it to rain…. and waited…… and waited! I was beginning to worry that the year would finish out before we got so much as a sprinkle, when all of a sudden the forecast called for showers. (Cue me fist pumping in the air!).

As night time set in I watched the clouds intently. My little one came over and stood at the big window with me. “Mama…. do you think it’s going to rain?” she asked quietly. “One can only hope”, I said trying really hard to not give the surprise away. “Why do you want it to rain?” she asked and looked up at me. “You’ll see…” I said, and smirked down at her. Her blue eyes lit up and she grinned from ear to ear. Seeing my mischievous smile she knew something fun was in store. Finally night came. The clouds grew dark, and that little plop! plop! sound began to hit the roof. I did a happy dance in my living room and turned to finally share the good news with my daughter: It’s time to dance in the rain! She looked at me puzzled for a moment. “What?” she said, bewildered. “Get on your jacket! We’re going to dance in the rain!” I said, and beamed happily. “But we’ll get wet!” she protested. “Yes… ” I said, and bent down before her, “But that’s the point. We are going to jump in puddles. Stomp our feet. Dance beneath the clouds and just have fun!”.

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You would have thought I said we won the lottery because she whooped and hollered with delight as she raced to grab her jacket. Stepping out into the night sky I stood shocked for a moment. It wasn’t just raining…. it was pouring! No Native American rain dance could have predicted this much good fortune. We were about to have an awesome time. Stepping into the rain I remembered how cold it was. Normally I would pull up my hood but instead I wanted to feel the rain against my skin so I took off my jacket. We danced along the sidewalk, singing our favorite tunes. We shimmied. We twirled, and we stomped in some ridiculously big puddles. Our sneakers were drenched but we were laughing and having an absolute blast. I looked down at my daughter and no amount of money could have given her the same satisfaction…. the same concrete experience of pure joy, like that of stomping in rain puddles.

Finally our hair stuck to our heads and my skin had goosebumps. It was time to come inside. In my child’s true fashion she said, “Awwww!” and reluctantly came inside to dry off. What an experience it was! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that stomping in puddles as a child would have been just as fun as stomping in them as an adult. But the best part was making memories with my little mensch. Those are things I will cherish for a lifetime. Take time to stomp in some puddles today. Have a wonderful day everyone! ❤

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #2: Learn a New Language

Bonjour! Salut!

Welcome everyone to my blog! Language is a central part of my life. Being in an interracial, and intercultural marriage we often speak in two languages. I am used to hearing Tagalog/Filipino spoken around my ears. But for a while now my secret desire has been to learn French. Where do I begin? I could tell you about the time that I wanted to study French in school, but my parents pushed me into Spanish classes instead. (They thought it would be more important in the real world), or I could tell you about the time that I went to Europe for the summer and traveled between Spain and France. For the several weeks that I was there I was immersed in an entirely different world.

French was flowing all around me and beyond the glittering, busy lights of Paris I saw an ancient, dazzling culture just waiting for me to explore. But I didn’t. Life moved on, and so did I. Now here I am finally able to pursue this passion! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to save a dollar where I can. So I am very excited to share with you a video I found on Netflix Instant Watch: “Bonjour Les Amis!”. While it is available for purchase on Amazon if you do not have Netflix, I would encourage those who do have it to watch it.

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Do not be discouraged by the 1 star review of this children’s educational video on Netflix. This video has been around for quite sometime, so perhaps other viewers were expecting the cinematics to be better. But let’s be frank: while the DVD was released in 2004, the friendly cat, Moustache, carefully shows children how to press the pause button on your VCR as you slowly learn the French language. That shows you how old this tape is! But like I said, don’t be fooled into thinking that outdated= unusable because that couldn’t be farther from the truth! What I love about this video is that with each phrase there is a slow voice that speaks to you gently, then a prompt that is color coded so you know when to speak, and then the voice repeats the phrase again. Moustache the cat playfully guides viewers through his life, where he lives, who his friends are, etc. I felt myself slowly feeling more confident in the few phrases I was learning, and I bet you would too if you gave it a try! 😉

As I move forward and continue to study and practice French I hope that I am better able to understand French culture as a whole. I want to learn about the various regions of France and the cuisine they typically serve. (I know… I’m a total foodie– I can’t help it!). I want to read about the history in France and dispel the myth of French arrogance towards other people. I want to let the language flow all around me and embrace it completely. Only when let ourselves feel, breathe, live, and experience other cultures do we truly begin to understand each other. Au revoir les Amis!  Have a wonderful night everyone! ❤

 

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #38: Meditate in a Quiet Spot

Years ago I remember taking a meditation class. As I sat in a studio with a group of other people the instructor began guiding us in a calm, soothing voice. Every now and then she would gently hit a gong and the vibrations would echo across the room. I enjoyed the deep breathing, and I loved the stillness of the room… but my mind always seemed to wander. Apparently this pretty common among people new to meditation. Building up your attention span and focus during meditation takes practice. So I put it on my Live Now List to try and meditate in a quiet spot. I wanted to really give meditation a chance.

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In my local community there are two types of weather: cool and hot. In the mornings the marine layer rolls in and all the world is clouded in fog. The stillness of the morning is draped in heavy dew and just breathing in the air feels so fresh. Everything is cold, quiet, and calm. Then as the Sun begins to peak, the fog dissipates and everything becomes so bright. The world begins to stir and everyone just craves to be outside. It’s a stark contrast.

I decided to try and experience meditation in a couple of different ways. First, I decided to just sit outside in one of my favorite spots. Being outside in the early morning hours, I felt a sense of gratitude. Breathing deeply I inhaled the cool air and gave thanks for time. Time is the most precious thing in the world. The ocean crashed against the shore and I was able to be still and really hear its power. The waters are so beautiful, and dangerous– the ocean is something to truly appreciate and respect. Being outside in the calm of the morning allowed me to center myself. I felt grounded and aware. Yes, my mind wandered a bit here and there… but I just focused on the sounds of nature to bring me back to the present.

Currently I am reading several books, one of which is the Dalai Lama’s book, “My spiritual Journey” (if you don’t have it– get it… it’s awesome). In it, His Holiness states that all people are human beings first and foremost. At our core, we all crave love. At our center, we all need love. Therefore, we should all strive to live a life of love. Love and respect all people and things. This is the basis of humanity. It was in this state of mind that I sat in meditation.

Then I came home and decided to try a guided meditation on Youtube. I decided to try a “10 Minute Guided Meditation for Positive Energy”. I figured that 10 minutes is probably my maximum limit right now for holding a steady attention span during meditation. So I began watching this video. Honestly? I really enjoyed it. The deep breathing helped me relax. The voice in the video was a bit overpowered by the music, but I didn’t really mind. I could still understand her just fine and the positive messages were nice to listen to. Overall, I think meditation is something I could incorporate more into my life and reap the benefits from. I hope you all give meditation a try and until then, have a fantastic day! ❤

 

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #9: Watch a Sunrise

I’m not really a morning person. Lord knows I try to be, but in truth, I’m not. I have no problem waking up when need be, and I’m not a particularly grumpy person in the morning… I just tend to lean towards the “waking up naturally” side of the sleeping spectrum. However, when compiling my Live Now List I figured that watching a sunrise would be nice. It makes me chuckle when I think about it. Around my area, especially in the summer, when the sun begins to set people will pull off the road and watch it slowly fade over the ocean. Now I admit, it’s pretty to look at. The sky fills with a multitude of colors and this tiny, burning glow slowly dips into the ocean until– poof!– it’s gone for the day. There are plenty of nice restaurants in the area that offer stunning views of a sunset.

But as silly as it might sound, I’m a “you see it once, why would you see it again?” kind of gal. I’m not going to stand there gawking at the sunset or even sunrise over and over again. However there was a reason that watching a sunrise made my bucket list. I am thankful to have another day of life. It’s that simple: gratitude.

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So in the wee hours of the morning I marched out into my local park and began to walk along the sidewalks. “Damn it’s cold out here…”, I thought to myself and squinted into the morning darkness. In the distance I heard ducks quacking as they woke up and dove into the pond. Birds began chirping as they bustled in their nests and the sky began to get lighter. My normally very busy park, was still and silent. It was really nice. As I found a stone bench to sit on and watch the sun rise I remembered why I was here. Life is truly beautiful. I am thankful for every day that I am given.

When we stop and think about the mortality of life it can feel a bit depressing. But instead of looking at life as a “glass half empty” kind of thing, let’s look at it another way. Regardless of your age, here and now, you are alive. You are breathing, smiling, and living. Here and now you have a chance to mold your day. It may be a good day or a bad day but it is a day. Time stands still for no one, but every day is a gift to be cherished.

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So as the sun rose up over the trees I smiled and took a breath of cool, fresh air. Thank you G-d for the ability to be in the here and now. Thank you for blessing me with the ability to love and be loved. Thank you for time and all that I’m given. May you grant peace and serenity to all those who are hurting. And G-d… please give me the patience and intellect to solve this Rubik’s Cube. (It’s a wee bit tricky 😉 ) Amen.

Have a wonderful day everyone! ❤

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List Challenge #59: Solve a Rubik’s Cube

The other day I was walking through Toys R Us with my child. It is amazing how many new toys are out on the market. It seems these days everything is digital. Digital pets, robots, cars, you name it! When I was a child things were a bit different. It makes me chuckle when I read those “You know you grew up in the 90 when” posts, because I can completely relate to them. Reflecting on my own childhood I came up with my Top 10 Favorite Toys as a Child:

1. Rubik’s Cube

2. Magic 8 Ball

3. Skip It!

4. The Original Game Boy (yes it was in black and white back then)

5. Slip n’ Slide

6. Bucket Stilts

7. Barbies

8. 3D View Master

9. Super Soaker Water Guns

10. Trolls

My time starts... now!
My time starts… now!

I have always wanted to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Since I was a child I had seen the small, plastic colorful toy on the shelves. Yet I lacked the patience needed to fiddle with it until completion. Now as an adult I’d like to sit down and really take my time in solving one. Is there a strategy to it? Well, in fact there are entire guides designed to helping you solve a Rubik’s Cube! There are even people who participate in “speed cubing” (solving a Rubik’s Cube as fast as possible). Me? I’ll just be happy with solving one. My husband reminisced about the time he tried to solve one as a child and ended up smashing the cube and putting it together according to color. (Sorry honey but I think that is cheating, lol).

Perhaps this tiny, old-fashioned toy is more of a brain exercise that forces a person to be zen. In a world where everything is connected online, my hope is that this toy allows for time to disconnect, challenge the brain, and just unwind. Let’s see how long it takes me to complete! Have a great day everyone!

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List Reflection #37: Conquer Your Biggest Fear

Kids: DO NOT try this at home.

For a while now my daughter has been asking me to take her to Legoland. Finally I relented and we went. Okay, yes it is pretty cool. Crowds aside we had an amazing time. What I didn’t expect was to be confronted with one of my deepest fears… all in the blink of an eye. As you probably read in my previous post. I don’t like snakes. I don’t like anything about snakes. Their scaly body, and creepy tongue completely freaks me out. I don’t like how they have incredible vision or that they can be lightening fast when they want to attack. I get the goosebumps just thinking about them.

As part of the Legoland package deal you can opt to have tickets to the aquarium and the park or just the park. My child and I love going to aquariums so we couldn’t resist seeing a new one, and headed there first. We rocked out in the jellyfish dubstep room (and no I’m not kidding). We laughed as she slid down a slide that was a giant whales tongue. And we marveled at the thousands of fish species that swam and darted in giant tanks. It was incredible. As we came to the giant shark tank my little one snuggled up to my hip. Even in a tank she knows that sharks are not to be underestimated. Perhaps she sensed my own fear? We moved along from that tank rather quickly. Then we went into the petting area….

Now I am all for hands-on exhibits. I think it can be an educational experience like no other. My daughter loved touching starfish and sea urchins. She was in pure awe as they fed a stingray right in front of her. There was even a giant stingray that was bigger then any I’ve ever seen and had disguised itself into the sand until she pointed it out. We both gasped, “Whoa!” and then laughed. It was the perfect day. But as we rounded the corner into the reptile exhibit my heart began to sink. Unlike me, my angel is not afraid of snakes. At. All. She thinks they are “so cool!” and are simply misunderstood. As her mother it makes me panic a bit but I applaud her empathy and enthusiasm to like different things.

Did you know that animals can be ambassadors? I didn’t. Apparently snakes can also be animal ambassadors. I’m not exactly sure why but as the friendly, reptile exhibit person asked my child if she wanted to touch a snake my mouth opened in shock and horror. “Yes!” she squealed excitedly and looked up at me. “Uh… no” I muttered softly and gently took her hand. The reptile employee then explained to me that these snakes were designed to cope and handle people being afraid. They are completely docile. “How docile is a snake?!” I wondered in my head and frowned. I was at a crossroads: Do we walk away and pretend this moment never happened? Or do I take the chance and touch a snake? “Okay… you can touch it. BUT I have to touch it first to make sure it is.. safe” I grumbled softly, and glanced down at my daughter who was beaming from ear to ear. She knew this was a big deal for me. My husband grabbed the camera and was ready for this photo op.

"Touch its belly", the woman said. So carefully I did....
“Touch its belly”, the woman said. So carefully I did….

 

“Magic the snake” is an Anaconda by the way and a huge one at that. As she slithered towards the exit door I could see her mind going, “Oh my G-d… get me out of here… I just want a rat.. or something…”. Is that what snakes think about? I don’t know. All of a sudden the woman took my hand and said, “Here… touch her belly…”. Okay… so I touched her belly. Surprisingly she felt like velvet. I could feel the warmth and powerful muscles in the trunk of her body. It was crazy, and weird, and my heart was pounding a mile-a-minute. “Would you like to touch her head?” the woman asked. I looked at her like she had spoken another language. Come again?! Touch it’s head?!

“Do it, Mom!” my daughter cheered me on. not wanting to disappoint I slowly slid my hand beneath the snakes head. It’s tongue flicked over my palm for a moment and it rested there. My whole body shook as I stared at this beautiful creature. Wait… did I just call it beautiful? Yes. Yes I did. Despite it being huge, and scary, and powerful, and scaly…. it was beautiful. It was right then and there that I realized that snakes are just another one of G-ds creatures. This animal ambassador gave me the experience of getting up close and personal with a creature that I would otherwise run screaming from. It was able to look in its beady eyes and smile. My heart began to slow and I grew a fond appreciation, and I dare say respect for snakes.

But nothing could compare to the fear of letting a snake sit on my hand.
But nothing could compare to the fear of letting a snake sit on my hand.

 

While I am not going to touch a wild snake, ever, I will say that to conquer that fear was incredible. It made me sweat. It made me freeze. And it made me learn. I would encourage you all to do something daring, and brave today. Go conquer your own fears. It is absolutely worth it. Have a wonderful day everyone! ❤