Los Juegos – A Childhood Memoir

As a child, back when I lived in Mexico, my cousins and I used to go to a place we called los juegos. Los juegos —Spanish for the playground— was a special place for all of us. Back then, I believed los juegos were the happy, go-to place for kids everywhere. This was also one of the places where I felt the safest.

The playground was managed by the local government of San Luis Potosí, which charged an entrance fee of one peso per kid. A security guard was always on duty, managing the entrance door and collecting the entrance fees from the fingers of eager children ready to go climb and run around every corner.

As I said, I felt safe in this place. Perhaps it was the security guards, whom I thought were policemen. Maybe the uniform they wore or their professional demeanor put me at ease. It could also be due to the fact that both my grandmother and our moms felt it was safe letting us go to this playground. Granted, we had to go as a group, never on our own. Back in those days going places in groups was all my cousins and I did.

I have many happy memories of los juegos:my cousins and I meeting new friends and playing with them, all of us spending long hours and entire weekends playing there. When we eventually were all played out and made our way back home, oh my, we were all so very hungry and thirsty!

Now as an adult, I reminisce a lot about these fond memories. And as a mother, I dreamed of one day taking my kids to this special place where I was once happy.

The opportunity finally came during our trip to San Luis Potosí in 2019. Unfortunately, since December is one of the coldest months, los juegos remained closed for most of our time there.

During that trip, we spent almost three weeks in San Luis Potosí, visiting friends, spending time with family and taking in the sights. Between our packed schedule, the Christmas holiday festivities and days (most of them) when los juegos were closed during our time there, I was not able to take my kids to my favorite childhood playground. However, we did manage to squeeze in some time at a playground at one of the places we visited.

The place we went to is called Los Adobes, an hacienda-style restaurant with a big playground in the back reserved for customers. It is a family-friendly restaurant with a country-style atmosphere. After customers enjoy a delicious buffet-style meal, they can go outside and enjoy the playground and the beautiful pond in the back of the property.

Los Adobes, an hacienda-style restaurant located between San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato.
an hacienda-style restaurant with a big playground in the back.
the beautiful pond in the back of the property.
Maguey plants outside the restaurant.
Maguey plant outside the restaurant.

The views there were just breathtaking: the playground was kept in great condition and the food was delicious. I think the playground was the best part of my family’s outing that day, though the food came in at a close second.

After we got back from our trip to Mexico and while looking at the pictures of this trip, I saw my daughters’ faces illuminated with a big smile while running around and enjoying the restaurant’s playground. I realized that it didn’t matter if we weren’t able to make it to my favorite childhood playground as long as we were together at a playground in Mexico making new memories.

Looking at the beautiful sunset over the mountains, between San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato, my daughters were helping me relive my most cherished childhood memories and for a moment I was a happy child once more, spending endless hours playing in a playground.

a happy child spending endless hours playing in a playground.

A Testimony of Reconciliation and Love During COVID-19

I want to dedicate this post to my aunt who is battling COVID-19.

The last week of January has been a roller coaster of emotions for me as I recently found out my aunt was battling COVID-19.

I was just told on Sunday, January 24th that my aunt was admitted into the hospital and would probably stay there for a couple of days. That Sunday, I had so many emotions, I was angry, sad, disappointed, desperate…

Not only did I have to deal with the fact that my aunt lives in another country, which I can’t travel due to this pandemic, but even if I did travel, I could not go into her house or the hospital and be beside her due to the social distance restrictions.

Distance, once again becomes an obstacle for me in trying to reach those family members I want to connect with.

In my previous posts, I have discussed distance as a major obstacle for those of us who have to leave behind our relatives and country in order to better our lives. Distance and being far away are not new to me, I have had to deal with this since I moved to another country.

This time, it’s different, almost everyone in the world right now is experiencing what is like being far away from those who we love. We do this to keep them safe.

I was really emotional when I found out my aunt in Mexico had COVID-19, I had been praying for protection for everyone in my home, including my extended family who live far away in Mexico and other parts of the country. I was so grateful this past year, that no one in my family had been seriously affected by COVID-19.

This past January has been a difficult month, it’s almost like December was not the end of the year, but perhaps January should’ve been added to the year 2020. What an eventful month we had in the U.S. in January!

I had just talked to my aunt over the phone right after Christmas Day, and she asked me to call her on New Year’s Eve to say “Hello” to everyone, including my cousins and nieces and nephews whom I had just seen last year when I traveled to Mexico.

I had meant to call her, but one thing led to another and the events that have transpired in the U.S. within last month had everyone on edge. In Mexico, January 6th is a special holiday, it is Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany Day. I had planned to call my aunt that day since I knew she was going to be celebrating it.

Instead, the news got my undivided attention as I watched in horror how the U.S. Capitol was under siege in an attempted coup. I knew that was not a good day to call my aunt, I was emotional. The following week was more of the same, all of the sudden I was waking up every morning to watch the news and find out what was happening to this country.

Two Wednesdays after that, I was watching the Presidential Inauguration.

I figured I would call my aunt that weekend after the Presidential Inauguration and I figured it would be the right time since it was getting close to her birthday, which was on January 29th.

Unfortunately, that weekend I found out that my aunt had to go to the hospital as she was really ill and was battling COVID-19 for some days now.

That week had been very emotional for me, I spend most nights praying for my aunt and trusting that God would not abandon her. This past week I was a little bit calmer, but I have been doing a lot of reflection about my relationship with my aunt.

I was not close to my aunt when I was a little girl. She was the aunt that everyone “disliked” and almost no one in our family got along with her. I grew up in my grandmother’s house and my aunt lived with her, as my grandmother aged, my aunt was the one who took care and looked after her until my grandmother passed away in 2015.

My aunt was not the nicest person when she was younger and there was a lot of animosity between her sisters and brothers. I always saw my aunt as the most unpleasant aunt of all my aunts and as I grew up, I never really made an attempt to keep in touch with her.

When I left Mexico in the 90’s my aunt was not one of the family members I said good-bye to. I had no relationship with her.

It wasn’t until my grandmother passed away five years ago that our initial relationship began.

At first, I started calling my grandmother’s house to inquire about my grandmother during her last days before her death, then after a while I started calling my aunt to ask her about my grandmother’s cooking recipes.

God is the only one I have to give credit to for the reconciliation between my aunt and I.

About two years ago, God revealed to me that I was to go and visit my aunt and her family, I was very hesitant at first because I didn’t have a relationship with her. I remembered that my aunt had invited me to visit her the year my grandmother passed away in 2015, but I had declined the invitation.

As I went through the difficult process of grieving from my grandmother’s death, I was also studying the Word and learning more about the ministry of reconciliation. God began to minister to me about reconciliation. I knew then that this was my journey.

One of the people I had to reconcile with was my aunt from Mexico and I knew that God was guiding me into starting a new relationship with her.

I called my aunt over the phone and let her know that I wanted to take her up on her offer and go and visit her during Christmas.

In 2019, my husband and kids traveled to the place where I was born and they met my aunt face to face for the first time.

We were all very excited, but at the same time not knowing what to expect, I had no relationship with my aunt before, and didn’t know how this trip would turn out.

I spent Christmas with my family in Mexico for the first time!

One of my most memorable experiences from that trip was when I went to the open market, Mercado República from San Luis Potosí.

My aunt, cousin, my daughter and I went to Mercado República to buy ingredients for the special Christmas Eve dinner, which was the following day.

I have shared about this particular trip in one of my previous blog posts, A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí.

We spend a very nice afternoon, going shopping for the first time together to prepare a special dinner for Christmas Day. I never thought I would get to do something like this with my aunt, never thought I would get to spend time with her at all.

When I think back about the time, we spent together during Christmas 2019, I am amazed to see what God has done in our lives. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do this on my own. I definitely thank God for bringing reconciliation between my aunt and I.

Christmas 2019 was one that I will never forget. Not only was the first time that I took my family back to the place where I was born, but I took a leap of faith by obeying God and accepting my aunt’s invitation to spend a Christmas at her house.

We spent twenty-one days in Mexico during that Christmas, celebrating Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day on January 6th.

We left Mexico tired from the traveling, excited about these new experiences, and hoping to go back in the future to spend more time with my aunt and her family. We thought perhaps in a year or two we would go back to Mexico to spent more time with them again.

Little did we know that a world pandemic would soon take over and turn our world upside down. The year 2020 had just began when we started hearing the news about COVID-19 cases in the U.S. I never thought this pandemic would get this serious to the point that not even the government in the U.S. would be able to control it.

Despite all the chaos and panic that this pandemic created in the entire world, the one thing I am able to appreciate now going on almost a year since the pandemic started, is having traveled to Mexico to see my extended family while I had the chance.

I don’t think my family and I will be able to travel back to San Luis Potosí the same way we did in 2019, at least not for a few years.

Too many things at stake, the pandemic is still out of control in the U.S. and in Mexico, the airports have become a hub of infection for COVID-19, the new protocols required to fly have changed and it’ll be more difficult to travel with kids internationally, but the most important thing that it’s at stake is my aunt’s health condition, especially now that she is recuperating from COVID-19.

My aunt is considered a high-risk individual, which is why COVID-19 sent her to the hospital. Thankfully, my aunt spent just a few days at the hospital and has recently been released and is at home recuperating.

I am just very thankful that my aunt is alive and was able to go back home with her family, even though she’s still struggling with minor problems and her body is slowly recuperating, she is still alive and she gets to spent more time with her family at home.

Unfortunately, not everyone who battled COVID-19 can say the same…

We are currently dealing with a lot of COVID-19 cases, which were expected because of the Christmas holidays.

I recently heard of at least two classmates of mine who attended High School with me back in the 90’s, who have lost their father due to COVID-19. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Many people have lost a parent or family member due to COVID-19.

Finding out that my aunt has COVID-19 makes me realize how important it is that everyone takes this pandemic seriously, particularly younger people, who when infected can become asymptomatic, but they can infect other family members who can end up in the hospital.

I also have been doing a lot of reflecting on my new relationship with my aunt and every day I am grateful for the opportunity to have traveled to Mexico, while I still had the chance, before this pandemic turned our world upside down.

I am grateful to God because He put in my heart the desire to go back to Mexico and reconcile with my aunt. I am grateful because He made that desire a reality, and even though I didn’t quite understand why I had to go back to Mexico to spend time with my aunt, I still went ahead and took that leap of faith.

Sometimes we don’t understand why God asks us to do something we don’t really want to do; we want things explained and questions answered before we say “yes” to God. God is looking for obedience, this is the way He helps our faith grow.

It is my wish to be able to see my aunt again in the future, I pray that God heals her and that we continue this new relationship that God initiated. I hope that in a few years, this pandemic subsides and for those of us who have relatives in a faraway country, that we are able to travel again with confidence so we can go visit those relatives we are yearning to see.

I thank God for His goodness and all the blessings He has given me.

I also pray for those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 this year or last year. That God helps you cope with this loss and brings comfort to you and your family.

During these trying times, I have grown closer to my aunt because of our reconciliation, but now that she is sick recuperating from COVID-19, I have become more compassionate with people who are sick with this virus or who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. Every day I pray for my aunt, I have spoken to her once through video call, but because she’s still weak, I don’t want her to struggle.

This is the perfect time to show what God’s love is all about, there are many people in need right now who need comfort, love, resources, or just someone that cares. People are hurting right now, and unfortunately, many people have turned a blind eye to the people who are hurting. This is not the time to be indifferent or ignore what is going on in the world.

I am hopeful that we will get through this pandemic and when we all come out of this experience, I hope that we all have learned something valuable that helps us to become better human beings.

My Aunt and I during Christmas 2019 in San Luis Potosí.
My Aunt and I during Christmas 2019 in San Luis Potosí.

A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020

The last full moon in 2020.

To say that “this has been a challenging year for all of us,” would be an overused and cliché statement.

I have been hearing this phrase over and over from newsletters to social media posts, and honestly, I’m tired of hearing and reading it.

It has been a difficult year for all of us. I don’t need to be reminded of this and conclude this year on a gloomy note.

I wanted to close the year 2020 on a positive note. So, I decided to end this year by doing something different; just like this year 2020 has been…different.

I looked out the window and got a glimpse of this beautiful, round, yellow circle staring right at me from the horizon. I had forgotten that it was a full moon on December 29, 2020. The last full moon of 2020.

I ran to the computer and read that this was a cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.

No wonder I was feeling very emotional that day, since I woke up that morning.

I was totally mesmerized by the beauty of the full moon. I had never seen it like that, right after sunset.

The cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.
The cold moon, the ancient name given to the full moon in December.

I told my daughters to get ready because we were having a bonfire that night.

I’ve been wanting to do a bonfire in December, but it’s been really wet this month in the East Coast. So, I kept putting it off until a better day. “Today was the day,” I said to myself.

I ran outside and started prepping the fire pit. My youngest daughter got so excited by just watching me get excited about the bonfire. I had stored a bag of marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate, and graham cookies since the summer. I was getting ready for this day without realizing it!

We lit up the fire pit and we were completely hypnotized by the glow and movement of the fire.

A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020.
A Bonfire Ritual to say Goodbye to the Year 2020.

I was inspired to write, and so, I wrote on a piece of paper all the things I wanted to let go this year. I asked my daughters and husband to do the same.

I wanted to let go of all the negative feelings accumulated through this year; whether from watching the news and media to the difficult situations we experienced as a result of this pandemic.

After we wrote our notes on a piece of paper, we threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.

We threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.
We threw them with mighty force into the fire and watched them burn and turn into ashes.

We concluded our bonfire by singing karaoke, eating s’mores, and admiring the beauty of the full moon.

Goodbye year 2020.

You have taught good lessons to every one of us!

I’m feeling nostalgic about this year, especially knowing that this is the end of a season, and the beginning of another one.

But, I’m ready to start the year 2021.

I am ready, committed, and inspired to start all those projects I’ve been putting on hold.

Here’s to a new year full of health, blessings, love, and making all our dreams come true!

Happy New Year!

Welcome year 2021!

Happy New Year! Welcome year 2021!
Happy New Year! Welcome year 2021!

Our First Halloween in the U.S.

I remember very vividly the first year after I moved to the U.S.; both the changing foliage of the autumn season and the concept of Halloween were foreign to me.

Beautiful tree changing foliage in the fall.

My family and I moved to U.S. in the 90’s as I began my teenage years. We moved to a small, rural Midwest town in Illinois. Every autumn, shortly after the start of a new school year, the leaves would change various shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown. The humid summer air would start turning cool and crisp, announcing the transition to autumn.

Autumn also reminded me of coming home from school and looking forward to watching the Simpsons. After The Simpsons there was Roseanne, and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in that order. My Mom would have dinner ready right after The Simpsons. Watching The Simpsons always reminded me of Mexico as this was my favorite show before we moved to the states. Of course, back in Mexico I used to watch it in Spanish.

The first new friends we made there were another Mexican family who, like us, migrated to the U.S. from Mexico. This family had three sons and had lived here in the states for a while. We spent our first Halloween in the U.S. with them. One of their sons spoke to me in English, but because I barely knew the language, I only answered in short sentences.

I remember they wore spooky masks and carried pillow cases to collect candy that night. My sisters and I didn’t go trick-or-treating with them because we didn’t quite understand what it was. It seemed fun: seeing all the kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”

Kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Kids knocking on doors, asking for candy, as they yelled, “Trick or treat!”

We didn’t give away any candy that first year either, because, as I mentioned, we were not ready for or really understood what Halloween was all about. I felt very intrigued by the whole thing, especially after seeing how much fun our new friends had trick-or-treating.

After that unforgettable, first Halloween, my sisters and I started participating on the Halloween festivities. Most of my fondest memories growing up in the U.S. take place in the fall; with many of them revolving around Halloween. Every fall became a memorable moment in my mind, as I navigated through the difficult experiences of moving to another country and learning a new language, a new culture, and a new place to call home.

Now that I am older and a Mom, fall has become one of my favorite seasons of the year. It wasn’t until this year that I began wondering why this season was one of my favorites. Perhaps because it reminds me of those first years in the U.S. Those memories became so impressed and vivid in my mind partly because of the newness of it all, but also, I believe, because back then I felt anxious every time I started a new school year. Beginning a new school year in a foreign country while learning a new language will make most kids feel that way. Perhaps the new weather, which was so different from my native Mexico, was something I became fond of. And perhaps autumn reminds me of the good times I had with my family when we first moved to the U.S.

Changing tree leaves turn into red hues.
Changing tree leaves turn into red hues.

Living in the East Coast now as an adult and a parent, I now look forward to seeing the humid, stuffy summer heat turn into a nice, cool and crisp air, as the changing tree leaves turn into red, gold, and brown hues. I love going to pumpkin patches, buying everything that’s made with pumpkin, and going to see the changing foliage around the landscapes.

Fall will always remind me of my first years in the U.S., cool and crisp evenings while walking home from school, Halloween nights watching funny horror shows, and fond memories of my family together in our new home.

The pictures here are a collection from one of our first Halloween nights in the U.S. and the other ones from a previous visit to a Pumpkin Patch.

Bright orange pumpkins at a pumpkin patch.
Bright orange pumpkins at a pumpkin patch.

A Witch and her Cauldron display at a Pumpkin Patch.
A Witch and her Cauldron display at a Pumpkin Patch.

Pumpkins Patches are part of Halloween festivals in the U.S.
Pumpkins Patches are part of Halloween festivals in the U.S.

Halloween brings fond memories of my sisters and I growing up in the U.S.
Halloween brings fond memories of my sisters and I growing up in the U.S.

Different types of pumpkin varieties at a Pumpkin Patch.
Different types of pumpkin varieties at a Pumpkin Patch.

A Halloween display at a Pumpkin Patch in the U.S.
A Halloween display at a Pumpkin Patch in the U.S.

Corn Stalks and Pumpkins what Halloween is all about.
Corn Stalks and Pumpkins what Halloween is all about.

 

 

 

 

Visiting Shenandoah National Park during a Pandemic

My family and I recently visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. After being on lockdown and quarantine for months, we needed fresh air and to enjoy new sights far away from our home.

During this pandemic there aren’t many choices for safe, family-friendly activities this summer. Going to the beach is still not a safe choice for me and my family, especially with children. Theme parks are out of the question. And my favorite things to do -cultural festivals, wine festivals, and outdoor music concerts- were canceled in order to avoid large gatherings of people.

It is not until we go through something like this pandemic that we realize how much people rely on each other to make every day things happen. Outdoor activities, food establishments and other businesses that rely on a constant influx of customers to stay in business, fuel the economy at both the local and the national levels. Teachers and schools rely on students coming in to school so they can teach, otherwise they’re out of a job. On the one hand, you want to go out there and support local businesses, and on the other, you are concerned about staying safe and secure while the pandemic storm howls outside. This dichotomy has been on my mind over the last few months.

I understand that we need to take care of ourselves so we can, in turn, take care of others. I kept this in mind as I thought of what sort of activities, we could do this summer. The best place I could think of was the outdoors.

Wild columbine or Aquilegia canadensis is found at Shenandoah National Park.

I remembered that about seven years ago, I went on a hike in Shenandoah National Park with my extended family and, although we didn’t plan the trip very well, and didn’t realize how extraneous this activity was going to be, we did make some good memories in the end. At the time, we had discussed the possibility of getting to see the waterfalls. Secretly, I was determined to make it happen. So, after about two hours of hiking with my less than enthused family we made it to the waterfalls! At that time, my oldest child was three years old.

This month, we decided to visit Shenandoah National Park the weekend before Fourth of July, so we could avoid large crowds. At least, that’s what we thought. I was so surprised to see more people at the park than I did around the same time seven years ago. Back in 2013, during our now legendary hike to the waterfalls, there wasn’t a lot of people in the trails. At that time, we went hiking around Mathews Arm, which is one of the most popular trails at Shenandoah. At that time, there were just a few visitors and we ran into people on the trail only every twenty minutes or so. During our recent visit to Shenandoah National Park, the number of visitors was a lot higher and the visitors were very diverse. There were a lot of professional hikers at the park, but there were also small families like us, who took their kids hiking as well. There were even extended families visiting the park, which included grandparents and even dogs as part of their extensive entourage. The public restrooms were mostly empty when I went to use one, but by the time I got out there was already a line of people waiting outside the door. I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t know so many people were all of the sudden interested in the outdoors, especially at this park.

I realized that I wasn’t the only one feeling the stress of the pandemic and, just like me, everyone else also felt the need to get out of the house after being quarantined for so many days.

I figured that many of the visitors at the park were people who had never been there before. Perhaps they wouldn’t have come to Shenandoah if it wasn’t for the pandemic. But after not having many choices to go to this summer and after being quarantined for months, the parks and the outdoors are the only places that we have left to go to.

Shenandoah National Park extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia.

beautiful wildflowers found at Shenandoah National Park.

beautiful wildflowers at Shenandoah National Park

Swamp thistle or Cirsium muticum is found throughout Shenandoah National Park.
Swamp thistle or Cirsium muticum is found throughout Shenandoah National Park.

Erigeron annuus also known as daisy fleabane is found at Shenandoah National Park.

Wildflowers found at Shenadoah National Park.

During the hike, many people wore face coverings, masks, even plastic gloves, while a selected few still refused to wear anything at all. On most instances, these later folks wouldn’t even try to keep social distance when running into other people. This experience showed me how different our thinking is when it comes to this pandemic.

I wanted to take care of my family, so I modeled responsible social distance practices every time we ran into other hikers; whether they were wearing a face mask or not. Any time hikers approached on our trail we would move away from them as far as we could, always giving them the right of way. My entire family wore face masks and we only took them off when there was no one else around. It was annoying and unpleasant as most of the time we were the ones moving away from people and letting them pass. Plus, doing a very extraneous exercise such as hiking while wearing a face mask only made the exercise a lot harder.

We were not able to reach the waterfall at Mathews Arm; we only hiked about two miles and turned around and came back. I was being mindful that we had a three-year old with us who was not going to last the whole trip. So, this time around, I opted to keep the trip short.

Fly Poison or Amianthium muscitoxicum.

Mathews Arm Area at Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah is home to over 400 species of fungi such as this one.

another variety of mushroom found at Shenandoah National Park.

The Path – Shenandoah National Park

I love hiking and the outdoors and when I get the chance, I like to stay out all day and end up so tired that I just want to take a shower and go to bed. But one of the greatest lessons I learned during this whole pandemic is that we need to be mindful and considerate of others. I needed to be mindful of my kids and realize that they were not going to hike 6.5 miles round trip just to see a waterfall. I also had to be mindful of my husband, who would, inevitably, would end up carrying one or both kids on the way back had we walked all the way to the waterfalls. I had to be mindful and realize that other people disagree about how this new virus spreads or about how serious it is. I had to be mindful and accept that I might not get what I want all the time, especially while going through this pandemic. Instead, I was reminded to be grateful that at least I was able to at least do something I wanted. I had to be mindful and considerate of the fact that this new virus can put other people and families at risk when we choose not to do something as simple as keeping six feet away from others or wear my face mask, and that, even still, some people refused to do any or all of these things.

Even though hiking and the way we go about doing things today is different than what we were used to, we did manage to create nice memories during our trip. I’m glad to see that more people are getting out and visiting this beautiful park, and hopefully they will become aware about how important it is to take care of nature and our world. I am grateful that I live in a place where I can go visit wide open spaces and amazing outdoor locations such as Shenandoah National Park. I came back with a refreshed mind, ready to start my week, even in the middle of this stressful pandemic. There is no doubt that Nature can heal.

I love hiking and the outdoors.
I love hiking and the outdoors.

Visiting Shenandoah National Park during a Pandemic.

Lighting a Candle in Memory of my Grandmother

Today I am lighting a candle in memory of my grandmother.

She passed away on a sunny summer day on a Wednesday morning on June 24th.

A day like any other, when everyone was going about, getting ready to go to work and start their day.

I have written about grieving for my grandmother in previous posts because this is the one person in my life whose loss has affected me the most, but it’s also the experience that God has used to cause me to grow the most in my spiritual life.

When I first found out she passed away, it took me a while to process the news. After that, I felt all sorts of conflicting feelings: anger, hurt, disappointment, sadness, fear, and more. For the rest of that year I spent my days praying and being close to God, who comforted me as I found a way to move forward.

The first year was tough. The second, a little more manageable. By the third and fourth I felt I could manage with God’s help. And now, during the fifth year, I feel I can share my feelings with people and with those I love.

During the first couple of years after her passing I used to grieve about what could’ve been. What hurt me the most was not having spent the time I wanted to with my grandmother. All the things we could’ve done together as grandmother and granddaughter: all the times she could’ve sat with me and shared her stories growing up in her hometown or taught me valuable lessons about life. I grieved for the relationship we could’ve had and we didn’t. This hurt me the most after her passing.

But one of the most important things God taught me during this experience was to let go.  Let go of what could’ve been and didn’t happen. Letting go of the relationship I always wanted to have with her but couldn’t. Letting go of all the things I wished she did for me and the things I dreamed we could’ve done together.

God helped me to accept the way things are. He helped me forgive those who I needed to forgive in order to move on. He taught me I should instead do something with the things I do have control over.

Because of that, I chose to forgive.

By forgiving her, I experienced a great deliverance in my spirit that was long overdue.

Little by little, as I allowed God to guide me, I walked through the path that He laid before me toward forgiveness and acceptance. God took me to places where I don’t think I would’ve been able to walk on my own. I also had the opportunity to go back to the place where I was born and visit my grandmother’s house and make peace with my extended family. All of this for the glory of God.

It was through this loss that God taught me what it means to forgive someone you love. He also taught me to let go of the past, of painful experiences as well as of places that were preventing me from moving forward. He also taught me about reconciliation.

On this, the fifth observance of my grandmother’s passing, I want to light a candle and pray for her memory. I pray that she rests in peace and that God lets her know how much I love her. Also, that I forgive her and that my love for her has canceled any and all wrongdoings and hurts. I pray for the relationships between her and her children, that they also find a way to reconcile and make peace with her.

I pray that God helps my grandmother’s children to heal properly and experience reconciliation, so that they can have better relationships with their own children and grandchildren in turn. Above all, I pray that this new generation will understand the fear and love of God and will be blessed from this point onward and for generations yet to come.

Rest in Peace Abuelita Francisca and to God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Lighting a Candle in Memory of my Grandmother.

The Point of Convergence in the Past Two Years

Exactly two years ago, I embarked on the journey of starting this blog, The Point of Convergence.

I wanted to share how this blog has evolved since then.

At first, I wanted to dedicate this blog to the memory of my time growing up in Mexico.  The more I wrote about those memories, the more I realized that I didn’t want to just continue focusing on those memories of long ago; otherwise I would run the risk of getting stuck in the past.  So, I began to write about my life in the present and in the process of doing this I realized something.

San Luis Potosí Cathedral in 2000 the place where I grew up and often write about.

In these past two years something really important and exciting took place in my life.  This last Christmas, I was blessed with the opportunity to go back to the place where I grew up, San Luis Potosí.  This is the place that I often find myself writing about, the place that has inspired me to continue writing despite everything going on in the world.  It’s the place that inspired me to begin this personal blog from the beginning.

San Luis Potosí Cathedral in 2020 the place where I grew up.

San Luis Potosí Government Palace in 2020 during Christmas.

During that trip, I got to see my extended family and reestablish new relationships.  I also visited those places that I yearned to see and which I often talked about in my blog.  I realized many relationships with friends and family members won’t be able to just “pick up where they left off” and move forward.  Some of those relationships will require more work and some might just have to be ended.

For a whole year, I wrote for this blog focusing on my life in Mexico.  Then something unexpectedly happened in my life that was very unfortunate and made me reevaluate the focus on this blog; my stepdad passed away on April 13, 2019.  During that month I didn’t have time or the energy to write a blog post.  I had one ready to publish before he passed away, but chose not to publish it.  Because he was important to me, I felt like I needed to take time to mourn the passing of my stepdad.

May you rest in Peace stepdad knowing that you are now with our Lord Jesus Christ.

My stepdad used to sit here during sunset. He’s no longer here and this place reminds me of him.

It was his passing that caused me to redirect the focus of my blog.  I decided to include a post dedicated to his memory.  For the first time, I wrote about my life in the present.  It was as if my writing took a detour in that moment; it became a turning point.  The passing of my stepdad also made me realize that although it is important to have closure and heal from past hurts, it is also important to live in the present because spending too much time reminiscing about the past may cause your present life and any beautiful moments in it to pass by right before your eyes.

After this event, I also began including God in my writing.  God is an important part of my life, so why not include Him and give Him credit for the things He has done for me?

This year in 2020, two years after I began this blog, another major event is taking place right now as I am writing this; the epidemic of coronavirus, which has taken the entire world by surprise.

This is a time of change, a time of new beginnings.

While reflecting on these events, some that brings us tears and some that brings us joy, I find comfort and wisdom in what the Bible says about life in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,” (Ecclesiastes 3:4,5).

A Time for Everything Ecclesiastes 3:4,5

We are to enjoy life as it comes, with its ups and downs, and embrace every moment, even the sad ones.  Through my writing in this blog, God made me realize that living in the present doesn’t mean suppressing all of our past hurts, including mourning and grieving the loss of our loved ones.  It doesn’t mean that we are not to mourn for the things that we lost or didn’t have a chance to do.  But that perhaps we can deal with it a little bit at a time by dedicating some time to those things that have left us without closure.  Then the rest of the time, we can make an attempt to enjoy the present and create new memories.  Otherwise, life will pass you by in an instant, not realizing that you spent all that time reminiscing about what once was and is no more.

 

Bearing Good Fruit in Times of Uncertainty

This lockdown and social distancing got to me today.

I woke up fine, but then I went outside and saw that the sun was out and it was a beautiful, sunny day unlike the last few days that have been overcast.  I stepped outside my house to the garden and looked around and I began to feel sad.  Sad because I wish there was a cure for the coronavirus right now.  Sad because the number of people dead due to the coronavirus continues to rise every day.

I felt uneasy and sad, so I went back inside and went to my special place where I talk to God.  Right outside the window of my room there is a tree, which gives out a beautiful, white three-leafed flower around Easter time; it makes the tree look so elegant all dressed in white flowers.

I talked to God and told him how I felt; but this time instead of asking Him, why is this happening?” I thanked Him.  I thanked Him for the sun and the beautiful day that He gave us today.  I thanked Him for my health and for my family.

Daffodils are some of the first flowers to come out in the Spring in Virginia.

a white daffodil – Narcissus pseudonarcissus

I asked Him to reveal to me what is it that I am supposed to learn from this situation and to show me how to use these feelings to bear good fruit.  For the ones that get to stay home, including myself, it is also frustrating not being able to help, to do something for all the people who are sick with the coronavirus.  We want to help in some way!

I closed my eyes and while I meditated, stood still, looking at that tree outside my window.  I realized that the little sprouts that had been dormant during the winter are opening up.  The tree is beginning to bloom! I looked up and saw that the tall trees, which seemed to almost touch the sky, were already green and beginning to bloom as well.  With all the news of the coronavirus, my mind had been occupied and distracted and I hadn’t been paying close attention to the fact that spring has arrived.

Sprouts are beginning to open up in preparation for Spring.

God said to me, “Don’t feel bad for feeling this way, you are supposed to feel this way.  This means that you are paying attention to me.  The fact that you feel this way is proof that you are not selfish.  I want ALL my children to feel this way because this is what will move you away from your own selfishness towards what I want you to do for other people: Love them unconditionally the way Jesus loved on this earth.”

I opened my eyes and God showed me that, just like that little sprout is slowly beginning to wake up and open up so that a flower can bloom, my own heart is beginning to do the same towards humanity.  God made me realize that He is doing something in my heart; something good.  Suddenly, my eyes began to see how every tree which was barren and naked through winter is now sprouting green leaves and flowers.  Everything He touches bears fruit.  If He was to say right now to that tree, “Wither and die” it would be so in that instant.  God can reveal so much about Himself through nature because He made it.

God spoke to me and told me to go bear fruit in the same way that tree and every other tree is bearing fruit right now.  I still don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to go do with my gifts right now, but I know He will reveal it to me soon.

the first sprouts of stargazer lilies

Just because we are staying at home, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything for the people who are fighting coronavirus right now.  Or that what we do is not as important as what the first responders are doing right now.

As a believer in Christ who is at home on lockdown because of the epidemic, we can pray not just individually, but collectively with another group of people.  We believers know the power of prayer when is done collectively and when we are all in agreement on the same thing.  Prayer can be done through social media using video calling or through the phone.

the first flowers announcing Spring has arrived

We can use our gifts and talents to encourage other people who need strength right now.  We can write, draw, make someone laugh, create something that brings a smile or encouragement to someone in need right now.  We can share our resources, time, our money to anyone who is struggling these moments.  Even if it’s just a phone call to see how they’re doing, a video call to check on them, or a video shared on social media thanking those doctors, nurses, first responders who are out there working hard without a break.

We all have something to give and if you can’t think of something, ask God to show you and He will show you what you can do!

We believers have the opportunity right now to share the Gospel and put into practice all the things that we profess.

daffodils or Narcissus symbolize rebirth and new beginnings.

God is not too far from us; He will reveal Himself to us if we ask Him to do so.

“The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

(1 Kings 19:11,12)

This is a time of change, a time of new beginnings.

2/24 Tribute to Kobe and Gianna

I have been personally touched by Kobe and Gianna’s loss and wanted to honor their memory by writing a special post in my personal blog.

I am not a big fan of basketball, but if I had to choose a sport to watch, basketball would be it without hesitation.

I was debating about writing this post.  I wanted my blog to just focus on my personal experiences growing up in Mexico and how I adjusted living in the U.S. after I moved here.  When I heard the news of Kobe and Gianna’s helicopter crash that Sunday morning, I was shocked and, as the days and weeks went by, I thought I was just going to put this news aside like other celebrities’ news that pass away unexpectedly.  However, I soon realized this was going to be different and would be something I could share as part of my blog.

I was never a sports player, but I do remember that as a freshman in high school I tried for the basketball team.  At first it was fun doing all those new warm-up exercises with a team of other girls.  However, just learning how to play basketball for the first time as a fifteen-year old freshman in high school was difficult for me.  I knew then basketball wasn’t for me and didn’t continue playing after that first semester.

The great lesson I learned from this experience is that you have to try new things, you have to push yourself to new challenges and at least be able to say that you tried and did your best.

The news of Kobe and Gianna’s loss brought back these highs school memories and struck a chord within me.  Perhaps the reason why it has impacted me so much, even though I didn’t know him personally, is because I am also a parent.  I’m a mother of a beautiful nine-year old who reminds me of Gianna.  Thinking about that makes me ponder about my own daughter –her dreams, her aspirations, how she seems me, and how I see her, as well.

Perhaps one reason why Kobe and Gianna’s story has touched many people is because it reminds those of us who are parents of our own kids.  Kobe was, when all is set and done, just a father who wanted to help his daughter live her dream.

Every time I hear about Gigi and her dream of becoming a basketball player one day, I am brought to tears.  The notion of the dreams that never came to be gets me every time.  Gigi had her eyes and hopes set high; she was ready to go and be a star like her Dad.

Today, I tuned into the Los Angeles Lakers YouTube channel to watch Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s Celebration of Life and it was really emotional.  The one speech that really touched me was Vanessa Bryant’s tribute to her daughter and husband.  When I hear all the wonderful things that her daughter did for her, her personality, and the little things she did to make her mom smile, it makes me cry.  Vanessa said her daughter was kind, thoughtful, and loving; three qualities that my own daughter also exemplifies.  She said of her daughter that her motto was, “there is no act of kindness that is too small to make a difference in someone’s life.”

I think about Gianna and my own daughter and it makes me think of how important it is to develop a deeper relationship with my own daughter; by spending quality time with her and sharing a passion with her.  Like Kobe did with Gigi.

Kobe and Gianna have inspired me to better my relationship with my own daughter.  I want to be more patient, kinder and more compassionate with her.  But most importantly, I want to spend more quality time with my daughter and I thought of the perfect way to do that starting right now: running.

My daughter and I both enjoy running.  We started running last year, but stopped once school ended before summer.

I believe sharing a common passion with my daughter will help us bond and running is something that we both enjoy and have fun doing.

If Kobe could share a word of wisdom with all of us right now, what would he say to us parents about our relationship with our daughters? I think he would say that we need to be grateful for each moment we have with our children, to spend time with them, and be an involved parent.  I think he would say we need to be interested in the things that our children are passionate about and share that passion with them.

I look at my own daughter and I feel grateful and blessed to be able to hug her right now and show her how much I love her.  I know I was inspired by Kobe’s relationship with his daughter to get out there and do more with my own daughters.  There are many things that I am passionate about that I want to share with them.

Kobe and Gianna, your memory will live with us forever.  You have truly inspired us! May all of you, including the other parents and daughters who were in that fateful helicopter ride, rest in peace.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant – I imagine them looking down at us like this from Heaven.

 

A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí

This last Christmas I went to Mexico to spend the holidays with distant relatives.  Last time I saw my relatives was five years ago, and the last time I spent a Christmas in Mexico was twenty-one years ago.  I am originally from San Luis Potosi, a city located in central Mexico, where I spend this last Christmas.  I wanted my family to experience Christmas in Mexico for the first time.

Christmas in Mexico is very different than in the United States.  In Mexico, las Posadas is an integral part of the Christmas celebrations.  The tradition of Las Posadas comes from Spain and it was brought to Mexico and other Latin American countries by the Catholic Church.  For 400 years, starting in 1586, Mexicans have celebrated las Posadas in December.  Other countries in Latin America and in the U.S., in communities where Spanish cultural influence remains strong, las Posadas is also part of their cultural Christmas tradition.  Most of these celebrations take place in the Southwest; in states like New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California.

Las Posadas celebrations in Mexico vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and city to city.  Cities, which tend to be more populated and where people are more influenced by American culture, tend to have their own variations of las Posadas.  Their celebrations may include prayers and a piñata, followed by dinner.  The Mexican state of San Luis Potosi is divided into Municipios or municipalities.  Some of the municipios, specifically those located in more rural areas, celebrate las Posadas in a more traditional way.  Their prayers are longer and more involved.  A traditional Posada includes a reenactment of the Nativity story, followed by a dinner, and breaking a piñata.

During our visit this year, my relatives and I organized a simple celebration for the children on Christmas Day.  The day before Christmas, my aunt and I went to Mercado República, a very famous food market close to the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosi, to buy food and other things for the celebration.  Most people go there to purchase food and gifts for las Posadas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Mercado República is a famous food market in San Luis Potosi.

It was really nice to be back to this market as it reminded me of my childhood days, back when I lived in Mexico.  I took my daughter with me and we walked around the many long isles of decorative, festive piñatas, hand-made art crafts, fresh fruit and vegetables, food stands selling freshly made tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, pozole, menudo, and other popular Mexican dishes.

This food market is so big that it would take a whole day to see every isle.  It is usually visited with friends or family members who plan to go shopping and eat at the food stands available there.  The food is delicious and there are usually more than two food stands selling the same dish, but each with their own flavor twist.

This mercado or food market has been around for decades.  Despite the fast growth of commercial businesses opening in this city, including many American franchises such as Walmart, Mercado República continues being part of San Luis Potosi’s cultural tradition.  Although the majority of people who visit and shop at Mercado República are working class, many people from different social status come here to purchase the items such as hand-made art crafts and hard to find ingredients that cannot be found anywhere else such as certain spices or fresh herbs needed for some Mexican dishes.

Tejocote is one of the many ingredients found at Mercado República

We walked around the mercado and I spotted a ceiling full of colorful piñatas –some with five, seven and even nine points.  I chose a seven-pointed star piñata for our night’s festivities.  My aunt tries to find pinguica or pointleaf manzanita, a type of shrub needed for her nacimiento or nativity scene.  Many households set up nativity scenes on Christmas in addition to the popular Christmas tree.  Homes decorate their nativity scene in different ways; some like to set up a small nativity scene right next to their Christmas tree, while others like to set up a large one in their living room or a part of the house where it can be seen.

a ceiling full of colorful piñatas

Breaking a seven-pointed star piñata at las Posadas is a cultural tradition in Mexico.

A Christmas tree decorated with colorful piñatas at Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosi.

Nativity scenes are set up during Christmas season in Mexico

We also bought velitas or small candles for the children as part of las Posada celebrations.  The candles are used to pray during the novenas, a series of prayers and songs performed at las Posadas.

After praying the novenas and singing villancicos or traditional Christmas songs we were ready to break the piñata.  According to Catholic tradition, the seven-pointed star represents the seven capital sins in Catholic religion while the nine-pointed star piñata represents the nine months the Virgin Mary was pregnant.  Spanish priests used the breaking of the piñata as a method to teach indigenous people in Mexico biblical concepts, such as the seven deadly sins during their evangelization.

Children take turns hitting the piñata at the end of a traditional song, which includes this lyrics, “dale, dale, dale no pierdas el tino porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino” – “go, go, go don’t lose sight of it, if you do you will lose the path!”

Each child has a turn until someone breaks the piñata and all the candy and fruit falls to the ground!  Many years ago, piñatas were made of decorated clay jars.  Today, they have evolved: the inside or the main body of the piñata is made of cardboard and newspaper.  I do miss the old piñatas made of clay jars because they were harder to break and allowed more people to take a turn.  However, the new ones are lighter and therefore less likely to hurt the children when the pieces fall to the ground.

After breaking the piñata, a delicious dinner follows with tamales, ponche, atole, and other favorite Christmas dishes.

All the children present enjoyed la Posada, and I enjoyed it along with them.  It reminded me of las Posadas from my childhood.  It’s been twenty-one years since I spent a Christmas in Mexico.  I had forgotten what it was like to look forward to Christmas as little kids do.  I feel grateful to be able to relieve this part of my childhood with my own children.  This Christmas was very special and I will treasure it for years to come.

A Very Special Christmas in San Luis Potosí.