Thursday, October 30, 2008

I am

I am from Banana Trees, from Polleras, and Diablos Rojos

I am from the Casa Vieja where my mom grew up, with its dark rooms filled with memories; of Abuelos' stories, of the piles of golden rice he kept inside, and the rainy afternoons in October talking about nature and learning about life.

Of summers spents with grandparents, in a house with no electricity, of sneaking out to the river, of riding horses, feeding chickens, and eating guavas right of the tree.

I am from the Chiriqui River, roaring behind Abuelo’s house, of the algarrobo tree in their front yard, of laying on the grass, listening to ghosts stories, and staying up all night wondering about what was lurking in the dark.

I am from Nochebuena y Año Nuevo spent with family, of Carnavales and Processiones during Semana Santa, from Amada and Amelia and Carmen.

I am from the family sticks together, and love and respect your older sisters as if they were your mothers; of loving our cousins as if they were our siblings and standing up for those who can’t do it for themselves.
From respecting your elders, and always doing your best. Of being proud of who you are and the place where you came from, and of understanding the value of an education.

I am from being raised Catholic, from praying the rosary with Abuela, and learning prayers tthat were passed down generations. I’m from having faith in a God who is merciful and kind, of believing in ghosts, praying to saints, and never eating meat on Good Friday.

I’m from a Buddhist father, from catholic school, from learning about the paranormal and the power of the universe. I am a mix of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs, of going to curanderos, while lighting a candle for your health to be restored. I’m Catholic, secured in my faith and my beliefs and not afraid to say I don’t agree with man-made rules.

I'm from Panama, Spain, and the Guaymi Indians, of sancocho, arroz con pollos, platanos and tortillas.

From a mother with only a 6th grade education who taught me about hard work and determination, from slumber parties with my cousins, from running across the swinging bridge without our parents knowing.

Of starry nights listening to my father telling us about the wonders of the universe, and dreaming about becoming an astronaut. Of dancing on the streets during Carnaval under the blazing sun and the cool water; of patriotic parades on Independence Day.

Of Jose’s courage, and Abuelo’s strength, of Abuela’s faith, Mom’s determination, and of Dad’s thirst for knowledge.

I am from that little bench Tio Dany made for me 31 years ago, that Abuelo kept for me all these years, of watching my kids sit on that bench and see my life realized in them; of the wooden stove where Abuela used to cook, and the sewing machine where she would fix Abuelo’s clothes while whistling a tune.

I’m from dancing with Abuela after dinner, under the light of a kerosene lamp with Abuelo watching as he smoked his pipe. I’m from the moments that were never captured in film but will remain in my heart forever.

Polleras- national dress of Panama
Diablos Rojos- traditional buses in Panama
Casa Vieja- my grandparents (Abuelo and Abuela) old house
Amada, Amelia, Carmen - grandmother, mom, great grandmother
Jose- my cousin who died of diabetes-related problems at age 33. he was like my brother.
Nochebuena- Christmas Eve
Ano Nuevo- New Year's
sancocho, arroz con pollo, platanos, tortillas - traditional Panamanian dishes

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I always get excited when the elections get near. Whether it is a local election or the presidential election, I can hardly wait to go to the poll on voting day, and cast my ballot.

Call me a geek, but I cherish my right to vote.

Many have heard me tell the story about growing up in a country where the people were not allowed to elect their president. I vividly remember the election of 1989 in Panama, when the candidates of the opposition party were beaten with metal pipes by military officers during a peaceful protest against the government.

That's the reason I don't take my right to vote lightly. So many people in the world do not have the power to elect their governments, yet here in this country so many people are so apathetic about the opportunity to make their vote count.

But it takes more than just casting a ballot on election day. You have informed yourself on the candidates, on their records, on what their plans are. Voting for a candidate simply because your family has always voted for that candidate's party, or because they seem "nice" on TV defeats the purpose. Of course, many will show up and vote on Tuesday without having any idea what any of the candidates stands for.

There is one election on the ballot this year that really has puzzled me from the beginning. We are electing someone to be on the MS Supreme Court. This is quite an important election, if you ask me. So many things are decided by the Justices of the MS Supreme Court, I think we should all take the time to do our research on the candidates. I've done mine.
So being this is my blog and all :-) I would like to ask you take a minute and read up on what Jim Kitchens stands for. I have had the pleasure to meet Mr. Kitchens in person, as well as his mother, wife, and son. They are excellent people and pillars of our community. I believe he would an excellent choice this election. is his website.

So, that's that. The only endorsement I will publicly give for this upcoming election. I personally can't wait to cast my ballot. How about you?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am a professional woman, in a male dominated field. Even in college, males outnumbered women in the majority of my engineering classes. I knew once I entered the workforce, I would have to fight the stereotypes about women in engineering. I also knew I would have to confront chauvinism, sexism, and racism. I was up to the challenge. I knew I would have to work twice as hard as my male collegues because I had to prove to others I was smart enough and not a result of "affirmative action".

I took on the challenge because I enjoy being challenged. I picked a major that most people would never consider. I pushed myself to the max, graduated, had a job a month after graduation. I didn't stop there. I knew it would take more than a bachelor's degree to get me where I wanted to be. I enrolled in a master's degree program and went to school at night. Still not enough, not when my male counterparts were accomplishing the same goals as I was.

I went further, and took the dreaded exam required to obtain my professional engineer's license. Never mind that I had a 3 month old baby at home, and a full time job. This was important to me and my career. I passed the first time I took the test.

This is just the academic part. There is the "working hard" part to go along with the other stuff. The most important part in my opinion. I have done my work and gone above and beyond what's expected of me. I have carved a name for myself and earned the respect of my superiors and my peers. I have enrolled in leadership programs, in management programs. I have read books, I have done my homework.

Still, there is barely a crack on my glass ceiling. I often wonder if I haven't done enough. Have I not taken a class I should have? Have I not tried hard enough?

I think I have done my part. There is always room for improvement, I don't believe a person should ever stop learning or growing as a person. So I know I am not perfect, then again, no one is.

Still, it is frustrating when your peers feel that a male, with less qualifications and work experience, is better qualified for a job simply because of seniority. There is always going to be someone with more seniority than me. And I will always have more seniority than someone else. Does that mean I am never going to be able to move above that glass ceiling?

I don't want a "hand-me-down" or a promotion I did not earn. I am not asking for charity. I am not asking for what some people see as "affirmative action". I simply want the same considerations my male colleagues get. I want someone to look at my qualifications, my skills, and hard work and allow me to compete with the "guys", regardless of how long I have been here. Seniority does not make anyone qualified to do anything, experience and expertise do.

I have worked hard to educate myself. I have worked hard at every job I've had, from my times as a clerk at Walmart to my job at a Fortune 500 company. I believe my work is a personal reflection of the person I am, so I take pride on everything I do.

I don't want a "free pass" because of my gender or my ethnicity. I simpy want the same opportunity to compete.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I don't have a "topic" to discuss today. For starters, I have a wicked headache that refuses to leave, even though it has received an eviction notice (ibuprofen). Besides, there are several things going on in my head this morning.

* What's with artists and changing their names? First we had Prince, who wanted to be called by a symbol, then Garth Brooks who wanted to be Chris Gaines. Now Beyonce wants to be Sasha somebody. Are they insane? Is this what happens when you get famous? Brain cells begin to day and one day you wake up wanting to be someone else? Maybe they need to learn from Madonna, who still calls herself, well, Madonna.

* Has anyone been keeping up to date with the economy? It is like being on Space Mountain at DisneyWorld. It is dark and you just can't see if you are about to go up or down, you just hold on for dear life until the ride is over.

* Speaking of the economy, I never really like anything related to business. I took an economics class in high school and that was enough for me. I could not tell you what NASDAQ stands for, or what a hedge fund is. BUT I can listen to Kai Rysdall talk about the market all day long. I have a crush on his voice. I don't think anyone else on this planet can make news about the economy sound so entertaining. His show comes on at 6 PM on NPR.

* Why is it that politics always bring out the WORST in people? I'm not talking about the candidates either. I honestly think the candidates actually respect one another, but mudslinging is part of the deal.
I'm talking about the average person, the one you see on the street, talking trash about other people and feeling they are entitled to look down on others, simply because of their political choice. It happens on both sides of the coin too. This isn't a problem with only the followers of A or B party. It's on both sides.
It makes me ill, specially when people start attacking one another and they know NOTHING about the candidates' platforms, or what the candidates stand for. They have done no research on the issues; they simply are basing their support on either on what the candidate looks like, or what they think this candidate must be like in private; or what someone else said about the candidate (either a family member, church member, pastor, coworker).

Let's use our brains and draw our own conclusion about the candidates. And after we have drawn those conclusions, let's respect those who have a different conclusion than ours.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doctors and your health

I have been to the doctor a few times in the past week and I've began to wonder if people no longer take active part in their healthcare.

I have been having problems for a while now which I atributed to my gallbladder. Being that gallbladder issues are hereditary and other members of my family have had problems, it wasn't a stretch to think mine may be going awry.
As many times before, I have been procrastinating about seeing a doctor about it. I don't like taking medication and I will find alternative forms of healing for any ailment I have before I take a pill or antibiotic. I will do home remedies and the things my grandmother used to do to cure most of my ailments.

This time it is different. I can't find anything that will make my gallbladder better. So off to the doctor I went. Our family physician is one of those small town doctors, who practices in a small town, and treats all his patients like his family. I like him. Anyway, I told him what was wrong, he said it sounded like stones in my gallbladder, and gave me an order for an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed there is a polyp growing in there, close the bile duct, and that's why my symptoms are very similar to those of people with stones.

Time to decide what to do next. If I had stones, I would have look for alternative ways to dissolve those stones so I could pass them. I'm not sure one can dissolve a polyp. I don't want to have it removed unless there are no more options. So the doctor sends me to see a surgeon who specializes in gall bladder removals.

I have to admit I was not going in there to schedule surgery. I figured this doctor would order another test to verify the existence of a problem, rather than just go on the results of one test.
I was quite surprised to find out he was ready to cut me open and take my gallbladder.

I won't bored you with the details of the conversation with the surgeon, but he seemed surprised and a bit uncomfortable because I questioned him regarding the proposed treatment for my ailment. I wasn't trying to be difficult, but this is my body we are talking about and I want to make sure no parts are removed unless it is needed.

The whole experience left me wondering if people no longer question their doctors. Why was this one so surprised and a bit uncomfortable with my questions? Did he think I would say ok to a surgery without having sufficient proof that this was the best course of action?

Perhaps we have become too complacent when it comes to healthcare. Maybe we are too quick to allow doctors to prescribe a remedy they think fits our situation without ever questioning them, or challenging them. I wonder if our healthcare costs, not to mention malpractice lawsuits, wouldn't be as high as they are if we actively participated in our care.

I am not a doctor and I am not denying they know more than I do about medicine. But in this day in age, all it takes is Google and a little time to find out what are common test and remedies for whatever ailment you've got. I knew there was another type of test that would show, without a doubt, the state of my gallbladder, and it wasn't an ultrasound. All I did was ask. I didn't sue, I didn't threaten, I just asked. The test is probably costly but I'm sure it is cheaper than having surgery that I may not need.

So I ask you, do you actively participate in your healthcare and that of your family? Or if the doctor says "take this medicine" or "give them this shot", you do it without asking what repercusions may come from it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My mom, daughter and myself at the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk this past weekend.

My little soccer player

Monday, October 20, 2008


This summer, our church started looking for Sunday school teachers. Truth be told, most of us don't really like getting up earlier than we need to during our weekends, so the responsibility often falls on those of us who have children attending Sunday school.

Last year, I didn't volunteer. I had excuses, the twins were small, etc. This year the inspiration came from my daughter. We were reading the church's bulletin one Sunday, and I mentioned to her they were looking for teachers. She became very excited and said she would like for me to be a teacher. How could I say no? So I signed up.

I am not teaching her class, though. This year she will going through First Communion classes, so they have a special teacher for that class. I am teaching the 3rd-4th graders this year. When I received the call, I was told these children were very bright, smart, and eager to learn. They would challenge me with questions, so I should be prepared.

They didn't tell me I would learn from them as much as they would learn from me. Our parish is small, and our class is small enough that all the kids get to participate and we (the teachers) get to interact with all of them.
Last week our lesson was about the first Christians, the things they went through, how they stood up for their faith even though they were likely to die for their beliefs.
I asked the class to think for a second about someone they knew, someone in their life, who stands up for their faith.

The first answer from most of them: my mother.

I hadn't really thought about the impact my faith could be having on my kids. To hear these kids talk about their mothers with such respect and admiration was an incredible feeling. I wonder if their moms know what an impact they have on their kids. I'm guessing they probably don't. Like me, they probably are doing the best they can to raise their children in the church, to teach them right from wrong. They probably don't expect praise, and probably don't know that their children are watching and noticing every example they set.

I'm glad I took on the challenge to teach these kids. They are bringing so many blessings to my life, and I'm learning a great deal from them.

"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pet peeve

I don't want to sound "preachy" or give the impression I know it all. I don't. I'm still trying to figure out the rest of my life.

One of my biggest pet peeve is people who give up before they even try. These are people who find a million reasons why something will not work out before they even get started. They are the ones who won't exercise because they just know that x,y,z is going to hurt, or because they know they won't lose weight.

Their glass is always half empty. They can't see the rainbow through the clouds. They want to get out of whatever rut they are in but they are afraid of failing.

I guess the reason they aggravate me so much is that I cannot relate to them. Failing is not one of my fears, not trying is. I won't say I have never had moments in my life when the skies were gray and I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've had those times, we all have. I just didn't sit there and complained and waited for things to happen to me, rather than make things happen.

I am not perfect, I have more flaws than I care to share with you. I have been beaten down, and I have stood up every time and fought even harder. I will not quit, and those who know me well know that I will go after the impossible without any hesitation. I have fallen short of accomplishing things, but it wasn't because I didn't try. I find there is a lot of satisfaction in just trying the impossible.

If you want to run a marathon, do it. If you want to skydive, learn something new, change your career, go ahead and don't be afraid. Make a list of things that will make you feel great about yourself. Nothing in life is easy, and it shouldn't be, otherwise we would never appreciate what we have. Don't give up before you even try, don't look for reasons why you will fail.

Just give whatever you are dreaming a chance. You may be surprised.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This blog is dedicated to my brother in law, Jeff, he is one of the kindest persons I know, and I'm priviledged to know him.

I have known Jeff for many years, too many to count, really. He has been there in the good times and the bad ones. We've had our moments when we fought, times when we didn't speak to each other, but I always knew he'd be there if I needed him.

He was there when I graduated high school, when I picked my major, when I picked Ole Miss. He believed in me even when I doubted myself. Through the years, he has offered his support unconditionally.

Last year, when I announced I wanted to run the Chicago marathon, Jeff said "I know you can do it". Before I even started training, he had given me a pedometer, and other "running" stuff to get me started.

He was there, along with my sister Joyce, and nieces Stephanie and Aurora, to watch me run the marathon last year. Even though I wasn't able to finish because they closed the race, he believed I was a winner.

What could I do to show him how much I appreciate all his support throughout the years? I took him to the first meeting for Marathon Makeover 2008. I told him he, too, could run the Chicago marathon. I sat with him in the first meeting, and told him the first mile would be the hardest. If he could get past that first mile, he could run Chicago.

And he, once again, believed in me. He signed up to train for the marathon. He went through the pain, and the exhilaration only those who have done it before can understand. And last weekend, he ran the Chicago marathon!

I could not be prouder. I am so happy that he believed in me when I told him he could do it. I am glad that I was able to "introduce" him to marathoning. I didn't get to see him run, but I was there in spirit. He finished the race, and now joins those who can call themselves marathoners.

There will be more marathons in both our futures, I hope. Maybe we'll run one together.

So thanks Jeff, for always reminded me I can achieve greatness. I've seen you do it, I'm just glad to be a witness to your life.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Making Strides against Breast Cancer

Many of us know someone whose life has been touched by breast cancer. In my case, my cousin is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed after she found a lump during a self-exam and went to the doctor. That simple act of giving herself a self exam may have saved her life. She is cancer free, after undergoing a mastectomy.

I was so happy to see her this past summer, when I went to Panama. She is so full of life, and so happy to be alive, it is contagious. I am so happy she is still able to enjoy the little things in life. As she said to me, never take your life for granted, even the smallest things, or the insignificant moments. It all matters.

Again this year, I am helping raise money for the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides against Breast Cancer". I want to help raise awareness about this disease and educate women ( and men) about it. A little education can go a long way.

Many people around the metro area are supporting this cause also, so if someone approaches you and asks for a donation, please consider giving. Think about your mother, daughter, sister, friend. Think about all the special women in your life, and consider donating in their honor.

To make a donation for my walk, just click on my website. You can make your donation online, and every dollar makes a big difference!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Change is good

I'm still looking for 6 extra hours in the day, so I can have plenty of time to update this blog.

A lot of changes going on everywhere. Fall is in the air. Not only are the seasons changing, there is change in Wall Street, we have an election coming up, change is definitely in the air.

There are a lot of changes going on at home too. New opportunities in the horizon, some fading away. We are getting ready to write new chapters at home, that's for sure.

My husband has joined the ranks of Stay at Home Dads. He will be staying home, tending to the kids and all the other things that surface day to day. He definitely now has the hardest job there is, and I truly admire him for making this decision.
The adjustment will be hard, I'm certain of it. But I know the kids are going to love having daddy around all the time and having him take care of them rather than daycare.
I also know one day, when they are all grown up, they will cherish those times with dad and will admire him for the decision he made to stay home with them.

My daughter is taking piano lessons, so our house is now filled with the sound of music. She has a innate ability for music, and has taken up piano very quickly. She is growing up before my own eyes, and I'm in awe at the person she is becoming.
I know she will love having her dad around all the time, and I know this will have a great impact on her in the years to come.

The twins will also be adjusting. They will be staying home with dad, and learning how to be good men from dad.

And I will be adjusting to my new role as well. I hope I remember to be supportive of him, and to never take him or his job for granted.