Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another year

So yesterday I added yet another year to my birthday number. I like birthdays. I know some people don't like to think about them because that means they are getting older.

But I like birthdays. As a kid, birthdays were a big celebration. Big party, entire neighborhood invited, grown up and kids celebrating together. Everyone happy to celebrate the birth of that particular person. We wore new outfits for the occasion and got showered with attention and love from everyone.

Even though I'm older, I still get excited about birthdays. Not because of the party or the presents, although those are nice too, but because they mean I made it through another year. I love the fact my birthday follows so closely to the new year. I don't have to wait months and months to start living another 'yearly adventure'.

Last year was a year of self discovery for me. You'd think at 37 I would know all there is to know about myself. I don't, and I hope I never do. The fact I'm still growing as a person and learning about myself means I'm still capable of dreaming. At least that's what it means to me.

Self discovery is not easy and it isn't always pleasant. This past year wasn't exactly a walk in the park. I stood in front of an imaginary mirror and took a hard look at the person I am. While looking, I found things I never noticed were there. Or may I did know, and simply hadn't paid much attention to it.

Regardless, the journey was difficult. I had to learn to accept the flaws that mirror showed me, the rough edges that are going to need some attention in the near future. But that journey, as difficult as it may have been, brought me to this point.

I am very comfortable with myself now. Make no mistake, I was comfortable with me when last year's birthday came. But I had no idea what the year would be like. I had no clue about the disappointments that loomed at a distance. I had no clue that my integrity and my character would be challenged. The person who emerged from this self discovery journey is stronger, and happier than the one who started the journey.

So here I stand, on day one of the next year of my life. I'm ready for whatever challenges will come my way this year. I am happier, and much more comfortable in my own skin. You know how people sometimes say "Oh, how I wish I could back to when I was X years old". I never have. Every year has been special and has left wonderful memories. But I wouldn't want to go back.

Sometimes I see the person I was at 23, and realize how little I knew then. The years that have passed since then have made me a stronger, more secure person. If I could give her advice, I would tell her nothing. She has to experience life for herself so she can reach this point in her life.

So I raise my glass and toast my last 37 years of life, and look forward to the next 37. May they all be full of adventures. Salud!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Illegal Immigrant Bill- MS Legislature

I'm pretty certain many of my friends are going to disagree with me on this post. I respect their opinion and I hope they grant me the same respect on mine.

I happened to notice this article today. Normally, I don't discuss my opinions on bills passed in the legislature with anyone beside my closest friends and family. If there is something I have learned through the years, you don't discuss religion or politics with people you aren't sure will be able to "agree to disagree" with you.

But this particular bill hits home for me because I am an IMMIGRANT. Note I capitalize that because there is a difference among immigrants. Some of us are here legally, others are not. This post isn't about illegal immigration per se.

What it is about is how I don't think this bill would help defray illegal immigrants from coming to the state looking for work. All this bill will do is nurture the fear and prejudice of people, who think all who are different from them represent a threat to their way of life.

I happen to be one of those people who is different. I am an immigrant, I speak another language beside English. And yes, people have said to my face I am a threat to them, that I am taking jobs from their family. I had to laugh, I hate to admit it. I laughed. I am a professional engineer with 2 degrees in Engineering but I was taking a job away from a high school dropout. Yet there are more people like this person out there.

I am a US citizen, have been a citizen for many years. Even before I became a citizen, I paid taxes like the rest of the people in this state. I'm also fortunate enough to serve the taxpayers of this state by the work I do for a state agency. As you see, I don't feel I'm a threat to anyone. I am a registered voter, I am involved in my community, I attend church regularly, I follow the letter of the law.

Yet if this bill becomes law, I will become a threat only because of the way I look. That law would give a police officer the right to stop me just because he has probable cause to think I may be an illegal immigrant. And that probable cause would be the way I look.

I know what you are thinking. Why are you worried if you are a US citizen? You have nothing to worry about. Not exactly. You see, none of you (black or white) walks around with a copy of your birth certificate in your pocket or purse. You don't have to. I have no proof of my citizenship in my purse either. I wasn't given a handy card I could carry in my pocket to prove to anyone I am a citizen of this country. I was given a 8" by 11" document that specifically says it is NOT to be copied for any purpose.

I have a driver license, but a driver license does not prove citizenship. I wonder how many people know that. So even though I have a driver license issued by this state, I could still be detained because it does not prove I am here legally or that I am a citizen.

I think the times and efforts of the MS Legislature would be better spent coming up with a bill that levies heavier penalties on companies who hired illegal workers. Companies are getting away with a slap on the wrist and little else.

Let's face it, people come here in search of the American dream. If they can't find it here because they are not finding jobs, they will leave. No one wants to live on the streets, folks, I can attest to it.

In my opinion, this bill will do nothing more than to nurture the prejudice and racism of some who think anyone who looks different than them is unworthy of living in civilized society.

Let's find a solution to the problem without alienating people, without making those of us lucky enough to stand out in a crowd feel like criminals, even when we are not.

And if it becomes law, look for me in the 10 o'clock news. I'll be the one screaming while getting arrested for not having proof of citizenship with me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Working mother???

From time to time, the whole "working mother" dilemma raises up its ugly head and gets me all worked up.

You see, all mothers are working mothers. I have yet to meet one that didn't work. Being a working mom is part of the deal. It starts with feeding that tiny baby and it gets more demanding as the kids get older.
There are no sick days, no holidays, no vacation days. When you are sick, your "job" is still there, and boy, they expect you to take care of them just as if nothing was happening. Holidays? I'm willing to bet we work overtime without any extra pay. As for vacations, who else takes work with them on vacation?. Enough said.

You see, aside from being a mother, I am also an environmental engineer. I love what I do, I have the privilege of taking care of this beautiful earth God has entrusted us, and get paid for it. It is not easy to juggle a home with a job outside the house, but I feel my kids are well adjusted and know just how much I love them.

The part that aggravates me and gets me all riled up is when people assume that mothers who have a paid job outside their homes care less about their kids than those who can stay home with them. Let's get real. In today's world, it is very common for both parents to work in order to provide for their kids a good education, a comfortable home, and put food on the table. We are no exception to that.

We don't own fancy cars, we don't dress in expensive clothes, or take lavish vacations. We live within our means, and share our blessings with those less fortunate whenever we have a chance. The fact still remains I have to work. I just happen to be lucky enough to LOVE my job too.

That doesn't mean I don't love my kids. There is nothing I would not do for them. Except allowing them to go without food, or get less than an exceptional education. That I will not allow, specially when I am capable and willing to work to provide for them.

So yeah, I get insulted when people assume I work because I don't like being home with the kids. Or because my career is more important to me than the kids are. But the insult is even worse when it comes from another mother, one who is fortunate enough to be able to stay home with her kids.

Why must mothers put other mothers down? We are all in this together. I have good friends who work outside the home just like I do, and good friends who stay home with the kids. We are all on the same boat, trying to do what is best for our kids.

I know, we all tell ourselves our choices are the best choices. Some of us think our choice to work and provide a little extra for our kids is best; while others think staying home with them is the best decision. Whatever works for you and your family is the best decision, there is no "one choice fits all" in this situation.

So if you are a mom, regardless of whether you get a paycheck at your job, or your paycheck comes in hugs and kisses, please remember: We are all mothers, we all love our kids, and we are all in this together.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our brain is doing what?

Santa delivered a Wii at our house this year. It's red and pretty and it can keep us occupied for hours. We can play tennis, baseball, golf, boxing, even go bowling without leaving our living room. Not to mention we can now watch movies through the internet. What can I say? It's one handy piece of technology.

My daughter also received (as a gift from my sister and her husband) a Rubix Cube . Remember those? In all honesty, I didn't even know they still made those. I was probably my daughter's age (9) when my sister got one. She was a teenager then and the Cube was all the rage. If you could solve it, you were a genius!

So Candace asked me what she was suppose to do with it. I explained to her what the objective of this game was, and that, while she tried to solve the cube, her brain would be making new connections, neurons would interact with one another, the whole brain synopsis would be happening, I was just explaining brain science to her, when she looked at it, and decided "it is too hard".

I was doing the dishes ( I do my best thinking when I do dishes) and realized this generation, my kids' generation, is growing up in world where movies no longer come in VHS or even DVDs; where they don't have to leave the comfort of their home in order to play golf, and where life can happen in a virtual world. Then I wonder, is that good for them, for their brains?

When I was a kid, we imagined everything. Leaves were actually paper money, and we used sticks, empty jars and cans and anything else we could find to play. We didn't own a Nintendo, or had electronic games. iPods? Ha! That was something out of the Jetsons.

Then I came across an article on NPR news. Scientists have determined our brains are shrinking. Yep, shrinking. Of course, as all scientific discoveries, one group of scientists thinks it is a good thing. It means we are getting less aggressive, etc. (you can read the whole article by clicking on the link above). Another group of scientists thinks it's a sign we, humans, are getting dumber. Our world is so technologically advanced we don't need to use our brains as much.

It's hard to say which camp is correct. You can decide for yourself. In the meantime, I will make sure my kids make it to the real bowling alley, tennis court, and tackle that rubik cube until they figure it out. Just doing my part to make sure humanity remains smart.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's a new year!

" We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is called New Year's Day" ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year, everyone!

I am determined to write at least once a day on this blog. I often allow life to get in the way, then months pass by before I update it.

Writing is therapeutic for me, and God knows I need all the free therapy I can get!!! Between work, kids, and everything else; I often wonder how mothers don't go crazy before their children grow up.

2011 is full of promise, isn't it? Brand new, we have no idea what's in store for us. All we know is we get a chance to start over, to come up with a list of things we want to accomplish in this new year. We all have the New Year resolutions in our mind and we are certain this time we will get them all done!

I decided to come up with a simple list this year, mostly because the longer the list, the least likely I'll complete it.
My first one is to be more adventurous. Those who know me know I plan mostly everything. I'll think about it for weeks before I venture into something new. This year, I've decided I will try to be more spontaneous, which in my world means adventure. Plus I want to try a few things I haven't before like skydiving.

Number 2 on this list. Finish my novel. I started writing it but didn't finish. Who knew I had so much to say that a month would not be enough to finish saying it?

and last but not least, start running again. A few years back I trained for the Chicago Marathon. Yes, it was a whole lot of running. I know most people thought it was crazy. Truth be told, I miss those runs. Running is something you do alone, even if you have a running partner. It's you and the road. No one can run the distance for you, no one can pound the pavement for you. I specially liked the alone time that running afforded me. Alone time when you are a mother of 3 is a rare luxury.

So here is to 2011! May we all keep our resolutions!