Saturday, July 31, 2010


Coming up on a month since I've heard from Keikai, his last message expressing dismay at my relationship status on facebook, I have begun to contemplate what I am going to tell my baby girl about why her papa left us. I have thought that maybe she won't find it so abnormal given that the only male presence she is growing up with is her sweet uncle, it's possible that the nuclear family image won't be her concept of normal. While that may turn out to be true (only time will tell), as a person who's parents got divorced at the tender age of six, I know that no matter what logic is offered to explain certain events, you can't help but feel it is about you. So I have started thinking about what I will offer her when she inevitably asks about her daddy. "He's slefish," "He hates Mexico," "He has a lot of issues," have all scooted across my mind in addition to explanations including a few more expletives that I won't bother sharing. It was only at 5 am this morning that, as I stared into my baby's stunning big blue eyes, I thought of exactly what I will say:
"Your daddy has a good heart but a terrible mind."


Early every morning I hear jingling of keys as my door softly opens, it is Bronte coming to get Tallulah to allow me a couple of hours of undisturbed rest. Midday I hear the clanking of dishes as she helps me clean up the mess I've made experimenting with recipes. I hear her argue with and scream at Tyler many times throughout each day and if I'm lucky, I'll hear her sing.

Equal parts beautiful and self-conscious, Bronte is a sweet, sensitive, strange soul who I have exponentially come to love and appreciate in the last few months. As someone who looks and acts older than she is, I feel my family sometimes forgets that she is still young and in need of guidance and affection. Intelligent beyond her 13 years, she specializes in stretching the truth to the point of translucence, a trait that can drive one to scream, but the underlying message is her outstanding need for attention. 

Because of my constant need of assistance due to the fact that my baby's daddy is no where to be found and Bronte's need for some extra love since her papa left several months ago, we have created a union, able to fill the missing spaces in each other's lives. We laugh, work, and play as I keep her calm and balanced and she reminds me not to take myself so seriously. 

For years I resisted her presence, telling everyone who would listen how absolutely intolerable her yelling, lying, and vainness were. I always perceived our relationship as one that was necessary but not pleasant. However, since becoming a mom, I am able to see her through new eyes. I can see how much she looks up to me and remember what it was like to be a her age. Granted I wasn't half as beautiful or buxom as her, but I also didn't encounter many of her predicaments either. 

In our close quarters with no escape or distraction for a number of miles, we all wear on each other's nerves, something that Bronte often bears the brunt of. She screams, slams doors, and spends hours of the day doing and re-doing her hair, but she also offers great talents and a helping hand when I need it most. It pains me and gives me great joy to say that for the first time in my life I feel a sisterly bond toward this girl, and I know, as we both grow, it will only continue to blossom.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

La Caja

It isn't great big pleasures that count the most, it's making a great deal out of the little ones.
-Jean Webster

At my 7th birthday party my dad let me watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a mistake he wouldn't soon live down due to my developed fear of vampires. For years I slept with my closet open to enable me to see any creatures of the night that may emerge from it. I slept on my back with the sheets pulled up over my neck, one eye open to ensure my safety from the fanged creatures. When I was 11, another error, my mom allowed me to watch I Know What You Did Last Summer, more sleepless nights waiting for a man with rubber boots and a hook for a hand to take my life. Beside these, I generated many reasons to worry throughout my adolescence including flying, dying, and an irrational fear of Australia. But no fright, no unease, no terror compares to the neurosis that has been instilled in me since the commencement of my  journey of motherhood.

Today, July 27th, 2010, is my 2 year anniversary with Keikai. I received no call, email, chocolates, flowers, or singing telegrams, but I know he is thinking of me, wherever he is. I am thinking on the events of the past two years, where I was, and how I never in a million years could have imagined where I am at this moment. Now that I'm here, I couldn't begin to fathom my life without my precious baby girl. That's where the neurosis comes in. I have, in my mind, concocted every possible tragic scenario and I trust no one, least of all myself. I wake up panicked several times a night to make sure the munchkin is breathing. I have become a clean freak, obsessed with setting a good example for my little one, and I have chastised every member of my family...10 times.

Yesterday, my mom's 51st birthday (and my dad's 53rd) all that could go wrong went wrong, as it typically does in our family. One of the many mishaps was the fact that Tyler and Nana went into town for paint and didn't return for 5 hours. This sent my mom in to a fit of hysterics until the two of them nonchalantly walked through the back door holding several bags and a bouquet of lillies. My brother immediately isolated himself to the laundry room where he, the boy who has the attention span of a gnat, spent 4 hours fashioning a jewelry box for my mom. We all anxiously waited for him to unveil the fabulous creation that took him 240 minutes to build and at 9 o'clock pm, he let us have it. This darling boy had drilled and hammered and sawed a priceless piece with mismatched hinges, plywood, and an ornate handle. The top of the box sits a half an inch off of the the rectangular fixture providing a gap that my mom declared perfect for her jewelry to breathe through.

Between our laughter, sentimental tears, and words of praise I saw a glimmer of light in everyone's eyes and I started to see that this is what it's all about. If you do things with love, if you put your whole self into something, the missteps and accidental blunders don't matter. Instead of contemplating all of the ways that harm can come to Tallulah and spending my life being her protective bubble, I can choose to emanate love from every pore, raising her the best way I know how and learning as I go. In the presence of fear, everything else, love in particular, is diminished, but in the presence of true, unabashed love you can't help but generate a sense of trust that everything, no matter how off-center, is exactly as it is meant to be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thoughts on Behavior

In any relationship, when there is any desire or exploitation involved, this relationship is known as living at someone. Living with people is when you join forces with people to inspire other people toward happiness. Living  for people is when you are willing to sacrifice your material, mental, and energetic spiritual strength to raise and elevate another man. These are the three types of relationships. The third type which makes you live for other people makes you immortal, the second type of relationship makes you happy, and the first kind of relationship makes you miserable. And this pattern of behavior decides your destiny.
-Yogi Bhajan The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan: The Power of the Spoken Word
In each day, there are a series of choices one makes. When to get out of bed, what to do, and the most important, how to behave. As far as I am concerned, the way that you interact with the people you love is the most critical function of our entire lives. What is the point of living if you base your decisions on avoidance, anger, jealousy or other low-grade emotions which scale down our naturally positive vibrational qualities. What a glorious world this would be if people realized that actions do not have to be based out of habit or instinct but rather stemming from the realm of human consciousness. Placing responsibility of negative words or actions on expressing oneself freely is simply a copout. Every single person of sound body and mind is wholly responsible for the words that exit their mouth and the actions they complete. Period. End of story.

Changing your mind is changing your relationship. Being authentic and peaceful with your relatives is only a thought away. You can learn to change your thoughts by intending to create authentic and peaceful feelings within yourself. No one is capable of making you upset without your consent, and you've given your consent too frequently in the past. When you begin practicing the intention to be authentic and peaceful, you withdraw your consent to be in the lower energy. You connect to peace itself, and decide to bring peace to your relatives, thereby immedeatly gaining the power to change the energy of family gatherings.
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer The Power of Intention


Home is wherever I'm with you.
-Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

As Chloe's 2 month visit to Mexico comes to an end, I have begun to reflect on her time here. For the first time since we were born we lived in the same room for an extended period of time without fighting extensively. Sure we had some arguments and even a couple screaming matches but nothing compared to the blowouts of our past. Her stay here has been a sort of renaissance for all of our relationships, especially us kids. 
After the initial rough patch that ensued when we brought Tallulah home, Tyler, Bronte, Chloe and I have become much closer than we have been...ever. Chloe and I only lived with the little ones half the time when they were growing up and after age 18 we didn't live with them at all. Having all four of us in the same location was a rarity reserved for birthdays and holidays or the scarce Sunday. Even in the event of such occurrences, we would gather only for a few short hours, able to leave when one of us got under the other's skin. Chloe's trip marks the longest period of time that we have all inhabited the same house.

Bronte, who previously sat self-consciously, afraid to express herself in front of her older sisters, has opened up beautifully. Even given her 13 year old "teenagerness" I have found a brilliant and hilarious companion that I have a developed a unexpected closeness with. Chloe has also become more gracious with Bronte, whom she and I had always regarded as somewhat of a nuisance. We have come to appreciate her pleasantly quirky presence and relate to her early teen angst .

Tyler, after a two week revolt against the new baby of the house, turned 10 and returned to his usual sweet self. While he keeps to himself or is out playing with his friends most of the time, the small spurts he spends with us is always entertaining and I feel like he has also let his guard down, not an easy task when you have 3 older sisters.


A year ago, about a month before my mom and siblings were due to depart from the place I was born and raised, I had somewhat of a breakdown. I came home from work one night and was overcome with sorrow. I felt, all of a sudden, like everything had vanished and I could no longer breathe. I collapsed into the heaviest crying fit I had, in my twenty year old existence, ever experienced. I felt more than I knew that I simply wasn't ready to lose my ability to see my gifted and wonderful siblings grow up. Two weeks later I decided to take the plunge and move with them because nothing, not school, a boyfriend, or a job was more important than being there to witness their growth and maybe even be a part of it.

All four of us have discovered greatness in each other this summer. Through the tears, screaming, uncomfortable silences and heartfelt apologies, we have gained a certain ease in our dealings with one another. We have grown closer and more peaceful. Don't get me wrong, our howls can still be heard on the jardin, and probably throughout Pozos, but our love and respect for one another overrides any temporary spat or sneer. Though thinking about having another baby after just having given birth is analogous to considering a shot of tequila while hungover, I would do it just to give Tallulah someone to love as immensely as I love my sisters and brother.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Men

Since the Davis left late one February evening and Keikai bid us adieu in a van full of Mexican men, life, needless to say, has been drastically different. Despite their efforts to communicate and send their affection through sporadic phone calls and emails, their lack of physical presence has forced us to sculpt new lives with out them, and now, with both of them wanting to return, we are no longer sure how they will fit into our peaceful, male-free existences. So, we honestly told them that we weren't sure we were ready for them to return and that if they didn't change some of their behaviors, we weren't willing to have them return at all. 

Since these conversations occurred, or continue to occur, mom and I frequently joke about "The Power of the Ultimatum." Though the word Ultimatum may have some negative connotations attached to it, understand it is not our intention to provoke hoop jumping, it is our goal to open their eyes to how wonderful things can be if they decide to let go of their years of emotional baggage and start anew, living a life of gratitude rather than blaming all of their shortcomings on us women. I have to say the results have been astounding.

Though Keikai and I are not currently together, due to my overwhelming need to focus on myself for the first time ever, he has made some impressive strides. For the first time in his life he has rented his own apartment. He has procured a full-time job that he gets up at 5 am everyday to get to and is on the brink of a promotion. He set up his first bank account. He is attending AA, an absolute necessity if he ever wishes to be a part of my world again, and he is actually enjoying it. He is reading and exercising everyday, things that getting him to do with me were like pulling teeth. And the largest step of all, he is learning, gradually, that our relationship ( and the world) doesn't revolve around him.

Davis has, with my moms help, discovered Yoga and The Law of Attraction. The man who dodged communication and listened to music to block out his family and the world for 14 years of their relationship, calls here consistently and is becoming conscious to his language and actions. He claims that his anger has passed and he is ready to spend the rest of his life serving mom and the kids. He is, for the first time since my mom met him, taking responsibility for his actions. He has sustained many a "come to jesus" with mom and I am impressed with how he has handled himself in the face of her blunt but constructive criticisms. My anger toward Davis has passed as well because for the first time in a long time, I genuinely feel that he is making mom happy.

Some people feel that we have been too hard on them, that we are not acting out of compassion, in fact, we are acting out of nothing but. If we had continued to take care of these men, they would have remained broken. They each needed their own brand of a wake-up call to see that mom and I are changing our lives for the better and if they expect us to take them back into the family they left dismantled, they need to keep up with the constant journey of self-awareness we have set fourth on.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding the Good

I recall hearing the following conversation after the events of 9/11 in New York City. A grandfather was talking to his grandson, telling him, "I have two wolves barking inside of me. The first wolf is filled with anger, hatred, bitterness, and mostly revenge. The second wolf inside of me is filled with love, kindness, compassion, and mostly forgiveness." "Which wolf do you think will win?" the young boy inquired. The grandfather responded, "Whichever one I feed." 
There are always two ways to look at the conditions of our world. We can see hate, prejudice, mistreatment, starvation, poverty, and crime and conclude that this is a horrible world. We can feed this barking wolf and see more and more of what we despise. But this will only fill us with the same things that we find so malignant. Or we can look at the world from a position of self-love and self-respect, and see the improvements that have been made in race relations in our lifetime; the fall of so many dictatorships, lower crime rates, the dismantling of the atrocious apartheid systems, the elevated consciousness of the environmental movement, and the desire on the part of so many to rid the world of nuclear weapons and instruments of mass destruction. We can remind ourselves that for every act of evil in the world, there are a million acts of kindness, and we can feed the second wolf that barks from a position of hope for humanity.
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer The Power of Intention
Since we moved to Mineral de Pozos 11 months ago, my family has come up against some strange and even cruel occurrences. We have discovered the disturbing class and race dichotomy between American and European residents and native Mexicans. Because of our decision to steer away from the gossipy constituents of town, we have been subject of private and public slander. We have also experienced racism directed toward our multicultural group from many in town, some efforts going so far as to threaten our safety here. There have been a couple attempts at vandalism and several accounts of profiling aimed at my two youngest siblings. Also, days after moving here, a wanted criminal found his way into our home to escape police fire. And that is just the violence intended for our family. There have also been tragic events of kidnapping and unwarranted police violence toward youth in surrounding areas. Through all of these happenings, it is easy to lose faith in humanity, mark people as untrustworthy and avoid everyone. But in seeing the grace in which my family has dealt with the opposition, I have a renewed confidence in the goodness of all life.

My mom, an ever trusting being, has been pounded with deceit and disrespect time and time again. I have always maintained that she not be so vulnerable to the brutish nature of people, but in watching her in the last few months, I am no longer so sure. With every clobbering she sustains, she grows stronger, not through anger or efforts of revenge, but through her ability to remain kind and respectful to the people who have wronged her. I know her strength stems from her interminable belief that through her actions she can, in at least a small way, change the reality of others. 
Though the childrens' blood runs a bit hot in these situations, it is completely understandable of people constantly being wrongly accused by women 60 years their elder. But even they remain true, defending friends, themselves, and our family with conviction and honesty. 

My mom always says "Wherever you go, there you are," meaning whatever you are trying to escape will follow you, no matter what geographic location. My mom came to Mexico to get away from the negative conversation inherent in so much of American life, but whether it be our hair dresser or our next door neighbors she continues to be confronted by the same cynics. I came to Mexico, spurred by the incredibly prejudice and unjustified arrest of Keikai, to avoid  the extreme racism and corrupt system, only to be constantly confronted by bigotry toward every member of my family. I believe the lesson here is that evil exists anywhere you go, but so does benevolence, and to find the good in everything is one of the greatest feats, and a necessary one in pursuing a enlightened and happy existence.