Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Believe

It's been 14 days since my last post.  If I remember correctly, my last post was ranting and raving, describing all the changes going on.  Well, the last 14 days have been crazyweirdbeautifulhorribleamazingdrasticoverwhelmingridiculousexhausting.  I'm physically moving in to my new place.  My roomate and I decided we SHOULD have taken before and after pics, since there was no carpet and it was FULL OF STUFF when I first looked at it.  I've watched too much HGTV, and saw the potential in the space.  Thankfully?  I hope so.  I hope this works out well.  I'm on the lease for the next 6 months.  The goal is to be there starting the 1st.  And two weeks later I'll come back and get my cat.  :-( I'm gonna miss her, it will be hard to not have her with me, but I really want to get everything settled before I bring her into it. ( I still need my kitty relocation talk with Lee and Alle )
There is some anxiety about the new budget, but I'm trying to have faith that everything will work out, and I will have everything I need.
The "Meatless Monday" thing continues.  :-)  I have lost somewhere between 9 and 12 lbs since January 6th (the scale at my doctor's office is not digital, and thus off by a few pounds; I use a digital scale at home).  The weight loss is awesome; the way my body feels is more awesome.  The way I'm able to control my cravings for food and meat and gross stuff that I used to eat all the time.  It's pretty empowering.
I feel different.  I'm noticing how much people need validation from others in order to feel successful, and it makes me sick.  I'm noticing how much worth people place on material things and worldly success and it makes me laugh.  Whatever happened to dedicating one's life to a good cause, to helping sick people, or teaching children?  Why is it now, "Let's teach you how to not need anyone else but yourself?"
I think that we need other people.  We were created to live in community.  I believe in placing people above possessions, and time over treasures.  Making connections is the most important thing in my eyes, but connections over meaningful things, things of the soul and person, not material things.  
I believe that success is defined by lots of things, not just the car you drive or the amount of money you make for the work you do or do not do.  I believe that people from "mediocre" surroundings and beginnings can rise to make the most of themselves and their resources.  I believe that everybody does the best with what they have; I believe that some people have more available to them than others.  I don't believe that everyone is afforded the same opportunities.  I believe that there is a journey laid out for each person.  I don't like the word mediocre; it's just a word man created to decide what to judge as better or of higher quality.  I don't like the world that man is continuing to create; it's judgemental and harsh and places way too much value on comparing ourselves to those surrounding us.  I know I have to live in the world, but I can choose to live by the standards I believe are the true standards, and refuse to CONFORM to those telling me that I am CONFORMING. 
You're right, people, there is more to life.  But it is definitely NOT what you're trying to tell me it is (cars, money, time to loaf and do nothing).  I already know what it is.  I choose to be confident in what MY JOURNEY is turning out to be.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Soooo the writer in me is currently screaming for release, so here I go.  I worked today, ran around with the kids for 6 hours, yay fun.  Then I embarked on what I will now remember as the most meaningful hour of my life, and I will always have the holidays to thank for it.
Okay, so Mexicans (in Mexico) celebrate this holiday in January, I've heard both the 6th and 7th, called Los Reyes Magos.  Basically, it's a holiday during which we remember the Three Wise Men from the biblical/Bethlehem/Baby Jesus story.  I know it's weird, and it's not a holiday recognized by the English-speaking world, haha, but anyway, like most Mexican holidays, a certain food is associated with it.  This particular food is called a Rosca.  It's hard to explain, but it's a bakery product; I described it earlier as a giant wreath made out of bread, possible with fruit filling.  It's a festive family food, eaten for the Reyes Magos day in January. 
My Mexican (-American) friends asked me to hunt down one of these "pastries".  I couldn't fine one yesterday, which brings me back to the most meaningful hour of my life (which happened today).  After I got off work at 4:30, I started driving around Salina, heading towards the two Mexican stores I knew of.  I stopped into both, one a general food store/butcher, one a tortilleria, which means tortilla shop, and asked the people behind the counters if they knew of a panaderia, bakery, where I could find the aforementioned rosca.  I ended up finding the bakery, but the last rosca got bought right in front of me!!! Sigh.  I decided to keep driving down Cloud street, cuz I remembered that there was another little Mexican shop, thought I'd just STOP IN, see if they HAPPENED TO HAVE any bakery items.  I found the shop, and they didn't have bakery items, but this is where it turned into the most important hour of my life, so pay attention.
I spent about 15 minutes talking to the store owner's daughter.  She's a young girl, and it was fun to talk about our favorite Mexican snacks, etc (I bought a bag of Takis -- Mexican hot cheetos! )).  Right as I was headed out the door, I mean, my hand was on the door, holding the door open, I asked her, "Are you still in high school?"  She said, "Oh yeah, I'm a junior at South High."  I said, "Oh cool, I work with some kids there," and proceeded to encourage her to not give up on her education and to consider persuing a higher education in the area.  She asked "Did you go to college?" I said, "Yeah, I graduated from Bethany a little while ago." Our conversation ended with me encouraging her that to be a bilingual, Hispanic-American young female with a college degree out here is absolutely amazing and the opportunities are endless.  She thanked me for my advice, I walked out the door, got in my car, and commenced my drive home to Ellworth. 
About 15 miles into the drive, I had a lightbulb moment, kinda comic.  Here follows the conversation I had with myself: "Haha, I would make a really good admissions rep for the colleges out here, I talk them up so much.  Haha, yeah, and I could help with the families that don't understand English! That'd be cool. Oh wait, I kinda was already doing that at Bethany when I was an Ambassador (giving tours to prospective students and their families).  Wow, that's cool.  Well, yeah, I already have a job, so I know I'm not going to go work for a college.  Wow, what if I could speak to Hispanic-American female teenagers and be like an advocate for secondary education, and inspire them to go for it and stuff?  Whoah!  Why haven't I thought of this before?  We have SO MANY young girls in Salina that need the encouragement! Dude....I could start a non-profit.  Whoah."
Thus, another piece of my lifelong mission, falling into place right before me, on my quiet drive down Old Highway 40 between Salina and Ellsworth, Kansas.
I called my best friend Jodi, a recent Bethany graduate who just finished student teaching this last semester, and blabbed to her about my idea.  As I talked, more ideas came: not only could I make one of my focuses (foci?) empowering young Hispanic-American women, but what about the rest of the Hispanic-American teenage population in Kansas?  I'll bet there are statistics out there that show that more Hispanic-American teenagers go to college on the east and west coasts than they do in the Midwest.  Why?  There are so many more resources on the coasts for the families!  The Spanish is more prevalent, there are more Hispanic-American people in general, and there are more young Hispanic-American professionals.  There are more Hispanic-American professionals out on the coasts working with admissions departments of colleges and universities, and thus, these colleges and universities have more ways of getting in touch with the families, making the parents a part of the admission process, explaining WHAT THE HECK COLLEGE IS IN THE FIRST PLACE, etc etc etc!! Here in the Midwest, we simply don't have the numbers.  So, the families who move their first (or second) generation kids to the Midwest to "improve their chances at a better education" are still not getting the help they need!  What if I could be a part of something that reached out to these families here?  The coasts shouldn't be the only ones sending Hispanic-Americans successfully through college!  Parents in the midwest should not feel totally lost all the time!!  I know that I am already seeing the effects of the cultural differences and the lack of understanding in some of the cases on my load in my new job.  Parents are afraid, question the unknown, question motives, don't want schools involved in their lives, just take the kids to school, pick them up, don't ask questions, barely get their kids into sports (although they are highly sought , and recruited; I think that when people out here see brown, they see "athletic" LOL), so what makes us think the parents understand what the FAFSA is, or what a degree is, or what an admissions rep is???? AAAGGGHHHH.
I want to change the statistics.  I want to break the cyle.  I want to start a non-profit organization where I can make a positive impact on all these areas.  And especially, the young Hispanic-American girls weigh SO heavily upon my heart.  A lot of these first-generation girls, like me, grow up seeing Dad earn the dough for the family, usually doing something industrial.  They see Mom stay home with the kids and cook, or, be a cleaning lady at a hotel or work in the fields (or out here in Kansas: meatpacking).  They see Nana (grandma) at home taking care of the kids, making the tortillas, cleaning.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  This is my childhood, people.  This is what I grew up in.  I didn't know that women could be professionals.  I didn't know about college, or any of this, and so I know that there are young girls out there RIGHT NOW in the EXACT SAME POSITION I was.  I was fortunate and inspired enough to go find more, and still keep my roots, and make both my parents proud.  After all, this is the DREAM.  This is why our parents moved here in the first place.  For us to succeed.  Do you see what I'm saying????  This is important people!  I feel such an urgency!! So, I know that part of my job is TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND!! So that's what I want to do. I want to be or find liasons for schools, families, and colleges or universities.  I want to find people just like me who see the urgency too.  I want to train people to help me speak to young girls and boys about their roots, their childhoods, the things that mold them, the things that inspire them, and their FUTURES.  I want to speak to large groups of parents and grandparents, in their own language, tell them about all the opportunities available to them and their children.  I'm so blessed that this dawning/idea/epiphany/revelation happened to me at age 24.  This means I HAVE THE REST OF MY LIFE to work on this project.  How awesome is this?  Wow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Coffee Creamer

I looked at two duplexes today; well the second one may have been a "triplex" (2-story house converted into 3 units).  The first one wasn't bad, but it seemed to me and my sidekick Nikki that the foundation of the house was off.  Plus the basement is shared, and it's kinda dirty and dingy.  And I guess tenants are responsible for the yard, cuz that, too, needed some help.  Then again it's winter in Kansas, and everything is dead. 
The second place, we looked at 2 of the 3 units; as Nikki put it, "They were just nasty". Um, the one with the washer and dryer had one of those old school little white half-stoves.  And stickers all over cupboards, glitter glue all over may only be 300/month for either one of these two, but the other had a gas leak, and it just doesn't seem like the landlord does much to take care of the property.  Sigh.  Just because I don't have a 1,000 budget doesn't mean I want to live in a piece of crap.
I am really needing something better to pop up.
On the car side, I got insurance today, through Progressive.  If you have ever considered Progressive, but are skeptical, let me tell you that they are pretty awesome.  Call 1-800-PROGRESSIVE.  I don't think you'll regret it.
So, I am feeling half and half.  Accomplished for getting the car and the insurance on my own; bummed about trying to find a decent place in Salina that isn't crap.  Sigh.  So is life, I suppose.