The plague of flies


“To be a leader, don’t get led on or led in the wrong direction” Rakim

“I will send swarms of flies on you, your officials, and your people, and into your houses…” Exodus 8 

Speaking truth to power is an important quality and sign of leadership. We view people who are willing to criticize the status quo or the powers that be as brave, frank, and possibly heroic. Are we as open to honest critics within our institutions, organizations, and groups?   Do we accept constructive criticism or negative feedback ? Do we allow people to speak their truth without permanently shutting the door on them? I would argue that the outspoken are great as ideal heroes but often ostracized as real people.  

During a weekly principals’ meeting, I learned that one of my colleagues, also a new mentor, had made the decision to take a job elsewhere. This person was given an opportunity to address the group.  What the person offered was not a simple farewell.  Though some of the opinions and observations shared were not new to me, they had not been shared in a formal setting with our supervisors.  This person has been openly critical of decisions and actions in the past. However, for the first and last time, this individual  owned the feelings and experiences of having been that voice which led to having not been heard. That broke this person’s resolve and commitment.  It was shocking, saddening, maddening, frustrating and demoralizing.  Though our line of work calls for leadership skills and tendencies, my colleague’s experience became that of being ignored and dismissed.

No one wants to listen or hear that voice in the wilderness.  We want it in theory.  We want it on the grand scale on global issues.  Because this individual chose to be a leader by being vocal about inconsistencies observed,  that experience ultimately ended a sense of belonging.  If one of the toughest people I know gave up, where does that leave me? Do I want to belong to an organization that is not willing to make difficult growth?  How long will I remain silent  and shrug off those things that don’t sit well with me?  Isn’t being a leader about giving voice to effect change? 

 After I received this news I found it very difficult to focus on work.  It was too close to me. I have sought  leadership opportunities outside of work specifically parent-teacher groups and dance organizations.  I know what it’s like to be critical and have that ruin the rest of my experience because I chose to be honest about my concerns. Mission statements, codes of conduct and growth mindset are great concepts that have little meaning if disagreement or controversy lead to dissension.  To make matters worse, speaking out can affect how others perceive you; I have been labeled difficult or disloyal even if my intention was to seek improvement.    

I am generally a passive person.  I don’t like conflict or confrontation.  At work, I usually lead through facilitation or building consensus.  I generally go with the flow.   I don’t go out of my way to seek to stir up controversy or to upset people. I take pride in being a calm, quiet leader.  I do admit that one area of development for me is to be more courageous in my conversations.  However, when I get shut down or even shunned because I did speak to my frustrations, questions or doubts,  then I no longer feel empowered or engaged.  I disconnect.  I dismiss. I turn into stone, a stone sinking still waters where the bitterness of loss runs deep.   I understand my colleague’s decision.  I’ve made it myself.  In the meantime,  I think of that old wisdom saying, en boca cerrada, no entran las moscas.   Shoo, fly, don’t bother me.  

Wayward shepherd



“’And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’. I’m tryin’ real hard to be a shepherd.’”  Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino

As I did exactly a year ago(An Advent first), I began my Advent fast after evening Mass. The morning has been one of silence: the silence of a smartphone used merely as phone and not social media device, the silence involved with a nutritional cleanse, and as hoped annually, the silence of prayer. I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours for the first time in months.   It felt wonderful to be grateful and to be still.  However, soy realista and I own who I am.  This will be a struggle as it was last year(Ruining Advent.)  It’s possible that by tomorrow, my emotions will get the best of me and my thoughts will run ragged.  Como decia Cantinflas, ahi esta el detalle.

My biggest challenge isn’t my compulsion to be online.  It is my propensity for negative emotions and thoughts.

Gossip, sarcasm, and shade throwing may be humorous and entertaining but they also allow me to give voice and free reign to anger, resentment, and meanness. As evidenced by this year’s Kermit meme of the moment(and I do love me some Kermit, My love of Kermit memes), everyone struggles with their dark side.
73291699 I’m not the only one who feels that the f@#*ery is too much at times.  But I’m the only person who can control how I act and think given the situations and people around me.

Recently, within hours of declaring myself unwilling to deal with negative online conversations about the election(Holding the door open,) I became engaged in an online debate about immigration with someone I’ve known since the eighth grade. In the past, we’ve been able to respectfully disagree.  This time, I couldn’t believe the angry tone that was taken. While I pointed out facts, my acquaintance responded with vitriolic statements. When I realized I couldn’t argue with logic and reason, I took the step of silencing the discussion by blocking my account.

I flirted with the idea of sharing screen shots of the conversation or of composing a blog about the situation.  I’m glad I didn’t follow through on those actions. I would have gained nothing other than temporary satisfaction.  While I’m hilarious when I’m petty,  I do more good when I keep those cruel thoughts quiet.

The daily struggle will be one mostly within me.  I will have to be mindful and purposeful.  Every day, I will have the opportunity to be my best self.   Every day will be another day to sustain the peace offered by silence and compassion. May I fast from the noise of anger.

After the battle

So we took on the dragon.  While I don’t know if it’s slain, I know it’s languishing in its respective corner.



Meanwhile, I’m over in ours laid out.  Tired.  Spent.



Because, like the days following a half-marathon or the ressaca do carnaval, the days following a confrontation with an enemy are long.  In that time, te pondras a pensar.  You will ponder many things. I ponder my integrity and my identity.

Confrontation isn’t in my nature.  I’ve gotten better over the last decade about standing up for myself.  But I struggle with not becoming what I am fighting. I don’t want to be cruel, judgmental, resentful, or vindictive. I don’t like wishing the worst for others. While doing so may feel satisfying in the moment, it drains me in the long run.  I would rather heal and help.

So how do I sustain myself? I go back to the familiar and the beloved.  My child.


Family costume 2016: 50s Flashback



With the fabulous and hilarious Luvvie Ajayi



Photobombed at Grace Jones 

Time outdoors.



Flash Mob Tribute to Prince, September 2016 

Family traditions.  My faith.


My running club: Mis antepasados y muertitos queridos 

I turn back to that which feeds my soul and that which reminds me of who I am. I am a mujer constantly evolving.


17 year old sideeye 


Fox in Socks at 44 

Back to School w M!

My daughter is not quite four. Next month, she will be but in the meantime she is the youngest child in her Pre-Kindergarten class at a Catholic school.  She had been eagerly anticipating this transition but got nervous in the days preceding her first day and tearful the night before.  Needless to say, I was worried as I accompanied her to her first assembly on the blacktop for prayer, flag salute, and announcements.  Gradually, she began to look less terrified and  more relaxed.  
By the time we returned to her classroom, she immediately began to play in one of  the learning centers.  I  have left jobs, schools, and relationships and no ending quite felt like it when my little girl looked me in the eyes and said, “Goodbye, mommy.”  It took strength to not burst into tears in front of her.  

After spending an hour at the parent mixer(I talked with a few parents and scored her a free plaid jumper), I headed home(yes I finally did cry on the drive) to comfort myself with some K-horror.  Because when the going gets tough, I will immerse myself in a movie, in this case an eerie Korean ghost story. Then my mom rejoined me and we went back for noon dismissal.  When we arrived, M was back to her old self: upbeat, confident, and light-hearted.  Of course, that first day of school popsicle given out by the staff didn’t hurt. 

M told me she would like to go to school every day.  And so begins the next phase of our exciting adventures together.

What to do or what to believe

For the last several weeks, I have been in exile. Not voluntary, though as time has gone on, I have grown to value the aloneness and the silence. Ever since I got home from Nashville, I have not spoken to Soldier. It’s been strange, to make a huge understatement, because he was someone I used to talk daily during the awful winter(and that had nothing to do with cold weather or rain), someone I professed my love to in the spring, and, for all intents and purposes, despite the two thousand and three hundred plus miles between us, the man in my life for a few months.

After my mind crumbled into shards, I was left to put my life back together. In that time, my circle of friends has proven to be loyal and sincere, putting in hours of phone calls, text messages, and visits as I grappled with losing Soldier and facing my new diagnosis. I know now that my friends are true, that I am never alone, that I am loved and lovable. But losing Soldier, if only temporarily, has caused me great pain. There isn’t a day I do not think of him. There are very few days I do not cry.

He has not shut me out completely. He answers text messages now and then. He has agreed that I can write him letters. For the most part, I have felt like a ghost. I have felt like I stopped existing to him the minute we hung up the phone that July night, when the harvest moon sadly watched.

Friday night, I was high as a kite, still bubbling over with glee after watching Avenue Q,having braved my recent injuries to trudge Frankenstein style into a BART train and into the City, which still fills me with such joy. I was icing my battered limbs when my phone chimed. “Who in the hell would text message me at midnight? That’d be hella funny if it was Soldier.” So many times I had wished he would think of me in the early morning, like he used to do so many months ago. Then I checked the phone and read his message. My stomach dropped several stories. I cried bitterly for about five minutes. I wiped my tears, thanked Mama Mary and Jesus, and went to sleep.

Does my heart, hopeful and strong, know the truth?


Therapy is going to kill me. I know I said I was committed to living but is this living? Not sleeping right, not eating right. A pound and a half gone in a week. Irrational mood swings running in roller coaster peaks and dips. Impulsivity. Negative thoughts. The temptation to surrender to defeat.

Today I told my therapist something I’ve never told another living being. Thirty-one years of not taking care of me, the secret finally spilling out with tears and more tears.

How am I supposed to live?

Dream Recollection 14: The Changing of the Guard

from audio transcription

Monday August 6, 6 something in AM.
I was an AP at a slighly different campus. It looked like an old school shopping center or my old elementary school combined. S.R., former student, was there helping me along with a girl wearing a T-shirt that read “Pacsism” and covered with pacifiers, maybe a Simpsons reference. The other AP was Paradox, whom I knew from a Catholic group I used to belong to, but he looked sickly and wimpy. There was no 3rd AP. Their office was locked.
It was strange, felt like a hotel or a mall. There was a dance on the blacktop. We stepped away for a minute. When we returned, only three kids were dancing.
“Where are the rest?”
“They must be fighting.”
We ran. S. reported there were fights in two areas.
I couldn’t run. I had to use a skateboard. I felt desperate. My throat was sore.

In another part of the dream, it was reported that Paradox wanted to hurt a male friend of mine, not sure who or how. The quote from S.R. was “he’s looking to lose some weight, some 100-something pounds.”
“There’s going to be a hit.”

I feel discombobulated. Freaking out about work and the usual. I hate having enemies.
I’m frustrated. These dreams are not even nightmares but I wake up rattled, torn and confused. I am making progress but I feel lost again.
I deserve to get through this.


I am heartsick.

Don’t worry. It’s not over what you might be thinking.

Today I am gloomy because I am NOT READY for Sunday’s half-marathon.

As GI Joe used to proclaim, “knowing is half the battle.” I can admit that I have neglected my training program for several weeks, mostly because I was in an out-of-state city on Saturdays. My longest run has been 6 miles which I did on my birthday three weeks ago. I considered running 9 miles today but my ex-coach advised against it, given that my last run was in New York nearly 2 weeks ago and only 2 miles. So I ran 2 miles at hilly Lake Chabot this morning and am feeling a growing sense of dread about Sunday.

Failure has never been comfortable for me. I know I often set myself up for failure by overextending myself, overanalyzing myself and others, or overimagining failure/rejection/abandonment. But I don’t enjoy failure in a masochistic sense. I detest and dread it. So did I set myself up to fail in preparing for this half-marathon? I don’t think so. I was undisciplined and now my weak ankles may pay the price on Sunday.

Part of me would like to donate the $65 registration fee to the many charities spo, onsored by the San Francisco marathon. But then I tell myself that failure teaches. So, as nervous as I am, I’m going to show up in my running gear in the chilly Golden Gate Bridge fog at 6am Sunday and if necessary, I’m going to crawl across that finish line, medal or no medal.

Another secret

The waiting is what hurts most. All those seconds of anticipation, anxiety, anguish. My heart, the little bird with feathers, the thorn-crowned bloody mess, the duct-taped little survivor, is beat-beating with the immensity of love, “boundless as the sea.” All that love sent out into the universe, into the large expanse of purple and blue, stretching out to the constellations, past asteroids and meteors, breaking into molecules and neutrons, becoming one with All. Meanwhile, I, bound in terrestrial body with its malfunctioning brain and too-tender heart, wait.

I tell someone the most important secret I have shared in years–and I wait. I write the most important document I have written in years–and I wait. I breathe in and out, my love bursting from my soul–and I wait. I wait and wait and wait. Hasn’t the universe realized that waiting is what pierces my heart?

This past week, I did something I swore I wouldn’t do ever again. I opened up my soul to someone else. I reached in, took out my heart, encased it in velvet, and presented my gift to him, all bright smile and hope. As each day goes by, the smile fades and hope, that quick-blooded little martyr, flaps its wings harder and harder. To no avail? I cannot tell.