Archive | December, 2011

Reflections #6- Youth

22 Dec

Youth. Kids. Being 19 again.

Energy. Naive. Dream without reality. College. Fun. Not settling down.

Someone asked me why I always end up doing musical projects or music related projects with young kids.  And I mean kids. When I had my first band, Oh Well Yeah, I saw so much talent in 13 year old, singer/keyboardist, Nat. After OWY broke up, I had her become the lead singer of our new band, Ekfrasis. She was 13! I was asking her to improv song lyrics and melody. We ended up writing a few lame songs about walking to the Gypsy Den. She was 13! Ever since then, I have done several other projects with Nat including the infamous Flans imitation group known as 3 Left Feet and The She Beats. Now The She Beats has been my favorite musical project to date. We practiced once for the group and we sounded soooo good. When I was trying to start the mariachi school, Nat was the lead singer. Now Nat is 19. Wow.

Earlier this year, I started my own group again which is a mariachi. From the beginning, I had my eyes on getting Clarissa in the group. It worked out and we played a few gigs as a group. The girl is going to be famous. I can feel it (like Selena). My dream had been completed with the help of another 13 year old amazingly talented singer.

I spoke to Ruby about me and “youth.” Our conclusion: we need youth in our lives. They still have the energy, the spirit, the drive to continue or complete dreams that us late 20 or early 30 year old grown ups don’t have anymore. We need them for their energy: they need us for our experience, our talent and guidance. Yes, they also learn from us.

For the past few months, I have been in a song writing slump. I write songs or riffs based on my emotions and feelings. Maybe its because I am in a happy zone right now, but I haven’t been been emotional enough to write a song. There also hasn’t been a band creative enough to inspire me. I didn’t even have song writing on my list of things to do during the Thanksgiving or Christmas break. I was like a kid who got tired of their new toy.

Then youth came back into my life again. I went to Jojo’s house last night because she needed help planning her first trip to New York. We ended up on the guitar and on GarageBand discussing singing styles and guitar strums/technique. I was at her house until almost 2 am. But oh did it spark something inside of me. For the first time since I “released” my CD, I got to see and explain the LCD screen of my songs that I wrote. Jojo also came up with a great song writing activity. She played some chords and then told me, “come up with a song based on the following topic: _____.” I had the biggest writers block and struggled, but her innocence and recent heart break was perfect so she flowed right through her songs.

This 19 year old college sophomore sparked my song writing again. Thank goodness for youth. I haven’t started, but now I look at the guitar with some serious appetite to play. Thank goodness for youth.

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Reflection #5 Money

16 Dec

Money makes the world go ’round. True that. Money keeps us sane. Eh.

How sad is it that I have spent so many years of my life wasting money? How was it possible that I used to make less than $3,000 a year as hostess and that got me through paying my bills and college? Then I got a tiny bit of money and “poof!” all the money started flying through me. All the clothes that I bought and never wore, the ones that sat in my closet for months and years before I finally decided to send to Mexico, the food I bought just because I was lazy to make myself some food, the water bottles I bought because… why?, the expensive gifts I bought for people I thought were my friends, but in reality weren’t, ewwww. Once I started making the big bucks as a professional, I went crazy with all kinds of makeup, pricy shoes, gym memberships, car washes (what?!) and such. Once I was laid off and began collecting almost $2,000 a month of unemployment checks, I still kept at it. Of course I cut back on a few things, but I did 2 stupid stupid things. #1 I kept spending #2 I didn’t save jack shit. When the unemployment checks ended…oh boy. I had a to get a job that forced to really go back to basics. OK, so what did I need and what want? Or so I thought… After spending Thanksgiving break analyzing where my money is going, I realized that I sucked horribly at finances. There had been some smart spending considering that I had thrown out a lot of clothes and shoes which allowed me to figure out that I don’t have a lot of clothes and shoes. But what really killed me was food. Baaad choices again. I wasn’t looking hard enough for coupons or deals. Just shopping a lo pendejo while the economy was in the dumps.

I don’t regret making a life choice that allows me to make a fraction of what I should be making. I’m thankful that this choice that I have made has allowed me to realize and truly appreciate money. I guess it all got to my head. I almost truly lost it for a bit. After growing up poor, all you want is money. Once you have it you go crazy like those people that win the lottery. But now I’m back nicely grounded in the ‘hood. I’ve been poor all my life, what’s the difference now? Besides, everyone is poor right now so who cares if I join everyone else?

Its so true when people say that money comes and goes. I forced the money to go. I forced myself to realize that money isn’t everything. A dollar can go a long way if cultivated and appreciated correctly. Now I WAIT for coupons in the Sunday paper, JC Penney coupons, I shop around, a canceled my gym membership and do group activities, I eat what my mom makes or cook something simple (snacks work too), I buy my own fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, I use a Klean Kanteen for a water bottle, I avoid gift cards as gifts even though it means I have to shop around harder, and I’m looking around for a side job. December and January are hard for me because we had 3.5 weeks off during November and December. The checks for hourly school employees are very slim.

So yes money makes the world go ’round, but it shouldn’t be the sole basis of everyone’s life. Now all I need is some health insurance because right now my doctor is next to El Toro on 1st and Bristol…

Reflections #4: Friendships – again

16 Dec

Bible quote (uh oh)

“As iron sharpens iron; as one person sharpens the other.”
-Proverbs 27:17

If not, then that is not a true friend. Just an acquaintance. They should be counted with your fingers.

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

15 Dec

Taken from: http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/12/11/30-things-to-stop-doing-to-yourself/

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Pilar Diaz reflection

12 Dec

Oh Pilar Diaz. Once again, there’s another reason to love your thoughts: this time in prose not music. I bought a ukulele because I wanted to play some of her songs. It ended up being a very strong basis behind my solo CD.

Here’s a letter she wrote to her fans:

Dear friends:

I was in a dark, deep hole and now, I’m out, finally. That’s the confession. If you’d like to read ALL the details, please keep reading. If not, I won’t be offended if you skip straight down to the new album info.
Seriously folks, you get all the dirt from me all the time. There’s definitely nothing I’m hiding, because honestly, I cannot keep my mouth shut. I owe it to my Chileno upbringing and my mother’s Italian heritage. Both cultures love to spill and eat the beans, at the same time! That said, I have been able to calm the flames this year and keep some things to myself so that we can all strike some balance. Leash the unnecessary. Allow things to simmer and develop. Spending 3 winters (2 in USA, 1 in Chile) in one year (2011) has definitely helped this long refuge. A sabbatical in South America that I had been yearning for a long time came to fruition after years of feeling unsatisfied with myself, my music, and the music industry/biz. I needed reflection.
Even at a competitive corporate job you have an 8 hour work day that allows you 2 coffee breaks and an hour for lunch. As an independent artist/musician and CEO of your own show, you don’t really allow yourself that luxury of breaks or time off. You think that you can’t “afford” it. Man, what a load of bull that is! Ultimately, if you go without breaks, no time off and no vacations, even with your own business, guess what happens? YOU BURN OUT! There’s no time for reflection let alone inspiration. You become a grumpy old woman that wants to blame everyone else for her problems, feel misunderstood, get confused, push away everyone that loves you, get mad, neurotic, suicidal, obsessive, alone and f-up. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what happened to me. I had to hit a depressive rock bottom about a year ago (after about 5 years of personal suffering going nowhere and 20 years of suffering for my family’s traumas and mistakes which became my own) to finally see that I needed to evolve and break free from the chains of perfection and my past. Begin taking real pleasure in life. Because what we create out of pleasure is what we will remember most when we think of our lives on our death bed. No kidding, my abuelita right now is preparing to go to the other side very soon and the only time she smiles is when she speaks about the positive adventures she experienced in her life – and when I’m on my death bed, I want to be smiling THE WHOLE TIME. So, I have begun to smile at everything, even the crap. I don’t deny there is crap to experience and clean up – hey, it’s the only way to grow-up. But now, it’s not a trauma or imperfection that I cling to, it’s an experience to feel human, vulnerable, and to help make us stronger and more beautiful. For example, I recently had a childhood friend of mine pass away from cancer. I didn’t get a chance to hang out with her one last time because we both thought she’d be fine by the time I’d be back in the States from my trip. Nope. She died, and it really woke me up to the cliché idea of “life’s too short.” It’s true and not cliché. While on my sabbatical I experienced taking care of my elderly grandmother; changing diapers and cleaning her butt like a baby, holding her up to go to the bathroom, feeding her food, and taking all of her unintentional remarks and anger (like a rebellious teenager in transition) so that she could get better. So that she could have someone to take care of her for once. It was tough. I’m a free single woman with absolutely no attachments getting ready to start production on my new solo album and suddenly I am being called to do something about my grandmother’s health. It was the hardest thing to do at first but then, like everything, you get used to it and adapt. It was the right thing to do, and lucky for both of us, it helped our family evolve and confront many problems we preferred to sweep under the rug. And as for me… I figured out what I’m actually here on this planet to provide – I am a medium to help others express themselves and be free. That’s my music, compositions, performances, and singing voice. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this was my path all along in my life, but I never knew exactly how to express it, how to understand it, and how to make sense of it – especially when your family is discontent with one not going to college for a “secure” career. I honestly hope that this path is filled with prosperity and love that will always give me shelter.
So… how does one go from a very limited belief of what one can do in life, to a 360 degree experience of the universe? Simple… confess, tell the truth to yourself and everyone around you, express exactly how you feel with a respect for others, look at people in the eye, no white lies, feel pain, express your heart not your mind, have a sense of pride because you respect your truth, have respect and integrity for your true purpose in life, and walk without mental borders. I promise that with that alone, just that first positive step, we will be free and begin to acquire the tools to what we need out of life. We will begin to truly live. (Oh, and daily 20 minute meditations help A LOT too! A natural tranquilizer for us anxious girls).
So I ask you for 2012 and beyond, that we stop being brats, chickens and weather reporters, and instead – be brave, tell the truth, ask questions, and find out what we are really in this universe to work for, contribute, express, and experience.  The present and future are waiting! Gratefully!
I am confessing my experiences today because I know that there is someone out there that will benefit from me speaking out.
Thank you for reading! Con mucho amor. xoxo, Pilar
P.S. If you’re thinking to yourself after reading this, that you’re life is great and you have nothing to complain about – I beg you to please go out into the world and give whatever it is you’ve got to help others in need. Be it your talents, skills, funds, personality, overstock, etc. If you’re all good, then please step outside and give that to others. I don’t know if you can tell, but the universe is in dire need of positive action. Gracias.

Top regrets from those who are dying

12 Dec

Nicely written.

From http://exposingthetruth.info/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying/

 

Top Five Regrets of The Dying

December 1, 2011

By Bronnie Ware on November 30, 2011

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.