ITP symposium -Carmen’s presentation

 

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Being alive enough to love death

A week ago, I attended a memorial service. This was the first one for me in this country. I loved it!

Family members got to speak about their relationship they had with the person who passed away. He was a wonderful man whom I did not have the pleasure to meet. I was there because I care about one of his wonderful daughters. This post is with all my respect for he and his family.

The whole public speaking and sharing stories is a new idea for me, I was fascinated listening how each family member, or friend who has experienced the same person in very different ways. The common thing on the speeches was that this person was a loving father, uncle, grandfather, and friend. All of them spoke about the moments when they felt inspired, loved, understood, or celebrated by him. There I was, learning from him, even though I only meet him at his memorial service.

This is it. It does not matter, how many languages, diplomas, houses, cars, or career accomplishments one can achieve. The only thing that matter is how passionate we are about life and how much we care about those near us.

In my family traditions, people get to the mass in the Catholic Church, the priest talk about the death person and the rest of the people cry all the way until the cemetery. If one is lucky and the priest is a family friend, the speech will be more accurate. If not, it will be whatever the priest is feeling to say this day. I do not like that, I never did. However, I like the ritual of the next nine days when the family prays every night and get to share food and stories about their beloved. I remember, I was a young age when I told my mom that for my funeral I wanted Mariachi music, and a party with food. Of course, my mom always changed the topic.

I really meant it. I am living my life in the way I want ever since I am a child. I enjoy most of my days, and enjoy most of my friends. For sure, I enjoy all my meals with company or without it. I am doing the career I always wanted. I danced, loved, and made love with passion and intensity. I drank coffee or tea with most of my friends and spent hours talking about life. I cried, loved, worked, and played hard. So please, in my funeral or memorial service, in English or Spanish, feel free to laugh, dance, and share stories. Do not let the priest talk about me unless he or she knew me. Feel free to enjoy the day with me. This is a celebration. Whoever attends will have an excuse to leave work or other responsibilities for a noble purpose and, I am going to heaven (oh, yes, after my wonderful life here, I am going to heaven). I lived my life convinced that every day is a brand new day to love, to care, and to share. So please, this day do the same.

Now, this is not a good bye, I have plans to stay around for another 40 years . . . at least. The point here is that every memorial service, funeral or person who die gives us the opportunity to reflect in our own lives. It is like weddings that make us to reflect about romance.

Here is the question for today: Do you love your life enough to love your death?

 

 

 

 

 

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Got your spiritual shower today?

I love to be in silence, with eyes closed and observing my breathing for a while after a wake up. With some discipline, I can practice for one hour. Goenka, an Indian spiritual leader, call it Vipassana Meditation, I call it the all-purpose-spirit-shower. It feels like a deep restoring for my brain and spirit.

I am always amazed how I can transform my experience if I am angry, sick, tired, sleepy, or extremely worry about something. I know that at the end, I will have a new and wonderful perspective.

Of course, it is not easy. During the practice, there are some peak moments where everything seems worse and I would like to run or hide and forget about breathing. If I manage to keep breathing, not move, and have faith, I get to witness how these thoughts just are dissolved. Everything will be fine until the next wave of images, pain, or sorrow that I will experience. I get to feel waves of heat and all the bad choices of food or talks I did the last day.

After many of those spiritual showers, I know that all of these uncomfortable moments will translate in a wonderful sense of peace most of the day. Then, after that I can dedicate few minutes to set my mind I get to choose my brand new thoughts for every situation. At this time, I can send some love to my family and friends in a more powerful way. Then, I am free to smile and enjoy life for the rest of the day.

Well, this is my experience most of the days, but today was something different. I experienced my body like a wonderful and huge pipe system. I could literally feel my heart and most of the organs working. I have the deep realization that whatever I put there will affect the way it functions. I did an experiment and for few moments and thought about love and compassion for others and myself. It was beautiful to “see” how my body was filled with light. I thought about sadness and desperation and I “saw” how the pipes got dark and dirty.

The images were so clear that I have not doubt that everything I eat, think, say or do has an impact in my body at every single moment. I knew that from previous practices, but it is very different to “see” it in action. Aaah! I miss the wonderful pleasure of ignorance.

Oh well, the good thing is that I have my all-purpose-spirit-shower and is free to practice anytime. It is hopeful, don’t you think?

 

 

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Don’t you dare! This body is mine.

Most of my life I traveled un public transportation in Mexico and walked alone in the streets during the day or night. My first trip alone in the public bus was when I was 12 y/o. I needed to do it if I want to be a middle school student. My parents did not have  a car or even the time to go with me everywhere. My father did picked me up during evenings even though this means two extra hours of work for his long days of work. He did that also when my mom wanted to go somewhere during evenings. My mother or father would walk me to the bus in the mornings every time they could. There was a community effort as well, neighbors joined efforts in providing companion to young women. However, there was dark mornings and nights when I needed to do it by myself.

Now, at this point you may ask protection from what? Well, being a young woman traveling alone back then (and probably is still happening), was an opportunity to be sexually harassed. Older women were scared to say anything, honorable men who disagreed, were also afraid to get in trouble because it could and up in a public fight with weapons involved. Pretty much, my body was public domain from age 12 to 25. I felt angry, disempowered and frustrated. It did not matter how I was dressed. Actually the more conservative I was in my clothing the more trouble I was in. One day before my period at age 13, some guy in the bus just had his hand for long time in my underwear not matter how I yelled and screamed in front of everybody.

Many days I arrived to my school or work in tears and full of frustration. I remember one day, at age of 25, as I walked to my office in the morning, a biker just touched my butt as he passed by. Behind him, a police car was coming. I knew the police officers saw that and the guy saw that the police did not bother him. The police officer stopped and asked me if I was ok. In the car were like 5 police officers, all of them men. I was in tears. I asked them to do something. One of them said: “There is no reason” Then he almost apologized and said “You know miss, if we do something every time we see that behavior,  we will not have time for other things, we are glad that you are ok”. Of course now, I was even more furious. Let me tell you that they stopped only because I was the psychologist in the same building and they knew me. I am pretty sure that other wise they would even laugh at the incident as happen before several times. As I shared this with my boss and asked him for support (a male lawyer), he said. “I am glad that nothing happen to you Carmen”. That was it, I knew that official help will not come.

At age of 25, I got the courage to speak for myself. I was not afraid to get hurt or get into a fight. I was dumb tired of being sexually harassed even in work places. I had men who touched me with hands, with their genitals, or whatever they could. Some days I would be wet in my blouse or skirt of unwanted semen. Those things were never spoken at home. I did not want my mom to suffer. This was a big social embarrassing secret in the entire community.

One day, as I was reading in a public bus at noon, the bus was almost empty and one guy in his early twenties sat next to me. He put his jacket on his lap. (Very typical behavior of those who want to hide their intentions and of course the erection). He slowly got his hand into my lap and touched my legs walking to my genitals. I asked the driver to stop immediately. I yelled so hard that everybody was in shock. The driver opened the door and I asked the guy to leave. I was aware the he might be armed, I did not care I was not in the mood to be harassed anymore. Nobody did anything as always. The guy leaved the door, and the bus driver was still in shock. I ordered him to close the door and keep driving. From this day on I became a fighter for myself and other young women. I learned pretty quickly the secret of older women. The secret was the way they see the abuser. They seem to tell them in silence “Don’t you dare, this body is mine”. It is like an unspoken way to deal with it.
That was it, this was the last time some stranger dare to harassed me.

I hope that my nieces, who soon will be in the public transportation by themselves, have the confidence to talk to us. As far as I am concern, this will not be a secret in in my family.

 

 

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The pleasure of being

After the very stressful academic year, I planned a free summer for myself. Everything was perfectly planned. I worked extra hours during the last quarter and saved some money so I can just enjoy friends and family here and in Mexico. No intellectual or academic work for two months starting June 20. Wow! this is not just me. I am a very accomplished woman, at least is what my resume says. My father told me the value of hard working, my grandma used to say ” a descansar al panteon” meaning that we will have plenty of time to rest after death. Therefore, overcoming guilt about not being “productive” is hard.

 

Fortunately, my mother taught me that taking a nap, having “sobremesa” (sharing family time after meals), and journaling or knitting are also a sacred and healing practices.

During my first week of summer, I did visit friends, talk to people, attend graduations. However, I felt sad and inadequate despite my busy and fun schedule. I was not in the mood to blog or enjoy parties. After a meditation, I realized that, resting also means having quiet and private time. It means having the pleasure of just being. Then, I remembered my mom’s teachings.

Problem solved! Today I am just “being” not doing anything. Breathing, taking a bath and eating fresh. So far is working. It looks like that I was missing my own company as silly as may sound. I was missing the celebration of being a spirit having a human experience.

Well, I still have more “being” to do and this means no more blogging for today. Hope you have the gift of your own company. Until the next post. . . do not forget to “be”.

Also please, share your stories by responding here or at comment@morningwithcarmen.com

Carmen.

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Everything will be ok!

Yesterday was my fourth anniversary as a California resident and is a reminder for me about how trusting the inner self when I jump into the unknown is a warranty that everything will be ok.

Back in 2007, for several weeks I did some enchiladas for friends in South Dakota in exchange for donations for my first month in California. They thought I was crazy and told me how expensive a rent can be here.

I did not want to listen because I was determined to live in Palo Alto and get a PhD at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP). I did not know then that life had some intermediate plans for me.

I arranged a job interview with the UC Santa Cruz and had a letter of acceptance for the PhD program at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Finally, with a luggage full of dreams and 900 dollars, I arrived at the San Jose Airport on June 1st. The University paid my airplane ticket, the hotel, and meals for the first two days.
I was terrified since I had to figure out where to sleep the next night and stretch the money until I could get this or other job.

Other belongings were some clothing and my vision board with the ITP logo on it. I also had the prayers of my Mom and my dear friends. Moreover, I have a guardian angel always willing to get me out of trouble and supporting my adventurous spirit.

 

I knew some things about me that gave me courage: I have great determination, I am optimistic, I can spend a day or two without eating, and I can leave in a shelter if needed. I also know, I will not trade my personal values for economic reasons. Those skills are handy when my adventurous spirit pushes me to the edge.

Fortunately, I got the job one moth later. For two years, I hold a full time job and had wonderful experiences with the Mexican community in the Salinas Valley before life determined I was ready to pursue my original intention to be ITP student. I remember

I drove to ITP and park my car outside several times, eat in my car and just look at the logo that is outside the building. I was not confident enough to come inside but I was confident this was the way to manifest my future.

Finally, in 2009, I was able to be a full time student, which means I park my car, eat inside the building and see the ITP logo everyday.

Now, I understand that I needed first to learn the reality of the Mexican community here and have even stronger motivation to became a psychologist in this country. I guess everything happens for a reason.

I’ve leaned that when I trust in a bigger power, everything will be ok, even tough does not seem right at the moment.

Until the next post take care and if you are going trough something, know that EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!

Looking forward to hear your stories at comment@morningswithcarmen.com or in this blog.

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Becoming somebody?

Today is one of the most important days in my life in this country. I am becoming an American citizen!!!!

It is a celebration and I am happy for it.

I worked hard for it for the past three years. Even though I moved to this country for love, was a successful professional in my country, and I did it legally, the immigration office has more than 400 pages file of my persona!

I wonder what they collect, if I only submitted like 150 of them. Who knows, maybe they are faithful readers of this blog and collect my posts :-).

Anyway, I really feel humbled to be part of this country and inspired to contribute for a better society by voting, being an activist and why not, maybe one day run for a federal position.

I also feel happy that I can walk with assurance with the feeling that this is also my home and now nobody can belittle me because of my unofficial status like my ex-husband used to. I feel more free to express myself. I hate to recognize it, but it makes a difference for me and I’ve noticed the way I walk and move my body now.

I appreciate the people in the immigration office who treated me with respect during the application process and showed care , they were mostly women who understood my need to stand for myself.

However, part of me feel sad for the thousands of people that worked harder than me or have way more years here and they are still considered (and treated like) criminals just because they do not have documents. I wish I could share this accomplishment with them.

I also feel sad for the ones that are back in my country or other third countries and have the american dream still unfulfilled. And I feel sorry for the women that are still at mercy of their american partners.

Anyhow, to the eyes of some, I am becoming somebody in this country. To the eyes of those who love me, I am the same Carmen and they are happy for me.  And I guess to the eyes of those who dislike immigrants, they have one more reason to be unhappy and run to do more anti-immigrant laws.

Until the next post, take care. Like we say in America:

God(ess) bless you!

Questions or comments?

I will be glad to read from you here or at

comment@morningswithcarmen.com

Posted in English |

Spontaneous letter to the universe

Dear Universe,

I am filled with love and gratitude for everything you’ve provided for me.
Those little gifts every single day.
Those huge miracles in my life.

I am ready as I move on to manifest, to laugh, to dance, to heal, to love.

Now, it is my time to answer you: “ask and it is given”

I am a human, I am divine,
I am vulnerable, I am powerful

I know I am,
because I am
a . . . blessed woman.

Posted in Favorites |

The uncomfortable comfort zones

During my youth and early adulthood, I did pretty much what I wanted, even though sometimes it was risky or crazy. I found ways to encourage myself and move forward.

While living in Mexico, I did travel alone thorough the country, opened my own business, acted like crazy scientist in universities, appeared in TV or talked in radio, and did public speaking. I even brought shame to my family, according to my parents, by getting my own apartment and committing the crime of premarital sex. Well, the list can go on and on, but my mom may not enjoy finding out that I am also shameless enough to blog my adventures.

The truth is that my parents embraced my adventurous spirit and became my cheerleaders. I am also positive that some clients, students, or people got inspired. However, I noticed I am living in the comfort zone now. It could be due to the language, the new culture or just maybe that I am getting older.

My reality now is that writing a paper, talking to an English speaking client, traveling in public transportation to San Francisco, paying my parking spot, or even talking in front of a camera hidden in my room has became challenging and scary.

Last Thursday while enjoying San Francisco, I saw an image that inspired me. Ashley, the lady in this picture, was sunbathing in the corner of market and post St. She was just relaxed and seemed comfortable in bikini! Thanks Ashley, for the photo and the inspiration.

This weekend, I’ve done things I wanted to do it since I came three years ago when I moved to California. I wore my bikini, not in SF but in the Santa Cruz’s beach (always is too cold for me). Thanks Hilary for the wonderful company and motivation, I even got into the cold water of the ocean. And, thanks Maria Elena’s company, I drove my new bike in a normal street. I also plan to bike all the way from home to work tomorrow for the first time ever. The plan is to keep challenging myself in a playful and self-caring manner.

Speaking of comfort zones, what are yours? Do you have any inspiring stories?

Hope you have some uncomfortably and fun time soon . . . until the next post!

 

Posted in English |

Web blogging as a healing practice

You may need pop corn and 12 minutes of relaxation to enjoy the next video. It is the final assignment for my Transformative Digital literacy class and my first movie in English!

Best,

Carmen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NbIL-tKF0E/watch?v=1NbIL-tKF0E

Posted in English |