Category Archives: positive thinking
Carlos recently started college classes in Dental Assisting. We really aren’t quite sure what he’ll do with that certificate when/if he passes, since dental assistants make half of what he makes at his labor job.
College is something Carlos has wanted to do since before he even came to the United States. He actually wanted to be a doctor in El Salvador, but he couldn’t afford to go to university – He immigrated here instead. Speaking almost no English, he washed windows, worked at McDonald’s, put flyers on cars. He left his dreams of being a doctor far behind.
Fourteen years later the opportunity came up for him to take this Dental Assisting course. Everything fell into place – he received a grant that covered the entire cost, the classes are 5 minutes down the street from our house, and the class is in the evenings so it doesn’t interfere with his work day. We decided, ¿Por qué no? … Why not?
The only thing Carlos was uncertain about was his English. He questioned whether it was yet good enough to make it through a college class. I told him he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I told him I would study with him for as long as it took until he understood everything. In the end, even if he completely failed, at least he would have tried instead of spent the rest of his life wondering what could have been.
Well, Carlos has made it through 2 weeks of classes now. On his first test? He received an 83% B.
Evenings are a little crazy here. The other night I was simultaneously helping both our boys with their homework while helping Carlos study words even I have trouble pronouncing in English, (Circumvallate lingual papillae, anyone?)
Sometimes I just pronounce the words the way a Spanish speaker would when I’m dictating and he’s writing so I don’t have to spell them. Other times, it just so happens that a knowledge of Spanish helps one memorize the meaning of words that are rooted in Latin.
nonmaleficence – do no harm
The “no mal” is right there. “Not bad” makes it easier to remember that it means “do no harm” – (with “harm” obviously being “bad”.)
veracity – truthfulness
In Spanish, “truth” is “veracidad” – so again, being a non-native English speaker is actually helpful with some of this vocabulary.
Sometimes being a Spanish speaker isn’t helpful at all though.
We laughed at this one for a few minutes before we could get back on track. Apparently a “mamelon” is only the “edge of an incisor tooth when it first erupts through the gum.” (Boring in comparison to what we were thinking about!)
Anyway, even though we aren’t sure where this class might take him, I think it’s a good thing. Not only is Carlos building confidence, but he’s setting an example for the boys. He always tells them, “Go to college so you don’t have to work like a burro.” Now he is showing them what can be done when you take a chance and put your heart into it.
How many more advantages our kids have compared to what Carlos came from – and yet there he is, with a backpack full of books at 33 years old and still speaking English with an accent so thick I sometimes have to help him out at drive thru windows.
Maybe he won’t ever be Dr. López, but I’d say nothing is impossible.
BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(Originally published on CafeMagazine.com on June 21, 2010 as part of their World Cup coverage.)
In a world divided by borders and intolerance, there are rare moments to be savored which bring people together, and inspire an outpouring of love and unity. Often times it’s a natural disaster like an earthquake, such as the one that shook Haiti earlier this year. Other times we’re brought together by a political event, the death of someone loved around the world, or by a religious celebration – but sometimes we are unified by an amazing triumph, such as Mexico’s historic 2-0 win over France.
When East Germany erected a wall, then-President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Rathaus Schöneberg in 1963 and, declaring his support for a free and united Germany, said “Ich bin ein Berliner” – or in English: “I am a Berliner.” In the shadow of the 9/11 attacks against the United States in 2001, as the entire world stood in disbelief and grief, many countries declared in solidarity, “On this day, we are all Americans.”
And on June 17, 2010, as “El Chicharito” Hernández scored the first goal and led “El Tri” to victory, it felt as if, for a brief moment as we shared in their pride and glory, that on this day, we were all Mexicans. In the words of the English singer Morrissey, “I wish I was born Mexican, but it’s too late for that now.”
From Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, to El Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City, fans cried tears of joy and sang “Cielito Lindo.” Mexican-Americans, Latinos of all nationalities, (and believe it or not, a few gringos too), couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment, and maybe – just maybe – we shed a tear or two as well as we watched the triumphant band of brothers, their jerseys stuck to their bodies with sweat, embrace each other as the song, “One Day” by Matisyahu echoed over the pitch.
“…All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play
-One Day by Matisyahu
[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. For English, please scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, please leave your link in comments!]
Por la primera vez en su historia, el equipo nacional de El Salvador, La Selecta, clasificó a la fase de cuartos de final en el Mundial de Fútbol de Playa.
La parte de la historia que más me inspiro, es que todos los muchachos en el equipo son humildes pescadores. Su primer entrenador del equipo, Israel Cruz, tuvo fe en ellos y les ayudo a pedir sus pasaportes para que pueden viajar a los partidos. También él se asuguro que los fútbolistas llevaran una dieta alimenticia balanciada porque unos de los fútbolistas tuvieron años de no comer ni una manzana. Estaban acostombrados en comer nada más que tortillas, pescado y frijoles.
Cuándo están en las islas dónde viven, los jugadores andan descalzos – y por eso, están bien preparados por jugar fútbol sin zapatos.
Hasta el momento, el equipo ha ganado casi 35 mil euros en premios. Si ganan el Mundial, Israel Cruz dijo que sus deseos son muy simples. “Ellos todo lo que piden es una lancha y un motor para pescar”.
Les deseo buena suerte, en el partido final, y en la vida.
Lee más aquí:
For the first time in their history, the national team of El Salvador, La Selecta, made it to the quarterfinal phase of the Beach Soccer World Cup.
The part of this story that inspires me most, is that the young men on the team are humble fisherman. The first trainer for their team, Israel Cruz, had faith in them and got their passports so they could travel to games. He also made sure they were eating a more balanced diet as some of the players hadn’t eaten an apple in years – they were used to eating no more than tortillas, fish and beans.
When on the islands where they live, the players go around barefoot – and for that reason, they’re well prepared to play soccer without shoes.
Up to now, the team has won almost 35 thousand euros in prize money. If they win the World Cup, Israel Cruz says their desires are very simple. “All they want is a [new] boat and a motor for fishing.”
I wish them good luck, in the game, and in life.
I am out $40 thanks to the U.S. Men’s team. Hopes were high in the beginning with a two goal lead but Mexico proved too fast and the U.S. team, too disorganized. A sampling of my tweets from last night:
• USA! USA! USA! … Don’t let me down. I’ve got $40 on this game. lol #goldcup #copadeoro
• gooooooooooool USA!
• claro – que viva mexico… pero que gane los EEUU jajaja ;) RT @soonerclone viva mexico!!
• Gooooool #2 USA & Donovan does the chicken dance in celebration lol #copaoro #goldcup
• Now 2-1 US leads MX. Goal by Barrera. #copaoro #goldcup
• Mexico ties it up. 2-2 Chicharito smartly steps over the ball to avoid offsides #goldcup #copaoro
• Mexico takes the lead 3-2 #copaoro #goldcup
• Ayyyysh! stupid porteria!
• Dempsey shouldn’t have done that. Beating up on cute little Chicharito looks bad lol
• Noooooooo :( U.S. COME ON! ergh.
• @UcCaliChic25 LOL… this is difficult to watch. Like a lion slowly eating a gazelle on NatGeo #goldcup
• Felicidades Mexico. Team USA, I’m out $40 because of you. I am disappoint #goldcup
• Carlos is unhappy. Mexican co-workers are texting him to gloat lol …He turned his phone off.
Okay, I wanted to get a photo of the text Carlos received but he is really, really sore about it. He doesn’t find it funny at all. (For one thing, they address him as “Pupusa” – that’s his nickname as the only Salvadoran at work.) … Anyway, he is so far from amused that I actually need a separate post to talk about it – so that has to wait until más tarde.
As for the game, I’m really disappointed but I kind of don’t understand why some people are such sore losers. I’m not just saying this because I like El Tri. I really wanted the U.S. to win, (like I said, I lost money betting on them!) – but in the end, it’s just a game, isn’t it? Look, I get totally passionate about fútbol, but I promise you, it really is just people kicking around a round object. When you think about how insignificant each human is in this universe, it seems rather silly that the inability of a handful of men to kick a ball into a net, should ruin your day.
Besides, there are other things to move on to, like the Women’s World Cup now taking place in Berlin, Germany.
Unfortunately, (*cough* due to gender inequality *cough*) – it’s not as easy to find the Women’s World Cup games on television as it is to find men’s games (of any kind.) … It frustrates me but I also find it strange to think about. The women’s team is not getting the same treatment just based on what is, (or isn’t), in their gym shorts. It’s really baffling when you look at it like that.
Ni modo, here is where you can follow the games if you can’t find them on T.V.
Other interesting links:
FIFA treats women’s game as a burden – FOX sports/JENNIFER DOYLE
“Until World War I, women players had to keep their hair under a cap or bonnet and hide their legs inside voluminous bloomers. In the 1910′s, when many men were away at war, crowds flocked to see women’s exhibition games. This wider acceptance of ladies’ soccer enabled women’s teams to start wearing soccer outfits that were similar to those worn by men and more suitable for the game.” – pg. 29 / Eyewitness Books: Soccer
…two steps forward, one step back…
“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?” – Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, 2004 (source)
“How good does a female athlete have to be before we just call her an athlete?” – Author Unknown
Here is my week in cellphone fotos.
We went grocery shopping at Wally World as usual – but this caught me off guard. The toy aisle is right next to the fitness equipment aisle so I guess someone decided to be funny. It made me laugh, and quite frankly freaked me out a little, too. As I’ve mentioned before, dolls scare me.
Another day we ended up at Target. We went shoe shopping for the boys because all their old pairs are either out-grown or barely recognizable as footwear at this point.
Anyway, hanging from the ceiling at Target was a monster-size chancla. I said to my oldest son, “Imagine getting a chacletazo from THAT chancla!” … That inspired this photo:
On our shoe-shopping adventures, we ended up in the vicinity of a Petco, and our youngest son can not pass a pet store without asking to go and “just look.” (In case you need translating, “just look” means he is going to ask us to take home every animal in the store.)
I don’t need much convincing since I find the mice amusing with all their wheel-running and curious beady eyes – but this time I happened upon this ratoncito.
Is he not the most depressed ratoncito you’ve ever seen? Poor guy looks like he has the entire weight of the world on his furry little shoulders. (Don’t feel too sad. When I last checked on him before we left the store, he had gotten out of his food bowl in the corner and looked more cheerful. Mice don’t live long so they can’t afford to wallow in self pity for more than a few minutes. May we learn a lesson from the ratoncito!)
More shoe shopping took us to some outlets. While we were walking around, a car drove by and a guy yelled out to us, “I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!” before speeding off. It could have been a teenager being an ass, but I chose to take it as a random act of kindness. I’m thinking about doing this myself, (telling random people I love them, not being an ass, that is.)
At the outlets there are little kiddie rides here and there. The thing I love about my 9 year old is that he’s at that beautiful age where he’s aware of which things are now considered “childish” – but he’s still too fun-loving to care if he looks foolish.
He jumped right up on the carousel caballito and asked if we could insert some monedas. Unfortunately el cipote looks a little like the depressed ratoncito in that photo because the machine was already jammed with a stuck quarter. Carlos went to work to dislodge the coin but his fingers are kind of thick, so he wasn’t having much success. All of a sudden I had an idea. I pulled the gum out of my mouth, stuck it to the quarter and ta-da! We were 25 cents richer. I remembered a Sesame Street video from my childhood about retrieving a lost jack with a magnet – and that’s what inspired me. Thanks, Sesame Street!
For my last photo, I decided I wanted to show you all the “inspiration board” I have here at my desk because I want to encourage you to make one for yourself. The cork board itself costs less than $5, but you don’t even need one. You can just tack stuff to the wall – but put it somewhere you’ll see it often.
What do you put on your inspiration board? Anything that inspires you, reminds you of your goals/priorities, and makes you smile. I put a lot of quotes on mine, (including fortunes from Chinese take-out, but now that I’m eating healthier, I won’t be adding more to my collection.) … I also have a drawing from my youngest son that says he missed me, (he drew it while at school but it reminds me to spend time with the kids.) … As you can see, I also have photos of Chicharito and Espinoza Paz. Carlos objected to their inclusion. I told him that they inspire me but he doesn’t buy it. He said, “I’m going to make an inspiration board and put girls in bikinis on it.”
I told Carlos he’s being totally ridiculous. His comparison isn’t even valid – I mean, it isn’t like Espinoza and Chicharito are half-naked in the photos.
…(If anyone has photos of Espinoza or Chicharito half-naked though, you have my E-mail.)
It was sometime last year, during the summer, that I stopped at a gas station downtown while out running errands, having found my tank on empty once again.
Suegra happened to be along for the ride, sitting next to me in the passenger seat. I pulled up to the pump and shut the car off. As I blindly rummaged in my bag to find my debit card, I watched a couple cross the parking lot, laughing so hard that they had to hold onto one another for support as they walked. I began to smile, feeling their infectious happiness, but Suegra clicked her tongue.
“Borrachos,” she muttered, shaking her head.
“Drunks?” I said, “Maybe they’re just happy?”
Suegra looked at me like I was stupid. I shrugged my shoulders and got out of the car.
The rest of the day, and even a year later, I still think about that moment because it so clearly demonstrates how one’s outlook on life can change any situation.
[Scroll down for English Translation]
Los vemos antes de que nos vean. Él es Latino, ella es una gringa – los dos son jóvenes, sin hijos, como nosotros hace más de diez años atrás. Parece que ellos están en un pleito, (de qué, ¿quién sabe?)- peleando sobre algo que no van a recordar en diez años, o aún mañana. El inglés chapurreado de él, y la voz bajita de ella, es como una de mis propias memorias. Ahora, nos ven, otra pareja igual que ellos, pero sonriendo, felices, tomados de la mano, con dos hijos creciendo a nuestro lado. Tal vez vean que una relación como la nuestra, puede funcionar, que todo va a estar bien. Que a pesar de los retos encontrados en un matrimonio como el nuestro, pueden vivir felices para siempre. Ellos caminan en la otra dirección.
Él toma la mano de ella.
We see them before they see us. He’s Latino, she’s a gringa – both young, no children, like us over ten years ago. They seem to be arguing, over who knows what – something they won’t remember ten years from now, or even tomorrow. His broken English and her hushed tones sound like a memory. They see us then, another Latino and gringa couple, smiling, happy, holding hands, with two half-grown children by our side. Maybe they see that it can work, that it will be okay. That despite the challenges encountered in a marriage like ours, you can live happily ever after. They walk off in the other direction.
He takes her hand.
It’s official – I’m a Latin Guru.
This is a shirt from a company called SPƎNGLISH. I really like the company’s mission statement. Here it is, in part:
“Just like love + happiness = peace, Spanish + English = SPƎNGLISH. The union of two amazing forces results in the creation of a unique identity. To coexist while being able to nurture and accept ones roots, is SPƎNGLISH‘s ultimate purpose. To live a mindful life and practice being fully present, is SPƎNGLISH’s ultimate path.”
The shirt description:
Know that You are a Latin Guru and live by that awareness. Know and never underestimate the power that you possess. Be mindful of the words you choose when they are coming out of your mouth, and be even more conscious about the ones that are already inside your head. In SPƎNGLISH we believe that everyone is a Latin Guru, and everyone holds the powers to change in any direction at any time. We chose “Pele” to represent our Latin Guru because we want to show the world how such a simple man could change the world with his bare feet. He made a sport so popular that would ultimately become a very powerful tool to promote Paz e Amor all over the world.
Disclosure: This shirt was given to me by SPƎNGLISH. All opinions are my own.
[English Translation below]
Hay un arbusto en nuestra yarda – mi mamá me lo dio unos años atras. El arbusto, por la mayoría del año, no es nada especial – lo ignoramos… hasta que esta época del año cuando salen los capullos bien redonditos. Ahora lo observamos con anticipación porque sabemos que unas flores bien grandes y lindas con un olor fuerte y dulce van a salir muy pronto.
Recientemente, yo estaba tan ocupada, tan apresurada y distraída, que olvidé completamente de mi arbustito y los capullos que estaban abriendo poco a poco.
Ayer por la tarde, cuando yo estaba lavando los platos de la cena, mi mente ya corría con millones de cosas que tengo que hacer, mi hijito entraba la cocina con una flor en la mano.
Mi primer pensamiento fue: ¿Y qué es esto? ¿Cómo floricían tan rapido? ¿Estaba yo realmente tan ocupada que se me había olvidado de tomar un momentito por chequearlas?
Mi segundo pensamiento fue: ¡Ay! Y mira este niño travieso ya ha arruinado el arbusto! Ni la cortó bien! Casi no hay nada de tronco en esta flor!
Mi hijo me dio la flor a mí. “La corté para tí”, dijo, mirándome con sus grandes ojos cafes y una sonrisa nerviosa.
Tomé una respiración profunda, le dí un abrazo y pusé la flor en un vaso pequeño. Estoy agradecida que no lo castigue. Después de todo, me hubiera perdido de ver las flores en absoluto si él no me hubiera recordado de ellas.
Supone que debo ser la que debo criar y enseñar a mis hijos, pero a veces son ellos los que me enseñan a mí.
There’s a bush in our yard – my mother gave it to me years ago. The bush, for most of the year – is nothing special – we ignore it… until this time of year when perfect little round buds emerge. Now we observe the bush with anticipation because we know the bush will soon give forth big, beautiful flowers with a sweet perfume.
Recently, I’ve been so busy, so hurried and distracted, that I forgot completely about my little bush and the buds that have been opening little by little.
Yesterday evening, while I was washing the dinner plates, my mind already running with a million things I need to do, my youngest son came into the kitchen with a flower in his hand.
My first thought was: And what is this? How did they bloom so quickly? Was I really that busy that I forgot to take even a small moment to check on them?
My second thought was: Oh! Look at this naughty child – he’s already ruined the bush! He didn’t even cut it well! There’s almost no stem on this flower!
My son handed me the flower. “I picked it for you,” he said, looking at me with his big brown eyes and a nervous smile.
I took a deep breath, gave him a hug and put the flower in a small vase. I’m thankful I didn’t chastise him. In the end, I would have completely lost my chance to see the flowers if he hadn’t reminded me of them.
It’s supposed to be me who is raising and teaching my children, but sometimes it is they who teach me.
I lack self-discipline, I’m a complete hedonist, I become intensely passionate about the things I love, and I’m impulsive. This spells trouble not just for my eating habits but it makes many aspects of my life challenging. Carlos, who is the complete opposite, has reformed me to some extent, and being a mother has forced me to change my ways, but it’s a daily fight.
Recently when I decided to get serious about my health, I reached out to mi amiga, Barbara to ask for guidance. She gave me a lot of encouragement and was also kind enough to send me a copy of her book, “…Barbara por Atras: A Latin Woman’s Guide to Fitness.”
I’ve read a lot of books about health but this one connected in a way that other books couldn’t. With mentions of Celia Cruz, nalgas, and piropos as well as healthful ways to prepare arroz con frijoles, tostones con mojo, and flan – I feel like finally someone “gets” me! This book is the jump start I needed. I’m taking steps in the right direction – poco a poco, I’ll make it. Gracias, Barbara.
Disclosure: The book was provided to me at no cost. I did not receive any compensation for talking about the book. All opinions are my own.