Tag Archives: children

Recipes for the busy and healthy

18 Feb

This post is in response to a recipe search thread I read on one of my online parent networks and as was typing it, I thought it would be helpful to share this with a larger audience:

Easy Peasy Recipes:

I have two words for you, “Slow Cooker”. I got mine (IMG_0369 IMG_0370 IMG_0373 IMG_0375 IMG_0376 IMG_0377 IMG_0380 IMG_0383 IMG_0384 IMG_0385 IMG_0389 IMG_0390Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart) less than a month ago for $49.99 and it is such a lifesaver.  My girls giggled as I exclaimed, “I feel like I just discovered fire! ”  My 9-year-old who is enthralled with Greek Mythology calls me Prometheus as I want to share this wonderful new device with parents everywhere.

Learning has been slow as I am an ex-vegetarian (having shunned meat for 7+ years) and have only recently experimented with meat recipes – translation = you can eat a lot of meat if you’re not careful.  It’s so easy to throw in chicken/red meat, veggies, garlic and other herbs and arrive home after work to an aromatic dinner but after a few days of this, I was starting to feel the heft of too much meat in my system.  All in moderation I say.

But  digress, here are a few of my recipes (sides, additions to instantly brighten a meal and main dishes):

My trinity: bell peppers, onions and garlic. Sauteing this three together make everything better and bonus points for being able to chop up a lot of it beforehand and save in ziplock bags for grilling/sauteing/boiling (soups) during the week.

Avocado with sliced tomatoes sprinkled with lemon juice, black pepper and sea salt: again this is always a yummy refreshing and healthy addition to almost any meal.  Also aesthetically pleasing, toss it over a taco or on top of a side of quinoa.

Canned black beans (unsalted) = great source of protein, sprinkle dried oregano, dash of cumin powder, garlic powder and salt to taste. If you eat dairy, the “quezo fresco” from Los Altos is a welcome tasty addition for Mexican food night.  You can find it at El Rancho Supermarket on Willow in Menlo Park, CA. I buy all of my Hispanic food items there. (Any Mexican supermarket / mercado will have this)

Quinoa = you can pre-soak on Sunday and let it dry out or buy a brand that has been pre-rinsed.
Family of 4: 2 cups of quinoa, a third of a capful of virgin oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, salt to taste or chicken boullangaise.
1. Heat pan to mid heat (5), add olive oil, angling pan to cover as much of your surface area
2. Add quinoa and shake pan to make sure that the quinoa gets equal access to bottom of pan.
3. Add seasonings (enough to coat a layer over surface area).
4. Add 4 cups of water.
5. Once it boils, reduce heat to low simmer (2) and cover. 20 minutes later = fluffy yummy nutritious quinoa. We eat quinoa almost daily and it keeps really well for packed lunches for our girls who attend Laurel Elementary.

For “main sides”, I alternate from tofu, Morningstar crumbles, shrimp, carne arrachera asada (grilled skirt steak), chicken breast and whole chicken (with innards and extremities removed).

Tofu: cut into length wise into 1 inch wide blocks.  Season with curry, sesame seeds, garlic powder and tamari.  Coat the seasonings on and add tamari to taste (don’t douse it).
Grill (heat level 6 – 7) on your Cast Iron Skillet ($29.99 at Crate & Barrel) over enough olive oil to lightly coat the surface. Serve on top of quinoa, noodles (soba/udon) with side of steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Morningstar Crumbles (Mexican food recipes) - I love this product, it takes the guilt out of eating actual ground beef (Morningstar products can be found at your local Target frozen groceries aisle)
Taco Night:
Heat your pan with olive oil (always just enough to coat surface, don’t over do it, it shouldn’t be creating a puddle on your pan)
Add chopped onions, bell peppers (red/green/yellow/orange = interchangeable but add some variety so the color pops)
Add garlic powder (or if you have oodles of time, chop some fresh garlic cloves and brown for a minute as your stir)
Once onion and bell peppers have softened (~ 2 minutes), add your bag or crumbles
Stir, mix and add oregano, basil and more garlic powder (Can you tell I love garlic?)
Add chopped tomatoes, mix, add half a cup of vegetable broth and cover.
Less than 5 minutes later = Voila
Serve in tacos topped with fresh avocado/tomato mix (see side dishes above), quezo fesco (if you love dairy), and your salsa of choice
Side of your canned beans recipe and quinoa to make it a full dish

To turn the above into nachos:
Same steps above but after you add vegetable broth, sprinkle with lactose-free Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds which can be found at your local Whole Foods or Amazon.com.  It’s healthier (plant-based), easier on sensitive tummies and lower on the calories but note that they do not market themselves as vegan s there may be traces of animal protein.
Cover and you will have gooey delicious cheese mixed in with your “meat” to enjoy as your very own healthier nachos.  Top it off with guacamole if you really want to go wild. :)

“Home-made” Corn Chips – Notice the quotations, this is a partial DIY chips
1. Package of corn tortillas (without lime or added flavor as flavor additives will cause the same reaction as adding water to hot oil = not fun, trust me – any my burn scars)
2. Cut tortillas length-wise along the lines of the tortillas into thirds, turn 90 degrees and cut width side three times.
3. Use your trusty cast iron skillet and heat at mid-high heat (6), add enough olive oil (1/3 inch) to allow for frying
4. Once oil is hot (test it with one tortilla strip, if it doesn’t start bubbling and rising to the top, have some patience ;) )
- Once heat is high enough, add a layer of cut corn tortillas, flip over with your tongs as soon as your done adding tortillas, starting with the ones you added first
5. Once light golden brown, remove and place on a colander lined with a paper towel and lightly add sea salt to taste
6. Repeat until you have desired amount
7. Serve immediately or place in microwave oven (uncovered – you don’t want them to sweat and get soggy)
These are fantastic for your nachos (above), guacamole and/or salsa as your guests/family wait for the main dish to be done.  Also great as a side-addition (6-8 chips next to beans).

Carne Asada – Easy recipe
Use Chef Merito Steak & Meat Seasoning, 1 (mid to large size) lemon, oregano, garlic,  half an orange, (Mexican beer optional)
I like using the higher grade Carne Arrachera (skirt steak) found at any Mexican/Hispanic supermarket
In a small mixing bowl, add your Chef Merito seasoning, oregano, light amount of garlic and mix well
In a large mixing bowl add one piece of steak at a time and sprinkle seasoning over entire surface area, front and back
Repeat until you have all meat in large bowl
Squeeze half of an orange on top of mix, squeeze 1/4 lemon on top, if desired add 1/4 of Mexican beer and mix all meet well, rubbing in seasoning into the meat
Let sit while you prepare your beans, quinoa, avocado mix or guacamole
Heat cast iron skillet, brush on olive oil (mid to high heat 6 – 7)
Add meat to skillet and flip with tongs after 30 seconds.  Squeeze a little lemon juice on each piece to keep from sticking to pan as you progress in your cooking. You can either keep flipping until a nice deep brow coloring to serve whole or cook until light brown and separate onto other bowl (if you want tacos and have more time on hand)
In a clean cutting board, slice meat length wise, turn and cut into small pieces width size.  Toss back into cast iron skillet and cook until deep brown.  This is perfect for tacos.

And now I must really get back to my studying as I have a history midterm this Thursday!  I will add recipes for shrimp, chicken, soups and slow cookers soon!

I’m a mom of two (2nd and 3rd grader), pack their and my lunches M-F, cook dinner, work full-time as a business development professional in an international law firm and am taking 9 units of classes at our local community college.  It helps vastly that I have a supportive partner but you can imagine that time flies in our home!

On the Fast Lane with the SuperFlyingMonkeys

28 May

giants
Life moves quickly when you have two flying monkeys by your side.

Santa Monica called for work. I drove to Main Street for a work event with SiliconBeachLA. Smiling, chatter buzzing over mojitos, beer and sliders. Tech tech tech. Drinks and introductions, Connections – Stimulating.

A reminder that I am making the right choice in moving to Silicon Valley this summer. Excited.

All networking events must end and this one did with the avoidance of a marriage proposal. That must have been the most progressive and increasingly creepy pick up line I have ever heard.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Susana. Hmmm. Susana, it’s a pleasure. What do you do?”
“Marketing. For law firms.”
“Do you know social media? Yes? I need a social media manager. I need a co-founder. Do you want to be my co-founder?”
“Thank you but I am relocating to the bay area.”
“Really? Where? I like the bay area. I could live in the bay area. I’ve been to Tiburon. Have you been there? Yes? I could live there. We could live in the bay area.”
“Good meeting you but I was just leaving.”
“You have my card. Hmmm. Susana. Such a pleasure. Call me, we need to work together. I’m from Sydney. You’ve been to Sydney? Would you..”
“Goodnight, good meeting you.”

As I quickly scrambled out the door averting one of the more bizarre first time interactions with another human being, I looked forward to my escape up north. I drove to Boyle Heights and spent the remainder of the evening with my parents and family, celebrating my father’s 62nd birthday.

Saturday, 5AM. We are piled into the Honda, filling up the tank with gas.

You can do anything in LA as long as you have a full tank of gas. I will miss that feeling. Completely freeing; to roam a sprawled city intersected by freeways, back roads, and hiking trails full of lululemon.

I placed my two 16 oz. Red Bull drinks on the center divider, covered the girls in their blanket, tuned into KZRW and looked forward to a promise of opportunity as I rolled onto the I-5 North.

Podcasts about India’s marriage and matchmaking trends, sourcing food, and music swirl around the car around me blending into the highway’s hum. Auto cruise.

Two hours. Two and half. Two and 42 minutes go by.

KZRW is long gone – faded into the majestic mountains before the grapevine that block all internet reception. 70 miles. 75. 80. Rolling along en mass.

The air is thick with cow dung flung onto the earth by the huddled, crowded mammals that reek of sickness and death. I hold my breath and shut off the AC. It seeps into my car and takes hold of my nostrils, curling into my breath and wrapping around my gagging throat.

I call my love. His cheerful voice full of excitement takes me away from the I-5N and the dead grass with dark nauseating earth. It blocks out the cows that eat what the others digest. Recurring. I won’t be eating meat for a while.

We plan and together count down the hours of our arrival. Together never sounded sweeter.

Spotify saves the day and my hours quickly fall away until I see the 101 N to San Jose and the exit to Palo Alto. I drive up under the big tree and wake the girls so we can run up the stairs together. Together, always, it has never felt so good.

We stretch and hug and kiss and smile. And out the door we go to downtown Palo Alto. Thai food at Siam Royal for a lunch of yellow curry, Pad sew eew, and tofu, only tofu please.

As we walk out I feel my legs leisurely stretch out before me and I realize I am home. With him by my side, flanked by the flying monkeys, we are home. We stop at Stanford to frolic in the grass, dance around the fountain, and giggle down the archways.

We get home and nap. A blissful unworried sleep shadowed with sounds of light laughter coming through the window, likes rays of sunlight gently warming my skin. Even the shower that follows feels different. As the water runs down my back so goes with it all the tension from the drive, the residue of LA.

Sushi Fuki for dinner. Rolls and nigiri and sake. And smiling girls across me. Gently lifting their pieces with chopsticks, deft hands a true sign of LA childhood.

Champagne once home. We are celebrating many things, all things that lead to us, together in life. Dom Perignon treats us well as we cuddle and love life, love our little family.

After my run, I make breakfast tacos with sizzling bacon and egg whites kissing each other with mozzarella. Yogurt for me, the cows have not left me. Oohs and Ahhs over breakfast, followed by scuttling about as we all walk to the local school. Two Flying Monkeys racing along from tree to tree. Like Santa Claus he strides forth with a sack over his shoulder, but these are basketballs. Layups. Free throw line, base line, back board, rim, start low and carry through – in the wrist. Chest pass. Two on Two. I’ve never felt such admiration for patience and happiness. Basketball drills, who knew?

On the road again but as one. To SF for the Giants. Freezing in our seats we play a game you think of to ease the focus on the chilly weather and bring to light the joy and wonder of life. You breathe in new life into baseball, already a passion, you make it magical.

We shower, we prim, we aim to impress as we make our way to Madera for dinner. The view is amazing. Rolling fog over the hills, enchanting grounds at our feet, and smiling faces all around me. Over wine and seared tuna he dazzles. He charms and he loves and I memorize every minute.

At home over movies all four of us sit close – an entanglement of wonderful cuddling.

In the morning we rise and smile. Off to the market today. Camarones, tomates, aguacates, clamato… I love the sounds of Spanish markets. Mi Piquito de Oro by Ramon Ayala playing in the background as we check out. The musical goodbye of the cash register lingering long after we walk out the door.

At home we cook and we sit. We dance and we sing. We play Loteria and roll our R’s and silence our T’s and laugh. Rich and deep laughter that fills my soul and carries me through. We sit by the low tables and eat our cebiche and talk the language of happiness.

The morning turns afternoon well into the evening and night beckons us to bed for dreams of tomorrow, our tomorrow together. Even the gray following morning that feeds the hurt in my chest doesn’t diminish the gift of today. I woke by your side, in your arms and you loved me as I love you.

Miles away now but with me, I carry you, together, never sweeter, never felt so good.

A Belated Mother’s Day Post

14 May

A Belated Mother’s Day Post

The rise and fall of my emotion is punctuated with bouts of extreme joy and maddening sadness on this day.

Your excitement, hardly contained, explodes into a dazzling smile that reaches your eyes – like shining angels that guide my way.

“Cookies! We made you cookies and a cake! It’s a surprise but it’s a cake.”

It’s a reminder of everything good in my life. Seeing the two of you grow up is piercingly beautiful, hauntingly sweet. I see your smiling faces start to grow sharp with the angles of pre-pubescent youth and I gasp.

Where has the time gone?

I held you to my chest and your body would rise with each breath.

Rise and Fall

Now I hold you close as you cuddle up to me but I can’t breathe with the weight of your growing bodies on my chest.

Where has the time gone?

Am I doing right by you? The happiness of holding you close makes me break down inside and weep openly within the confines of my conscious as it weighs heavily on me that I only give you myself. Will you be fine?

Rise and Fall

We get home and you take my hand, running up the stairs to show me your beautifully hand crafted decorations on the sugar cookies you have baked with your tia. Colors of happiness – light hues of green, pink and baby blue.

“A cake, we made you a cake!”

A strong palette of dark chocolate with accents of light pink mini hearts: a reflection of your own spirits. And I know that you are not just fine, you are wonderfully enveloped in my blanket of love.

Rise and Fall

Day by day. Smile by smile.

Rise we will.

Seeing the Gray in Others – and Doing Something About it

26 Mar

When you go for a walk, while you shop at the grocery store, on a bench outside of work, on the sidewalk, in a class room, you see it…

The slouch of the posture
the roundness of the shoulders
eyes that seem to spill with sadness
behind a large swallow

Downcast eyes
searching for an answer
a tentative sigh
as if afraid to take the most natural step of life

Shakiness of a sentence
a heaviness of the body
sagging
towards earth

Life spent in a muted gray. Sadness, in its most cruel form: depression. What can you do? If you knew, would you actually do it?

A smile. A meeting of the eyes with kindness in your look, even if the moment is fleeting.

A connection.
A reminder that they are seen.
A feeling of validation that they hold a place in this world.
An assertion of existence.
Hope.

In our children, nieces/nephews, in kids of our friends, we learn how cruel words or actions by another can make a deep impact on their vulnerable and developing psyche and we have seen as a society a concerted effort to prevent bullying and the mistreatment of children at that impressionable age.

But what happens when those children who are under-cared, under-loved, under-appreciated, abused even, grow into adults? No longer seen as cute, vulnerable, or helpless – they are commonly tossed aside, dismissed – as if with age (and no help) they are magically cured of the fog that weighs them down.

A small gesture that might make you slightly uncomfortable, a smile to a stranger (I’m not asking you to walk around staring at strangers with wide toothy grins either), can make a difference, however small, on the recipient of your kindness.

My fellow Angelenos, whether native or transplants, I know what you’re thinking as you roll your eyes – eye contact AND a smile? But then I won’t be able to conserve my hip disinterested Hollywood cool look! Alas, no one is as cool as James Dean, and I bet that even he looked a little awkward walking around LA and would have benefited from a kind smile too.

If it’s someone who you know through work, ask them to join you for a cup of coffee or actually stop as you pass by their desk and say a warm hello. Nothing big. Feel the warmth and the kindness as you do it and they will feel it too.

Small acts of kindness, that’s not asking for much. On my first day to class at the local community college, I was frantically looking for where I had to pay the parking fee when a fellow student told me that the first week was free to allow for a smooth transition for students. That’s two acts of kindness there: that student didn’t have to tell me anything and could have walked off as I scurried around, and the school for giving a person a break! I asked the student where the B building was and they graciously showed me the way.

On my second week of class as I was pulling up to the meter to pay for the daily pass of parking, another fellow student gave me their daily pass as they were leaving and wished me an early Christmas (it was February) as they smilingly drove away.

On the fourth week of class, I saw someone else asking students for change (for the parking) looking increasingly frustrated as no one did. I didn’t either but when I walked back to my car to retrieve my belongings I noticed I did have the exact change and nothing more. My last $2 in cash. I walked over and gave them to him, and as he tried to hand a $5 I waved it off and said, “offer $2 to someone else who might need it as repayment”. He was very thankful and touched and I felt REALLY good, really ALIVE as I walked away.

Small acts of kindness, of human interaction, no matter how old we are or from what walk of life we are, make a difference. They pay in higher dividends than the bogus schemes of Wall Street bankers. ;)

Share your moment of kindness – given or received!

The SuperFlyingMonkeys at the San Francisco Golden Gate Slides

22 Mar

LA Morning Commute with the SuperFlyingMonkeys

19 Mar

Shining Eyes, Burning Bright

11 Mar

I look around the room
Seeing smiles

I feel warm laughter
bathing me in
glorious luxury

Moments of spontaneous humor
Bursting fits of disengaged silly laughter

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unexpected love

Walking in a dance of contorting limbs
body moving back and forth
trying
to cap the exulted happiness that bubbles up from deep within
Head back – melodious music – flowing out to the sky

Falling back onto my bare shoulders
tickling me
with sprinkles of kindness

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in reciprocated love

Holding hands
walking in unison
down a pillow-y pathway
of carefree embrace

Daylight outside
slowly receding
to a muted evening
giving way to the inner guide
of jubilant light

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in honored love

Everyone else melts away
Except
their kind smiles
follow us everywhere

Giddily joining us
in our quest for frozen yogurt
Eagerly following us
with dancing eyes
as we sing out an inside joke

In step
we fall
souls to match
walking down LA streets

Night greets us
In a sweet sleep
I lay my head

Waking to see you still here
by my side
Caressing my hair

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unmeasured love

Bronzed Beauties

5 Mar

Running
little legs
Giggles that chase
fear away

Stopping only
for a look
a nod
and they’re off
running
again

Warm light
bouncing off
sun streaked hair
Bright red
shiny cheeks
Riding high on laughter

Smiles
growing wide
Eyes full of wonder
twinkling on the water’s surface
Breaking it
as they jump in

Endless giggles
Bouncing off

Jumping higher
Reaching heights
of carefree happiness

Sunning
Bronzed limbs
in the glow
of California desert nights

Reflections

6 Jan

The four of us walked along
the cool night air gently biting our cheeks
Laughter and mirth filled the air and nothing else was there

Surreal to look around and see the crystal like sharpness of this new reality
A gift, really.

The smiling, silly, quirkiness of Iza as she contorts into a hundred personalities: she makes me believe in things beyond what is here and tangible, the unattainable becomes feasible with her, she IS magic surrealism.
She’s a dream all in her own.
She makes waves of laughter; raining bubbles of giggles wherever she waltzes through.
And that is her: etheral in her magical purity – untouched by the gray all around.

The balance of her comes bounding by – her sister – so logical and angular in her gist of existence.
She’s kindness measured by well-meaning. She pulls you up and makes you see it for what it is but never unkind. She is loving and profound, deep in her perceptions, observant and uncanny, real and steady. A beauty that runs deep.

And now I see the charge I have been given. No longer a child to begrieve what may have fallen; I am now a witness to beauty that unfolds for all to see.

Hope.

They endlessly give me the desire to go on to the next horizon. To reach for that line where the sky meets the distance of the land.

__________________

I tailed my dad wherever he’d go. I was his shadow whether he cared for it or not. The best times spent were when he found himself among his native land, his native tongue, his learned ways.

The small town where the sun comes down hard, making the top of your scalp prick up and take notice; where the arid wind blows red earth onto your skin, your clothing, and sticks to your tongue.

He would sit around the kitchen table with my abuelito in the morning, the horizon an hour away, drinking a cup of the oily black cafe de olla. Eventually he would make his way to the labadores where he would find his childhood friends drinking and retelling stories I grew to memorize verbatim. After a few more refreshments their thirst for adventure grew until they were finally moved into action. This day as I crouched behind a walnut tree I heard as they prepared to go on a hunt for rabitts to test their shot.

They hastily stamped out their fire and scurried over to their horses where they mounted the remainder of their drinks, food, and the long tantalizing metal of a gun.

The desert laid before me as I walked about 30 feet behind them, keeping a slow quiet stride so they wouldn’t notice Pepe’s girl trailing them.

When they stiffened, I knew this was the spot and my muscles were so frozen that I soon began to ache in every unused muscle of my body. My father turned and looked directly at me where I lay pressed to the ground and motioned with his finger to wait and remain still. One of his friends took aim, shot, and was rewarded by the dust cloud of the wild hare kicking up its last step and laying down to later bed fed to a family. A chorus of congratulations and hearty manly laughter broke out and when I looked up, my father was there, with his hand outstretched for me to join them properly.

We spent the evening walking and following a scent/trail and when they would relax, I would run to and from them as fast as I could with their cheers giving me fuel to pump my little legs even faster. I looked out onto the furthest point where land seemed to kiss the sky and I thought if I ran fast enough I would be able to jump onto the clouds from that point. I spent the day running at full speed trying to reach the blue sky but it kept slipping away from me.

As dusk came it brought colder temperatures and a change in the group’s mood with it; everyone said their goodbyes and parted their ways, my dad and me walking hand in hand back home with a conejo and his rifle hanging over his shoulder.

________________________________________

This memory comes to me as I walk with my girls and I see some of my qualities in them; how amazing it will be to see them grow up with love, patience, encouragement, and nurturing.

How far they will go.

Hope for Happiness. But no longer just for them, for me too, for us. Hope for us all.

Twists and Turns

13 Oct

I’ve been gone for a bit, I have had a few moments when I have wanted to sit down and write but I kept putting it off.

I think the best writing comes when you feel the emotion pouring out fluidly like a stream of water filling up a glass; you hardly have to try to get it out because it just keeps on going so easily.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have always wanted to love.  I have memories that go back pretty far, some where I couldn’t be much older than 2 1/2 years old and it was always the same urge to love and be loved.  Memories of standing up on my crib watching those around me, holding on to the side rail and wanting to capture someone’s attention; anyone to pick me up and hold me.

When I was twelve I decided to run away.  I had several impulses to leave before then but this was the first time that I decided to methodically plan out my exit plan and timeline of goals so that I coul survive and sustain myself without falling into harm.  I was in the seventh grade and my parents had bought me a neon yellow fleece sweater with a matching neon yellow and gray hiker’s backpack from Old Navy.  When I was home alone I would put this pullover on and try to see how I could improve my packing skills so I could fit in jeans, underwear, tops, layered clothing and a loaf of bread with a jar of peanut butter.  I would pull out some paper and write letters to each of my family members telling them how I felt towards them, what made me leave, the secrets that remain hidden from them; and then I would crumple them up and walk to the kitchen.

The flickering and tick tick of the pilot coming to life was a ritual for me; feeling the heat of the flames lick at my palm as I waved it closer and closer, longer and longer, over the fire; hoping to feel something, anything.  Then tossing the crumpled letters in one at a time until all that was left was black as coal ashes that would stain the stove top.  I would pull out the dish rag and scrub at the black soot until the surface was white and shiny again.  And I would walk back to my room and look around, hoping for a sign that would prompt me to leave.  Instead, I would inevitably find a toy of my baby sister and I would feel horribly rotten for thinking of abandoning her.  I would slump down and unpack and watch my fingers, trembling with defeat, pull the blanket over me so I could sleep the reality away.

These feelings didn’t leave me when I got older.  I postponed my plan of leaving and figured that I would find a relief when I went off to college and I concentrated my energy on doing well in school.  But the twists and turns of life would always veer me off my road.  The darkness of depression would weigh me down and I would sink into the black sea of inertia; finding other ways to feel, other means of escaping reality which made me lose my way.

And it was easy to give into a quick fix of feeling better; through relationships and compliments; through the idea of a family and an impromptu marriage.  And soon the swelling of my belly gave me both hope and heavy sadness that I would live beyond 26 years old.  It is easy to judge my decisions from your point of view; why fall into so many destructive situations time and time again?  But would you really care if you “knew” you would not live beyond your 20′s?  If you had the firm belief that eventually it would all be over anyway, would you really care that you were endlessly fucking up?

But through motherhood I found a vine that tied me down to this Earth and refused to let me go.  When Iza came tumbling out close behind it forced me to wake up from the fog of life I had been perfectly accepting as the only reality.

I held a very painful battle within myself when I had my daughters and the only thing that kept me from falling deep into the abyss of suicide was the acute understanding that I would now be harming them by leaving them with such a bitter introduction to life.

I don’t know how I found the strength to shake myself into awareness of my surroundings and plan a real exit plan; a journey into a better life for my girls if not for myself.  And I stuck with it and I left.

Failure at Marriage: I never thought I would marry anyone but when I did, even if at a moment of stupidity and pressure, I felt that I had to carry it through the end and when I didn’t, I felt the heavy cloak of shame slipping off my shoulders and baring what a useless person I was.

Every now and then I look back and I wonder at what went wrong.  We were both attractive, young, so full of energy at the beginning; but it was too quickly drowned out by our heavy baggage of childhood memories that we dragged with us into our new life.  And now I know that walking away was the best thing I could have done for the girls and I.

But I lay broken, disappearing as I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I had no self-worth.  The twisted thing is that I would have moments when I would look in the mirror and think, who is that beautiful young woman?; but that would quickly dissolve into a self mocking attack against my own psyche.

And I had quite a few missteps and I certainly found numbness along the way.  I don’t regret the passage of time and I don’t hate myself for what I put myself through; let bygones be bygones.  Live and learn and I did, I have, I do.

I am still finding my way in life, both through the stumbles and joys, but I do it at a much slower pace.  I have learned to take my time, to listen to my instincts, to my thoughts, to what makes me happy.

And happiness is there for the taking.  I never thought I would feel the kind of love that my girls give and show me every day.  It is the most beautiful feeling in this world and it erases all of the pain and ugliness that I have experienced.  Unconditional Love eases all but you can’t experience it unless you provide it yourself as well.  Loving the two of them is the most honorable privilege and I try to be worthy day in and out.

And for the day that I can give a partnership a chance again, well that still seems off in the sunset but the belief that it is out there is still in me.  I can and do love and it is freeing.  It makes me smile like a fool and it brightens up an already beautiful day.  Love for who you ask?  Love for love given.  Love for respect, care, admiration, appreciation, thoughtfulness, embracing the truth no matter how unappealing at times, love for reality.  That is freeing.  To be me.  To be Loved for more than skin deep and to discover the limitless supply of love and strength inside me brings me an incredible high.  And it is no longer numbness nor finding an escape; it is welcoming what is to come with the willingness to live not just to and keep going but to move forward in this path of twists and turns.

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Zack Hunter | Phenomenological Fiction

Zack Hunter is the pseudonym of a Californian poet, author, artist, musician, and researcher. He lives on a farm and spends his free time reading and writing about whatever it is he is passionate about at the time.

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