Me and My Crew

I had read somewhere that we are not our thought and in some way it had made sense but recently, talking to Nina and her having me name my thoughts has really helped make that message clear, that we are not our thoughts. Let me explain. So this is what I’ve done: I’ve named my thoughts and their names are some of the Chespirito characters.

For example El Chavo is the fearful one, he feels lonely and misunderstood. When I talk to him, I let him know he’s not alone, that he’s got a family that loves and cares for him and most importantly that he’s got me. I have to remind him that it’s okay to be happy. It’s all gonna be okay 🙂

Then there’s Doña Florinda, she thinks she’s better and criticizes everyone, including me. Talking to her is a little hard because I tend to want to put her down so she sees that she’s got flaws too but then I remember that by putting her down she’ll only scream louder. What I try to do instead is to tell her that I love her. I hug her and tell her she’s got a good eye for detail and to please help me see all the pretty things she can find. She loves doing that.

Don Ramon is the angry one, he gets angry very easily and the only way he releases it is by throwing a tantrum. He thinks he’s tough but in reality he feels very scared. In Comm 103 I learned that anger is actually rooted in fear: we are either afraid of losing something we have (i.e. respect, family, house, etc.) or we’re afraid we won’t get something we want (i.e. respect, family, house, etc.) So when I talk to him I have to ask a lot of questions. I ask him what it is he’s afraid of and why. Whatever the answer is, I try very hard to reason with him because most of the time, it not all of the time, his anger (fear) is not rooted in reason. Then I tell him I love him.

El Profesor Girafales, he’s cool but he thinks he knows everything, he has a hard time asking for help. I still have a hard time hearing him when he speaks but I’m practicing.

All these characters can be very stubborn, especially because I just started talking to them, they’re not used to it. It’s a conversation I have to remember to have when they start speaking up. Sometimes I forget and they slowly start taking me into their world where it becomes a little hard to get out. Once I’m in there I have to really put my conversational skills into practice so that they’ll let me out. Other times, I catch them just as they’re starting and as stubborn as they are, they do eventually listen. I threw Cantinflas in there because he translates for me so that I don’t take them too seriously. When Cantinflas translates, things seems funnier, like not such a big deal.

And then there’s my baby, Lancha. I love her. She’s the one who loves to sit and read a book, she likes to draw and paint and take quiet walks all by herself. She has a very wild imagination which is why she loves to write, so she can get all her ideas down on paper. She’s not held back or worried about what people think. She’s just happy to be herself. Lancha has a very big heart, she makes me feel tender and loving, I feel like hugging her all the time. Sometimes she just feels like singing and dancing but she’s still a little shy about coming out of her cocoon so I have to gently give her a little push. She does come out but only where she feels safe. I remind her that the world is safe, she can be Lancha or Sexy-Chimoltrufia-Lancha whenever and wherever she wants. She’s practicing.

With all of these, I’m practicing on being loving and patient, it’s a practice, it’s hard work but it’s very worth it.

Love,

Mom

 

Finally! Chemo is over!

It is! Can you believe it? Yes, I still have to wait for the side effects to subside but that should only take a couple of weeks. Although, you know what I’ve noticed? That my body seems to have gotten used to the chemo infusion every three weeks because just a few days before the third week my mouth starts to feel tender. We’ll see how it goes this time but I’ll try not to think about it too much so that I’m not bringing it on with my thoughts. Anyway, I wanted to let you know how I feel about chemotherapy and the fact that I’m done with it.

First of all, I think I was fortunate in that I thought I was going to go through 16 rounds of it. That’s what I was expecting and trying to get ready for – sixteen! So when, on my fourth round, the nurse said, “Only two more to go!” with a big smile, it felt like a HUGE relief. Not only that but it felt like it went by soooo much faster. I have to admit though, that the last two were the hardest because I knew that I only had two more to go and it seemed that the hands on the clock just wouldn’t go fast enough. But it finally came and no, it’s not over because I still need to go through a Herceptin infusion every three weeks and of course, surgery but I’ll jump through that hoop when I get to it. Right now I want to enjoy the fact that I no longer have to go through the upset stomach and the tired legs and tender mouth and especially, the tasteless food. That’s what I’m happy about right now.

I also want to tell you that I could not be more grateful and fortunate to have the family that God gave me. I’ve had all the support that anybody could want and for that I’m grateful. I know there have been days when it didn’t seem that way, when the housework put me in a bad mood or when your brothers’ screaming was too much or you made me mad or when your dad was too sensitive and made me mad too, it may have seemed as though I couldn’t see the good that was happening in our home or like all of this was going to be so much harder than anybody would have thought but believe I was trying hard every single day. And look at us! We’ve made it through the first part and we’re alive and happy and sometimes mad or sad or whatever but isn’t that every family? And considering what we have been through these past months, I’d say we’re doing awesomely (how do you like my new word?) well, don’t you think?

The last thing I wanted to tell you is that I’ve decided to start a new blog. Remember how you though one my new journals was going to be about the current political/social situation? (Yes, I do NOT want to write his name) Well, no the journal hasn’t been completely about that but I do have to mention it every once in a while. But what you and the journal made me think was that what I want to say, I want to say to others not just to myself. I have a lot of thoughts about everything that is going on and not so much politically but socially because that’s what makes my head feel blubbered. So, yeah, that’s one of the reasons I started the new blog. Another reason is that I needed a platform for my writing because I’ve been stuck with your grandma’s story and haven’t been able to write much about anything else. I need a place where I feel like my writing is serving some sort of purpose. If you go right now, to the new blog ,you’ll notice that I haven’t written about anything serious yet, that’s because I’m a “test the waters first” kind of person, you know that. Besides, writing essays takes a while and although I enjoy writing them, they are not easy to write but you know that already don’t you?

There you go! that’s what’s going on right now and what I hope you take from this is that gratitude is very important. Always be grateful for the little, the medium, and the big people, things and situations that life gives you. Being grateful for the little things though (food, water, warm showers, the window in your room, sight, touch, sound, taste, smell, etc.), that is especially important because it keeps you attentive, grounded, and happy. It takes practice but it is doable, believe me 🙂

As always, I love you very much!

Mom

 

P.S. The new blog address is: esperanzabeltranblog.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My (lack of) hair, again . . .

I’ve been thinking that I had not shared with you how I felt the day I shaved my head. That was a very important day in my life with cancer. And because I can’t remember exactly what I felt, I’m going to share with you that very special part of my journal.

I shaved my head.

Of course I cried. I had to. I think it was like the ultimate sign of my having cancer. This whole cancer thing still feels strange. Foreign, even. Like it’s still not something I’m going through. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. As in: Really? It’s me who has cancer? Or maybe it’s not so much a question as it is a shock. I don’t know. All I know is I have a lot to be thankful for. My husband who, not only shaved my head and shaved his own, but also cried with me when I faced him with my bald head. Maybe it was the waiting for the baldness to arrive that had me in a rut. I don’t know but whatever it was I guess I simply accepted that I had to do this, like the quick pull of a bandage. It’s faster and less painful but painful nonetheless. And I’m still a woman. A stronger woman? I hope so. I strive to be so. There’s still a picture I need to take. I know that one day I will want to look back just to see how far I’ve come (or will have come). There’s still a lot of work to do. Still a lot of fears to overcome. It’s okay. All will be – is – as it is supposed to be and You (God) are with me. Thank you!

I hadn’t read this util now and I’m glad I felt this way because as you know I don’t always feel like this. But when it’s necessary, I do. I have to. I have to because if I don’t then I will fall deep. Becoming bald was not easy but actually being bald has not been all that hard. It’s easy to cover up, it’s forced me to get creative and see myself in a new way. It’s one thing less to worry about in the mornings. It’s forced me to see a part of me I had not seen before and today, physically at least,  I know myself just a little bit better than I did before. All this is not so say that I want to remain bald because I don’t. I already have a stylist lined up and  am more than excited imaging how I’m going to style my hair when it grows back. What if it grows back curly? or brown? or thicker? or white?! I try not to scare myself with that but I do think about it and if it does grow back white I gonna try my hardest to just own it and be happy to have hair. We’ll see how that works out for me.

I leave you with a picture I took today on my morning walk . . .

FullSizeRender 2

P.S. I love you very mucho!

Love,

Mom

 

 

What I Believe

This is what I believe about you:

I believe that you are a woman whose dreams are worth fighting for, whose dreams are valid, and whose dreams will come true. Why I believe this to be true is because I understand two things. My first understanding is that God has sent each and everyone of us with a job, a mission, to fulfill in this world. My second understanding is that if we don’t believe this about God, ourselves, and humanity, then what else is there to move us forward?

I believe that you are a strong and beautiful woman. Why? For the simple fact that God created you. And created you in that amazing and unique way that is you. I know this to be true because through every tough moment in your life you have and will continue to make it through exactly because of that beauty and strength that God gave you.

One last thing that I believe is that God=Love. You, all of this and everything in this world is fueled by love simply because that is what God is. I know that this might sound cheesy or fufi or whatever but I really believe this. I believe this even though we are constantly tripping, stumbling and picking ourselves up on our way through life. I guess any other way would not be as interesting right?

Oh yes, and don’t forget that you are Loved. Period. Not because, not when, not by, not at. Just Loved.

Sincerely,

Tu mamà ❤

 

Tomorrow It Will Rain . . .

And then the earth will look cleaner and clearer.

We have passed the shock of the election results. Shock is a time for outraged stillness. you sit and you ask no one in particular: WTF?!!!

But then you wake up, your eyes start to blink and you begin to see the bigger picture. All this looks big, too big. And it is. Its bigger than any one of us. But not bigger than all of us. I think that now – this moment – is the time to realize and understand who it is we want to be. What kind of person do you want to be? What message do you want to send out into the world? Maybe if you don’t know what you want to be, you might at least know what kind of person you do not want to be.

You know? It is easy to react when we are angry. It is easy to say things that hurt, it’s easy to point fingers and blame the system, the politicians, the racist, and every person in between. That is the easy way out. It requires not much thought and not much action. Someone who knows a lot told me that in a time of joy and love, we have to let ourselves be led by our emotions. However, in a time of anger and rage, we must let our head lead us.

You are a very intelligent person and if you use it, you can achieve so much. You can change, if not the system, then at least your impact not the people you meet. I think it is time for us to show our best side, it is time to show who we really are as a people. Not as black or brown or white or whatever shade, but as humans. I choose to believe that the world is  composed of mostly well meaning people and I hope that you will too.

This Year . . .

I’ve decided to start writing about this cancer thing I’m going through. I’m at Barnes and Noble right now, I’ve picked up a few interesting books I think will help me understand what it is my body’s going through. How my brain (mind) can help me heal my body. I also want to explore how art and creativity will play a role in this. Actually there’s a few parts to this (in no specific order):

• The Brain
• Nutrition
• Creativity
• Spirituality
• Friends and Family
• Biology

This is a draft version of how I’m dividing my understanding of everything I’m going through. My head seems to be going in circles right now cause I’m so excited. I’m also worried a little about my grandmother’s story but something tells me that this has to come first. I have to understand myself first before I can continue trying to understand someone else. I feel like I’m my own little experiment. Anyway, the last thing I want to do is stress myself out worrying about a story that I know I can’t continue right now. Okay, so the books I’ve decided to begin my research with is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Who is Henrietta Lacks? She is a woman whose cells were cut from her cervix some months before her death and now those cells are the first immortal human cells. This is a small excerpt from the book:

“…what she’d think about cells from her cervix living on forever – bought, sold, packaged and shipped by the trillions to laboratories around the world. I’ve tried to imagine how she’d feel knowing that her cells went up in the first space mission to see what would happen to human cells in zero gravity, or that they helped with some of the most important advances medicine: the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization.”

Very interesting right? This is a woman whose cells helped in creating what is now helping heal the cells in my own body. I think that is so amazing, my own little connection to this black woman who lived in the early 20th century.

This is where I’m so happy I love to read!

Everything will be okay, I hope you know that 🙂

Love,

Mom

My Hair is Falling!

My hair is falling and I’m scared, worried, freaking out. Yes, “freaking out” better describes what I’m feeling.

I stand in the shower and softly lather shampoo into my hair because it hurts and because I don’t want to rub too much hair out of my head. But no matter how much I try, when I finally get the nerves to open my eyes, the tub floor is always full of hair. It reminds me of a hair salon but there’s no one behind me with scissors in her hands, I’m not sitting on a chair and there’s no black cape wrapped around me.

What there is, is a mirror and when I look into it sometimes I don’t like what I see. Sometimes I want to cry because I want to see my hair the way I used to see it, I want to rub shampoo into my hair without being scared, without feeling pain. In the mirror I look strange, my eyes seem to be out of place. I know it doesn’t make sense but there seems to be some kind of connection between my hair and my eyes. Or maybe it’s that in my eyes is the sadness of seeing my head with less hair. You know? I didn’t think this was going to matter so much to me, after all it’s just hair right? Is it too frivolous to worry about my hair when there’s other things to think about, other more important things to consider right now? Maybe it is but I think about it and I think I’m in all my right to feel freaked out about this. How can I not freak out? I’ve had hair all my life. Actually I’ve had a lot of hair, you know that. Every time I’ve gone to get my hair cut, I’ve always received comments about how much hair I have (or had), about how black it was. Now I see black and white speckled with bald spots and it’s painful to see.

I haven’t cried over my hair though. Not because of lack of desire but because I’ve talked to God. I told Him it was okay if He decided that I had to lose all my hair. It was okay if it was meant to be that the bones in my feet hurt every once in a while. It was okay if I couldn’t walk fast the way I like to walk, it was okay if I felt constipated every once in a while, it’s all okay. The only thing I asked him was to please not allow my mouth to hurt so much that I could not eat, that my mouth burn as if everything was spicy. Out of all the side effect I’ve felt I have to say that the hardest was the pain in my mouth that did not allow me to eat peacefully. If He’ll grant me that wish I don’t know, all I know is that when I spoke to Him about this I spoke to Him with all of the faith I carry with me today. So, my falling hair even though it’s painful to watch, I’m willing to accept it.

You, your dad, my oncologist, other cancer patients have mentioned shaving my head. I won’t do that. I won’t do it because I feel like it would be like losing hope, like giving in to chemotherapy. What if not all my hair falls? What if I’m able to keep some of my hair through healthy foods. What if God decides that I only am supposed to lose some of my hair. I’ve promised Him that once I get my hair back, I will not longer complain about it. I will love and take care of it the way He would like me to. That is my promise to Him and to myself. I think back and remember how much I’ve complained about my hair, how many times I wished my hair to be curly or to be thin and straight or to be a lighter color or to not have that cow lick. I was never able to appreciate the blackness of my hair, the ability it had to hold curls if I took the time to put curlers on them, the capacity it had to hold volume all day. I had beautiful hair and I could’t see that but like I said, my promise to God and to myself is to love my hair in whatever form it decides to come back to me.

I know the it’s hard to learn to live one’s own life through other people’s experiences but I hope that with what I’m going through right now you will learn to love and care for the beautiful hair that was granted to you. Appreciate it for what it does for you and give back to it the way it gives to you everyday. Think about how every day it frames your pretty face, it protects your scalp from the heat, it warms your head in the winter, and it gives you something to get creative with. Just like everyone else you have your own kind of beautiful hair, love it the way it loves you. I would love for you to do this.

Have a peaceful and beautiful night!

Love,

Mom