Who am I?

Maybe in response to my last blog post, I have been self-evaluating myself quite a bit lately.  Granted a lot of that may have something to do with the fact that my work life is also completely different than it was 4 months ago.  It was then when I completed another school year as an English teacher at a local private school here in Puebla and decided to begin working online.  I knew then that none of that would be easy and that it would require my becoming accustomed to it.  Especially being that I so miss my colleagues from my last school terribly!

When I decided to become a virtual assistant online, I knew that my schedule was not going to be full right from the beginning.  For this reason, I also sought out a second job online that had more flexible hours when compared to my 9-5 working hours as a virtual assistant.  My second job became teaching English through a teacher’s portal in China…much more flexible hours.  The pay is really good and so it allows me to not stress about the fact that my virtual assistant position has not yet reached a 30 hour work week.

But then last week, the strangest thing happened…and maybe it’s something I’ve realized all along but just never acknowledged it out loud.  My virtual assistant team leader accused me of “not caring.”  Huh?…what does that mean?  I’ve always been a very passionate person and caring about so many causes and missions in life.  How could I be accused of not caring?

Let me share with you some context, my current team spends the day (from early moring until late at night) chatting in a Skype group.  That’s fine.  I have no complaints…chat away!  Sometimes I stick my head in and say “Good Morning!”  or that I hope everyone has a great weekend.  As they ALL share pics of their adorable children everyday, I might make an “How adorable!” comment…though being that I don’t have any children, I tend to not share much more than that.  Privately, I communicate with many of them about work related issues, especially my team leader thouh no one seems overly concerned with my private life…only that I am able to get their work done on time.

But I am certainly not a “chatty cathy” on our shared Skype group, mainly becaue I am normally just busy working between this job and my third job of transcribing old jounals to make a few extra bucks each month with my free time.  But does that mean that I don’t care about these women…who  I’ve never spoken to on the phone or seen live?  And does the fact that I prefer to spend my time actually working over chatting at the “Virtual Water Cooler,” give my team leader the right to accuse me of not caring?  Or did I maybe ust misunderstand her intent?

So for the last 5 days, I’ve been seriously self-evaluating myself.  Do I not care about anyone else?  Or have I just turned inwards completely in the last 5 years or so, not spending too muh time reaching out to people who I never hear back from?  Am I just tired of being disappointed by the friends of mine whom I used to share so much with then and began to reach out to all the time and who have just assumed to never see me again?  And can I blame them?  I do live some 3k miles away from them!  It happens and it’s ok…I’m not even upset about it.  I have made new friends and have begun to do different things with my time and my life.  But maybe I just never learned the art of “bullshitting” as a woman who seems to be unhappily married and always complaining about something (tiredness, children, time mgmt, in-laws, etc.)  Another reason why I don’t partake in the daily banter on Skype.  I don’t have anyting to necessarily complain about…I’ve always been a big proponent of the expression:  “If you’re unhappy in your life,  then it’s up to you to change it!”

I have also mentioned in a past blog about the peaks & valleys of the lives of my co-workers and how I appreciate that we all go through them but that I am not really one to cry to anyone online about things that don’t concern them.  Does that mean I don’t care about them?  I’ve always considered myself to be supportive in the lives of all my friends and family members…of course always feeling terrible when realizing something happened that I wasn’t aware of.  But I am not the type of person to bother anyone…until there is something wrong for them to need someone to talk to about.  I guess I just hope that should there ever be something wrong, that they will reach out to me, knowing that I am not the fair weather friend who only calls when things are hunky dory in my own life.  That I am a great listener and am extremely motivational in my attitude toward life.  Though I guess if I never open up to anyone to show my weaknesses, I guess they’ll never do the same with me.

So in answer to my question, “Who am I?” I wish to say that I am a person who cares so deeply about my friends and family members that maybe I hope that they do live a pristine life where nothing ever goes wrong.  Maybe I exist in a dream where everyone is always good and that they live a life set to a standard that I have not reached yet.  I am an overachiever who never stops learning and reading and working in an effort to not just earn more money, but also to increase my potential to earn more money.  I have many friends and family members surrounding me at all times who I think of all the time and wonder about, hoping that they are all well.  I try to rotate through a group of close friends with whom I have shared much time with over the years, yet always missing those whose lives are so far away, with the distance of an entire country between us.

So in defense to my team leader, I wish to say that I do care about many things and many people.  And if this is an effort to ask for help or an ear to talk to, there are easier ways to get that from me.  Otherwise, as a team leader, I hope that one day she will respect my desire to work, rather than be social during working hours.  And I hope that one day to be appreciated for being that hard working guy rather than the one who is always complaining like the rest of them…that’s not what I want to do in order to be popular with your team.  Sorry!

Love to all my past friends!  Miss you all terribly!  xoxoxo!

What has life taught you?

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How many of you take those silly quizzes on Facebook to prove that you’re a true NYer or to see what might be in your near future.  Well, there are times at night when I can’t sleep and I play with some of these mindless quizzes…never being surprised when I’m officially labeled a true NYer based on their results!

But I must say, the ones that don’t even ask quesitons but rather show a puff of smoke as it “analyzes” my profile, I really can’t put too much confidence in at all!  Results:  “It’s true, one day you will be successful!”  LOL!  Wow what a wizard they must have behind their curtain!

Well, last night was one of those nights when I couldn’t fall asleep so I broke out my FB page and was instantly attracted to the title:  “What has life taught you?”  I’m game…let’s see what kinds of questions they have for me…when a puff of smoke “analyzes” my profile and the results were astounding!

“If you can’t dance in the rain with me, you will never be with me in the storm and if you aren’t in the storm with me, I don’t need you in the sunshine either.”

Anyone who knows me, can tell you that perfectly describes pretty much how I feel about people.  And I’m perfectly fine with that.

“If you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.”  Another expression I was raised on.  (Never of course forgetting my ultimate lesson in life…taught to me by my Uncle Charlie as I whined about it not being fair that I had to stay where he told me to and be quiet.  He always agreed, “Life’s not fair.”  He was right.)  A lot of us can not choose what happens in our lives and God knows all I’ve ever wanted was boring and non-exciting.  But unfortunately that was not what I was delivered.

When I make new friends (now living in Mexico for 6 years…I am used to always making new friends), I may try to open up to them and share some stories about my childhood and I have literally seen people run away.  So I just don’t talk about it anymore.  I just keep it inside.

But after experiencing the total emotional neglect from my father that physically cost me more money and effort and tears than I could ever count, it’s hard to not sometimes just cry about it.  I didn’t choose to be born to a couple made up of what I’ll always claim to have been one of the most amazing women in the world who taught me how to get back on the horse and go on with my life.  And to a man who suffered from alcoholism and gambling.  And then to boot, as my mother and I, and eventually just I, would get insanely upset as he continues to live his life as wrecklessly and unemotionally as ever, I was also given a brother who would explain to me that I need to stop being mad at my father because he suffers from an illness, why can’t I understand that?

Well after he has pretty much left me destitute many times…tried to steal my mother’s house out from under her by forging her signature…lied to me about everything important or just not said anything to me at all…I can’t allow that to just go away by saying, “Well, it’s ok, he has an illness and one day he’ll get better” as I once again try to climb back up on that damn horse!  Because he never will.  He’s now old and infirm and basically just living out his days alone…maybe feeling a punishment for all that he’s done, but he’s alive and I’m the one with the nightmares.  I’m the one who, I think I’ve finally accepted it, will never be able to have confidence in another man or trust him…no matter what form he comes in.  So when you start dating someone (or even just bring a friend into your life) and it comes time to talk about your past, it’s really hard to be open to a man who does want to be there for you and take care of you when technically there’s just no fix for what’s wrong with me.

Not to jinx myself, but I do hope that most of my storms are behind me.  But I have a lot of rainy days…or moments where I wonder if I’m making the right decisions for myself and for my future.  Am I neglecting my needs and will I, in the end, just find myself alone because I find that being alone is just safer?  Or is it possible for me to wake up one day to only sunshine…where no one will be with me because they couldn’t handle the rain?

Life must go on…right?

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Recently I started working for a company of Virtual Assistants, located in the United States, who support small businesses that exist online.  We do a lot of online marketing, sales, blogging, email sequencing with the use of applications I am really learning on the fly.  I am now spending a lot of time communicating with my new team, of all women, who are each experiencing the peaks and valleys of life. Peaks and Valleys

I like how that sounds…peaks and valleys of life.  A peak would be a high point…maybe how a woman feels just after she marries the man she believes to be the man of her dreams or just after she gives birth to a child.  My peaks were maybe how I felt when I graduated from Grad School or when I reached 99 minutes underwater on only one tank of air or when I landed the jobs I have now that I hope will help fund my future.

But my new colleagues are also experiencing the valleys of life…or the low points.  One of them returning from court after attending her first appearance in divorce court while another one, who has a grown son, was just told that he has an inoperable brain tumor.  I mean, how can you possibly complain about a broken nail or split ends after hearing that news about someone else.  You quickly go back to remembering how great it felt when you woke up that morning and filled your lungs with air and how nothing else has the right to ruin your day.

I have not heard such traumatizing tales as the ones I’ve heard from these women in the last few weeks…but then again, maybe I am just blind to the peaks and valleys where I’ve existed in the last 6 years.  The first 3 years I literally spent on the beach in Cozumel where I went diving everyday or bartended in a place where everyone was on vacation.  I then spent the next few years teaching with colleagues just out of college…not too many divorces or sick children in that bunch.

Now I guess I’m conversing with people, everyday people, who don’t exist only on the highs of life but also suffer the lows.  It’s now up to me to be compassionate and fair to each of them as well.  Provide an ear to listen to them when they need a friend or a shoulder to cry on when they suffer such devastating news as only life can deliver…because we all remember that Life is not fair!.  As I continue to just be grateful for my health and my ability to sustain my life and my happiness.  And while I am grateful to not necessarily be going through a valley in life, I must remember that with every peak, there is also a valley.  It is no one’s fault.  It is just how life is.  Our job is to be able to handle ourselves through both the peaks and valleys of life because each day, you never what your future holds or how your day will play out.  All you can do is be prepared for everything…good or bad…because life must go on.

Road Less Traveled vs. Comfort Zone

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On Saturday I went hiking.  I have always been a big hiker…ever since I was a kid.  Anytime I hear about a hike about to happen, I make sure I’m invited!  Why?  Because as much of a city girl a14520316_10154564179609049_5635474682581688573_ns I am, I just love embracing our great outdoors.  As a child, while on vacation in Vermont or Maine, as a family, we would always go hiking. Then as an adult, while living in New York City, I would take Metro-North up to Cold Springs or Bear Mountain and spend an entire day hiking with work colleagues and friends from Grad School.  Now, while living in Central Mexico, where I am surrounded by 3 active volcanoes, I explore various parks that exist nestled between them where you can literally witness some amazing vistas.

What I found, though, while hiking, was how similar to real life a hike can actually be.  How when we agree to take the ‘road less traveled,’ we discover things about ourselves, things we would be willing to forego in order to achieve something. 14568139_10154564180144049_1938757262039498893_n Yesterday I took a hike in a place where I had never been before and there were some paths that may have seemed impossible to pass for some people (the inclination was intense, the length of each pass was long and I was frequently out of breath…but at the top, these passes lead me to some of the most amazing views I could have imagined.  A view that I would never have been able to see had I given up at the bottom…taken a seat and said, “My group can fetch me on their way back down.”  How much fun would that NOT have been!

In life we overcome obstacles, some placed there by chance while others we expect.  Like when we choose to attend a University that will challenge us mentally, academically as well as emotionally.  (I always used to think, if I had made it into Harvard, what could I possibly had to talk about with my classmates?!?!)  But in addition to that, how about what we choose to do with our lives, professionally.  We all “major” in something in College.  How many of you actually did anything with that degree?  My degree was in Psychology and I never hung my shingle out begging people to come and tell me about their problems and concerns about life!  But I can tell you that I did learn a certain level of understanding for the differences that exist within each of us, based on our perspectives and experiences.

I would not describe myself as being a daring individual, I would describe myself as existing within my comfort zone, pretty boring.  But that’s my opinion.  To an outsider, they may view me differently.  About 6 years ago, I moved to Cozumel where I am able to dive 12 months out of the year.  And I didn’t just become a recreational diver, but rather I went ahead and became a Tech Diver…which allows me to dive to 250 feet.  (Anyone who knows diving, can appreciate the idea of being ‘narked’ everyday!  It was pretty incredible!)  Kind of like tripping on ecstasy…kind of like how you must feel when you jump out of a plane…not knowing in which direction is up or why there are diamonds floating around you and no one else seems to want to catch them.  It’s pretty exhilarating…and the experience was worth anything I had to sacrifice in order for me to have it.  (Even the notion that it could lead me to my grave.)

But even after that part of my life ended and I moved to Central Mexico, I guess I really didn’t have much of an idea about what I was in for…so I guess this was the ‘road less traveled‘ since I didn’t know what it was.  Yes, I had a job lined up for myself to begin once we arrived, but I had no idea what the people around me would be like or how I might be commuting to work each day, what I might be eating or even what types of friends I make be making.  Most say that must mean that I was super brave to take that ‘road less traveled,’ while I may describe myself as being irresponsible or stupid for always believing that things always did, or will, work out.  Though somehow they always do…I have made some unbelievably, incredible friends who I will never turn my back on or run away from in order to return to the States.

I recently published a blog in which I talked about looking beyond imperfections in order to always find happiness.  I am now 40 years old and my standards for life, I’m sure, have changed.  But I could not be happier because I am in charge of my future.  What’s the expression?  “Master of my Fate and Captain of my Soul.”  I’ve always been a big advocate of that!  If someone is not happy…or bored…or just “playing it safe” in their comfort zone, then when they complain that they are unsatisfied with life, I don’t have much patience for it.  Because if you want an exciting life that’s worth living, and sharing with someone else, then get up and go find it!  Take the ‘road less traveled‘ because you have nothing to lose.  Take the risks and chances in life that might result in an amazing experience…view…friend!  When I left my career and apartment and crazy, jet-setting life in NYC 6 years ago, so many people asked me, “What if it doesn’t work out?”  (“It” being diving in Cozumel while bartending to pay my bills.)

14494811_10154564180304049_2275144047963313583_n.jpgMy answer was simply, then I can just come back to the life I have now (using my MBA to manage law firms of NYC while earning a 6 figure income…blah, blah, blah).  But I don’t want to be the person who will ever say, “I wish I had tried that…or done that…or tasted that.”  I want to be the person who did all those things and survived them and now have them to talk about and share them with others who may be afraid to take that leap of faith.  I will never stay home out of fear of the unknown.  I am the person who has nothing to lose except the possibility of ever saying…I wish I had tried that or gone there…or done that.  The worst that could happen is that I spend a sunny day walking up a mountain with some great people, along a river and end up at the top where we see nothing worth talking about later.  What are the chances of that happening?

How would you define SUCCESS?

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What does Success mean to you? Is it a place you want to get to or a goal you must achieve or an obstacle that must be overcome?  And how do you get there?  Have you thought of these things yet?  Because in order to succeed in something, we first must know what it is we mean to achieve.  Goals must be set and plans must be considered.  Isn’t that how we were raised to think?  To always have a plan or an idea about our future!  Well what if something goes wrong?  How do we prepare for the rainy days in life?  Do they teach a class on that?  And what if we do achieve a goal, then what?  Do we die or just realize that the goal we had previously set was really just a part of a larger goal we still need to achieve?  I do hope that life is a cycle of continuous goals and ideas that just keep growing and establishing themselves as we progress through life and that it is really based on the journey we take to get there.

I was approached about 8 years ago by a author who asked me how I defined success.  (He claimed he was going to quote me in his book, though I still haven’t seen 14444599_10154537270034049_5581814555941088003_oit.)  Anyway, I laughed when I said that to me, success was defined as my being able to live my life on my terms, according to my rules and how I wanted to live it.  My father always used to tell me how I always had to do things “My Way,” (kinda like Frank Sinatra).  I always understood where I needed to go in life, I was just never good about drawing a straight line between A and Z…or even A and B, for that matter!  I always got there, I just got there following a different set of rules than everyone else.  I followed a different path and I never thought about whether or not the path I chose was the easier one or whether the path before me was even chosen or laid out for me.  Life was always too short to feel sorry for myself or to compare my life with those of others to consider fairness.  I definitely learned at a young age that life is not fair and that I needed to get used to that.  (Thank you, Uncle Charlie!)

But what types of goals did that mean I set while planning?  Did I plan?  Sure, I guess I did…or at least I tried to.  But you know what they say, “you either plan the dive or dive the plan.”  For all of you who are not divers, what that means is that if you plan something and things just don’t work out the way you had planned them, then you still have to live your life, right?  Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  So you roll with the punches and hope that everything turns out for the best.

A lot of things happened in my life which were not part of my “plan.”  But I just went with it because a few of those things were not given to me by choice but they certainly changed me as a person.  (I still remember the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under me when my mother died…like I was running backwards on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop.)  The only thing that eventually made sense to me, at that time, was diving.  So I moved some place where I could dive all year round.  Was that planned?  I guess…was it a lifetime goal?  Absolutely  not.  It was a goal for that moment and I had not planned for what came next.

I’ve never been good about setting those goals as I progressed through my 20’s…then my 30’s…and now my 40’s…I just keep allowing life to happen to me and I try to take advantage of every opportunity that falls into my life…whether it be financial, personal, social…a new job prospect, a new living arrangement, new friends as well as always looking to explore and discover new places I’ve never seen before, where I can eat food I’ve never tasted before.

So to me, success has nothing to do with money.  I want to say I used to think in terms of dollars…I remember having a saying, something like, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”  (Or was that Biggie Smalls?  Ha, ha, ha!)  Success is my being able to do all of the things I want to do, to call my own shots…have eggs for dinner when I want them…and not have to get anyone’s permission or approval for how I do it!  I want to write my own rule book to eventually get me to where everyone else is headed…the grave, except I want to be happy while getting there.  I understand that this requires me to be financially independent and capable of looking outside the box to consider my skills when approaching a new economy.  I mean, that is why my mother insisted that I get my Master’s Degree, right?  So that I could use it to be exactly that…my own boss in life who lives her life…her way!  And that is what makes me happy!