lola guerrero

50-something empty-nest-search-for-God-and-happiness with more than a dash of humor


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Take Flight

securedownload-4Do you have dates that are significant in your
mind and in your heart besides your wedding anniversary
or your mother’s birthday?

Aug 7, 2013 at 10 am is significant for me. I remember
exactly what I was doing; driving Ralph (my 23-year-old baby) to the airport. He is heading to NYC. I remember not feeling at all. I was on autopilot. I went through the motions–I hugged him real tight, told him to be safe, and said that I love him.

Then, a week later, I experienced  déjà vu. I was just here, I told myself. In this very same spot at the airport,  but now I’m hugging my older son, Christopher. He is going back to Manila where he plays professional basketball.  My two favorite people are leaving me. What now?

Where do I want to go after dropping one of my sons off?
Wendy’s.
Yes, Wendy’s . . . it is too early to go to a bar.

Many changes occurred when the boys left home . . .
and surprises.

Now, why did one of my sons have to move to the East Coast?
There are too many miles in between.
He should have moved to Russia; it’s just as far.

I prayed all through Ralph’s senior year in college
that God would guide him to Southern  California, where
he could have found a career in films.
“They make movies there, too, you know,” I said to God.
God didn’t listen.

But, I do KNOW this–as much as I was praying for
God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven.
I wanted my will to take precedence.
It was all about ME and what I wanted.
My thinking was it’s so much easier to travel up and down
the West Coast. It’s a smart move, a win-win for everyone.

On August 7, New York won. The thought of Ralph not being
nearby made me sleepless at night.
Everyday I would tell myself “just surrender; you have no control.”
Some days are easy; some are not so great.

As scary and nervous as I was, I had to let my boys take flight.
My gift to  both of them  was  the freedom  to flap their wings and fly away, to experience and thrive in spite of life’s harsh realities (like paying back school loans, dealing with addiction, managing credit card debt, being in abusive relationships,  and being patient enough to hold out for a dream career).

Good parents emotionally support their children and advise them
which way to go,  but I don’t believe parents should rescue their kids. When we rescue, we interfere with God’s plans . . .we cause more harm than good.
The journey is heartbreaking and stressful on both sides, but so joyful when breakthroughs come about.

You hope with all your heart they learn how to LAND on both feet.

The  other day a small bird flew straight into our clean, shiny window.
Either he was not paying attention or he miscalculated his landing.

We all miscalculate what comes our way in life many times over, just like that bird.

I hear maturity in my son’s voice. It gives me comfort.
The other day he said to me over the phone,
“Mom, I have learned a lot about life that I couldn’t have
learned living at home.”
“That can only mean  one thing . . . you are in the right place, then, to learn all your lessons and to grow and flourish.
I’m proud of you. Keep moving  forward.”

Do you have a significant date and time you will never forget?

Dear God,
I miss my boys. I see glimpses of maturity and
signs along the way that Ralph is suppose to
be in New York City and Christopher in the Philippines.
Thank you for watching over them keeping them
safe and healthy.

Bless all the moms with adult children in my little corner of the world and beyond with a surrendered spirit.
Guide each and every child in the direction of your light.
Amen.

Lola


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Celebrate

I hop on a ferry boat to meet my BF for lunch at this cute little
Italian place on her side of the island. I desperately needed to
recharge ME:  loving, fun, ambitious, awesome
ME. I wanted to take “time out” one day of the week to not
care for any one but me as last week was all about
relatives. I wanted to celebrate that I am enough. What I do
for others is enough.

The sun is out. It’s warm and our table is in the shade. We order bruschetta and a bottle of wine. I notice that around us there are more women than men. They, too, were perhaps on a break from doing too much. We were all on a mission to solve each others’ home front problems with a glass of wine and laughs. To raise our wine glasses to We are simply the best!

I put aside all my hangups and guilt about playing hooky from my day job. Surprisingly, no relative  died that I’m aware of and the world continued to rotate on its axis.

Caring for relatives is hard and it’s more work than I desire.
I know I make their world much easier, but I find my world, as a result, is just more complicated.  It’s work! It’s work without a 40lK.
Would I be a happy-go-lucky gal if I were paid the minimum
wage at least? Why, yes. This is what I know–money talks.

Six months ago I needed a new rear bumper. I asked the
mechanic, “Can you fix my bumper and take a look at
two door dings and fix them with no charge? They are tiny door
dings.”

“We don’t work for free, ma’am.”

“Good to know,” I replied.

This is what I know–no work is FREE.

I wish my family were mindful each week of throwing me
a bone like a gift certificate for Starbucks or Bed, Bath and Beyond. I would even gladly accept and appreciate $5.00 for gas.

“Help others from the goodness of your heart,” my husband says.

“Of course,  Old Wise One.”

I married a wise man.  He’s smart and right on. Lately I have been
living in darkness. His wisdom was refreshing like a cool drink.

I will continue to give from a place of goodness.
From a place of not to keep score.
From a place of karma, it will all come back to me.

Who is your BF? What do you do to celebrate?

Dear God,
Many times during the day, I feel I’m in the wrong
SPACE. This space doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t fit me.

Be with me as I go about my day. Give me something
to believe in when I feel uncomfortable and suffocated.

Thank you for best friends.
Teach us God to be caring mothers, daughters, wives, and nieces
in our little corner of the world. Thank you. Amen.

Lola

 

 

 

 


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Piggyback Rides

She is 82 years old. Her hair is baby thin and gray at the roots. Ms. Clairol hair color #4 colors the rest. She was admitted to the hospital last weekend because she fell by the pool. She has five fractures in her pelvis. Meet my Aunt Miranda.

It’s Monday. My mother and I are at her bedside talking to her about her discharge and rehab journey. Half the time her mind is in a confused state because of her medications. But, before her hospitalization she was already forgetful. Now, she is nervous like a bee buzzing around for a place to LAND. Her sister, Lucy, tells me all the time, Miranda gets nervous especially when she can’t find her morning pills. She prays to St. Anthony to help her find them.

I watch her lay there in her hospital gown, her elbow bruised and so swollen it’s the size of an apple. Her tummy is bloated. Her socks are canary yellow. “Where am I ?” she asks. “Am I at the Filipino Community?”

“No, you are at the hospital.” I tell her. She taps her food tray. “Where did you buy this?” She asks my mother who is trying hard to conceal a laugh. “It’s from the cafeteria. I didn’t buy it.”

“Oh, I see.”

Miranda takes a sip of her chicken broth. Her nose wrinkles. Her tongue comes out.

Oh sh–, I think. I hope she didn’t burn her tongue. She reaches for her napkin and wipes her tongue real fast. “What’s wrong?” I ask. “Is it hot or is it that you don’t like chicken broth?”

“IT TASTE LIKE PEE.”

“Have you tasted pee before?” I demand.

“No, no. But if I did that is how it would taste.”

Mother and I leave her room to get the giggles out of us.

One day last week, before her, fall I picked Miranda up for her stress test. This is how it went: “Slow down, you are going too fast. Where are we? Oh Lord, we are lost. I’m late already.”

“What do you mean late? You told me to pick you up at 7:15 am. I figured your doctor’s appointment was at 8:00. I see on your appointment card it’s at 9:00! Aunt Miranda, you have to calm down and you cannot tell me how to drive or we will crash and burn.”

“I like to be early.”

No sh–.

In certain moments of the day when I’m emotionally balanced, I have wave of peace in me. God is using Aunt Miranda to widen the space in my heart to be more patient and caring. After four hours with her, I’m wiped out. I need a stress test myself. I talk to myself about not resisting what is in front of me. I need to lean into it, whatever that means.

I study her wrinkles and her collapsed tent-like eyelids. Quietly in the back of my mind, I hear myself saying that one day I will have just as many wrinkles and my hair will be thin like hers. I’ll have a cane or a walker just so I can go from point A to point B. That can’t happen to me, I retort. I’m too vain for a cane, let alone a walker. Then my thoughts go further like to wearing DEPENDS. I’m pretty sure that those don’t feel and look right with yoga pants. It’s a sad vision.

What concerns me the most is I don’t want to give my family a hard time caring for me. I love this one song by U2 called ONE. One lyric goes “we have to carry each other, carry each other.”

Maybe this is what  it’s all about? I’m giving piggyback rides to my aging mother and relatives while I wait for my real life to begin.

As a little kid, did you get piggyback rides? And now, is there an Aunt Miranda on your back that you are giving a piggyback ride to?

Dear God, You said “ask and you shall receive.” Please lighten my piggyback rides. Can someone give me a piggyback ride? I know that my aunt is in my life for a reason. Continue to keep me present. For all the men and women caring for aging parents and aunts, keep us calm, kind, and present. May we care for our relatives without judgments. Amen. Lola


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Attach Your Oxygen Mask First

These are days of NO MORE KIDS at home, 90-year-old relatives to care for, and stumbling around trying to find open doors of opportunities that will eventually lead me to my dream career. I have to remind myself to breathe. Breathing was always automatic for me, since birth. I’m sure it is for you, too. The other day I was in bed and I told myself, “Lola, breathe.” It caught me off guard. Wow, since when did my mind tell me to take a breath? I realized I wasn’t putting myself in the #1 slot on the TO DO List.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, it was important for me to take time out. I did that by calling our neighborhood sitter, Holly, for half the day. I had the day to play golf or exercise or, better yet, attend Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale. I didn’t have to remind myself to breathe. I knew how to put myself first. Raising my boys was not a tug-of-war in my heart. I loved being home with them, catering to their every need, and watching them grow up. I was their mom. No one else could do it.  I knew that, so it felt okay to call a sitter and take a break. Taking care of myself like this came naturally.

Now when my mother or aunt wants something from me or asks me to take them to the doctor or to Safeway to pick up their prescription, I get irritated. Why am I irritated? I guess it’s because I feel like I already raised two active boys. I have done my job. I’m not an only child. Can’t someone else step in?

There’s something not quite right here. If you are like me–50 and menopausal–you have aging parents and aunts. I tend to assume that I am the only one who can do the job.

My Wisdom Fairy Felicia taps me on the shoulder. “All you do is say YES without thinking. When you were raising the boys, you called a sitter so that you could care for YOU. “With the boys there really was only one mom.  But with your elders, you need to remember that you are not the only qualified person in your family. You hear your ego with its very big “tsk, tsk, tsk.” You allow it to judge you. Listen. Put your oxygen mask on first before you put it on others. Get it?”

She has a point. No wonder I’m having to remind myself to breathe. I’m out of oxygen!

This is what I’m aware of. When we do it all ourselves, we don’t give others the opportunity to step in and help. However, it’s mind boggling what happens when there is a need for help or a ride. I’ve noticed siblings and friends disappear. They don’t answer their cell phones. They have been kidnapped by UFOs.

This awareness is upsetting. It makes me long for a happy pill to erase how I feel. But, it’s all because of one simple thing. I do not step back and ask myself, “Can someone else contribute their time?” My husband tells me, “Do what you can and leave the rest to others.” Okay, I’ll do that. I won’t become a ball of yarn so tightly wound up that I end up yelling at the wrong person.

I’ll take a breath.

Last month, I finally opened my mouth and told my mother and relatives what’s what. I gave them my schedule of availability. I can drive them anywhere Monday through Thursday. The result? I have regained my life. I’m happier. I can breathe freely . . . Now, I get to schedule my errands, pay bills, and clean the condo. I get to do FUN stuff like taking long walks with my husband along the beach, jogging, blogging, writing, or having lunch with my BF.

Now, I look forward to seeing my relatives and mother. I’m pleasant. It’s a gift when you are able love yourself first. So, please attach your oxygen mask first before you attach it to others.

When was the last time you took TIME OUT?

Dear God, I know that we have to take care of our loved ones especially when they can’t drive, they’re half blind, and can’t walk as fast as they used to. As women we have so much on our plates that it overwhelms us. Guide us to step back and pray to you for help and patience. Refuel our spirits with your positive energy. Let us know that it’s not a sin to put ourselves first. Thank you for my health. Thank you for a car that runs smoothly. Thank you for giving me a heart of compassion. Amen. Lola


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I Wonder

A young teenager with no shirt but highly decorated with tattoos is pulled by his pit bull on a skateboard. I see a man with a baseball cap with one sleeve neatly folded over sitting on the bench watching sailboats, the ferry, and cruise ships pass by. I wonder is he worried about something? Is he enjoying the sun?

I sit on my deck with my laptop waiting for a molecule of creativity. Nothing. I stare at the white page. It stares back. I wonder what am I going to blog about?

Living in the Pacific Northwest has its perks when the sun comes out. Kids, dogs, and all sorts of colorful people walk on the beach for fun, relaxation, and vitamin D. The downside is that it rains a lot. I watch couples stroll side by side. I wonder which couple is on their first date or unhappily married. I can always tell which couples are miserable with each other.

A perfect summer day in the Pacific Northwest. July 4th is coming to an end. The man with a baseball hat quietly sits watching the ferry. My thoughts turn to him . . . how did he end up with one arm. Was he in the Marines? I wonder if he went to war?

Here I am on my deck. I get to wake up everyday looking at the ocean and yet I get whispers of concern and doubts. I worry about my two adult boys. Will they find passion and purpose in life? Are they doing OK? I hope they find soul mates who are kindhearted and beautiful. I hope they find all they wish for or it finds them. Will I FIND “it”–whatever it is that’s missing from my middle aged life? Most days this question speaks louder than the waves of the ocean and rhythm of summer. My anxiety overrides the of beauty the day. I hope it finds me before I find it.

I have learned, now that the boys are out of the house, to discipline my thoughts and quiet my worries and concerns about my boys’ careers, my own life, my marriage, my mother’s health, and my BF’s back pain. I have to talk to my worries like a little child. “It all will work out,” I say.

Like rain and more rain, the anxieties will stop and allow what we are looking for to appear . . . green trees, fresh air, and a chance to go to the beach with the kids and dogs for some fun and relaxation.

Dear God, Thank you for the beauty before us. The ocean, the sun, green trees, and sunsets at the end of the day. Open our eyes every day to see your everyday masterpiece. It’s all there in front of us. Discipline my everyday thoughts. Don’t let me get off centered today about stuff I can’t control. Amen. Lola


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July 4, It’s Beyond Baked Beans & 120 Chicken Drummettes

Did you have a birthday last week? My brother Earl did on July 5. As usual we celebrate all week. I’m from a big, huge family. On July 4, the day is all about food and family. I also think a lot about what to wear to the party.

But, first the focus is planning the menu. What to barbecue? And where do we shop before July 4th? Costco. You know they carry everything: food, dresses, dirt, furniture, tires. They hold you hostage, don’t they? Why go anywhere else? Prescriptions? They have it. Funeral planning? They’ve got it. John Deere lawnmowers? Sure, those are in stock. Costco planned it that way. Do you really need 12 cans of tuna or industrial-sized Windex. Of course!

Everyone has the same goal to buy as much baby back ribs, hot dogs, buns, and baked beans as possible. Let’s not forget 120 drummettes so my cousin, Caesar, can marinate  them over night with his “secret sauce.”

It’s sunny out and perfect for paddle boarding or hanging out on the deck of Cactus restaurant. We are at Costco. I’m with Rita (my sister),  mother, and Caesar. It’s a family affair. Rita is the leader of the Guerrero brigade. She pulls out a cart, the size of a flat truck bed. Her one-page list is in her hand. Slinging her designer purse over her shoulders, she is ready for action. She is neatly dressed with her cream shirt and peach-colored shorts. There’s not one wrinkle. What’s up with that? And I KNOW she bought another cute outfit for the party and well, so did I.

As I watch Rita go on “attack mode.” I’ m thinking, “People, if you don’t want to get hurt, get out of the way. This woman has $150.00 worth of ribs to buy.”

Different shapes  and sizes of customers walk the aisle of Costco.  All have the desire to celebrate July 4th, Freedom Day. Or they are simply excited that it’s a holiday and it’s time to eat and pound down six-packs all day. Hurried customers are all around me. I’m present. I quiet my mind amid the chaos of Costco. I think, July 4th–it’s about Freedom. I wonder if even half of the customers here are thinking about how great it is to live in the USA.  Freedom of speech–to speak up and say what you mean. Freedom to drive (in some countries, women can’t drive) and marry your partner. Freedom to pray to God. Freedom to read his book–the Bible. Lucky us.

I surprise myself by being patriotic in the middle of Costco’s wine section. Why today? In the past, I have taken my freedom for granted. It was always what to wear to the barbecue. I think I’m doing it now to quiet my mind and go inward. Saying “thank you” for the Freedom I have to walk down the street. And to set up territory on Harbor Beach to celebrate it and my brother’s birthday. So today let’s take a moment to say “I’m lucky I live here.”

I want to know how do you feel about living in the US of A?

Let’s pray.

Dear God, Thank you for our Freedom. We have so much and we take it for granted. I do all the time. Continue to quiet my mind and be present to my surroundings. Bless everyone I meet today with a grateful spirit. Bless me with a grateful spirit. Amen. Lola