lola guerrero

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


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Let It Be

It was way too early to start crying. Can’t it wait
until 5 pm at least? Then, I can cry and have a glass of wine.

I glance at our kitchen clock. It was only 8 am.

“Get a hold of yourself. You’re hormonal,” I tell myself.
It’ll pass. You’re just missing the boys, Ruth, and Napoleon.”

My husband sees me retreat to my office.
“Do you want to go now to visit Napoleon? I will put you on a plane.”
He knows me so well.

“NO. Can’t I just release some tears?
I will visit Napoleon on his birthday, which is
70 days, 5 hours, and 2 minutes from now.”

Napoleon is our grandson. He and his parents, Ruth and our son, live in the Philippines.

My husband, I love him, but he feels he has to “fix it.” Not right now.
I really wanted to cry and release missing Napoleon,
feeling bad about gaining weight around my middle, and worrying that I should get a job at Rite Aid to give my life meaning. Then there are varicose veins  .  .  . fretting about health and life insurance and whether we have enough coverage.

All this noise takes up space in my heart and head.
I give it so much power.

And I’m Ms. Fix It when it comes to my boys.

I would fly to the ends of the world to be with
them. I would love to fly back to NYC to help
Ralph move in to a cramped three-bedroom apartment with
two other roommates. I’d stock up their fridge,
get new sheets for his bed, and sets of latte-colored
towels for their bathrooms.
Knowing my son Ralph. I don’t think that would fly.

For Christopher, he is so well taken of that he doesn’t need his mama. He has a driver and a yaya (a maid) six days a week. And he has Ruth, his partner.

However, I know someone who does need me. Lil’ Napoleon. He puts the spin on my top. He makes me laugh; he melts my heart.
I would be happy to be his 24 -7 nanny. I would be on board with
that.

I wish my husband and I had 17 more children like
that one family on TV. No empty nest season there.
None of this missing my babies and crying at 8 am.
Sheesh!

My inner dialogue each day comforts me: “This too shall pass. Let it be. God is good, he will provide, and he will not let you down.”

Dear God,
Each day I’m getting clear about appreciating what was then and what is now. I whisper a thank you that I had time with my sons and that I took part in raising and shaping them to be respectable young men.

Now, I release them to you for they were only loaned to
me for a short time.

I trust that you will show them the your way, your truth.

For all the empty-nest moms out there like me . . . fill our lonely
hearts with your spirit. Motivate us to get on with our lives and be
proactive.

Remind us that we’re not done yet. We’re just gettin’ started.

Amen

Lola


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I Didn’t Sign Up For This

Today marks 26 years of being with the same man.

Can you imagine?
Happy Anniversary to me.
Another gold star on my marriage certificate.
You may be wondering how I got to
26 years. Well, I will tell yah.

This much I have learned–there is no “secret” to a long-sometimes-happy, disagreements-rich, full-of-compromises marriage.

It’s hard work 24-7 and a long haul.

I had no idea what I was doing 26 years ago and I still don’t.
I think, “What’s going on here? I didn’t sign up for this.”
And, then I answer myself,  “Yes, you did.”

My husband and I love to
take long walks along the beach or around our neighborhood
when the sun is out.
And then we go in the direction
of a nearby park with picnic tables and huge 100-year-old trees.

Sometimes there are cracks along the sidewalk and if I don’t look down and notice where I’m going, I can easily stumble, loose my balance, fall, and twist an ankle.

Marriages have stumbling places like this, too.

My husband and I sometimes walk separately and alone because we simply can’t agree , have disappointed one another, or just can’t stand the sight of each other any longer.

When this happens I feel lost on my walks.  I’m insecure  about my next step and anxiety sets in. Those old trees are scary.

At these times, alone and overwhelmed by my forest of doubts, is when God and I meet. This is the time I question my love for my husband, my love for myself, who I am, the value of my life,
and whether it is worth it to move forward.

I cry out for God’s arms to hold me and to say to me
in audible voice “Don’t give up. Be strong.”

I say to God, “If he would only change the way I want him to and
be more sensitive and listen to me, I would love him,  even more . . .  it’s not working and, by the way,
he needs to be SAVED.”

Then, the reply is “Stop doing the work of the Holy Spirit, my dear one. It’s you who needs to change. You who needs to be SAVED.”

When I make a few minor adjustments in my attitude so that I am open and able to listen to him. And I have the patience to let him finish his sentence. And when I am being more grateful and thanking him for all he does for our family, I notice more positives in our marriage. We are much happier and the kids are calmer. We are in sync. We talk more. We love more.

How do you keep your love going?

Dear God,

Thank you for my marriage. I know I couldn’t have done
it without your guidance, support, and loving
arms to hold me up when all I want to do is to give up, curl up
under the covers, and wait for when its all over.

My husband and boys are the reasons why
I stay on my knees and keep on praying to you to help me
be the best wife and mom in your eyes.

Today, bless all the couples with the gift of seeing the best in each other, listening to each other, and lifting each other up.

Amen.
Lola


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Death, Sometimes Unfair

DEATH is sad and dark and sometimes unfair.
Since April of this year, I have lost three relatives and one neighbor.
Thursday morning was swept away by making coffee,
making fresh juice, ironing, and jumping in the shower
to get to Katie’s funeral service on time.

A migraine slowly took its place behind my left eye, but
I persevered. I wanted to show up.
I didn’t know her that well. She was a neighbor in my building. We
exchanged small talk about her husband,
Bob, and the never ending topic The Weather.

Katie had an apple pie sweetness and I
gravitated to her. I had this vision of her looking down
from heaven and seeing that I attended her service and
I know what she would say (with a smile) “Oh, Lola made it.
That’s nice.”

At her service, her family described her as a gentle soul, quiet,
unassuming, and as someone who loved to shop. She was a caring
mother to her children and to her husband of 50 years. One family
member remembered Katie saying, “If I did one thing right in this
world, it was that I was there for Bob.”

This is what I knew about Katie. Her husband, Bob, was going
through many health issues.
She took on the challenge of caring for him from feeding
to driving him to his chemo. I ‘d see her in passing.
She looked faded and worn out. I knew how she felt; I have traveled
that road. When a family member has cancer,
you simply surrender. You have no sense of
time; you can’t eat or sleep.

Bob lost his battle with cancer 15 months ago.
After Bob’s death, Katie got her life in full gear . . .
returning to her part-time job at the mall, seeing friends,
and visiting family. After being widowed for only five months, she
found out that she had liver cancer.

The doctor gave her three months to live.
She surpassed it by living for two more months.
She died two weeks ago.

I question God’s way of doing things sometimes. Don’t you?
How unfair! I thought. Couldn’t she have at least lived 10 more years?
More years to enjoy some pleasures in life like going on a
safari adventure in Africa with a girlfriend or joining her
neighbors for HAPPY HOUR at our neighborhood
bar and grill.

With my migraine in full throttle, I managed to catch a few words from
Father John during the service. He said
“Katie’s life was about caring for others. Many times we wonder
how can this happen? But we have to Trust God.
God knows the future not us.
He see’s the bigger picture. We are only a small part of the equation.”
I know Katie is in a better place . . . heaven is cancer-free. I just
don’t get the part where she was beginning to get in the FLOW of
life then learns she has cancer and dies. Maybe there’s nothing to
understand about death. You accept it and move forward.

These days I feel a sense of relief knowing Katie
and my relatives are in heaven, surrounded by God’s light.
In this way, my losses have gradually felt less like dark and sad
experiences.
Heaven to me is a place where there’s no suffering.

Dear God,

I question your way of doing things. At times
I can’t see the big picture, but if I did it would overwhelm me
and I wouldn’t get out of bed.

In the book of Isaiah, which I have memorized
and hold close to my heart, you say, “My thoughts
are completely different from yours, and my ways are  far
beyond anything you could imagine. For just
as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than
your thoughts.”

I love that verse.
Today, help me believe we are all
here for a reason and a purpose.
Amen.
Lola

 


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What Is On Your Plate?

When you enter an Italian restaurant because of
Yelp’s raving 4-star review or a friend said have
dinner there, do you get excited? I do.

I get all smiley faced when we go out and have
dinner. There are two reasons for this:
1. I don’t have to cook.
2. I know what will be “on my plate” for the evening — fun and possibilities.

It’s like taking my 6-year-old goddaughter, Starr, to the park
and later on for ice cream.
She knows that for the next five hours, she will not be bored.

The waiter hands us our menu and I look at it, inspect it,
turn it over many times. I survey the room to see
what everyone ordered. I take interest in the list of wines and
types of desserts available. I get giddy about all the choices.
I can almost taste the anchovies on the Caesar salad, the texture of
the pasta . . .oh, the anticipation of what will
be 10 inches from my face.

Why can’t all of life be that way?

Two months ago, Aunt Lucy and Aunt Miranda showed
up in my life. They were on the menu, but I know for sure
I didn’t order THE SPECIAL OF THE DAY: 2 old ladies.

My husband said, “It’s admirable and compassionate
of you to care for your aunts rather than have a JOB.”

Hearing that, I got despondent. I tossed and turned half way
through the night.
If its so admirable of me to care for others
then why am I not jumping up and down on the couch? Why am I
popping a blue pill before I meet and greet them.

I told him the morning after, “It’s mighty of me to look after 40 of my relatives. Any person can do that. I feel like I’m not using the
talents God gave me.”

Throughout the day, I nurse thoughts of slipping back to bed.
I can feel my hands surrendering and all my grandiose plans
slipping away through my fingers.

But, every day my plate is full. Thank you, God.
I took the time to write today.

When I stare at my daily plate, visions come to me.
I arrange each item I see. The mundane activities, the side dishes, sit on the edge of my plate. They are my relatives, cleaning toilets,
balancing my checkbook, making appointments, and writing email.

The center of my plate holds where I get the nutrition that feeds my soul. My boys, husband, friends, gym, church. And Ruth, my daughter-in-law, because she sends me photos of my grandson.

The center is the best part. It makes me happy. These activities feed me.
Why do I need to have all those other parts on my plate, too?

I have been thinking about what this all means for the last four weeks.
I think it’s my lesson again in giving and loving unconditionally.
And to not stress out too much. To relax and find enjoyment, even
in the mundane chores of life.

I thought I was done with this lesson, probably God thinks I need a
refresher course.

What is on your plate?

Dear God,
What are you teaching me at the moment?
Its doesn’t feel good for you to expand my heart, stretch my
arms, so I can hug more people, but I’m sure its necessary so
I can be the kind of person you want me to be.

One day this entire plate of food will become tasty,
interesting, and inspiring. I won’t pick over the side dishes.
I trust that my favorite dessert, tiramisu,
is included.

Thank you. Amen.

Lola


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Argentina, Somewhere Warm

It’s a typical Monday in my wild and carefree existence. My husband is getting ready for work and I’m getting ready to go to the gym. I call it my church–the assembly of able bodies and mind.

He knows I write and blog. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me what topics will be of interest to 70 million people and become a best seller. “People are not interested in your life, my life, nor our children’s lives. Blah, blah, blah.” After he said our “children’s lives” I feel a dart hit me right between the eyes. And my brain goes to static like an old TV set gone haywire. I fail to hear the rest of the sentence. I felt judged.

After being in therapy for 10 years I was trained not to react but to act. To not shutdown, but express myself. I summon energy . . . “Oh, right. Old Wise One. Well, have a pleasant day at the office.” Then I breezily pick up my gym bag and head out the door with hope that the next person I meet will have more uplifting words for me.

My husband’s comment was a bit much on a Monday morning. Wouldn’t you say?

I go to my car and my mind is filled with a string of thoughts. I’m 50, I act and write, I keep myself physically fit, I’m in menopause, I’m married with two kids out on their own. My libido is out on its own, too. “IT” decided to move to Argentina, some where warm.

I’m also a taxi driver to my 70-year-old mother. I’m not interesting? Wow. Let me just go down to the beach and bury my head in the sand with my BUTT sticking up.

After my one hour run on the treadmill, I get over it. I forgave Old Wise One for judging me. Instead it got me thinking.

In Matthew 7 it says, “Stop judging others and you will not be judged.” I need to be conscious of that and to bite my tongue. I judge everyone wheather they are alive or dead. I judge my sister-in-law for not taking care of her children the right way, my way. I judge my dead uncle for not being kind to my aunt when he was alive. Who am I to pass judgement on someone doing their best in life? And how arrogant of me to judge someone that is dead.

Today, it starts with me. I will live and breath Matthew 7. I hope you do the same.

Dear God, Give me your eyes. Let me see the innocence of who I meet and talk to today. Bless me with words to lift them up, not tear them down. What I say to others will find its way back to me  so put my heart and tongue in check. Thank you for reminding me that judging, kindness, and love begin with me.  Amen. Lola