lola guerrero

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

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There are landmark moments in our lives that we remember. Certain moments could be the birth of your children, divorce, death . . . or saying, “Enough, I’m going in for treatment.”

Landmark moments shape you and they never leave your memory.
These moments become the landscape of your life.

My mind travels back in time every October.
I never used to like October, but I do now.
I love looking at trees. They are so pretty, standing tall saying, “Check me out. Look closely at my colorful leaves of yellow and orange.” (If a tree could talk that is what it would say.)

A lot takes place about this time of year, too. It starts to get dark early. It’s rainy and cold.
All sorts of candies are piled high in front of the grocery entrance.
You can’t help but pick up five bags.
But, most of all, about this time I think of my late dad.

My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer the last week of September.
Four weeks later he died. He died Oct 24, 2006 at 9:54 am at Swedish Hospital.

As it gets close to the anniversary of his death, I begin to ask myself questions. Where was I at this time? Who was I with?
What was said between my dad and me?
How did each family contribute their time and love to care for him?

It’s something I do. It gives me comfort, peace, and I a smile that we talked, hugged, and forgave one another.

When I was growing up, we were never close.

For the very first time that October in 2006, I was getting my education about cancer, Medicare, endless prescriptions, and death.

I first heard the word matastasized.
What does that mean? I had to look it up.
Definition: Cancer cells have spread all over dad’s body.

My first time to hear this phrase, “He is actively dying.”
Layman’s term: Let him go .
I was on autopilot for four weeks.
I thanked God that there were 25 family members to help out.

My mom, three brothers, my sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins were present.

There was a lot to do. Dad had chemotherapy about
once a week. I became the taxi driver. Dad’s sister is a nurse so she kept track of all his medications. My mom cooked all of dad’s meals. I made arrangements for a hospital bed to be delivered to their home. My brothers and sister re-configured the whole house to accommodate the bed in the middle of the living room.

There were calls to make to Medicare and to our lawyer friend to write up a Power of Attorney so the doctors could talk to 25 family members.  Prescriptions had to be filled and picked up.
The doctor prescribed one particular medication for dad. My jaw dropped when I added the total cost. One pill was $100. Wow.

My family is huge. A couple of our aunts didn’t get along and they thought it was OK to argue at dad’s house about their issues.
Well, my sister, Rita, put a stop on all their nonsense.
She became Sergeant Rita.
She made an announcement and it went like this:
“All arguments and ill feelings will not be tolerated at dad’s house as we take care of him. This is about dad, not you.
Leave all negative feelings at the door when you come inside. Thank you very much.”
You go Rita! All she was missing was a blow horn.

Any landmarks in your life?

Dear God,
My time and memories of my dad playing with and
hugging my boys, babysitting, attending all their sports games, and the last four weeks of his life are all I need to bring a smile to my face. All other memories of him I have let go.
They no longer serve me and my spirit.

For those who are going through rough times with an aging or dying mom or dad, instill in their hearts a path of forgiveness. In the end, it is all about forgiveness anyway.


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Good, Better, Best

My BF recently hired Susan, a wellness/ nutrition coach.  So far, Susan’s advice to eat more healthfully includes a list of snacks divided into categories–Good, Better, Best.

My BF sent me the list.

Reading it at home alone, I said to no one, “Ha! How about that! There are good, better, and best in snacks. Good to know.” But, darn it! Beef jerky didn’t make it on the BEST list.

I began to think about good, better, and best not in snacks, but in life. My life.

I thought of Oprah, who seems to live and breathe nothing but the best. She’s on tour now. She is coming to my town in three weeks.

But ladies, the BEST exists for all of us, not just for Oprah. I think the best comes to whomever desires it.

My therapist, Ruth, told me one time, “God wants us to be HAPPY and have the best.”

Remember that movie Field of Dreams? The Voice says to Kevin Costner, If you build it, he will come. That quotation has become an inspiration and an invitation to people all over the world to follow their dreams.

I believe what wish and dream for can and will come true.

For the heck of it, I let my mind wander through my field of dreams. Suddenly, I was excited. You’ll never win the lottery if you never buy a ticket, as they say.

Here are my top 12 wishes for my BEST life. There are 12 because 12 is my favorite number.

In my BEST Life, I have:
1. A fit and healthy body.
2. An intelligent and curious mind that keeps up with all the Apple software and updates.
3. My two girlfriends who think I’m simply the BEST.
4. Not a single trace of cellulite on my body.
5. A tummy tuck surgery scheduled on my calendar.
6. 53m ++ in the bank.
7. Front row seats at the Oscar and I’m nominated for BEST actress.
8. Lucrative speaking engagements all over the country.
9. Many BEST-selling books because I’m a BEST-selling author.
10. Sons who are the BEST at their careers and they are happy and cool human beings.
11. A condo at the Edsa Shangrila in Manila and an apartment in Manhattan.
12. A beach house in Maui for spending all the Christmas holidays.

What’s your BEST life look like?

Dear God,

You said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)”

I have made my list. If it is your will and for my highest good, I would love to have all my heart’s desires.

If having even half of my list would just be superficial and cause my head to swell up, forgive me.

Today, bless every member of my family, every friend, and all the people I don’t know.
Give each of us the desire to dream big and do good things.
And help us understand that when much is given, much is expected.



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“Get Out of Jail” Card, Part 2

A light switch turned on when I turned 50.
My voice was always meek and shallow. I had no idea that I spoke from my throat.

In acting class, my teacher, Robin, said to me, “Speak from your gut.” She put her hand on her stomach.
“The tone and how you deliver your lines will make a big difference.”

She was right. Now, my tone is deeper, stronger. I speak for a reason. I want to be heard. I desire my thoughts and feelings to be considered.

I have to always keep in mind . . . saying NO is OK.
The sky will not fall; no one will bleed to death.

I decided I was going to honor me this Sunday. And when I took steps to make that happen . . .

Damn! Did I get excited!

For sure, I’m heading to the gym and after that a movie with popcorn and candy.

Does it sound selfish?
Being selfish has its place and time.
It’s about loving yourself. Putting yourself 1st.

Ever wonder who’s life is it?
Are we going to live authentically and be true to our heart’s desire even for one day?

Or are we going to put on a fake smile in order to please others?

It is poison to walk around being fake . . . our whole being is not real.

I have done it many times for survival, but now I know that I can’t do it anymore.

I have realized that, usually, the person I’m pleasing doesn’t appreciate my company and what I bring to the table.
When this happens, I feel my lower intestines coil up. A knot that feels like the size of an orange just sits there in my lower gut. I feel sick.

I love that I had this conversation with my BF two weeks ago.
I was complaining to her that I never have time for what I want to do and she asks, “What’s your part in this situation?’
My part was that I’m pleasing everyone but me.
As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for yah?”

Yes, we have family obligations: funerals, weddings , birthdays, Thanksgiving dinners . . . I get it.
I know which services to attend.

But, when you begin to get quiet and spend some time alone with God in meditation and in prayer you intuit what feels right and what doesn’t.
That is  the beginning of wisdom and pure acceptance of who you are.
It’s the start of standing firm.
Your yes will be yes and no will be no.

Dear God,
I believe you put people in my life to challenge me. And you give me setbacks to help me grow.

I don’t like these challenges, but I know they will make me a better person.
To love more and not hate.
To be more forgiving.
To rise to the occasion and not shrink in fear.

Increase our love to all the Bettys in our lives, but help us see when enough is enough. Bless us with peace and knowing that it is OK to say NO once in awhile.



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“Get Out of Jail” Card, Part 1

Next week is Betty’s birthday. She’s my mother-in-law.
My husband said we will be meeting his brother and his wife for dinner to celebrate.

With my back as vertical as possible and my shoulders squared up, I faced him. Speaking from my center,  I said, “No, I’m not going.” His face turned sour. He didn’t like my answer.

In the past, I lived my life around my husband and other people. Always, around October, we have a birthday dinner for his mom. And on Mother’s Day, we take her out to brunch.
I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I have always gone along and tried not to get upset that I wasn’t doing what I wished to do on Mother’s Day.

Once in a great while clarity arrives; you reach a place of truth that belongs only to you. The fog lifts.
I had such a “fog lifting” moment.
To certain people in our lives, you just have to say,

I have honored Betty’s birthday for the last 25 years.
I am using my Get Out of Jail card for this one.

It’s her birthday. She is 84 years old.
She has lived through eight marriages, raised two sons, had cancer and fought it. She was a dynamite restaurant owner and manager and has had her share of the usual miserable lows of life.
She simply plowed through them. She’s a work horse like that.

I admire her strength and tenacity.
I love her ribs and pot roast. I wish I could cook like her, but that will never happen.

The other side of the coin is she that she is a poster child for
passive aggressive-drama queen behavior.

Saying “No, I’m not going” was a huge lesson for me.
It took every ounce of energy I have to say those four words.

I prayed about speaking up with honesty and with integrity in my voice. I had to believe in me . . .
that I have value beyond just being able to fulfill someone else’s expectations.

Betty’s expectation is for me and for everyone else to be there to make her happy. Every time, we fail and she lets us know it.
But, the only person who can make her happy is herself.

Meeting the expectations of other people and pleasing them is not what I was meant to do on this planet.

I know that challenging relationships and setbacks are opportunities to grow–use these opportunities to speak up, stand your ground, and follow your heart.