lola guerrero

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


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Christmas Is Over. Hallelujah. Let’s Move On.

 

Is there a sense of a relief that Christmas is over?

For me, YES. Hallelujah. Let’s move on.

Christmas is about inviting relatives over for white rice, chicken adobo or ham, and strawberry cheesecake from Costco.

It’s about brotherly love and peace. And celebrating Baby Jesus’ birthday. Right? Not quite at least for my side of the family.

They all come over to dinner on December 24 to celebrate.
Our condo is small. So my husband gets uneasy. He is a germ-a-phobe who is allergic to pet hair and big family gatherings.

We did talk about having my family over. We do this every year.
He quietly says “yes” with a sour face.

So, I know there will be nothing but discord in our relationship from December 23 until December 26. I had moments this year when I thought of of canceling dinner. But why I should I? I’m going to his mother’s on Christmas Day!

About ten  minutes before everyone comes over, my cell rings.
It’s my brother, Harold.

“Lola, is it OK to bring two friends for dinner?
“Absolutely.”
“Alright, we are outside your door. Buzz us in.”

On Christmas Eve, I live by this rule of etiquette: when others have no place to go, I open my door.

That’s because I always think:  What if my boys don’t have a place to go for the holidays? I would want their friends’ families to welcome them in.

Everyone arrives and the turkey is done. My husband is in the kitchen with his arms crossed. “When do I carve the turkey?” he demands.

“According to Good Housekeeping magazine, you have to let it sit for 30 minutes.”

I pour myself a glass of Merlot.

With eyes closed, I wish I was in Manila playing catch with my one-year-old Napoleon and listening to his giggle.

My nose inhales the scent of dark wood and I can taste a trace of cherry in my wine. It goes down soft.
Like a symphony, all my senses are in sync–just for a second.
.
Brewing in my head is : Why did he marry a Filipino? We have big families! I take another sip.

Sitting in front of me is my sweet sister-in-law Alice. She has animals at her home. I can spot a few dog hairs on her lovely gray sweater. Her five-year-old Arthur, who has blonde spikey hair, is running around with a red nose and shaking his water bottle filled with apple juice.

Randy, my brother’s friend, is sitting on our couch. He is under the weather. I tell myself to relax.

After dinner we open presents. Thank you God for my brother Earl’s sense of humor. My husband gave him a poster-sized gift for Christmas.

“Is this a blown up selfie of you in a yellow thong?” Earl asks.

Finally, my husband’s frozen jaw thaws.
“A thong and a halter top,” he replies. I see a smile.

After opening presents, we devour the strawberry cheesecake.

When everyone has gone home, I want to scream at my husband, “Was that so bad?” Nah . . . I give him the silent treatment instead. It’s more powerful.

I retreat to the kitchen with my wine. Rinsing dirty dishes relaxes me. The condo is silent, but the talk and laughter of my family lingers in my head.

Was it worth having my family over?  I think as I nibble on chicken and rice. Yes, but it is always complicated because my husband had a different kind of Christmas when he was younger.

With ten years of therapy, I have come to understand my husband.
He loves his space; he is not a big family kind of guy. And to add to that, our boys are not with us so we are both suffering in our own ways.

However, it’s important for me to speak up and say that I love having my family over–once a year–for three hours.

So where do I go from here? I count my positives in life. Doing that restores my breathing to a relaxed rhythm.

I sip the last drop of wine and I close my eyes and dream of wonderful Christmases to come.

Dear God,

Help us be who you want us to be in the coming
new year. Shape us, guide us, renew our
our thoughts, and our perceptions.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29v11.
Amen.
Lola

 

 

*****


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What Have You Done (the last 11 months), Part 2

 

JOHN: Another year over and a new one just begun.

LOLA: Indeed, 2014 is almost over. Next week my husband and I will be ringing in the New Year, very low key. Our tired bodies are in bed by nine and asleep by ten.

I will set my alarm for 12 so I can greet the new year and do what my mother told me to do.

Open my front door and let out the negative energy. Then, close it and open it again to let the positive energy come in. And do this with change in my pocket for prosperity and good fortune.

I think I will I have more than change, I’ll go for having 100s.

JOHN (smiles): Let’s hope its a good one without any fear.

LOLA: Oh, definitely, I HOPE so, too. It’ll be a relief when this Sony hacking situation is put to rest.

I hope certain reality shows will be cancelled like that one with the family with all the daughters’ names that start with K.
And I would like to see shows like Breaking Bad and Broadwalk Empire go away.They are too stressful and negative for my tastes.

I hope we all put our guns away.
It makes me afraid to think that a gun might get into the hands of a child or someone with mental illness.

I feel this fear everyday. It’s a great big fury rug on my shoulders that I have to shake off.

I say to myself: Fear or Faith? Pick one.

That is how my conversation would flow if I were having coffee with
John Lennon and talking about the new year.

Tell me. If John Lennon asked you What have you done?
What would you say?

Let’s pray.

Dear God,
A new year is around the corner. I’m getting panicky. Have I done all that you have asked me to do during this year? Have I been a good servant?

I desire to follow your will. May you continue to hold my hand and guide me to paths you have already prepared for me.

Bless each one of us with good health and good fortune. And may you give us courage to live our lives each day without fear.

Thank you.

Amen.

Lola

P.S. When I’m in my office with a candle burning and having a quiet time with God with all my uncertainties and thoughts about feeling unworthy put aside, I look over my list of things I did this year and I’m confident that I did great.

I didn’t land an interview with Barbara Walters. I wasn’t one of her 10 most fascinating people in 2014, but does anybody care?

God knows I show up and do the best I can. He loves me and sees the best in me.

And I believe when we serve the God of the universe with our hard work, he blesses us tenfold.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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What Have You Done (the last 11 months), Part 1

Every year in December I play John Lennon’s CD.
I insert the CD into my car’s stereo system and drive to the gym.

The words to the song Happy Christmas (War Is Over) make me cry.

I feel as if John Lennon is talking to me.
The tears well up around my eyes and a cocktail of uncertainty about the new year wells up in me, too.
Insecurities–am I confident enough? worthy enough?–seep through me, traveling in my veins.

Soon, black mascara is smeared all over my glasses.
I’m a mess when I reach my gym.

“Why play the song? ” you ask.
“Because I like to go through mild misery before getting to the gym.”

The first verse and chorus of the song go like this:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun  . . .

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
With out any fear

The title of the song ought to be:
What Have You Done.

As I sit in my car I IMAGINE
What if he was talking to me face to face having coffee? Haha.
A Beatles member talking to me . . . work with me here . . .

This is how it would go.

JOHN: AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS
Lola: Yes, John. I’m well aware that this is Christmas. There is stress all around me as people shop for for food and wine and mindlessly pick up gifts to give. Some will spend Christmas Eve with a small group  of friends or, like me, they will have 15 relatives come over for Christmas Eve, for honey baked ham and egg rolls.

JOHN: AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
Lola: Gosh . . . let’s see . . . [sigh] . . . such a loaded question. Let me tell you what I have NOT DONE. Not a whole lot. Nothing over the top that will get me inside the castle to have noon tea with the Queen of England. I won’t get to ask if she texts her grandkids.

Sadly, I have not done any acting to be considered a contender for this year’s Oscars. People Magazine didn’t include me on their list of 25 most intriguing people. I’m not intriguing enough, I guess.

My best seller is in its gestation stage. I didn’t find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

However, this is what I HAVE DONE.

In April, my husband and I began walking/ hiking 20-25 miles a week.
It was our way of getting to know each other all over again since our grown boys have moved on to start their careers.

At first we started out with short walks, then they got longer and longer. Our steps  at times are  in sync; other times he leads and I walk behind. Something like a marriage.
There are quiet moments and that’s OK. I know he is not tuning me out. We are both thinking and dreaming. Then, I recall something funny and giggle.
“What’s so funny?” he asks.

The sound of the pebbles under our feet when walking  on the beach or going through the woods have become meditative. Our long walks have become something we have started to look forward to.

By the end of summer, I realized it was God’s way of telling us this empty nest is not so bad. Give this new space a chance. Breathe.

There’s no reason for us to uncouple just because certain famous people are doing it.

In July, I started writing again and like everyone else, I got my own blog. I prayed about it; then took the leap.
And one lesson I learned this year is to close your eyes, hug all your fears, and JUMP!
The net will appear.

If what you are doing feels right God will let you know. If not, he will slowly close the screen door.

Bloggers have viewed my site. This is a good sign.

In September, I joined a Bible Study Fellowship. Instead of laying in my bed watching the sky turn to dusk, I decided to take the leap and join a class.

And I feel I’m in the right place. Being with a group of ladies who share the same faith has sparked an interest in becoming more involved–I’m considering becoming a welcome committee director.

In November, I traveled to Manila to visit someone more special than the Queen. I went to visit Napoleon.
I taught him how to “high- five.”
For sure, that was more enjoyable than having tea with the Queen.

My humanitarian efforts this year include driving my 90-year-old Aunt Lucy every Monday get her dentures fixed and to buy a week’s worth of food at Safeway. This takes five  hours.
I also care for my aging mother every Wednesday.

. . . to be continued . . .

************


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Mom, I Can’t Make It For Christmas

 

I got excited decorating the tree the other day.

Then, our son Ralph called from New York.
“Mom, I can’t make it for Christmas. I only have four days off. To get to Seattle, two days of my time would be flying.”

This would not have happened if he had moved to LA instead of back east.

At his words, my world came tumbling down as fast as a newly cut Christmas tree.

Now my Christmas will be crawling in my warm bed with one of John Grisham’s legal thriller paperbacks plus all my pillows and blankets to cushion my wounded soul until Dec 26.

This is the first year we don’t have any grown children with us to spend Christmas.

After talking to Ralph, I felt like crying, but I couldn’t. I stared at my walls with photographs of my boys and Napoleon. With my shoulders slumped, I told myself to breathe deeply. It was the only thing I knew how to do–breathe to the next moment.

But, in my next breath I had an A-HA moment. This holiday season is teaching me something: acceptance.
There is nothing to add or subtract.
Just: Let it be.

This is what happens when kids grow up (and grow old, too) and move far from home. And that is what they are suppose to do.
It’s in their DNA to leave the nest.

When I was 19, I moved all the way down south to a big scary city with lots of freeways. It is called LA.
I wanted to figure out a few things on my own.
I managed to make new friends, I worked 9 to 5,
I attended acting class at night, and I went out dancing on Fridays until 5 a.m.

Kids have to explore, to be a trailblazer at whatever career God guides them into doing and that uses all their gifts and talents.
THIS IS WHAT I TOLD MYSELF as I stared at all the photographs on the cream walls of my home office.

I do know that giving my children their space and meeting them where they are in life with a smile is what I do best.

When I talk to my boys I’m mindful to NOT say How come you never call? or How come you never visit? I know this would get them running in the opposite direction. I actually learned this lesson from my mother-in-law. She would pose these questions to her son and guess what? He doesn’t visit often.

I also know now what my own mother feels when all her five grown children are not together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the occasional Sunday dinners.

There is a small part in a mother’s heart that is not complete when her precious children are not with them in the same city.

“I’m not feeling JINGLE BELL ROCK this Christmas. Our boys, Ruth (my son’s girlfriend), and our grandchild Napoleon are not with us.”
I unload my emotions on my husband as we walk along the beach talking about Christmas and the weather.

“I’m sad.”  he says.
“I’m in good company!”
“We have each other.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”

Dear God,
It gives me comfort that I can lean on you for whatever comes my way this Christmas.

This is what I can do–pray without ceasing.
Pray that your spirit is with our boys to protect and care for them.

Bless them with friends to be with at Christmas so they will not be alone. Thank you for my prayer life. It keeps me from panicking and freaking out. I know you will take care of all things.

I ask for your blessing around the world to keep the world in perfect step with you.

Amen.

Lola


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Detoxing From My Smartphone, Part 3

 

Everyone here is gorgeous inside the Valkyrie night club.
The lights are dim. Maybe that’s why.
Ladies wear their hair long. There are lots of skin-tight dresses and hot pants with six-inch heels that prance around as if they own the place. Me? I have on my long black printed dress with two-inch heels. This is my go-to outfit when I attend a bible class.

Slowly I sip my drink and glance all around me. I am fascinated by how the ladies can wear these sky-high heels. They might fall and break a hip. Then what?

I can feel the energy and anticipation of how the night might unfold as the dancers move to the beat of Michael Jackson’s Rock With You.

I wanna ROCK with you . . . aaaalll night . . .

My last night in Manila we had dinner at an Italian restaurant. Christopher’s friends and basketball teammates joined us, too.
I had angel hair pasta, truffles with prosciutto, and red vino to sip and savor all evening.

About half of them had their cellphones on the table and were busy checking whatever it was that was urgent. Probably, Twitter accounts. They would look down at their cell, then look up to talk, and then look down again.

how do you work this thing

how do you work this thing

I didn’t take this behavior as rude. It was just my observation–these young heads moving up and down. It is what it is. This is my son’s generation. They do not detox from their electronic devices. Ever.
The cellphone is now part of the table setting.

After our past a dinner, would you believe they asked me to go clubbin’ with them? Again!
Anyone tired?

I told them, “I’m flattered you desire my company and I know you all love me, but think I will pass. I gotta go pack.”

“No, stay up all night.” They pleaded.
“All night? ” The last time I stayed up ALL night, you all weren’t even born and Ronald and Nancy were living in the White House.

“You can go straight to the airport.” They egged me on.

I smiled.  What a bunch of fun people! They want me to stay up with them.

Oh, to be 25  years old again. I wouldn’t mind having firmer buttocks and one less chin. I would love to see my waistline and have more energy. But, I would want to hold on to my wisdom–the stuff I know now. My strength, my surrendered spirit, and to know  that I’m not in control. God is. And that is my truth.

Inside my son’s condo, I began to pack and wished he and his family lived close by. However, I noticed that I felt proud of my ability to accept. I can let go of my young adult offspring.

Part of me wanted to stay longer and part of me was ready to go home.

What got to me was missing Napoleon waking up at 7 a.m. ready to play. I would miss his screaming for milk and to be carried. Though my back ached from carrying him. I would miss putting him to sleep in my arms while singing silly songs.

Looking on the bright side, I “get to” do this–visit my son for two weeks. For this, I’m grateful.

My son and his girlfriend asked me to extend my stay. I thought, How sweet. If only I had no penalty changes related to changing my departure flight . . .  I wouldn’t mind another three days of sunshine, tank tops, and limp hair.

I know this: I believe God hears us when we pray. Those times before a vacation, he knows we want to see our children filled with love, closeness, and laughter.

When my son asks me to stay longer, I know I must have done a few things right in my parenting.

FYI–for parents visiting their grown up kids and staying with them–my advice is: Know when to arrive and when to exit.

Fish start to smell bad when left too long in the refrigerator, ya know?

Dear God,

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

Thank you for going ahead of me on my trip and for lighting my path.
I had no vertigo episodes, no sickness on the plane, and just a few headaches due to too much red wine. It was nothing that two Tylenol couldn’t cure.

Thank you for the time I had to get to know my son and his family and for the time spent hanging out with his friends.

I pray for all the parents out there who visit their grown up sons and daughters this holiday season.
May the time of being together be full of laughter, great conversations, and thankful hearts.

Amen.
Lola


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Detoxing From My Smartphone, Part 2

IMG_7986The weather is 90 degrees and above in Manila and humid. Getting in and out of the Uber (car service) or walking to the nearest Starbucks means my skin will begin to feel sticky as  if I have another layer of skin.

After lunch and one such jaunt about town, we go back to the condo and I take my second cold shower of the day.  Napoleon is ready for his afternoon nap.

While out, I noticed most of the woman grow their hair long for easy management ( I guess) and pin it up.  I mean, who wants to blow dry their hair daily when you can walk outside and let it dry in three minutes?

Apparently, I do and tried. I have short hair. But, even with the AC on inside my son’s condo, I had perspiration stuck behind my neck as I blow dried my hair. I knew the minute I stepped outside it would go limp. Finally, I had to accept the idea of having a cute hairstyle with body was NOT going to happen in Manila.

Here’s another beauty issue I had while in the Philippines–my blush, eye liner, and lip liner would not stay on. Certain beauty regimens,  I just had to LET GO.

I decided that for my next trip, I will  get  extensions  and have my eyebrows, eyeliner, and lip liner tattooed on.

On, my fourth day of vacation, my son, Christopher, and his girlfriend, Ruth, had tickets to a Chvrches concert. It’s an indie band and although it is read as “churches” the “u” is in fact written as a “v.” Christopher and Ruth asked if I wanted to go with them? All their friends were going.

Sure, I said, it’s not like I’m busy.

I started to think . . . when was the last time I went to a concert?
Let’s see, I’m certain it was the beginning of Obama’s presidency.
I went  to see Fleetwood Mac.

Christopher, Ruth, and I went to the concert at 10 pm, which was past my bedtime but I was a sport. I was going to show up.

We ordered drinks and inside the dome the concert started. Walking in with my drink and wearing a thick bracelet that glowed in the dark, the sound of drums and singing went straight to my heart. I felt like the drummer was using my heart as a drum. The vibration of the music rattled my whole body.

I’m cringing, folks . . . it’s a BIT loud, will this affect my hearing? my vertigo issue? I hope not. I’m was glad I had my vertigo meds with me just in case.

“YOU GOOD, MOM?” Christopher  shouted at me.
“YEAH,”  I yelled back. “This is exactly what I had in mind, son,” I mouthed, but I’m not sure he heard me.

I love the fact that he was concerned for my well being at the concert. I raised a good boy.

After the concert, they asked me to go clubbin’ with them.
Me? I’m as old as a tree. You want me to join you at  a night club?Alrighty then.

They took me to a night club called Valkyrie.
Kimberly, one of my son’s friends, is one of the owners.
She’s a young girl on the move–owning a business.
“You go girl!”, I thought. “I know your mama is proud!”

When we entered the night club the DJ  had on the music hit by Pharrell called Happy. It’s a catchy tune.
By now my  gin and tonic  from the indie concert was flowing nicely in my bloodstream so I began to be-bop to it. Tight bodies and brown skin were everywhere.

I felt so out of place as an older person, but I didn’t let on. I told myself “Act like you belong.”

Valkryie resembled a Las Vegas night club. I was told that was the look and feel they were going for. “I like it,”  I told Christopher.

It was very swanky and spacious, had cream leather couches, and tiny tables that had an array of  gin, vodka , tequila, and shot glasses all set to go. Waiters dressed in all black waited on you hand and foot. That’s my kind of service.

If you are ever in Manila, check it out.

——————————————————


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Detoxing From My Smartphone, Part 1

It’s 4 a.m.
I can’t sleep of course because my body clock is still functioning on Manila time. My thoughts range from when to make time to blog to what to cook for dinner and when to unearth my stinky and soiled clothes from my luggage. I wonder if should I vacuum.

Then I remembered it’s Sabbath Day.
There’s no need to vacuum/dust/cook and launder. God loves to put his feet up on Sundays. He leads by example.
Therefore, I have to follow.

Well, I’m back home now from church . . . Did you miss me? A tiny bit? Yes, I’m talking to all of you:  all my nine Facebook friends, one twitter follower, and 700 blog viewers. I’ve yet to start Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts. If only I knew what that all entails and what’s it all for. It is so daunting and it means I’d have to add three more passwords  to my bulging password folder.

My son’s girlfriend, Ruth, suggests that I get the Viper app.  Sounds very batman-ish Think I’ll pass on Viper for now.

I do know this–to live in the 21st century you have to have all these social media platforms or you are not with it and let’s face it . . . you feel old if you don’t. Well, you feel old because you are!

Expanding my social media portfolio means one thing for me. I have to get back to my computer and smart phone classes next Tuesday.

My eyes widened when I saw the numbers of viewers I have for my blog. People actually visit my site. For that, I thank you blog viewers.

While I was away, not once did I write, email, or look up my WordPress blog account. I texted once to Ruth upon arriving at the Manila airport saying “Where are you? I’m outside the baggage claim.”

And that was that.

I needed to detox from my smartphone and lap top.
Since my grandson lives so far away–16 hours by plane ride–why text my friends and relatives? (I can do that when I return home.)

But here’s a good one. I did check to see if my Twitter following has increased. It did.  By two. Haha!

My time in Manila was nothing but lots of hugs and love for my grandbaby and feeling tired at the end of of the day, which is normal when you are caring for a 12-month-old toddler. Toddlers rule the world.

I read Elmo books to him. I chased him as he crawled to the bathroom to lick the toilet cover.  I fed him baby food like  peas and carrots.  His face cringed at the  taste of them.  He preferred his baby cereal with apple sauce, wouldn’t you?   He screamed for his milk or when he wanted to be carried.

I joined him when making funny sounds. I helped his yaya (nanny) give him a bath then it was time for his nap.

He loves  for you to  sway  back and forth and sing songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow as he falls asleep and becomes just 27 lbs of dear flesh and bones in my arms.

Did I go to the gym and workout a few times?
No. Caring for him was my exercise.
During his nap, I crawled in bed, too. I didn’t need anyone to sing me to sleep.  My exhausted body fell into a coma.

I changed  his poop-y diapers. Yes, changing his messy diaper was high on my list of things to do during my stay. I also had the opportunity to take him to his pediatrician with the yaya because of a high fever.

Ruth, Napoleon’s mom, couldn’t take him because she had birthday errands to do  after her commercial shoot. And Christopher, my son, asked if I could take him. Why, of course! That’s what vacations are all about–taking care of your grandkid. What else would I be doing?

Would you believe the doctor’s visit cost $20.00. I gasped that that’s about four days of Starbuck lattes for me. It was so cheap, it  got me thinking. Maybe I can tell my husband to sell everything and come join me in Manila?