Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Harsher the Winter, the Better the Spring.

Has this felt like the longest winter of your life or what? Here on the east coast of the United States it has been similar to the Lamb Chops Play-a-long song, "This is the winter that doesn't end. Yes it goes on and on, my friend! Some meteorologists started forecasting warmer weather not knowing what it was, but they'll continue doing it forever just because [repeat song about 15 times]." That is how this winter has felt-- lengthy, unnecessary, and irritating.

 When we transition from summer [the unbearable heat] to fall, it's a pleasant time. You think to yourself, "Okay, I can deal with this." You pull out your thin sweaters and boots and continue walking. The frigid temperatures then roll around and your thin sweaters convert into thick coats and the gloves and hats make their debut. During the first snowfall you are mesmerized and your heart does somersaults [in happiness] because the winter has arrived.

 The winter continues to play out and it's brutal. Your face literally hurts as you walk to your car [or train/bus] because the wind is whipping your nose and cheeks. God forbid if you forget your gloves because the cold penetrates your skin and the intensity of the pain literally brings you to the point of tears [true story: this happened to me this past week while cleaning the snow off of my car]. Brutal. 

This winter the east coast saw a record number of snowstorms and frigid temperatures, but in between there were unexpected [but appreciated] "warmer" days. Out of no where there would be a patch of sunshine and "warm" weather--one day it was 40 degrees and I saw guys in shorts [haha]!

Spring arrived two Fridays ago and the weather did not get the memo. It even snowed a couple days after the first day of spring while everyone was expecting balmy sunshine, warmer weather and the trees to be budding. It has been a harsh and long winter.

During the never ending frigid days I could not help but think about our lives. There are many of us who are experiencing the longest "winter." Our situations seem "cold," dark, gloomy and never ending. Every once in awhile it brings us pure joy to experience a slightly "warmer" day, but then it gets "frigid" again.

Personally I am experiencing the longest "winter" of my life. I [literally and figuratively] long to see the trees and flowers bloom, the sun to bring warmer weather, and birds to serenade me with their unique song. I long for spring as much as I long for a hot cup of tea, electric blanket, thick socks, and a good book on a bitterly cold day. But let me tell you something, "Spring" is NEAR, my friend! Winter cannot and will not last forever.
As I am currently writing this it is snowing outside--yesterday it was in the 60's and today it's frigid and there is a Weather Winter Advisory in effect for my county. It was completely unexpected [it was only supposed to rain], but that is life. We will have unexpected "frigid" moments surface in our lives, but let's keep moving forward because "Spring" is near. 

The harsher the winter, the better the spring. Imagine when the spring [both literally and figuratively] is here to stay, how amazing it will feel and be. We will appreciate every aspect of spring even more. If our winter had been mild, would we have longed for the spring as much? Probably not.

May there be an eternal "Spring" in your heart, my friend. Praying for you. 

Song of Songs 2:11-12

New International Version (NIV)
11 See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Confessions of a 1/2 Puerto Rican, 1/2 Salvadoran [Born in the U.S.A.]

[Note: I started writing this blog post in December 2013 while on vacation in Puerto Rico]

I am currently laying on a hammock here in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico listening to the waves crash against the sandy white shore. The wind is whipping my curly hair across my face and I'm constantly having to tuck it behind my ears. The air is sweet, salty, and humid. I am in paradise. I am in the land that my half of my descendants hail from. The land that [one set of my] grandparents toiled, in hopes of going to the mainland one day. 

Yep, that's really me in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
where I started writing the blog post on a legal pad.

Over the course of the years I have read many articles about the challenges and blessings mixed race individuals face, but I have not read many about those who are mixed ethnicities within one race.

These are MY confessions.
I am sure that my "struggle" began when I was a child, but my memory is failing me and I can only vividly remember it starting in my high school (HS) years. During my high school years [between 1998-2001; yep, I did HS in 3 years, but we'll save that story for another time], we would celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by having a Hispanic Assembly [in private Christian schools, it's called "chapel"]. Every time the Hispanic Chapel would roll around I would feel conflicted on which country I would represent that year. 99.9% of the Hispanics in my HS hailed from only one country and of course it was a no brainer for them on what country flag they would parade in with. For me? It was a struggle. I remember one year walking in with the Salvadoran students and the Puerto Rican students asking "why" and vice versa for other years. It was never just a given on what country I would represent in any given year, but always a thought out process. Sounds silly, but trust me, it does something to you.

There have been times when I have never felt Boricua or Guanaca enough for some because I don't have the country's accent when I speak and do not know all of the slang; my Spanish is kind of rough [I can defend myself in Spanish but I don't sound like Maria Elena Salinas or anyone like that]; and I was not born in El Salvador or Puerto Rico [fun fact: I lived in PR for approximately 2 years].
I feel like I do not belong most of the time and people affirm that constantly. You're probably thinking, "This girl is being dramatic." No, I'm not. To give you just one example: I've had friends introduce people in a room by name and where they are from and whenever they get to me it's like, "Oh, she's from everywhere" and continue to the next person. Haha! I guess it's too much for some to say, "She's of Puerto Rican AND Salvadoran descent, but was born here in the U.S.A."  

Since these are MY confessions I will share this too; over the past few years I have identified more with one ethnicity than the other [cue the eye roll and ill feelings from some]. Do not get me wrong, I will be of Salvadoran and Puerto Rican descent until the day I die but it's just hard to explain. Maybe one day I will be more candid about this topic, but for now I will not. 

Even though I am not mixed racially, sometimes I feel like I am because the Caribbean and Central American cultures are polar opposites. Some non-Hispanics think just because I'm a Latina mixed with two ethnicities it is the same as just being 1 ethnicity or race. Not at all. Sure, the Spanish language [not slang] is the same, but like I said, the cultures are completely different. One of my lifelong projects is to delve deeper [with actual research] into the two cultures to learn more about why some things are the way they are. 

Anyways, I know that there is at least one other person out there who fully understands this and can relate. If you can relate, I'd be interested to hear about how you deal with it.