The “Me” Disease

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The “me” mentality is a disease. It’s the belief that you are an island in this world. The thought, (or lack of thinking for that matter), that the world revolves around you and that by simply wanting something to come true it should happen for you. The problem is that few are willing to admit that they are selfish and self-absorbed, whether it be for a moment or a lifetime.

I am getting older, and beginning to see how selfish people are in this world. I am not a cynic and always strive to see the best in all people, but there are so many people I see that are swimming in a sea of their own self-pity that they can’t even come up for air long enough to see that the people around them are growing tired of constantly having to raise up their spirits. These “me” people are so selfish, only thinking of themselves. I am beginning to distance myself from these type of personalities and focus my energy on those that are worth my while.

These “me” people rarely are interested in how others around them are doing. These “me” people are those people who have a sense of entitlement for all the good in life just for breathing. There is no work involved to achieve their desires and expect things to be handed to them. There are also those that do work hard for things and still do not get all they want so they give up and blame everyone but themselves.

A few signs of a “me” mentality:

If your job isn’t going right and you find yourself blaming other people, you are a “me” person.

If you can’t lose weight and you are blaming outside influences that are “making” you fat, then you are a “me” person.

If you can’t find the right guy because they are all the same, you are a “me” person.

If everything around you feels like it is working against you then you too are a “me” person.

The good news: There is a known cure for the “me” disease! First, let’s look at the one consistent word and person in every bad and unsatisfactory outcome in your life. It is “you” (aka me). Yes, that’s right, sit back and take a look at yourself and see that in each element of your life, you are the only thing that stays consistent, therefore you are the only thing that has the power to change. You can change your outlook and attitude on your life but most importantly, you can change your approach when it comes to doing things and your ways with dealing with other people. Too often we expect other people to change and this feeds into the “me” way of thinking. We are all guilty of it, some more often than others and some more extreme than others.

The best cure is to start listening to other people, change your approach to all things that haven’t worked in the past. If you can’t come up with new approaches then ask people, go on the internet for support and ideas, ask a mentor or an honest friend about your weaknesses and come up with ways of overcoming these obstacles.

I am not perfect, I don’t claim to be and if I feel myself asking “why isn’t this working? I have tried everything. It’s not me, it’s them.” I take a hard look at myself and change my behaviors because in my 30 years on this earth, I have realized that “me” is the only thing I have the power to change. I have no control over other people’s behaviors and it is in my approach and thinking that will change the outcome of the events in my life.

Sometimes, trying an old approach and old way of doing things ceases to work because circumstances change, as do people and therefore constantly relying on the same approaches every time are less likely to have a favorable outcome.

Einstein’s definition of Insanity: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

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Overcoming Your Personal Obstacles

I am always learning about myself, since I see that life is a never-ending learning experience. It’s not about making myself feel bad for my short-comings, but making myself feel empowered by working on overcoming them. I remember back when I was 21 years old and I interviewed for a leasing agent position. All the interviews went extremely well and the last part of the hiring process was taking an aptitude test which basically showed what my strengths and weaknesses were. The company used this test to make sure the candidate would be a good fit for their company because the process of hiring and firing was time-consuming and expensive.

I took the test, which was a series of words and I had a few minutes to circle the words that described myself best for each situation asked. I thought I did well since I was hired the next day. A few months later, I was up for a promotion as the Assistant Property Manager and I had to sit down with the Property Manager and the District Manager for a formal interview. They asked what my strengths were and my weaknesses. I figured if any time to “toot my own horn”, was this time. I went on about my sales records, my superb customer service, my willingness to go above and beyond for customers and tenants and how I was well-organized. The Property Manager paused for a second and smiled at me while saying, “You’re right. You are very well-organized. In fact, you keep this place together and running smoothly. The irony is, your aptitude test you took before being hired here, showed that you were a very disorganized person. I guess it was wrong.” Then she asked me for my weaknesses.

I looked them both dead in the eye and said, “I have no weaknesses, only obstacles and things that I need to overcome. I would say that I am disorganized by nature. The difference between me and your other candidates is that I know what my personal obstacles are and therefore I work harder on them so that they are only known by me and not by others.” I got the promotion.

The key to overcoming personal obstacles is to first figure out what they are. If you are naturally disorganized, like myself, then come up with a plan to keep yourself on track. For example: I have found that every few months (or weeks) my closet gets out of control with a pile of dirty clothes , a pile of need-to-be-ironed clothes,  a pile of need-to-be-hung up  clothes and clothes I didn’t fold and put away. I have found that by giving clothes away every few months and by having a committment to putting clean clothes away the minute they leave the dryer, saves my future self a lot of time and energy. This is one example, but I have many personal obstacles that I am aware of, therefore I do monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily check-ups on myself to see how I am doing. I make a list, write down goals and have learned (sometimes) to ask for help. Simple steps to overcoming personal obstacles (because we can’t change other people, only ourselves):

1. Make a list of your traits, good and “needs improvement” based on different daily situations you find yourself in, and ask yourself some of these questions:

~The gym- Am I getting the results I am hoping for? If not- Am I doing all I can to achieve my workout goals? What are my strengths at the gym? What do I avoid or not do with 100% of my effort?

~At work- If you have a problem with a co-worker ask yourself: In what specific situations do we clash on? (There is no correct answer that starts with “everything I do annoys this person” or any other negative answer) Really think about this one. What would you think of YOU if you were that person? Do you come to work with a defeatist attitude?

~Think of other situations in your life that you may be unsatisfied with and think of what your personal obstacles are on it. Since the world has “YOU” in it, “YOU” are always a good place to start when wanting to change the things around you.

2. Once you have figured out what your obstacles are, then you can change them or work on them. Make some short-term goals and checklists to monitor yourself on these. They can be monthly, weekly and daily checklists.

3. Remember that it takes 21 days to overcome a bad habit, or to create a new habit (good or bad)

It is really hard to be brutally honest when it comes to our shortcomings. There’s a lot of positivity when we see ourselves clearly, in all our faults and glory because only then can we truly change and overcome our personal obstacles. I think of it this way: the things I procrastinate on now, or the things I know to be my challenges yet I do not work on improving them, are the same things that  really only screw my future self. I’ve learned to be my own best friend and I would never screw over a best friend by not helping them out.

Random Thoughts: Raising children in today’s society

I lie here thinking about the state of the world and wonder what the next generation will have to face because of our neglect. My son will have to clean up the mess we have left behind and it saddens me sometimes. I don’t expect him to live in a world that is perfect, (because there is no such thing), but in a world that is always striving for perfection and in bettering itself with each year.

I look at the media and see more coverage of celebrities than of real heroes. I look at the television programs and see so much skin that I wonder if the current generation as well as the next, will be immune to the concept of prudence and morals because they see so much sex and violence glorified on the bright screen. I wonder about my children and how they will face the world that has so much technology people seldom speak to each other on the phone because they exchange “text” to each other. They smile less because they want more and more. They do not have to learn as much as we did because the answers can all be googled on their phones and computers. They have the knowledge of the world at their fingertips, but I wonder if they will take the time to get to know  the world through their own eyes, feel it with their fingertips and smell the air outside of the air-conditioned rooms.

Today’s media has more and more sexual images that are targeting younger children from clothing, to music to movies. All of these images are having great impacts on the children of today because they are becoming desensitized to it. Girls are looking up to Disney personalities that go on to make provocative music videos which influence their younger audiences. Boys have to deal with being seen as rugged, tough and macho. The only way to protect my children from the increasingly sexualized society is to talk to them and monitor what they are watching. I need to get to know them at each stage of their lives because they will be constantly changing with each new grade level and age group.

It is also important to me to raise my children to know and understand the value of money, especially in this “more in better” society. I want them to work for their money as I did at a young age with an allowance. Allowances were never a sure thing in my household, but a reward for doing my chores and behaving well throughout the week. I also was allowed to babysit at a young age and helped to buy big purchases I desired. I always felt a sense of pride when telling someone  I helped to purchase a certain outfit, shoes or latest piece of technology.

I want them to be prepared for the outside world, yet still want them to be carefree children without worries. This balancing act is what it will mean to me to be a good parent. I do not want to be their friend, but I want them to be able to confide in me with the worries in their life. It will start at home. If my children have moments of frustration with me because I do not give in to all of their wishes; if they get angry with me because I do not give them all of the latest technology; if they respect me in the end then I have done my job right.

My son is not even 2 years old yet, and I have already been told that I am a strict mom. My son doesn’t seem to love me any less when he is put in time out or when he cries because I didn’t give into his whining. I have realized that being a good parent means never taking a day off, not even a minute off because there is always something that they can learn from us.

Yes, I am Latina! Geez…

Nothing ticks me off more than when I overhear someone talking about me in Spanish, not realizing I am Latin! There are so many reasons this annoys me, here are a few:

 1. We are in America where the 2nd language is Spanish, so there’s a good chance even a gringo would understand what you are saying.

2. If you’re going to talk about someone, in English or Spanish, do not make it so obvious because I can tell when the people doing my nails are speaking about me by the tone in their voices and the way the slightly glance my way and then dart their eyes back again to their fellow manicurist, yet I don’t understand a lick of Vietnamese.

3. We do not all look alike! You would think another Latino would get that!

I am a Mexican-Salvadorian-American, but mainly, people just assume I’m white. I can never figure out why. Can’t they see the slight accent in my voice? The extra sass in my walk? The deep dark brown, almost black colored eyes? The olive tone to my skin?Maybe the fact that my last name is latin? (maiden at least) How about when asked my nationality( and I actually say that my dad is from Mexico, and my mom’s dad is from Mexico and her mother from El Salvador) and I still get asked if I have anything else in me to answer for my light skin. I can’t help but get offended. I always felt like I wasn’t “enough” and that I had to prove my Mexican-ness. One of my favorite quotes from the movie, Selena, explains it all: 

“It’s hard being a Mexican-American. We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans both at the same time! It’s exhausting! ” Edward James Olmos, as Abe Quintanilla

I went through my younger years feeling not “Mexican” enough when my cousins would point out to me that I wasn’t 100% Mexican, only 75% Mexican and 25% Salvadorian. I was reminded at school when other latin kids would speak in Spanish in front of me and then ask me the same question in english. I would constantly remind them I was “one of them”. Even tanning and dying my medium goldne brown hair black didn’t help me in my quest for “loooking” more Mexican.

 I lived in the mid-west and Georgia where I heard constantly these comments:  “Wow, you don’t look Mexican,” or “You’re really light for a Mexican,” and ” You’re really tall for a Mexican,” and the rudest, possibly most racist comment I have yet to hear, “You’re very pretty. (pause) For a Mexican.” Yet these states wonder why they are considered to be close-minded and racist states.

It has been thrown in my face that I am not “enough” to the point that I finally gave up trying to prove my “latina-ess” to people and realized it’s their burden of ignorance to bear and not my job to educate them. First of all, there is no universal “look” of a Mexican. It would be like someone saying to an America, “But you don’t look American. Where’s your blue eyes, blonde hair and t-shirt with an American flag on it?” Same with Mexico, it’s a country, not a race. It is a nationality with different regions within it that had different types of races colonized in those areas, therefore making up a different mix of people.

If a person truly wants to know my race and have legitimate questions I am more than happy to answer any questions for them. However, when there is an undermining tone to their questioning, I quickly put them in their place by asking their race and why they don’t fit the stereotype in my head. And if I hear someone talking about me in Spanish, I kindly tell them that they are very rude and ignorant to think they are the only ones who can understand Spanish and  I say it in the most proper Spanish of course. =0)

And as Forest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that”…

Live your life. Be grateful.

We have no control over how we are brought into this world, that is beyond our control, nor do we have control over our exit out of this life. What we do have control of is what we do with the time we do have on this earth. Our attitudes have the greatest impact on our lives more so than the events and circumstances we are faced with. We must take time to understand that we must love all of life, not just parts of it. We must laugh and cry, read, gaze at the stars, listen to ocean with our eyes closed tight, stare into the skies, appreciate rainbows, sunny days and cloudy ones as well. We must suffer to understand the greatness of life. There would be no good without evil, no sweet without sour and no melancholy without happiness.

Think about what you say before you say it, good or bad because words do have impact on people. Feel the “I love you” you say to your loved ones. Spread love wherever you go with kindness and smiles. Spread around joy regardless of how you are feeling because there is always someone out there that is feeling worse than you. Give eye contact to all you speak to and make people feel human and not just like another stranger in your path.

Remember you are writing the story of your life each moment and with each triumph and tribulation comes a new chapter. There are no mistakes in life. There are none. There are tragedies and beautiful moments that make up life. There are no answers that will ever satisfy us on this earth because we are human and some events are beyond our understanding. We must accept life as it comes and deal with it accordingly.

Life is a gift

I do not need to go into the details of all the events that have occurred this week because we have all been watching the news. 

Let’s just remember that when we leave this earth people will not always remember what we said, how we looked, or the things we did but they will remember how we made them feel. If I leave this earth tomorrow, I want to be remembered as someone who was caring and went out of their way to help my friends. I want to be remembered as kind and loving.

To my child, I do not want him to remember all the nice things I bought for him, but I want him to remember how I made him feel like the most precious gift in this world.

Life is a precious gift that is given to us and we are each given a choice of how to deal with the circumstances that are placed before us. I want my loved ones to never go a day without knowing they are loved. I know that I can never hear “I love you” enough. I love you all.

Remember that who you are today is how you will be remembered tomorrow.

Siblings are Born Friends

The funniest thing about siblings is that to everyone else around us, we grow up, but to our siblings we will always be known as we always were. We can get married, have our own children, but we will never truly age to them. We know each other’s histories, our likes and dislikes, embarrassing moments, each other’s hearts, private inside jokes,  family secrets and feuds, family griefs and happy moments. With siblings, we will always live outside the marks of time. 

For me, it would be impossible to consider a life without them. Sometimes I wonder who I would have been without all of them in my life because each of them as influenced and molded my character and personality on some way. Me and my siblings didn’t all grow up together because my parents divorced and remarried, but we all have bonds together. Each bond I have with each individual sibling is unique. I feel very protective over each of them and would fight for each of them verbally and physically if necessary. I am the middle child, but have always felt like the eldest, mainly because I always unconsciously take the role of the mother when their mother isn’t present. I have a need to care for them and guide each of them as best I know how.

I have a son who is almost 2 years old and can’t wait for him to be a big brother and know what it’s like to a sibling and share the bond I have with my brother and sisters. I can’t wait to have him play with a brother or sister and know what it’s like to have a love for another person that he would fight for, just like I have with my siblings. A sibling is a gift a mother gives to her other child or children. The are born friends. Maybe not best friends, maybe not close friends, but friends and regardless of distance they will always have a connection between siblings because they both share a common bond. There is nothing like having a friend who is also your sibling.

Me and my brother had some great times growing up, including screaming matches and wrestling matches, but when we grew up we became friends. I remember the moment I realized he was my friend. We were at college that were in cities close to one another, yet neither one of us had a car to visit each other. Something about the closeness of proximity, but not being able to  see each other made us closer because we starting talking on the phone regularly.It was during that time that I asked him for help with a bad situation I found myself in, it was the first time in 18 years of being his sister that I turned to him and let him help me. In turn we became friends.

My sister who is now 21, became my friend at an earlier time, but a best friend in more recent times. She was always such a strong kid that I never really noticed that she looked up to me. In 2009, my son was born and she was one of the first people to greet him into this world. Something changed in our relationship and I was not only the big sister, but also her friend.

My sister who is 15, is also my friend. She is a very wise girl, but has yet to realize her talents. She talks to me with complete honesty that it scares me at times, yet I find myself being just as honest with her about the ways of the world. It is refreshing to be able to talk to such a younger sibling with confidence and know that they understand or are at least willing to listen to my advice.

My youngest sister, who is only 13, feels like a daughter sometimes, a sister always but above all a friend. She has a quietness about her that many confuse as being shy, but I know that she is merely taking it all in and processing it. She knows when to speak up and when to keep her mouth shut and is always around when I need a helping hand. She is a born mother and is extremely smart. I am still trying to peel the many layers away at her like an onion, but I know that I can trust her and therefore she is my friend.

My step-brother who is 29 years old and only ten days younger than me, is a friend though I have not seen him for nearly 11 years. We would argue and fight growing up, but we were both sensitive kids and understood that about one another. He is a lost friend who I cannot find through any social network. He is still a friend and I hope to hear from him again one day because all my childhood summers are filled with memories with him.

My siblings have all known how to push buttons within me that no friend or enemy could ever find  and vice versa. We find ourselves playing our cast roles of “the baby, the bully, the peacemaker, the mother, the entertainer” and it doesn’t matter how may miles we are apart, how much time passes in seeing one another, we always have a comfortable bond with one another and will always be friends.