Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Rocked the Vote!

Today, I voted for the first time in my life! It was such a privilege and an amazing feeling, a feeling of doing my part as a new US citizen. I totally rocked the vote ☺

While I lived in Guatemala, I was too young to vote and I just recently became a US citizen in May of 2012. So, today was a very special day for me. I wanted to vote so badly in 2008’s presidential election, but I feel as though this year’s election was my chance to vote for the candidate I so eagerly wanted to vote for back in 2008. I still had a chance to contribute and do as much as I can to support this nation in reaching its full ideals and potential.

I’m quite baffled by those who choose not to vote. Especially by those who truly believe their vote doesn’t count. Nonsense! Every single vote counts. It’s such a wonderful right and privilege to me, why waste it? Do your part and contribute. Have your say and be as supportive as you can.

Be a responsible citizen and speak your mind. It’s your life, your world and your choice. You should definitely have a say in it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Being Kind to Ourselves and Giving Ourselves Credit

At times, out of fear, we often hesitate to follow our intuition. Usually, we are afraid of the changes our actions will bring in our life…but intuitive guidance is ALL about change. It is basically active data with a great deal of potential to influence. Fearing change but craving intuitive clarity, is like fearing the cold and darkness, while pouring water on the fire that lights and warms our shelter. A sort of counterproductive approach to daily life I suppose. We fear our intuitions because we fear the transformational power within our revelations. We are afraid of our own potential and success simply because we don’t know how it will unfold and what it has in store for us. It causes change and change, no matter how big or small, is always very uncertain. Fear of the unknown has always controlled us.

Recently, I have been realizing the potential within me and the only obstacle in my way is and has always been myself. I have come across many amazing individuals who all have to say wonderful things about me…but I have never really taken the time to fully see, believe or appreciate why I am given such compliments. Since I can remember, receiving compliments has always been a cause of embarrassment for me. They have always made me feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable. Now, although still a bit tough at times, it has become easier to accept a compliment. Now thinking about it, I have never believed or given myself credit for the good things other people see in me. I thought that by doing so, it would be self-important of me. A feeling within me and a trait in others I have always disliked very much.

Just last week, I met someone who I now can call a friend, who within a very short period of time of meeting each other, told me what his thoughts about me were…and they all consisted of me being kindhearted, generous, full of life, creativity and potential. At first, my old way of thinking took over and I didn’t really accept his kind and thoughtful words; but then I realized that I had the same impression and opinion about him. When I shared my thoughts of him with him, he seemed to gracefully acknowledge such traits and accepted them as being quite accurate. At that moment, that genuinely didn’t make him self-important or cocky. He was simply being true and honest. It was in that instant, that all this self-doubt unfolded right before my eyes and I realized that accepting his impression of me only makes me genuinely grateful and appreciative to know I have such qualities to offer. It’s not about being egotistic at all…but about being true to ourselves. Once we tap into that, we can certainly tap into our full potential and be the complete opposite of egotism and self-importance.

I guess all this time, I have had the feeling, the intuition of being the person I am with the qualities I have…but thought it would be presumptuous of me to fully accept it. Instead, I should be proud and consider myself fortunate to be able to contribute in a positive manner - no matter how small or large my contributions may be. I guess that’s the Catholic martyr in me which was instilled in me while growing up…better said, the FORMER Catholic martyr in me. I am DEFINITELY a recovering Catholic. Thank God for that!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

22 Years in the Making

After 22 years of living in the United States, I decided it was time to make my residence in this country official. Last month, I submitted the N-400 Application for Naturalization to the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although this brought a true sense of relief and accomplishment, as though a weight had been lifted off my chest, it also brought quite a lot of mixed emotions. The fact that I will have to renounce my Guatemalan citizenship, the country where my essential values and where my culture and traditions were instilled; where Spanish, my native language, was introduced to me, and where my sense of belonging and connection lays. Now, I have to prepare to take the full oath of allegiance to the United States. This made me feel quite sad, but I have to realize that I will always be Guatemalan at heart and soul. Nothing can take that away from me...it's part of my being. It's what has shaped me and what has given me the motivation to be who I am today.

I also realized that these past 22 years, I have already been taking the oath of allegiance to this country. The U.S. has been my home and I respect it and appreciate it as such. I have grown and gained so much during the years I've been living here. I have now spent more of my life here in the U.S. than in Guatemala; and I have also gained a new set of values and beliefs that I identify with, which have definitely shaped me as well. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have received and for the accomplishments I have carried out in this country. I will soon call the United States my official home. Just like when we move houses throughout life, Guatemala is the childhood home where I grew up. 

For the longest time, I felt displaced…a feeling of not belonging here nor in Guatemala. I would feel it even more when visiting my family in Guatemala. While out and about, I would notice how people would treat me and see me, just like they would a tourist. That feeling has slowly been fading away…I have made peace with it and I don’t let it get to me. Each time I’m in Guatemala, I make sure to soak it all in and always bring something back with me to incorporate in my home here in the U.S.. This makes me feel connected and present.

I try to visit Guatemala once a year and each visit energizes me and makes me see how fortunate I am to be able to call two places, two countries, home. In addition to being bilingual, I am now truly bicultural. It's amazing, but till this day, each time my flight is preparing to land in Guatemala, I get overemotional and tears come down my face; it never fails. That feeling is what makes me rest assure, that becoming a U.S. citizen will not negate my deep connection with Guatemala...or as the character Agador Spartacus from the movie The Bird Cage would say, my Guatemalaness ;)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Madonna and Raffaella Carrá

When I was three or four years old, I was in love with Raffaella Carrá, an Italian performer famous throughout Europe and Latin America. She was considered to be very provocative due to her outfits, dancing and for revealing her perfect navel and legs, which made quiet family men break out in a cold sweat and of course fantasize about being with her. I was too little to realize what exactly it was about her that I liked and was so drawn to, but when my family would ask me why I liked Raffaella Carrá, I would simply answer by telling them I liked her because she didn’t wear a bra. I mean, I was a three or four year old boy, how the heck would I know if she wore a bra or not?? But I knew I liked how bold and secure she was.
A few years later, I remember very clearly, being in my parent’s bedroom floor coloring in a coloring book while my parents got ready to go out that evening. While getting ready, they had the TV on and Madonna’s video “Material Girl” came on, and I remember thinking, wow, she’s very pretty and so cool! From that moment on, I was pretty much hooked. My infatuation was so odd and extreme, I even recruited my family members to cut out any picture they saw of Madonna in magazines or any other publication, and give to me to collect. My bedroom wall was covered from top to bottom in Madonna pictures gathered from magazines, newspapers, posters, etc. I no longer collect her pictures as I used to, but I still am very interested in what she’s doing.  Her music, movies, appearances, concerts, etc.
 Just recently I began wondering exactly why I’m…well, obsessed with Madonna. I’ve been into her as a person, her music, her videos, her movies (yes, despite her acting abilities) since I was eight years old. For some reason, there was something I was so drawn to…and being so young, I had no idea what it was. I just felt this instant interest, the same exact interest I had when I first saw Raffaella Carrá on TV. This immediate and ongoing attraction, which I never really gave much thought to and simply accepted it and went along with, finally reached a point where it needed some figuring out. Why the interest? Why the infatuation and why the endearment toward this woman? She’s obviously very influential, but the interest I have I feel goes beyond the usual likes and dislikes we develop towards celebrities. There’s something deeper there. 
A few weeks ago, I came across a YouTube video of Raffaella Carrá, and I was amazed to see the similarities between her and Madonna. I hadn’t seen any videos or photos of Raffaella Carrá since I left Guatemala back in 1990. No wonder my interest was instant and easily transferred from Rafaella to Madonna. Raffaella was stimulating, overly sexual, confident not only with herself and with her body, but among men as well. Just like Madonna has been since the minute I saw her. They are both blond most of the time, both with an edge for fashion, and both have a gap on their front teeth - Raffaella’s is much more subtle, but it’s there! These similarities and traits made me realize that perhaps that the confidence and presence they have is what I wanted or needed from the female guidance and authority figures in my life. My partner Ricky brought this to my attention a few years back, but I didn’t really take the time to think about it in depth. I agreed, but left it at that.
Growing up in a machista culture in Guatmala, where a lot of women are submissive to men and cater to their every need, made it easy for me to immediately admire and look up to that complete opposite and foreign attitude and behavior from these women.  Having moved to the US when I was 14, Rafaella Carrá was no longer available to me, but Madonna certainly was…and during the time where she was at the top and pretty much in everyone’s face. During that drastic change in my life, the only constant and unaffected feeling was how I viewed and felt about Madonna. What she made me feel, what she made me want and what she made me look for in my own life. She introduced me to A LOT of subjects I was completely ignorant about…and most of all, she made me feel completely okay about being who I was. I didn’t fully know, much less accept being gay, but I did know that people like Madonna would be very accepting  of me and would not see any differences besides the obvious. Her vibe of being well-rounded gave me something to hold on to and to appreciate. I felt accepted, welcomed and could relate to her in many levels. What she has been doing, accomplishing, and the strength and ambition required, is what I truly admire and respect. I wish I would have had that level of comfort, confidence and sense of self instilled on me by the strong and beautiful women in my family. Instead, I learned indirectly from them…“behind the scenes” you could say. They definitely shaped and molded me to be the person I am today; and I’m very thankful to have had the exposure I had growing up to individuals like Madonna and Raffaella Carrá. They gave me the other side of what I needed and wanted from the role models in my life. Not to say the women in family don't offer that, they just did so in a different way.
One of the highlights of my life; was being able to go to a Madonna concert with my mother and my partner, and share with them what I have always gained so much joy, energy and motivation from. Also, the fact that two of my women role models where in the same place at the same time and both benefiting from each others’ energy, was simply memorable.  I will never forget that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year

Well, the New Year is upon us and many of us have set forth various resolutions for 2012. Most of us decided on the usual ones…you know, lose weight, getting fit, kicking a particular habit, being budget conscious, etc. Although I did choose a few of the usual ones for myself, I also decided to make this year a time to try something new, something I’ve never done before, go somewhere I’ve never been to, etc. This also includes making an attitude change…a positive one. 

I think some of us tend to get comfortable with certain behavior choices, and personally, I grew tired of the ones I’ve been sporting lately. For example, I tend to be an extreme worrywart and I would like to let that go…it truly adds unnecessary stress and quite frankly, I’d like to hold on to the hair I currently have and not lose it due to self inflicted stress. I need to “let go” and realize that extreme worrying won’t do absolutely any good. I know it’s easier said than done, but I have to start somewhere. I tend to focus on such tedious and unimportant incidents that just lead to…you guessed it, worrying or stressing me out. Just last weekend, after returning from a birthday party, my partner Ricky suggested we go by the lake and take pictures with my new camera. It was around 11:30pm and the usual me would have said “no, it’s too late” or “are we allowed to be there at this time of the night?”- etc, etc; but instead, I took him up on it. I was wearing these awesome black patent leather shoes my mother gave me as a birthday gift, and as we made it to the lakeside, it was dark and I stumbled on the concrete steps slightly scratching the tip of one of my shoes. A normal person, would have carried on as though nothing happened; but not me…there I was checking to see how badly I had scratched my shoe, checking how badly it looked…did I ruin it? That’s when I realized…Really?! Am I going to worry about this silly thing while having such a good time with Ricky?! Enough. You can't even see the scratch!!!

These are just tiny examples of the ridiculous things I tend to worry about, and trust me, there are a gazillion more where those came from. So, as they say, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem…well, I fully admit it. I have an extreme and pointless worrying problem and I want out!  In addition to making this conscious change, I would also like to implement a new motto: Appreciate the moment. I will notice the good things that are happening to me right now, whether it’s a beautiful day, a stranger’s smile, an efficient grocery store line, or getting on the gym machines without having to wait. I don’t know how many years or days I’ll live, so I want to live this moment fully.  I will ask myself often, “If this turns out to be the last day of my life, have I enjoyed it to the fullest extent possible?” It’s easy to lapse into worrying about the future, or dreaming of better things to come, or dwelling on regrets over the past while we miss what’s currently going on. I will take hold of every opportunity to laugh and have fun and learn from everything and everyone.