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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who Says that There Are No Second Chances?

We often hear people say that there are no second chances, in my experience however, every minute of the day presents us with another opportunity to choose differently. I guess I am getting old enough that I can start to see the major lessons that I must learn and the chances that life offers me to hopefully make better choices.

I've told myself lots of stories that justified why I had rejected my Latin roots so strongly. I'm at a point in my life that I don't believe these stories anymore. I just know that when I got to the US to go to college I felt I had arrived home. I felt accepted and validated; something that for some reason or another I couldn't feel in Venezuela. The longer I lived in the States, the more I felt I belonged there. I'm not very good with directions, so I jokingly used to say that somehow my soul turned left instead of right as it was coming down to this incarnation. I liked that story, but there are no mistakes; and, specially not of that magnitude.

My personality and preferences have always been very Germanic in nature. I've liked to be precise. I like order; and, for many years I only saw a black and white and an either/or world. Today I tend to laugh at these inclinations, but from time to time they still try to take over, especially under heavy stress or when I'm really tired.

In 1992 we moved to South Africa and although I ended up falling in love with this magnificent and magical country and getting in touch with its rhythm, I certainly fought it for many months. Instead of enjoying and marveling at the slower pace of life, I struggled trying to make Africa move at my pace. How absurd is that?

Cuenca is my second, perhaps even my third chance to embrace a culture different than my preferences and my natural tendencies; a pace that will mellow me out even further; to revel in the differences and similarities of our human race, and to learn more compassion, patience, and non-judgement. Some people need to read a book or listen to a lecture to learn a lesson... I need total immersion!

Feeling blessed for second chances!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

At Last! The Sun is Shining!

One of the main reasons we chose Cuenca is its gorgeous weather. So, needless to say, we had been quite distraught since it had been raining since last Thursday with only very short periods of reprieve. I usually don't mind the rain, but this time it sure made this transition more challenging.Sometimes rain has a way of making things look dirtier and dingier than they really are.

Today the sun is shining and Cuenca once again allows us to enjoy its magnificent topography. This picture is taken from the street where we currently live called Celiano Monge. We are about a 45 minute walk ($2 cab drive) from the city center which you can see in the background of this picture. 

Solutions to the challenges we encountered when we arrived are underway: hot water is working (for the most part); we got the internet to work last Saturday afternoon and soon (hopefully) we'll have a faster connection and I will be able to use my laptop around the house instead of being forced to share the small office with Bob; we've cleaned the house enough so that we don't feel grossed out and this week professional cleaners will finish up the rest and fix some things around the house; Bob will soon be able to watch his beloved news as we are adding more English speaking channels to the TV selection which currently is limited to 3 channels.

Right now all of these things seem so insignificant, yet when we arrived here last Wednesday evening, exhausted from the trip and from the drama with customs and Star, all of these silly things seemed to be swallowing me.

Funny what a bit of rest and some sunshine can do to my perspective!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Houston, TX ... 11 Years Later


Houston, TX holds a special place in my heart. We moved to this humid and hot city after living in the idyllic town of Sequim, Washington following our return from South Africa. I thought that living in Houston was going to be miserable, instead our life there was filled with magical moments.

The greatest gift that Houston gave us was Casey, our late Golden Retriever. We found Casey in one of the wonderful parks of Houston. Someone apparently had left him there and Eykis. our African Rhodesian Ridgeback, started to play with him so we took him home and tried to find his owner. Casey filled our lives with joy for the following seven years.

Now, there we were in Houston again; this time serving as our gate to Cuenca, Ecuador and the next step in our journey. We drove to Houston to minimize Star's exposure to planes and to the stress of traveling. And it was nice to be there again. Bob and I reminisced about all that has happened during the years since we left this city and were amazed at all we've done in just 11 years.

In July of 2000 we moved away from Houston to Norwalk, CT and I worked in NY City for a while and took the train every day. I thought I would hate doing it; and, as it turns out, I loved everything about this experience with the exception of the job :-)!

After just six months we moved to Oakville, CT about an hour away from Norwalk and I started a job I loved deeply. Careerwise it was the most rewarding time of my life. Bob got a Masters degree in Education during this time, something he had always wanted to do; he taught at the local middle school and high school and then at the local college and he also continued running his franchising practice. We were both very busy and accomplished a lot while in Connecticut. We had wonderful neighbors and loved our home.

However the journey had to continue and in December 2003 we moved to Tallahassee, FL. I always had said I would never move to Florida and here we were in Tally and loving it. We made so many wonderful friends there. Bob taught at FL State and continued with his practice while I took time to reflect. It was during this time that the idea of The YES Effect was in September 2006. This time we headed to Greenville, SC.

Greenville is a nice place, but we had two of our greatest losses while living there. October of 2006, just a month after we arrived, Casey died. Eykis died May 2007. These were very sad times. Yet, we also had some wonderful moments and made great friends. I got involved with a great project called Dream Catchers and worked with aspiring business owners with The YES Effect. I also rejoined Bob's franchising practice in a more involved manner. Greenville is very close to Asheville, NC and we went there every weekend. In 2008 we decided to move to Asheville and build a house there...

My love for Asheville grew with every second I spent there. This is my heart city, no doubt. And, as I have shared in another post, part of my heart will always be there.

Do you see a pattern? With the exception of Asheville I initially tend to say NO to wherever we move. You would think that once I found a place that validates my beliefs and engages my joy at so many levels that I would never leave. Yet, it's easy to be joyful under those circumstances and I was. The trick in life, however, is to learn to be joyful at all times and regardless of the situation. To learn to say YES to life is my journey and with Asheville it was easy... But easy is not always what we need in order to grow.

11 years since we left Houston... 11 years packed full of love, work, friendship, adventure, change, challenges, losses, and magic! Cuenca, here we are for more... May you teach me how to say YES to all.