Hurricane Harvey Update and How You Can Help

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We’re here in the throws of a hurricane and we’ve been very fortunate in NW San Antonio to not see much of Mother Nature. We sit here peeled to various screens where we can’t take our eyes away from devastation occurring to our neighbors to the south and east of us – places many of us go to for vacation throughout the year and make memories with our loved ones. This morning I was in constant contact with my family and friends in Houston, I just couldn’t believe the scenes flashing by the screen.

 

Going to Mass today reminded me of one thing – no matter what small moves we make, we can move mountains and make waves together (no pun intended). When Jesus gave Saint Peter (Simon at the time of anointment) the keys to His Church and said on this rock he will build his church, he meant it and what a church St. Peter built. No matter if you are a believer, you are still a human and a brother & sister to me. There is no ID check in safety, we are just met with love and at the end of everything we will only have love to survive on.

Riding Out The Storm

Literally while I was writing this post

We, as humans, are now given an opportunity – do we continue to watch reruns of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or do we roll up our sleeves with the keys He has given each of us and help our fellow neighbors. I choose the sleeves. I choose showing my children, the next generation of humans/Catholics/Texans that this is what we do – we help. We build a kingdom together.

 

These are a few of the organizations organizing donations for relief services:

 

Junior League of San Antonio

San Antonio Food Bank

American Red Cross serving Greater San Antonio

“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.”

#SinMiedo

This post has been about four months in the making but what the hey, that’s actually what this is all about. If you had to head over to Google Translate to know what I just typed, no worries, nothing crazy. But what is it like to be #WithoutFear (#SinMiedo)? Lent 2017 was a beautiful moment for me. I set out to do things I was terrified of doing. First things first, I gave up all dairy and eggs which you may have read about in my Lenten post. It was a scary journey to partake in mostly because I was terrified of what others would say about me. Would people talk to me differently? Would I now be uninvited, or worse not invited at all, to social gatherings because of my newfound lack of interest in dairy, meat, eggs, honey? I didn’t care. I just took it day after day, meal by meal, and relished in the thought this was only for 40 days (hah, that was a funny joke God had on me).

But there was a bigger fear I was looking at uncovering, I have never run with a running buddy. Ever. Never ever EVER I my 30+ years of being mobile, I have never had someone by my side to talk to. Growing up overweight or obese you don’t really seek out social opportunities to sweat. I was ashamed at my pace. I was ashamed that I would need to stop after slugging it up a hill. All of this pent up emotion from when I was a child and hearing my mom plead with me to hurry up a hill. Then the first week of Lent I was hit with an emotional 2×4 by my closest friend, Peter. Peter is the guy from high school that is all around good looking and had the chubby best friend in high school (me); charismatic, loving, funny – this was Peter. I was his little sidekick. Peter and I have been very lucky to have had a friendship span over two decades and I knew that he wasn’t giving up on me now. We were friends for life and after his deployments and my running around being a campaign worker, we’ve still always managed to make time for our weekly text check ins and he would ask, “Hey, let’s go for a run!” I would come up with some excuse and say, “Oh, I have to pick up the kids…” and that would be the end of his cajoling. Lent 2017 this language and self-doubt stopped. I was hell bent on giving up fear.

So I did it. I said yes. It was a Monday afternoon, my amazing mother in law picked up the kids from school that day. And guess what, I didn’t die. We ended up running five miles in some pretty amazing spots in San Antonio. Throughout the run with Peter I began to think of all of the other things I had been so scared to even think of accomplishing. Naturally, you sign up for a marathon because why not?

I hope you join me along for the ride (run). I’m toying around with the idea of making a Facebook page (Will Run For Tacos, anyone?) and pushing this fabulous blog on it. Lemme know, k? Until then, I’ll be living sin miedo like God intended.

Baby baby baby, ohhhh (Baby Registry Loves)

This is for the mamas (and the papas… and anyone raising little humans). I am oddly around newborns or friends that are preparing for baby showers as they see their bodies growing. Before you start with that fun barcode scanning gun and having a field day with your registry at a fine retailer – hold on! There are things that you just will not need (I see you wipe warmer) and some that you may cringe at but trust me, you will be so grateful for. After having two kids, I’m obviously an expert, right? Yes. Because I had a lot of c-r-a-p and I truly could not get rid of some stuff because it was given by family members or I thought I needed it and registered for it. I’m an “expert” because I’ve gone through two newborns within 24-months of one another and things that I could reuse and save you headaches.

Top 5 Baby Things That I Loved

  1. Just a Fitted Sheet – Seriously, simple fitted cotton sheet. Do not, I repeat, do not drive yourself crazy with sheets and bedding. You will have other things to deal with. Remember, bumpers are not ok (SIDS is a real f’in thing). You will be changing sheets out often, kids spit up, leak out of their diapers, bodily functions you never thought possible out of your precious cherub. We liked this one from Burt’s Bees (the lipchap people).
  2. A simple backpack aka your lifesaver aka your new purse/diaper bag. I’m not going to put a link here because you know what a backpack is. I will post which one I used because of the compartments. But I can recall receiving a beautiful diaper bag from a wonderful family member. It was great, designer brand, pockets (moms love pockets) but it was heavy. My shoulder was already dying from holding a child but the diaper bag was insane. A simple JanSport will do and it’s so simple to just throw everything you need in one bag.
  3. Baby Kangaroo Maker – This is the only expensive item that I will post. Find a good baby carrier you LOVE. We had the stroller but after baby #2 came along and my daughter was 2, she was occupying said stroller. We loved loved loved our Ergobaby. Living in Texas, the Moby just wouldn’t work where it’s like a sauna every step you make. If you’re a nursing mom, you will love your baby carrier because your babes is literally at your chest and has no where else to go to eat, fast food.
  4. Bottles – Surprise… we didn’t nurse. Maybe for a week we did but neither kid wanted anything to do with my boobs. Sad, yes. Guilt trip, some. But guess what? This is real life and your kid needs to eat. So if you choose not to nurse or if it doesn’t work for you, that’s where the beauty of technology and science come in with bottles. Invest in some good ones. You may hear a lot about glass bottles for babies, do what you want. We loved Tommee Tippee Get a few sized nipples, maybe just 3 each but be prepared for the hand washing.
  5. Snot Sucker (featured image) – My favorite one to talk about and why I left it last. The NoseFriday from Fridababy. Straight up the grossest thing (opinion) but it is beyond the best thing on the market and you cannot live life without the NoseFrida. Yes, there are the aspirators with the bulb, but I’m that mom who enjoys seeing just how much comes out of my prodigies. I enjoy being able to suck out giant globs of things and get a sense of satisfaction when my kids can breathe again. You will too, because a breathing baby is a happy baby – a happy baby is a relieved mommy.

So, there you have it. My Top 5, take it for what it’s worth. If you are that mom that wants to coordinate your daily outfits with your child, you may think I’m crazy. But when you’re on 2 hours of sleep and need to take kid to mommy and me, last thing you’ll want to do is lug a baby diaper around with your coordinating look.

What I learned by going vegan for Lent…

He meets me right where I’m at. Simple as that. I went in kicking and screaming. Isn’t that how many of us go in to our Lenten fasting. We go in with bright eyes and dreams, for some of us we begin thinking of the Lenten penance & fasting as soon as the Advent Season is over. We bask in the glory that is rules and regulations of the Catholic Church. No gray areas, this is it. Yet, it’s not. He meets us right where we’re at. That’s the continuing theme of my Lenten journey.

I knew in my heart this is what I needed to cleanse my soul and bring me closer to our Catholic community that is currently persecuted around the world but in my heart – my love that is Syria and her people. So I was determined. I wanted to quit before the ashes were placed. I knew that I was going to give up. I even told myself, “I’m going to take it a day at a time.” Something whispered (Oh, hey Holy Spirit!), “You are my child. I gave you the tools. Build what you can and I’ll take care of the rest.” My vocation of being a parent was ever more evident, to show my children never quit what you claim you will accomplish if you have the means or ask for help.

Kiddo toes & picnics with my Bunnies

So I asked for help. I solicited the help of a friend I met through Instagram and Beachbody, Darlene Taylor (nee Adamusik), a health and fitness vegan coach. If I was going vegan and training for 2 half marathons I was going to do this right and not just eat tacos de aguacate and calabacita all day long. I also went into this being a bit obnoxious in my thought process, “I’m a pescatarian, what’s giving up fish/dairy/eggs?”

  1. The suffering is so short lived

No really, it’s not that bad. It’s amazing what the addiction of food will bring to your life in a not so great way. Did this bring me closer to Christ? Maybe. His suffering was obviously way more significant that my giving up cheese quesadillas; But it made me more thoughtful in my choices to fuel the body God gave me here on earth.

  1. People will look at you like you have an arm growing out of your forehead.

Plain and simple. You tell them you went vegan for Lent and they’ll suddenly treat you like you’re a crazy person. I didn’t like explaining why at first. I was embarrassed but I soon got over the ego. They’ll also freak out if you go to dinner with them or are at an office lunch. Don’t worry, I pack my own salad and bring my own carrots. Thanks for the offer though!

  1. Getting over the ego is the hardest part of the deal

And this is probably where I learned the most. I don’t like to be different. In fact, I like to blend in to the wall and not draw attention to myself. I prefer to raise others up and give them the attention. This is probably more with my coping mechanism of growing up obese and in the barrios of San Antonio. I just wanted to get by, nothing more. But that’s not what He wants for us brothers and sisters. He wants all of us, He wants us to be flamboyant and proud but also welcoming to all faiths. He wants us to be like Ned Flanders in a world of gray.

My husband asked me on our way to Good Friday Mass if I plan on continuing post Holy Saturday at sundown. I will go where He leads me and for now it’s vegan (for the most part). I’m not going to stress out and don’t want you to either if there’s hidden cream or eggs in an item but I will continue for as long as He leads me. Always listen to the Holy Spirit, it’s with you at all times you just have to invite Him into your place.

“So, what are you giving up for Lent?”

Oh that question… again. Is it Lent already? But we just celebrated Christmas. I know, it’s crazy to believe that in less than 24 hours, we will have people walking around and where our marks on our forehead will be the tell-tale sign of “I haven’t gone to Mass yet, people will know!”

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#AshTag2017 – Theme: We Got This   40 Days

I remember as a kid growing up in and out of Catholic School the distinct honor of having those ashes spread across my forehead like I was going into war. In a way, we kind of are. But not picking up the ammo and running with it hoping for high hell that we are equipped with the necessary weaponry. Our weapons are just a bit different and the enemy is mostly of the soul. Everyone has their own battles to fight and crosses to bear, sometimes we are lucky to go at them with a tribe and others we must go at solitarily.

I recently published an article in the bingo publication that we produce along with our team of wonderful writers & designer that hits this entire topic at its core. To me, Lent is like a Spring Cleaning –

Clean Up Your Relationships

If your 2016 looked anything like mine, you came out looking like a forgotten piece of meat on the grill. Relationships are a living, breathing thing – if you don’t tend to your friendship garden, things will rot and spoil; this is ok. If you think this relationship is just hitting a rough patch and is willing to go through the steps of talking things through with your partner/friend, go for it. Go with an open heart though, this cannot be a one-sided item. But, if your relationship has been making you stressed out to no end, it may just be time to focus on those who bring out the goodness in you.

Work on You

That class or skill that you’ve been neglecting to take, now is the time to take the leap to learn the skill. As we get older, we let go of the hobbies and interests we used to love and have replaced them with chores and obligations (the adult life). Take charge and add some fun back into your life. You’re bound to find a hobby that you love.

Do not see this as a “giving up” and sacrifice time, see it as an opportunity to declutter your heart and leave room for the Holy Spirit (like 8th grade dances).

leave-room-for-the-holy-spirit

And if you must know:

  • Prayer: 1 hour per day with meditation/Scripture/Mass coupled with journaling/blogging
  • Fasting: Going vegan y’all – Eastern Rite style.
  • Almsgiving: donating bags of clothes & toys

 

〉Melanie

 

 

Forgive yourself for the trespasses you have against self

“Now, apologize to your sister/brother.” If I could save this audio and just press a button for my children throughout the next 18 years (who am I kidding? the remainder of their lives) it would save me the hassle from saying it nearly every 30 minutes of the day they are awake. How many times does our Lord feel exasperated by us when we commit sins and we go to him to right our wrongs or cry out and feel like children complaining about our trespassers? I can almost feel him rolling his eyes at me, except not. He doesn’t. He forgives uncontrollably time and time again, our little faults, our big ones. He’s there and says it’s ok. In the First Gospel according to John today we are reminded:

If we say “we have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in the darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another. If I’m being completely honest with my readers and/or fellow Catholics it’s been over two years since I last went to confession, my ACTS retreat in November 2013. I’m trying my hardest to say this will be a resolution but it would fail as my six other resolutions failed in 2016. It is my intention though to make it at least once a month to confession and it would be nice to see if others are with me in this endeavor. I’m human though and things that I confessed to still ring in my heart like a tether and are hard to let go, yet He’s completely let go and moved on to bigger and better things in my life.

At this time of year we are asked by friends/family/strangers on social media to make resolutions or to dedicate to a “New Year/New You” mantra or group dedicated on fixing whatever you have going on. Myself and Jesus are telling you right now, you are perfect just the way you are right at this moment. We all have our crosses, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. If we choose to be sheltered in the thought that this year was the “worst” and live in the darkness, we fail to see the light that happened.

There will always be pain, there will always be darkness. But you have the choice and the power to see light.

In 2017, be you, forgive yourself and laugh more with people you love and love you back. Don’t magnify the darkness for in darkness we do not act in truth.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Full Disclosure: I’m writing this while sitting in my jammies and watching Designated Survivor so obviously it’s that kind of night. It’s also in a weird way connected… proceed

I promised myself that 2016 was going to be huge, like Leslie Knope meets HRC huge. It’s been filled with lots of stress that was self induced and all it took was Dallas, an August weekend up to Dallas, and IHOP to get me to this realization that I am right where I need to be.

When people ask me, “What do you do?” I have a few responses that flow through my head – but really I want to say I’m a badass. But so are you. Think about it, you’ve made it this far in life to be sitting behind a screen and reading this entry. You’re amazing dude.

So yes, 2016 is huge – I’m excited to share what I have going on and this will probably have to wait until 2017 but for now it’s all on planning for big projects with my beloved company, meditating (a new practice I adopted since reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris),  and focusing on my 3rd half marathon.

If anything else – I didn’t “leave” my previous occupation. Well, I did. So much more than that, I grew and realized right where I needed to be was where I was all along just didn’t give it the proper credit where credit was due. I’m a woman in tech, why hide from it? I also edit the most amazing bingo magazine in the state of Texas. That’s a badass feat.

And with that – peace out. I got a new ‘do today.

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Sup – I’m like Alicia Keys, makeup can’t hold us down.