Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Strong by Anonymous

This is a piece by one of my students.  I was so struck by it that I asked permission to share it on the blog.  
So here it is...

"Around this time last year, I was beyond upset. I wasn't quite depressed but I was very close to it. I felt nothing was right for me and I just wasn't who I wanted to be. I wanted to be happier, skinnier, smarter, and just have everything perfect. I was mentally ill and I couldn't do anything about it. I felt like it was just time to go for me. What was the point of me being here? I was like an emotional punching bag for my friends and family. Everything I did seemed wrong and I just couldn't stand it. I went from loving food to skipping meals. I went from happy movies on Friday nights with my friends to upset Friday nights alone. It seemed like I was fighting a battle and losing... Hard! Everyday seemed harder and harder to finish no matter how hard I tried to make the best out of a situation. The world that used to be filled with colors became darker and darker to the point where it became black. I've been lied to, everything and everyone just seemed fake to me. There was no reason for me be here because it was obvious from my eyes that i wasn't wanted or needed.

No one really knew how I was feeling. I wore a big smile to school that made it seem like I was happy but it was all just a fake. I didn't want to tell anyone because I thought I would be looked at differently and that was the last thing I needed. I would drop hints to my friends but no one really picked up on it. When you've been looked at as a strong person, no one really offers a hand. What was strong about me though? What looked like strong to others was my loudest cry for help. "Help me. Just make me want to stay another day."

I remember one day, I woke up in the morning and asked my best friend what she would do if I died. She told me that she would cry her eyes out, that I was her best friend and that she loved me more than words could ever explain, that I was the reason she is holding on. I cried that day for a good hour. I was done being sad. I just couldn't stand being the person I was yet I let myself become it. I woke up day after day knowing that I was just getting more and more depressed but didn't do anything about it.

I learned that I am a strong person and that even though I wanted to quit, I didn't. No matter how much I hated my life, there was always that one reason to love it. I always had my family and friends. I was loved beyond words could explain yet I was to blind to see. I learned that you are always someone's anchor and if you go, you are just giving another person a reason to go.

I was hit by the reality bus  and it opened my eyes to the wonderful life I live and I'm glad I stayed. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here typing this and I wouldn't be the happy person I am today. I love myself and I love everyone. Well sometimes... I get told I'm crazy a lot but I just like making people laugh. At the end of the day, I just want to make as many people smile and laugh as much as possible because I know I'm not the only person fighting a battle. Some people aren't as open as me to be able to talk about these things because it's a hard subject. Send a smile, it goes way further than you think!"

Monday, April 14, 2014

1000 Gifts

I was on partial bed rest when I was pregnant with my daughter.  During that time a friend gave me her kindle.  (Straight up she just gave it to me...too nice)  One of the books I read during that time was 1,000 gifts by Ann Voskamp.  To be honest, her style is a little poetic and ethereal for me.  I know that is strange coming from an English Teacher, but when I am reading non-fiction I want it straight up, no flowery wording.  In fact if the book could be boiled down into a checklist, even better. If I were to do so for 1,000 gifts it would be incredibly simple:

Item #1- Make a list of 1,000 things that you are grateful for.

That's it.  Try it, I dare you.

It took me TWO years but after lots of stops and starts I finished last week.  It was hard not to repeat anything.  When I reread the list before writing this post I realized that I did repeat a few things. (For example, "The show Amazing Race" and "sleep"....I really LOVE those two things. )
Here are a few more things that I am so grateful for:

The Amazing Race...oh wait, I already said that...

Neighbors who lean out the window to say hello

When James pretends that Macaroni is a tiny phone

Nutella and Animal Crackers (try it, if you are looking for a new addiction)

A strong heart beat when I didn't know if our little girl would make it last year.

A husband I respect

When people give me quarters for laundry!

When my kids talk/sing each other to sleep

 If you are reading this right now I am grateful for you too!  You have no idea how much joy this blog and each and every reader has given me.

Ann Voskamp's Blog is one of my very favorite blogs.  Here is the link to learn more about gratitude and a whole world of amazing joyful things.

A Holy Experience

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Photo Caption Contest #1

I've always been a fan of photo caption contests.  They are usually witty and funny but I am notoriously bad at them (some might call me a joke killer- you know the person who make something funny not funny anymore). 

So, today marks our first official photo caption contest!

The rules are:
*comment below with a witty caption for this photo 
*share your caption on Penned but Not Published's Facebook Page
*have your friends "like" your caption on our Facebook page
*the photo with the most "likes" wins 
*Contest ends at 5pm on Sunday, April 13th.

Good luck:)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hottest Man with a Mustache

Well, Tom Selleck you held the title for over 30years.
You had a good run......
but there is a new mustache in town.  No, not a Boston Cop or a Hipster or even a Cholo.  This mustache belongs to my very own husband and if he's gonna rock it, I'm gonna love it.  #oksortofahipster #retiredcholo*

I used to get super embarrassed when the love of my life would do things like this (i.e.grow an epic mustache that hides his gorgeous smile.) In fact, to be honest it still makes my cheeks a little red when the kids at church burst into laughter the moment they see this industrial broom adorning his face.  But I realized that things like this (see above) show how wonderful he really is.  He doesn't think twice about doing something as time consuming and eccentric as manicure marvelous whiskers just to make others smile and maybe even laugh.  So, bring on the mustache jokes, quotes, look-alikes and puns.  I've realized I can hate the facial hair but love the face:)

*Cholo []

The U.S. context of the word Cholo/Chola originated in Los Angeles and can be [but definitely NOT in this case] a derogatory term meaning Chicanogangster or pandilleroor marero. They are born in the U.S. and favor Spanglish. They might refer to any Latino unlike them as pocho, or white-washed. 

A hardcore cholo will wear the baggy look, bigtime tatoos, and a shaved head. The chola might have long permed black hair, dark lipstick and a teardrop tatooed under her eye, (and their toddler might have a shaved head and wear the garb unless abuelita steps in.) 

This look is subject to change as gang-culture evolves. So what a cholo looked like in the times of Cheech and Chong is out-of-date, but still revered with some pride. There are even plastic figurines with this look sold in gumball machines all over the streets of L.A. 

The word has a totally different context in South America, where it means indigenous peasant. But in the States, it has been appropriated and the context has evolved.


1) "My homeboy got shot up by some cholos from Norte." OR "I'm cruisin' the eastside with a couple cholos."

2) "Hey ese, check out that vato over there looking all cholo."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: My 20 year old self

I found this old journal stuffed in a cabinet full of my journals and planners and notebooks and stumbled upon the following entry.  It is a good next installment of “the love story” but it is totally in my 19 year old diary dialect.  I was tempted to edit it to make myself sound smarter and less superficial but then I thought, “No, let’s keep it real.” So here it is.  A real entry from September 30th, 2004 which was right after I had returned to California.

“Today is definitely a red letter day [written in red ink].  I want to remember everything about it... I was feeling so down today and so discouraged and just not good enough.  But it ended so well, so unexpected.  I want to remember every turn of events, every shock and thrill. [It’s killing me not to edit out my overkill of the word “so”]  
So, David came over tonight; drove all the way out here and I hardly had time for anything.  I had to run and talk to Colleen but then I ended up canceling which I should have done earlier but I did it last second which is such a bad habit of mine.  I was really really upset with myself and just the situation so when David and I sat down to talk I told him, ‘If you are a friend...just a friend...why do I act like it’s more...why am I shifting my whole schedule when you are only a friend?’  I was so sad, I could hardly talk. 
We got up ‘cause I was gonna let him down, I was gonna let it go and hang out with Colleen which I felt was better anyways.  I felt bad though because I was so sad and he didn’t want me to be, so I tried to be cheerful and I asked him about his mom ‘cause he is going home for the weekend.  He said he didn’t want to talk about his mom.  He said he wanted me to be his girlfriend.  My jaw dropped literally it was hanging open.  I was SOOO stunned.  I couldn’t believe it was for real.  He’d never looked so attractive to me.  I started thinking of things like crazy, I thought, ‘Can we dance together?  Pray together?  Hold hands?!’  [I’m cracking up as I type the holding hands comment.]  
I was too stunned to speak though.  I’ve liked him for SOOO long!  I think I love him..’Yes, or no?’  he asked.  ‘Of course!!!!!’ I screamed.  I hugged him so long I almost fell over.  Then he gave me a promise ring.  It’s the same ring my grandfather gave me when he died and that I lost 3 years ago but then saw at Melissa’s jewelry shop last week...I have to tell Lalo this!!
                He said he promised to, ‘be faithful to me, never lie to me, and not try and get in my pants.’ [Ok, now I am seriously laughing so hard I can’t take it].  Is this true love?  I never want to take him for granted.  How did he learn to be so sweet?  I have to call my mom and my am I gonna do school tomorrow?  Thank you God for tonight.”  

Our first selfie...on like a 3 pound Cannon camera

  So that’s it, that’s how he asked me out, in my own words the day it happened.  It’s funny to look back 11 years at myself and my husband.  Turns out it was true love though I admit there are days I take him for granted.  The good news is that he forgives me and I love him even more today than I did back then.