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some moments in small town, Brazil

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“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” ― Robert Frost

 

The neighbor’s cat loves that tree

My favorite fruit – Marolo. It is only available in March and in certain areas of Brazil, so we fill the freezer with them

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” – ― Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Some of Mom’s plants

A close of the view from Mom’s back balcony

Chocolate and coconut fudge

A little church in my friend’s farm

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” ― James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

at the farm the kids found a baby bird

Leaving the farm

Just the beautiful vast green

“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.” – ― Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

Havan stores use iconic symbols to attract attention

A trip to the hairdresser

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

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Letting go and letting God!

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”― Lao Tzu

At the moment I am back in Brazil at my parent’s house for another few days. I was here in September to pick up my mom for her semiannual trip to NY. Now I returned to bring her back. My dad doesn’t fly so I get to spend time with him on these trips.

It is hard seeing my parents age and become more and more dependent on others. During those trips I am constantly trying to think of ways to make their lives easier.

Often the hardest part is convincing my Mom to accept help and to accept my improvement ideas. Right now I want to make some changes to the first floor of the house to create a bedroom for her.

One moment she is okay with the idea, but in the next she is very mad about it. When the house was built my parents were in their early 50s. Getting old and dependent was far from their minds. My mom is now 84. My dad is 83. The house is full of stairs and dangerous steps.

I am mad and annoyed at my mom’s stubbornness. I am the one that will pay for it and I am willing to be here to oversee this construction (removing floor tiles and building a wall, etc).

Then it hit me!  My mom is not the problem, I am! Why must things be as I want? She has not asked for this kind of meddling.  The only person I need to be mad at is myself.

Many years ago I visited a Shaman and he told me: “You are not God.  Why do you think you can fix everyone’s problems?  Why do you think you have to be the one to take care of your family?  Are they asking?  How about you taking care of your own life?

Those words resonated with me then and now they come to mind again.  I will, once again, try to Let go and let God. I can only to do so much. The rest I need to let God (the Universe) handle it.  I will try to wait to be asked for help and not try to force my help unto people, specially my family.

It is a matter of acceptance and control. Instead of accepting that they are aging and that there will be issues, I am doing all I can to deny that fact and control the situation. I am trying to control not only the situation but the outcome. I try to think of potential problems and what I can do to overcome them.

The law of nature is clear and merciless. My parents are aging and will eventually die.  I need to accept that for my parents but also for myself. I cannot protect then from falling or getting hurt. I cannot foresee every problem. I also can’t force them to agree to do whatever I want.

I am letting go and letting God!

I am witnessing what age and health issues are doing to my parents. I am seeing their struggles, not only physically but mentally. Am doing all I can to be in the best shape that I can, body and mind, by the time I get to their age?

Sadly the answer is no. There are tons that I could be doing to make my future better and old age less of a factor.  Watching my parents is a wake up call for action in my own life.

Think about it:  What are you going to be like at 80 if you continue doing what you are doing at this moment?

The house below is where I am writing from at this moment.  Today was so hot and it is only spring now.  I am looking forward to cooler NY in a few days.

Thank you for stopping by ♥

New Windows: It is all a Beautiful Mess

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OLD WINDOWS

NO WINDOWS

NEW WINDOWS

At times, like yesterday, my life feels like a mess.  I let windows mess up my day and my mood.  Windows!  It was not brain surgery or the end of the world, it was just windows.

Life sometimes is messy.  We are thrown curve balls and we have choices.  To breathe and handle it or to pull my hair out? Since I don’t want to sport the bald look I handled it.

The feeling of powerlessness, panic and failure that overwhelms me at times when things well planned in advance goes wrong.

My windows were finally installed yesterday, not without some issues.  I will summarize.  The installer originally didn’t want to install the windows and left with the excuse that he was going to his truck to park.  He then called and rambled on excuses, and I quote: ” The building is too luxurious. I need additional help.  It will mess up the elevators.  There will be not enough time to finish”  I don’t live in a dump but I would not call it luxurious.

To each of his issues I had a solution: Don’t worry about the elevator, the super is cool he will not throw you out at 5pm.  I even offered to have the handyman that I had already hired for the day to help them. I also called the company that assured me that they were handling and would get back to me.

Finally they relented and came back.  They started in my tenant’s apartment first.  Another issue: there were cars parked in the parking lot beneath the window and they were afraid that they my drop something and damage the cars.  I had to get the super to move some and cover the ones that couldn’t be moved.  Installing continued.

Once done my tenant called me to inspect.  One look at it and I see it is the wrong grid-lines.  Even though the new ones look great it is not inline with the rest of the building. Now more calls to the office.  Originally they wanted to blame me for ordering the wrong windows.   Then they realized that the right windows were ordered and they blamed the manufacturer.

They have ordered the right ones  but I will have to wait another month for them to return and swap the top window for the right number of grids.  The same ones were installed in my apartment as they assured me that to change the grids will be a quick thing.

It would be nice if I could choose whatever windows I wanted. I would choose just a big panel but I have to follow the aesthetics of the rest of the building.

The back and forth with the technicians and the company while trying to deal with work and keeping my mom from feeding off my stress was beyond stressful.

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”― Sun-Tzu

At those times I feel exasperated and powerless.  I feel like a complete mess and failure.  The truth is sometimes everything it is indeed a mess and it is ok.

Even though things are at times messy still they are perfect as they should be.  People make mistakes.  Things don’t go according to plan.  People don’t handle things as they should.  Still life goes on.  In the meantime this control freak gets the chance to learn to survive in a mess.  Controlled chaos is a thing and I think yesterday I had a taste of it.

In the end, it is just windows and I sound like a cry baby – I know 😦

“I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often–because I’m paying attention.’ I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide.”― Glennon Doyle Melton

 

No just a smile

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“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”― Friedrich  Nietzsche

It was just a smile,
Walking a different route
Just another random street
I looked up and saw you coming
A stranger that my heart recognized
You knew me too, I could tell
We got close
You smiled
A smile that disarmed me
We both said hi, but
We never stopped, we never chatted
We kept going
Opposite ways
I never looked back, did you?
It was just a smile

It was just a smile, but to dreamers like me it meant the world.  It meant sustenance.
To those in love with life, a smile that the heart recognizes is a window into a world of possibilities and hope.
There is no one at the moment, no person I am talking to, no date in sight, and because of that nothingness, the entire world is a possibility. And it is perfect, beautiful and so full of miracles!

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”― Thomas Merton

Remembering and being grateful

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“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

I forget…a lot.  The good and the bad.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But some things are not meant to be forgotten. Some things need to be remembered.

Two days ago, September 11,  I arrived at JFK from my trip to Brazil.  I was feeling blessed for having had an uneventful, but still amazing trip to Brazil.  It makes me feel good that I am able to bring my mother to NY twice a year and provide her with a comfortable and fun time this late in her life.

This flight to NY was unexpectedly better than previous ones.  Mom and I were upgraded to first class.  To be able to lay flat and sleep on a 9 and a half hour flight is just amazing. The Brazilian cheese bread and Brazilian corn biscuits for breakfast were the icing on this champagne filled cake.  What I loved most is that my Mom was able to experience the comfort of first class.

“Human beings do terrible things to each other and the tragic thing about it all is the way the remembrance of past hurt can rob us of our future and become the narrative of our lives.” ― Richard Holloway

Life was unfolding as it normally does whenever I arrive from Brazil with unpacking and catching up on work stuff when I realized it was September 11.  I should have remembered it.  I felt silly for celebrating flying first class when so many were remembering and mourning a tragedy.  I felt tone deaf and disrespectful.  I am embarrassed that I didn’t remember it earlier.  I didn’t think of it when I booked the ticket or even when I checked in.

I personally knew and worked with several people that died that day.  I worked for Euro Brokers Inc for several years in their Stamford, CT office.  Their main office was on the 84th Floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  I quit that job on a spur of the moment when they decided to close the CT office and move everyone to the NY office. I had no interest in working in Manhattan and I also felt I was done with the commodities brokerage world.

A year later, and still to this day I am working in Manhattan in the same industry I was tired of 20 years ago.  

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.” – ― Czesław Miłosz

I was late remembering the date but I often remember details and moments lived with some that have passed, in other occasions also. There are so many memories of the people I knew that perished.  I remember one for his kindness, one for his laugh and one for his readiness to help. Then there is another that loved life so much he never missed a party or a trip and only dated models.  There were so many people, so many different stories, so many lessons to learn.

I said prayers for their souls and their families.  I also paused for the ones that I didn’t know and also the survivors  that are still dealing with survivor’s guilt. I remembered the true heroes of that day, both dead and alive.

I am remembering and trying to honor their memories the best way I know how: being kind always, being helpful whenever I can,  laughing aloud often, enjoying life fully, and being grateful for all.  I am no longer feeling guilty and embarrassed about talking about flying first class.  Enjoying life is the best way to honor the dead.

I am grateful for the gift of memory, even though late and faulty.  For having my parents still here, for being upgraded and feeling luxurious for a moment, for having life while many were taken too soon.  For all the blessings small and large. For every moment and every breath.

“I could have.What does this phrase mean? At any given moment in our lives, there are certain things that could have happened but, didn’t. The magic moments go unrecognized, and then suddenly, the hand of destiny changes everything.”― Paulo Coelho

Brazil here I come again, and again, and again

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  “Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.” ― José Saramago

Time and time again I am being taught that nothing is under my control and not everything can be done according to my clock.  I have to wait for people and things and waiting kills me.  At this moment life feels chaotic and I am learning (kicking and screaming) to be okay with it.

I like order and everything organized, but messy is becoming my new normal.  The work I am doing in my apartment is not completed yet and at this point has no completion date.  I wanted to have it all done before I brought my Mom here for her biannual visit.  It will not be the case.

“You may delay, but time will not.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Time got away from me.  All of a sudden I realized that September is here and I still hadn’t scheduled a date to go to Brazil.  So last week I got tickets for tomorrow.  My lack of planning resulted in paying an arm and a leg for the tickets. I will try to plan things better in the future, but it seems that there is never a right time to leave work.  Since this trip is so last minute I will be taking my laptop with me and will be doing work from there. I am already regretting having said I was going to do that.

I will be in Brazil for 10 days, bring Mom here for 3 weeks, then returning to Brazil to take Mom home.  After Mom turned 80 and her health has declined a bit I don’t like to let her travel alone anymore.

In the meantime I still haven’t planned my skiing trip.  Perhaps there is a Ski Trip Fairy that will come in during the night and put an itinerary under my pillow.

One can hope.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

That man in the corner is my brother, not my fiance

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato

I hadn’t seen Matthew for a while, perhaps because I have been getting to work at 7am and he arrives at the corner of Madison and 34th later than that.

I have mentioned him on different posts. My heart breaks for him and all the other homeless people.  I try to stop and talk to them if I feel it is safe. Unfortunately a lot of them are afflicted by mental illness.  I know what is like to feel invisible (I have never been homeless, but I will always be a 17 year old immigrant).  The hunger oftentimes is not for food.

We talk about everything. We talk about our families and plans. He asks about my dating life. Even he can’t figure out why I am still single. He probably thinks what everyone thinks: “There must be something wrong with her”. 🙂

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  ― Leo Buscaglia

He is so upbeat, specially this morning. I want to believe that he really believes everything he is saying and not just telling me what I want to hear. Listening to him speak one would think he will be off the streets in a day or two. Not the case, and I fear we both know it.

I tell him to keep positive, pray for guidance, trust in God – all the things I tell anyone going through any hardship.  I want him to go to his father for help, but he always has some excuse why not yet.  About a year ago he mentioned visiting his father, but according to him, he returned here to get his life together.

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Today he told me that he worked with someone washing awnings a couple of times this week and there is one lady in the hotel industry that promised to get him a job cleaning hotel rooms. Fingers crossed.

He made a point of showing me his nails and saying: “Look how clean they are. I am the homeless guy with the cleanest nails in NY City”.

We also talked about that video he appeared on. I mentioned it here: https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.com/2018/12/28/more-good-more-light-more-love-in-2019/

He was upset about it. He says he found out it is not really about philanthropy but a commercial for Amazon Prime Now. I don’t know if that is true or not. He mentioned had he known that he wouldn’t have signed the release.

He was worried most about his father.  He said: “Can you imagine if my father sees it?”

I pacified him by saying: “If he hasn’t seen it by now he probably never will.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

Isn’t that amazing that some of us, no matter our ages still care what our parents think? I have been living on my own in another country since I was 17 years old and it is extremely important to me that I am as good and generous as my parents think I am. It is important to me that my family is proud of me.

Unfortunately sometimes is tough going through life with my mother in my mind watching my every step.

I gave Matthew an apple and $10.00. Oftentimes by the time I get to my office and look out the window I see him in line at the coffee cart, specially in the winter. I like seeing that, but really I give to him and others with a good heart and good intentions, but once the money leaves my hands it is no longer mine. It is theirs and they can do whatever they want.

I walked away waving good bye and wishing him a good day. He yelled back: “Marry me!”

… and I thought I would never hear that in my lifetime! 🙂

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  ― Albert Einstein

Pizza for Peace and Regenerating Gums

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For the ones following up on my office saga:

Yesterday, the guy I had the argument with bought pizza for the office.  I knew about it but I didn’t get up to get it.  He then send me a chat message saying: “I got pizza for the office if you would like some”.

I could have ignored his message, but instead I replied: “Sure, Thank you.”

I am not sure if our fight had anything to do with his sudden generosity. I want to believe that something I said was heard.

I think pizza was his olive branch.  I accepted it.

“Man looks very coward and extremely primitive with an ostentatious big sword and he looks very brave and tremendously sophisticated with a humble olive branch!”  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

***
After lunch I went to the dentist to get a cleaning and to get an x-ray on that dental implant problem I have written about it.  Last time I was there after the laser surgery I had had a few months earlier to try to save the implant the x-ray showed that the situation had gotten worse.

At that time his recommendation was to remove one of the implants, otherwise I may lose all 3.  It is the last one in the back so according to my dentist I would not feel too much of a difference.  Still I think he felt my despair at the idea of removing it that he offered to redo the laser surgery for free and go in deeper this time.

The second surgery was done in February. It was painful but I am used to painful dental surgeries.  Since February I am doing all I can to make sure that the surgery would be successful.

On Friday when he looked at the x-ray I braced myself.  He studied it for a second and then gave me the good news. Not only it didn’t get worst, it actually showed a little improvement.  That was enough for him to decide that I can hold off on removing the implant for now, and perhaps for good.

He said:  Continue doing what you are doing because it is working.  Here is what I am doing:

  • Eating less sugar (this is good for overall health)
  • Brushing my teeth after every meal, and specially after having sugar
  • Flossing at least once a day. Often twice.
  • I alternate among different toothpastes.  I am not sure why I do this, but I don’t like to use the same one every day. Some of the ones I use are: Sensodyne, Total, Arm and Hammer and CloSYS.
  • Gargling with CloSYS mouthwash or with Tree Tea Oil Mouthwash every night.
  • Doing Oil Pulling at least 3 times a week.  I should do it every day, but I don’t always remember it.
  • Using a dental tartar scraper once a week.  That is like a metal toothpick to scrape the tartar off the teeth.  The same one dentists use.
  • Massaging my gums with my finger as often as I remember.
  • Having a positive and grateful attitude towards my teeth and gums.

I believe that anything in our bodies can be regenerated, and that includes my gums.  I am not sure what is really working from the above list, but I will continue to do it all and continue hoping for good news at every visit.

“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, for ever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.” 
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

 

Another dysfunctional day in a dysfunctional industry

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Some of you may wonder what happens in a small office when there is a big blow up as the one I had the other day with that co-worker.  Or specifically what is happening in my office right now.

In this industry yelling and screaming among the brokers are normal and par for the course.  Sometimes their arguments get so heated I fear one is going to hit the other. By the end of the day or by the next day they are speaking as if they are best friends.

Similar to them when I have any issues with any of the guys normally we are back to normal in a few days.  The normal for this guy and I is tricky.  He is a complainer and I don’t deal well with people that only complain and never has a positive thing to say about anything. He is not happy that I don’t allow him to brush his teeth in the kitchen sink and that he has to wash his own plate after lunch, among other things.

Our normal is just being cordial to each other. He is like one of those dogs that look inoffensive and cute. You let your guard down, you get close, you pet it and then it bites your hand off.

Time and time again I get bitten. Yet I never learn. Professionally and personally I don’t hold any grudges.

The ball is his court. But it seems that he will take longer to get over being called out for his behavior.

Yesterday when he needed something from me he asked one of the other partners to come and ask me. Later when he needed additional information he sent me messages via chat.

Today I walked in and there was a note on my desk (pictured at the top).  I blocked the client’s name on it.  It is childish of him to avoid speaking to me, but it is so expected. It would have been classier and more gentlemanly  if that was a note of apology but I don’t believe he ever said “I am sorry” in all his life.  I am sure that writing “pls” almost killed him.

I want to know what he is going to do next time he needs something personal notarized or scanned.  Well, I know what will happen, he will come and ask.  And I will do it because I don’t know how to say no. If I can help, I help, no matter what.

I don’t get the boss involved.  He has asked me to let him know if he needs to get him involved, but I rather fight my own battles.  Plus he goes a bit overboard so I like to avoid that.  I was glad he was not in the office when it happened.

“Give, but give until it hurts.” ― Mother Teresa

How early in advance is too early to book a vacation?

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Is August too early to book a vacation for January or February?

When I think of paradise I picture a snowy mountain.  I love skiing, or I should I say, attempting to ski. I took up skiing late in life and I struggle with it. The fear of heights, of gaining speed and falling paralyzes me.

On some skiing trips I do well, I even get to blues, and on others I end up on the bunny hill. Still I am not giving up. The beauty and feeling of freedom is just too enticing for me.

I have heard countless times people say to me that at my age I should be stopping and not starting to ski.  I feel everything in my life follows a different clock that is normally much later than everyone else’s.  I bet I will hear my biological clock ticking when I am 60 🙂

I pay no one any mind.  Only I know my heart and my desires.

At the top of a mountain is when I feel the freest, the most in tune with nature.  At the top of a mountain I am able to turn off my mind.  I just breathe in the beauty of nature and feel the gratitude in my lungs.

Since 2010 I have taken a skiing vacation a year. I have been to Whistler Blackcomb (3 times) and Mont Tremblant in Canada. I have been to Snowmass (Buttermilk and Aspen) and Breckenridge in Colorado and Park City in Utah. I have gone on a couple of short trips to Vermont and a couple of places in NY.

I am always in search of a location that is fun and welcoming to beginners. I think I will forever be a beginner. And I am okay with that. I don’t have lofty goals of ever skiing blacks. I just want to feel more comfortable on skis.

For the past 2 seasons (2018 and 2019) life happened and I didn’t go on my yearly trip or even a day trip. I am not even sure what prevented it. I guess it was a combination of different factors in my personal life and deadlines at work.

This coming season I want to make sure that I will not let things get in the way. I was thinking that the best way to accomplish that was to book the trip now. That way I would be forced to go or lose a lot money.

Do you think is it a good idea to book a trip this far in advance? Any suggestions of where to go and where to stay? I welcome any tips and suggestions.

And if I end up in your neck of woods perhaps we can have a drink. Crazy enough idea I think!

“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ― Maya Angelou