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All good, a bit bad and lots of fun

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“How would your life be different if…You were conscious about the food you ate, the people you surround yourself with, and the media you watch, listen to, or read? Let today be the day…You pay attention to what you feed your mind, your body, and your life. Create a nourishing environment conducive to your growth and well-being today.”― Steve Maraboli

Biopsies: All good.  The doctor called me on Friday with the good news. The biopsies came back negative.  Even though I already knew that;  it is still a relief to hear it directly from her.  I can now stop with the thoughts of doom.

Vertigo: I have been having another bout of Vertigo for the past 2 weeks.  I had it in the beginning of 2018 and it went away after a couple of days, but this time it has been a bit more persistent.   I am not even sure it is vertigo. People that have Vertigo normally have nausea and headaches along with the dizziness.  I don’t.

What I have is the sensation that the room is spinning every time I move my head fast, specially when I lay down or get up.  Every morning and night, and throughout the day.

I had a physical yesterday and the doctor said it is hard to pinpoint a cause for that.  His first guess would be rhinitis.  He said that any kind of cold and stuffy nose can affect the balance. He wants me to use Flonase or another allergy relief medication for a couple of weeks and see if it gets better.

It is getting better on its own everyday so I will not be using Flonase.  If it gets worse again or returns in the future I will probably go to an Neuro or ENT doctor.

I think it is my body telling me things are not quite right.  It started with the chronic hives a couple of years ago, now vertigo.  At 53 years old I am sure hormones have something to do with it, but I am sure that diet has a big part in it.  It is time to pay more attention to my body’s cries for help.

It is time to make changes.  But I have said all that before …

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson

********

I have decided to try to do more things in Manhattan.  I want to make sure to take advantages all this amazing city has to offer.  So on that note my sister and I went to see the musical Tootsie this past week.

It was a fun show.  It had beautiful wardrobe,  clever setting, funny lines and wonderful acting.  I was reminded of how much I loved the movie.  I want to see it again, along with other Dustin Hoffman’s movies.  Growing up I had a crush on him.

“Take advantage of it now, while you are young, and suffer all you can, because these things don’t last your whole life.” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

 

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Refreshing honesty with a side of warm bread

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“Shame was an emotion he had abandoned years earlier. Addicts know no shame. You disgrace yourself so many times you become immune to it.” ― John Grisham, The Testament

It is 6am Sunday. The fire alarm in my building starts sounding. I knew there was no fire. Well, I didn’t know for sure but I assumed. The alarm has been malfunctioning and has been going off at times. So, by now, no one cares, which is scary because if there is really ever a fire no one is coming out alive.

Since the alarm was not stopping and we were already up my sister and I decided to go to the supermarket to look for the brown bread from the Cheesecake Factory. I love bread and one of the reasons I love going to the Cheesecake Factory is because of their brown bread served at the beginning of every meal.

Warm bread with butter it my version of paradise. I had heard from a friend that the Cheesecake Factory’s bread was now being sold in some supermarkets.  It seemed like the perfect time to go bread hunting.

To go exercise never came to mind 😦

We get there and as we are walking in I pass a man arranging a bag of cans to recycle. I catch up with my sister that was ahead of me and I mentioned that I felt bad for the man and wondered if he needed anything. She hadn’t noticed him and immediately felt bad. She said: go ask.

I turned around and went outside and approached him. He was on the younger side but it was hard to tell his age as life on the streets has a way of aging people beyond their years. I assumed that he was homeless and lived in a shelter because he had a cart with his belongings with him.

I approached him and said hi. He turned around looking a bit surprised. I asked how he was doing and he answered: good.

I said: I am going to do some shopping. Is there anything you need? Can I get you anything?

I thought he would say coffee, or something along those lines, but he replied with one word:

Beer

Beer? I asked, I am sure looking very surprised. He replied: Yes, I could use some beer now.

I said: It is only 6:30am, they aren’t selling beer yet.

I actually didn’t know if that was true or not, but I was not about to buy him alcohol.

He looked at his watch and agreed with me.

I asked him if I could get him something else and he said: No, that was all I wanted.

I wished him well and said good bye.

Later I checked and found out that grocery stores in NY state are not allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays from 3 am to 12 noon.

I appreciated his honesty. He didn’t try to get me to give him cash or get me to buy things he didn’t want. I pray he is able to fight his demons and come out victorious.

I found the brown bread and it was divine. Why must bread be public enemy number 1? I guess I do love bad boys after all… and by “boys” I mean food.

That man in the parking lot sorting cans is me. His weakness is alcohol, mine is carbs. Hard to say no. Hard to remember to say no.  Vicious cycle of blindly doing, feeling guilty, then doing it again to silence the guilt.

He has work to do and so do I.

“We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.”― Santosh Kalwar

But what if?

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“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”― Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

But what if?

That thought came to mind as I was crossing the street on the way to the doctor.

What if turns out that I do have something to worry about? What if it is cancer?

What do I do then?  Is there anything to do?  What if I had only a few months or weeks to live? What would I do?

Who would I choose to spend the last moments with?  Any final declarations of love? Anyone I need to say sorry to?

Is there anything left undone? Left unsaid?

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”― Mark Twain

Would I continue to do what is expected of me or would I do only what I want? 

Would I ignore my brain completely and only listen to my heart?

Would I do nothing?

I think I would curl into a ball and cry until there were no more tears left. Then I would get up and go on.  I would probably start making lists of everything that I need my sister to take care of.  Even in my dying I would want things organized and people taken care of.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
― 
Langston Hughes

No, I am not dying, and no it is not cancer.  Well, I don’t think it is.  I don’t have the results yet, but I am not concerned.

The only certainty in life is that we are all dying at some point.  We just don’t know when.  But when the word cancer makes an appearance in our vocabulary, death becomes a new thought.  Movies with sad story lines keeps coming across my mind.

A lot people are alive but not living. Just breathing doesn’t equal living. But then again, who am I to judge how a person chooses to live?  I sit in an office and stare at a screen for the majority of my days.  That is hardly something worth writing about.

Why do I have death in mind? In July I went to a new ob/gyn because my regular one retired.  The pap smear came back abnormal and she wanted me to get a cervical biopsy.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I had an abnormal pap in 2016 and at that time the doctor really had me worried.  She referred me to a specialist at the Cancer Institute. It was nothing.  I think it has been abnormal since then but new doctor probably wants to be thorough.

This time I was so unconcerned that it took me from July until October to schedule the biopsy.  I finally got it done last week.  I only did it because I feared my new doctor would let me go as a patient if I didn’t follow through with her request.

I am not a cry baby and have a high tolerance for pain but it hurt like hell, because, of course, the opening of my cervix is absurdly small.  The doctor said that in the future if I have to have it done again she will give me a couple of pills to insert so that it will make it easier the next day.   That was no consolation at that moment in time.

So there is nothing to worry, until there is something to worry.  Cancer and death were stupid thoughts that sneaked by while I wasn’t looking.

The message is:  We are all going to die one day.  Let’s make the most of today!  Let’s indeed live as if we are dying.

 “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” –― Haruki Murakami

BE HAPPY! NOW!

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Everything ends.

With that in my mind I try to be more conscious of all my blessings.  Of that I have tons and there is no bigger blessing than opportunities.

Lately I have been feeling that I am on a roller-coaster. Between being busy and bracing myself to be busy I am not fully experiencing and enjoying anything.  I am also not taking advantages of opportunities and just accumulating stress.

In Brazil we have a saying that loosely translated means: “I was happy and I didn’t know it”

So many times we don’t realize how good someone or something is, until they are gone.  When don’t honor the people around us, we are not grateful for our jobs, for the food on the table, etc.  Am I taking things for granted?  That I am sure of it!

All that came to mind  today when I realized that this is the last year I will be working in Manhattan.  It is a done deal, we will be moving out of NY City.  Have I taken advantage of the fact that I have been here every single weekday for the past 19 years?  Did I take enough bites of this Big Apple? Chances are I have not.

I have done a lot, gone to many shows, restaurants, bars, events, etc, but there is still so much I haven’t done.  So many museums, galleries, shows, sights, etc that I left for later.  It was all here, easily accessible, and yet so many I kept postponing.

What if later never comes? Can I come to NY again after I stop working here? Yes, absolutely, but not as easy and seamless as already being here.

Why do I worry so much about missed opportunities? While worrying I miss new ones. The key is to stop worrying about that and focus on not missing new ones.  And if I can’t find need ones I need to go about creating new ones.

I need to slow down and be aware of every moment. A lot of my time is spent looking at the past or planning for the future. I guess I am a combination of anxious and depressive. And that is not a joke, it is a realization.

What I want written on my headstone is:  “She never let an opportunity pass by.  She was blessed and she knew it”

“There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

While I ponder all that is left to do in NYC before I no longer work here I may be able to cross some items off of that list in the next couple of weeks.  Tomorrow at 6am I will be at JFK airport picking up a friend from childhood and her husband.  He is coming to NY to run the NYC marathon.  They don’t speak English and they have no clue of what they want to do while here. So it will be up to my sister and I to entertain them for 10 days.

My aunt, God Bless her soul, used to say:  “Guests are like fish.  After 3 days they start to stink.”

I will keep you guys informed on how bad this stench gets.  All kidding aside what I dread most is the absence of my routine.

“Help others without any reason and give without the expectation of receiving anything in return.”-― Roy T. Bennett

On the subject of where and when to go skiing I came up with the following:  Skiing in Keystone in the first week of December.  I didn’t book anything yet, but I feel good about deciding at least where and when.  I also plan on something overseas in February.

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Be aware, be in the moment, be happy! Slow down and get going!

nyc, mANHA

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

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