Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – Book Review – July 23, 2016

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The novel, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money, by Robert T. Kiyosaki is not the typical read.  It is a combination of personal account along with vast information that would make any middle to low income earner cringe.  The middle to low income earner cringes, because he realizes this man has known a secret that makes him millions and is easily attainable to all of us.

The how-to-book is a mixture of personal stories from Kiyosaki’s childhood and his adult life.  Although he is respectful of both of his dads, he does mention at times that he leaned more toward his rich dad’s belief system mainly because he produced results from his actions, such as investments, fortunes, etc. From the reading, one can tell that the poor dad had good intentions in raising his son and was a very hard worker; however, Kiyosaki wanted what his rich dad had attained.  Kiyosaki explains how he modeled his rich dad’s teachings and has been successful to this day.

In a very easy, straightforward style, Kiyosaki explains how one can attain wealth and assets.  He is quick to point out that those who spend carelessly will still find themselves paying for the luxuries that are wanted and not necessarily needed.  He is also adamant about learning financial lingo and terms if one wishes to understand how to make money work for oneself.  He acknowledges that many do not wish to take the time to learn such matters and he is correct in this statement.  Many people miss out on improving their financial status due to ignorance, not the opportunity to acquire a better income.

After finishing this book, I must admit that I am not a math person (even though I took higher level math courses in high school).  I tend to think in words since I am a writer and not necessarily in numbers.  However, after reading this book, I realize that the mentality or mindset which we have about money must change in order for us to be successful in our finances.

The book has motivated me to look for the opportunities which Kiyosaki suggests in acquiring wealth and to change the way I speak about money in front of my children. The rich or upper class do use money to their advantage and they teach this concept to their children by the way they handle their money in their daily finances.  All of his suggestions made logical sense and were reinforced with the personal examples he used in supporting his findings.

I would definitely recommend this book to any individual, especially those who consider themselves part of the middle to low income classes.  It is an insight into the world of the rich and a way for all of us to change our course of handling our money to better ourselves and our children.  Although guaranteed fortunes aren’t promised, by reading the book, one will learn how money can work for you in ways you never realized.

On Raising Daughters – October 30, 2015

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When I first became a mom, all I wanted was a healthy child.  I wasn’t set on one particular gender.  Whatever God gave me was fine by me.

So when I held my firstborn daughter, I was in love.  With each additional daughter (three daughters, then my son), I grew a heart for each of them.

Now, I look at my three daughters and my young son and I wonder, “How did I get through those early years?” The bottles, the diapers, the earaches at two in the morning.  I remember the endless anxiety of my children being sick or being properly cared for by their caregivers. It was a rough time.  I was like any other mom who loves their children and wanted to be reassured that they would be okay.

With a full time job, the anxiety increased tenfold as I questioned, “Am I giving them enough of my time?”  or “Am I being the mom that I’m supposed to be?” Balancing work and motherhood was always the struggle and there was never enough time to be the mom I wanted to be.

It’s not like you’re given an owner’s manual at the end of your hospital stay that reads, “Follow directions 1,2, 3, then proceed on with life.” No one prepares you for what is coming each day and most moms do the best we can as experiences emerge in our daily lives.  Eventually, I relaxed and started to feel comfortable in this role of mother to my children.  However, it was never easy.

I can say this — raising daughters can be a tumultuous, mind boggling experience when you consider the emotional and sensitive nature of our lovely daughters.

I say this in a loving yet reflective way since I can say that I’ve been through the teenage years with them (I’m still going through this stage with my youngest daughter) and I’m heading toward the early adulthood age with my eldest (she’ll be twenty-one soon).  And as I look at each daughter, in the fine complexity of each being, I have always tried to remember that although they come from me and are definitely part of my heart, each one is still their own person with different traits and strengths that I attempt to reach in their own time and way.

When I say “in their own time and way,” I’m referring to the cues I get when addressing each daughter based on their temperament and feelings.  Gauging this aspect of a daughter can be daunting in itself, because most of the time, I’m trying to see what I need to be for her and hope I’m correct.

I realize now that it is by the grace of my experience as a teacher that I have learned how to let them be their own person and have tried to let go of the fact that they are not expected to be “me.” I have seen many mothers try to be their daughter’s “friend” and then have it backfire when the mother didn’t like what the daughter was doing.  And I’ve also seen the opposite, the die hard mom, who insisted that her way was always right, and that was the end of it. Neither scenario seemed effective to me as I have viewed these examples over and over again in my years as a teacher. I think this has been a great lesson to learn early on as a mother, because it has released such arguments and anxiety to the question, “Why can’t you just do as I do?” “Why can’t you be me?”

There are still struggles that I have with each daughter, such as how to dress appropriately for each age level and how to speak respectfully to us in tone and manner, some of which, girls, especially, don’t realize they are coming across in a certain way. Again, this is part of all girls and their emotional characters.  Other struggles include what to put on social media in a world where every emotion, word, (and picture that goes along with it) is expressed for everyone to see.  With each daughter, there has been a unique struggle which I have encountered and had to embrace.

Since I have already been through these years, I now see myself very differently than them in many ways.  In my generation as a Hispanic teenager, there were certain things or expressions I never would have been allowed to express in any way. Like the question, “But how come?” or “That’s not fair.” These expressions alone would have been enough for a lecture in my household. I had no say so in my home at times, because my parents were my parents.  That was it. It was mainly out of respect that certain questions weren’t warranted.

However, I can accept that my daughters see things in their unique ways and still love them for their views.  And although I may not always agree, it is with my heart that I see them opening up to me  in our discussions and expressing how they see the world, in their own time and with the consideration of their generation.

As a mother and educator, I want my daughters to question and examine the choices made around them and wonder why things are being handled in certain ways. I really want them to think situations through and analyze their choices before acting on them.  And I want to be able to talk openly about marriage, relationships, expectations which we have of each other, and a multitude of other topics that they want to explore. Realizing this wish, it does come with many challenges.

We are vast worlds apart in our experiences.  The issues that they face and see everyday are concepts I couldn’t even begin to fathom at their age.  In trying to guide them in a world where I don’t have much experience with these issues, it makes these experiences very challenging to give advice and I hope it is correct for their situation. Everything in their world comes quicker and faster in their generation of technology and social media. I want them to question and then question again what is happening in their world. Their thoughts and opinions should still reflect integrity and respect in the ever changing world of individuals choosing to do whatever feels good at the present moment.

Also, the people and groups surrounding them are vast and unique. However, I want them to be tolerant of differences and love those around them in a way that they would wish to be loved themselves.  I find that now with the emergence of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals coming forth in many facets of our lives, my daughters are the first to accept those different than themselves and see them with eyes of compassion, and possibly more so than I could have at their age, due to my generation and the stigma associated with issues which weren’t even discussed in my teenage years.

And so, when I see each daughter, I remember her as the baby I once held long ago, with hopes and dreams of her future endeavors. Eventually, I am brought back to the reality that as I watch each daughter emerge into the beautiful young woman she was meant to be, she is taking pieces of what I say and do every day of my life, and shaping her own view of the woman she hopes to become. She is merging her idea of the present world with the world of letting me go as her mother, while still holding onto the pieces she dearly needs for security.

All I can do is be present for her, model what traits I hope she’ll take from me, and tell her that I love her along the way. I’m a mother who will always be by her side in her triumphs and failures. I will constantly be watching, guiding, and molding her, when she so wishes this action from me, and even in times when maybe she doesn’t. I will love her in times when she can’t love herself.

This is what mothers of daughters always do.

On Becoming An Author – September 25, 2015

6x9KDP300dpi (1)     A dream is about to come true.  I am going to be an author.

     For the longest time, I have waited for this moment.  I have accumulated stories, poems, ideas, in the hopes that someday I would take the next step and actually do something with these projects.  In between being a wife and a mother to four children, I have also taught for nineteen years at the same high school and have loved my life.  It has been a little hectic at times, but it is my life and I wouldn’t change it.

      However, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always wondering, “When will my stories be published?”  “When will I have the time?”

     In my life, time is a rare commodity.  I realized that I needed to make the time to get my work done. So, this summer I finally decided to research and see what I needed to do in order to get my work published.  And by published, I meant self-publishing.

     I had read the stories of authors who had waited months, even years to try to publish their work through a traditional publisher.  It was a fairly easy decision to try self-publishing for my first novel and see where this road would take me.

     I hired a copy editor and began the process of editing my (what I thought was) final copy.  It was a very humbling experience to go through this process since I really thought I was clear in my writing.  Well, I was wrong and hiring someone to help me really take a look at my own writing was an eye opener.  She made writing seem flawless, which it definitely wasn’t. I also gave myself a deadline since I had most of the summer to get the final editing done.  I wrote early in the morning for hours, and then, I still had the rest of the day to spend time with my family. Meeting my deadline was one part of the process.

     The next part was developing an audience for my novel.  So, I began the process of connecting to people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  I began posting my synopsis of the book and the cover.  Amazingly, my family, friends, former students, and strangers began to take an interest and the support I have received has been immense.  Since I have shared much of my writing with my students (through examples for essays, assignments, etc), it was no surprise that they knew I could actually write.  I also created an Author Page on Facebook to invite as many people to follow my project or further projects.

     I also created a Facebook group called “Unexpected Blessings,” which is devoted to sons or daughters who have lost the connection of a father and were unknown to them, due to a former girlfriend or spouse never letting them know of their child’s existence.  Since my novel, Always Connected, is inspired by real events, this idea of a father not knowing his child is not a foreign concept.  The fictional story line centers on a father who realizes he has a daughter twenty-six years later.  It is an intriguing story of twists and turns as this new daughter becomes part of his family.

      So, in a few days, I will embark on this journey as an author.  It has always been my calling after being a wife, mother, and teacher.  I have always known this day would come and I knew that I didn’t want to wait forever for it to take place.  So we’ll see where this takes me and hopefully, as time continues, there will be more novels to share and enjoy with my readers.

Take a look at Always Connected. You might be inspired to see life differently.  It is the story that changed my life in a second. It just might change you.

February 21, 2015 – Life with a large family

When I was young, I told myself that I would never get married and I would never have kids. Well, God must have been laughing from above. Now married and four kids later, life with a large family is all I know.

Somewhere along the journey, the thought of having four children was never planned; it just happened. With each child came a reemerging feeling that I was not done yet. Each phase of infancy, then toddlerhood made me long to have another child in our life.  My husband says he was done after the first two, but in my eyes, two children was simply too small of a number.

I came from a small family, just one sister and  then much later, a brother. Growing up in a small family can be lonely especially when all of the other families around me were much bigger in size. Granted, Hispanic families tend to be larger in number anyhow; yet, I still couldn’t understand why ours was so small.  Something about big families intrigued me — their close connections and grand laughter especially made me wonder what it was like to grow up in a large family. Bigger families equaled more love to give and more love to receive.

Four children in a family is a daunting task. Others from big families know what I’m talking about–nonstop clothes in the washer, constant grocery shopping, unmatched socks (like all of the time), and varying eating patterns from each child. The organization of daily tasks is a continual battle, for in the rush of daily life, good intentions don’t always happen. The shower that was supposed to be cleaned weeks ago , the pants that needed to be hemmed, now long past due, and the smelly food that lingers in the air when the frig is ajar– all of these are the results of the unorganized mess stemming from a loss of time in such a big family. Time just never seems to come when it’s needed in these unorganized times.

When the chaos gets unbearable, I think of my grandmother. She raised eleven children at a time when this number of children was the norm. I often wondered how my grandmother coped in raising and caring for all of her children. Most women in her day were stay at home moms, which was a job in itself. Washing , mending clothes, feeding all of her children–I can’t even imagine a day in her life.  She even made dresses out of cotton sacks of flour which were made for the girls in the family. However, times were different because most people did not have money for anything extra and the children were part of the work crew to help raise money for the family. Times were much simpler with less money to work from, yet I know there were stresses still present in their lives that today’s culture might not be able to bear, such as owning a television or electronics.

So although the chaos of certain days leave me on edge, I don’t know any different and even if I did, I would still long for the great crazy days with my four children. Days like Sunday mornings, when the kids surround the table, eating their breakfast, and laughter is our entertainment. Or the family trips when the whole crew is in tow and the kids sing the most current popular song as we drive down a long unfamiliar road.  And the smile that crosses my husband’s face as he looks at me, knowing in each other’s hearts that we’ll never forget this time in our life. Or the pride I feel when the faces of my children radiate from a family photo, revealing to the world that they are loved, happy, secure. This in itself is the best moment — realizing that I helped create such beautiful souls, souls with their gifts to bestow on the world. And in their uniqueness, I marvel at their connection to me, their mother. My blessings are so abundant.

No, I can’t say I planned my life like this, but God is usually the driver in my life. Sometimes, I just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Taking the good with the bad – life and fibromyalgia

There are things in life that you choose to do to yourself and others that are destined for you, although you don’t quite understand the “why.”

One self infliction was when I got a really bad perm.  My hair was half way down my back and I believed that a perm would guarantee beautiful curly long hair, just like a model with her perfectly styled spiraled mane.  Mind you, I was already married with two small children, and felt that I just needed a change.  So, the perm came and what I believed would be something wonderful winded up being a scrunched up mess.  My hair and its kinky curls shrunk to just below my neck.  Nothing seemed to calm down the curls, so I tried to make the best of it.  This was difficult for my husband to ignore, with his quick wit and nonstop humor.  He would awaken, see me, smile, and blurt out, “Good morning, Harpo!” all the while pretending to have a cigarette in his mouth as he spoke.  All I could do was smile, even though it ticked me off, because well, it was my doing. So every time my husband saw me, the words “nappy,” “fuzz head,” or my favorite, “Shirley Temple,” poured forth from his unsympathetic mouth.  Thank God, I had a sense of good humor.  I knew that my husband said these comments lovingly in his playful manner. I also knew that I took full ownership for my locks of sausage curls.  A bad hairstyle equalled a few months of wrestling with unruly hair until I could eventually have it straightened out again.  It was something I could eventually fix.  Although I felt like a fool for a while, I knew it wouldn’t be forever.

Other things in my life have been handed to me by the Lord above and all I can do is take one day at a time.

It’s something I rarely talk about, because when people see me, they wouldn’t believe me anyhow.

Fibromyalgia is something that developed in me after the birth of my third daughter. I was thirty years old and I don’t know why at that point in my life this condition came to me.  And I had no clue what it was.  About six to eight weeks after my surgery, I began to feel searing pain down my spine.  It felt like my spine was burning.  I went to my family physician and even she couldn’t find the cause.  Numerous tests revealed no damage to the spine or back.  All sorts of scans, MRIs, blood tests, etc. revealed nothing.  Nothing.

I tried to backtrack in my mind the surgery, the anesthesia, the hospital — could these elements have been contributing factors to my diagnosis?  I’ll never know because what emerged in my body after that point could only be described as a foreigner.  After the initial pain, other symptoms came to me:  ice-like feet and hands, insomnia, migraines, brain fog, depression, joint pain.  The list went on and on and because no one could see anything physically wrong with my body, they simply didn’t believe me. This included my family, some friends, pretty much everyone, including the doctors. I never at any point felt like it was “all in my head,” which is what came across the faces of many doctors who I sought out for help.  Finally after two years of seeking doctors, and enduring numerous nerve tests, one neurologist finally told me she felt it was Fibromyalgia.

The only thing I understood about Fibromyalgia at the time was that it was a condition of overactive nerves, which I had never suffered from before in my life. All the neurologist told me was that there was no cure and that I could try to manage my condition with medication. Some of these medications were worse than tolerating the pain.  They left me feeling unresponsive to life around me and with three small children at home, this just wasn’t possible. I needed to be present for my children. One medication, which I can’t recall now, made me feel so dizzy that I had to hold onto the walls to walk. What I discovered in the early stages of living with Fibromyalgia was that many doctors were quick to prescribe whatever drug would make the pain go away.  Only in my case, the pain would subside for a bit, only to bring on other side effects into my body.

It’s hard to explain to people when you feel such incredible invisible pain.  For instance, when someone is in a crash, there are bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc,.. all visible signs of trauma that one’s body has gone through.  The visible aspects of trauma make the person looking at the victim see them with eyes of compassion because the person sees the victim suffering.  With fibromyalgia, there are days that you feel like someone used you as a punching bag with every muscle, every tendon, every joint radiating with tender pain.  And no one can see the pain, including yourself.  There comes a point when the fatigue makes you feel like you’re dragging around and you’re in a fog that may take a full day to get out of until you see some light.

At one point, I sought out a support group.  What I discovered were these women were far worse than myself.  After hearing their stories, I couldn’t make my way back to listen again. Although I felt compassion for them, I also saw many of these patients consuming various drugs which didn’t seem to be doing much good, if not making them worse.  Antidepressants and pain relievers were the main drugs being used by these patients, and by looking at them, I felt like part of them was already gone, mainly their spirits.  They were there, but the part of them that saw some hope no longer remained.  It seemed as though they were hanging on for dear life, which I could totally understand since I too could empathize with their suffering.  For myself,  the thought of putting more chemicals into my body made me shudder.  I knew for these women the use of these drugs was saving them at the moment.  For myself, I needed to find a way to cope without more medications or drugs in my body.

I began to see people in a different light.  Especially those who used walkers, wheelchairs, or were immobile in some way.  I  really began to think, that could be me one day.  I would observe from a distance, a person wheeling himself around in his wheelchair, or a handicapped person getting out of her car. As much as I knew the handicapped person was grateful for the mobility of their wheelchair, I became observant of what I still had which was the pain.   And in that moment, I was grateful.  I was tremendously grateful for pain and the mobility to still move even with such pain. I’m certain that even the person with the wheelchair or disability was also in pain; however, at the time, I was still grateful that I could adjust and move about as needed. I decided early on that I was going to take each day as it came to me, pain or no pain.  It was determined that a “flare up” day with its fatigue and pressure point pain was going to be rough, but a day with some slight aches and pain was considered a good day. It was my choice to see life as it came to me; it was something I still had control over in this situation.

My faith was also part of the picture.  I knew God had never deserted me, but I also knew that I needed to rely on Him more to help me through this condition.  I reasoned that before this condition set in, I could go nonstop with all sorts of chores, activities, and plans with still enough energy to get me through an entire day.  After my condition set in, I had to choose what was important  for that day and leave some things unattended, which was a test in patience on my part, since I tended to plan too much on any given day and was determined to get all of it done.  It was important to be happy with what I accomplished for the day.  It became quite simple,  even though at times I made it difficult, thinking that my previous body was still with me.

So for today, I can say that taking the good with the bad is something I understand all too well. Because although others may see fibromyalgia as a bad situation in my life, I can still choose to see it as a blessing.  To others, it may be a burden one carries, and for me, at times, it is a heavy burden, more on my heart than anything else. However,  in a sense it has made me appreciate, even more so, those grand days when I wake up with energy, slight pain, and the ability to enjoy my family and friends. What I saw before in this beautiful life is still there, only slightly different now in the way I am able to enjoy it. It is all the more beautiful.