I have been traveling more than I ever thought possible. I am not traveling very far, but I am traveling. I have realized that if I glue myself to search engines long enough, I can find flights that are almost free… literally. Not joking. I flew my family of 5 to Newark for a weekend (Thursday-Sunday) for only $131 roundtrip. That’s right… 5 people flew roundtrip for $131. My flight was so cheap that I was so scared of them cancelling my flight the day of. However, the moment I got on that plane, I knew I got away with it. I say got away with it because there HAD to be some sort of glitch when I purchased my ticket.
Aside from NJ and NY,since my last post, I have also gone to Nevada, California, Arizona, and New Orleans. Instead of Nevada, I was really just looking for a flight to Colorado, but Nevada ended up being cheaper so that’s where we went. Once in Nevada we drove to California (I wanted my toes in the waters of the Pacific ocean), we also drove over to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. It was an exhausting trip, but worth every minute. I was blown away by the beautiful scenery— even if that scenery included 4 hours of driving through the desert.
Clearly, I have been straying away from my travel goals and plans… but I am traveling, and I am so thankful for that. I really hope to one day travel through all states. I had not realized how beautiful this country is, especially since all I see on a daily basis are trees, trees, man-made lakes aka retention ponds, flat lands, you get the point.
Imagine being seven years old and being told you are moving away. No one likes to move right? Kids are separated from friends and moved out of their current school, and parents have to worry about much packing and cleaning…and then unpacking and then more cleaning… and well the process is tedious. Now, imagine being that same seven year old kid except you are moving to a whole new country — where they speak a different language, where you need a visa to get in, where the only way to ever return to your country to visit your family and friends would be on a plane. That was me.
Immigration is a whole new world and unless you know what you are talking about, you really should not speak on it. No one knows or understands what it is like to leave literally everything behind in hopes of finding a better life for yourself and your family. My family and I left Colombia… and what I remember was not terrible. My mom was a stay at home mom, I went to private schools, spent many days with my grandma, and I had many friends. How did we get here? We got on a plane. Easy. I cannot even imagine being a person who has to flee because they are in need of asylum or refuge. I cannot imagine having to walk for hours and hours with my parents — without food or water. For us, it was simply because my dad had to provide for my mother and his three young children, and in Colombia, he did not see a future for our family.
The hardest part about coming here as a 6 year old was the language. I had to obviously start a new school, but even if I wanted to make friends, things were ten times harder because of the lack of knowing the language. Luckily, I quickly realized that not everyone spoke English — there were people from all over the world, but where I was living, there were mostly Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans. Also, my school had a dual language program and my classes were literally in Spanish for half the day. Looking back, I was blessed. When we left Orlando and moved to Kissimmee, things got more difficult but if it wasn’t for us moving, learning the language would have been delayed.
In Kissimmee, there were still people from all over. I was still able to speak to my friends in Spanish but my class was just in English. My teacher was patient and his focus was to get us to pass the FCAT. I still remember wondering how the hell I was supposed to pass a standardized test where I had to write a 5 paragraph essay when I barely knew any English. Too bad, so sad… I had to figure it out. If it wasn’t for my teacher believing in me, I would have never done it. I started scoring higher than the kids in my class who knew English on practice essays and when FCAT came around, I had a passing score. I still remember the happiness that brought to me. I was only 9 years old, but damn… what an accomplishment that was.
I think that’s why I became a teacher. I came to a country feeling like I would never be accepted and the people who accepted me without hesitation were my teachers. I know there are impatient, rude, racist teachers… but I got lucky. That’s why whenever I get blessed with my ESL angels, I let them know right away that I understand them. I was once in their shoes. At the same time, I tell them they are going to have to work hard, they are going to have to talk English… that’s the only way they’ll ever learn. Standardized tests are already difficult enough for those who are fluent in the language. I always remind my ESL students they have to work twice, if not three times, as hard.
I get students from all over, but mostly from Venezuela. I have learned to love these kids and their stories so much. It is truly unbelievable what people are going through in Venezuela. If you know someone from there… I advise you to sit down with them and have them explain it to you.
I wish people would stop and realize that yes, illegal immigration is illegal… but sometimes it is necessary. Immigration is “annoying” but this OUR world and we are all entitled to the same rights and freedoms. Why would we deny anyone the right to have a better life? It’s just something that goes way beyond my head and I will never comprehend it. At the end of the day, kids are not at fault. Welcome them with open arms so you can help raise strong, intellectual, caring human beings.
I remember I was watching a new season of Jane the Virgin when I received a call that felt super unreal.
”They found him Alex…”
“Well that’s great! Where was he?” I replied quickly. His phone had been shut off for many hours and she had reported him as missing to the police. So finally hearing these words was like music to my ears.
“No Alex. They FOUND him…” and while I kept thinking— Ok. Where did he go though? — Her response was “They found him dead.”
The conversation went somewhat like that… and while I cannot remember anything else except the crying on the phone, I do remember thinking that this had to be some joke he was playing on all of us. Still to this day, it’s hard to believe my friend committed suicide.
While I am no expert or advocate for suicide awareness, I do want to point out how real suicide thoughts are. There is nothing like them, and nothing more scary than trying to figure out why your mind is even going there. The thoughts try to push you to your limit… there is no better way to explain this to be honest, than just the devil trying to steal your life from you and those you love. You get flashes of different ways you can go about taking your life and it gets awfully scary.
The feelings of loneliness and worthlessness are two of the things that take people to feeling like life is not worth living. Well, what’s the point of living if you are surrounded by people but always feel alone? What’s the point of living if you feel like you are worth nothing? You don’t feel like you are contributing, you feel ugly, you feel defeated.
For some people it is hard to grasp why or how anyone could think or feel this way. If you are one of these people, I urge you to not be close minded and to realize that not everyone has the same brain you do. Depression is honestly a mental health problem that can literally destroy you until it kills you.
I think one of the reasons for the increase in suicide rates is how disconnected we are. Studies actually show that suicide rates have increased by more than 25% in almost every state in the past two decades. Suicide is actually the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.We are so concerned with being connected, that we literally become detached from the world. We end up having less time for the people we love, we withdraw from activities that could help us emotionally and physically, we focus on things that really don’t matter and end up comparing ourselves to others (how a stranger applies their make up, how our friends are traveling, etc.).We should all disconnect to connect. We need to check up on those we love. Call them and speak to them (you will be able to tell if they sound down if you call them rather than text), or better yet go visit them! Let the people you care for know that you are a listening ear if they ever need one. Do your part to help other human beings. At the same time, I want to remind you that even though we do all these things we may not be able to reach a person who is set in their decision — this doesn’t mean we don’t try though.
Suicide prevention hotline:
If you prefer to not talk to someone directly, they now have a chat option. Suicide is not the answer. You were carefully crafted by our God. You are beautiful and have a purpose in this world.
I believe one of the many things they don’t teach us to do while we are young is to love ourselves. I do not believe there is anyone to blame — it is something that has happened over many generations. We are raised to be “good” people and are expected to become responsible and caring members of society. Sure, we are told to respect others, be kind, be generous, be forgiving. But we are told to be all these things to other people, never to ourselves. You’d think that by exercising these qualities on others, it’d happen naturally when we try to love ourselves. However, we grow up and become very caring individuals to everyone but us. This is why some people go their whole lives trying to please others, thus forgetting themselves, their needs, and their dreams. Additionally, we are told we are smart, we are told we are beautiful, we are told many pleasant things — and grow up expecting more of these compliments to hype us up, and feel down when no one commends us.
I can honestly sit here and say that at the age of 28, I don’t know who I am or what I am trying to be — I don’t know what I want to gain from life. I also cannot say I love myself. Unfortunately, this realization was not made until after I had an emotional roller coaster with many people in my life with whom I had a relationship with. I learned that I was loving and giving to these people, in hopes of it being reciprocated. While I am completely aware that you should not give to receive, I am also aware that no relationship is a one way street. It was a shock for me to learn that if I want something done, I am going to have to do it myself. This is where loving yourself becomes such an important aspect. One should not wait desperately to be loved, to be cared for, to be respected — or to get taken out, or wait around for gifts, for kind words. We should learn how to do things things for ourselves, which will then help us understand that we don’t need people to fulfill our wants and needs. We can find love within us.
Doing things alone is uncomfortable for many, but there is no better way to get intimate with yourself than to be alone. I used to be so terrified of being alone that sleep became my best friend. On days when I wanted to go to the movies for example, and no one was available, I would sleep. On days when I wanted a kind word — but never got it, I’d sleep. Now I look back and wonder why. Why could I not take ME to the movies? Why could I not tell MYSELF kind words? Why could I not go out alone and treat myself to something nice? Other people cannot define our happiness and we have to learn to be responsible for making ourselves happy – the only person we can have control over is ourself.
One thing I am learning to do now is to love myself. Every single day I question my life. I question if I am content or if I am comfortable. There is a huge difference between the two — and even though being comfortable is a pleasant feeling, we need to bring our lives into a content state… and away from simply being comfortable. Being comfortable is easy and it is also dangerous to our lives. If you don’t feel a stirring in your heart or spirit, you need to change something to be able to feel gratified. Stop doing the same thing over and over again if you are getting results that are not bettering you emotionally or spiritually. I believe the first step to loving yourself is to question everything — the rest will follow. For example:
Am I doing enough for myself? Am I living the life I always dreamed of living (realistically)? Do I think positively about myself and my life? Do I reward myself for all the hard work I put in on a daily basis? Am I where I want to be spiritually? Have I forgiven myself for past mistakes? Do I put my feelings before any one else’s?
If you can have a mental conversation with yourself about where you currently stand in life, you have taken the first step to realizing who you are and what steps you need to take to love yourself and live your most fulfilling life. The next step is to take action. I believe taking action is the toughest step. For one, it is hard to admit AND accept, that ultimately we are the only ones responsible for our happiness… not our best friend, not our spouse, not our parents, etc. People are temporary and until we can grasp this concept, we will feel like people always let us down. No one should have expectations from anyone but themselves. Don’t wait for others to do things with you or for you that you can do for yourself. LOVE yourself , take care of your thoughts, take care of your spirit. Always remember that you only have one life to live and every day should be a day of working on your self-growth so you may live a self-fulfilling life.