Category Archives: the writer’s eye

But what if I drown?

Confession: I never learned how to swim.

 

The irony of my secret confession is I love the calm and serenity of the ocean. Water is life, it is healing, for me it is where I feel closer to God. But the summer of my 12th year my mother, determined not to pass on the irrational fear of water she had to her children, forced unwelcomed swimming lessons upon us. Against my will and my preteen rationale, we were summoned at ungodly hours for lessons at the local community pool.

I hated it.

I hated being awake before the sun during summer vacation. I hated squeezing my sleepy flesh into an awkward one piece bathing suit. I hated the cold shower in the girls lockeroom. I hated the frigid pool water. I hated the eyes on my body as I came into the shared area. I hated the water in my eyes. I hated how the chlorine stung in my nostrils. But what I hated the most, were the lifeguards. A bunch of high school pranksters working summer jobs, whose idea of funny involved shoving terrified amateurs into the water. Then watch them panic as their bodies struggled against a force much more powerful and dominant. Sometimes holding a head just below the surface of the water to ensure us mere mortals understood who was in charge. It was cruel. And for weeks, tense and terrified, one of my first morning thoughts were Is today the day I finally go under? I tried to relax a little more when my instructor informed the class one morning girls were exempt from getting pranked by the lifeguards. The rumor was only boys got teased and roughed up, the lifeguards wouldn’t even think of hurting any of the girls. That announcement did nothing for my 12 year old nerves, I constantly peeked around corners or looked behind myself every so often. I was not going to be caught off guard and get tossed into the deep end of the pool. The day came when I was coaxed, along with my brother, into the deeper end of the pool with my instructor. My brother, a natural, excelled each day we went over into the deep end. Me? I sank faster than a rock each time. But my instructor was patient and encouraging. His voice was soothing, his instructions clear but each time my feet could not touch the bottom of the pool, I panicked. I was a lost cause but he didn’t give up, he was set on making a swimmer out of me, whether I believed I could or not. His daily instructions to me were “listen for my voice and follow it” and “my hand is right here.”

One morning, this memory invaded my thoughts as waited for my alarm to signal the start of the day.  It felt exactly like the artic pool water but I pressed beyond the anxiety bubbling up and allowed honesty to invade my thoughts. I began a silent conversation with God.

Me: I feel like I’m 12 again and I’m unsure, I’m panicking, I’m alone and I don’t know how to swim. I’m drowning and it feels like You’re watching me struggle!

God: (silence)

Me: You’ve abandoned me, in the middle of the ocean. And You expect me to swim to shore and You know I can’t swim. I can’t! Yet You are watching me drown! And I’m failing! Miserably!

God: you are learning how to swim but what you haven’t grasped yet is…you are NOT alone. I AM THE OCEAN.

This is what the healing journey has been for me. Sometimes I see God as my swimming instructor. Patient. Encouraging. Lovingly guiding me even when I cannot open my eyes to see what is ahead of me. Other times, He’s more like the prankster lifeguards, catching me off guard, tossing me into the deeper end of the pool or holding my head just below the surface of the water. And even in the midst of my panic and my fear of going under and never coming back up,  I remember HE IS the water. I’m not going to drown, I’m not going to die. I’m learning to swim in HIM. I’m learning who HE created me to be and what HIS purpose is for my life.

 

Did I ever get tossed into the deeper end of the pool? Sure did. And I’m still here.

 

Advertisements

What I’ve learned about Transition

After leaving my full time job in February I had ambitious plans of becoming a published writer/author.

The day I walked out the building for the last time, hope sparkled in my eyes as I had conceived and put into action another plan to do only per diem work in order to cover monthly expenses. Elation was my drug of choice as I released my 8-5, reserving space, energy and making room for my true love.

But I didn’t have a plan past just writing. I had no idea for whom or what I would be creating, I just knew this is what my heart needed to do, what I was called to do. Continue reading

Confessions of An Introvert…

I am an Introvert.

I live right on the edge of the bubble. Just outside of the excitement, of life happening at the moment. Peeking in like a desperate window shopper longingly gazing at a purchase she can’t afford to make. Envying the absolute delight in all of the faces inside of the coveted bubble.

I am an Introvert.

More often, I‘m caught between a fraught yearning of desperately desiring to experience life inside of the bubble and utter contentment of observing it from the outside. A constant struggle of feeling like I’ve missed out on the only opportunity to fully be alive and another chance to grab life by the wheels is just around the corner. An optimist and pessimist in the same body. On the outside, I appear quiet, reserved and reflective. That’s how most view me and the label shy has been thrust upon me more times that I can recall. The revelation here is that this couldn’t be further from the truth about the real me. The shy label is only armor, armor that protects my rich inner world of a constant stream of loud thoughts, an imagination that floats to unimaginable heights for days even weeks at a time and vivid color filled dreams of past and future life. And while my exterior expression may communicate I have nothing to speak about, my mind is playing like a tape recorder on fast forward all of the time. Much of my teenage life I spent in angst and while this is normal teenage woes, for me it was because I wanted to accept the shy label, I thought it was befitting. True, I didn’t talk much, striking up conversations with strangers and friends alike caused anxiety. Instead of conquering my teenage angst, my worries only advanced into deeper roots as I developed into an adult. I spent years attempting to outgrow the shy label, struggling to be more assertive, more open to life, more social, all the while fighting against the grain of who I was originally created to be.

Again, always just outside of the bubble.

A traumatic experience forced me into therapy a few years ago, extensive therapy, where I had no choice but to face my nightmares alone. And speaking of alone, I oft wondered why I so cherished, essentially thrive at times when I find myself there. I spent years convincing myself something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t normal, like everyone else. Therapy, good therapy, gently places a mirror in your hand and lovingly forces you to stare at your reflection. At your insecurities and fears and again lovingly pushes you to embrace all of it. And in the accepting, the false layers began to peel away until you are stripped down to your true core. In all my getting, I got an understanding of me, of my introverted nature. I’m learning about self-care, what it consists of and how it relates to me. I’m learning to unleash the creative inside of me, instead of hiding her, allowing her to breathe and live. I’m learning the endless stories, fantasies inside of my head can actually be turned into something magical once my fingers hit the keyboard. I’m learning music, an impromptu solo dance party, an uninterrupted walk in the park, a glance into the blue sky on a busy day are like white blood cells fighting foreign substances attempting to invade my soul. I’m learning to pull all the way back after a really people intensive, environmentally stimulating work day in order to recharge. I’m learning to say no when I don’t possess the desire to say yes and not to accept social invitations out of guilt. I’m learning I cannot give of myself if my tank is empty and refueling requires alone time. I’m learning not to fear the unexpected waves of creativity, which usually involve a tsumani of intense emotional vulnerability, but instead allow it to swallow me, get still and just create. I’m learning mistakes are not fatal but directional and purposeful, and they are needed in any growth process. I’m learning that I am me and me, fatally flawed but gracefully forgiven, is enough.

I am Enough.

I am an Introvert.

And I’m finally living my truth.

Xoxo

We Miss You, Alexander McQueen

mcqueen4It was five years ago, this fashion week eve, that the fashion universe stopped mid tilt on its axis and ceased from spinning for a few minutes. Lee Alexander McQueen, mister boy wonder turned creative genius, died by way of suicide and the world of fashion grew a little more darker. We miss him, the fashion industry misses him deeply and there has yet to be one proven to fill the void of McQueen’s out-of-this-world creations. Certainly any artist can attest to the dark side of creating…the unstable moments, the isolation phases, and the loneliness. And while these muses often are responsible for giving birth to greatness and mass appeal, they can be downright detrimental if not periodically checked and balanced.  No one knows the real reason(s) why McQueen, a bright beacon in the fashion community, decided to end his life. Rampant speculations followed the days after his death; some say losing his longtime friend/confident Isabella Blow and the support of his mother who passed away just days after Blow is what drove his decision to book an earlier appointment to meet his maker.

We miss you, Mr. McQueen. Your brash ego, eccentric behavior, your dark interpretations of fashion. We miss the electric atmosphere of the unexpected expectation you created with each of your collections. We miss the way you created purely and passionately. We miss the effortless way you would marry opposing ideologies; luminous & obscure, structured & disheveled or confined & unrestricted. You weren’t just a fashion designer; you were a designer of hope and like the Sex Pistols who ushered in the punk movement, you knew exactly what the industry needed to wake it from its lofty snooze fest.

mcqueen5

The loss of McQueen has been tremendous and sad, leaving fashion with a gaping hole in its heart. But we are grateful for the years he lived, the lives he touched and the collections he designed. May his spirit of just the correct dose of controversy injected on the runway live on. May his legacy continue to thrive, and as Sarah Burton strives to maintain his original aesthetic, inspire another young man with big dreams of fashion design.

mcqueen1

mcqueen3

mcqueen2

Learning to Love

Things I Learned (To Love) About Myself During My First Year As a Freelancer

They say that it’s great pressure that removes impurities and creates diamonds. If not for the hard times, we wouldn’t be able to expose the dark parts of ourselves to the light. Well, thanks to the past 12 months of my freelance career, my skeletons are out of the closet and doing a tap dance routine in my living room. From the constant solitude, to the pressure to perform, the glorious rejections, and mind altering approvals, my dirt has been put on display day in and day out for one year and the experience has changed me for good.

Of all the shifts, the ability to recognize my real self, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I love me anyway has been the greatest take away. I’ve been shown my strengths and my weaknesses, faced the dragon, slayed it, and received a well-deserved aha moment to cap off the adventure. Each victory refined me into a new person, but at the same time made me more me than I was before.

The mark of a great relationship is the ability to see the other person as they are and love them anyway. I think now I am in a fantastic relationship with me and it is getting serious.

Here are a few of my hard earned pearls. I share in hopes that they resonate in others and set them on their journey….

You are good, you are enough.
One of the hardest lessons to learn and even harder to walk out each day – YES, I can tell a great story and people will want to listen to it.

I am an expert in my world, and I should never discount my knowledge.
In the beginning, I defaulted to others too often thinking they knew best. My insecurities were suffocating my ability to do my best work.

I am hilarious, and I don’t need to hide that to be taken seriously.
I like to add humor to things and I should never think that makes me a clown or makes others perceive me as less than.

I can be in the company of other talented people and not disappear.
Shrinking violet syndrome was running rampant and it wasn’t until I stopped positioning myself in the fringes did I find a place at the table.

No, it is an honor to work with me.
I’m done with taking what I can get because I’m just happy to be here. I have earned my place and deserve to be valued.

I am not afraid of pushing towards excellence and I shouldn’t be scared to require that of others.
If they leave because I set standards, then so be it.

If it doesn’t create a positive platform for something or someone, I don’t want to do it.
I only have so much time on this Earth and I want to spend it doing something worthwhile. I am not building a career, I’m planning my legacy.

Be brave enough to say no.
I like to give 100 percent, so I must watch what I dedicate myself to.

My instincts are always right when it comes to me.
No one knows what is best for me better than me. Period. Trust myself.

Accept the seasons, nothing is meant to last forever, even your blessings.
Let go when it time to let go. It is not that it wasn’t good, it is just that something better is on the horizon.

 

cherise Cherise Luter is a freelance writer with Bustle.com and Houston Press. To learn more about her or connect with her, visit about.me.

In Love.

lia      How did SHE fall in love with herself? I was always driven. From a young age I knew I was going to be the best lawyer that ever was. I am proud to be the first generation to graduate with a high school diploma, Bachelor’s Degree and now Masters from my household. During parent/teacher nights in elementary school, my teachers would be surprised to find my short 4’9 mother shaking their hand. She has always been refined in presentation yet modest at heart. They were expecting to find an educated professional but instead of a little stern woman. “Digame la verdad, como se porta mi hija” translation “tell me the truth teacher, how has my daughter acted in school.” She never worried about my grades because I always brought home A’s. The important factor for her was my conduct. I went on to High School, was honored with the Gates Millennium Scholarship to go to college and moved into Law School in the cold state of South Dakota. The first summer I lived there I was gracious enough to live with a recent graduate. It was the most economic option for me, he was married and had one child. That family had no clue I was Latino, maybe, but one day I was saddened by the words that came out of their mouth after a news report.

“All those Hispanics are coming over, they are crossing the Rio Grande and just coming over. They ought to stay where they are.”

As an adult, I was now worried about my conduct. Was I acting in a way that would honor my family’s legacy? I had choices, yes, and one of those was to be quite and excuse myself. I left to the Mexican restaurant in town and had a wine-rita (because they weren’t able to sell the real stuff) and I reflected. Was it racism? Was it buying into the media? Did they really have a problem with my culture? It was at that pivotal moment I decided the next time my mother called and I was in a common area, I would answer the phone. They had yet to see an educated Hispanic person and I would subtly introduce that part of me. She called the following Sunday, I picked up the phone and started talking. It then prompted the question, “what is your background” to which I responded. The look of surprise will never leave my memory bank.

It was in that moment, I couldn’t be prouder of my heritage, of my values and of the extreme form of discipline I had undergone. I didn’t make a big deal of it, instead I found a way to educate them and maybe change their perception. At that moment, I fell in deep love with the passionate, empathetic, tactful, proud Latina, ME.

 

–Laura Isabel Alvarez

Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.