I Prayed In My Car

Yesterday, it rained.

This wouldn’t seem like a big deal to most, but I live in Los Angeles were “rain” is at a premium. 

Anyone who knows me, gets that I hate to drive to begin with, but hate it even more in mist, rain, darkness, anything but perfect sunny weather at this point. If I won the lottery today, one of the first things on my list would be to hire a permanent driver. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. I’ve been saying this since I got my license as a teenager.  I’ve just never been a fan of driving and I don’t care about cars at all.  But, I do drive and yes, I drive well – just like everyone else thinks they do – it’s just not my thing. But, I had an appointment to meet with a client and since I’m a stickler for keeping my commitments, I went anyways even though when I started to leave, the rain was really coming down hard.  I can’t lie, I thought about cancelling for a second, maybe a more than a few seconds. Yaaasss, because it was raining!  I would have come up with another reason of course, like I was “sick” or something, but I truly considered canceling because of the rain.  Hee! 

Well, of course I went to my appointment.  And in case you missed, I hate driving. I hate rain while driving even more. 

I prayed in my car. I did. Honestly, I realized yesterday that I do that pretty regularly. I’m not religious at all, but prayer (wishes, hopes, whatever you want to call it) is a part of who I am. People don’t know this about me – well, maybe one person does, the one who taught me this when I was a little girl, but every time I go by an accident, or need to say a little prayer, or see someone in distress, or just have a fear or need, I do a small cross at the top of my forehead with my thumb. Yes, I know, how very Catholic of me, but I’m not. I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself a recovering Catholic and actually, truth be told, I can honestly say, I hate the Church and most religion any day of the week.  But my faith in something “bigger” and “after this life” is on point and strong.  I also believe that whatever keeps me hopeful, empathetic, considerate and in joy, is a good thing.  Yeah, I pray most every day, maybe sometimes twice a day.   

I prayed in my car that my journey on the 405 & 10 freeways would be easy, that people would be kind, that other drivers would use their directionals (we call them blinkers – or blinkahs – in Boston). I prayed that my journey would be safe and that my car would not slip or slide and that my tires would hold out (the guy who changed my oil this year told me I needed new tires because they were worn out and then showed me the worn tread to make his point. This is in my head every time I get in my car. Thank you, mechanic guy.) – I did my little cross on my forehead with my thumb and went on my merry way. 

It was a lovely drive. I swear to God, or whatever you believe in, it was incredible! I mean EVERYONE used their “blinkahs” and even though there was one little mishap –  where a car tried to get into the next lane during a slow in the downpour while the opposing car was trying to do the same, they both noticed each other and one let the other by kindly. No horn honking, no middle fingers or exasperated looks – actually, there was a “It’s all good” wave by the person in the first car to the other car.  Seriously. In Los Angeles!  Amazing!

Now, do I think my prayer made that happen? Of course not.  I do not believe that’s how it works.  The God I believe in, isn’t messing with my head that way.  If that were the case, my “prayer” for a few million dollars would have already come true a long ass time ago!  Hahahahaha!  No, that’s not what prayer is for or about for me… 

When I pray, when I do my little cross on my forehead when going past an accident or seeing someone struggle, that pray is a reminder of my compassion. Prayer for me is about hope.  A wish that I be better than I used to be, no matter what happens. Prayer is what made me notice the best in people when a slight mishap occurred between two cars in front of me, in the rain on the freeway, instead of being angry and frustrated that it ever happened at all.

Yeah, yesterday was a great day.

Real Power

Somebody posted a comment the other day about “power”.  It had me thinking about people who have real power. 

When I think about power, I consider people like Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey or someone like JK Rowling – there are others in different industries of course, like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates… we can go down the list of people, but the point is, I doubt these people ever walk around telling others how powerful they are…

That’s what I saw on this post on social media yesterday that got me thinking about what is real power

Simply, if you have to tell people how powerful you are, then you probably aren’t that powerful. 

People who have real power or authentic power are people who understand their influence and realize the responsibility that comes with being someone who can impact others so easily.   

I doubt very much that their goal was ever to be powerful.  I feel that being powerful is most likely a byproduct of who someone is in the world and can never be an actual goal.  People with REAL power tend to be people who inspire and uplift others. They know who THEY are, they know their strengths and most likely understand their weaknesses and therefore always open to learning something new.

To me, real power is a very elusive thing. It’s different from being a leader or wealthy. It actually has nothing to do with your title or standing.  Real power has everything to do with how others view YOU and nothing to do with what you can control. 

Hmmm. Just something I’ve been thinking about. Here’s the video I made before my run yesterday that got me thinking….

Carmen    

Getting It Done

I hate using the word “procrastination” because it has such a negative tone to it. Truth is, some of my best work is done when the tic-toc of the clock is closing in.  I know quite a few people who also function this way, successfully too! 

However, it’s not my favorite way to work. Not at all. I tend to be a very organized, “To Do List” kind of person. I love scratching off an item on my list and moving on to what’s next.  But sometimes there are items that just feel so big or torturous that I just don’t want to do them – that’s where procrastination plays a role. 

The things I don’t care about at all, are the things that get pushed aside in the wake of the things I love to do and want to do.  I’ve decided not to be too cruel to myself about it anymore and instead embrace the idea that I’ve mastered the art of procrastination.  That can be a new skill after-all. Why not?

Beating ourselves up for not always doing things the “right” way, tends to just make matters worse. Negativity isn’t going to make you work any faster or better! Instead, find a way to embrace what you may see as “faults” in your way of functioning and see if you can’t make what seems to be lemons, into lemonade! 

I procrastinate. It’s just the way I get some things I hate to do, done. Getting it done, is all that matters.

🙂

My Children, Our Children

When I see people treating children with such disdain, I wonder what these “people” think is going to happen when that particular child grows up?

If we look at our own experiences as children, whatever they might be, can’t we easily see how a child who is treated poorly, will inevitably grow up to be a broken adult?  Don’t we understand, logically, that a child who is nurtured, supported and loved – that he/she will most likely grow up to be a decent and productive person?

How are we missing this?

It’s logical, but also innate to our existence.  As human beings we tend to want to protect children – so how is it possible that sometimes, a lot of times, we don’t?

In my experience, it tends to be that we don’t value OTHER children as much as our “own” children. In a lot of ways, that makes sense.  But it’s also incredibly selfish and misguided.  Your child will someday affect my life when he/she grows up.  Your child will inevitably affect my child because they will work together, play together – who knows, maybe even marry each other.  Doesn’t it make sense then, that my concern for children should be more inclusive than just the ones that share my DNA? 

My heart breaks for the children currently at the border.  This “other-ism” – this ability to not care about a child in pain – anyone’s child – is more telling of who our society is, who we are as a people than anything else.  We don’t care because they’re not “my” child, it’s not even my friend’s child… but it’s more than that, isn’t it?

In America – in these United States – a country I love, the fact remains that a brown child is less valued than a white child.  It’s so much easier not to care when the child’s value is not as significant. Imagine for a moment, what the state of play would be if all of those kids at the border had been white, blonde-haired children from Poland or Ireland? I don’t think any of us – not anyone reading this anyways, doubts for one minute that the United States would be up-in-arms and taking to the streets to help those precious kids. The white ones.

It gives me no pleasure at all to admit this.  It kills me every day to see how “un-reactive” we are as a society to this horrible situation regarding “OUR” children, children of the world sitting in squalor because they need help.  And the United States, this grand country with so much wealth allowing it to happen is beyond comprehension. “Other-ism” is the justification for harming children.  I feel helpless most days. I tear every day knowing these kids will grow up one day and will remember how horribly they were treated, and those bruises and scars will not heal well if we continue to dismiss people as legit human beings deserving of love, kindness and support.

Because of my personal circumstances as a child, I was raised by so many different people – Black, White, Latino families. Regular people who didn’t see me as “other” but saw me as one of their own. A community that valued a child in distress. I was so blessed. It’s what my book CANELA is all about.  We need to find a way, to take care of all of our children – value them as they should be. Cure our hearts and our stupidity.

We. Are. Better. Than. This.

Julie & Nathan

We Have Lost Our Way

It’s so easy to go along with the crowd. CarmBench03.04.07

It’s easy to be cruel, to think less of someone else.

It’s hard to go against the crowd.

To be an individual.

To be compassionate and kind when there is no reason to be.

People love to call out a bully, but rarely find the bully in themselves.

(Glass houses and all…come to mind)

We have lost our way.  People justify their actions by reacting, not by thinking.

“Other-ism” is a thing. “Whatabout-ism” is a thing.

Not looking at our own behavior, our own actions – no longer a thing.

Who are you for real?  Not who would you like to be or think you are. But when a crisis happens, when something out of the ordinary occurs for real, WHO. ARE. YOU?

Just something to think about this day.

~Carmen