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.

The Only Guarantee

The only thing we are guaranteed the day we are born is that inevitably we will die. We don’t know how or why or when, but eventually we all do stop having “TIME” to do, to be, to live.  It is an undeniable truth we all have in common.

I’m not going to say what you think next – I’m not going to encourage you or try to inspire or motivate you to live your best life.  I’m not.  I have faith that you try to do that every day. We all do the best we can with what we have in front of us. And yeah, I’m tired of the constant cheering on, the pushing and the loud screaming about all the ways for you to succeed.  As if you’re not already doing your best to be better every day…

No, today, on this day of remembrance, this day that reminds me of how precious life is – how we can lose a college friend like Cesar Murillo, in a moment, for no reason at all except that he was in the twin towers going to work – on this day when I reflect on time, on birth, on death – on this thing we call life, the only thing I’m going to encourage you to do, is to take a deep breath.  Exhale.  Take a moment to be grateful for all of it. For the process, for whatever all of THIS is. Existence, possibility, life. 

If you’re reading this be grateful for the good, the bad, the mundane, the joyful, the sad. Reflect on this moment as a powerful one. As a quiet one.  Acknowledge that you are here, you are worthy, lovely, and perfect just as you are.

Appreciate this moment in a time of grace.  And never forget…

How precious life truly is.

College. Friends. Life.

Global Verification: A Tech Idea That’s Overdue

So, a couple years ago I was frustrated by an article I saw that talked about reviews that had been planted on Rotten Tomatoes about the movie Black Panther. I was annoyed because the reason someone figured out that the reviews were fraudulent was simply because the movie had not premiered, and the studio had not given copies of the film to anyone to actually review it. There was no way for all of these “reviewers” to have seen the movie to make such comments.  Thankfully people at Rotten Tomatoes had realized this and were able to delete all of the bad reviews before the movie came out. https://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/rotten-tomatoes-block-black-panther-fan-score-sabotage-1201924400/

Clearly this was a huge dilemma for the studios. They realized quickly that a predominantly black movie was about to be smeared before it had even premiered.  The racist viewpoints about a black superhero or movie in the Marvel Universe that might potentially break box office standings, could easily be undermined before it had even been shown.  (Bravo Rotten Tomatoes!)

Bad reviews do and can potentially determine the outcome of film’s box office potential – this is NOT new news, but the blatant racist leanings of the comments and viewpoints made about this movie that had been unseen, made this event crystal clear: the continued power of bots, the power of unverified reviews and comments continue to be an ever mounting problem on the “interwebs”.  Of course we can reference what’s come out in the Mueller report about the election of 2016 and what may happen again – the point simply is: we have a huge problem with verified information on the internet. 

I was so frustrated by this situation when I read about it AGAIN – that the solution seemed so crystal clear to me that I wrote an email to Mark Cuban. Honestly, I have no real reason why I picked Mark Cuban except that he was on my LinkedIn feed at the time and I followed him and I knew he had a lot of money.  I’d been thinking about this problem for years – back when I started online dating WHEN IT WASN’T COOL to do it (we’re talking 2007!!!!).  I knew THEN that there had to be a better a way to deal with this.  So, yeah, maybe sending a vent email on LinkedIn to Mark Cuban wasn’t the best idea, maybe someone like Elon Musk would have been better, but I wasn’t really thinking it through, I was just annoyed and looking for someone with money to investigate this issue and start working on what I think is still an easy solution to the bigger problem!!!  

Well, let me just say, that the PROBLEM revealed itself again recently while I was on Twitter – and this is why I’m here writing this now.  During the Robert Mueller hearings lots of conversations were going back and forth on social media and again, I kept hearing that the “Russians” are trying to undermine our elections – Robert Mueller said it himself:  They’re doing it right now as we speak. The next part of the conversations always goes something like this: 

“We have to educate people on how to spot fake news”, or “People need to become more educated and be careful…”

It’s such a one-sided solution. 

What’s the “solution” I’m talking about? 

Instead of attempting to ONLY make people better educated on what is and what is NOT a bot or a “fake” website, commentator or ad, why not also make it easier for people to recognize a VERIFIED version of all of those entities online?  In other words, why not make it easier to SPOT an organization or individual online as a LEGIT organization?

Imagine, if you will, a Global Verification on the internet. It’s possible. Some companies already do it – like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  They have those little blue verification markers for Celebrities and such. Here’s an example of a verified account (@violadavis):   Imagine, if – just like passports in the physical world you were able to use your verified handle  wherever you went online and people would KNOW you or your website were verified by a legit entity?  People could then choose to “listen” to your commentary – the little blue legit “signs” or “identifiers” on Twitter and Instagram folk partially does this, but only for “celebrities”. But, imagine if everyone could be legitimized across all platforms, using their handles, across all countries on the internet? 

With the technology behind Block Chain, I know this could be done – and maybe it’s already being worked on – but there has to be a way that an individual, who wants to be taken seriously ONLINE would have a global verified handle account that they could use as they go and communicate on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn on any Website. Also, it would make it easier to spot legit sites and so on.

Imagine all the applications  – people would not confuse websites like www.abcnews.com with www.abcnews1.com  — which is a good example of how people were creating FAKE new sites with similar names and confusing people with actual FAKE news.  But the applications are endless.  Most importantly, even if YOU choose to go to the FAKE site or you visited it accidentally, you would know it hadn’t been VERIFIED.  After that, the choice is yours to accept that information as truth or not.    

Now, I know this is a huge idea.  And this is just the beginning – I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and don’t even get me started on the 2016 election!  To me, this has been foreseeable for a long time and has been in my non-techy head for a while.  It may seem too big of an idea, but so wasn’t going to the moon when no one thought it possible – for me, it’s just always been about interest and yes, about necessity!!!! 

Anyways, I have to believe people smarter than me are working on this somehow – but I’m stunned that simple things like verifying me – a non celeb – on Twitter is still a non-possibility.  Why can’t Twitter find a way to verify committed and decent “regular” users of the service?  They seem to only verify people based on celebrity or size of followers or what they deem impactful situations. This is what leads me to believe that NO ONE is working on a bigger more important solution that would inevitably be how we all identify online. 

This is a HUGE idea. It continues to eat at me and so trust me, in the past couple of years, I’ve tried to get some people interested who I thought might be.  At the very least, they had money to make things happen — and as always, people tend to say they’re “interested” but then really don’t follow up. Totally cool. Asi es la vida. But after sharing my idea with a few “very interested” who would have the means to follow up on it, I realized today why not share it with my cool contacts online who might have some insight and care about this too? Either way, ENOUGH wasting time on the possibility.  It’s an idea. Someone “stealing” an idea is just bad juju on so many levels. But this really isn’t about one person. It’s not about making a profit (though this would clearly be HUGE) – but it is a necessity.  We need to do something to help people recognize legitimate sources of content on the internet.  And maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg? Maybe there’s a better way to go about it – I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I can only imagine that there are others, way smarter than me – who have some thoughts on the subject. Maybe someone knows of something like this and it’s being worked on all along?  If so, please, do tell! I’ve done my research so be ready for a clapback if it’s something I’ve already heard of (hahahahaha! I say that with such love though) but yeah, send it my way. I need to know someone’s working on making the internet a better place to be!    

And another way to think about it is this: if Amazon can deliver packages to people all over the world and not be confused by “authenticating” an entity, then why isn’t this possible?  To me, it seems like such a no-brainer. But you know, I have a million of these ideas that stream through my head — never once have I felt the need to share….

Hit me up if you have any thoughts or questions on this – I’d love to hear more information and more ideas.  Hmmm…imagine an internet where you could land on a website or read a comment and KNOW there was a way to trace back to who said it and why and not worry that it may be a bot or fake information?  Think passports, licenses… validation. Verification. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on “anonymously” if you wanted too – surely, there are people who lie all the time about who they are online and if you wanted to do that, you could.  But, for the times you wanted to be taken seriously – or more importantly, as a consumer – imagine feeling comfortable about going to a site and reading a comment and KNOWING through a simple visual that it was the legitimate source…

Let me stop. I can go on and on forever about this…

Just an idea from a non-techy-but-very-techy-interested-kinda-gurl.

Carmen Lezeth Suarez  

Creative Drama – My Writing Issue

I love to write. As I’ve mentioned more than a few times on this platform, I tend to be an old school kinda writer too – I enjoy the feel of a pen against the texture of paper.  That’s my preferred mode of writing.   

The problem, of course, has been the inability to actually transform some of those pieces of writing immediately onto my blog – not that I think I’m writing such extraordinary stuff or anything, but some of that creative work could help someone else, or maybe by sharing it, I might be able to get some insight into what others think and feel about it too. I mean feedback is always a good thing.  But as an artist, as a writer, we want to share our work and I wasn’t doing any of that!

But I can’t lie – with my schedule, it’s tough to spend that time handwriting and then have to consider going back to type it all out just so I can post on my blog. By the time I get my head wrapped around the entire process,  the idea of actually wanting to post something just flitters away. I’ve lost all umph. 

There was a time when I was actually posting pictures of my actual handwritten journal entries.  I got some great feedback about that process. People kind of enjoyed looking and reading those.  But then the problem became I wasn’t writing freely because I knew I’d post it online so I wanted to “mind my manners” while writing. It just wasn’t fun or easy. Writing became a chore.  And honestly, I just couldn’t have any of that! NO WAY! Writing is my everything. My therapy. My outlet. My love! 

So, for the past couple of months I’ve been basically exercising, learning really, a new way to write and to share.  At first, it was a lot of work. Because it was changing the way I normally do things.  I’ve been writing like this since I was a little girl.  I had to re-train myself to do something new – to write in the “afternoon” sort of speak.  Now my early morning pages (cue anyone who has ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) are reserved for therapeutic topics.  And whenever I get the urge to write too fully an idea that might be a great blog post or something to share,  I’ve taught myself to jot the idea down in one sentence, or record the thought, and save it to “write in the afternoon” – which really means: save the idea till you finish your morning pages and then switch to the laptop. 

It’s been difficult – because my best “thinking” is without a doubt early in the morning right after that delicious first sip of coffee.  I feel like every thought that’s been resting all night long while I sleep, comes perfectly alive and ready to be released first thing in the morning. Typing out those thoughts just didn’t feel the same. Clearly, what I was doing, wasn’t working. I was frustrated with not really sharing enough.  And isn’t that what this whole blogging thing, social media gig, is all about?  

Well, when what you’ve been doing isn’t working, change things up a bit – it might take a little time to get the hang of it, but it already seems to be so very worth it!  At least for me. 🙂

The Kindness: An Award from Jessica

dare-tl-be-remarkableI wanted to give a shout out to Jessica Larsen who nominated me for a Versatile Blogger award.

Such a kind and lovely thing to do — to just let someone know, that you appreciate their work, their words, their time writing.  It really touched me something fierce.  It’s taken me a few days to get to this part of it — so please forgive me.  But, when you have a moment, please visit her lovely site:  https://www.jessicaelarsen.com/ — and yes, please follow her!  She’s fun, and writes about everything with a special gist on romance.  A very lovely site and an avid writer/blogger.

Let me also add this:  I know a lot of us take so much time to write and share our thoughts, pictures, moments — and I do visit a lot of sites that I follow on a regular basis. I don’t always comment.  I don’t know how so many of you so easily write blog posts daily — I’m so jealous!  But some times I just read and don’t comment because I never feel I have enough time to really say what I want to say.  Maybe I’m thinking too much on it?  Not sure.  Sometimes, I just think “Eeh, they’ll get how much I loved this by the pressing like.”

I want to be better about commenting more often. I know for me, when people take the time to comment and share their thoughts on my blog posts, it just brightens my day so much. Especially if it’s been a full day in solitary WORK WRITING mode — having this interaction is a blessing, even if people disagree or have a different point of view — so thank you for those that always take the time.

Well, check out Jessica’s blog when you have a sec, follow her and, as always, thanks for stopping by and have a sweet day!