On Inspiration (In memoriam)

Recently, I learned that the word inspiration is synonymous with the word breath, more specifically to breathe-in. In medical terms, to inspire is to breath-in and to expire is to exhale. But to expire can also refer to something ceasing to be valid, or to come to an end.

The catalyst of 2011 for me has been expiration. The physical death of my Tia at the end of January was the leader of the troop. In my 26 years of life I had never experienced grief until that point, and while she was a cancer survivor for some time the rapid decline of her health (when it returned aggressively) left me shocked. I kept asking myself during her last week of life ‘Have I said everything I need to say?’ ‘Is there going to be something I regret when I think back to this time?’ Most of my energy during the decline was focused on taking the supporter role because my cousin (her only daughter) is more like my older sister.

My older sister is the type to put the air mask on anyone who’s incapable around her before herself. And now she was loosing the only person who FED her spiritually, emotionally, and who could tell her the truth without insulting her. I did everything in my power that I possibly could to be there; ran to the hospital whenever she needed to make a decision, took turns with the night shifts and even got in touch with the proper spiritual authorities when we knew that date was creeping near. One night I was in the room with my Tia while my cousin ran out to get something to eat. I noticed her nails were unkempt and she would not have that (nunca!/never) so I thought I would give her a manicure. At this point she was already on an oxygen tank and her lungs were filling with liquid, in other words she had less than a week of life left. I ran to the convenience store of the hospital and purchased a filer, nail clip and a pretty light rosy nail polish. I figured I would ask the nurse if the strong smell would disturb my auntie before I put the nail polish on. When the nurse came in the room, I asked:

Would it be a good idea to paint my auntie’s nails? She would never stand for her nails looking like this, even in a hospital.

NURSE: *pause* I don’t think so hun. We want her to be as comfortable as possible. You do realize what’s going on here?

I don’t know if it was her way of trying to say it without saying it, but I was hit with incredible sorrow when she released those words into the room. She finalized what everyone could only think or hint to. There was no coming back, this was the end.

In the weeks following January 31st, I learned what the end meant. I booked my last-minute flight to Costa Rica, since she was to be laid to rest at home. I would get out of work and proceed to making my way to the hospital, forgetting she was no longer there. I would be up late nights asking myself bizarre questions like ‘Did she realize that would be the last pedicure she would get when she was getting it ?’ and crying thinking to myself that my older sister would never be the same again. In the last weeks, my Tia also did not speak (except to shake or nod her head) when she was uncomfortable or hungry so I also would wonder to myself if she knew what was going…and if she accepted it, was bitter, was ready? These kind of thoughts plagued me, but I knew my older sister was probably having worse thoughts than I, and I tried to remember that it’s not about me!

This Monday, October 24th will have been my Tia’s 67th birthday. October marks 8 months since she’s left us. Although I would rather her be here, I know that her passing set many things in motion. Her memory inspires me to want to be remembered as she was, a community pillar and respected servant of God. At the funeral, I will never forget the man who used to wash her car crying hysterically from the back of the church.

There is irony in the end being the beginning, and my wake up call that life is too precious to stay miserable in a job, path, or with a person that is the cause of more pain than happiness. We hear it all the time, and are reminded when we hear of another death that life is short. Life is short, life is short, life is short. I’m tired of taking that lightly, of getting that short-lived boost and then going back to taking life for granted.

Does every breath INSPIRE you? Are you doing more complaining than LIVING? If so, what can you do to change that? Do you even want to?

Learning to LIVE inspired,

She Traces

In loving memory
On Inspiration (In memoriam)

A mal tiempo buena cara

I’ve been expecting you. Please, take a seat and stay awhile.

Don’t get temporarily frustrated with the Spanish post title, I intend to make this blog as inclusive as possible. So hold your horses and close the Google search. We’ll get to the expression eventually.

Whew. I  never thought I would have another ‘first’ post, much less  be typing it while sitting at a Costa Rican family’s table feeling somewhat like an intruder. The table is black and shiny with 2 mismatched teapots and a bright red drapey thing as centerpieces, undoubtedly informing you of this family’s Chinese heritage. The living room continues that Asian flair; complete with a fish tank, bright red contemporary couches and intricate vases that probably tell stories only those who pay attention to detail care to know. As far as I can piece together, this household was built on the premise of a Chinese man banging a Costa Rican woman and raising some babies. The offspring,  most often referred to as ‘chinos’ maintain their distinct features (but to a lesser degree), speak perfect Spanish and most of the time are taught Chinese at home. But back to the story at hand. How did I end up sitting at this table, and why did I have to say goodbye to Tica {Em}bracing The Globe?

Well, the simple answer is I had to leave some emotional baggage behind. The complicated answer involves the fact that the blog had been neglected to the point that I didn’t feel connected to it anymore. But most importantly, I could no longer write freely about what was really going on in my life, and so I had to move on. Leaving the old behind, and so here is TETG’s baby, simply labeled ‘Globe Tracer’… live and direct from Central America.

A series of unfortunate events in 2011 left me leaving helpless, alone and confused, not even writing could pick-me-up. I crashed, and this is an understatement. Anyone (including the guy who works at the storage place) who saw me during that time could tell just by looking at me that things weren’t good. When I came across a newspaper ‘relationship’ column today giving women tips on how to bounce back from a break-up the first thing that caught my eye was: Look Great/Don’t Loose Face.  Followed by… ‘a mal tiempo buena cara’ which loosely translates to ‘during bad times, put on your best face.’ ESPECIALLY when things are wrong and you don’t feel good on the inside, don’t let that ruin your outward appearance. This can apply to any tough situation, not merely a break up, although its common to feel your self-esteem questioned when it comes to matters of the heart. Smiling in the midst of pain was something I couldn’t do until I landed in Costa Rica.

A little lame, but true.

I got on a flight at the end of April and I’m still here. Living in Costa Rica as an adult like I’ve always wanted to do. Currently, renting a room in San Jose (the capital) living with strangers in my homeland. Every morning I wake up and take a bus ride while determining the could coverage over this great valley. Cloudy- no mountains, and on a clear day; breathtaking views. I pay$156 a month for a tiny (and by tiny I mean a room that should only serve as an office) ol’ room with a private bathroom in the middle of the hustle and bustle of this Costa-Chino busy household (Note to self for future comfort: Private entrance, room away from kitchen and living room required). And I’m also working- details on that later. But even with all this, I couldn’t imagine any other place I should be right now.

Moral of the story: Whatever you need to, wherever you need to go to get back to happy- do that! No matter how impossible it might seem. If things are that bad right now that most mornings you don’t want to get out of bed, hide under the sheets for a couple of days, bawl your eyes out, let the ugly out.  But remember you have to face the world sometime, and when you do, put on your best face!

Mission Accomplished,

She Traces

PS- Please excuse my appearance as I transition and try to verse through WP, but also keep in mind that in the spirit of minimalism, content will always be first here.

A mal tiempo buena cara