When You Feel Too Much

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This morning, my husband called to tell me that the father of two boys, each in one of my two youngest children’s classes, was killed in a car accident this past weekend.

I have been a mess ever since. As soon as he told me, I felt nauseous. And then, the tears came. I can’t stop thinking about how his wife must feel. And how, how do you tell a 9- and 6-year-old that they will never see their daddy again? I am overcome with sadness and despair, even though I never met the man. Or perhaps I did – in passing, or at one of the events at school.

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter because I am feeling his loss on a very deep level. I have always experienced loss this way. Even when I wasn’t directly affected.

When John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s plane had crashed into the ocean, I watched and hoped that somehow, he’d be found alive. I was in denial that he could be gone. I mourned for him. So much so, that I developed a stiff neck that rendered me incapable of driving or sleeping, requiring me to seek medical attention to alleviate the pain.

And it’s not just grief that I feel deeply. It’s also joy. When something good happens to someone, I’m elated. I get butterflies in my stomach and tears of joy well up in my eyes.

It is perhaps because of these deep feelings that I’ve found people feel strangely comfortable sharing very personal stories with me. Virtual strangers will pour their souls out to me. Grown men I’m not very close with have choked up and cried sharing details they may be too embarrassed or proud to share with others.

I read an article recently about how people can tell when they’re in the presence of an empath and it resonated so deeply.

It finally gave a name to what I’ve always considered my proclivity for being “too sensitive.”

 

 

One of the 15 “traits” listed in the article is about how negative media images profoundly affect an empath. I stopped watching the news a long time ago. Because I don’t get desensitized. I get hyper-sensitized.  The article describes feeling overwhelming sadness and suffering every single time you saw something violent or upsetting on the news. That’s exactly how I felt every time I see something negative.

I have also always hated crowded places. I attributed it to be being claustrophobic but now I see that it’s more than that. It’s overwhelming and exhausting to be in the midst of and absorbing the sheer force of all those energies and feelings. I also detest loud sounds and too much noise. I absolutely require a lot of quiet time. When I’m home alone, I don’t ever even turn on the television. All that din makes me crazy.

 

The article went on to address how empaths are sensitive to stimulants and medications. I can only have one cup of coffee in the morning before I start feeling jittery and anxious. I NEVER take medications unless absolutely necessary. This includes aspirin. I suffer from allergies but would rather deal with the allergy symptoms than the wired, head-cloud I’ve felt when I tried allergy meds. Same thing with colds. I’d rather consume honey for a sore throat and up my vitamin c intake than ingest any cold medicines.

 

Empaths also tend to feel tired and fatigued often because we absorb so many emotional drains. And we are easily distracted due to a heightened sensitivity to our surroundings.

Finally having a “label” for my empathic nature won’t change how I feel things, but at least it’s made me aware of why.

And it’s helped me to recognize when I’m having these feelings and the thoughts that trigger them, so I can stop and take some deep breaths, allowing me to observe my thoughts without judgement. 

In this way, I can give myself permission to notice and feel what I’m feeling, And then I can choose to let them go. Now, I haven’t mastered this by any means. And I’m not sure that I ever will. I think it’s an ongoing practice. But one that I feel is instrumental in allowing me to cope with challenging situations.

Do you feel deeply or know someone who does? What strategies do you use for coping? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

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The Cuban Beach Invasion and the Best Tent Ever

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I love going to the beach.

But growing up Cuban, we never just went to the beach. Even though I grew up in Miami, where beaches abound and it usually doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes to get to one, going to the beach was a huge production.

You see, it took a great deal of preparation to go to the beach. We couldn’t just wake up on a gorgeous day and decide to go. No.

We would first have to go in advance to Sedanos, the Cuban grocery store, and load up on all the essentials. You know, like bread crumbs and a block of meat and Cuban bread and some other little tiny buns and some orange pasty crap my husband says is deviled ham. (This is a shocker to me. I’ve never thought to find out or ask what the hell bocaditos are comprised of. Who knew??)

Anyway, we’d buy cartloads full of stuff like that. Enough rations to feed a small army. And then we’d spend the entire day before our planned outing helping my grandmother put the block of meat (ham hock, apparently) into this grinder contraption and fight over which kid got to turn the crank and churn out the wormy-looking meat.

Meat GrinderSuper gross, really. But I guess at the time we thought it was the coolest thing ever. But what really mattered was that somehow that disgusting worm meat ended up as the best fucking croquetas I’ve ever had the pleasure of inserting into my mouth.

My grandma would slave away in the kitchen making the sandwiches and the croquettes and we’d sleep over so we could get an obscenely early start the next morning. After loading up the car with all the towels and blankets and chairs and prepared foods and coolers full of Jupiña and Materva, the rest of us would try to squeeze into whatever room remained in the car.

Revolving SharkWe’d drive what seemed like hours (again, it’s not more than 20 minutes from where we lived) to El Farito, what the Cubans lovingly called the beach where the lighthouse stands on Bill Baggs State Park. We’d get super giddy when we got to the spinning sharks that signaled we were close.

We’d emerge, 20 or so Cubans, from a wood-paneled station wagon, loaded down like pack mules, for our day at the beach. We’d swim and play and stuff our faces. And when it was time to leave, my grandma always insisted on having us submerge our sandy little bodies in the freezing cold shower thingie and would force us to bathe with the soap she had brought along and then hold up towels to block us from view as we peeled off our wet (and now clean) bathings suits and put on a dry change of clothes.

Unfortunately, this set a somewhat cumbersome precedent. Because, as you can imagine, I can’t just go to the beach.

Even now, a beach outing takes preparation. And although I don’t grind my own croquettes, no trip to the beach is complete without them. Or sandwiches. Or sand toys. Or balls for varying sports. Or towels and a change of clothes. And granted, the Jupiñas have been replaced by wine and beer and Fireball. But still, it requires taking along a cooler.

We stupidly used to also take an umbrella. But after years of struggling to keep the damn thing from tipping over or flying off dangerously into the path of innocent bystander, we finally stumbled upon this. The greatest invention of all time.

This tent has made going to the beach even more awesome. As if that were possible. It weighs hardly anything and sets up in minutes. We are seriously the envy of our fellow beachgoers. It even has an additional panel that can be clipped on in a pinch when, say, it’s really windy. Or when an unexpected torrential downpour happens. As it did today.

So even though we got a little wet, we were able to weather the storm in our little tent. And wait out the traffic brought on by the mass exodus the little deluge brought about.

I can’t recommend this thing highly enough. Do yourself a favor and go out and get one. Stat. And meet me at the beach!

Do you have any traditions around going to the beach or any other place you frequent? Leave a comment below!

Adventures in Pole Dancing

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I saw this little video today of a chicken stripping. I couldn’t stop laughing.

First, because it’s so stupid. But mainly, because it reminds me of my failed attempt at stripping.

Ok, I never actually stripped or intended to. I just wanted to take pole dancing lessons.

Ever since I watched a pole dancing championship competition video, I was mesmerized by what those women can do on those poles. They make it look effortless. But it wasn’t until I tried it myself, that I truly appreciated what incredible athletes they are.

I’ve always considered myself to be pretty strong and athletic. But I could not hold myself up on that pole. Like not even a little bit. And it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that attempting to do so resulted in my shoulder injury.

But, aside from the sheer physicality required to hoist myself up on the pole, what I found the most difficult was trying to be “sexy.”

The studio where I took the classes had several poles affixed to the ground and ceiling at varying intervals along the room. After encouraging us to bring heels to class, the instructor would dim the lights and have us do lengthy stretching exercises. Once we were nice and sore…er, I mean warm, the heels came on and we were guided to approach the pole with abandon and be slinky and sexy.

All I could muster was nervous laughter. And dirty looks from the divas surrounding me. I just couldn’t do it.

So when I saw the chicken strip, I was hilariously reminded of my failed attempt at both being seductive and of climbing the pole.

Have you ever tried pole dancing classes? What was your experience? Leave a comment below!

Today, I Ate All of the Food

Like all of it.

I finally got 2 bacon doughnuts yesterday. And a pistachio one. Ate them all.

I had gotten some pita chips from Whole Foods. You know, the ones that are like crack? Yep. Polished off whatever the hubby and kids hadn’t eaten. Even poured the crumbs into my mouth. Super classy.

There were like 5 teaspoons left of Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream. Ate that, too.

I had made some yogurt-based egg and avocado salad yesterday. Had two Cuban crackers smothered in it. Granted, they were the small crackers, but still.

And, of course, I made some thin chimichurri steaks with pearled couscous and veggies for dinner and I aced all of that as well.

The saddest part is that I’m still unsatisfied.

And although I couldn’t really work out today on the count of the injuries sustained during yesterday’s rollerblading fiasco, I did walk a few miles. But probably not nearly enough to burn off all the intake of calories.

Granted, I could have probably also stood to drink more water throughout the day. You know how they say that you’re probably more thirsty than you are hungry.

And they also say you should not give in to cravings right away. And that you should be mindful about what you put in your mouth.

So today, I mindfully put ALL. OF. THE. FOOD. into my pie hole.

And tomorrow, I will mindfully regret it all.

(And no, I’m not pregnant. But I am probably PMSing. So don’t piss me off by suggesting the former.)

Do you ever have one of those days where you’re just ravenous with seemingly no end in sight? Leave a comment below!

I’ve Fallen. And I Was Just Barely Able to Get Up.

Remember those super duper awesome rollerblades I found the other day?

Yeah, well, I hate those fucking things.

I should have left them buried in the abyss that is my daughter’s closet. Or better yet, burned them on sight.

You see, it was a spectacular first day of Spring in Miami. The sun was shining. The weather was….not hot. So we decided to throw caution to the wind and head to the beach. On a school night.

We live on the edge like that.

As we packed up the car to rousing (and elusive) chants of “you’re the best parents EVER!” we decided to throw in the skates. Because the children had been begging to skate on the beach. Never mind that there’s an ocean to swim in and sandcastles to make and balls to toss around.

But, when we got to the beach, because we’re from these parts, we could not bring ourselves to walk into the frigid waters. So, after we dug holes, lay out and chased balls for a few hours, I decided to go for the holy grail of parenting and skate with the kids along the beach.

Save for some tricky patches of sand, all was going swimmingly until I made a pitstop at the restroom. As I was making my way back to the family, I lost my bearings and my legs rolled out from under me, leaving me with only one choice: try to absorb as much of the impact with my hands and avoid cracking my skull open.

Luckily, my head did not touch the ground. But my ass sure did.

I’m typing this through gritted teeth because my hands are all scraped up and bruised. The compounded force of landing on my hands and my butt has left my arms and back incredibly sore. Hell, even my ribs hurt.

And, to make matters worse, I’m waddling around like I had anal intercourse with 5 very well-endowed men. At the same time.

On the bright side, at least I didn’t break a hip or end up in traction. Which, at my age, is a depressing, but all-too-real concern.

Anybody in the market for some vintage, slightly scuffed up roller blades? Leave a comment below!

Freezers and the Decline of Ice Pick Murders

Today, as I was thinking about how grateful I am for ice makers, it dawned on me that they were probably singlehandedly responsible for the decline in murders committed with ice picks.

I had never really thought about ice picks before. Well, save for that one time I saw a movie where Sharon Stone killed someone with one. Or something like that. I think it’s the same movie where she wasn’t wearing underwear and flashed the camera. So if you missed the ice pick part, that was probably why.

Anyway, I never knew what an ice pick was for on the count of as long as I can remember, my freezer just made ice. No pick necessary.

But today, my husband told me some tall tale about how some guy would deliver a big ice block and they would keep it in a like a big cooler and plug in some type of fan to circulate the air or something.

That’s when I realized that’s what an ice pick must have been for.

And that my husband is old.

That’s when I also made the connection between the ice-maker and the decline in ice pick homicides. If that was ever thing. But if it was, I would venture to guess that we have the ice-making freezer to thank for it.

So, thank you ice maker, for always being there to keep my beverages frosty. And for stopping ice pick deaths.

Have you ever heard of an icepick? What do you use it for? Leave a comment below!

Roller Boogie with my Babies

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I found my old rollerblades today!

I don’t know who was more excited by the discovery, though – me or my kids. Well, they were pretty excited until they realized that mom’s pretty good on her blades and she can skate pretty damn fast.

Then, all they wanted was for me to skate and drag them along. Fun for them. Not so fun for my arms. But, I’ll admit, it was a fairly decent workout.

Anyway, I had given them to my firstborn when she first went off to college and I was sure I would never see them again.

But after seeing my littles skating around today, I decided to go check the eldest’s room and after rifling through all kinds of crap, I found them!

My teal, Katarina Allure Ultra Wheels inline skates. Man, I loved those things.

I vividly remember the day I bought them. It was the 90s and they were all the rage. I quickly realized, however, that I did not know how to operate those puppies. I also, for some reason, decided it would be a great idea to go out later that night to a happening part of town to meet up with some friends whom I’d also convinced it would be fun to skate. In the Grove. On a Saturday night.

And let’s not forget the part about how we were meeting up at a bar. At which we were planning to drink.

So I wisely decided that I needed to practice and for 6 or so hours, I skated up and down the street where I lived. When I was fairly confident I had mastered the whole rollerblading thing, I headed to the bar where I’m happy to report that aside from a few extremely embarrassing tumbles, I made it out relatively unscathed.

When I came across those same skates today, I was so excited but also rather saddened by the realization that my rollerblades are legit “vintage.”

But, they still work like a charm and I plan to put them back to use. If my daughter doesn’t try and jack them from me.

Did or do you have rollerblades? I’d love to know if you still use them. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss Me. I’m Not Irish but Screw It, It’s St. Patrick’s Day.

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This is the best holiday ever.

It’s also my brother-in-law’s birthday.

And although we’re not technically Irish, the fact that I thought we were until I was about 14 was enough to have ingrained an irrational obsession with the day for me.

You see, what had happened was that my mother had gone to an Irish school when she first moved the U.S. and as a result had developed a very strong and crazy connection with the culture. She would festoon our house and herself to the hilt, leaving anyone to think there was a pot of gold and some leprechauns hidden within.

So although I am now fully cognizant of the fact that I’m not Irish at all, which saddens me to no end, I still must celebrate this day in some way.

But because I have young children and I’m old and tired and because I had to cajole my sister and her hubby to come out for some Irish reverie, the six Cubans ended up celebrating early at a kid-friendly German establishment.

Because nothing says Erin go Bragh like Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and Wiener Schnitzel.

At least we wore an obnoxious amount of green and had that most traditional of Irish beverages, green beer. So I’m calling it a win.

 

Personal Space!

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I get that in some countries, there’s no such thing as personal space. Either because:

  • a) people, for some reason I cannot fathom, enjoy touching each other all the time or because
  • b)there are just too many people crammed together.

Now because I was born and raised in the U.S., I neither enjoy touching random people nor having random people touch me.

When I’m standing in line, I expect at least 2, if not three feet, of perimeter space.

If I can feel your breath on any part of my body, you’re standing too fucking close.

And when I try to casually move away from you a step, it is not an indication for you to also move a step closer to me. When I sigh loudly and step forward again, in no way, shape or form is it an invitation for you to do the same.

When I have tried to delicately deliver the hint to you that I am not enjoying your proximity and you still don’t fucking get it, you shouldn’t be shocked when I finally lose my whole mind and yell, “Personal Space!!!” like a fucking banshee at the top of my lungs.

The ONLY exception to this rule is if there’s a really hot guy that I wouldn’t mind “accidentally” rubbing up against.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not enjoy having my amygdala activated.

That is all.

How do you feel about people encroaching upon your personal space? Leave a comment below!

 

Thank God it’s Pi Day (π) & Einstein’s Birthday!

To honor both of these momentous events, I decided to run 3.14 miles and to share a little of why I heart both Pi and Einstein.

I have never been a fan of math. Nor it of me.

So much so that when I realized that if I majored in Marketing, I’d have to take more math classes. I promptly changed my major to Advertising and minored in Marketing instead.

But for whatever reason, I’ve always had an affinity for Pi. And for those savants that can slice Pi to 2.7 trillion digits.

Personally, I only know a handful:

π = 3.141592653589

And again, I’m ok with that.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. He would have been 138 years old . I have loved Al with the passion of a thousand suns. Perhaps partly because he possessed a genius I could only aspire to.

And also because he posited the mass-energy equivalence formula, E = mc2, which happens to be my initials. So there’s that.

He also left us with some pretty insightful quotes. Below are some of my favorites:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”
”The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

Also, I may use this as an excuse to eat some pie today. Just because.

How do you celebrate Pi Day? Leave a comment below!