Sunday, June 28, 2009

Traveling anxiety

Statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, S...Image via Wikipedia

It is almost 4:00 am in my neck of the woods and obviously, I cannot sleep.

Every time we travel, I get in a funky mood.

It begins two days before the travel date. I run around our home trying to do a zillion things and not doing anything because I forget what I am supposed to do.

I write many, many list and I loose them, so I began writing again, just to forget what I was supposed to write down.

I check the kids' luggage, their vacation homework, my keys, my purse, my cell phone and still, I always have that dreadful feeling that I am forgetting something.

In approximately 12 hours we will be taking a plane to our vacation home and I can't wait!

It involves a lot of hard work on my behalf, mainly because for most of the time it will just be the kids and I, but their happy faces makes it all worth it.

They enjoy more freedom that they are used to. They are able to ride their bikes on the streets. They'll be swimming everyday and playing and just being kids.

And I will be enjoying my children the way I never get to during the school year, when we are always so busy, we almost don't have time to relax together.

OK, I think it is time for me to pack my laptop and cross out one more thing off my list. Good night!
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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Violin and bow.Image via Wikipedia

My dad's side of the family are all artists.

My great grandfather, Joseph Schreurs, was a Clarinet prodigy and artistic director of the Chicago Orchestra in the late 1800's.

My grandmother was a violin concertmaster. I remember growing up listening to her rehearsing over and over Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

My uncles and my aunt are all musicians. They are composers and singers and very talented.

Even though we, grandchildren, took violin lessons with grandma, I never got the hold of it and was, very gently, let go of my music lessons.

Last Tuesday, my beautiful 8 years old son, gave his first violin recital.

What amazes me is that he never touched a musical instrument before August. His new school is integral education oriented, and that includes arts.

He stood there, holding his violin, his hand perfectly positioned on the bow, so serious and concentrated, watching the crowd with no nervousness in his eyes and began playing. Simple and yet beautiful.

I am so proud of my son!
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Six years

On the 25th, my baby girl will turn six years old!

For those of you who are working on the math, yes: my girls are one year, and nine days apart.

Six years ago, I finally got the chance to hug my precious baby girl. She was not as tiny as her sister. She had big, brown eyes and a tiny nose.

Of all my children, this little, beautiful girl was the most difficult. I have always told her that if she had been the oldest, she would be an only child. I bet sometimes she wishes that was true!

She had a terrible temper and would go into a tantrum at the slightest motive. Little did we know that she was oversensitive to smells, noise, light and touch. Thank goodness that neurological condition was overgrown some years ago.

She was only 11 months old when she began forming complete sentences to express her needs, wants and feelings... Since then, that high pitched voice of hers is a constant sound in our home and I love to hear it!

She and I share a special connection: it only takes a look into each others eyes to know what the other wants. She would rather be with mommy than with daddy. In fact, she didn't like to be held by dad until she was over a year old.

Her temper has mellowed, but she is as determined and stubborn as her mom.

She is an artist. She paints beautifully and even has one of her pieces exhibited. She did it at 4!

She has a beautiful voice and loves to dance. Has a prolific imagination and loves to tell stories about the characters that live inside that little head of hers.

She is a girly girl: she loves to play with her dolls and to play dress up and watch princesses movies.

Again, the day after tomorrow, will be a day a celebration and joy in our home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One more week to go...

No matter the influenza virus and the changes in the school calendar, we are leaving for a month long vacation at the end of this week.

My kids have had a hard year at school. They have worked their way the best they can.

I, being a SAHM, studied first grade of elementary school with the two oldest as if my life depended on their grades.

I can see the tiredness in their eyes. Their effort to get up every morning.

I am very proud of them.

Lets hope that the week flies by, so we can finally are able to enjoy some quiet time as a family.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Pain & Suffering

grief detail #1Image by spiderflux via Flickr

To suffer means to undergo, to be subjected to or to endure pain, distress, injury, disadvantage, loss or anything unpleasant.

Suffering in a reality for all human beings. We will all suffer one way or another, and if you believe that you haven't suffer, I have bad news for you: you will!

Another reality of human life is that no one knows how others are suffering. We can imagine it, we can relate to the pain of others, but we will never experience, first hand, others' pain.

Pain means physical suffering or distress; mental or emotional suffering or torment. As you can see, pain can be physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. It may show in the face of the sufferer, or it will live in the deepest nooks of one's soul.

But not all that are in pain are suffering, have you notice that?

Many people are so used to pain, that they cannot even imagine a pain-free life. Pain is a reality in their lives and they may or may not suffer because of it.

Others, on the contrary, at the minimal pain, suffer to the extreme.

Is their pain different? Yes, but their perception about their pain is different as well. Accordingly, their attitude towards pain is different, so their suffering is as well.

Have you ever stop to think what makes you suffer?

Are you suffering because of the lack of financial security we are all struggling with?

Are you suffering because you hit your big toe on the bed leg?

Are you suffering because you are not finding meaning to your life?

Are you suffering because you are not able to buy that dress you wanted so much, or that car you envy, or the latest mobile phone?

Are you suffering because your spouse left, or is colder towards you, or indifferent?

Are you suffering because you or someone you love has lost their health?

Are you suffering because someone you loved died?

The first step is being honest with yourself and acknowledge the event responsible for your suffering.

Can you do something to change it? If you can, please do it.

If not, is there anyway you might possibly consider let yourself feel the pain?

When we embrace our pain, our suffering decreases significantly.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Revisiting my childhood

Enid BlytonImage via Wikipedia

Some posts ago, I wrote that my daughter and I are sharing some books of my childhood. My favorite books then.

They were written by Enid Blyton and they are the "Malory Towers" series. They were written in the 1940's and even though many years have passed since then, human nature hasn't.

My parents gave them to me around my 8th birthday and I read and reread them until my teen years. There are many pictures of me with a book of the series in my hand.

Well, I reread the first one before my daughter last Monday. Today, I finished the fifth one.

I realize that those books are part of what I have become over the years. They are about a group of girls that attend boarding school at Malory Towers. Ms. Blyton wrote beautifully, yet, simply, about their personalities and how they evolved over the years.

I always admired Darrell Rivers and her friend Sally, the main characters of the series. But I also recognized some of Gwendoline Mary in me, and tried to change it. I used to be hard and judgmental as Alicia, I tried to soften that horrible aspect of me.

I am an avid reader and I really hope my kids learn to enjoy reading as much as I do. Since the day I discovered the wonder world contained in books, I have never felt alone or bored. Books have been loyal friends to me since childhood.

Do you have a favorite book from your childhood? Why not read it again and discover what you have in you from that early experience?

Thank you Ms. Blyton for helping me discover the wonderful world of written words!
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Lack of compassion

I had a meeting yesterday with some moms of my son's school.

We were having coffee and talking about nothing important when a someone asked who was leaving our school.

One lady began saying the names of the boys that were going away and she mentioned a boy whose brother died tragically almost 2 years ago. After that, she said that the boy was out of control and "impossible to deal with".

The gossip began: how? when? where? And someone loudly said: "he committed suicide". The faces changed immediately and again the questions began. Everyone had something to say.

I was sitting there, looking at them, not wanting to believe what I was hearing. How dare they say something like that!

I couldn't believe it! They were judging that family so lightly and with such authority and obviously my blood began to boil.

This family had to face one of life's tragedies: the death of a child. They are trying to survive. They are making adjustments to cope the best they can.

Of course this little boy is "impossible to deal with": he lost his older brother, the mom he knew before the tragedy, the dad he had before his brother died and the older siblings that spent more time with the one that died and witnessed the accident. He was trying to adjust to all these changes and was sent to a new school on top of everything else. Can you imagine being 8 years old and dealing with all this pain?

I tried to explain these facts to those ladies, but no, they were so involved in their gossip that didn't want to hear what I had to say.

I got up and left. I didn't want to be there anymore.

I deeply believe that there is no excuse for the lack of compassion, not whatsoever. Stupidity, ignorance, gossip, false pity are not excuses for me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Seven years

mama segun carla

Tomorrow, my big girl will turn seven years old!

I can't believe how fast these past seven years have gone by. I still remember holding her for the first time. She was this tiny, fragile baby girl, with a head full of hair and a tiny nose.

She used to smile always and I remember the first time I heard her laugh: I knew, then and there, that I would never be sad while she was part of my life.

That beautiful happy baby girl has grown into an amazingly loving, caring and compassionate seven year old girl.

She learned to read and write when she was 5. Now we share the books of my childhood.

She always finds way to help others: her siblings, her dad and me.

She loves to swim, to cook, to play soccer and to draw.

She has many friends and is an excellent student.

Of course we have had our difficulties, but she has taught me more about forgiveness that I ever thought possible.

Tomorrow will be a day of happiness and celebration in our household. My precious girl turns 7 and I am blessed to be her mom.

It is official... one month to go

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceImage via Wikipedia

As I said before, I am a BIG Harry Potter fan.

After the fiasco of changing the sixth installment of the Harry Potter movies from November to July, the magical date is approaching.

Just 30 days to go and see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie!!!!!

My son is as excited as I am. We are planning to go to the first show on July 15. Then, we will decide if the girls are old enough to watch the movie on the big screen.

I can't wait!

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Patience and time

CompassionImage by Lawrence OP via Flickr

I finished my Masters Degree in Family Science 8 years ago, but never got my diploma.

Why? Because our baby boy was born 2 months before I finished school, we bought a bigger home, our girl was born 1 year and 40 days later and our baby girl was born 1 year and 9 days after her sister.

Our expenses grew astronomically. We didn't have the money to publish my dissertation and present the defense of what I wrote, even though it was written one year before I finished school.

Eight years later, I have a new dissertation director and she suggested that I added a new chapter to it. A whole chapter about compassion.

I have been reading all I can find about the subject and have found so many interesting ideas.

I am convinced that there is no excuse for the lack of compassion: stupidity and ignorance are not excuses for me.

Before my own children died, I was sure that compassion is the back bone of being human. I was so wrong.

Compassion is not taught in school and many children live in a compassion-free environment, so they don't know how to be compassionate.

Compassion requires discipline. Discipline requires patience. Patience requires time.

If we want to grow in compassion in our daily lives, we have to be able to have time to invest being compassionate.

Allow me to tell you a story: Mary meets Anne, they have been PTA members for years. Mary is in a hurry - as most people in the world - and asks Anne how is she. She replies that she is not OK. Mary, running to fit her life into her tight schedule, says "Great, good to see you" and leaves.

Have you ever been in such a situation? I bet you have. It doesn't matter if you acted like Mary or if you reacted like Anne.

If we truly want to be compassionate towards our fellow human beings, we have to have time to listen, to be present for them.

I am sure Mary had a zillion things to do, but were they as important as being fully present for Anne?

Maybe they were, but I believe that Mary should have listened to Anne. Just a direct look into the others eyes, an "I am sorry" and the promise to get together later and talk, would have made the difference in Anne's life... and in Mary's as well.

The next time you encounter someone who is suffering, please be present for them. Give them the time you have. Think what is urgent and what is important in life. You may not have 2 free hours to sit right there and then, but just five minutes, give your fullest attention to him or her. Listen with your heart and with your mind.

You'll be amazed by the experience!
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Love v. Fear

Monumental Cemetery, Milan: Children.Image by anadah via Flickr

There is no fear in love, ...perfect love expels fear ~Henri Nouwen

I have been a volunteer for The MISS Foundation for 11 years now.

When I meet someone and they ask what I do and I explain that I work as a volunteer with families after the death of a child, no matter their age or the cause of death, a question always arises: "How can you do that every day?"

Honestly, I do what I do, first and foremost, to honor the memory of those three babies of mine that died before their time.

Second of all, I do it because I am honored to be allowed to walk with these wonderful people through their grief journey and to meet their children through their loving eyes.

I am always in awe to see, to hear and to read so much love, even through the most horrible, inexplicable and raw pain they are in.

They have had to bury their precious children, they have faced the most horrible tragedy a human being should experience: the death of a child.

Still their love shines through.

Once in a while the question comes: "would you change a thing in your life if you already knew the outcome?"

"No!" That is the answer they'll give.

Would you rather not knowing your child if you knew he/she would die? No.

It is worth the pain of loosing a child to death, just to be able to feel that undying, maternal love. It is worth the pain of burying one's child, just to have seen the look in his/her eyes.

And all the rawness of that terrible grief is worth, just to have gotten into one's child's embrace and hearing "I love you mom"

Because love is stronger than death.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unlawful construction work.

We - meaning my family and me - live in one of the largest, most polluted cities in the world.

Our country is facing mid-term elections in less than a month. Many of the licenses have been in limbo because those in power does not want to favor anyone right now.

Last night, a neighbor of ours - a big, important publishing company - began working on their site at 11:00pm. And I don't mean just working: they were hammering metal structures and doing all kind of hard, noisy construction work.

My husband and I tried to sleep the best we could. Finally, at 2:00am we decided to call the police. Nothing happen!!!!!! We called back at 3:30pm and the officer on the phone said that they sent a car to check and that they couldn't hear a noise.

I felt like screaming my lungs out to make them stop, but I realized that I might wake the kids.

At 5:00am, silence fell finally.

It is approximately 6:30pm now. Trust me, I am exhausted.

I am astounded on how rude people are to each other. Even though they are a big publishing company, they know that there are many families nearby. We need to sleep, to have some peace inside our homes.

I am also beyond angry with the lack of police response. I am sure they got some money to let them work. Corruption at its lowest!

I think it is time to go to bed. I am not able to put 2 + 2 together. Maybe I'll be able to get 5 hours sleep before the unlawful construction work begins. Good night everyone!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Platitudes v. Compassion

I would rather feel compassion, that know the meaning of it
~St. Thomas of Aquinas

Käthe Kollwitz, Mothers

Have you heard the word platitude?

Platitude means "a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound"

I am sure, you'll have heard many, many of them in your life-time and I promise you've repeated them as well.

Do you think you haven't? Let me give you some examples of what I mean:

  • "You are young, you'll survive"
  • "You can have more children"
  • "At least you have other children"
  • "You should be grateful for your other children"
  • "He/she is in a better place"
  • "Better now than later"
  • "Everything happens for a reason"
  • "You must have done something terribly wrong"
  • "Be strong for your other children (husband, wife, father, mother, etc)"
  • "I know exactly how you feel, my dog died last week"
  • "God needed another angel"
  • "You are doing it great"

Do you get my point?

In my work as a volunteer within MISS, every once in a while, this subject arises with the force of a tsunami. I have heard hundreds of bereaved parents tell how these "innocent" comments hurt their broken hearts.

We've all have heard these"pieces of advice", but have we ever stopped to think what we are implying when we tell someone that is grieving these "words of comfort"?

Compassion, on the other hand, means "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering". It implies a total immersion on the human condition, the willingness of setting one's presence in the midst of others' deep sorrow and suffering.

When facing the bereaved, we might fear the silence, their pain, their anguish and the anguish their suffering provokes inside us. We might feel the tears building inside of us when they start crying and sobbing. Our worse fear is that the same thing that has happen to them, happens to us.

At this precise moment, our "educated" selves begin saying all those platitudes we've heard over the years.

We have been raised as "problem solvers" and when someone is suffering, we want to "fix" them, to take away their pain.

Compassion is not something we learn in school. We have to accept that being compassionate is harder than we think it is. We need to go inside ourselves and decide that we are willing to walk, hand in hand, with that person that is suffering. We need to accept that we won't be able to take away their pain, but we can make their grief journey less lonely.

The next time you meet someone who is suffering, please, for once, try to be quiet. Let yourself be present at the moment, allow yourself to feel compassion. It is OK to suffer with and for another person... I am sure you'll receive more from that experience than what you think you are able to give to the one in pain.

Monday, June 8, 2009



I am a published author!

This is the cover of the second Law book I have written. Its name Introducción al Estudio del Derecho Familiar.

Yes, it is about Mexican Family Law. And yes, it also contains some Cannon Law. This little textbook is born out of the notes I wrote to teach a Family Law class for my students. It was never intended for lawyer, because most, if not all my students, are not lawyers.

I want to take a moment to thank each and everyone of those beautiful people I have had the honor to have in a classroom. I am nearing my 19 year as a teacher, so you can imagine I have had many, many students. Each of you have taught me more than I could have.

I also want to thank Rosa Ma. Porrúa, my editor, for all the hard work she put into our little book.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I love to read my friends K's blog: Today I Vow.

Some posts ago, she suggested creating a personal, secret, silence ceremony of forgiveness for 5 minutes a day to free yourself from the burdens of anger.

Forgiving others is much, much easier than forgiving yourself. As a bereaved parent, I know a lot about guilt, emotion that is considered a "demon" in grief. I felt an overwhelming guilt after the death of my children, but long before that, I was already an expert on guilt.

Some weeks before my 25th birthday, I remember staying a weekend by myself at my parents' home. I needed to do some soul-searching and found out that the thing that bothered me a lot was feeling guilty over those misdeeds of my past and because I never asked for forgiveness to those I knew I hurt.

I gave myself to the task of getting the phone numbers of all of those I needed to ask for forgiveness: that little girl in kindergarten which I didn't let play with me, that boy I bullied in elementary school... well, you get the idea.

It took all I got back then to make each phone call. I was amazed by their graciousness and big hearts: all of them answered my call! I explained each one why I was calling, recalling the event in question and asking for their forgiveness because I knew better and I have hurt them.

I left the difficult calls for the end. It was almost November 19th, when I called an ex-boyfriend of mine. I remember him answering my call in a cold voice.

When I began explaining the reason of my call, he asked: "Why are you calling? Are you sick or something?"

I remember grinning to myself and reassuring him that I was OK, that I was not on drugs or drunk or anything, that I simply needed to talk to him and ask him to forgive me for all the bad moments, the fights, my lack of compassion towards those difficult times he was facing when we were together and the hurt I caused him during our relationship. He graciously said: "OK, I forgive you, but are you sure you are all right?"

I met him again on FB, some 15 plus years later, a few months ago. Apparently, he does not hold a grudge towards me. His forgiveness was the best gift he ever gave me, and for that I am grateful beyond words.

My point here is that even though it is very, very important to forgive those that have harmed us in any way, it is vital to learn to ask for forgiveness. We all know deep in our hearts whom we have hurt. Most of us hurt those we love without even thinking, but the damage is done.

I decided never to let 25 years of regrets burden my heart and soul. I try to apologize as soon as I know I hurt someone... sometimes it takes another person to let me know what I've done without meaning. Other times, my worse judge is me: I try to forgive me for my lack of compassion towards myself.

Asking for someone's forgiveness is as liberating as forgiving, why don't you give it a try?

Friday, June 5, 2009

My first post

I am blessed to have many gifted friends. Some sing beautifully, some are successful business women, others are excellent moms. All of them are compassionate, caring and loving ladies that I am honored to meet and call friends. But some of them have a blog. I have been inspired by what they write and the way they share their experiences, their thoughts and their emotions.

The idea of having my own blog has been running around my crazy mind during months now. Finally, today, I decided to start blogging.

Let me introduce myself: I am a bereaved mom. My three older children died before their time. I have been blessed with three children on earth. They fill my life with joy and wonderment and so much love it is impossible to describe.

I am also a wife. I have been married for more than a decade to a wonderful, compassionate, loving and decent man. He is the love of my life. Even though I am not an easy person to live with, he has filled my life with laughter and understanding and more love than I can say. He stands by me all the way. I know he does not share all my ideas, but still, he loves me dearly.

I am a devoted Catholic. I was baptized shortly after birth. My parents never were very religious. I became closer to God later, first by reasoning His existence and His relationship with us, as His creatures. After the death of my children, and after many sleepless nights of soul-searching, I finally let Him inside my heart. We are friends and I work hard towards a better relationship with Him.

I am a lawyer and a teacher. These are my hobbies: to study (from my legal point of view) and to share with others what I have learned. Be sure to know that I have learned more from my students than they have learned from me.

I like to read and to write. Life and Death have always intrigued me. If you would take a look at my bookshelves, I am sure you would be amazed of the many topics I like to read, but ever since I was a teen, death has played an important part on those books I call my favorites.

The passion of my life is to reach out to others in grief. The reason I got up in my darkest hours and my lifeline has been The MISS Foundation. Eleven years ago, I was given the opportunity to give back some of the support I received in my early grief. I feel so honored to have met some wonderful people, I am grateful that they have shared their precious children with me and their most deepest feelings and emotions after the death of their children.

What will I write about? I have no idea... Maybe a little bit of this, a little bit of that.