Monday, January 25, 2010

Reconnecting III

This is my third and last story in my "Reconnecting" series.
This is a picture of Maria.
Maria no longer looks like this. If I am correct, next month she should be turning 38.
This is a picture of her on the very first day I met her.
I had just started dating her uncle (my now ex-husband). I, myself, was 18.
(Oh, my God! Was I ever really 18??)
Maria was two years old. We took Maria and her two brothers to the park where, as you can see, she was enjoying an ice cream on a warm summer afternoon.
Maria and her brothers have a very special place in my heart. I saw them grow from when they were very young until they were becoming young adults. Maria's story includes very many accomplishments which I won't relate here since that is her story and I have not spoken to her in so many years. I will simply say that in her life she worked very very hard and became such an accomplished young woman.
I divorced her uncle sixteen years ago. The last time I had seen her was probably a couple of years before that. Even though I am glad I started a new life, one of the downfalls of divorce is that, as a result, there are so many people from my ex's family who I truly did love but that I no longer get to see.
Anyway, before Christmas time I had not been here at my blog in several months so I did not know if anyone had been visiting. When I finally did come back here, I saw that there were some new "Followers" who were reading my blog. I looked to see who they might be and to my disbelief one of the readers was Maria!
I thought maybe I might be mistaken but I found out it truly was her! Through my daughter, I found her on Facebook and am in the process of trying to connect with her on my side over here.
Although she and her entire family were always very important to me, there is one thing that especially stands out for me where Maria was concerned.
When Maria was little, I used to draw with her. Even though I did not think she knew, I guess somewhere along the way she knew that I loved to paint, and that, in my heart, I always wanted to be an artist.
When she was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old (approximately) she gave me a little piece of paper that she had cut out.
This is it:
I did not know how to enlarge this(although if you click on it you can see it), so I will tell you what it says;

"What would a woman artist miss if she gave up her art?
She gives up her dreams. She gives up struggle, harassment, disappointment...
She gives up the song of the angels...the miracle of being alive."
-Miriam Schapiro

I have kept this little piece of paper in my wallet for what must be around 26 years.
So many of those years were spent running away from my heart, my passion, my love, my art.
But, of course, I could never truly run away.
And every once in a while, when I would tell myself, "who am I kidding?" I would pull this little piece of paper out of my wallet and savor the beauty of these oh, so true words, that a little girl, my niece, once gave me so long ago.
She probably doesn't even remember giving it to me.
I know she would not know that I still have it after all these years.
But if she is truly reading this blog, I hope she will read this, and know how grateful I am to her for having thought of me to give me this. I hope she will know how these words have often saved my life.
I hope she might know this one "small" gesture changed my life.
I hope we might all remember that one "small" gesture on our part just might be the saving grace for someone else's life.
With gratitude, Maria,
Your aunt Always,
Carol B.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reconnecting II

Last week I wrote about meeting significant people from my past that suddenly seemed to reappear in my life. A few days after I met up with my Nino, who I previously wrote about, I ran into Linda.
I don't have a picture of Linda, but one of the things I always remember about her was how much she loved Greece, so that is why I posted a picture of Greece.
Many moons ago Linda was my hairdresser. But she was more than my hairdresser. She became a good friend.
I didn't hang out with her or see or any other place than the hair salon, but I call her a good friend because that is what she always was to me.
At the time I met her, I was married to my ex husband. Because my daughter often reads this blog I will be very nice and simply say that my ex was not a very nice person. I had a lot of problems dealing with that marriage and for years I was on a downward spiral into the depths of despair. I did not like myself or my life and I began to believe there was no hope for me.
I started going to Linda and we began what I call our "Oprah" talks, meaning, we would talk about who we were as women, our lives, self esteem, and how it was possible to make our lives better.
Little by little, I began to see a small light, far, far ahead. We talked about our hopes and dreams, and what we had to do and believe to get there.
It was as I sat in that chair, talking to Linda, that my life began to change. It was a long, slow process, so that I didn't really see it happening at the time, but, looking back, I see how far I've come.
In that time, I lost weight (though never enough!) got a divorce, went back to college, got my degrees, became self supporting, raised two children on my own, and became a much stronger, better person.
Wow. I didn't even realize that myself until I wrote that right now!
When I ran into Linda I was just as surprised and happy to see her as I was when I ran into my Nino. We talked for just a short while. One of the things she said was "Carol, you're so much different! You seem so confident and bold!"
She said how there were a few other times she had seen me somewhere and that I seemed to shy away and not say hi. When I think of it, I believe there were a few times I had seen her and did not want to come forward because I was thinking, "what if I say hi and she doesn't remember me? How embarrassing would that be?" I guess I was thinking, "who am I that she would remember me?"
I realize that when I saw her this time, I actually almost hesitated again, but this time as we both looked at each other, I decided to just go up and say "Linda! I'm Carol!" (just to make sure, in case she forgot). She said, "of course I know you, Carol!"
Anyway, I realized it was true. As much as I fight to think positively of myself, I have come a long way from the person who originally sat in that salon chair. I have become a stronger, more confident, as well as accomplished woman.
Back in the day, Linda would often tell me about a movie that came out at that time, back in the 80's. It was called "Shirley Valentine" and it was a movie about a dowdy woman who has given up on ever having a fulfilling life and is in despair. When a friend of hers asks her to join her on a holiday trip to Greece, Shirley drops everything, including her unappreciative husband, and goes. It is there that, for the first time, her life suddenly blossoms and she finds who she really is.
Linda constantly told me to rent that film because it would open up my eyes to the power we had to really change our lives. It was watching that movie that had Linda take that plunge to realize her dream of visiting Greece.
I never did see that movie, but I believe I'll look into finally seeing it.
Meanwhile, I'll think of Linda, who opened my eyes to realize the power we have to change when we believe.
Thank you, Linda, for being my own personal, real life example of Shirley Valentine.
Much love,
Carol B.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Always finding moments to paint.
Always playing with Color and Design.
Forever learning to Trust my Heart.
Carol B.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


It was the weirdest week and a half.
It started on Sunday, December 27, less than two weeks ago.
It was the beginning of a series of unexpected reconnections with people from my past that I had not seen in forever.
This is a picture of me (!!) when I graduated from high school just a few short years ago.
Ok. So it's been longer than I want to even think about.
The two people I am standing with are my Ninos. That's Spanish for Godparents. My Nino Mike on the left, and my Nina Carmen on the right, were a prominent part of my life.
My Nina Carmen died much too young from cancer in 1992. Shortly after that, my Nino left L.A. to live in Arizona. As a result, I have not seen him much since. The last time I had seen him was very briefly when my grandmother died about six years ago.
Less than two weeks ago on Sunday, December 27, my husband and I were driving around, just enjoying the day. We were passing through East L.A. when I decided I wanted some panitos (dinner rolls) from one of our favorite bakeries, El Gallo.
We entered the small bakery and got in line behind a few other people. I was scanning the shelves, checking out all the pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) when an older gentleman who was in the group in front of me came up to me and touched my shoulder. I thought he was going to tell me to go on ahead because his group had already ordered, when he looked down intently at me, giving me a slight hug.
I was wondering what this man was doing when I looked up and took a really good look at his face and realized it was my Nino!
I gasped and cried out in surprise, giving him a big hug. It was so unexpected, it had me reeling. I then realized he was with his daughter Nancy, who I had not seen in ages, along with her husband. We all had a great time reconnecting for a short time while we made our transactions. My Nino said he was visiting for a short while and then would be going back to Arizona.
As we said our good-byes he took one more look at me and with a wink said "You're my Christmas present."
And then he was gone.
For the rest of the day, I was floating on clouds remembering the wonderful times I had spent with my Nino.
But I have to tell you, as I later told my husband, the number one thing I always remember about him was how special he always made me feel.
Growing up I was fat and ugly and, as a result, the shyest, most withdrawn person in the world. I was also very critical of myself and could never accept any compliments anyone else might try to give me. And yet, every time I was with my Nino he would smile that charming smile that lit up his eyes and he would tell me how beautiful I was. And, just for the moment, I would believe him. I don't know why, but for some reason, he could make you feel so special that you could believe something you might otherwise never believe.
For an unconfident young girl, it was the most special gift, one that I will always remember.
And that is what is even more unusual about the people I have recently reconnected with. Each person has left a very special mark in my life. I am wondering what this all means. I know it has to do with appreciation and being more grateful. I will enjoy exploring this while I share these moments with you.
Wishing more hugs to my Nino,
and to all of you, Special Moments,
Carol B.

Monday, January 4, 2010