Monday, February 22, 2010

Meditation on Opportunity

Any opportunity that comes to your life is your own creation; it does not come of itself, nor by chance "good luck."

Opportunity is either created now, or has been created at some time in the near or distant past, by your own rightly guided will.

If you see no opportunity now, create one by your will, which is a divine instrument within you. Say, "I will do everything for myself with my own will, which is a reflection in me of Divine Will."

Act on this truth, and opportunity will come to you.

~ Paramahansa Yogananda

♥☺ Carmen

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When it rains...

I don't know exactly how or when it happened. I know I asked for it, and boy did I get it. I have been incredibly restless for the past couple of years. I was haunted by feelings of something being missing and anxiety about all the things I should be doing. Do you ever get that way?

I wanted to go on a road trip. I thought a good drive to destination nowhere-in-particular would free my mind - and the rest would follow. That didn't happen.

I wanted a creative nook somewhere in my 768 square foot condo. So I bought many different plants from cacti, to climbing flower vines, to herbs and other flowering plants; "borrowed" four black crates from my local supermarket and made a tiny balcony garden where I could read and write. That was working for a minute.

Then one day, as I was driving back home after dropping Sheilah off at school, I noticed many single family homes for rent. Lots of "For Rent" signs + a very good neighborhood + a slow economy = renters' market, baby! So, I decided to drive around my neighborhood, jot down some numbers, and see what happens.

What happened? Well, two weeks later we moved into a 2 bedroom/2 bath Craftsman bungalow complete with fireplace, porch swing, a huge wrap-around yard, hardwood floors throughout and lots of windows to let the wonderful light in.

I don't know if it's the house, all my whining to God, my newly-acquired independence as a business consultant, or what it could be, but lately the creativity is just flowing in and out of me. After years of struggling with writer's block (or just lack of momentum) - I just started writing. Just like that I'm coming up with topics to write about and entering writing contests. Also, after many months of frustration trying to make it work with Illustrator (I was on the verge of a trial separation from it), it clicked; hence my lovely header. All these ideas are just dancing around me and now I have to jot them all down so I can figure out how I'm going to work on all of them.

This is a good problem.

So this is the list of creative projects I will be taking on this year:
1. Learn how to really use my camera (for blog, creative projects, etc.).
2. Make a collection of my faces (you'll understand soon enough).
3. Develop my blogs (professional, creative, and Sheilah's).
4. Tony introduced us to leather crafting. So far, Sheilah has made a journal cover and we had a blast making mocassins last weekend. Why not?
5. Enter at least six writing contests this year (two down).
6. Read every day.
7. Develop my newfound love - Crayon and paper art.
8. Sheilah's guitar lessons.
9. Discover at least one new old song/artist every month. There is so much great music out there that I haven't heard. To be honest, one of the main reasons I even listen to the new stuff is to keep up with what Sheilah is listening to (or should not be listening to). But some of the new stuff is good too.
10. Establish a sustainable garden.

This is my hefty list of creative activities this year. I'm already doing many of the things on my list. I can tell that my anxiety levels have gone down knowing that I'm doing something.

Do you get restless like me? What are your creative outlets?

Background in my header from

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meditation on Earnesty

When God does not respond to your prayers, it is because you are not in earnest.

If you offer Him dry imitation prayers, you cannot expect to claim the Heavenly Father's attention.

The only way to reach God through prayer is by persistence, regularity, and depth of earnestness.

Cleanse your mind of all negation, such as fear, worry, anger; then fill it with thoughts of love, service, and joyous expectation. In the sanctum of your heart there must be enshrined one power, one joy, one peace -- God.

~ Paramahansa Yogananda

♥☺ Carmen

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inhale. Exhale.

It's happening. Lack of regular exercise is catching up to me. I know this because by the end of workday my back is aching, my joints make funny noises, and when I wake up the next day I feel like I was hit by a MAC truck.

As a freelance consultant I work from home often and I exercise at least four days a week, but when I have on-site projects, I don’t incorporate exercise into my daily routines successfully.

So, last night as I was doing Yoga I was relishing in how good it feels to move and lubricate my joints, to alleviate my back, to stretch my chest muscles and loosen my hips. I need to be nicer to my body and do something about this.

I decided that I'm going to have to do some yoga in the office. I have a steady on-site gig where I have a private office space. Actually it's very bright and beautiful with a minimalist but cozy Scandinavian design. I have plenty of floor space so why not? I thought about buying some flash cards, but these days I’m on a thrifty kick and wanted to come up with a thriftier way to do this. It occurred to me to draw stick figures of the poses on paper and cut them into the size of flashcards!

Then I remembered that I had a stack of 1.75 x 2 inch index cards left over from one of Shei’s science projects. So once I finished my session, I started the DVD again, got a pencil and drew the stick figure poses. Within thirty minutes I had two yoga sequences drawn up. Here's a picture of one sequence. It was actually fun drawing these.

I'm glad to report that today I took a break every three hours to untangle myself. I unglued myself from my computer, closed my office door,laid my cards out on the floor in front of me, and went to Yoga town.

Inhale. Exhale.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Dearest Lil' One,

During your first year, every so often I would tell your daddy “Tomorrow I will miss this Sheilah, here today”. Since your daddy is used to me saying weird things like that out of the blue, he would humor me and ask me what I mean. Usually I would be so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t explain it. One evening as I was rocking you to sleep, I tried to put into words this wave of nostalgia over someone who was right in my arms and who would be in my arms tomorrow. I’ll have to ask your father if he gets it now.

You were changing before my eyes every single day. To me, you literally did something different or looked slightly different each day. I was overwhelmed knowing that soon enough I would not be able to carry you; that as your personality evolved you would undoubtedly become independent and our mother daughter relationship would change; that your new baby smell would fade away; that one day you would stop making your signature crazy piggy face; you’d stop singing your hit single “Ba, Be Be”. I still cannot convey that feeling of nostalgia for you, but I missed you as each day passed.

Now, here you are eight years later. A walking one-person Broadway production with your own friends, strong opinions, a beautiful imagination, a high-definition voice, eyes capable of making my heart skip, and in sole possession of an energy that shines so magnificently. I have learned a lot about you and from you in the past eight years.

For instance, we have concluded that your personality was very strong and well defined the second you arrived. As soon as we met you, you were Sheilah. When you aren’t talking you are singing. When you’re not singing or talking, you are humming. And if you are not doing either of those three, then you must be sleeping. And it’s been that way since day one. Therefore, when Sheilah has left the building - the building seems so morbidly quiet.

Up until you learned to take your first step you wanted to be carried (only by a few choice people). No bouncer, crib or swing for you. Some thought we were spoiling you, but I understood you better. Sure enough, as soon as you learned to take your first steps you would have nothing to do with being carried. All you wanted was to be in the action. And you still do.

Also, until you learned how to communicate with words you cried often. You nearly drove your father crazy because for some unknown reason he didn’t know what you wanted. As soon as you learned to communicate what you wanted to express, you stopped crying and you had your father in the palm of your sweet little hands.

You are under the impression that you should already know everything. Hence why you freak out if you think you didn’t make honor roll in school. Why you get so frustrated if you haven’t mastered something new by at least the third try. And why you are always ready to contradict us and question us on any given topic. As exhausting as it is for us, you must always know why and you don’t relent until we tell you. At times we have to put our foot down and say it is because we said so, but in the end we prefer your strong will and inquisitive mind. We just coach each other to take deep calming breaths when you test our nerves.

Although you don’t make the crazy piggy face anymore, you have discovered many new silly faces. Goodness, how funny you are. Your imitations and fake accents are fantastic. One of your one thousand and one projects is to perfect Michael Jackson's Moonwalk. You are brilliant.

But the best thing I have learned about you and from you is that you are so comfortable being Sheilah. You are so you - it’s inspiring.

I hope that never changes.

My dearest Sheilah, it turns out that although I do miss my little itty baby, I am thrilled to see you growing up and who you are becoming. Never change, my love (except for the talking back part and the not listening and stuff like that).

You endlessly delight.

And sometimes there is still a hint of that new baby smell when I hold you and kiss the top of your head.

Happy Birthday, Sheilah!

Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Morning Song

Good Morning Sheilah,
The sun is shining,
The birds are singing,
Cheering for you.

Today is a new day,
Of new beginnings,
Always remember,
Mommy loves you.

No Pests Allowed

Fruits and veggies are yummy, but the pesticides that come with them are not. I cannot always afford the pricier produce in the organic section or at organic food markets.

So where do I go from here?

Knowing that we are ingesting nasty chemicals doesn't make me happy. Not eating fruits and vegetables wouldn't make anyone happy. Lo and behold, I came across this little recipe - a natural homemade diluted form of hydrochloric acid to help remove surface sprays and eliminate fungus and bacteria that may be on our produce. Good stuff!

1. Fill your kitchen sink halfway with cold water.
2. Add four tablespoons of sea salt or natural organic salt.
3. Squeeze a whole lemon into the salt water solution.
4. Stir it around to make sure all the salt has dissolved and that the ingredients have blended well.
5. Unload all fruits and greens and allow to soak for no more than 5 minutes.
6. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Enjoy! That's my step.

Source: Linda Kordich, wife of JuiceDaddy (formerly Juiceman)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Career Transition Story

If You Will It, It Will Come, by Carmen Cardoza

Are You Up? Getting More Out of 24 Hours

As a freelance business consultant managing a single-parent household, I've got plenty on my plate. Having a little more "control" of my time, I have also been appeasing my needs to read, write, create and meditate. Let's not forget that I also need to take care of my mind and body which includes yoga, power walking, eating wholesome home cooked meals, and hugging and kissing my daughter every chance I get.

There are only 24 hours in the day and despite my being independent, I am still dependent on working i.e., making money. Quite often I'm working 14-16 hour days. So, I've been contemplating a strategy to get the most out of my days without my days getting the most out of me. One of the tactics I am going to implement in my quest for "more time" is rising earlier every day. Currently, rising earlier means getting up at 6am instead of 7am. May not seem like a huge leap, but I'm a work in progress. I need at least 8 hours of sleep - yes, I really do. So, I will be going to bed at 10PM (unless I'm going to a really great party, listening to live music at the Amore Cafe in Thornton Park, or having a slumber party with Shei & friends). That seems reasonable, right? My goal is to, eventually, be a 5:30am riser - maybe.

In my research I came across this great blog and found a very helpful post which lists the benefits of rising earlier. So with the help of Leo Batauta here are some great benefits to waking up earlier every day.

I want to wake up and have a peaceful moment with myself and God to pray and meditate. I usually give thanks to God before I sleep, but I'd also like to talk with God when I awake. It's a great day to start making the most of my new day.

Right now I only give myself enough time to shower, get dressed, prepare Sheilah's breakfast and lunch, get Sheilah up, dressed, and fed; drop her off at school and get to work (whether that's at home or at an on-site project). I get everything done just in time, but did you notice my morning ritual does not include me eating breakfast, taking in the day for a bit, or any exercise? I'd like start my morning with less anxiety and more nurturing activities.

I look back at the times I have risen with the sun (after a good night's sleep, of course) and they have been really great days. Rising with the sun feels natural. Spongebob Squarepants on TV, RadioDisney on the radio, asking Sheilah to put on her socks and shoes at least five times, running back and forth from the house to the car because one of us inevitably forgets something, remembering to call her dad back each morning so he can wish Shei a great day (really sweet, by the way) - enough said.

There is something magical about rising with the sun. It just feels right. I would love to do at least 15 minutes of Yoga in the morning in front of my windows as the sun is rising. I'd love to drink some tea on my porch swing before the grind. I'd like to eat some breakfast. Is that really too much to ask?

I don't know why I am not a breakfast person, but I must say, when I was pregnant, I had to eat breakfast. Otherwise, I could not withstand having to stand on the train as I would get light-headed. So, I made it a point to eat breakfast every single day. What a difference in my energy levels, my skin and hair, my moods :)  I've got to get back on that breakfast wagon. Even if it's a simple cup of yogurt and some tea.

Personally, I prefer to do my power walking or 40 minute Yoga sessions in the evening, as the sun is setting (another great part of the day). Nonetheless, as mentioned above I would like to start my day with some movement to get the blood flowing and the neurons charged up.

I would love to set a work schedule for myself between the hours of 6am and 3pm. This allows me a 9 hour work day, then I can focus on lil' one after school, taking better care of myself, and having a little fun. I think if I transition out of the mindset of working all hours of the day and discipline myself to FOCUS during a specific period of the day, I may just get the same amount of work done - if not more.

This is a great time to inventory the six things that I am going to accomplish each day (one of my other sanity tactics) as I am sharpening my time management skills. This way I can make my list without distractions and can get started on it as soon as I go into work mode.

Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.

You might be used to staying up late, but you will need to sleep earlier in order to get sufficient sleep and be able to wake up earlier. I read myself to sleep at night and you'd be surprised how soon you will fall asleep once you're under the covers.

If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit the snooze button. If it’s far enough from your bed, you have to get out of bed to shut it off. Now you’re up. You might as well stay up.

I go straight to the windows to admire the lake. Fill up your tea kettle. Start your sunrise yoga sequence. Don't talk yourself back into bed. Having something delicious for breakfast. Meditating.

Get a jump start on your day and make it matter.

By the time I have to wake up lil' one,  I'm in a much better mood and can better deal with getting her ready for school.

Should you decide to wake with me at 6am, let me know how you're making it work for you.