How To Build A Better Girl or How to LOVE Who You Are Right NOW!

strong-woman

A thought has been going around and around in my head ( you know those thoughts , that just won’t quit)?

My friends have a running joke about me that I have serious underwear issues, like I never have enough on hand! But I just got 20 new pairs and I texted my girlfriends and showed them my multipacks of JOY.

A conversation ensued about who wears which kind and how some of them NEVER and I mean NEVER let anyone (hopefully their husbands) see them naked or in their underwear EVER!

That just strikes me as so SAD! When did we all become so self conscious that we can’t even walk around the house (with the blinds closed, I’m not advocating being a WEIRDO)  in our underwear?

I understand that I may not look like a super model, but my husband thinks I’m all that and a bag of chips. Maybe because he’s older then me by 12 years, but he still chases me around.

So when my friends who are fabulous, beautiful, intelligent and hilarious, tell me that they don’t think they look beautiful it breaks my heart.

Tonight at my daughters  soccer practice. I kept hearing all the girls say “Oh I should have done better” or “I suck, I’m terrible at running” all this NEGATIVE self talk!

I do NOT want to be that mom that tells my girls “Oh sweetie you’re the very best at every single thing you do, there is NO room for improvement ever”!

I want my girls to know that part of becoming a better, person, student, athlete, artist or anything takes LOADS of work and perseverance. I want them to be confident young women who go out and make a difference in the world big or small I don’t care.

If they decide to have full time careers or be stay at home mommies, I just want them to know they are amazing and expect to make mistakes so they can be a better professionals, mamas or athletes.

I have a friend named Michelle and she has given her children self affirmations that they say together everyday.

Things like “I am important, I am brave, I am strong, I am intelligent”etc. You get the idea, this sets their internal voice to a positive message when she isn’t there to cheer them on.

But I see a huge difference between young boys and girls, sure they are all insecure and that’s normal. But boys aren’t talking to themselves in this negative way or men, they would walk around in their underwear ALL day if it was possible ( scratching their bellies and other unmentionables).

I have a few theories on this entire issue.

Number 1 with a bullet pornography. Men see these women as an ideal and women think I need to look like these women!These poor women who have been so surgically altered that they look like a Barbie come to life. Not mention all the psychological issues this industry is inflicting on their psyche let alone their health.

barbies

Magazines, tv, movie stars, social media mavens filmed or photoshopped after hours of hair and make up professionals have waved their magic wands.

Reality tv shows that tell us Plastic Surgery is the MAGICAL CURE ALL to every single problem you could ever have. Nope you’re still you under that tummy tuck and after that liposuction.

I’m not against plastic surgery, but you’ve seen these women, skin pulled SO tight that they no longer look like a real person. I read an article about a 39 year old mother in England who has already had her first FACE LIFT. She admits to multiple surgeries, ranging from breast implants, to rhinoplasty.

But 39 and having a facelift is just INSANE!

What real women or teenage girl can compare themselves to these UNATTAINABLE standards? These are impossible and harmful ideals.

Real women have flaws and we need to LOVE ourselves despite these flaws.

When I look back at how I looked in high school, I wish I knew then that was my absolute peak of physical fitness, or my 20’s & 30’s! Now as I stare down 50 I realize I may not be thin, but I am alive and God is using me to help others.

I had a miscarriage in my early 40’s that sent me into such a DEEP and PROFOUND depression, I never thought I would come back from it. I lost all interest in how I looked.

But when my kids were in preschool I always thought I want to look my best so my kids aren’t embarrassed or treated differently. GAG

Why did I ever think that was important?

Cut to me 4 years later, my priorities have certainly shifted and I still have tough days. BUT, but I have days when I pull it together and feel pretty, which in turn boosts my confidence and this affects how people interact with me. Or at least I think it plays a slight role.

I tell my friends “You’re fabulous RIGHT NOW!” Just think when you’re 80 and you look back at this age and say “Damn I was FABULOUS at 44, why didn’t I realize that then?”

If you can look at your life this way and say wow I got more interesting with age, or that scar there, I earned that scar in a hard fought battle (having kids, having some type of surgery like a friend of mine who had open heart surgery in her late 20’s).

Like those women who fight breast cancer and win! I love to see those photos of some lovely tattoo where their breast used to be. These women are WARRIORS and they can decorate their battle scared body any way they chose. They fought cancer and WON!

Women are warriors on and off the battle field, sometimes these battles are only in our minds with our selves.

So today tell that voice in your head that says:

“Wait till I reach this goal, lose that last 10 lbs., fit in these skinny jeans, get that promotion, etc”, blah blah, blah.

Tell that voice SHUT UP!

I AM fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God, right here and right now!

Then remember you are special, unique and a treasure to your friends and family that love you.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

 

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What Happens When You’re Someone Else? Dabbling with DNA

SilouetteFor Christmas this year I asked my family for a DNA kit. Let me just state that my mother-in-law could NOT fathom why I would want to know my DNA background. According to her what’s the  point.

Pilar kindergarten 3

Me,1974?

Well, I guess if I had been adopted this would perhaps be a burning question at some point in my life.

Or if like me you were raised with no contact with your dad’s side of the family. So I was left with my mom’s vague recollections and family folklore. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we moved A LOT!

Add to this the fact that my grandma (The Head of Chaos (GET SMART) as I call her) is the matriarch of the family and is rather sketchy even when she had a good memory. Sketchy in a kind “Witness Relocation” kind of way!

We are a family that doesn’t seem to keep roots down for long. So for me who we are and where we’re from has been a nagging question most of my adult life.

It became more of a question when I had children and they started  writing ancestry type reports in school.

My husbands family has an Uncle George the family genealogist, they have photo’s going back nearly 120 years. Like my friend Barb that can name all the family members in her old family pictures, going back several generations. #Treasure

We have some photos of my grandma as a child, grandpa with my mom, aunts, a few of my own baby photos. I say a few since after the divorce my mother cut my dad out of most of the pictures, which makes it difficult to grasp at memories if he ever held me and loved me?

I have one single photo of my dads family with all my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Anaya Family

The Anaya Family

My mother can’t seem to remember if my dad is the littlest boy in front or the baby on my grandma’s knee? Or which are my Aunts Marina and Aurora?

But I see a striking resemblance in my youngest daughter to my Aunts, who look like Spanish film stars. The ears are another family trait I inherited, like my brother, who also got the red head gene from my Grandpa Anaya and the Cason side of our family. Or the weird mole on the back of my neck like my brother and my dad, which means I can’t continue to claim my brother was a troll we found under a bridge!

Growing up I was a clone of my father, even mannerisms and personalty according to my mom. She used to say he never met a stranger, which is what my husband says about me.

But when you have unresolved issues with an absent parent and they die before you can grill them about their motives, it leaves a huge empty spot in your life. Not to mention the whole medical history side of family history.

This is not to say I don’t picture this side of the family when I pray during mass for the faithfully departed, but I can’t pray for them by name like I should be able too.

 When you don’t know who or where you come from, pictures and DNA help you like an ancient map.

Silouette

So I finally received the results of my DNA from Ancestory.com and I find out (drum roll) I’m 87% European.

Hun? I thought that would have been spilt a little differently, not what I was expecting at all, maybe 56% but 87%?

Let me be clear that 24% of the “Anaya” DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal, which I had heard we were Spanish, but most Mexicans claim this and it’s probably not correct. I also expected Ireland( more red hair genes), England, Scotland, France (hello France boarders Spain, who knew!)

But what made me laugh, is the 8% Native American!

Have you ever watched those ancestry shows on PBS? You know where the people are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that they have a Native American great grandma, and the results are always NO. Zero, Zilch, Do not Pass Go or Collect $200.

But nearly every person of Jewish decent is related to Barbara Walters! (Now that’s just odd). I was holding out hope that I may be a little Jewish, which would have been so awesome to be one of God’s chosen people! No Luck.

People have asked me what if the test is wrong? My answer is this , they have suggested my brother as a nearly 99.9% match (with different last names) and the region of Mexico that they predict I share DNA (Colima & Western Michocián) are within a 100 mile radius (give or take) where I was born and my fathers family lived and probably still do.

So I’m fairly certain that even with my families sketchy lack of history that the test is reasonably accurate.

Which leads me to this question, if I’m not half Mexican like I always assumed then what am I?

I have a joke I tell  “Between myself (1/2) and my 2 (1/4 & 1/4) daughters we make one whole Mexican!” People either laugh or they look really confused. #ItsAJoke

Rats! This means I need a whole new schtick! I can’t call myself the Mexican Vampire that can’t go in the sun. Or claim that alarms sound in every house in Oakwood when I enter the city limits (another joke).

I feel like I may have opened up a Pandora’s box full of questions. But by nature of my birth and birth certificate I am a Mexican, if you count the country of my origin? Why is this so weird now?

Ultimately, I would say I identify as a Catholic foremost, a Mom, a wife and an American, in that order.

Looking at my DNA now I can see a heavy Catholic influence, which my mother discovered when she paid a genealogist to research our family history. My mother said we had been Catholic going back 500 years, then came to America and rebelled against the Church becoming Protestants. #Rebels

I have yet to see this report, my mom is not good with the follow through.

So what about you friends, have you dipped your toe in the DNA testing pool? Let me tell you from my experience, you may be SURPRISED with the outcome.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

Formerly known as “The Mexican Vampire”

Cocktails With The Saints

Yesterday I was listening to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on the Catholic Channel on Channel 129.

http://jenniferfulwiler.com/jennifer-fulwiler-show-sirius-xm/

There hasn’t been a day when I have caught Jen’s show that I didn’t feel smarter, more informed or just encouraged. She typically has the most interesting and fascinating guests on her radio show that she broadcasts from her home that she shares with her husband and their 6 children.

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I have a handful of friends that I know that when I spend time with them I feel smarter. All my friends are smart, but some are in fields that are beyond my realm of knowledge.

Like my friend Amy she is a prosector for the City of Dayton, if I had to face her in court as a criminal I would be scared. But since she’s my friend, I feel smarter every time I hang out with her. Phew

Or my friend Terri the science brain, do you see where I’m going with this. I just have amazing friends who are gifted in other areas outside of my realm of ability. But they never make me feel less, in fact they generally make me feel smarter by osmosis!

Is that even a thing? I think so, so it is!

So back to the show, Jennifer had this guest on named Brice Sokolowski who was on promoting his new book “Alms”.

Brice runs a company that helps Catholic organizations fundraise. 99% of his advice is free, because he feels it is his calling. Cool, hun?

http://catholicfundraiser.net

One of the last questions Jennifer asked Brice was “If you went to heaven and met the Saints and they asked your name, what century you were from and what heresy you fought? What would you say?”

So Brice who is from the great state of Texas, and now resides in the south of France with his family , said

“If I got into heaven God willing. I picture it like a cocktail soirée with fabulous cheese and wine. But I would have to say (since they were short on time, they skipped the century and name part) the heresy I fought was relativism and defense of the family”

WOW!

That is such an amazing question, what would your answer be? That just had my mind racing.

In my earlier life I was an agnostic. I did NOT believe in Jesus, but I did believe that there was a God or Higher Power. Which also led me to believe I was Prochoice. I thought abortion should be a last resort, but a “choice” none the less.

Cut to me 15 years later, before I was pregnant I really started to question, at what point was abortion just morally wrong? Was it after the 1st trimester? Certainly after the 2nd that was just reprehensible to me and late term abortion was just not even an option open for any type of discussion.

Once I started thinking this way, I just kept going further and further back in the development of a human baby. Until ultimately I concluded that life is life when there is a heartbeat, DUH!

Oh man I was on a slippery slope then. Cut to me pregnant and attending mass. Just listening and not understanding anything about the Faith, but listening and trying to keep up with all the kneeling, standing, and responses that everyone seemed to know by heart.

Somewhere along the way God lite a tiny ember in my heart that would become a raging BONFIRE for Jesus and all things relating to the Catholic faith. #crazy

Soon I had 2 kids that were in school and I discovered I was pregnant after 40 and I was beyond overjoyed! I suffered a miscarriage at 13 weeks and delivered our daughter Mia.

She was perfectly formed with fingers and toes and a tiny dimple in her chin like her sister. 13 weeks this was a shock to me I had no idea, this is how babies developed so quickly.

Our family was grief stricken and devastated. It changed me forever and I never thought I would be happy again, but from her brief life our little Saint changed our lives.

Prior to losing our baby we had been Prolife, for the most part. But seeing her little body, changed all that. It proved beyond any shadow that this was a human being NOT some “clump of cells” as some would try to make you believe.

ultrasound-baby

I share my story often and each time it’s easier, because miscarriage is not something people want to discuss. It’s a sad personal tragedy, but if I share my story I may help another family in their grief.

Over the weekend I ran into a couple that spoke at our parish about the loss of what would have been their 6th child Isabella, 2 weeks before her due date. The cord wrapped around her neck and she died in utero.

This family shared that they saw this baby’s life touch so many people even though she never lived outside her mom’s body. Their truthful and heart wrenching story helped me heal. The saw so many graces come from this brief little life and God’s plan continues to unfold for them.

So if I make into heaven by Gods grace and a Saint were to ask me what heresy I fought against. I will be able to answer with a resounding certainty I fought for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

I may not have gone with the flow of what society claims to be a “choice” or what feminist rally against government for “controlling” their bodies.

But as a woman and a mother I will stand up and share my story and the truth as I know it. I will be the voice for the voiceless in what should be the safest place on earth, the womb.

I pray I share my story with love and compassion, so that it might change even one heart.

Every time I attend mass I pray fervently for an end to abortion.

So what would you say when asked by the Saints at the great cocktail party in the sky? What heresy did you fight?

God Bless you,

Your friend

Pilar The Papist Squirrel.

When I Want To Skip Mass…

 

So this morning was one of those Sundays when I just wanted to stay in bed and let the cats keep me warm. Do you have Sundays like that? When you think man I should have gone to Saturday night vigil.

cat on ladys back

BUT and there is a big but here. When I do go to mass God ALWAYS rewards me with plentiful graces.

I mean really why would I ever skip mass when Christ is waiting for me every single day in the Holy Eucharist?

 

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Today I walked in alone (our friends brought my kids after a sleep over, my husband stayed home sick) but it struck me that all of these other people (young families, elderly parishioners and other stragglers) are my family!

Some of them I know through our school and others are “strangers” but they are all part of my “Family” (think mob/extended relatives style).They are my brothers and sisters in Christ, not cousins but brothers and sisters!

I come from a very small family and we are a bickering lot. I say small because it’s just my mothers side of our family:

  • 1 Grandma
  • 2 Aunts
  • 4 cousins
  • 1 brother
  •  Mom
  • Dad (deceased not sure when) we have no contact with my dads side of the family (sadly)

Of this little tribe half us do not speak to the other half . Stupid right, but it’s the truth. Everyones family has its own funky weirdness, you’re not alone.

My favorite line form “Designing Women” Julia Sugarbaker says:

“In the South people don’t ask if you have crazy in the family. They just ask which side it’s on”. (Dripping sarcasm with a drawl).

So when you think your family is crazy, remember we all have craziness, NO ONE is immune.

Back to the story at hand, because of my fractured family situation, I rely on these friends and fellow Catholics to be my family.

I ask them to pray for me on a regular basis, it’s hard the first few times, then it gets easier. Trust me on this, we all want to pray for someone else’s intentions or needs.

We bounce ideas on child rearing off each other, we call for advice on tough topics that come up with parenting in a secular world. We observe the things we admire in these families and mimic them. We love each others children fiercely like our own.

This particular Sunday God put me slap dab in the front pew. Why I asked my friend the front (where she had was seated with our kids) she said I’m gluten intolerant and want to get to the wine before everyone else!

(Insert diabolical laughter here)

Well, the choir started, a song in four parts and before I knew it, I was crying form the beauty! What in the WORLD?

Right in front of the entire church in the front row (RATS!)my kids are looking at me like I’m crazy but I can’t stop.

Later the homily made me laugh and cry again (a HomeRun in my book).

Afterward I visited with friends I hadn’t seen in weeks, complimented our new music director and left filled up to the brim with God’s love.

All of this from a day when I wanted to sleep in and skip mass.

God is laughing, he does that a lot about me.

cat-sleeping-on-boys-face

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Girls and Bullies Never Grow Up

                  Women Are Scary

Women Are Scary By Melanie Dale A great read!

Do you remember High School?

You know that dreaded time of our lives where some of us reached our peak and few escaped unscathed.

I attended 3 different High Schools. No, my family was not military, my mom was divorced and a Los Angels Police Officer.

We moved every few years to find better school and neighborhoods further away from the city of L.A.

So this meant I raised my younger brother and myself. I was the mom and my mom was the dad/breadwinner. When I say raised I mean I wrote the checks, bought the groceries and negotiated with the utility companies when they wanted to shut something off.

This last skill started for me in Middle School while staying with my Aunt and Grandma in Texas as my mom completed the Police Academy. They would beg me to call these company’s and negotiate. Everyone has a certain skill set, right?

I didn’t have time to get caught up in the typical drama that is a NORMAL part of growing up. I had grown up problems to deal with.

I was blessed to belong to a wide group of friends my last 2 years of high school. Kids who just didn’t fit into the Jocks, Pot Heads, Cheerleaders, and Geeks.

You saw Breakfast Club? I lived it in the 80’s!

So now as an adult imagine my horror and surprise as I see and hear from many friends that these Mean Girls and Bullies never really grew up after HS. They continue to play out these little games of snarkiness on an adult level.

Seriously who has time for this type of silliness?

I’m not perfect lets just get that out there. I am cranky troll when I’m hungry, sick or tired, ask my husband he will attest.

But I try to be kind to people and treat them with respect. If you don’t have anything nice to say just don’t say anything.

It costs you ZERO to be kind to someone. It costs even less to hold in that gossip and pray for that person you just heard something about. Even if you don’t like them, you have no idea what their story is.

In kindergarten my daughter had a classmate who acted out and had issues. She would tell me everyday about this child. When first grade came around, I dreaded hearing these stories. But our teacher took that child under her wing and loved her, even in her tantrums and disruption.

Cut to me later that year finding out that this child was adopted from a terrible home life and given a new lease on life as an older (not toddler or infant) child by this amazing couple.

How small did I feel? I felt lower then an ant’s belly. I knew then that God was thumping me on the head and saying “Pilar you need to be praying for this family!”

Well, here we are 6 years later and that child is a  wonderful little girl full of love and intelligence. Her parents and teachers have helped her realize her God given worth along the way.

So when you feel some nasty thing ready to leave your mouth or a cruel comment ready to cut someone down, STOP! Think about what your words will do, push it down and say a prayer for that person instead.

Think too about what your behavior says to your kids.

God has blessed me with a large circle of wonderful friends who lift each other up in prayer and recognition.  Be that cheerleader for someone else today, it will make you feel good. I promise!

Gossip

Gifts Our Children Give Us

If you’re a parent or a cherished Aunt or Uncle you have been given a wee treasure made by a child’s little hands. As parents sometimes it’s hard to know exactly which of these master pieces to hold onto.

My friend Michelle P. says unless it has her daughters body on it (hand/foot/fingerprints) it’s not a cherished keeper.This is how she maintains an uncluttered home.

Our art teacher said most parents hide them under a bed in a plastic tub (guilty party of one).

As my kids get older their work has become more developed. Still the items from those early years are things I would drag out in a fire, to rescue.

They have no value to anyone but me and my husband. But to me they are treasures beyond GOLD!

Treasure

Easter morning on vacation, the kids and I were eating breakfast. The subject of Eucharistic miracles came up. I told them how lucky I thought they were to be raised in the Faith unlike me who came home late in life.

We talked about the meaning of Easter and the true miracle of the Resurrection.

My oldest  told me that her student teacher had shared with the class a story of the Eucharist, about a Church somewhere in Europe that contains a bleeding wafer documented by the Church.

My youngest said her friend told her about a Communion wafer falling on the floor in a church, on the next day the image of Jesus appeared in that same spot.

All I could say was those are miracles surrounding the Body of Christ.

Like the death bed conversion attended by our priest, who administered the Sacraments to a woman in hospice who was not supposed live the week. She got up (after being completely bedridden) and attended daily mass for the next 6 months until her death.

The kids have heard this story but they also know this priest first hand and love him. So  we know this miracle to have happened right here in our city.

I told them the only explanation is Jesus, right? What else could it be.

My younger daughter started one of her (lengthily stories, she comes by it honestly).

She said:

“Mommy, your heart was like a wrinkled piece of paper with a rip in the middle. When you met Daddy one side got smoothed over. When you had us the other side got smoothed over. But when you found Jesus, he scotch taped the rip in the middle”

(Kleenex break)

Where does this kid come from? Where do these profound and concise thoughts bubble up from?

We got dressed and walked to the tiny little Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Folly Beach, SC.

Where we were treated to the most amazing homily, from a young and enthusiastic priest (think a young Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, that kind of enthralling charisma and story telling). I don’t know about you, but when I see young priests, it fills me with HOPE for the future.

Later that day I called my other friend Michelle H. who filled me in on their Easter vacation and Sunday mass homily (that we both think may have been recycled from last Easter).

But with this twist, Father asked “Do you know anyone filled with JOY for Jesus? A joy that radiates from them?”

Michelle said she turned to ask her oldest son if he knew anyone like this ( all the while thinking please say ME!).

He said “Yes mom, Pappy and Ms.Pilar!”

This is a very strong Catholic family filled with many loving, involved, faith filled adults. This is a family I love and admire greatly. So for this little boy to think of me, out of all the special grand parents and loving aunts, uncles and many cousins, shocked me!

(#KleenexBreak2)

That for me was another treasure beyond measure. That entire Easter break was the best in my entire life. From sharing the Resurrection with my children, not just the Easter Bunny, to learning that a 3rd grader sees my JOY for Jesus.

Kids Art

What are your treasures beyond measure?