“everything has changed”

I don’t necessarily believe all people have the capacity of falling in love at first sight, but I am a believer that similar feelings can be present when we are with someone who unquestionably makes us feel “at home” with their presence.

I believe those of us who viciously guard our hearts for the sake of protecting ourselves are in even more danger when we do find a person we can trust, which then opens us up to be our true, unreserved selves.

I believe that those we trust the most–our best friend from childhood–are who we love and cherish above all others. It’s with them that we can speak our minds about any topic in the world, knowing we won’t be judged, just lightly made fun of from time to time.

I believe two people can love each other for years without wholeheartedly knowing how fitting they may be for one another. It’s likely just a thought that has not crossed both peoples’ minds or one of them is unwilling to risk losing such a friendship.

I believe there is an indescribable power in hugging.

Hugging is healing, my voice loudly echoed that night.

Hugging is healing.

As he embraced me tightly, with care, without doubt and hesitation.

I believe against my better judgment that ‘something’ came to the forefront Monday night. Something changed either partly in me or entirely. Every time he embraced me closer to him, a piece of my walls crumbled down, reminding me there is great beauty in vulnerability.

I believe his openness, whichever way–either to help me feel better or if there was a stronger motive than that–served as an example, where the situation held out a mirror towards me; to really make me see who I am deep down, despite trying to convince myself that I’m too complicated to love.

I believe I responded well to his affection and care because that is how I would comfort someone I care for. The truth is that I have shut myself away in expressing [or simply wanting to express] that to others, while simultaneously only allowing myself to receive that care from my Mom.

I believe his openness is a beautiful example to live life. It shows more strength, more rawness, and humanity than shutting out the world, thinking you’re doing yourself a favor in protecting yourself, when you are only damaging your spirit.

I believe there is a strength in knowing when and where to use your energy for people, but I believe he has taught me there is an even lovelier way to love and accept the world: just be open and if you do get hurt by loving it too much, you will at least know you had the purest of intentions for your fellow human.

Insuvida (1)

I sporadically have those moments at work, in the car, at a coffeeshop (anywhere, really) that I come up with what I think are interesting observations/experiences that I would like to share with others. Recently, a lot of  that consists of are my experiences as a T1 diabetic. …No, I don’t mean sharing the story of my diagnosis or stating how “strong” I think I am because of my condition. I would rather share how I have had to literally survive based on my personal account. That unique experience includes being one of the many individuals getting screwed over by high deductibles, not being able to count on my parents assistance at all, not having anyone or anything substantial to rely on.

T1 diabetes is a bitch, no matter what angle you look at it, but something I have begun to notice more and more (as T1 diabetes is gaining a little more recognition than it use to), is that it’s a bitch single-handedly because not everyone has the guarantee that they will have access to life saving medication, let alone modern day therapies and technology. Not everyone has the ability to think act on the thought that, “I won’t let my diabetes get me down; I’m going to live my life” when they may not be able to cover the most basic form of therapy . For T1s, that means your pharmacy bought insulin vials and syringes. There are those of us who have to balance out our paid checks for rent, bills, student loans, food, car expenses…and of course, our necessary diabetic supplies when it feels impossible to make ends meet.

An insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), an Apple (R) watch that wirelessly connects with our CGM, a Genteel (R) finger picker, and other gadgets I do not keep up with are not fiscal options for many of us with T1. Though many from the #DOC may disagree with me, I regard these items as  “luxury items,” because no matter what, I simply cannot afford them and I know I am not alone. That is where I say that due to those financial limitations (a reality for many) YES, diabetes and its costs will hinder me. A LOT. If people think it’s just a mental thing, it’s not. Finances I’d say, play a pretty equal if not greater amount to that hinderance, which ultimately gives me little flexibility with medical options, as well as with other things I may want to do in life. This is where I completely agree [in part] with Insulin Nation’s article: Five Things People with Type 1 Should Stop Doing AlreadyBelow is the section.

1. …saying they won’t let Type 1 diabetes stop them/slow them down

Why: First, it’s a cliche, and cliches raise my blood pressure.

Second, it’s a sneaky form of ableism. When you say someone “won’t” let diabetes stop them, you imply that everyone with Type 1 has a choice to do whatever they want in life despite the condition, and that’s always not the case. I’ve interviewed professional athletes who were “stopped” by Type 1 diabetes for a significant period of time, despite their best efforts.

My main point to drive home is the reality that not everyone has that choice to live to their best potential with their diabetes. That, I believe has nothing to do with you being optimistic and “kicking diabetes in the butt”…if one does not have their most basic needs met, then no shit you are going to feel insecure and incapable of being well. For me, my insulin + diabetic supplies are part of my fundamental 1st tier. No insulin, no life.

maslow-pyramid

In the last ten years, I have had the same version of the Medtronics Minimed insulin pump. The only time I got a new one was because my first pump still had a warranty, but it died my freshmen year of college in 2011. The pump currently connected to my side is still kicking from 2011, which is a miracle all in itself. However, once my 2011 pump decides to stop working, I will need to purchase another insulin pump with the likelihood of not getting most of it covered by my medical insurance. Big deal, just use shots–right?

To go from using one form of insulin therapy to the complete use of another would be a shock to anyone. It is like going cold turkey on not drinking or smoking. It is not easy. It can be done, but our bodies have grown accustomed to how one therapy form benefits us. T1 diabetes is a constant trial and error episode put on repeat. But then, there is the whole notion of insurance companies wanting diabetics to start using biosimilar prescriptions that have generic versions of the prescriptions I need. Kara, from Bootcamp for Betics, goes on in more detail about insurers bringing further limitations to us without understanding the repercussions that plays on our day-to-day life.

In the last few years, I have seen the T1 community grow in social media; people are sharing more of stories and reaching out for help. I have seen how new organizations have started to provide support and answers to some of the many pressing questions we face. I have seen that I am not the only one who cannot get her A1c down, but like everything else we post onto our social media accounts, I keep seeing our picture-perfect captured moments. I know that there is always a black and white side to things…but in all seriousness, I keep going back to that phrase: “Type one won’t get me down.” Maybe emotionally, it may not from time to time. As long as we have our most basic needs met, yes, we will endure. However, I cannot tolerate the idea that all it takes is just a good attitude to survive. No, I only wish it was that simple but that is not always the case.

crossroads

In the last two months, I think, I have been so affected by my job. Every Sunday like clockwork, I get so anxious–I get the deepest blues, knowing that Monday I have to go back and repeat the whole process. I do not know how to see the “bright side” when I have come to hate the environment so much already.

For a whole month, I had to take charge of 2 positions essentially: 1) as the program coordinator, I am paid to be and 2) as the front desk person that handles all the phone calls, intake procedures, customer service duties, and the comments of frustrated, insistent, sexist Hispanic men. That probably sounds really narrow minded of me, but let me attempt to explain.

I work in a “workers center” where the workers I see coming in are mostly unskilled Hispanic day laborers. There are a few that possess greater experience and skill for sophisticated jobs, like carpentry and plumbing, but due to their immigration status, they are unable to get licensed. This is only an example of one  of many challenges that stand in the way of these men (and women) getting permanent job opportunities.  So everyday, it is the same thing: I open at 7AM, make coffee for all, check messages to see if anyone has made a reservation for work, but 8/10 times, the things are slow–meaning that there are no jobs. Of course, that makes all of the guys anxious, which makes me anxious, because the “work space” is really just one small room, with the front desk shoved in a corner and the rest of the room filled with chairs for the men to sit and wait at. The room already starts feeling too small when there are 4-6 of them in there…they are all talking loudly, the phone is ringing and they suck so the person cannot hear me while I cannot hear them, the television’s volume might be too high, the front office staff are asking me to come and translate something because they do not understand something in English, an employer comes in rather impatiently sometimes, the copier’s ink still has not come in, we do not have money for program expenses (as far as I have been told), so I have to buy shit and get reimbursed months later, the men surround my desk telling me what they think I should do–call more employers, make more flyers for them to go spread in the community, they compare me to what my predecessors did and how I should adapt to do the same.

There is so much more than frustrates me, but these are the environmental dynamics. What truly makes my blood boil is that these have been the continuous factors that have caused my predecessors to leave. I get that nonprofit organizations have limited resources, but what this “workers center” has become, is a complete embarrassment. The leadership that was supposedly in place, has not been actively involved for a while. Just as an example, I should have known this was a *red flag* kind of job whenever I got a callback a day after I sent in my application. When I interviewed with the HR person and the President, they played up the whole “workers center” as a well established program overseen by the organization. I have always been told nonprofits are too idealist, but I was also naive in thinking that this one might be any different. Not only that, but the amount of “training” I received was the bare minimum. My poor predecessor, a young woman of 23 who stuck around for 10 months, was only able to sit in with me for 2 days, 3 hours each day. My boss and supervisor is the President/CEO of the organization and she was with me for around 3.5 hours. She is usually unreliable, sometimes not getting back to my emails until a week later. She overcommits, thus is usually running late to meetings. So to say the least, my perception has her and the organization has been deeply scrutinized.

They (the President and the HR Director) hold the highest amount of power in the organization and they demonstrate resistance with ideas that are different to the ones they have set in place towards how processes are done. I mostly get the resistance from the HR Director since he seems to be extremely ‘machista’ and likes to believe that he knows how to run and direct everyone. Essentially of course, they do not because they are not the ones with “boots on the ground.” Even if things were done a certain way in the past, circumstances CHANGE and one must adapt accordingly–not l reactively at the last minute.

how long can i resist?

There is a contradicting value that is compromising my understanding on what feels right to me: the value of flexibility. Essentially, what does it even mean? The most I can assure myself of is that it is defined by each one of us, but it can be difficult to know what our personal definition is.

Working within an organization that is wholeheartedly made of all Hispanic immigrants and I being the unique blend of 1st generation Chilean-American, I have come to see that “being flexible” is incapable of being seen as an abused value, according to my administration and my co-workers who secede to this organizational philosophy.

About every responsibility that makes up my job is coupled with the small-printed details of the tasks I will be asked to do–most of the time, at the very last minute. I am not the most organized person in the world; my room is a constant mess of clothes on the floor and my desk overflows with opened and unopened mail. But in my work life, I do my best to create structure, to focus on priorities, and actively create limits to better take care of myself. However, in my short time at my current workplace, I have observed that these ‘goals’ are not what my co-workers consider as important. “Serving the community,”  at all costs possible, is the dictating viewpoint in my organization. Being the largest Hispanic-serving nonprofit in the state, it is an empowering but heavy burden to carry. “Serving the community” the way I see it from my co-workers and administration, means the following:

  • Filling in any and all gaps possible with limited personnel, barely considering their burnout rate and lack of staff retention; thus, very little self-care and work-life balance
  • Personnel having more heart for the people, for the mission than actual organizational and professional experience; thus continuously decreasing their efficiency and sustainability for the future
  • Since everyone is an immigrant from different Spanish-speaking countries, they all bring different values to their work, but with that, they also bring the general custom of the Latino–a slow, go-with-the-flow pace. This means that pretty much every deadline is completed at the very last possible minute. This practice does not allow for appropriate planning to take place, which continuously hinders the organization. However, this is the kind of system everyone is very use to running on. I am just the odd one out that sees this as ‘a problem.’
  • No one seems to know how to say no (so, no limit setting). Our President overcommits, over-schedules, and does not have the sufficient time to supervise all of those she needs to supervise. In turn, this causes for everyone else to be tardy, to be confused and without greater guidance; inevitably, one gets use to waiting and turns apathetic, to be reactive to situations rather than proactive and prepared.

Overall, those are the main points I see as being the roots to the major problem. And again, I am not perfectly organized. I am not type A at all, but I believe that anything and anyone will thrive when there is clarity of objectives and organization.

Even though I speak on all these observations, I still cannot say that I have even found a way to get organized within my own project–and that sucks. The last thing I want is to become unmotivated and for that will to change to dissipate; essentially, to have “conformed” to the norms of the organization. The hardest part is trying to step back from the chaos of what my program has become–and surely, the chaos it always was, to be honest–and finding tangible ways to create order, consistency, and a strong foundation.

I have felt very alone on the side of my administration. In the past 1.5 years my program has been in existence, there has been much personnel turnover, which has not allowed there to be a constant presence and flow of work. Whenever I first arrived, the administration “played up” their successes and what the program was in the process of doing–offering workshops in various areas (i.e.  worker rights and safety, ESL, vocational training). I came in with the thought that these activities were already well into place, as in structurally in place, not having occurred once and still listing those services on their brochure to advertise it is a service being provided. That, essentially, is lying. I believe there is every intent of getting around to having systems in place to provide those workshops and activities in a more organized fashion, but again, it has just not happened for a very long time.

My intent is to be able to foster stronger ties with community partners, in order to have those connections to offer greater opportunities and activities for the population I work with. That is what I believe a Program Coordinator is supposed to do. However, given everything I have mentioned, it has been a very big challenge. I have not known where to start and overall, I lack autonomy in my organization. I know that every 20-something year old lacks that authority, especially when it is their first big-gig, but I do not understand when enough is enough. When, I ask, will there be that brief moment of enlightenment where my administration sees that I can make positive changes; that I just need to be given that trust and respect–not questioned and limited? I see that they have a  fear of change and there lies much discomfort for a 25 year old pushing them to change their ways.

Thus my question is, if they cannot and will not be open to my viewpoints as a new employee, but also considering the powers my job title supposedly allow me to have (to certain limits of course; I am not that ignorant of an ass), then how will I grow? Personally and professionally? I have absolutely no doubt that this job will teach me many, many things. But, will they consider me as a valuable asset not just for my bilingual-MSW skills, but idealistically as a person? If not, how long will I resist? How long will they resist me?

These are a series of questions I am asking myself just at my short 3 months.

There is too much to begin to elaborate, but I will leave it at this.

I hate boys.

I hate this notion that I want and need an additional moment of attention to feel a void filled. That is the most absurd thing I have heard. I did not use to be like this. But nowadays, I see any guy that looks like a familiar idea of what I imagine to want, and I lose it. My mind screams, “look at me! I am a good person. I am everything you may be looking for.” Then I need to pause and blindly slap myself for even thinking that shit.

If a super adorable guy is working across the coffee shop, but chooses to go and talk to this blonde, bohemian girl, it must be because he knows her or does not–but he was interested in her. In my mind, I applaud him for going up to her and with his own body language demonstrate that he just wanted to be around her. 15 minutes or so later, he goes back to his table to pick up hisbelongings in order to go sit with her. 

I realize that, in some weird fucked up way, is exactly what I want to happen to me. I just happened to have seen that occur with someone right in front of my table at a coffee shop. My life, my worth, I know is much more valuable than having some guy randomly come sit at my table because he was interested in me.

reflection 01. 17

Two hours ago, I attempted at writing my thoughts via paper–my usual method of jotting down what is wrong so that I can process better. However, the downside is that it’s not as quick as typing. So, here is another attempt to convey the arrayed mess of what went I felt last night during NYE.

  • During the holidays, I have learned that I become extremely sensitive to my surroundings; sensing how most people are in a place I am not [by this, I mean in a relationship] and almost wishing I could also fit in to that mold.
  • I have not personally been to a Hispanic party since I was like, five years old. My parents removed themselves from that environment very early on. Due to that, I find myself feeling as if I missed out on some part of my ‘Hispanic’ identity. I never learned how to dance, I never learned to just not care about my lack of rhythm…Had I grown up in that environment as a child, maybe I could have felt confident with everyone that was taking advanced merengue steps or simply doing simple back and forth steps by themselves. Maybe I wouldn’t feel this need to hide my body through scarves and long cardigans. Maybe I’d be some hoochie momma wearing a pink sequin dress that barely covers my ass. Or not, I really don’t know. Maybe I’d just be more confident, period.
  • There’s nothing I can do to change this, but I began feeling somewhat self-conscious because people looked at me curiously, with faces that read “is this girl a gringa, or she just really pale?” Had I been able to move like the rest of the women, the looks might have been brief. They might have even expressed, “damn, white girl can move! Oh wait, she’s actually Chilena? Cool!” Maybe I would have had at least one guy take my hand and take my out on the dance floor. However, remembering my own awkwardness, I probably looked extremely uncomfortable and insecure in my own skin. So, the likelihood of any guy coming up to me were already lowered. *Remember, everyone will like confident people no matter what.*
  • I knew no one practically. There was my boss and two co-workers, while one would soon be leaving after midnight. My other co-worker was out having fun, dancing with the cutest guy at the party. She had good intentions and I know deep down she just wanted me to have fun, but my own insecurity didn’t allow me. Unlike what she believed, a drink would not take away my insecurity. It’d briefly allow me to let go, loose control, and make me feel dumb later. I never want liquid courage to be my ticket into feeling looser. I want to be able to feel that on my own because of my own confidence. Alcohol is just momentary.
  • Like I mentioned, there was this one really cute guy. Instant crush of the night. Hispano, good looking, with a great ability to dance. Ni me pesco. He probably thought I was gringa as one of my co-workers introduced us. American-styled handshakes. Not a kiss on the cheek, as is custom. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew I liked him from afar. And I don’t think I was crazy in thinking that he was looking at me too, but I realize now that maybe it was out of curiosity again. He didn’t look at me because he thought I was pretty or interesting enough to meet. Hm, girl he doesn’t know. Can she dance? Nope. She’s reserved in comparison to everyone else? Yea, not worth it. Stick with those I know.
    • Then again, those are my insecurities speaking.
    • I hated and still hate the feeling that if I had had this one guy just ask me to dance, or force me to, I would have felt better about myself. As if, YES, I did it.
    • LESSON and realized point: In the future, the guy will like me first. He will be interested in me from afar before I even know or look at him. He may be someone completely  different to what I’m “expecting,” but that’s how it will go down. Why? Because every time I look at someone and like them for the moment, nothing will come of it. I need someone who is so fucking interested and curious about me that they will be patudo and will just confront me. Let’s dance. Tell me why you haven’t done xyz. Let me help you feel like you can loose a little control and still be okay. That’s what they’ll do.
      • But, now isn’t the time yet obviously.

Yup. That’s a pretty good representation of all that was going on in my head. I let myself feel so uncomfortable mostly because I really didn’t know anyone. Had I been with a few more people, I might have been okay. Might have stayed the night. Instead, I peaced out at 2AM, had tears streaming down my face the whole car ride home, and had my Momma hug me at 3AM.

Now,  as I have literally gotten all this off my chest at my Sunday coffee shop, I realize enough is enough. I hurt myself last night by caring too much of what people could think and not being confident in my own skin to just stick it through and see what could come of it. Of course, not everything is meant to work out, no matter how many good intentions and innocent expectations we put into place.

For this year, that may be my constant intention: to enable myself to be a happier, more confident version of myself. Within that, comes the physical, mental, spiritual, and relational aspects of myself. This week, I’m signing up at Burlington Krav Maga so I can start feeling stronger and more fit. I always loved punching shit and it’s been too long since I’ve done this.

All of these insecurities popped up to show me how much more work I need to do for myself. Only I am the bearer of my happiness. I’d rather learn how to be that first before anyone else comes along.