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Author Archives: Pura Vida Amiga

About Pura Vida Amiga

Personally speaking: Pura Vida Amiga is a southern girl caught between the genteel south of my childhood and the rock-hard north (of much of my adulthood) as I try to figure it all out. PVA is a good friend who always gets awards (literally) for well…being a good friend--someone who will make friends with anyone. I struggle between play and work, between being a good parent and being a good daughter and granddaughter. I'm always caught between love and fear. I embrace life, sit quietly for signs, shy away from conflict and always smile all along the way (even when I'm less than happy :) and I usually am happy (in case you are wondering)

I Know the Way Home


I Know the Way Home

The moment wasn’t lost on me–the first time in 4 days during my Rest & Relaxation Weekend that I powered on my computer. The moment was just after take off –just after my usual and very deliberate counting down of runway yards until liftoff. 8 hundred yards, 7 hundred yards and counting until between 500 and 400 yards most planes ascend. Wheels off the ground.

As I looked out of the window and enjoyed the takeoff, I watched the beautiful city of Boston, my home for many many years, twinkle by. As I looked down up the city, lovingly noticing the waterfront, The World Trade Center-Boston, the bustling downtown with its vibrant lights and tall buildings and lastly, at the beautifully lit, Zakim Bridge bathed in purple.  I thought about how much I love the city, my friends and my family yet I knew as we passed the Zakim Bridge on the left, that the plane was headed in the wrong direction. I said in my head, we have to turn left to go home.  zakim-bridge

The plane banked left and I felt the wonder of modern air travel. This huge machine taking all of these people somewhere, taking me somewhere, with the power to bank at just the right angle at just the right time at just the right speed.

The aircraft straightened and I knew that we needed to turn more. We weren’t headed home. We did and I saw the beautiful city of Boston–a city that has so many wonderful memories for me, a city that contains so many of my beloved family and friends. I saw it for the second time, smaller now but no less as beautiful, no less powerful.  I thought of how I need the beautiful picture of all of the cities that mean so much to me. New York, Boston and Richmond. I need to look at them everyday. I need to remember everyday.

The plane banked again and I knew then that I knew, I really knew, the way home.

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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Nose Up-Toes Up, Control your Dissent


On my walk today with my dogs, I realized something about myself–more than realized something, I realized and reflected on a pattern, a way of interacting–a way of being that doesn’t serve me all that well in some situations. A way of being that causes unnecessary emotional bumps and bruises and longer recovery times.

To set the stage, my teenage daughter, Danielle and the exchange student, Blanca, who is living with us, went to the river to rock hop and enjoy the water on a hot summer day. Blanca noticed a narrow rush of fast-moving current between where I was precariously wedged between some large rocks and a calm pool of water. I engaged every muscle I had to avoid the faster moving water, while Danielle and Blanca went on down the “baby rapids”–toes up, nose up — thus avoiding all rocks and having a glorious ride to the calm pool of water on the other side. They in their mini oasis for what seemed like an eternity while all the while cajoling me to get into the rapids. I would not. Nope. Even though I’m a strong swimmer and knew that I could get to the other side, for some reason, I just would not do it. I would not let go.20150525_110219

It was not until my leg muscles finally gave out that I went ahem…unwillingly down the rapids– bumping and getting bruised on the rocks along the way. Instead of going through the churning water willingly to get to the other side, I was forced to by my own exhaustion and the result was painful and embarrassing.

This what I tend to do emotionally as well– I avoid conflict at all costs. I acquiesce. I just go along and figure it out later and often by myself I have trouble sitting in the swirl– being in chaos. I often don’t value my own inner strength to get through it and therefore,  I sit paralyzed, peace on the other side deferred until I can figure out how to devise a contraption or go allll the way around to finally get to the other side. However, more often than not, I get yanked into chaos because I simply get too tired to hold on any longer and I get hurt.

As I sit here writing this and reflecting upon my life, I have to admit that my legs are tired, my brain is tired, my heart is tired. The swirl is here. The swirl is everywhere.  The swirl is real. The key is to trust that what’s one the other side is worth it AND to control the entrée into the chaos. Does one go unwillingly or have a controlled descent–nose up, toes up?! It’s hard to trust that will work and sometimes, even when you plan it all out, it doesn’t work out. So, I’m searching inside for the peace within to get me through the swirl of raging water and the trust in myself that yes, I have incomprehensible strength given by God, I can manage it. Time to let go.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Badass, Goodass Goddess


Badass, Goodass Goddess.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in life freestyle

 

Badass, Goodass Goddess


I have been away from blogging for a year or more as I have been writing quite a bit professionally and just kinda keeping my stories in my head. Suffice it to say that I am an emotional writer (I guess there are worse things) and alas, I have been snapped back to writing (on paper) by several recent events that struck a chord.

For the past several weeks, I have enjoyed reading FB posts by my female friends coping with the relentless winter weather in Boston. I have participated in discussions featuring everything from throwing pantyhose filled with ice melt on roofs and gutters to prevent disaster, enlisting the help of neighbors to push cars out of driveways so very important exercise training schedules can be maintained. Some friends are managing commutes that are 3x as long as normal all the while maintaining pick up and drop off times for little ones and yep, some friends are bemoaning the fact that they have to shovel their own driveways over and over again. But the real icing on the cake in my power of the pen reclamation event was a second party FB post by a dear friend.

The article, 15 Things All Badass, Fearless Alpha-Women Do Differently From Other Types Of Women by Brenda Della Casa on Thoughtcataloge.com captured my attention as the accompanying picture features the ubiquitous white woman, eyes glazed upwards, arms strongly angled on her hips, standing in a field complete with blousy shirt and yep, heels. (I’m not even kidding!)

Number one on the list of how to tell if you are badass woman is:

They cultivate a life they actually enjoy living.

Great, I can totally get with that because, you know…I’m badass. That’s enough for me to continue reading. I start to look through the other 14 affirmations and by number 4, I see it. Yep, right there:

They don’t need a boyfriend but they’re open to having a partner.

Here we go… and yes, even a badass can see through this. In total, 6 out of the 15 affirmations are directly related to the “boyfriend- strong single woman- don’t let anyone define you category”. There are a few others that relate to this theme peripherally. The correlation of badassness related to single-womanhood really bothered me in this article even though I was a single woman for 10+ years with a child and know that I’m totally badass because of it.

However ,for me, attributing being a badass to one’s ability to cope without a partner is so passé and I said so on the shared post.

Me: Yeah, but why are 6 of the points focused on single-ness, men and relationships…

The response back was something on the line of being fearless and not letting others define your happiness.

I couldn’t agree more but…

Me: Yeah, but then it should have one or two ” love yourselves” and not 6 “you are single so that makes you a badass”. Too much weight on that, in my opinion. I was single for 10+ years and yes I was badass because of it but there’s a whole lot more that I was badass about that didn’t even focus on men/or not having a man.

So, ladies, let’s talk about what IS badass that is not defined by a man.

Going through cancer treatments and asking for help from family and friends when you are usually the giver.  Asking for help. Tracy did that. That’s badass.

Working during the week and on weekends to make ends meet for your family. By any means necessary. Ashley did that. That’s badass.

Dealing with a sudden and tragic death of a loved one and then moving across country to start living again.Putting yourself and your kids back together.  Suzanne, did that. That’s badass.

Choosing to teach in an impoverished school and getting kids to love (I mean really love) learning MATH. Capturing students hearts and minds. Kyle did that. That’s badass.

Studying and working your butt off. Being a great friend and a great servant. Garnering a promotion to be the Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer of a major bank in a large city. Being humble and strong. Blondel did that. That’s badass.

Protesting the unjust treatment of young Black males while putting your own personal safety on the line. Being selfless.  Addis did that. That’s badass.

Facing a sudden divorce, picking up the pieces of yourself emotionally and physically and becoming a triathlete in the process. Physical and mental strength. Rebecca did that. That’s badass.

Striking out with your husband and young child to move to Indonesia for five months while you use your research on infectious diseases as a model for instruction in universities. Strong intelligence. Carleitta did that. That’s badass.

Badass is about loving yourself. It is about being a strong woman whether you are single or coupled up not because you are single or coupled up. As my badass friend Diane said, Badass is Goodass. Badass is Goddess.

I’m a badass. I’m goodass I’m a Goddess in my own right and I know A LOT of woman who fit into these same affirmations and while some of us do, some of us really don’t wear blousy dresses and heels and stand in fields. Some of us, like Adina, climb mountains physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s badass. That’s goodass. That’s Goddess.adina

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Kyle


Kyle represents so many teachers in the world. She wants her students to excel academically and personally. Yet Kyle is different in many ways. Her unyielding grasp on her own sense of self, as well as her unwavering and highly attuned social justice orientation leap out before her in everything that she does, especially when she teaches.  However, her in-depth content knowledge, as well as her adept teaching pedagogy arekyle pic1 only a portion of the story. For Kyle, her social justice orientation is the fuel for supporting students whom the system has otherwise given up on, to excel.

This focus on social justice, particularly in schools, particularly in the area of mathematics has been explored at length by educators and activists such as Robert Moses in his book, The Algebra Project. In this book, Bob Moses indicates (and backs up the fact) that mathematics, Algebra in particular is a filter for continued student success, not only in mathematics but in college and the workforce. For this reason, it is vitally important to have teachers like Kyle, teachers that understand the intersection of mathematics and issues of social justice.

For Kyle, these issues are not only apparent professionally and personally for her within the walls of her own classroom, they are also part of her experience as a parent, particularly of boy, specifically of a bi-racial boy. Like many of us who juggle professional and personal around issues of education and social justice, Kyle experiences these same joys and dilemmas, which some may say are heightened by her experiences in a large urban school and in her home as a white woman with bi-racial children.

I am intrigued by how Kyle navigates her world at school as a teacher, at home as a parent and in the school community for her young son as a teacher and a parent.  Kyle and I are embarking on a journey together to peel back the issues as she sees them and document her experiences (and others) in order to not only tell her story but to draw connections to the stories that so many of us share.
Stay tuned. We’re excited.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

87


2962_1130400576505_5081376_n[1]My grandmother (my Nanie) is 87 today and that’s pretty darn awesome. That’s old, even by today’s standard of people living longer. Her mother (my Big Ma) was 102 before she left this world, so I’m praying that my grandmother remains in her right mind and good health for another 20+ years.  I love having her around and can’t imagine life without her. I love her so much.

My grandmother is full of humor and love and compassion.  Last week, I ‘caught’ her playing in the elevator with her friend as they delivered flyers to the people in her building even though the stories were on. I heard the laughing and giggling through the elevator walls and then got sucked into their delivery route up and down on the elevator greeting everyone in their path. If I’m not mistaken, my Nanie even took away someone’s activities flyer and put it on another door (on a completely different floor, no less) because so and so “doesn’t need the flyer anyway”. LOL, seriously, did she just do that !!

The other day, I hung out with her before (or after) Steve Harvey (I can’t remember which) and she actually started gossiping (which actually doesn’t happen often). Wow, I thought–this is going to be good. It was good and she made sure to say, “my source” before every little nugget that she let’s fly around the room. She even asked me to ask one of the preachers if he was married-just wondering–she said. lol. seriously, Nanie.

In thinking about my 45 years against her 87, I hope to be as uncomplaining, fun, nice and easy going as she is …when I’m …..well, actually right now…today. That’s a good goal and she is a terrific model.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in life freestyle

 

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Wah-la Wallenda


I watched with awe with 13 million people all over the world as Nik Wallenda, in his blue Discovery Channel tee- shirt and relaxed jeans, slid– footstep by footstep for 1400 feet across the Little Colorado River Gorge in Navajo Country.  His only accoutrement was the 43 pound pole balanced in his hands like a huge bird and as we quickly learned, his faith in God.

While the global community sat in their homes, stood in bars, and crouched next to their radios, Nik kept moving, one elk-skinned shoe after the other on the 2 inch steel cable.  My own body was upright, tense and still; head shaking, eyebrows furrowed, watching and thinking, ‘He is crazy’, ‘He is selfish’.  As I continued to watch, it seemed as though Nik’s body nor his spirit mirrored my own. As I hoped that I would not see this stranger fall from the sky,  I heard him say, ” Wow, what a sight!”, as he looked down into the gorge.

–really, he can notice the beauty in this stressful state?? hmmm

Then it happened, quickly and effortlessly–a calm,  “Thank you Jesus” and a host of other accolades that seemed be not to be said for him, but for God. There it was again, “Lord calm the wind. Calm the cable. Relax me.”–that was a call to God to help –all this while moving forward- as if he had to, was willed to. It was as if he expected with confidence that God was going to do the very thing he asked him to do. At the end of his walk, while I was still tense, Nik Wallenda skipped the last few feet across the cable.

I have thought about this image often in the last few days.  What if we all just kept moving forward, praising God, asking for help and noticing the beauty even in challenging situations.  So with an unfurrowed brow, I say, “Lord relax me. Calm the wind and  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  …and since I worry obsessively at times,  I will have to just stop , crouch down and wait for the waves that I have caused to dissipate, then start again all the while knowing that I will make it across the beautiful gorge of my life while praising God even as  people support me, cheer me on, and even sit on the edge of their seats and watch.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in life freestyle