People Are Always Trying to Pair You Up
It amazes me how people are always trying to pair you up with another human being. We are born alone, unique, except for the 2% of twins, .08% of triplets, and other multiple births; but even if people are born a twin or a triplet they sustain themselves and are responsible for their own growth, education, health, etc.
Speaking of our own individualities and commonalities we have the right to be friends with people of the opposite sex as much as we have friends of our own gender. I particularly prefer the friendship of males over the one of females. Nothing personal, I simply find their insight, emotional, and physical strength more appealing. They are gentle but firm, and they are better at solving conflict. Ladies, if you are still reading this, you know it’s true. Sometimes our girlfriends bring a lot of unnecessary drama for things that could have been resolved with a couple of words and a glass of wine (or a word and a couple of glasses of wine? ☺).
Where Is Your Other Half?
I have been seeing a guy, a friend-guy, a new male friend and he has already been called “husband”, “boyfriend”, and “new guy” by friends and acquaintances! One day I came to the gym by myself, which I used to do anyway before I met Dwight (not his real name) and my instructor greeted me by asking, “Where is your other half?” I responded immediately, “I don’t have another half, I am complete!”
And even if I got married I would still be complete, my own self. I know that it is difficult for many single women to navigate the waves of the daily life alone, you wonder when “your other half” will come to complete your half self, you cry behind a bag of popcorn while watching a romantic comedy, or you secretly resent your girlfriends when they meet someone and things seem to be going really well for them. But your life can be full too! Every day is a new challenge, a new light, a new creation, a new poem, a new performance, a new class, a new song, a new idea for a blog…
Also someone asked me if Dwight made me happy. I hesitated because the answer is yes! Dwight makes me happy, but poetry, Zumba, and yoga make me happy too! There’s no reason to give another person the attribute or the responsibility of making you happy or sad.
At church we were studying the book Love, Sex, and Relationships, by Chip Ingram, and the one thing that I learned is that the one will come when you are not looking for him, when you feel absolutely comfortable and content with your circumstances, when you are not hoping for someone to come to rescue you, when you are glad to wake up even though your life is not perfect and you kind of hate your job (not me! ☺). But you have learned to live with the person who matters most in all this, you really know her, you look at her face in the mirror, you are proud of the shape of her body, her wrinkles, and her few gray hairs (when she still can pluck them ☺ ). When she finds that little dress that makes her feel amazing, she goes to that fancy restaurant and the hostess asks if it is just one, she answers proudly, it’s not just one, it’s me.
Love Attracts Love And Misery Loves Company
If you love yourself greatly you will pour out that love into others and into what you do. Discover your passion and love it! Do you like poetry? Read and write like a lunatic! Do you like dancing? Dance like no one is watching! I just remembered Dwight, this guy has a very particular singing voice. Have you watched the winners of American Idol? Think of Dwight as the complete opposite. But he sings, in solitude, he loves to listen to music, he talks about it, and he uses it to calm me down before my performances ☺
On the other hand, I have stopped (or partially stopped) talking to friends who criticize everything I do or wear. And they think they are “helping.” To give you a real life example, once I was talking to a girlfriend about plastic surgeries, so I jokingly asked her if she thought I needed one. What came out of her mouth was, Yeah, you have small breasts, if you could it would be good to get them done, maybe a couple sizes bigger, your smile is too wide, there is a cosmetic surgery to stick the upper lip to the upper gum; by the way, your jaw is kind of narrow, you need to get a cosmetic dental treatment to open space; oh, and you would need lipo for that little tummy (at this point I’m looking at her puzzled), or maybe you won’t need a lipo, just coolsculpting (she says the last part with a big smile to make me feel better)!
Be creative! You don’t have to become a great artist, just add some color to your life, to your wardrobe, do something nice for yourself, salute the world with a smile even if they decide to give you their back. And try something new to keep your mind engaged!
Talk to God. He is the best listener guy-friend you can have. He will remind you of how precious you are You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you (Song of Solomon 4:7). Hmm… I’m blushing ☺
Life is beautiful, and it’s not a cliché, it’s the truth! Look at all the possibilities without paying too much attention to your past (though this might come in handy), to your age (it’s never too late), or your circumstances (when there’s a will there’s a way.)
Trust in God and His promises and trust that He has given you everything you need to be happy and complete. Everything else and everybody else (including the one) will come to complement you (not complete you) in the most perfect way.
Think positive! You are love! ♥
After my first yoga blog I was almost certain the next one was going to be about the asanas I had “mastered”, but contrary to my self-assurance the practice taught me something else. I can proudly say I have completed four weeks of yoga, and the lessons learned in this brief period of time go beyond the yoga mat or the yoga studio. Here is my testimony after a month of practice.
1. You are not alone: In a room full of strangers and being a “freshman” you might think it is your practice, and it is only your responsibility to find balance and endurance on high planks and downward facing dogs. The first half of my first day I was feeling that way. It felt too complicated and gruesome to go through a Hot Vinyasa class mainly because I saw the others as my antagonists. I felt pity for myself because the others seemed flexible, agile, balanced, and all of them had a pretty nice posture. I could see through the mirror how they drew perfect lines with every asana while I struggled trying to hide my curvy behind to look like a “real” warrior. Internal criticism kills you. Fortunately it didn’t take me too long to feel connected with the group energy. My first instructor, Kyle Conti, was telling stories about himself and life, and by doing so he was making us part of his reality. I still remember his words, You are the boss of your mat. These seven words took me from self-pity to action. It is not about showing others what you are capable of doing, but “to get deeper understanding of yourself through the asana practice” as Kyle said the day I met him. The group supports your sincere efforts as we support sincere efforts in our daily life. The same happened when I arrived to this country. It was the entire community who pulled me through.
2. You are stronger than you think: I can’t count how many times I have wanted to go into a child’s pose for the rest of the class, but haven’t. Again, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is “I can’t do this,” to realize not only that I can but I have been able to endure. The point is you’ll never know until you try, and you’ll never get better if you don’t push yourself a little everyday. That little can be staying in an asana for two more seconds or lifting your hips a little higher when doing the bridge. In relationships (especially the close ones) you might have to endure tension, an illness, or something worse. You are strong, you can do it, it will be over soon, and you will be stronger afterwards.
3. Changes happen one step (or day) at a time: Do not rush. It’s not a competition. On my first blog I had talked about how I had improved so much in just three days. It was true, but muscles need to readjust, get comfortable with the new movements and weight shifting. A week after I wrote that I felt like the first day. I couldn’t accept it, I wanted to go forward, always. But I am changing inside and out and if I decide to continue, this is a process I cannot accelerate. Listen to your body, it needs time the same way as you need time when you enter a new situation. I am moving forward even if I think I’m stepping backwards sometimes. Lying or standing on my mat I’m becoming a warrior one asana at a time.
4. You are never too old to try something new, you will be surprised: Think about it. When was the last time you did something for the first time? There is a wide range of ages in these classes. Myself, being 45, might have felt that I didn’t have the flexibility, the strength, or even the time to do something like this. However, my body is becoming more flexible and stronger through the practice. And it has extra benefits. I have met new people who have been so kind and encouraging I feel that I could do anything! The brain feels the difference. There is definitely more oxygenation, and I celebrate my little triumphs as I start finding a sense of self-awareness.
5. It’s okay to take a break (child pose): Because of my competitive spirit a few times I have felt the urgency to catch up with the others (refer to point 3, this is not a competition). Like in other aspects of my life I have rushed to show others that I am better. Bottom line is sometimes you need to stop, close your eyes, and breathe. What could be more perfect than the child pose (or balasana). Here you can only look into yourself, nowhere else. Here your body is in contact with your inner emotions and frustrations. Here you slowdown to a full stop. You can even fall asleep. Strenuous circumstances sometimes call for a nap, and that’s okay. The world will continue spinning, take care of yourself first.
6. Breathe: In my first class I found it difficult to attend Kyle’s call, “Deep Breath.” In my naiveté I was going from one asana to the next (the best as I could) the way I knew how to, forcing my body into movements without giving it the time or the oxygen to be able to perform. We do exactly the same in our daily routines. We go through the motions in hopes that we can survive the days or the new circumstances without giving our mind, body, and spirit the tools to keep going, and only by the grace of God we actually “survive” those situations sometimes causing some collateral damage. Breathe before making important decisions. Breathe before talking to your loved ones. Simply breathe, you will feel better and your body and the people around you will thank you.
7. Life will shake you, it’s your choice to stay: My mother died unexpectedly in 2012 from an asthma attack. This event could have carried cataclysmic consequences due to the strong ties we had developed during the last few years of her existence. I withdrew from life, friends, and Zumba class not comprehending why this earthquake had started and the ground was still shaking. Likewise though in much lower proportion, when you are doing a half-moon, a standing split, or a reverse plank, depending on the length of the asana you will probably start shaking. It is this soft movement what is allowing change. Embrace it. Endure. Be transformed.
8. Namaste (namas: bowing, te: to you): At the end of each practice everyone turns to the center to bow to the teacher and to every other individual saying “namaste”. Here we regard our neighbor as important or even more than ourselves. This demands humility and respect. Be humble in all circumstances. Respect your surroundings and the people who cohabitate the planet. So many battles and wars could have been prevented if we Namaste from our heart. The same way, at home, treat your children with kindness, they are just starting to understand life through your actions. Respect the animals, they have the same right to be here as you. Do everything out of love.
Peaceful and humble warriors out there. It has been an honor to meet you. May God guide you and give you strength.
When I was a child, I was kissed by Muhammad Ali. In 1977 or 78 my mother was invited to a reception for the boxer at the Hilton Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia. He spotted me in the crowd, sat me on his lap, and kissed me as if I was his own daughter. My mother told me, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”
Living with my mother was like Christmas. There was always a surprise under the tree. I never called her “mother”, but I called her by her nickname, Mapy. And later on, just by her first name, Luz (which means light in Spanish). Just like that, she would lighten up every space by her presence, and her laugh filled everything like dew drops over red roses.
I wasn’t her daughter but her friend, so in this unconventional life of hers, her playful character, always seeking for new experiences, and love, I learned to follow my dreams and find joy in everything, following her name as well, Luz, which manifested in me in every way. So when I was 16, this “free spirit” left with a Spanish man to follow her dreams, and I stayed to live mine…
I studied hard, worked hard, and fought for the opportunity to come here. To find my life and destiny in the United States. I was chosen, packed my life in two bags, and was born again! I came through an exchange program, and during my last year I met a gorgeous, loving, compassionate, generous man, who became my husband after a few months of courtship. The most beautiful future was awaiting, but… two years later at 2 in the morning, I was driving and crying trying to hold myself up. My marriage had turned from love to… ABUSE. My husband had kicked me out of our home. I was trying to think what to do, where to go, where I was going to sleep! I was devastated; yet I had to focus on the next step… Where was the light? Luz!? As tears ran down my face, I started to pray, “Dios mío, please, don’t leave me.”
With less than $200 in my pocket and all my belongings in my car I started the hardest journey I ever imagined. My car became my home. I asked friends to stay in their couch a day here, another there, maybe a week here and another there. Still homeless, I was hired to teach math at a high school, and ESL (English as a Second Language) at a community college in the evenings.
God was good to me. He kept His promises of making me prosper and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). With my first salary I rented a room in a house; then moved to a single bedroom apartment where I still live, and write, and dance, and call light to my every piece of being.
The desire of writing reawakened, and I have been called to do several poetry readings. My poems have been published in the Latino newspapers (with two books released last year) and people have started recognizing me in the streets as “the poet.”
I’m in a peaceful place where light surrounds me as the words of my Luz pound in my heart, “Kurmita, you’re going to be great because you’ve been kissed by one of the greatest.”
-In memory of Luz Amalfi Castillo Gamboa (Colombia 1950 – Spain 2012) ♥
I had been following my friend Edwin Gil during his 365 days of yoga challenge. Witnessing his amazing body transformation I couldn’t help but think I should take action on my doctor’s (and my shrink’s, and my chiropractor’s, and my massage therapist’s, and my late mother’s) advice on start practicing yoga to slow down my racing thoughts since to be able to relax at night and stay asleep was becoming a tall order without some pharmaceutical help. My doctor also recommended it to manage my weight (because of my family’s medical history it would be better for me to lose a few pounds to be on the safe side about diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.) I asked my friend about his yoga challenge and he kindly invited me to a “not so hard” yoga class called Hot Vinyasa. I explained that I hadn’t practiced yoga in more than a decade, but he was confident I could handle this class. So I went. Kyle Conti, the instructor, smiled as he introduced himself and advised me to follow the woman in front of me if I missed his cues. I started sweating almost from the moment I stepped in. It was basically a sauna but you are on a mat and with your clothes on! Oh no!! I forgot to bring a bottle of water! 😦
Class started with planks, Downward Facing Dogs, Downward Dogs on one leg, Warrior 1, Warior 2, Peaceful Warrior, Half Moon. In the meantime Kyle was asking us to breath deeply and slowly. Ouch! I couldn’t stop shaking! “Inhale, downward facing dog, exhale lift up right leg…” Ouch! I couldn’t think I could make it to the end, specially when he indicated to rest in a half split. How can all these people “rest” in such uncomfortable position? Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I must confess I was about to exit almost every time Kyle spoke. I was feeling like one of those big turtles from my childhood in Buenaventura, Colombia. Grandma Nina used to catch them and after killing them, she would hang them for days for them to drip most of their fat. I was dripping sweat, fat, maybe blood, and I was feeling slippery all over. Kyle’s voice pulled me out of my little puddle of embarrassment. “You are the boss of your mat. You control whatever happens on your mat.” Yeah! I’m the boss! I’m here for a reason, and I’m going to make it! I took a towel, wiped off the sweat from my body and the mat and went back in the saddle, plus, Kyle’s playlist was pretty cool. I went into a trance with Purity Rain, Jessy Lanza, Kyle’s directions somewhere in my yellow submarine (you’d get this if you’re from my generation or the previous one ☺), and if I felt tired I just went to a child pose for half a minute.
Time ceased to exist. Suddenly Kyle was giving us cold towels to put on our faces and as I was lying on my back, refreshed by this cold item and its lavender fragrance I gave thanks to God for carrying me through to the end. Everything was sore that night and even worsened in the morning; however the pain made me realize that despite of all the exercise I do, there are muscles I am not working hard enough, or not at all; so I went back the next day. This time I met with Rowena. Her playlist was pretty cool, too! Beck, Matisyahu, Shanghai Restoration Project. Even though I was very sore from the previous Hot Vinyasa session, I was able to go through the asanas in a smoother way. Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Warrior Me! ☺ Still sore I dared to go to my Zumba class that evening and I realized how energized my morning class had left me. Irina, our Zumba instructor makes us (the front row) to do push ups if we forget the steps because the rest of the class is following us. I think I messed up about 5 times, but my arms were already feeling so strong I actually enjoyed the experience.
My third day of yoga was another Hot Vinyasa hour for which I came 100% prepared. Cold water, big towel for my mat, and small towel for my face. This time I could even made an inverse plank! I was ecstatic at how the body works. Three days only. Three days and my legs flex farther, my arms elongate higher, my wrists held me on planks and downward dogs lengthier.
I wonder what else I will be able to do and in how long. One more time I confirm that you only have to change your state of mind and your body will follow. I’ll keep you posted!
Namaste XOXO ♥
I attend Central Church of God in Charlotte, NC. A couple of weeks ago Pastor Loran Livingston spoke about Romans 13 and his sermon kept lingering in my mind. I bought the CD and have been listening to it in my car almost every day. Among the topics covered by him was thankfulness. And miraculously he ended the sermon with Psalm 121, the chapter God spoke to me the day of my salvation!
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (NIV)
I teach high school ESL (English as a Second Language) to teenagers from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Vietnam. Some of them are refugees; some others came with the sea of children from Central America whose parents sent to escape violence. Another group is here because their parents came looking to better their lives and their children’s. God spoke to me again by putting in my heart to talk about thankfulness with my students. Among many other things, my students are thankful for:
New words, music, one more day of life, family, friends, my dog, my sister, coming to this country, being able to go to school, technology, God, the shoes, my teacher…
They also wrote, “Some people don’t have food to eat, but thank to God and my parents I have enough food.” “I’m thankful that I can come to school to study because I want to be better tomorrow and never go back.” “I’m thankful because all these things [girlfriend, Kurt Cobain, my friends, my parents…] make my life happy and I feel complete.”
This “simple” task however presented itself difficult for some of them who couldn’t think about anything to be thankful for. I wonder if they really have nothing to appreciate or if their lives have been so hard they are still in survival mode.
In any case, life has its ways to interconnect us. We are part of this ginormous web in which if one suffers all of us feel affected. I didn’t come to the United States as a refugee… I was unaware of the meaning of that word until I was an adult. I just suffered in silence for if I asked for help I was afraid of punishment or rejection.
It is all in the past now. I grew up strong and somewhat wise. Like these minds I teach every day I am thankful for God, who makes all things possible. The food, my clothes, Zumba classes, friends… oh boy, what would I do without my friends, my spiritual parents (I even called them Mom and Dad ☺ ), my apartment, my car, my job, my students, my dog…
People are beautiful, even with all their nuances. God created us with a heart to love and be loved. Looking at my students’ papers I remember my dreams about America and how America came to our lives to feed us with hope… which always could be found behind that line in the horizon.
AMERICA SEEN BY A GIRL
By Kurma Murrain
America touched everything with her white stars and red stripes
My childhood woke up to the music with unrecognizable words that spiced the heart to make us forget our stomachs were empty
America, with her golden roads and running hot water
Yellow flowers turning to salute God, magic houses where each person had their own room and a bed with linens
America, with her missionaries talking about a man who died to save the world
How could somebody die to save us?
How could somebody die and save… me?
America, her fire was the one that killed Pablo* and stopped the car-bombs taking with him the constant panic, the interrupted dreams
America, her embrace came at night and left in the morning leaving a sweet smell of roses in the air
America, with her coca-cola to quench the thirst, paper-mate® pens to write in our new notebooks, only if we had a neat handwriting
America and her Levi’s that were hand-me-downs from my brother
Because nothing was new for this little girl, except her old hope, and a heart of ice cream, gummy bears, and pain.
*Pablo Escobar; famous leader of the Colombian drug cartel during the 80's and 90's.