Repurposed

Can you imagine sitting down to a bowl of ice cream and reminding yourself not to throw the empty pot away? Have you ever been shopping and chosen one product over the other because the packaging can be re-purposed? What about having your scissors sharpened? Maybe some of you have thought of these things, but for the majority of people living in the USA, we never think about these things. Scissors are cheap and you can get a new pair for really cheap. Ice cream is no longer packaged in plastics like they used to be, so the container is tossed  out. Packaging nowadays is under scrutiny because minimalist is the new way to go.
However, in Brazil things aren't so easily decided.

Coming from the USA, I saw a very clear contrast between the world of consumption which is the USA and the world of resurfacing and reuse that is Brazil.

I remember walking through a large supermarket the first week I was in Brazil. My mother and I were looking for a plastic trash can. We both thought, a plastic waste basket would be a really cheap buy. We were both surprised when we saw the sign... R$10.00. Then written below it was a 10x in smaller letters. I looked at it, I may have even tilted my head in an effort to make sure I was really seeing what was in front of me. It was a small waste basket for ten payments of 10 bucks. Swallowing hard, I thought, ok maybe it is just waste baskets. We moved on to Tupperware... and the nightmare continued. It seemed like anything made of plastic was outrageously expensive.

Over the next week I was able to find some cheaper plastic items which were produced in Brazil, however if they were produced here, they had a very terrible smell. The plastic had the smell of burnt car brakes. It would leave your water tasting nasty. So, the cheaper, made in Brazil plastics were out of the question for certain items.

As I visited peoples houses I started to realize that there were a lot of empty  ice cream containers and used jars stacked and stashed around the houses. Plastic ice cream pots were doubles for just about everything you can imagine. The canned vegetable section of the store gave you even better options. Instead of buying a can of tomato paste, you could buy a jar of it, which was shaped just like a regular drinking cup. There were even some limited edition cups to be found in the corn section.

It didn't matter what it was, I had to learn to think twice about what I was throwing out. For most Brazilians, plastic cups are an unnecessary waste of money. The fact that my house has disposable cups is something most people laugh at, but there are some conveniences I am just not ready to give up. 

Conservation

When I arrived in Brazil for the first time, I remember something that stood out in my mind about Brazil and the people. I was sitting on the bus traveling across town, when I noticed a woman using a hose as a broom. She was literally washing the dirt from the street with the hose. It crossed my mind that maybe there was
something really sticky and it was bothering her, or maybe some dog poop. What I didn't think, was that this behavior was a daily routine.

Having grown up in the western states, I was not unfamiliar with water conservation. We were frequently asked to take turns with irrigation and we were not allowed to use the hose during certain parts of the day. There were workshops and classes about how to conserve water. Teachers taught students how to brush their teeth without wasting water. I remember commercials about leaky faucets and water waste.  It was just common knowledge that you don't use a hose as a broom.

After a few weeks of living in Brazil, I began to realize that the people here have never been concerned about water conservation. Perhaps the torrential rains each year, guaranteed the population would survive from year to year without ever having to ask the "what if" questions. What ever the reasons may be for not educating the people, the consequences are far worse than I imagined.

Most of Brazil has been in a drought for the past year. While the rain didn't fall, the country was still busy making sure the front yard (which is usually covered in tile) was clean. Life was as usual, making sure the fences, sidewalks and cars were all clean and shiny. As the months ticked by without rain, nobody seemed to notice the reservoir getting dangerously low. 

What happened when the water started to run out? Think about it, what would happen if your city ran out of water? Would it be calmly and rationally attended to? Would there be pandemonium? Would it result in selfishness and violence, or,  would people unite and help each-other?  

What happened here was a complete shock to me. I never imagined it would turn out like it did, and with just a minor threat to the water supply.

 At first, they started threatening people with fines if they saw you with your hose on.  If you want to wash your yard, your neighbors yard or the street, you need to use the grey water from the washing machine. Then when that didn't work, they started to ration the water. They would simply cut off the supply to neighborhoods on a random basis. Of course they said the rations were organized but after several neighborhood went for months without water, it was obvious there was no rational to the process.

Next step, the areas where the water had ran out, they shipped in a few tankers of water. The people were forced to walk long distances to get to the tanker and haul the water back home. Obviously it wasn't nearly enough for the basic needs. People were left with no water for showers or washing clothes.

The town next to mine skipped all the stages of withdrawal symptoms and went straight to riots, protests and demanding the mayor declare a state of emergency. Of course he didn't, so they responded with more protests which caused damage to public property. When that didn't get any attention, they started stealing water from the people who had it. There were people and businesses who had hundreds of dollars of water stolen from their tanks. People were waking up to find their tanks had been siphoned in the night.

The elections happened during this crisis and of course it was one of the hot topics to discuss. Everyone pointing and wagging fingers in the faces of others. It was all a difficult thing to watch, a society collapsing because of a general lack of education on one water conservation.

What was it all for?

It all ended this week (at least in the region where I live) with three days of rain. The rains came... heaven opened up the flood gate and let us have it. The poorly engineered streets flooded in seconds; the shopping malls with their duct tap and wire construction opened at the seams and the waters poured in causing people to seek shelter from the shelter; newly formed waterfalls sprang from the light sockets (so pretty); trains stopped on railways which were washed out by mud slides; houses where landlords had scrimped on construction, caved in or flooded... and the people cheered.

Upon waking this morning the newspapers are all declaring the end of the drought. Amazing how 3 days restores business as usual. That's right, let us forget about the complete lack of education, infrastructure, safety and lets focus on the fact that we can now use our hoses to wash our front yards again.

Sigh.  

The Real Me Writes.

I will continue this blog about my life here in Brazil but I have also started a new blog called "The Real Me Writes". If you don't want to know what is going on in this head of mine, then DON'T check it out!

http://therealmewrites.blogspot.com/

Pitbull Live From Brazil

Vevo is going to stream Pitbull's concert live tomorrow. Pitbull is here in Brazil for Carnival 2012.
Check it out!
http://pitbull.vevo.com/

Residency

So, I know that most people don't know what I have been through to get my permanent residency and I don't expect anyone to be excited for me. I am really excited today though because after years of process after process, I have finally received the ID card.  I actually have it in my hands!!! Once again I don't expect anyone else to share in the joy... but for me, this is a big milestone. I don't have to worry about it for another 8 years. I can't believe it! 

Making a promise has never been so confusing.

If someone tells you that they made a promise to not do something, what do you think?  Let's just say for example, that you hear someone say that they promised they would not use Facebook. what is the first thing that comes to your mind? I had this happen to me a few weeks ago. In my mind when I heard the person saying they had made a promise, I assumed that they had promised their mother or brother that they wouldn't do the thing they were promising. I, in my ignorance, asked about the promise and my question was met with a look of surprise. I was told that I wasn't allowed to know about the promise. I guess this person assumed I knew what the heck they were talking about. All I could think of is what terrible thing happened that drove someone to make a promise like that.

It actually took me a few days to figure out that it was something similar to giving up for lent. Apparently it was something they promised God or a Saint that they would not partake of, in exchange for that sacrifice they expected something back. Wow, big difference from what was in my mind. The whole "you can't know" attitude made sense after that. I have blown out candles before and made a wish and we all know we can't tell those wishes, but a promise had me very confused.

I was relieved to know that I was not the only one who made this mistake, as another American also assumed that it was a personal promise to family or friends. It just didn't cross my mind that it was a spiritual request. I guess if the person had said they gave it up for lent, I would have understood, but it isn't even lent and the person speaking isn't Catholic... so, that leads me to believe that some of the Catholic traditions are an intrinsic part of Brazilian culture.

This got me thinking about how ingrained the Catholic church is in the Brazilian culture. I thought about how there are things that I say in Portuguese that I would never dream of saying in English. Some of the things that are very common to hear:
Holy Saint Catherine - You say this when you are surprised or baffled by something.
Our Lady of Aparecida- You say this when you are surprised or baffled by something.
Go with God- You say this to the person leaving.
Stay with God- You say when you are leaving, you say this to the person staying.
I believe in God the father almighty - you say when something is shocking and scary (protection)
God Free me - You say this when you don't want something bad to happen.

These are just a few of the expressions I hear every day but would never dream of using them in English. I can and do say them in Portuguese because they mean absolutely nothing to me, they are just a form of expression. It is just a small example of how the Catholic church is a big part of the Brazilian culture.

I wasn't raised in a Catholic culture so sometimes these things just fly over my head.





Wake back up Brazil!

Ok so now that all the drama is out of the way... lets post something positive.

Carnival is coming! Okay so I can't say that I get all excited about it, but I do love the spirit of it all. The first year that I arrived in Brazil and I saw how Brazil "LIVED" Carnival, I started saying that "Brazil goes to sleep at new years and only wakes up again for Carnival" After Carnival is when life in Brazil starts again. This is clearly reflected in the amount of students who show up for class before Carnival compared to after Carnival. So... I am getting prepared for Brazil to wake back up this month!

Ahem... you should know...

It has been a while since I posted. I just now realized that when I have these long pauses in my writing, it is usually because something crazy is happening in my life. So, as long as I am writing, things are good. If I stop, then you should all take it as a red flag warning. 

I can't possibly begin to wrap my head around the events of the last year enough to post an insightful post. So many things happened as I started to transition my life. I have been in a constant state of change and transition over the past year. I would like to thank those people who stood by me and who were understanding as I went through those changes.

I have been working for a while to get myself out of a hole I have been living in. The whole year it felt like I would get my head to the top and someone or something would stomp on my hand and I would lose my grip and slip back in. It hasn't ended (that struggle to improve) but I am finally out of that hole and I got out with the help of one GIANT kick to the stomach. I know that sounds like something that would send you hurling back down the hole, but something amazing happened instead. I felt the pain as the blow was dealt, and instead of doubling over, I stood there and let the pain settle, that is when I was amazed. The pain, once it wasn't coddled, filled my body with adrenalin, the exact stuff I needed to pull myself the rest of the way out of that hole. Now, here I am, looking at the mountain I need to climb but undeniably happy that I am not starting from inside the hole... because that sucker was hard to get out of!

Enough about the hole. I can't give you a rundown of the year so I will just talk about a few things...

I went on vacation in December to see family. I was really happy to see all of my nieces and  nephews and I fell in love with all of them again! I wouldn't exchange those moments for anything. The rest of my trip was... well, lets not get into that. I wouldn't be able to articulate the frustration I had on the rest of my trip. I will however say that I had a good time traveling and getting to spend some time with my Mom and sister. Again, I wouldn't exchange those moments for ANYTHING!
I was totally amazed that I didn't gain weight while I was home, I actually lost 4 pounds. Yay for stress! ha ha ha!

 I am still in Brazil and still working. Other than that, everything else has changed.

What is different? Everything! I sleep, dream, eat, walk, cry, love, hate, feel, live, work and most of all FEEL different. None of these are for the worse, but all of them are different. I think it is the natural process of growing from the self conscious and co-dependent person I was, into the self confident independent person I am becoming. I don't expect the changes to stop and I don't want them to. I have loved and laughed this year as well as cried and screamed. I don't consider ANY of it a waste of time. Actually, I learned the most from some of the worst moments and in the good moments I was able to recover strength to continue the changes.

I will continue to allow myself to change and to grow and become a better version of myself. BUT and that is a very big BUT... if by chance I have a bad day, week, month or couple of months and I stop in the middle of my climb to the top, stay put and watch, because that pause just means I am gathering strength for a big push.

And to those who say that you shouldn't write anything personal on the internet, I say, my my how very small and inconvenient your world is. If nobody opened up and shared what was inside, some of the greatest movements the world has seen would never have happened. Do you not think that some of the great painters were not telling us about their deepest secrets though the oil and canvas medium? Do you not realize that some of their greatest struggles were made public through this medium and for generations we have learned to FEEL through paintings because of it. Don't be so scared about being judged. No matter how big your secret is, your neighbors will be bigger. If your group of friends will judge you harshly because you express yourself, then you need to find yourself another group of friends.  Learn to love your struggles, your quirks, your emotions and your secrets and thank God when you have made peace with them.

------
I have been feeling the urge to write about things that are quite off topic for this blog about my life in Brazil, so I am going to be setting up a blog where I can express myself more freely (oh my! run and hide! ha ha ha) I will let you know when it is ready.

Thanks!


Mom had a tradition of sitting down at the Thanksgiving table and asking each of us to take turns saying what we were thankful for that year. This usually ended up with the one speaking getting a bit choked up and as kids we dreaded our turn. So we would quietly wait, just hoping Mom would forget about the tradition for one year. Of course she never forgot and we would always end up taking our turn. 
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, even though I can't be at the table with my Mom, I want to take my turn. 
--I am thankful that I have both of my parents alive and healthy and that they both STILL love me ;)  I am on another continent I can still feel the love!!! I am thankful for the examples of dedication and love they have given me through my life. 
--I am thankful for my sister. She is an incredible woman and I have so much that I can learn from her. I love you!
--I am thankful for my brothers.  I have got three of the best brothers anyone could ask for. I am thankful for everything you guys have ever done for me!!! I love you guys and you (along with my sister) definitely make my list of heroes.
--I am thankful that I am an aunt 12 times over. I love every single one of those kids and am so incredibly thankful  and excited that I will get the chance to see all of them in just a few weeks!!!  
--If I think back to November of last year, I would have never guessed that I would have come so far. I had so much personal growth this year that I am hardly recognizable… and that is a good thing!  I made one goal and once I reached it, I made another and when I reached that I made another, and on and on it went. I am thankful for STRENGTH. 
--I am thankful I have a job that I enjoy.  I am thankful I have a cool boss (who might read this… so I will follow this with a big ;) (wink))
-- I am thankful for sacrifice, those who do/have done it for me and those who allow/have allowed me to do it for them. It is an integral part of our growth and it makes us stronger.  
--I am thankful for my sub-family and friends here in Brazil… the ones who treat me like I am one of the family and love and respect me. Thank you so much for everything you do! 
--I am thankful for sushi… without it, the world would be... well... just boring.

Travels ahead

I know it has been a month but I haven't been able to find the time to write in my blog.

I bought tickets to visit my parents and I am really excited to go. My brothers have bought tickets for me to fly and visit each of them. I really can't wait to see the kids again!!! I have not even met one of them and she is growing up so fast and hasn't met her tia yet.

I am going to be in the states for a little over a month. I am going to be joined by a friend there and then my Mom, sister, friend and I are all going to travel around the west coast. I am totally stoked! I can't even tell you how long it has been since I had a road trip with my sister! The last road trip I had was with my Mom and it was a lot of fun. I can't wait to go!!! It will be in the winter so we are a little crazy but I think it is fitting! The only sad part is that Mari can't be there. She is going to try and compensate for not being able to go, by visiting Buenos Aires for a week.

My head is still so wrapped up in things going on here though, that I have not been able to concentrate on getting my paperwork in order. I don't really know if there will come a time that I will feel like doing it, but I need to get it done soon.

It is in the silence that we must listen.

I was reading Seth Godin's blog this morning and again I came across a post that I would like to comment on.

He says:

"Not fade away

Most partnerships don't end up in court.
Most friendships don't end in a fight.
Most customers don't leave in a huff.
Instead, when one party feels under-appreciated, or perhaps taken advantage of, she stops showing up as often. Stops investing. Begins to move on.
No, I'm not going to sue you. Yes, I'll probably put my best efforts somewhere else.
Just because there are no firestorms on the porch doesn't mean you're doing okay. More likely, there are relationships out there that need more investment, quiet customers who are unhappy but not making a big deal out of it. They're worth a lot more than the angry ones."

I can't begin to tell you about how many times this exact thought has crossed my mind. Perhaps the thought was not as well organized as Seth's post, but the content of his post has crossed my mind on many occasions. I very frequently encounter situations where an individual has assumed that things were running smoothly because there were no complaints. He comments that "just because there are no firestorms on the porch that doesn't mean you're doing okay" and then mentions that quiet customers may not be happy but are just not making a big deal about it. It is true that perhaps most of them are quite satisfied but I would like to take a look at and comment on this attitude of interpreting the silence. 


It isn't normal for everyone to walk through life just assuming that everyone is unhappy and that in the "quiet customer" or in the "quiet friend" there is an unhappiness with the service/attention given. I do think however that Americans in general tend to question the silence a bit more than others. I recently gave thought to the idea that perhaps I was raised to be less naive about my friends and those I come into contact with. I never looked at silence as a sign of satisfaction. I have always felt more uncomfortable around people who are even keel. When there is no emotion expressed, my red flags go up. Perhaps this is a mentality passed down from my entrepreneurial great-grandmother or perhaps it is an American mentality. 

If I go one step further into this (as I am about to do) then I would like to draw attention to the idea that... Americans read words. We have been programmed to read words because we don't express as much through physical contact.  We need to take the words that someone says, the intonation with which they are said and combine that with the body language that projects those words and only then do we process it. I have only been able to recognize and understand this a bit more while living here in Brazil.

For someone who is not used to reading through words,  it can become a confusing process (as I have recently encountered with an American who lost contact with the culture) to learn how to communicate this way. I like to think of it as the process of waking back up and becoming less naive, since you inevitably have to look past the easily faked physical contact and literally see peoples words. It can be a very painful process to become aware of people's true feelings. Most people would prefer to live in oblivion and hear only what someone chooses to communicate to us. However, when your position or friendship depends on not  doing that, then you must learn to read the words being spoken and listen during the silence.

Last Wednesday, I was having a discussion with one of my students when something about this subject came up. The student is about to travel to the USA and she is very worried that she will feel bad once she arrives there. She has heard from several people that Americans don't greet with a kiss and won't usually express satisfaction with seeing someone through physical contact. As a Brazilian she is used to reading through body language. She knows that when she sees a friend after a long separation that there will be lots of hugs and kisses and the persons body language will tell her that they are happy to see her. My discussion with this student drew me to the conclusion (one that I expressed to her) that... Just as much as she is reading the body language, Americans are telling you the same thing through their words. Just because we are ot invading your personal space, does not mean that we are not happy to see you. Stop for a moment and listen to what we are saying, it is through our words that we are expressing our love and happiness with you. Perhaps later she could sit down and read her friends blog and find out what he/she truly felt when she arrived. :)

Where does that leave me though... someone who was raised as as a very vocally expressive individual who communicates primarily though my words, and is now learning to express myself physically as well. I guess it leaves me being very confused about who is saying what, and is leaving me very sensitive to the vocal and physical silence. Not expressing to me either vocally or physically how you feel leaves me empty and unsatisfied with you. Like I said... even keel is not my thing. So, the way I see it, just as much in the professional world as in the personal one, I need to find a balance between the two. The ideal mix of physical and vocal expression. I need to fill my life with those who can maintain that balance as well. I need people around me who can hear me when I speak and when I don't. I need to be around people who will let me hear them as well. Those who prefer to sit in silence have not yet learned that one important step in human development, to allow others to feel and fill in the voids. 

Bringing this back to Seth's post... I think that whether you live in a physically expressive society or a vocally expressive society, you will ALWAYS need to pay attention to the quiet ones. We need to remember that they exist and that perhaps they are not as happy as we think they might be. Perhaps we could find a way to make them a bit more satisfied and turn them into happy talkative costumers/friends. If we leave them to their silence, we may potentially lose them.

Runner

Well, I did it, I signed my life away! I am locked into a year contract with a gym. It is really really expensive and I hesitated to go for it... but I knew that it was the only way to get me committed to doing it. If it was cheap, I would never go.  The best thing about it is that it includes the pool. I am a fish and I love the water!

So, today I am going to look for a swimming suit, this might be the most difficult task for the entire year. Finding a swimming suit for a girl my size isn't the easiest task in Brazil. In the USA it is difficult for other reasons, my size is usually the first sold in the states. In Brazil, I am lucky if they make my size. Anyway, about to change that I hope :)  I am totally excited about it. They have so many classes I want to participate in, like boxing :D he he he!

I am sure this is not the last time you hear about the gym, it is a year contract after all. :-)


--- Update:  Expensive doesn't necessarily mean commitment---  Ooops!

Passwords

Fromses nowses onses, Ises haveses decidedeses thatses Ises willses ignorses theses socialses ruleses andses continueses toses makeses funses ofses peopleses whoses talkses funnyses. Thereses onceses waseses a dayses in whichses I metses a boyses, and the boyses madeses me very confuseses. I couldn'tses understanses thatses heses waseses speakingses Englisheses untilses I realizedeses that he wases addingses "ses" toses everyses wordeses.
 

Weekend clicked

It is simple, it just clicked. My weekend was so nice and I felt so relaxed. You know when things just click? Like when everything is just in a really good rhythm? I spent two days relaxing with friends and enjoying nature. We stayed up late talking about everything under the sun (and then some). I love moments like that! I wish it didn't have to end, but reality is that work starts early tomorrow.
Genuine happiness! Thanks!

Truth just around the corner...

I read the post today on Seth Godin's blog. It is about taking a closer look at your business, and if your business is one that is willing to take a look in the mirror to see its flaws or if you are willing to just go with the status quo.

I particularly like the imagery he draws when he says:

"Sometimes, we get close to finding out who we really are, what's the status of our situation, what's holding us back. When one of those conversations is going on, do you lean in, eager for more, or do you back off, afraid of what it will mean?" 

I immediately saw this "eager leaning in" as something I regularly do for work, but that I don't do on a personal level.

His focus was on businesses and if their owners are willing to see their flaws and actually show interest and make changes. I believe that these changes and acceptance of  "critical thinking" should apply all the way down to the individuals involved. This process of taking in the information that others have about us has become intolerable to most people. The opinions of others have become just that, opinions. There is no great effort to "lean in" and listen to what others feel could make us a better person.

Perhaps in our struggle for independence, in our own personal separation from the chaff, we lost the ability to listen to criticism. Perhaps we feel vulnerable when our insides are exposed and protect ourselves from being cut open at any cost. We no longer seek out personal and individual remodeling, when what most of us need is to be gutted out and have the supporting beams replaced with  securely cemented foundations.  It isn't natural for man to stop redefining his character, so the struggle against nature to remain closed is a tiresome battle that isn't easily won.

I adore you!

So, loneliness is a matter of perception, right? I imagine it is. I am pretty sure there is some study out there that proves what I just said. So, I was thinking about how I have always been the person who would choose very carefully the people I surrounded myself with and was never someone who encouraged or fostered superficial relationships.  I think it reflects in my friends list on Facebook. I am very much a person of QUALITY and not QUANTITY.  So much so, that I believe that deep friendships are just as important as having a spouse. So, it made me wonder how lonely these people are who have hundreds of friends on Facebook.

Stop and think about it for a minute. If you truly have 850 friends, that would mean that if you were to speak to every single one of them at least once a month (what I would consider very superficial) you would have to see and  maintain a relationship with a minimum of 2 people on your list every single day of your life. You wouldn't be able to repeat the visit, because there just isn't enough time to see all of those people and have quality time with them. Okay, so I know the thinking is a bit radical, but I really think that the people with the most friends are actually the loneliest. If you have to maintain a superficial relationship with a lot of people, it must be exhausting and lonely.

What logic did I use to draw my conclusion? I didn't!!!  I just think I am right. Ha ha ha!
Actually it was all because of a thought I had about Brazil. One of the most difficult things for me has been how superficial friends are here. I don't really know how to deal with it most of the time. I feel a bit like a fish out of water when it comes to making friends here. I have always been someone who makes a strong connection with my friends and remain that way for very long spaces of time. I grew up in a place where you clearly knew if a person liked you or not. The opposite happened in Brazil, I got so overwhelmed by superficial connections when I moved here, that I just stopped trying to make real friends. I ended up isolating myself and stuck to the few friends I did have.

Brazilians are masters at superficial. Well, they take second place to southern women from the USA. (please no hate mail from either side!)
My first month living here in Brazil, I had maybe 11 people tell me how much they "adored" me. So, you tell me, at what point in ONE MONTH, I could have possibly been worthy of the adoration of 11 people? I swear to you, I didn't rescue any puppies or jump into any fires during that month.  To me, adoration is something deep, that you feel for people you truly like. I have only used the word adore or something similar to that with friends on very rare occasions. After I finally realized that most people here put on a production with EVERYONE, I began to understand how superficial things were. I still get confused by it, and really have no clue when someone actually does truly like me. The fact that everyone here is very physical and touchy just confuses me even more and makes me feel a bit like "Max" from "Mary and Max".  Like I need to wear a booklet around my neck to interpret what is REALLY going on.

I used to be able to make clear definitions in my mind between a potential good friend and a superficial one. Growing up in the USA you don't have to worry so much about the physical cues being confusing. I mean if a guy held your hand he liked you, if you LET him hold it, then you liked him. If your friend gave you a hug he/she liked you. If he/she hugged you harder you felt the energy and knew the cue of friendship. So, what happens when everyone hugs, everyone kisses, everyone holds hands??? CONFUSION! I can't tell you what a mess it has made of my mind and when I will figure it out. I can't rely anymore on who hugs tighter or who holds on longer. So what do I do? Any ideas?  ha ha ha!

I can only assume that by telling everyone you adore them and by being physical with everyone, it could eventually lead to a sense of satisfaction. I guess one could develop a sense of security by thinking that everyone likes you and that you like everyone. FOR ME... it has done the opposite and now I don't think anyone is sincere.  Maybe because I wasn't born here or raised that way, I can't quite grasp how it all works. It has caused me to be skeptical and totally blind when a true friend really does show up. So, I am open to any ideas or input... would I really know the difference when a real one does show up?  I need a bigger instruction manual here. Ha ha ha! I just have to laugh! Because if you can't rely on social cues then...  I have NO IDEA how these people do it!!!
PS. I ADORE YOU! ;)

Wii got the upper hand.

I have been trying to lose weight for my trip home to visit family in December. I was going to do it alone but since I started the diet/workout routine, I have been joined by my Mom and -M-. I have decided that the exercise portion of my diet is going to be based on three items: The Wii, a jump rope and running.  I will have to progress through the 3 items as I lose weight, I can't just skip to the running portion of my routine. I need to lose a bit of weight first in order to be able to use a jump rope and then on to running.

So, most of my family and friends know how active I was before I got Perthes. I was in tap, gymnastics, track and field  and skiing. Running was something I absolutely loved doing before I got Perthes. I was one of the fastest in my class and was preparing to compete in the Hershey's track meet when I went into the hospital the first time. I regularly have dreams that I am running or dancing and the freedom I feel when I am doing these activities in my dreams is so powerful.  I wake up depressed knowing that it isn't real.  I can't say, I gave up on those things because perhaps with a total hip replacement it might still be a possibility.

Just after I got out of my braces (legs), I went overboard trying to do everything I could possibly do and pushed my physical limits to the absolute edge. I went climbing, rappelling, skiing, snowboarding... you name it and I at least tried it. Of course there were many disappointments, like when I tried to water-ski. I can't keep my legs together long enough to get up out of the water. I tried it several times, and ended up just being towed around on a big old whale floater. I think over time, things started getting more and more difficult as I abused the limits of my body. I now have more pain in my knees than I do in my hips.

So bringing this back around to last night, I was again reminded of my limitations when I couldn't physically move my legs off the ground. I was at a friends place playing Just Dance on the Wii. It was difficult to even allow myself to try, because every time I was required to move my feet, I would feel the pain shooting through my hips. I know this will get better as I lose weight, and this is my number one goal. I need to have more freedom, I need to be able to feel that running is a possibility.

So....
Dear Wii, you got the upper hand last night,
Sitting there all smug with your superior plight.
Look over your shoulder my little friend.
Because my discontent will be your end!

Winter Wonderland

It is winter in Brazil and you wouldn't really know it. This week I was able to wear my tank-tops and shorts a few time. I enjoy weather like this, but I am really am missing the winter wonderland weather I grew up with in Utah. It has been almost 9 years since I experienced a really cold winter. I would love to see snow again! I would love to wake up and  walk outside to see the front yard covered in snow. I want to look down the street and see the trees covered in the white powder. I would love to feel the snow crunch under my boots and pick it up and let it melt in my hands. I really hope I am able to see a little snow when I visit the USA in Dec.

I can't say I haven't felt the winter at all this year in Brazil, because I have. Just a few weeks ago, the weather was really cold and because it isn't normal to have a heater, my feet felt like little Popsicle for a week straight. I have been lucky enough though to avoid the viruses going around and I just got a slight sinus infection (knock on wood). I would like to keep it that way and not get sick this year.

If it does get any colder, I think I will find a small room at work,turn on the heater, curl up in a corner and hibernate. How funny would that be... Students, please ignore the lump in the corner, that is just the American in hibernation . Put a sign on me (please don't poke the American in hibernation).

I am a ninja!

Something made me laugh really hard in class the other night. I was playing the audio CD for the class to check their book work. I played it the first time around and one of my students started erasing the answers she had written down in her book. I then played the tape a second time and she put up her hand and said... "Wait just a minute please! I was right the first time." I looked at her and smiled, she looked back at me with a really confused face and said... "The first time you played it, the man said something different than what he said this time." Her face was totally serious, so I knew she really felt she had been cheated or something. I sat there in silence waiting for her to realize that this is a CD and I couldn't have possibly changed the answers between playing it the first time and playing it the second time. What the man on the tape said the first time is exactly what he said the second time. After a 20 to 30 second pause and some awkward silence. she was still looking at me as if I had done something wrong. Another student of mine broke the silence by saying "Yes, teacher got up, took the CD out of the player, replaced it with a false one, sat back down and hit play again, just to confuse you". I couldn't help it... I busted up laughing and backed what he said up with "My ninja skills are awesome". I was almost rolling on the floor in laughter. It was so funny and in the end she finally realized how silly it sounded ... Poor girl! she knows I love her! ... I hope ;)

Good Luck... on your wedding day.


One of my students reminded me yesterday of a conversation I had with her a few months ago. It was about a phrase that is commonly used in Brazil for weddings. Every time I think of this conversation it makes me laugh a bit. I find these slight cultural differences really facilitating and entertain most of the time.

We were talking about the phrase "good luck". She had mentioned to me that she says "good luck" to a bride and groom. I said "hold up". I need to get this straight in my head. "You wished the bride and groom good luck?" I asked. She then told me that it was very common to say this to a bride and groom. I still couldn't get this phrase to settle in my head as a good thing to say to a newly married couple.

The image that this phrase in the context of a wedding night brings to my head is not good. I was trying to picture in my mind being at a wedding. I go to hug the bride and groom and then cross my fingers and tell them "good luck". To me, telling someone "good luck" on the wedding day, translates into something other than I wish you happiness in your life. It roughly translates in my mind to, "wow you are brave" and "I wouldn't do it myself but good luck in your courageous dive into the deep end of the pool". I could just imagine my best friend glancing over at my spouse and saying "good luck". Oh the image makes me laugh.

Apparently in a culture where sarcasm isn't widely used nor understood, the term "Boa Sorte" or "Good Luck" is perfectly fine and normal to use at a wedding. So... Good Luck all you newlyweds out there!!! ... nope, sorry I still can't say it without feeling the sarcasm in the phrase.