Life After College

Disaster & Triumph

You know what always astounds me? That it takes a devastating tragedy for people to be nice to each other.

Today, there was nowhere I could turn that didn’t show the devastation that Texas is currently facing. The coast is in shambles. Cities are facing historic floods. Meteorologists don’t think the storm part of this story will end for a few more days, as they expect Harvey to turn around and come back. And it broke my heart to see the pictures. I saw story after story about people who lost everything, entire cities flattened, massive highways underwater.

But amidst those stories, there were stories of triumph. Stories about people who loaded up their boats this weekend and headed toward the storm to go pull complete strangers to safety. Stories about people opening their homes to friends of friends so they would have a safe, dry place to stay. Buses moving hundreds of people to convention centers that became temporary shelters. People looking for somewhere to make donations or volunteer their time. And of gas stations and convenience stores that went out of their way to support people who were traveling and people who were volunteering.

And the silly things we use to divide us, like skin color, political views, language, aren’t important anymore.

This is the kind of compassion we need because we are all human and we are all here together. And we are stronger together. Stories like this give me hope for our future. I just wish it didn’t take a disaster to make it happen.

My thoughts and prayers are with Houston and those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, I thank the brave first responders and volunteers who are working around the clock to make sure as many people as possible are safe and have what they need. I know this is a trying time, but I know that by working together, we will rise above it.


Want to read some of those triumphant stories I talked about? I found you some! Check them out:

Think you want to help? Check out this article from NPR >

Read the latest on Twitter >

Read a great story? Mention it in the comments below!

Life After College

Happy birthday, Grandpa. 🎂

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

I missed you a little extra today.

I miss you every day. I think about you a lot on my commutes to and from work. Because the sun is eternally in my eyes for the first 15 minutes of my drive (and depending on how late I come home, the last 15, too). It reminds of the times I used to run to play in your garden with the sun in my eyes.

And you were there. In your hat. Weeding and spreading the compost and pruning and trimming. And sharing the fresh fruits and veggies with me and whoever else was around. I still smell tomatoes at the store because they remind me of you. I hope your garden in Heaven is as fruitful.

We miss you. You’d be really proud. Ali graduated. She looked like a grown-up, but she’s still the goofy girl you love.

And Joe John’s good. He just got cleared to play football again. Apparently, his knee is totally healed up and he’s better than ever. And he just got confirmed, which is crazy because I feel like I just blinked and he turned into a man.

Julibug is good, too. Her head still hurts, but I think it’ll go away soon now that school is over.

And I’m good. Working. Trying to make everyone proud. The usual.

Keep watching over us, okay? Because we need it, probably more than we know.

I love you.

Happy birthday.


My mom’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight or nine years ago. On August 4, 2016, he passed away in the nursing home peacefully. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of children and grandchildren, and through us, he will live on. He instilled the values of hard work and persistence in all of us and he will be greatly missed. So while we mourn his passing, we rejoice in the fact that he has found peace and know he will watch over all of us, however far we may go.

NaBloPoMo

Honest

Today’s prompt: If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?

Honesty.

Why is it easier to be honest hiding behind a screen than in person? Because the reaction isn’t always what we expect. But there’s no good in that. I can hide behind my screen and write who I’d be honest with and what I’d say, but that isn’t fair to whomever I’d write to and it isn’t fair to me.

I do write honestly, for myself. Letters mostly. Usually with a specific person in mind. Usually without the intention of sending them. I tell people how I feel, what I think they did wrong, all the things I couldn’t think to say or wouldn’t have said in the moment come out. And that honesty is great because it gets things off my mind, but it isn’t really fair.

For that, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you won’t get to read those letters anytime soon. But I’m not really that sorry, though, because sometimes it’s most challenging to be honest with yourself. That’s what those letters give me.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

NaBloPoMo

Brave

Today’s prompt is: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

BRAVE   |   brāv/
adjective   |   ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
synonyms: courageous, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, fearless, gallant, daring, plucky, audacious; unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid, dauntless, doughty, mettlesome, stouthearted, spirited

What makes me brave? In my everyday life, when was the last time I showed courage?

It’s kinda a loaded question. I get up in the morning and I do what I need to; I go to work or the store. I cook when that needs to happen. I clean when that needs to happen. Does any of that seem brave to you?

I do all of those things, but I don’t really have a plan.

When I graduated, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what my next steps were going to be. My whole life had been about achieving this one goal and I was about to do it and what was supposed to happen next. The beauty of that is that I wasn’t stressed about it. I was stressed about lots of things surrounding graduation, but what was going to happen next wasn’t daunting for me.

Some people might say that’s thoughtless, naive, stupid even. But I call it brave, I guess. I have faith that my life will work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s not to say that I don’t work for the things I have, but there are things in life out of our control. I think having faith is brave.

Faith in life to work out. Faith in people and kindness and generosity. It’s easy to be cynical. It’s easy to write the world off. It’s brave to build relationships and learn about people.

Bravery isn’t just about heroes who beat villains. Bravery happens every day.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2016

NaBloPoMo

Words

In an attempt to get back to writing, I’m going to participate in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I’ve got too many ideas bouncing around in my brain and started as drafts. Starting today, look for posts from me daily. If you’ve got ideas about what you’d like to see me write about, comment somewhere and I might just use your idea if I don’t like the prompt.

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

Words are important. We make them up; we combine them; we pull them apart; we mush them with other languages. We use them to express concrete and abstract ideas. Words differ based on your language and your culture and your education. Words are magic.

A kind word spoken at a funeral can move total strangers to tears. Generous praise can encourage coworkers to go the extra mile so you don’t have to.  A funny word (or perhaps a few) can be used to relieve the tension after a long week. Written words can transport the reader to a new time, a different place, an exotic culture, a fresh point of view.

And then words become actions. A written letter becomes a platform for discussion. A story becomes a lesson.

We underestimate the people who use them. We underestimate the value of historians and artists and writers. All the people who use words to create value. What’s a story without a title? What’s a painting without a name?

Words are important. Take the time to choose the right ones.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Life After College

The Ones Who Love Us…

The ones who love us never really leave us; you can always find them in here.

-J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This week, the world lost a great man. A strong man. A man who valued hard work and instilled it in his kids and grandkids. And he is finally, finally at peace.

Today, in the most Alvarez-style I’ve ever seen, we had a party. And if anyone tries to tell me he wasn’t with us today, I’d explain how wrong that sentiment is.

He was there, with his wife, looking at the legacy they built, from the ground up when they moved to the United States from Colombia.

He was there, in his son who was grilling and wearing a hat and out of the corners of all our eyes looked just like him.

He was there in his grandsons who are the spitting image of him at their age.

He was there in his granddaughters who were content to sit and enjoy the outside.

He was there in his great-granddaughters who love to garden and spent the day in the pool.

He was there in every laugh at every joke and in the music we played a little too loud and in the smiles we shared.

He was there in the sun and the breeze and the silver lining in the clouds.

He was in our hearts and all around us. He always will be.

And he was proud.

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My mom’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight or nine years ago. On August 4, he passed away in the nursing home peacefully. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of children and grandchildren, and through us, he will live on. He instilled the values of hard work and persistence in all of us and he will be greatly missed. So while we mourn his passing, we rejoice in the fact that he has found peace and know he will watch over all of us, however far we may go.

Life After College

Firefly

200Firefly come back to me
Make the night as bright as day
I’ll be looking out for you
-A*Teens – Firefly

I remember when we were younger, we used to spend the summer nights catching fireflies, both in New York with our cousins and in Texas with our friends.

We used to go as far back in the yard as we could, to get away from the porch lights to see them better and then we’d bring them to the porch where the adults were watching us and show them and maybe try to stick them in a jar or bucket, like in the movies. If only we could collect enough, we’d have a lantern, like in the movies. So, we’d spend an hour or two hopping around the yard, trying to catch them and sometimes succeeding. Then, at the end of the night, it was time to let the bugs go. We’d dump them into the planter by the pool or the flowerbed by the porch and watch them as they flew away.

One day (probably in early fall in Texas because it’s like a million degrees during the summer), I realized I hadn’t seen the lightning bugs in awhile. We had moved to Lockhart and I was older and there was little time to spend in the heat getting sweaty and dirty. But I looked out the window, and sure enough, dusk came and with it, the fireflies. I watched from my window as they lit up the yard around the house. There were so many, how could I have missed them all these years? And all these memories came rushing back. Of water fights and slipping in the mud we made getting in and out of the pool all day. How could I have not thought about those memories in so long? And then I went back to my life, reading a book or watching a movie.

This week, I was sitting watching a movie and I happened to look outside and I saw them. As bright as ever, lighting up the tree we used to swing from (and break, when we go too big) and the yard we spend many, many days and nights running through, having childhood adventures. And I had the same thought. How can I have gone years without remembering the paint fights and the endless games of tag?

Just like the lightning bugs, those memories were there, like they always have been, just waiting for me to notice them.