Making a Difference

In a world where text messaging has quickly become the main (and preferred) method of communication, where threats of a nuclear war still exist, where political leaders engage in immature and embarrassing rants via Twitter, and where racism in its many forms is NOT a thing of the past, I can’t help but wonder: how can I make a difference? Or more specifically: how can I make a positive difference?

As I turn on the news in the evening, I constantly catch myself trying to distract my daughter so that she will not pay attention to what’s happening around us. My goal is not to shelter her or make her oblivious to the “real world”. After all, sooner than later she will be out there on her own, having to fend for herself. But how do I explain to a six-year old that there was a mass shooting during a music festival, that an Olympic team doctor was molesting his young patients, or that a child almost the same age as her strapped a bomb to his waist and blew himself up for no good reason? What do I say to her when she asks me why someone shot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? This is what she asked me last week, and I quote: “Why did a man shoot him? If you don’t like someone, you should just walk away. You don’t have to hurt them.” Yeah… Did I mention she is only six?

Lately, more than ever, I keep asking myself: how can I contribute to society? How can I make a positive impact? What can I do??? My husband and I donate to charities that speak to our hearts, but should we give more? We both work full-time while raising a small child, but is that an excuse to not volunteer more? Could we manage our time better? Are we managing our money correctly? The more I ask these questions, the more I think that I could indeed do more. But at the same time, I get overwhelmed by the thought of taking on more than I can handle. My life is hectic as it is, so how do I add even more to my plate?

I can make the argument both ways, but in all honesty, deep inside, I want to do more. And I believe I will find a way to do more. But for now, I will stop beating myself up for feeling like I am not doing enough and focus on raising my daughter. That is a full-time job in itself and one that I find extremely important, as she is part of our future.

From the moment my daughter was born, I’ve said to myself (and to my husband) that I hope she becomes a better person than I am. Not that I am a bad person, but I could be better. There is always room for improvement. And I pray that she is better, much better. But for that to happen, I need to be the best parent I can be. She needs to see it in me. She needs to not only believe my words but see me live those words. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “children are like sponges, they absorb everything”. It is true. They are very good observers and they are always paying attention to the words we speak, the facial expressions we make, and the actions we take. My husband and I have the very important job of making sure that we are not just a couple of hypocrites. There are too many kids out there being told to “do as I say”. We want to be the “do as we do” parents. We have no other choice, if we want her to trust us.

We, as parents, have the obligation and responsibility to create a loving environment where our daughter feels happy and confident, but more importantly, an environment where she feels safe, both physically and emotionally. I want her to always feel comfortable talking to me, no matter how delicate the subject may be. I want her to feel like she can confide in me. I want her to know that it’s OK to make a mistake, but that we should be accountable and learn from the mistakes we make. I want her to take responsibility for her actions, instead of blaming someone else, but I also want her to know when it’s not her fault, and when to make someone else accountable. I want her to know that she is in control of her life and the decisions she makes, and that her dad and I will always be there to support her. We are her foundation, and I feel so humbled and blessed that she chose us to be her parents, her guardians, her guides through the most important years of her life. I also feel tremendous pressure and responsibility, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

As I write this post, another human being has made his grand entrance into this crazy world: my nephew. His parents are amazing people and I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions to our society when he grows up. And if I believe that, I must also believe that, at least for now, the biggest difference I can make is through my daughter and the way I raise her. She is loving, kind, compassionate, and respectful of the people and the environment around her. No, she is not perfect, none of us are. But since a very young age, she’s understood the difference between right and wrong. It is something that is common sense to her, and we all know how common sense is not all that common these days. And for that, my husband and I will gladly take credit. Sure, her Montessori education has had a significant impact in her life (and in ours). But as parents, we have been her biggest role models, her mirror, her real-life heroes. So, I will again take credit for having raised a good human being these last six years. And if everyone out there could say the same thing, I would be pretty darn confident that we would have a bright future ahead. We desperately need a brighter future!

So back to my initial struggle… I will, at least for now, try to let go of the doubts and the pressure. Because maybe, just maybe, I am making a significant difference already.








I stopped so I could start…

So… I took a break from this blog to work on my writing. A little confusing, I know. What I mean by that is that I signed up for a screenwriting workshop with the New York Film Academy. It is a 15-week workshop and we are about half way through it. It is an online workshop and it has been fun and very informative so far.

However, I do miss blogging and hope to come back soon. As a matter of fact, I have had many experiences lately that are worthy of a post or two, so I hopefully I will find the time to write about them. 😉

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hello, since it has been a while…

Talk to y’all soon! 🙂

Country Living – Part 2

It has been a little while since I wrote “Country Living – Part 1”, so I had to go back and read it again to make sure I didn’t repeat myself. It turns out, I only told you guys about one animal that has come by. There have been many more since then, so let’s go ahead and get started.
The last post ended with the mysterious disappearance of the rooster that came by our house to visit… and to poop all over our porch. About three weeks after that, we had another visitor: a bird. More specifically a wren, which is a tiny little brown bird. It was trying to build a nest in our garage. I took it down, worried about what would happen if baby birds were born in there. But the wren came back and tried again, so I took the nest down again. The little bird still didn’t get the hint and it came back a third time, so I took it down once again and walked upstairs, frustrated. As I opened the door, something flew right over my head, something much bigger than a wasp or a fly. It was the bird. Somehow it got lost after its third failed attempt to build a nest and instead of fleeing the scene through the garage louvers, it decided to fly up the stairway and wait right by the door – maybe it wanted revenge against the nest bandit. Once it got in, it started freaking out. As you probably know, birds can’t see glass (if you thought that was just a joke, well, it is not). The poor little critter kept flying into our front door, then as I approached the door to try to open it, it flew up the stairway and straight into a window. Its little brain didn’t seem to register the fact that it was glass and not his escape route, so it kept trying over and over again. I started to panic at the thought of a dead bird in my house, but more importantly I felt really bad for her (or him?), so I grabbed my cell phone to call my husband … and realized that, of course, once again, he was out of town and unable to help me (refer to my previous post if this doesn’t make sense to you). I ended up calling my neighbor instead and her husband came right away to rescue me, I mean the bird. After the wren was safely guided outside, I took a deep breath and went on about my business… and so did the bird. It must have been really traumatized, because it didn’t come back into our garage again that Spring. Bird episode (almost) over. We had another bird visit this year, but that’s a story for another post. Now on to the next “wild” animal.
I am not going to go into detail about the fox, hoot owl and the two bald eagles that live in the vicinity. I am just going to say that they are actually pretty cool to have around, especially since they stay far away from us and our dog. Well, the owl tried to “attack” our dog one night, but once it got close enough to see her size (90 lbs.!), it quickly flew away. We have also had the pleasure of seeing baby raccoons hanging out on the oak tree in front of our house, and a marsh turtle that came by and laid eggs in our front yard. These last two “events” were neat too, especially for my daughter. And just when I was starting to get used to this country living, something happened. Something that was not neat, or fun, or cool.
The last wildlife story I have to share with you, at least for now, has a connection to the first one (yes, the infamous rooster story). I was in my office one morning, probably about 6 months after the first rooster came into my life, when I noticed a pick up truck drive around the cul-de-sac and stop in front of the lot next to my house. At first I didn’t think anything of it, because that used to happen fairly frequently. The lot was still for sale, so people would drive by, stop, and walk out of their cars to take a closer look at the property. But this time, that truck parked there for a different reason. I noticed the driver walking around to the back of his truck, lowering the tailgate and pulling a cage towards him. I kept watching it, not understanding what was going on and all of a sudden I saw it: there was a rooster inside the cage. Not a white rooster like the first one. This one had dark reddish/brown feathers. I quickly ran to the front door and by the time I walked onto my front porch, the man was holding the cage upside down, trying to get the rooster out. I yelled “Hey, excuse me, sir”. He ignored me. “Excuse me, sir!”, I said more firmly, and he turned around, still holding the cage upside down with the rooster holding on for dear life. “Sir, are you trying to release that rooster here?” He calmly responded “Yes”. So I said “This is private property, you can’t do that”. After those words came out of my mouth, I immediately realized that he was probably the same person who brought the other rooster to our neighborhood a few months back. His response was as astonishing as the thought of having a rooster dropper-offer around the area. He said “Well, it is either this or kill it, and I don’t feel like eating chicken”. What?!?!?! “I don’t feel like it either, sir, so you need to take it back”. He looked at me with an angry expression on his face, as if I was the one who said something absurd. And since the rooster held on tight the whole time, he had no option but to close the cage back up and take the chicken with him.
Every time I tell this rooster story, people laugh – and so do I. It wasn’t funny then, because I was totally perplexed at the fact that someone could actually do that. But now it is pretty hilarious, especially the dialog between me and Mr. Cocky. And another funny thing is that this man had a personalized license plate. I didn’t even have to write it down, I memorized it right away … just in case another rooster inexplicably appeared on my front porch. But needless to say, after almost a year, we have yet to see another chicken roaming around the neighborhood.   






Country Living – Part 1

Sometimes it feels a little weird saying that I am a city girl when I have been living in a somewhat small city for most of my life. But it is true what they say: once a city girl, always a city girl. Well, not sure if anybody says that, but if you grew up in a big city, you understand what I mean. That is not to say that I don’t like where I live. On the contrary, I love it! It is on the coast – which is something very important to me, it is historic, there is always some type of art or sporting event going on, and tourism is at an all-time high. So I guess I can say that I live in a small city with a big city feel. Actually it had been feeling more like a big city than a small one for a while … until a little over a year ago, when we moved into our new place.

Five years ago, my husband and I decided to buy a lot on the water (river to be precise). We came across it while at a party at the developer’s house, and really liked the area, especially the view. It was quiet, surrounded by live oak trees, and the view of the river was stunning. It was also a good deal, so we bought it and three years later started construction. After 12 months, our house was, for the most part, finished. We fell in love with it from the moment we moved in. What I wasn’t counting on were the “country living” experiences I was about to have.

Four months after moving into the new house, I was making myself a sandwich during my lunch break and started hearing the sound of a rooster crowing – you know, that cock-a-doodle-do sound. I had no clue where it was coming from and started searching the house for it. I figured it was a toy that suddenly went off, because our alma matter’s mascot is a Gamecock and we have some Gamecock stuff around, but I couldn’t find anything. Then I heard it again … and again. So I decided to walk outside and to my surprise, there was a rooster on the vacant lot next to my house. It was the first time I saw a rooster in the area and thought it was a bit weird, but I assumed it came from somewhere nearby and went on about my business. Later that night, I was preparing dinner for my daughter while she danced around the house. As she danced her way towards the front door, I heard a small scream and thought she had fallen down. I asked if she was OK and she replied “yes, mommy, but there is a chicken on the porch”. I thought to myself “oh, no, she fell and hit her head”, but as I walked towards her, I realized she was telling the truth. The same rooster I had seen earlier that day was back, and this time it was on our front porch. I tried to shoo it away – nothing. I cracked the door open and let my dog peak outside and bark – nothing. My daughter grabbed her duck call toy thingy and started using it – nothing. I actually asked her to stop immediately because I was afraid ducks would come over and join the chicken. This was all happening and my husband, of course, was out of town for work. My luck! He laughed as I described the situation and I guess it was pretty funny. I finally gave up trying to get the rooster to leave and we all went to bed. In the morning, the front porch was covered in chicken poop and the rooster was nowhere to be found. Must have gone back to his coop, I thought. WRONG.

Later that night, the rooster came back. He also came back the night after that and the night after that. By the second night, my husband was back and we could not figure out how to get it to leave the premises. Poop was everywhere and the sound of that thing crowing was driving everyone crazy, especially our dog. At the end of the week, as we were getting ready to go on a road trip, the guys who were doing work around our backyard showed up. My husband approached one of them and said that there was a rooster roaming around, it was not ours, and jokingly added that they were welcome to take it if they wanted. By the time we got back from our trip, the rooster was gone – for good this time. We are not exactly sure why or how the it went away, but have a pretty good theory.

Don’t worry, my Country Living story does not end here. That rooster was not the only bird to pay an unwanted visit to our house and it was certainly not the only “wild” animal around. More to come on the next blog. Stay tuned.








Murphy’s Law

Have you ever had one of those days when everything goes wrong from the moment you wake up? You are late for a meeting because your alarm didn’t go off – then you spill coffee on your lap while driving – and when you finally get to work someone has taken your reserved parking spot – kind of day? If you have, then you had what I call a pretty decent day. After reading this post you will understand why. And next time you think you’re having a bad day, come pay a quick visit and read this post again. It should make you feel better right away. You will remember that you could be having a day like the one I had the other day. The day I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Literally.

This is how it all started: my husband got up early to go to a staff meeting and I rolled over to his side of the bed at some point between 6:00 and 7:00 AM. I had been having some trouble sleeping all week because of a bruised – possibly fractured – tailbone from snowboarding the weekend before and it was hard to find just the right position to sleep in, so I must have wandered over to his side of the bed (which pretty much never happens). When I opened my eyes and saw the dog bed on the floor, confusion took over. “Holy crap, I’m in Freaky Friday!” I slowly turned my head to my side of the bed to see if my body was there……nothing but the white comforter. “OK, let me just make sure. Where is the mirror?” My panic subsided when I got up and saw my own face and upper body in the mirror above the dresser. “Good…”. To my relief, I was still me and it was actually Friday – TGIF! What I didn’t know at that moment was that I was about to have my own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad day. It was going to be Murphy’s Law at its finest.

After confirming that I was still in my own body and laughing at myself for thinking I could actually switch bodies with someone, I proceeded to get dressed and get my day started. I walked by my daughter’s bedroom on my way downstairs and noticed she was in bed, fully dressed, with a blanket covering her face. It was not an uncommon occurrence – this lying in bed in her school clothes, pouting because she is still tired happens at least once a week. Eleven hours of sleep is clearly not enough on a week night, but come Saturday morning, she is wide awake at 7:00 AM, sometimes earlier, ready to play and watch Jack Hannah (have I mentioned I love my daughter more than anything?). So after a quick one-sided conversation, we managed to get down to the kitchen. She asked for waffles, the frozen kind, and a glass of milk. Half way through the waffles, she knocked the full glass of milk all over the counter and didn’t say anything. I didn’t notice because I was too busy filling up her water bottle and getting my to-go coffee ready, which I managed to do successfully without any spillage. I turned around, grabbed my purse, and as I walked past her, I realized my phone was still on the charger. So I quickly put my purse down and reached for my phone. Splash! Yep, it was milk. My fabulous purse was sitting in a giant puddle of milk, which had now made its way down the side of the cabinet and onto the wood floor. I took a deep breath. No need to get upset, I thought to myself. There is no apparent damage to the purse and it is Friday after all. Let’s clean this mess up and head to school.

This was one of the few parts of the day without any incidents. I dropped my little girl off and made my way back home just in time for my first conference call of the day, which was long and boring (I work from home by the way). On my way upstairs from the garage, I had spilled coffee on my white pants, but even then I maintained my composure. In between the first and second calls, I decided to do some laundry. I remembered I had a whole bunch of whites to wash, mostly my kid’s clothes, and figured I’d get it done before the weekend. And I could throw the white pants I was wearing in there too. I also thought it’d be a good idea to use some bleach – make those whites whiter! As I poured the bleach into its dedicated compartment, some of it dripped on my brand new laundry mat. A mat I had wanted to by for months, and finally did when it went on sale. A mat that actually made me smile for a few seconds when I entered the laundry room because it was so cute. I quickly got a wet towel, got down on my knees and started fearlessly scrubbing the bleach from the mat, while at the same time experiencing an excruciating pain coming from my tailbone area. I continued scrubbing nonetheless, hoping I could save the mat, but deep inside I knew there was no way it would ever look the same again. It would now have a big, discolored spot on it, which I made worse by smearing the bleach everywhere as I scrubbed, and it would no longer make me smile every time I saw it. Instead, it would remind me of my daughter’s white leggings, which were so dirty I felt the need for bleach. Dang it! Why does she have to get so dirty at school? (I love my daughter!) Why did I decide to do laundry on a Friday? Sunday is laundry day – Sunday! I finally stood up, almost passed out from the shooting pain that got suddenly worse, and after I stopped seeing stars, I walked back to my desk, almost in tears. As I passed by the glass front door, I waved to the UPS man who had just dropped off a couple of boxes. He waived back awkwardly and turned around so fast I thought he was going to fall over. Then I realized I didn’t have any pants on.

I don’t even remember what that second conference call was about. I didn’t have to be on it anyway – it was “optional”. But there I was anyway, with a heating pad under my butt, pretending to listen when I was actually Googling the laundry mat. Maybe I could just buy a new one…but of course it wasn’t on sale anymore. As soon as the call was over, I made my way back into the laundry room to put the clothes in the dryer.  I cautiously opened the door with one eye closed and the other one open to check on the state of the mat. “What?!” I opened the other eye and confirmed that the mat was actually intact! It was a Freaky Friday miracle! The bleach did nothing to the mat! Nothing! Great, let me put these whites in the dryer and get on my third conference call of the day. And this time I will really pay att…..hmmmm, if the bleach didn’t do anything to the mat, then it probably didn’t do anything to the clothes either. Yep, the leggings are still stained. And so is this t-shirt. What kind of bleach is this?! It had one job to do, ONE: make my whites whiter! Unbelievable. That roller coaster of emotions made me a little dizzy, but I carefully walked back to the office for yet another call.

I am going to save you some time and give a quick summary of how the afternoon went. I got on that third conference call and about 9 minutes into it, heard a weird noise coming from the living room. I walked over just in time to watch my dog throw up on the tracks of the sliding doors. Not the floor, not the rug, she threw up on the hardest place to clean in the whole house! If you have sliding doors, you know what I mean. So after 20 minutes of attempting to clean everything, I finally gave up and decided to wait until my husband got home. My tailbone was on fire and I think I even blacked out for a few seconds while cleaning. Then I suddenly remembered: “I was in the middle of a call 20 minutes ago”.  By the time I limped back to my desk, the call was over and I had a new email in my inbox with an action item and my name next to it. Probably punishment for not answering when someone called my name. Sorry, folks, I was cleaning dog puke!

I still had two more conference calls that afternoon, but decided to call it a day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anyways between the pain and the thought of dog puke drying out under my sliding door. I just needed to get that heating pad under my butt again and rest. Maybe a quick nap until my husband and daughter get home. As I lied uncomfortably on the couch, sure enough my eyes started to get heavy. I was about to fall asleep when I heard a chirping sound – the chirping sound. The sound that everyone fears: the smoke detector. At that point I concluded that it was time to self-medicate. By the time my husband and daughter got home, I was on my second glass of wine and getting ready to pop a couple of pain pills. An hour and another half a bottle of wine later, I kissed them goodnight and off to bed I went, hoping and wishing that Saturday would be a better day. Not great, not good, just please – pretty please – better than today. But I couldn’t just leave it to chance. On my way up, I grabbed a couple of those foam pool noodles to put under the sheets, right in the middle of the bed, separating my territory from my husband’s. “Tomorrow I am going to wake up on the right side of the bed!”

What will you do if one morning you wake up and realize you are on the wrong side of the bed?



A Little Poetry

These thoughts inside my brain

The lights, the touch, the sound

Will an answer ever be found?

Will all the kindness be in vain?


Children smile with hope

We must not pass on the fear

Just keep them close, keep them near

And they’ll be able to cope


A simple word of wisdom

A true moment, eye to eye

We simply mustn’t lie

For they will be our freedom


It should be no surprise

They do what they see

So be all that you can be

Be kind, be strong, be wise


…Together we rise



English Shminglish

I can’t quite recall why, but I started taking English classes back in Brazil when I was only 6 years old. The English school was a 2-minute walk from my apartment building and I loved, loved, loved going there. I still remember one day when the English teacher said that we would be reading and interpreting the lyrics to “The Time of My Life”. Yes, that song from Dirty Dancing! I was so thrilled! I loved that song so much and could not believe I would actually get to learn lyrics. If you grew up before the Internet was invented, you understand and appreciate how truly excited I was. See, back then, you couldn’t just Google something and have it magically appear on your computer/phone screen. Heck, we didn’t even have personal computers when I was little. Or cell phones. I actually kind of miss those days sometimes … life was, in many ways, simpler then.

So back to learning English. I took formal English classes from age 6 until about age 13. After 7 years of going to class twice a week, I got a certificate that said I had “graduated”. I still took English in high school, because it was mandatory, but by then, I already knew how to speak it fluently. Or so I thought.

This is no joke: at 13, I really thought that I was fluent in English, and I guess compared to most of my friends and family, I kind of was. So imagine my surprise when I arrived in “the south” 5 years later (see my previous post for reference to “the south”) and could only understand about 50% of what people were saying. No, actually I think it was closer to 35%. Yep, I could barely understand when people talked to me. After all those years of hard work and memorizing many song lyrics, what I thought was my second language was nothing more than just a foreign language.

Now, it is true that people talk a little differently in the south. Words roll into each other, you all is pronounced y’all, and “I am fixing to…” does not mean that you are going to repair something. But even though I knew I was surrounded by a hard-to-decipher southern accent, I was very shocked to discover that I still had a lot to learn. My vocabulary was very limited and what I thought was the proper way of structuring sentences sounded almost silly when spoken out loud. Not to mention the prepositions and my inability to use them correctly. On, off, in, out, into, onto, at, under, underneath… WHAT? I give up! Or is it give in?  And then, of course, you have those words that, to us Brazilians, can be very tricky to pronounce sometimes: beach vs. b!tch. Sheet vs. sh!t. Liter vs. litter, among others.

Sometimes I laugh out loud when I think about the many times that I pronounced words incorrectly. One time I went to a Ben and Jerry’s and decided to order a pint of ice cream: “May I please have a pint of the chocolate peanut butter ice cream?” Sounds just fine, right? Well, not really. The problem is that I pronounced “pint” the same way you say “mint”, just with a p instead of an m. The guy behind the counter had a blank look on his face and it finally hit him. “Oh, you mean pint“. My face turned red instantly and my first instinct was to run out the door when he turned around to get the darn pint. But I didn’t. I just decided to never go back there again, which sucked because it was within walking distance from my house. Then later I found out (the hard way) that he also worked at the used CD store, which was, of course, within walking distance from my house as well. It was time to move…

So after many other similar situations, I eventually learned English (for real this time) and, more importantly, got used to the infamous southern accent. Just like with everything else, it takes practice – a lot of practice – to learn and be fluent in a second language. I am going through a somewhat similar situation now with my daughter. She was born in the U.S. and her dad is American, so we speak English in the house. I have, however, been talking to her in Portuguese since she was born, so she understands basically everything I say in my native language. The hard part for her is speaking it, because she is not exposed to it anywhere else, unless we travel to Rio. But our time in Brazil is always so limited that it is not enough for it to stick. So I am working on that now, teaching my daughter Portuguese – or “Por-cue-jeez”, as she says it. And let me tell you, it has been a process. I often wonder if she will ever speak it, and get frustrated by the idea that she may not. But then I remind myself that she is only 5. I was a year older than her when I started learning English, so there is no need to push her too hard. Otherwise she may not want to learn it and that is definitely not what I want. So for now, my plan is to try to make it fun, make it natural, incorporate it into every day play, and one day I am sure we will be telling each other jokes and secrets in Portuguese and driving my husband louco!