How Being Married to a Felon Made Me Mindful

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November 13th marks one year since my divorce was finalized and I packed my entire life into my white Toyota Corolla and drove from Texas to California. I didn’t celebrate it because it reminds me of the ugly stuff that happened to me, but I’m going to share what I learned from my marriage to Renny that turned out to be a few of the most valuable lessons in my life.

When I worked on my inner self, I came to the term that it’s no question that my marriage has changed me for the better. Before meeting him, I was all about me and me was the only thing that mattered. I was self-centered and acted indifferent. Alas, when he went away, I didn’t do a 180 degrees turn and became Mother Teresa. I slipped and said not-so-nice things sometimes. I judged the people I don’t know that well without thinking twice. I slept in on Sundays when I could have spend them volunteering to make this world a better place for our children.

I woke up.

Instead of wasting my emotional energy away by staying angry at him, I managed to discover the courage to forgive him and move on. Now, I just feel sorry for the guy. I don’t think I could do that before I met him. I wasn’t brave (or wise) enough back then.

I’m far from being a spiritual guru but ever since I backpacked in Brazil a year before meeting him, I have unexpectedly started a spiritual journey and discovered affirmation and mindfulness. I felt like I was awakened. I’ve found a better way to live, opening my way to the brand new world. I finally understood and it was just a beginning. Then, I met him the following summer.

My friends, it’s been nearly four years since he went away. I’ve come a long way. I made tons of mistakes on the way, but I made progress too. When I finally moved past the final stage of grief- acceptance- I started relearning how to love myself and be mindful again. I had to do things that nurtured me and made me stronger spiritually. I finally learned how to allow myself to heal from within. I want you to know that, in a relationship or in any other situation, no matter how long the night seems to feel to you, the sun will always come up next day.

Don’t ask me why I fell for him because it’s in the past. I know that few of you are going through crappy times now because you decided you want to remain with somebody with a past that resembles an episode from Prison Break or Breaking Bad or something with “Break” in it. Well, the good news is, you’re not alone.

Since I like to discuss about this kind of stuff with like-minded people, I thought I’d take a step further and blog my thoughts about it. If you beg to differ, that’s fine with me, because what I’m going to say next is based on my observations.

Don’t get me wrong- the career criminals are, hands down, pathetic cowards, period. They have blatant disrespect for their communities and society. They are too wimpy to face their fear. They hurt other people or animals, directly or indirectly, to get what they want. Be it out of necessity: I was so fucking hungry and depressed I stole a muffin, or just because: that person annoyed the fuck out of me, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, they act like the laws don’t apply to them. They believe that they can do whatever they want. They just go out and break the laws without thinking about the consequences. And don’t get me started on their ignorance, it’s still not an excuse.

What I noticed while living and making the documentary with Renny is that most criminals are naturally impulsive, even if they are living a clean life. Unless they show an ability to control that, they will always be impulsive in other parts of their life.

They don’t think about the future because they are in the present like wild hungry animals looking for ways to survive. When they are committing a crime, all they think about is what they are doing at that very second, not what they will tell their spouses and children when they get the phone call from jail.

That feeling of nowness gives them the rush they so love and come back for more. That’s why Renny was a career criminal and when he got out, he failed again. He would tell me the stories of his bad boy heydays, like the one when he stole and maxed out his ex-best buddy’s credit card on crack cocaine and a sportfishing boat. His eyes glistened as he recalled evading the LA cops in a stolen Dodge Viper and sleeping in it for a week before selling it to a chop shop for few bucks.

Of course they deserve to go to prison because they did stupid and hurtful things and not only that, they dragged a whole lot of people into their mess.

But the very second they are committing a crime, they become one in the moment. That philosophy of living in the present moment (of course in a nonviolent way, the Gandhi way!) is effective and we need to do it more often.

You may wonder how could I come up with such comparison, but that’s what it was like living with him. I saw many things I never saw before. It’s a lame example, but don’t tell me you never stole a candy or made copies of your butt on your company’s copier. Think about that moment. When you swiped that Hershey bar or pressed the Copy button in the spur of moment, you definitely weren’t thinking about what to wear for your date tonight. You were so focused. Remember that intoxicating feeling? Well, we need to reprogram our mind and start taking regular dosages of that feeling. Any time we are in midst of stressful times, we need to be more mindful, take a breath and let go of the toxic tension. Appreciate what good things we have right in front of us. The more we do it, the more of a rush we will get out of it. We need to make this habit into a necessity. Your problems will go away and solutions will come to you. You can’t think about problems with the same kind of thinking that caused them in the first place.

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We all have compassion inside ourselves. It’s just matter of how much you are aware of it. If you’re not sure, nothing works best to discover it than looking in eyes of the people who have nothing but way bigger baggage than you. While I still do believe in giving second chances, I know many valid reasons to be skeptical of dating a felon. It’s a matter of how trustworthy that person is, that he or she will not hurt you. If you are involved with such a person, think about why you are with that person and if it is worth your well-being to continue dating that person.

And be more mindful. It’s so easy to forget the small good stuff that make our life worth living, not the stuff that gave you the instant gratification, but the stuff that you cultivate with love and joy.

DeafHope’s Lavender Film Festival

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Around a month ago, I wrote, performed, and edited (with a help of Terri’s filming talent, thank you!) and submitted my début film to the DeafHope’s Lavender Film Festival. This video is very special to me not only because it is my first film that I edited entirely by myself, but because the subject is very heavy and sensitive and painful. If it never happened to me, I would not have a gut to create something like this, but it did and I just felt I had to do it. When the project was finished, it’s like I underwent an emotional purging and it was a really surreal experience.

Thank you DeafHope for making me do it. It’s truly a great honor being part of something remarkable and meaningful. I applaud to all other who submitted in their films, even through I haven’t seen theirs yet, I know they are brave enough to spread awareness that it is okay to speak up. Also thank you everyone who’s involved in this film, without you, it will not happen. Thank you again!

“Accept no ones’ definition of your life; define yourself.”

Happy Thanksgiving

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I’m most grateful for the times I got to just goof off with Liam, the lil funnyboy.

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For being my readers, even through I was pretty quiet on my blog this year, that doesn’t mean I was too busy for it, it’s just that 2013 was one of the most mind-boggling years for me, but of course in great ways! Worry not, my passion with my blog is still strong and I already have several posts lined up and soon to be published before 2013 expires.

The Reality Blog Award

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A big THANK YOU to DeafInPrison.com for the Reality Blog Award nomination! I’m truly honored to receive this nomination and I’m more than happy to answer the questions that usually come with the nomination.

1. If you could change something what would you change?

I would change the way Deaf people are portrayed in the media. The hearing people’s pathological point of views and discriminations (audism) hinder us to achieve on the high level in the working world. I’m not blaming every hearing (and deaf) person for labeling us with the inaccurate and offensive stereotypes; there are some Deaf people who live up to those stereotypes, but they are only small in number in comparison to the rest of us who have huge potentials to make valuable contributions to the society. There are many intelligent Deaf people who want to make connections to hearing people and promotes their works, but are oppressed by assumptions, lack of understanding, or fear that we will bully you for not respecting us and our culture. We know better than that.

2. If you could repeat an age, what age would it be?

I just turned 30 a couple of weeks ago, so I thought a lot about the last 29 years of my life and given that where I am now, I wouldn’t repeat a specific age because it is all about cause and effect. Most of times what you do now will impact your life years later. We usually don’t realize that until after it happened.

3. What one thing really scares you?

That we are losing touch with nature.

4. What one dream have you not completed yet and do you think you will be able to complete it?

I have many, but it’s skydiving for now.

5. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

Kate Middleton. I want to see her home at the Kensington Palace!

And now for my nominations:

Jules Dameron

Clara Baldwin

Leila Hanaumi

Leala Holcomb

Memories and changes, what have you done to me?

I just celebrated my 29th birthday 10 days ago. I love that my birthday is in January because it’s so close to the New Year’s Day and because of that, I see it like it’s my chance to begin the new year. I always feel like that day belongs to me, and only me. So it’s fitting that I like to write my wish lists and resolutions for the year on that day. It’s also close enough to Christmas so I end up getting a lot of gifts in a short period of time. Who doesn’t like getting gifts?

In the midst of birthday wishes from my family and friends, I thought about my last two birthdays. I am still flabbergasted at how clueless I was on both of my 27th and 28th birthdays when I thought about how my life would turn out. While driving on my 27th birthday, I told myself that this year was going to be my best year ever. Sure enough, it was the most interesting year for me. I became really involved in the documentary and traveled across half of the country for it. I became accustomed to the new lifestyle in Austin. We got married. I also did many new things I never thought I would do if I still lived in D.C. Our married life was full of ups and downs but it was a very interesting learning experience for me. On my 28th birthday, I just arrived to D.C from Peru a few days before. I was seven month pregnant. A month of constant traveling and adjustments to the new environment and handling Renny’s relapses took a toll on me. Despite that, the best thing that ever happened to me during that year was Rex.

I just turned 29 and I still have no idea what will happen to me. I asked myself once that if I knew what the future held, would I go ahead and make the same decisions I made before? Probably not, but that’s the whole point of living. We live and learn and we do it again. The only difference is that some of us decide to do it better next time and other of us just repeat same mistakes. We make our choices for different reasons.

Sometimes, we let our memories affect our decisions and sometimes, we just throw them out of the window. It’s entirely up to us to do whatever we choose to do. We can forgive others or ourselves and make the changes for the better right now. The only thing we can’t do is to go back in time and change what we don’t like. The mere thought of not being able to change the past can affect us emotionally and physically, usually not in good ways.

That’s why I try my best to eat, live, and think healthy. I try to buy organic food as much as I can afford them. I use earth friendly products (my guiltless indulgences are body and face products.) Affirmations and positive thinking also help a lot. As a Pinterest user, I find so many feel-good quotes and inspirations on Internet. I practice gratitude. I am thankful for every person who supports me. I am thankful I am not alone. With my husband in jail and I have Rex, I understand how precious a life can be.

I still think about the last two years a lot; I used to lose hours of sleep just ruminating on it, but I’m better at coping with it now. I take it one day at a time and good things are already happening to me. My birthday wish is to have this year be the best year ever.