2016 Resolutions

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Since we are on the first month of the year still, I’m totally allowed to write about this topic. It is almost impossible to think about New Year’s resolutions when you are eating, drinking or relaxing over the holidays. Actually, I will officially propose that we move all the New Year’s resolutions process to the beginning of each new year and stay focused on closing the previous year at full speed.

Now that we are reaching the end of January I started thinking about my own 2016 resolutions. For starters, I have ditched all those related to eating healthier, excercising more or saving money. Those have never worked for me, are completely unappealing and provide no short term rewards, actually these come with more frustration than anything else. These require a three year plan at least, something that doesn’t qualify for a “year resolution” in my humble opinion. I am not planning on being a better father, brother, son, worker or anything like that either, these require introspection and a continuous improvement process, these are not a point in time commitment.

After some back and forth, I decided that my 2016 resolutions should be simple and achievable. I am fully aware that by publishing my resolutions on this blog the Internet will be reminding me about them as well, so I will make it short and sweet:

1) Finish at least two half-marathons 

2) Read six books not directly related to my job

3) Start learning a new language

This is it, straightforward resolutions with measurable goals. I don’t want to be healthier or slimmer, I want to complete two races. I don’t want to be smarter, I want to read six books. And I am tired of moving a personal interest to learn a new language, so here we go.

Once I click publish there is no go back, so let it be. 

On your mark, get set…GO!!!

UPDATES:

1) Two half marathons 

San Francisco Rock and Roll Half-Marathon, completed on April 3rd

San Jose Rock and Roll Half-Marathon, completed on October 2nd 

Big Sur Half-Marathon, completed on November 13th

2) Six books

“Zero to One” by Peter Thiel. Finished on February 27th, very recommendable.

“What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. Finished on May 14th, interesting.

“Marissa Mayer and the fight to save Yahoo!” by Nicholas Carlson. Finished on November 30th, an excellent tale that ended with the acquisition of Yahoo! In 2016.

“El coronel no tiene quien le escriba” by Gabriel García Márquez. Finished on December 27th, a lot of introspection needed after reading it.

“Crónica de una muerte anunciada” by Gabriel García Márquez. Finished on December 30th, awesome.

“Super freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner. Finished on December 31st, lies, damn lies & statstics, worth reading.

3) New language 

Started learning French early in the year, stopped and never went back to it. Doesn’t matter why, this goal was not met. More on this on my next post.

Reflections I

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“$140 esta bien de precio, no?”, “El cambio que me den, te lo doy, ahora sí de verdad”, “Tú nunca tienes dinero para nada”. If you haven’t seen the latest Star Wars movie The Force Awakens, you won’t understand this analogy, but when parents hear these things from their kids is like when Ben Solo (a.k.a. Kylo Ren) said “Thank you” to Han Solo the last time they saw each other. What Han’s reaction was? like any other father who loves his son…drums roll please…watch the movie.

For my English speaking readers, here is the translation of those three sentences I heard over the holidays from kids in a store full of toys to their ashtonished parents: “$140 is a good price, isn’t it?”, “the change I get, I will give it back to you, this time for sure”, “you never have money for anything”.

This made me think about my childhood and myself now as a father. In my childhood I didn’t understand the value of money, the huge effort my parents went through to provide for the family and give me everything I had or how painful it was for them to hear me spitting things like the ones I heard these holidays out of my mouth. I had everything I asked for, no matter what it was I got it, within reason but I got it. The newest bike in the block, the latest game console, the school trip to NASA, the school I wanted and the list goes on and on. After some time I learned how those things happened, I realized how stupid and selfish I was and that those mean words you throw at your parents cannot be taken back.

I’m still not the best son I could be, still working on it, I just hope my teachers, leaders and coaches in life – my parents – see some progress. I am thankful to them and also to all the people that have contributed to making me happy without my knowledge. THANK YOU, you know who I’m talking to.

Now is time for me to provide and educate. Not sure when or how I’m going to start these conversations with CG, nonetheless my goal is clear, I don’t want her be mean (or ignorant) like those kids, to make the same mistakes I made and then regret about it. I just need to rely on my own experience, the education my parents gave me and a partner with great values to help me raise an awesome kid. 

Crying calling papa

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After an amazing time off, we returned home to a new reality, a reality where CG cries calling papa or mama. Yikes.

It may seem like no big deal, however this is showing how she is growing, becoming more aware of her surroundings and getting smarter at getting our attention. She knows that calling mama or papa has an effect, and we need to be careful that it doesn’t mean she is taking control over the situation.

This reminds me of all those YouTube videos where babies just cry in the presence of their parents, or quietly follow them throwing temper tantrums when they know dad and mom are watching. CG has done this kind of things too, but adding mama or papa to it brings it to a new level, it makes me feel responsible for some wrong doing.

Maybe this is Maslow’s hierarchy in full swing, maybe she is moving from her physiological needs to her love and belonging needs. I don’t want to be a shrink or analyze my daughter’s behavior so deeply, just saying that something should explain these recent changes.

As she says, “bye bye” to those days when crying was clearly for a physiological need relatively easy to identify and address.  Now, we need to welcome this new phase in our lives where figuring out her needs is more complicated, the good news, some of this sends me a clear message of “I love you, I need you” papa. I love you too CG.

 

Wise men, a very personal tradition

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Sadly our holidays and well deserved vacations have come to an end, yet there is no better way to say goodbye than celebrating with the three 👑👑👑 Wise men.  

For some reason my father has taken this tradition to his heart, by now everybody knows that around January 5th he and my mom will throw a party to write a wish letter and send it up to the Wise men in a well inflated helium balloon.

This requires some preparation, preparation for a party of more than 100 people that joined us this year, most of which are family members, friends, neighbors, friends of our neighbors and everybody that has heard about it. Some of them were even asking about it before the date was confirmed.

All starts by getting the right size of balloons, #20 I think, not less not more. Getting the helium tank for 300 balloons just in case we have an overflow of requests to the Wise men, paper for the wish letters and a little cord to tie each letter to their respective balloon. 30 Abuelita chocolate bars, 24 liters of milk, 3 Roscas de Reyes, pastor tacos for 100+ people, drinks, tables, chairs, etc.

One or two hours before the guests arrive, inflating the balloons is a task my dad owns, nobody else, except for me when he is distracted. One balloon at a time, until the whole living room ceiling is full of them, doesn’t matter how many or how much time it takes he is in charge. Attaching the little cord to each balloon can be done by anybody else, his staff obviously, this time it was assigned to CG’s mom and me.

  
VaLu is normally in charge of mixing the Abuelita bars with the milk to make us a delicious hot chocolate, same deal as with the balloons, my dad and VaLu are in charge and everybody else is an observer. In this ocasion the observers noted that half of the kitchen wall had chocolate on it before VaLu realized it. Probably she was so focused on the quality that she didn’t pay attention to the messy kitchen she was creating – it was fun though.

As guests came in, my mom kept working on the final details, where to put the food, drinks, chairs for the elders, etc. Aligning all activities for the night, diner first, then making sure that everybody has paper and pen for their wish letter, balloons throwing at the count of three and finally Rocas de Reyes with hot chocolate – like a well coordinated concert.

Kids of all ages and adults of all sorts of life come together this special night, all get to write a letter, all get to dream, all get to ask for anything they can imagine as all of it will come true.

 In some parts of the world people organize parades with the Wise men, in my world my wise man and woman organize a party that makes us come and dream together, a celebration that everybody is waiting for and that for the first time CG enjoyed as she wrote her wish letter, released her balloon to the sky and said bye bye as it was flying away.
This is our tradition of the Wise men, I want to thank mom and dad for keeping it alive and making it so personal, I love it and I’m not the only one.

  
PS. I wish CG gets the four things she asked for. 👍🏼

Family, family, family…

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Some time has passed since I enjoyed the warmth of all my family getting together, it happened few months ago during a trip I have tried to describe in this blog before, yet still pending in my drafts. While many people share dinner or play board games with their families every weekend, for us getting together requires more planning and coordination.

We decided to spend this holiday season with our family, every single day, every major event and every meal, I bet these holidays will create very long lasting memories.   Less than a week ago CG (yes, working on a nickname for my little one) was very curious during a little ceremony we had to place the Christmas tree star, she was amazed with the colorful tree, the Nativity Scene, the brightness of the star and grandpa climbing a little ladder to do the honors, she started to feel the real meaning of Christmas. Later that night CG met her new cousin, she was looking at her like a big sister would do, touching her gently and making sure she was taken care of, seems that CG understands that there is a family connection just right there.  

Later in the week we traveled to the beach to meet the other side of the family, sun, sand, water and a plastic swimming pool it’s all they needed to have fun, laugh, play hot potato and share snacks like they see each other every day. 

CG swam for the first time in a huge pool next to the beach and built sand castles, she spent countless hours playing with her cousins, uncles, aunts and grandpas, she is really getting to know her entire family.

Watching CG enjoy her family like this and creating these amazing moments reminds me how important is to stay close to each other and spend quality time with the family.

I am speachless when I see how they make her feel part of the same “circle” even when she lives far away and has very little contact with them. FaceTime works but it is not the same.

If I had to pick the best thing during this trip, I would say the sense of ownership, safety and care for each other has been the best, to me that describes the meaning of family right now.

At some point we will go back home, will be physically far away again, will miss each other touch, but we will keep the memories of these days to remind us how important our family is.

Every day since I moved out from my parents home and then to another country, I think about these family ties and the physical distance between us. It is part of growing up, building a professional career and a family of my own. During these holidays I am rediscovering that our family is the escense of what we are today and will be the heart of what CG will become in the future. 

If there is anything I can do for her, is to keep her close to our family and teach her the importance of staying together.

 

Getting ready for the holidays…

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Living abroad far away from your family has its ups and downs, pros and cons. Your new friends become family and family your first thought when planning vacations. 

Last spring, I enjoyed a one month long sabbatical earned after five years working at PayPal. Visiting our family was at the top of the list, same as traveling to new cities in the world. It was a no-brainer, let’s travel to new cities with all our family, I thought. It was the best trip ever and I will write about it in a later post, just check this pic. This time around is different, this season is one of the most important in our culture, thus we have decided to spend it celebrating posadas, Christmas, singing carols, drinking “ponche” and sharing time with the ones we love the most in the place that saw us grow.

I’m sure our little girl will enjoy it big time, she and her cousins will be at the center of everything, during Christmas and on New Year’s Eve. This is the first time they will meet, they will touch their hands and most likely will get a Hi or Bye from my little one. This is our next generation, the next from both sides of the family, the next that will carry our blood and names, the next that will enjoy the world we live in today.

As always, there is some sense of uncertainty and stress when planning these trips, but I’m sure that it will go as smooth as the one back in Spring. I think everything is about respect, dialog and making sure that everybody’s voice is heard. 

For sure we will miss our family in the Silicon Valley, we have shared one more year of laughter, feasts, hard training and early morning races. We will be far physically but close in heart. We will be back to share stories about the trip including two weddings, one baptism, some posadas, baby Jesus birthday party, year end celebration and Acapulco baby.

For me a sign of complete success will be our families getting together once again, the little one learning about our traditions and getting back recharged for 2016.

Traveling with our family has been always the best decision, something that should always be at the top of anyone’s list.

Before saying good night, I want to send a message to my friends and family. #Goya

And yes, those ugly sweaters in the picture are meant to be ugly and win a contest.

Heritage, heredity and heir

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According to the Oxford Dictionaries,

Heritage: Valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, and historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations.

Heredity: The passing on of physical or mental characteristics genetically from one generation to another.

Heir: A person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death.

It’s not a secret that my heir’s heritage is full of beautiful traditions like Semana Santa, Posadas, Día de Muertos, tamales,  mariachis, guacamole, mole, tacos, chiles en nogada and much more. It is something that she will grow up with, that I hope she takes as her own and passes over to the next generations. This is what make us who we are, how we think, how we see the world and act every day of our lives.

I’m sure that as a Mexican-American kid she we will also grow with other traditions, like Independence Day on July 4, Veterans Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving or the NFL Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, there are some things transmitted by heredity, those that come in our DNA and can’t be taught. The name of the game is win, the rivalry Pumas – América. It’s hard to explain, may be like a Celtics vs. Lakers, 49ers vs. Seahawks or Yankies vs. Red Sox. There is no game between these two teams that is not entertaining and nerve-racking.

Sunday’s 10am Pacific Time are becoming a tradition, just after swimming class the family gets together to watch a Pumas game, today we played America and beat them in the Liga MX semi-finals. 

The best part of beating America is reminding them about it, I’m not encouraging hate or bulling, just a friendly reminder of who is who. Yes, not always has been like this, yes, today was not our best game, but we will enjoy the moment and get ready for the Liga MX Championship games.  

Dear heir, I know you already enjoy soccer, are passionate about it and cheer for our local team, but I’m sure one day our DNA will pop to show where your soccer futbol heart really is. #Goya