The Winter Wonderland of Steamboat Lake

2013-02-10 17.39.19Right now I am cozy in a chair by a warm fireplace while snow is falling outside, glistening from the dim light of dusk. This relaxed comforting state reminds me of my recent weekend visiting Steamboat Lake. My friend Jenni is from Steamboat Springs and invited my boyfriend and me to join her on a weekend visit to her parent’s cabin. So Michael and I left the suburban and city-sprawl of Denver by lunch time on a Friday and began the beautiful drive along I-70. This highway has become so familiar to me thanks to countless visits to the southwest corner of Colorado and for fun-filled days of skiing at the winter resorts that this area is popular for. We passed the ski area of Loveland and the turn-offs for Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge, which is where we exited I-70 and headed west on US-40. Although I had driven this route so many times before, I thrilled in the majestic Colorado scenery of towering mountains and cascading rivers. Even though it was early February, there wasn’t much snow on the ground until we came out on the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel just before descending into the gorgeous valley that holds Silverthorne and Lake Dillon.

About one hour before reaching the town of Steamboat Springs, Continue reading

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Moving Along My Path

2012-12-04 06.57.21I am on another bus ride from Higuera la Real to Madrid. This must be the fourth time I’ve done this bus ride within this year and each time, the route and landscape seem different. It always makes me slightly double-take in my mind about whether or not I’m on the right bus. Yep…it’s the right one. Outside are green rolling fields of olive trees, springing up in rows from a ground carpeted with teeny tiny yellow wildflowers. They are my sunshine today since the sun is taking a reprieve behind the rainy grey clouds. I spot castles and cathedrals slightly farther out in the distance, atop hill summits and surrounded by little Spanish village homes topped with their endearing traditionally red Spanish-tiled roofs…marbled boulders and rocks are strewn throughout the ground, some clustered together like giant marbles tossed on the earth. Tomorrow I catch my flight returning to Denver. Continue reading

To Throw a BF or Not to Throw a BF – Advice from a Teen Brother

Do you remember throwing fits as a kid? If you don’t, then maybe you didn’t throw them enough. Well, do you throw them now as an adult? I will unashamedly confess that I find myself doing so, occasionally that is. Actually, not that often at all, so don’t be afraid to ever meet me or be around me, please.

It’s my opinion, after introspection and observation, that as we progress through life into adulthood we still throw a good ‘ol fit every now and then. This past summer, my youngest brother Brendan taught me a lot about BF’s. And it wasn’t cause he was throwing fits, it was cause the amazing seventeen-year-old that he is had to spend a whole month in close quarters with our mom and me. Believe me, we had a great time, but you know how family is…you feel most comfortable around family, even to the extent that perhaps a fit or two may find its way out in front of each other. Oops. Well, this young man and best friend of mine certainly stood strong and loving against the barrage that a few times occurred and even had him caught in the cross-fire…and female cross-fire at that. Now that I think back to it, he didn’t throw any fits…hmmm…

With the advancement of age, these tantrums tend to simply take on a different look. After all, we’re adults now…right? We have to be careful of how we present ourselves to others. Now, if you’re sensing sarcasm in my writing, you’re sensing right. But I don’t want you to get me wrong either. While I think that we should be real and open with our feelings and emotions, I also believe that we have to exercise self-control and consideration of others. What I’m getting at here is a balance and that begins first with simply being real with one’s self. Perhaps then, we wouldn’t find ourselves throwing tantrums at the wrong times and in inappropriate places. Make sense?

If you’re willing to consider yourself in this same boat with the rest of us humans, then you’re on the right track and you’re not alone. I have a fun type of solution that seems to work for me and I’m happy to share about it here. After all, better to share that than to share a fit. Why does this work for me? It makes me laugh. Laughter seems to be a great remedy for tons of things in life. It works for most things in life actually and it is scientifically proven to be healthy for us on all levels.

So next time you feel your blood starting to boil…you know, when your imagination is playing out scene by scene something that you’re ready to explode out in verbal assault at someone…or maybe in your case the corner of your eye starts to twitch radically and you taste blood as you grind down on biting your lower lip…ask yourself this simple question and switch the channel in your head over to the following scene…

Do I really want to have a BF here and now?

This post is dedicated to my youngest brother, Brendan. Bro, you and Mark are the most amazing brothers anyone could have and my best friends! I will always keep in mind to pull a Brendan and will strive to not throw a BF…at least not in the wrong place and time.  🙂  Love you!

Thankful for Brokenness

I have to write this…I have to sit and write to face the pain; to face the hurt…and to even be thankful for the brokenness. On this Thanksgiving Day I am not in the United States, however, I am glad to be thinking of how my loved ones, friends and family alike, are celebrating this day and putting special attention to the powerful goodness of being thankful.

Perhaps thankfulness does not always feel so good though. Maybe sometimes, it is amidst hurt, pain, and sadness. My parents have been divorced since I was nineteen years old, which makes it eleven years now since that occurrence in our family. Yet long before the divorce took place, the hurtful damaging things that led up to it, started years before. I don’t feel the need or that it’s appropriate to get into too much detail or depth here, yet I do find it valuable and at least helpful for me, to spill out and release what I am learning from God today. That is this…my parents are very different people and they come from such different cultures and worlds. Rather than think that this means that it’s not possible to enjoy love and family while being such different people and from different parts of the world, I am going to be thankful…

I am so thankful for the rich heritage and history of my family ancestors on both sides. They both exhibited immense courage and integrity fighting for what they believed in and for their fellow countrymen. Venturing to places unknown and overcoming oppression and discrimination, these past relatives of mine were adventurous, industrious, faithful, and full of faith.

The continuing characteristics of quiet strength, steadfastness and endurance partnered with passion, boisterousness, art and romantic idealism, come together from both sides of my family to complement each other with the best of all hearts. In thankfulness I embrace the fiery spirit dressed in loud voices and intense emotion, meeting with the calm demeanor that borders on shyness and speaks its few words passively. Each can be overwhelming if enjoyed just on its own, thus I am so thankful and grateful, that I have all the wonderful differing aspects of my families to enjoy.

I am thankful for what both sides of my family have in common…kindness, hospitality, grace, forgiveness and love. Most importantly, my families are there for each other. They seek to be together for holidays, spend time together and take care of each other. They have all taught me what it means to truly live out being a person who deeply respects others and myself, is strong in character even when things are not going our way, and who works hard and is willing to sacrifice for oneself, love, and each other.

Amazing, what thankfulness can do…I think that among the many wonderful and magical effects that thankfulness can have, it can also make the picture clearer. No wonder I love different cultures so much. No wonder I love things that are different from me and what I know in general!  Here I am traveling in such a way to experience the actual local culture by experiencing the local people, and I myself come from such a diverse background: Scottish, Irish, Dominican, and Spaniard (and keep in mind that Dominican is Spaniard blood mixed with African blood, which I proudly embrace).

I have the kind of heart that loves to travel. So far, no one else in my family has traveled as much as I do or for that matter, gone about life the way that I do. Yet they all have wonderfully attributed to who I am and my heart for traveling. The capacity I have to not need a house or one place to feel secure and at peace, to love meeting people even if I don’t know their language, to trying new things…I was made with a heart that embraces travel. True, there are a lot of other things that I am passionate about as well, yet they all beautifully tie in together to support and enrich each other. Like my writing and singing, my love for music, dance, and nature…these are all very helpful to traveling as well. At least for me they are.

So what was I thinking? Yes, there is brokenness in my family. Last time I checked, everything in this life and world is broken, cause nothing is perfect. Being thankful has taught me that it’s okay to feel the pain, it has its place and purpose too. Thankfulness shows me that I don’t have to remain stuck in it, rather I can allow it to grow me up and break me free, up through the ground to flourish like a flower and see all the beauty and joy in the differences, the uniqueness. I love these differences that make up both sides of my family. I love them, because they make up me.

Thank you God for my family’s quietness and loudness. Thank you for their passiveness and aggressiveness. Thank you for the peaceful calmness and the intense fiery passion. Thank you God, that you are all these things as well and thank you for all of my family and me.

 

Quotes from la Mama

I think rainy and grey days exist, just so we appreciate the sunny and clear days even more.

Don’t have a cow, have a sheep.

This morning we were having a cow….now we’re having a sheep.

…that they would not be able to resist what they see and feel from within us…

I love you…

Reflections on Life Before 30…Thank You!

Going back to the 1st birthday...

In about three weeks I turn 30 years old. Talk about a time to reflect. Some people dread getting older, however I’m looking forward to starting a new decade of my life. I hear that 30’s can be your best years and that the way you start a decade can set the pace for the next 10 years of your life. Hmmm…maybe this explains why I’m living the next 6 months traveling throughout Britain, Europe, Israel, and who knows where else. For more details on that adventure, check out my travel blog www.EthnosTravel.wordpress.com.

What kicked off these reflections was a gift for my upcoming 30th birthday that my loving Aunt Karen from Pennsylvania sent me. In a birthday card she enclosed an entire stack of old photos. They were of my childhood and captured me at all different ages: infant to toddler, kid to teenager…it’s very touching to look at them to say the least. To see the album click here. There was something sentimental about the feel of old photos in my hands. It made me realize how much things have changed, not just with technology, but in me as well.

Loved that poodle sweater!

And so began my reflections back on my life thus far…almost thirty years of life and I was struck with how much the people in my life have molded me and influenced who I am. More than anything though, it made me grateful. I’ve been fortunate to experience a family that is loving and gave me an amazing childhood. Full of love and affirmation, my parents invested all of themselves into me. They spent time with me, reading and playing music, camping and hiking, even climbing trees. My life has been blessed with amazing people through my family and through friends.

Life has also had its surprises and hurts. Not everything is rose-colored glass…there has been heartache and loss, tragedy and grief…however, more than anything, there has been love. There is love. And for that, I am forever thankful…

First I want to thank the friends I have had in my life…I thought about naming them here, but would hate to limit myself that way and to leave anyone out. You each know who you are. From elementary school friends that I shared the same birthday with to high school friends and middle school girls I mentored…some of you are now married and with kids of your own. Some are graduating from college and reminding me of how young I was when I would babysit you…crazy that adults entrusted you to me.  And my trusty, fun college girlfriends…people would swear that we were cousins if not sisters, we looked so much alike and were always together so much. It’s neat to see where all of us are now. To more recent and current friends, you’re an amazing part of my Colorado home and life. From skiing to backpacking, roommates and building-mates, downtown nights out to weddings and babies…you’ve been there for me through celebrating joyous events and grieving through tragedies. Thank you does not even begin to describe my appreciation to all of you…but you have my friendship for the rest of our lives to continue to show you my gratefulness.

And I have to thank my first love. You rocked my world and the after-shock still resonates…and in the best of ways. Sure, things did not turn out the way we hoped, but I believe part of turning 30 for me is coming to a new place where I am glad for the past and would not change what we had or want it gone for the life of me. You’re a very special person and got to me like no other, even to this day. God help the person who does one day get to me even more 🙂 But for now, you hold the record. Thank you for you. There’s simply no other words that can express what I feel about you and will always appreciate about having been in love with you. You have taught me the most about myself.

Last, but certainly not least…

With Mommy and Daddy...always loved saying it with "y".

I want to thank my mom and dad for all their love that they continue to give – you each loved me so much that I have never doubted that you would always love me through anything and forever. My appreciation and love goes out to my grandparents, those who are still with us and those who have already gone ahead…your adoration of me makes me think of the coziest blanket. To my aunts, uncles, and cousins – the memories I have created with you remain with me still and I look forward to many more memories to come. As our family has grown with the addition of my step-mother and step-siblings, our family love has grown as well…thank you for your openness and growing together. You’re love and faith in me touches me still. And to my brothers: Marky and Brendan…don’t forget that it was me who named you both and you are such close friends and the coolest boys I know…your friendship with me is such a joy! I always laugh so much with both of you and I see each of you as one of the coolest parts of me and my life. My family is so wonderful to me! Each of you have showered so much love on me, instilling in me the strongest sense of making the most of every moment by being kind, affirming, and loving to others. Life is short, so why be mean or unkind…you’re each extraordinary people in how you love and live.

The coolest brothers in the world!

I’ve learned so much from all of you. The most important things I’ve learned have been from my mistakes. Thanks for loving me, mistakes and all.

Where would I be without each of you? Who would I be? I would be a completely different Amalia, that’s for sure. I’m in love with the Amalia that I am…all of me and all of who makes me who I am. With that truth about my past and present known and loved, I’m excited to venture into my 30’s. And guess what…you’re each coming with me.

With continued love ~ 

Skitrip Familia – The Time It Takes…

My study of the American Family on a ski trip continues into day four. To understand the findings, I’ll give a run down of the factors involved. The focus of the study is my own family from my dad’s side: Mark, my father who is in his late 50’s, Brenda, my step-mother, Mark Jr., my 24-year-old brother (the middle-child), Brendan my 16-year-old brother, and then Tyler and Amanda, my step-brother and step-sister who are each in their mid 20’s. Yep….that’s a lot of people. Seven of us total and typically there would be eight but my step-brother Justin is in law school in New England and could not make the trip. photo.JPG

Our adventure started this past Friday night, December 9th. It was also my brother Mark’s birthday and he turned 24, so it was a great time to be together with family and celebrate. Since the family is of a larger size, the vehicle of choice to rent was a large suburban that fits eight and all their gear. Since I’m local and live in Denver, I packed my own mini cooper full with my brother Mark and was able to contribute more space on wheels to the family trip.

After a night in downtown Denver, we arrived in Breckenridge the next day and it seemed apparent that our particular family was going to do pretty well getting along. I attribute this to the fact that we’re each pretty easy-going. We like to be active, while at the same time we enjoy our rest and relaxation. There’s an all-around appreciation for the beauty of the mountains, the snow, and learning to ski. You see, aside from my brother Mark and me, the others have not skied in about six years. A full day of lessons was set up the first day for my dad and my step-brother and sister. Brendan picked up snowboarding again pretty quick. He’s the one in the family that picks up any sport quickly. Tyler and Mark have already hit a tree, Amanda has laughed on some nice spills that she gracefully turned into butt slides down the slope, and my dad and step-mom have done their 180’s that are certainly by accident and leave them facing the wrong direction on the slope while on their hands and knees.

photo.JPGAt this moment, I’m enjoying the mountain view from the overstuffed chair by the fireplace after our snow-shoe trek we went on today. Beside me is my spiked eggnog martini…my own version of apre snowshoe. Dad is snacking in the chair beside me and enjoying the view of the mountains as alpin glow fades with the setting sun.

Up to today, the quirk I’m noticing in our family ski trip has to do with time: everything seems to take longer than anticipated and you end up waiting for someone at each activity. This can certainly result in impatience and irritation on a variety of levels: someone taking more pictures, taking a detour into another store, taking too long in the grocery store, and my personal favorite from today, taking gear back to the vehicle a second time when you’re just 1 minute into the trail and still have to put your snowshoes on. Consider as well the elements that skiing brings into the picture. Cold weather, risk of bodily harm, coordinating meeting for lunch and meeting to ski runs together, getting on lifts together, getting all your gear on in the morning…I’m sure you have plenty of things coming to your mind if you’ve ever been skiing or on a family ski trip. photo.JPG

What it comes down to, is that we can each laugh about these time and people related incidents and I have to say, that our trip is full of laughter. It is probably what keeps us from letting the little things get to us. Cause when you have 7 people living together, family or not, you’re going to have plenty of opportunity to be irritated. But this trip reminds me that life is too short to let the little things get to you and it’s worth the effort to laugh and let things go so you can appreciate the people with you in the moment.