The Insolence of a grown-up ‘Whatever…!’

“Whatever…! Menopause is a b*tch!” You said.

What? I shake my head in disbelief.

Say for a moment I ride with the last part of our conversation last week. The one you called an argument. The one I called a friendly disagreement.

What if I agreed to your ‘whatever,’ like an insolent teenager? Would that bring you over to my side so that you’d consider me ‘a friend’ again?

… So that ‘whatever’ would translate to mean, what?

Is that like an ‘I don’t wanna talk ‘bout that anymore?,’ Like a ‘believe what you want to believe?’ Like a ‘you can rot in hell for all I care?’

Or is it more like ‘I have no tolerance for stupidity.’

Compounded with a ‘let me think of a way to get this Meno-b*tch off my shoulder. She’s so bad I cannot give this friendship of ours a moment more than I already have. So, whatever…!’

We’ve known each other since the beginning of consciousness. You’re the little friend I played with the moment the rooster called and our tummies were satisfied with breakfast; the preteen who told me stories she’d heard her sisters whisper when they didn’t know you were listening — you know, you were the little sister to them then; the teenager with whom I wanted to run away from home, because you knew so much more than I did about the world.

Our falling-in-love details with the boys of our dreams, our falling out-of-love hurts; Our annoyances and joys — we were each other’s memory-keepers.

We were closer — even closer than real sisters could ever be.

Why would you end our conversation with a thoughtless, insolent ‘whatever?’

How can I begin to comprehend what you mean by that?

Please don’t end our decades-old friendship with ‘whatever.’

Strive to stay in the moment and continue to pay homage to the amazing individuals we’ve become.

Vague ‘whatevers’ have no resonance where true friendships are concerned.

Explain that ‘whatever’ to me.

And no, sister — Menopause is not a bitch.

What did you say?

You said, ‘whatever’ again didn’t you?

Is that how this conversation will end again?

Say it with adult words and leave your ‘whatevers’ for those who don’t know what they believe.

‘Whatever’ will make you lonelier if you let it.

For it will rob you of all your ‘right nows.’

And by the way, menopause is not a bitch!

I have yet to disagree with her.

Do as I say, Not as I Do

sadness-1325507_1280photo credit: MariangelaCastro; Pixabay


Some children have no access to good lessons in story-books but even those who are blessed with story-books are sometimes misled by the actions of adults. What are we teaching our children?

The little girl in my story is placed in a precarious position by her own mother. Though she doesn’t know to verbalize what she’s feeling, we can sense her embarrassment. Can there be a happy ending to this story? Would it kill us to behave differently?


“Young lady– obviously, you don’t know who I am. I’m Mrs. Manzanilla from Refaccionaría Manzanilla,” my mother announced in Spanish in a voice too loud for my liking. I wanted to run and hide. The way she said that, and the dignified way she looked when she said that made the poor cashier take a nose-dive into the deepest recesses of her brain. I saw it in the way the cashier tipped her head. She wanted to try to understand what this lady in front of her was talking about. As far as the young girl was concerned, there was only one Refaccionaría Manzanilla in the whole of Macondo and this lady was not that Mrs. Manzanilla. She knew.

She knew for a fact that Mrs. Manzanilla had never set foot into a Save Big Store; that instead, she sent her housekeeper into the store twice a week to drop off a grocery list. And that the necessary items then got delivered to the mansion. And besides, Mrs. Manzanilla’s daughter and she were thick-as-thieves. She knew exactly what that Mrs. looked like.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Manzanilla, but I’m just following the protocol of a report from our security personnel. They’ve instructed me to ask you to step aside and to request that you voluntarily return the items that they saw you stash into your two bags.”

“And I say, you are wrong! I have no need to do such an outrageous thing as stealing from a place like this. I demand to see the manager.”

The girl makes a phone call.

It was a busy Thursday evening and people were stocking up on items in anticipation of the long holiday weekend. The buzz of the cash machines, the intricate bustle of the happy shoppers and the upbeat tempo of the music in the store, drown the embarrassing tone of the commotion going on in front of me. But in my insides, a volcano was erupting. I wanted to run away. I didn’t want to be around to see my mother get escorted to the police station.

On my back, I carried an overstuffed rucksack that was ripping at the seams. My mother carried a small Buston-bag with wheels — just as conspicuous looking as mine.

“Oh I understand,” my mother volunteered, “you see our overstuffed bags and think the worst… well-I-never! …” she slams her fist on the counter. “We came here with our luggage because we’ve just arrived from a short trip. We stopped in to pick up a few necessities. And you immediately assume that what you see us carrying in these bags are items stolen from your shelves. Well you are wrong…wrong, I tell you!”

Any minute now, any minute now the earth will rumble and swallow me up whole, I think. That will be better than this. I start to sweat cold.

The people in line at the cashier where we stand get directed to a different line. They look at us with scorn for disrupting the rhythm of their shopping experience. But that is all they do. To them, we are nobodies. No one bothers to know more, but to me, of all the inconsistencies that I’ve seen and come to understand since turning nine, this has got to be the worst.

And people will talk, a nagging voice announces inside my head. They don’t seem interested in the heated discussion going on right now, but someone will remember. 

I start to pray…

They escort us to a room in the back; the office. They ask us to wait.  My mother gives me a side glance and the zip-it-up sign to keep my mouth shut. No need to tell me Mom, I think, even if I wanted to, words have left my thoughts moments ago. All I have now is prayers. And those won’t buy me a pardon… 

Inside, we see a row of monitors displaying every aisle in the store.

We are dead, I think, then I hold my breath. Just then I notice that the monitors show a lot of static on the screen. I exhale. But the exertion of exhaling, or perhaps it was the part about holding my breath, makes me feel light-headed. I lean on the wall and close my eyes.

I hear the voices of men talking and above theirs, I hear my mother’s unwavering voice. I do not know for how long this goes on; I remain fixed on my prayers.

“Come on child, let’s get out of here.” Mother takes my hand and together with my uncle, the owner of Refaccionaría Manzanilla, we walk out of Save Big.  He calls us a taxi.  He hugs my mother and pats me on the head. Mother and I sit in silence in the taxi until we arrive on the front steps of our house.

I drop my rucksack and make a dash for the chicken coop. I remain inside thinking I’d rather stay with the chickens than with her.

Moments later she comes to call me in for supper. “…besides, it’s time for the chickens to roost,” she soothes.

I begin to cry.


Thanks for reading.

Li’l ‘no-boy

01a81974bb45c8ea5aaf8732963ae160c7e5dfa549Photo credits: Mira Kempoainen, Unsplash

There was a bright light coming in through Alicia’s drawn bedroom curtains. She sat up on her bed and looked over at Chuckie. With her face turned toward the brightness her feet found her rabbit-slippers. She picked up the stuffed rabbit and together they drew close to her window to investigate. Then she saw it — Snow!

Dragging Chuckie by the ears Alicia ran down the hall passing her parents bedroom. She got under the long curtains of the porch door and looked out. She saw lots and lots of snow. It blinded her. The snow stretched, thick and white, across her yard and covered every house and tree like a thick layer of white cupcake-frosting.

Still holding Chuckie, Alicia crawled out from under the curtains and dashed to her bedroom once again.

Minutes later she stood by the locked front door. There was a trail of clothes from her bedroom to the door.

“Good morning Alicia,” her mom chimed from the kitchen, “and where are you and Chuckie off to this fine morning?”

“Mommy, mommy there’s tons of snow outside. Chuckie and I need to go outside to play.” Her mother looked at her and smiled.

“I know,” Mom said, “but you’ll need more than snow boots and jammies if you want to go outside,” mommy kneeled next to Alicia. “And you’ll need breakfast to warm up your insides too. It’s cold out there.” Alicia looked down at her favorite Beatrix Potter pajamas and leaned into her mommy.

“But I’m warm already,” she demurred. “Chuckie and I just wanna go outside to play.”

“Aunt Rebecca is bringing Brianna over to play in an hour. The two of you can go out in the snow then, but first, we have to get you ready.”


When her aunt and cousin Brianna arrived Alicia was dressed in her blue and green snowsuit, boots, scarf, knit cap, and mittens. She ran out to meet them.

“Look at my snow,” Alicia boasted, “it’s the prettiest snow I’ve ever had.” Brianna, who was already in second grade looked at her and rolled her eyes.

“Nah ah,” said Brianna, “it’s not your snow. It’s everybody’s snow.” She held three-and-a-half-year-old Alicia’s hand and led her slowly through a heap of snow to the nearest tree in the yard. Alicia’s feet moved slowly as they threaded down the path to the tree. With every step she took Alicia looked back at her footsteps. When they arrived at the tree Brianna kicked the trunk gently with her boot and a light shower of sparkling flakes rained down on them.

The girls took turns kicking the tree,  giggling when snow sprinkled down on their faces. The girls’ mothers stood by the front door watching them and talking with each other.

Brianna and Alicia circled the tree and continued kicking it from all angles until all the snow around the trunk was flattened.

Slowly, Brianna picked up a handful of fresh snow and rolled it up into a ball. She flung the snowball at Alicia who paid her no mind as she continued kicking the tree, content with the sprinkles that landed on her face.

It would be more fun if I had someone to — Brianna was thinking to herself when — Plop! A snowball landed at her feet. She looked over at Alicia but her cousin was leaning against the tree trunk; her mittens were off and she was sucking her thumb.

Plop! Another snowball landed at her feet. Brianna spun around. Plop! Yet another snowball. This time it hit her in the arm.

“Hey!” Brianna shouted. Alicia pulled her thumb out of her mouth and ran up to her.

“Wanna go back inside?” Alicia asked. Just then Brianna saw a figure in a purple snowsuit like hers peek out from behind another tree. The figure waved shyly.

Brushing the snow from her sleeve Brianna stomped her right foot in the direction of the other tree. “That’s not nice,” she said, “you can’t go around throwing snowballs at people.” Not understanding, Alicia looked at her cousin with big eyes.”

“Wanna go inside?” Alicia asked again. A snowball whizzed past Alicia’s head.

“Hey,” Brianna shouted again. This time their mothers came closer to see what was happening.

“Oh, that’s Luna, the new neighbor,” said Alicia’s mother, “Luna is seven, she can’t hear.”

No wonder she didn’t stop, thought Brianna, but she sure can throw a snowball.

“Go over there and say hello,” suggested Brianna’s mother. Alicia ran ahead in her hurried little steps. Brianna walked slowly. Luna picked up another snowball – she had quite a collection of snowballs at her feet – poised her arm back, ready to throw it.

“Stop!” Brianna called. Alicia stopped running and looked back at her cousin. “Stop,” she said again, but his time Brianna used her hands. She smacked the inside of one hand down quickly on the inside of the other hand.

Luna stopped mid-throw. “It worked,” said Brianna as she caught up with little Alicia. The cousins clasped hands. Luna lowered her arm and came out from behind the tree with eyes peeled wide.

“No ‘no-ball?” she asked in her frail voice. “No figh’s?” Luna’s fingers danced as she talked.

“No.” Brianna pressed her thumb and two fingers together.

Luna’s eyebrows disappeared under her cap in surprise. She shrugged.

“Wanna play in my snow?” said Alicia. She walked up to Luna and stooped down to touch the snowballs by Luna’s feet.

“Wait,” said Brianna, “I have an idea.” She searched with her squinting eyes and found a stick. She picked it up and with it she drew three circles, one on top of the other in the snow. She looked up at Luna. Luna smiled.

“ ‘No-man,” Luna said fluttering her gloved-fingertips like falling snowflakes. All three girls clapped and laughed. Luna and Brianna set to rolling snowballs; Alicia took to transporting all the snowballs over to her tree.

The new friends rolled and laughed until their snowballs almost reached their waist. With much giggling the girls managed to get one snowball on top of the other.

Alicia copied them and placed one snowball on top of the other too. She made a row of snowmen. She delighted in kicking the tree and seeing the sprinkles fall on them.

The two girls studied their snowman. “Li’l ‘no-boy!” said Luna. They slapped their knees laughing.

Alicia’s mother approached them. In one hand she had an old sombrero and a scarf; in the other a carrot and a small box of raisins. Giggling happily the girls tied the scarf around snowboy’s neck and placed the sombrero on his head. Brianna and Luna took turns twisting the carrot into place on snowboy’s face.

The girls divided the box of raisins. Once again they took turns pressing raisins on his face. First, they each inserted an eye, then together they worked on his mouth.

Luna held on to two raisins which to Brianna’s surprise she pressed on each side of the snowboy’s head. Once complete, she looked at Brianna and said, “Ears,” and she tapped on her own ears.

Brianna thought for a moment then decided, “sure, why not! This snowboy has ears.” The girls jumped with glee. Alicia went over to them and clapped when she saw the happy face on Snowboy.

“How about these for arms?” Brianna’s mother offered them sticks. The girls chose two good looking ones and set to twisting them in for arms. “Now gather around snowboy you three. It’s time to take a picture.”

**This article was previously published in Medium as ‘Snowboy’. Perhaps you’ll choose to leave me a comment here? Perhaps you’ll choose to share? I hope so. Thanks for reading. Blessings, Selma.

An Unduplicatable Experience

Photo credits: Christina Sicoli, Unsplash


I’m the mother of two little boys who are now in their twenties. I don’t do much mother-ing anymore, but the fact that I’m still a mother will stay with me until the end. Here’s a comparison make on the subject of motherhood. I hope you enjoy it.



“Oh, if they weren’t so cute, I’d send them back and get my refund,” some tease.

“How is it that they smell so good? I roll in the same field and end up smelling like a cow while they — they smell like morning dew,” exclaim others, “hahaha.”

These people are talking about their children…

Those not yet in the parent-club do some eye rolling and utter ‘as ifs..’ But for those already smitten by the likes of children the puppy-love faces with the knowing raised-eyebrows are priceless. So what is so mystifying about children, or better yet, what is so mystifying about becoming a parent? I’m here to help shed some light on the subject.

Being a parent is like going on your first solo flight — repeatedly — as every day brings new emotions similar to those, I’m told, as flying solo. I embrace that notion, somehow; the somehow comes from the obvious realization that children do not come with instruction manuals. Still, let me try to demystify the idea of parenting.

Ideally, a child enters your world after a nine-month pregnancy, and it is then that you become a parent.
The average instruction period for flying lessons is ten-weeks. Ideally, at the end of those lessons, you’re ready to take your first solo flight.

For soloists the anticipation of that day is similar in its uniformity but different in its meaning as undoubtedly learning to fly is an exciting experience unduplicatable. Well, with all the ‘elements of planning’ that are required in giving attention to sequence, the application of motor skills and coordination, the crucial simulations, and let’s not forget, all the confidence building that is required, a pilot-to-be is prepared for his/her solo.

The same ‘elements of planning’ are required of parents-to-be. The difference being that unlike flying, the brain of a parent-to-be cannot simulate the experience until the moment the experiences start happening. And I say experiences because new ones arise daily.

I want to put you, my reader, in the driver seat. From here on, let me talk to YOU.

When you arrive at the airfield, you envisage everything you studied and worry that you might be forgetting something important. You want to check your notes but the instructor is right there commanding you to breathe instead. You manage a smile and a nod.
You climb inside the plane and you breathe in deeply. Now you’re on the pilot seat. You methodically complete the checklist of the plane’s controls. That was easy, you think.

You might feel the urge to look over at the seat beside you only to find it empty. You glance out the window on your left and see your instructor standing in the distance. You wave but she doesn’t see you. You breathe again. The only noise in the cockpit is the purr of the engine and a voice over the intercom. You are alone.

You touch your headphones, waiting for a signal from the control tower. All clear for takeoff, you may proceed, says the voice in your ears. At that moment, your breathing steadies, your brows furrow in concentration, and your feelings of anxiety leave you.

You start the engine and release the brake. Next you open the throttle a little, you feed more gasoline to the engine. The propeller whirls faster. The plane starts moving forward. You taxi onto the runway, facing into the direction of the wind. You wait. A voice from the control tower comes through your headphones again. Permission to take off, it says.

You open the throttle wide. The plane accelerates down the runway. On your right sits a stick — a control. When pulled back it lifts the nose of the plane; when pulled forward it drops the nose of the plane. You also know that to increase speed, you need to push the stick forward. Your right-hand rests on the stick.

The plane is now traveling fast. You can feel it trying to leave the ground. “This is it,” you say to yourself. Ever so gently you pull back on the stick. You see the nose lift while the ground suddenly drops away beneath you.
You are flying!

In the ten weeks of instructions, you have been told many things. One that you need to recall for this solo is: go no faster than eighty-five miles an hour. You know the plane has a maximum speed of twice that speed, yet you stay within the eighty-five miles.

You are constantly watching your airspeed indicator. You see the small clock face slowly creep up: 20, 30, 50. You know that if it drops below fifty-five miles an hour, the plane will stall. The airspeed reaches 60 knots, you ease back on the throttle. You cannot see the runway anymore, only sky.
You are flying!

You and the plane climb to five hundred feet. You’re on top of the world; or at least high enough to make your first turn.
I repeat: It is time to make the first turn… A turn? Yeah, you knew that was coming. You’ve simulated turning, remember? Now get turning. A turn!
You wipe the sweat from your hand on your trousers and immediately return it to the stick.

You push it gently to the left. The wing on the left side drops, the plane makes a turn, or bank as you have learned to call it. Everything is going well, but there are so many things to think about that you hardly notice the view. You breathe in slowly.

After making three more left banks, you’re on your final approach. The voice from the control tower gives you the all clear for landing. Landing! Crap, you think, now you have to land this thing! You glance over at the the seat next to you, again, you find it empty. Your brows furrow. You reduce the amount that the throttle is open. You can feel the plane begin dropping. Not too fast. Not too steep an angle, you remind yourself. Come in too high and you’ll overshoot the runway; come in too low and you’ll fall short.

Your brows are still furrowed but your breathing is stable.
You brace yourself.
The runway comes rushing up toward you.

When the plane is inches from the ground, you close the throttle restricting power from the engine. You pull back on the stick to raise the nose. The engine power dies. The wings no longer support the plane; the plane drops.
You make a perfect landing! YOU make a perfect landing!

Nice landing, you hear over the radio. You grin.
A feeling of exultation cascades over you as you ease down the runway.
You come to a complete stop.

Parenting is like that!
Everyday! Unduplicatable!
Only, you never stop the engine.

Enjoy your flight and don’t forget to take in the view!


This article was first published in Medium under the title of ‘Motherhood is like Flying Solo’. If you enjoyed this post kindly leave me a brief comment and/or share with others who you think might enjoy it as well. Thank you ever so kindly. Blessings, Selma.

Getting Married in a Small Town

Small Town Bride

Photo by: marvelmozhko

“A Wedding dress is both intimate and personal for a woman— it must reflect the personality and style of the bride.”— Caroline Herrera

Lucille has long wavy brown hair that when loose, cascades down to her tailbone. Today she has it arranged in a long thick braid that swirls around her head.  Baby’s breath adorn it and there is no denying that she looks ever so radiant in that hairstyle.

Her face is powdered and she wears a little dab of blush on her cheeks and mascara on her eyelashes. She is pretty, to begin with, but today she looks ever so beautiful.  It’s her wedding day.

“Lipstick later, after you’re in your dress because we don’t want it staining it accidentally,” says Nicca. My sister and I wet our lips at the mention of lipstick.

Six women stand in the room. It is the room that Momma always keeps locked.

“Too many pins and needles that could pierce little fingers,” is all she would give us as explanation.  We were never allowed in there.

Today we stand with our backs to the door, looking in.

Next to Lucille stands the seamstress; Ms. Rose to everyone, Momma to us.

Momma is there to help Lucille get into her wedding gown.

I have seen Momma do this countless times before, but the admiration comes from new people every time that the whole experience feels different.

“What a beautiful piece of material this is,” Momma had said the day the mailman brought the box containing the white material. But Momma said that about every piece of cloth she ever worked with.  I have seen her hold all her pieces of material with reverence and then after that, seen how my mother’s beautiful eyes glow like beacons on a dark night. That glow always made her look prettier to me.

After that initial reaction, Momma would never expose that beautiful material again in our presence until it was unveiled on a day like today.

The dress is laid on the floor with a crinoline arranged inside of it. Wearing only her stockings and undergarment, Lucille is made to stands on a low ladder. Two ladies hold her outstretched arms and from up there she slides the bottom half of her body smoothly into the skirt of the wedding gown.

“She looks like a mannequin there standing like that,” my sister whispers to me.

“I know,” I say bubbling with excitement, “I want to be a bride too someday.” We both giggle.

Momma proceeds to help Lucille with the sleeves. Seamstress and Bride, heads almost touching. One arm goes in first — in slow motion, then the other.

The embroidery on the sleeves and on the bodice, with the pearls and small beads in the shape of happy tears and the boat neckline that fits her perfectly, all these alluring points elicit compliments mingled with tears directed at the bride.

“Oh Lucy,” exclaims Lucille’s mother, “you look so beautiful in that dress. Good choice! Look at that everyone — what a beauty this daughter of mine is.”

“Yes, beautiful Lucille,” says her sister, Nicca.


“…beautiful,” the others repeat. They can’t seem to come up with other words besides beautiful.

My sister and I look at each other, “aww — beautiful,” we say in unison, nodding.

“She looks like Cinderella,” I add.

“Uh huh, just like a princess,” she adds.

Momma stands behind Lucille buttoning the long line of silk buttons. Pride swelling on her face as she hears the others complimenting the bride.

Someone kneels in front of Lucille and helps her to slide her feet into what looks to us like tiny glass slippers. Lucille looks down at her shoes and then straightens up. Her motions exactly like those of Cinderella in the movie, I observe.

She looks at herself in the long mirror someone rolls in front of her and with her hands on her cheeks, tries to conceal her delight.

“No crying please,” warns Nicca, “that will ruin your makeup and it will stain the dress. No, no, no!”

“But Cinda… oops, Lucille is not crying,” whispers my sister.

“She’s happy. This is the day that she has been waiting for,” says Momma. “She’s on her way to marry the man she loves.” My sister and I nod.

“Oh, happy day,” Lucille says smiling, and forcing her eyes off the mirror, she looks around the room. She finds my mother standing by the door beside us. Lucille extends her arms in our direction. Momma walks up to her and she and Lucille clasp hands.

“You look beautiful,” Momma says to her.

“Oh, Ms. Rose thank you. The dress is even more beautiful than in the catalog. You are a real magician with those hands. Thank you.”

The wind is still as the beautiful bride walks out the door of our storefront.

She has lipstick on her lips, a bouquet of lilies in her hand and a long tulle veil on her head. Escorted by her mother, Lucille walks the short distance from our house to the church.

She walks erect, with a radiance emanating from her soul. She demurely acknowledges the well-wishes from our neighbors and Saturday shoppers who stop to look.

Momma holds our hands and walks us closer to the church. We see Lucille let go of her mother’s hand and clutch onto her father’s arm. The women who walked with her from our store disappear inside the church and a procession of young women, all

wearing long dresses of the same color line up behind Lucille.

The bride and her entourage disappear inside the church as the happy wedding bells toll loudly announcing the happy occasion.

The onlookers clap, some wave at my Momma, we amble back home.


:: previously published on Medium, Writer Mom – Small Town Bride:

MIND your thoughts

Photo: Xavier Sotomayor

Eavesdroppers everywhere…

Do you talk to yourself?

Duh! Who doesn’t, right?

Whether it’s out loud or internally, talking to oneself — that’s something we’re constantly doing.

From what to wear, what to eat, what to do next, to how do we look at the moment, how do we feel — we are always in conversation with ourselves.

But did you know that even in the quiet of your own thoughts, assuming it’s quiet in there; in your self-talk you might just be sabotaging the sovereignty of your own thoughts to an entity that is always present?

Your mind!

Yep. That’s who’s eavesdropping.

“Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.” Jim Kwit

It’s time we realized this and change the way we do our self-talking.

“I’m being completely honest,” you say, “I say it how I see it.”

No doubt that’s what most of us think.

Switch over to this example for a minute:

Say, you go to the gym and you see these women engrossed in their physical exercises. “Wow,” you say, “I’m not strong like them. They can do that because they’re strong.”

“You’re not strong,” the eavesdropper chimes along, then it’d add, “let’s go home to Netflix.”

You say it the way you seeing, right? Hey, pause for a second. Are you really seeing what you’re saying? And here is exactly how you’re putting thoughts and unnecessary pressure onto yourself.

Switch over to this thought now:

“Wow, those women are strong because they are doing it*,” (it* stands for whatever you like), “if I allow myself to try just as hard, at my own pace of course, I too could be strong like them.”

And guess who’ll hear your thoughts?

And guess who’ll be an inspiration to someone else next year?

See what I mean?

Watch what you think.

Say it the way it IS.

Update. Reprogram. Thrive.


Dec. 12th. Published in Medium:

“your life is your greatest enterprise”

Intricacies and Follies

“You can have flaws, be anxious, and ever angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world.

Only you can stop it from going bust.

Many appreciate you, admire you and love you.

Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm,

a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord.

It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness.

It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures.

It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves.

To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and become your destiny’s author.

It is to cross deserts, yet to be able to find an oasis in the depths of our soul.

It is to thank God for every morning, for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.

It’s to be able to talk about you.

It is having the courage to hear a “no”.

It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when unjustified.

It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends, even when they hurt us.

To be happy is to let live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful and simple.

It is to have maturity to be able to say: “I made mistakes”.

It is to have the courage to say “I am sorry”.

It is to have the sensitivity to say, “I need you”.

It is to have the ability to say “I love you”.

May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …

That in spring may it be a lover of joy.

In winter a lover of wisdom.

And when you make a mistake, start all over again.

For only then will you be in love with life.

You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.

But use the tears to irrigate tolerance.

Use your losses to train patience.

Use your mistakes to sculpt serenity.

Use pain to plaster pleasure.

Use obstacles to open windows of intelligence.

Never give up …. Never give up on people who love you.

Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show.”

(Pope Francisco).

Homily / Sermon.

Previously published in Medium

The Attic Pt.2 (short story)

Photo by: Myriams-Fotos

Last time (Nov.30th) I posted The Attic Pt.1.

If you missed it, read it here.


Ten years have passed since Risa disappeared from our lives.

The way those pillows were placed just so, made the policemen write it off as just another runaway case. For us, the mystery continues.

I have seen my parents sway in their resolve to find her and despair as they slowly lose hope. They haven’t forgotten, but they talk less and less about her. Something like that can break down a family; I’m glad that hasn’t happened to us.

Out in town, I catch my mother taking a long, unabashed look at the faces of strangers who come to visit our town. She is looking for her. She is looking for her in those strangers. Have you seen my Risa, my mother’s eyes inquire from them, do you have a message from her? Sometimes I have even seen her caress girls who smile back at her.

Risa, we are waiting for your return. We will not ask questions, we just want you to come back home.

I am older now than Risa was then. I miss her still. Only now I feel like the big sister.

Never a day goes by without me thinking of Risa. What is my sister doing today? I feel her near mostly when I hear thunder and lightning. Where before I would run to my mother or hide under my covers when I heard thunder, now I run to a window in my room expecting to see her. In my mind’s eye I see her wet, shoeless and exhausted from walking, waving at me and coaxing me to let her in. I will not need coaxing if I see her; I will let her in when she comes to me. I will let her in and I will let her sleep in my bed, and I will sing her the lullaby I hear in my head.

Sleep little Risa,

sleep my little one.

The horse is in the stable,

the cat and dog are entwined.

Sleep my little Risa,

Everything’s gonna be alright.

Sleep my precious Risa,

No more wandering —

Home is where you belong.

The morning when we found Risa was missing, the police came in to question me.

…when was the last time you saw her …what did you guys talk about …did she give you any hints that she was unhappy here …did she keep a journal …did she have a boyfriend …who was her best friend …did she have a hobby …did you guys have a fight…

To the eight year old that I was then nothing made sense. All the questions the policemen asked, were answered with a continuous shake of my head as my lips repeated silent I don’t knows. I didn’t know the answers.

For me, my sister was the taller of the two girls who lived in my house.

She was the one who learned her school lessons well; the one who worked odd jobs and bought me colorful writing paper to send to my pen pal in America. She never told me that she was unhappy or that she was planning to leave. We never fought or argued; though I wish we had.

Risa never talked much, but neither did she ever ask me to leave her alone. She hardly ever turned up her lips in a smile when we got our pictures taken but when we were together she would always look me in the eye when I spoke to her. She would nod and open her eyes wide when something pleased her and with dancing eyes that smiled she would clap her hands instead of a lips-upturned smile.

Did it hurt her to smile? Did it hurt her to talk? What made her so?

She went to school and had many friends but she seldom ever hung out with anyone. She made the students’ list often though she never seemed to care. And at the restaurant where she worked, she washed the dishes, emptied the trash and mopped the floor without complaining. The restaurant manager said so.

Did she have a boyfriend? Did she have a best friend? Did she keep a journal? What thoughts crossed her head?

After that frightful night, I came to sleep in my own bedroom next to my parents’. As I got older I came to like the quiet in the attic. I kept it ventilated and lived-in and I made some adjustments. I had dad install a brighter light and added a sensor light in the enclosed staircase. The window blinds still rattle but the ribbons are gone. I have renamed it my hobbit hole and I burrow in there sometimes when I feel my creative juices flowing. I have desks where beds used to be and big posters decorate the walls. I got a timer and I have the lights turn on every evening in hopes that if Risa were to return she would know that the attic was waiting for her. It was her attic.

I look around the attic and say my silent goodbyes to the windows, the walls, the low ceiling and to the silence. When tomorrow comes I will be moving out of town to go to college. The spiders will come and take residence in the attic. The mice will come in to gnaw on my posters and stalks of paper. But in the summer when I return I will open up the windows to let the sun walk in and allow the wind to blow fresh air into the room once again. And if Risa returns while the lights are turned on she will know that I have readied the attic for her. It is her attic.


This is the second part of ‘The Attic’ published November 30th. It ended with the words: But there was no Risa…


THE ATTIC (short story)

photo: Abi Lewis, Upsplash

Aww what a mesmerizing sight, I heard myself saying in a voice that wasn’t my own. All the hues of red and brown and Crimson right before my eyes; again that was not my voice.
And this feeling, how can we be flying like this and not feel the autumn chill? I remember thinking that.

We were gliding over a red barn surrounded by trees.

I was not alone. I could feel my companion’s presence though I couldn’t see her face. In a weird way, I knew I didn’t need to look; I already knew it was Valerie Moore.

I heard footsteps and felt the floor move. They were not a part of my dream.

I opened my eyes slightly and saw the silhouette figure of my mother moving in the dark.

“Risa, I told you that rain was predicted for tonight and asked you to lock the windows. For once I’d like to get a good night’s sleep without having to be bothered by things that I specifically ask you girls to do. One of these nights someone is going to come through that window and take you away quietly.”

Humph, as if, I thought to myself still half asleep.

My mother continued: “Spare yourselves and me the worry of such an awful ordeal or I’ll buy a lock and those windows will stay closed forever.”
Mom said all that in one go. That was just like her. Always saying things the grownup way. Only she would have the stamina for such a discourse in the middle of the night. Mom was talking to Risa but Risa didn’t budge.

Feeling exhilarated from the dream I was just dreaming I tried not to listen to her words for fear of losing the feeling I was trying to hold on to in my autumn dream.
Valerie Moore was my childhood penpal. We started corresponding before the end of the school year in Third Grade. This particular evening I had received a letter from her.

Valerie lived in Wisconsin. Her family owned a cherry orchard and she had a pony she called Cubby. She and I were 8 years old and both of us had birthdays in September.

Every letter she wrote to me was riddled with eraser holes and consisted of ugly pages carelessly torn out from big writing pads. But that didn’t matter to me. She told me about learning to milk their cows, about driving a tractor and about picking cherries.

I have never been cherry-picking and much less never milked a cow in my life.
This time she told me about fall coming and described a foliage scene behind her farm. The image stayed in my mind all evening only to resurface in my dream that damp rainy night. In fact, the words I had uttered in my dream had come directly from Valerie’s letter.

The stairs leading up to the attic were dark, narrow and cold. They were enclosed in a small upward-going tunnel and they swerved round so that you couldn’t see if someone was coming down or going up until you were right smack in front of them. It was void of day light, lacked a light switch and a light bulb.

Risa and I shared a room up there but I had had no say in the matter. My mother, suspecting my teenage sister to be up to something, used me as a bargaining condition.

“…only if you agree to share the space with your sister,” mother bargained assured that Risa would soon give up the idea. When Risa said ok without a moment’s hesitation, mother couldn’t go back on her word. And so it was that I ended sleeping in the attic.

Risa chose the attic because of the way it felt so disconnected from the rest of the house. Perhaps it was because the stairs were completely encapsulated, but once upstairs one could not hear anything going on downstairs. And vice versa. I didn’t like being upstairs but once upstairs I dreaded going down those stairs. I always got the distinct feeling that I was about to bump into a ghost.

We had two beds. Mine was closest to the stairs and Risa’s was next to the windows. Mom let me have a small table next to my bed and on it I kept a small glow-in-the-dark lamp. But the lamp hardly got any real light from outside or from the one dim light bulb that illuminated the room. In order to get any use of the glow, I had to wait for Risa to be in the room for a few minutes before going upstairs. Once under my covers, Risa would turn off the light and then I would get my glow. Good thing was that I fell asleep right away even before the lamp lost its glow.

There were no partitions between our beds so Risa spent her allowance on thick silk ribbons. I mean lots and lots of ribbons. She thumbtacked the ribbons to the ceiling boards. She made it so that from the top of the stairs, one couldn’t see her bed and also from my bed I couldn’t see hers.

The ribbons were of all different colors and they cascaded from the low ceiling all the way to the floor. During the day I loved looking at the ribbons swaying with the wind, but at night the ribbons grazing against my face or any part of my body, sent shivers down my spine. They scared me.

That night, the rains came strong. There was thunder and there was lightening.
The old house moaned and groaned. Shrrrrrrooweeee shrrrrrooweeeee rushed in the wind through small openings on the window frame. The blinds rattled uncontrollably. Oh that howling; how angry that wind sounded.

Realizing that I had lost my dream, I thought of following after Mother but I was afraid to descend the stairs. I called out to Risa but she paid me no mind. Closer and closer to her bed I went until I was right above her.

She laid on her side — still as a corpse. I could see the shape of her body and even her hair but her face lay hidden under the blanket.

“Can I sleep with you,” I whispered in a groggy voice, “I’m sssc– scared,” I moaned. I touched her shoulder to shake her but there was no shoulder where a shoulder was supposed to have been. I ran my hand over her body. There was no body there either.

Scary as that was, I snatched off the light blanket only to find that two cushions lay where Risa was supposed to have laid.

At that revelation, my eyes got forced open. These didn’t feel like my eyes. The area around them felt tight. They were being held wide open by cold fingers. My eyeballs felt cold. I couldn’t manage a blink. My mouth flew open as if the ligaments in my neck had been wound too tightly. I screamed but the scream was only coming from inside my head. My voice had deserted me.

Without thinking I scurried over to the stairs and stomped down the dark stairs as if the ON button had just been turned-on inside me.

No time for knocking. I flung the door open. I got to mother’s side of the bed and yanked the covers off of her. I still couldn’t get my eyes to blink or my neck to release the pull it had on my open mouth. I started slapping mother. This woke my father too. He jumped out of bed and turned on the big light in the room.

As if this was the cue that I had been waiting for, a loud insistent wailing bubbled from within me. I started to shake uncontrollably and burning tears splattered from my eyes all at once. My voice was incoherent and husky so with exaggerated hand gestures I tried telling them about Risa. But my parents couldn’t understand.

I dragged them to the stairs and pushed them toward the attic. Mom got to the top first.

“Risa,” called my mother in that voice she used to let us know that we were in trouble. “Risa get out here this minute. Risaaaaa!

But there was no Risa…

Recently published on Medium

Something Amazingly Awesome is going to happen to Me Today.

by Selma

Do you have a catchphrase? An affirmation?

Photo Sh1ra: Pixabay

The above title is a revised catchphrase from one of my favorite authors propagating positive thinking and creativity. Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.

In one of her recent blogposts she tells me that for years upon waking, she had repeated a positive mantra that went: “Something amazingly awesome is going to happen to me today.” Pam wrote an entire book with that very concept in mind. Speaking from the heart in the way Pam does, it’s not difficult to imagine that the book went on to do extraordinarily well. It touched non believers and believers alike with the ‘tried’, magical, life-changing powers found in those simple words. Every page, every word in the book is bursting with positivity. It’s simply an enlightening book.

But since then Pam has had a change of heart.

She says and I quote: Amazingly awesome had lost its magic. For me, it had become rote, shorn of energy. I repeated it the way most of us answer the question, “How are you?”

“Fine,” we say, without really thinking.

I needed some new mojo!

Nothing wrong with that, right?

So she rephrased her mantra to this:

“Something extraordinarily epic is going to happen to me today.”

I don’t know exactly what it was that made her feel that way about ‘amazingly awesome’ to make her change to ‘extraordinarily epic’ but that’s where I let it go. To me, both sets of words are just as weighty.

As for me

My mantra has always been: Whatever you Do; Wherever you Go, Go with your Whole Heart. The words have served me well.

I still stumble and fall, get frustrated and cry often especially now that I’ve started to test my mettle in Social Media.

I bring my mantra along; I’m doing this ‘SM thing’ with my Whole Heart. It’d be folly to think that I’d be crowned queen right away or that it’d be easier since I’ve only just began — I will continue to dust myself off and keep on trying, believing wholeheartedly that I WILL get it right one day.

I am no Pam Grout. (…)

I respect her and I cherish every word she writes. And though our paths might never cross, our spirits have already found each other’s. (brag: she recently “liked” something I posted on Twitter and I took a screenshot and printed it. Yeah call me vain if you like but I have it sitting next to my PC. Hihihi. It’s my Nobel Prize).

Thanks for reading 😉

Do you have any words that ground you? I’d love to hear what they are.

Previously published in Medium: