Monthly Motivational Mantra

Yes, you may.

May… the month of possibilities.

May has always been a special month to me. It is the month in which my youngest brother was born. For me, it is the month that signals the beginning of summer and the hope of good days to come.

May is also a word filled with meaning. May can express possibility, I may go running this afternoon. It can express opportunity, You may win. It can express contingencies, you may have to take an alternate route. It expresses wishes, May your life be long and prosperous. For that reason, May is the month of magic.

Use this month to explore your possibilities and express your potential. That’s what I will do. This month’s posts will discuss potential and what it takes to go for it. I hope you enjoy them. And… May you have a wonderful Spring.

 

 

 

 

The Comfort of Home

With the stay at home orders that have been issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been longing for the comfort that my parents provided for me in youth.

One of the ways in which I, and probably many people, transport myself to different times or feelings is through the use of food. The smells emanating from the kitchen and the flavors that hit your taste buds, can act as a time machine to take your mind to memories of safety, security, and love.

This week I did exactly that when I decided to re-create my father’s Mexican shrimp cocktail or cóctel de camarón. And, although it wasn’t an exact match, it was enough to cause those feelings to flood back into my heart and mind.

I was glad to have asked my mom for the recipe; she texted me a list of ingredients. I had a good laugh after I called her to ask for the precise measurements. “No measures, just make it taste good for you.”

When I pressed her a little further about this she gave me the most logical explanation in the world. “Look,” mama said in Spanish, “when papi makes for us he puts four jalapeños in it.” I felt my eyes widen at the thought of that much spice. “But, when you’re home maybe two jalapeños. You see?” And I did.

To that end, I hope you enjoy my papa’s cóctel de camarón recipe. Remember that the most important thing is to make it taste good for you.

Ingredients

1- 1 ½ pounds of shrimp

1 bottle of Clamato

1/2 cup of Ketchup (I maybe added a third as ketchup is not one of my favorite flavors)

Juice squeezed from 2 limes (you can also use lime juice from a bottle but I think fresh ingredients are just better.)

2 jalapeños (remember that you can reduce the spice by removing the seeds)

1/4 onion

2 avocados

1 tomato and

cilantro to your liking.

If it’s not pre-cooked, boil your shrimp. I boiled large shrimp in water and lime (the juice of one lime was used for the shrimp boiling.) Next, drain the water and return the shrimp to the same pot.

Add the Clamato and ketchup to the pot and turn on a low heat.

Now, add your lime, tomato, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Let the flavors meld on a low heat for 5-10 minutes max. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cooked because you pre-cooked the shrimp. But, the cooking process does help the flavors blend together nicely.

When you’re ready to eat, add your avocado; my papa’s recipe calls for the avocado to be included during the cooking/melding process. But since I am the only person in my family that would eat this meal, I chose not to add the avocado so that I could refrigerate a portion of it and eat it at a later time. I reasoned that if the avocado turned brown by the next day, it would reduce my enjoyment of the leftovers.

A few notes about how to eat and enjoy this delicious meal:

Cóctel de camarón can be eaten immediately from the stove or you can choose to put it in the refrigerator for a little while to make it a little colder. I like it colder because I associate this as a summer meal. The leftovers I ate the next day without warming it up. The day I cooked it, I ladled some into a bowl and ate it immediately. I learned that, straight off the stove, the distinct flavor notes are more evident.

I like to chop vegetables into small uniform pieces, as you can see from the accompanying photo. However, your taste buds and chopping skills can dictate how you cut them up.

The cilantro is not a dealbreaker. If you are among the percentage of the population that tastes soap when you eat cilantro, omit it and enjoy the meal without the soapy taste.

I also like to eat saltine crackers with it as that is how I grew up eating this meal. However, the crackers are a filler and do not really add to the experience.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoy this meal and please share any modifications you may have done to it with me by adding a comment to this post. I would love to know how you have made my papa’s recipe your own.

Papa’s cóctel de camarón

The Cost of Being a Woman

Living in a patriarchal society creates burdens on women that men do not encounter. Whether intended or not, those burdens impact women’s financial, emotional, and physical well-being.

The financial costs

In my twenties, I was a woman preoccupied with her looks.


I spent much hard-earned money on clothes that no longer fits and shoes I no longer own. I was completely wasteful. Despite the efforts I made towards my looks I do not recall feeling more happy than I do now. In fact, I know that I was not happier than I am now.


This is not surprising.


From an early age, women are misled. We are told that to be happy, we must look a certain way. We are sold the idea that being a woman means having material possessions- clothes, handbags, shoes- and engaging in certain activities- manicures, pedicures, facials, & massages.


As a result, we place value on ourselves based on our beauty or bodies. That value then translates into dollars for corporate America. A recent article I read suggests that over the course of our lifetimes, women spend approximately $250,000 on their appearances. (For that story click here.) Women are wasting their financial resources.


The average price of homes in the US at $315,000 (found in this Dave Ramsey blog post). Thus, for the same amount of money as the average woman spends on beauty she could buy a home. Of course, men also spend money on appearance. But, considering that women are often paid less than men, one can argue that the financial burdens of being a woman are multi-tiered.

The Emotional Costs

Those who fall prey to gendered stereotypes believe that women are more emotional than men. Those who fall prey and are mysoginists argue that this is the reason why women cannot serve in high levels of leadership such as the US presidency. This type of erroneous thinking puts additional burdens on women. Women who want to counter the emotional stereotype may feel forced to act with more restraint than men.


The emotional costs of being a woman could be lessened. If society deemed it acceptable for both men and women to feel their full emotions. Additionally, a recognition that emotions are not gendered would also be helpful. Women can be aggressive, strong, and blunt. Men can be emotional, soft, and nurturing.

The Physical Costs

When I first started this essay, I thought my research would support my belief that women face higher cost or greater burdens in life than men. But there is one are in which women are not as burdened and that is overall health. An interesting article I found in this Harvard e-newsletter stated that women live healthier, and as a result, longer lives. While this article gave me promise for my health, the truly valuable information it contained was a list for men about improving their health. I shared the article with the men in my life.

Do you believe that there are additional costs or burdens to your gender? Why or why not?

Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

For years, there has been a debate among book lovers, does listening to an audiobook count as “reading?”

For a long time, I tried to be a purist about this. Reading engages the mind in a different way than listening, I would argue. Eventually, I realized that I was still engaging with a story. I began to count my audiobooks in my annual reading tally.

Reading is important for me. From a young age, I was the type of person that would get wrapped up in books. Even to this day, a good story can keep me up at night. However, the experience of getting wrapped up in a story usually only occurred for me when I had a book in hand.

In 2019, that changed for me. I fell in love with the audiobook presentation of ECHO, a novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

I didn’t set out to find the audiobook presentation of this book. In fact, when my friend recommended the book, I knew very little about it. And, although I once read Ms. Muñoz Ryan’s book Esperanza Rising, I did not recognize her name when I was given the recommendation. All I knew was that my friend has great taste in books.

This book would be a great read from a book. The author knows how to weave a compelling tale. She creates well-rounded characters. But, this book really lends itself to an audiobook rendition.

The stories of four young people- Otto, Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy- are intricately linked by a harmonica and the desire for something more. The narrative is rich and detailed. However, the audiobook rendition provides musical background during parts of the narrative. The effect is that the audiobook really transports you to the story. Additionally, the reader does an excellent job with an amazing story.

I fell absolutely in love with this story. It was beautiful and well written. It is a book that should become required reading in schools. I loved it! And, you will too. If you like being lost in a story, you will love Pam Muñoz Ryan’s story, Echo. I highly recommend it.

Norte

Al norte yo me voy

demostrando lo que soy.

Para triunfar, para sufrir,

para llorar y sonreír.

Para echarle muchas ganas

y hacer mucho de nada.

En el Norte trabajare

y muy rico me pondre.

Me sentire todo un rey,

aunque trabaje como un buey.

En oficinas, labores y restaurantes

con papeles o en flagrante.

En el norte yo ya estoy

dando todo lo que doy.

Hago todo por esperanza

de mejorar mi familia y la raza.

Veo aman nuestras comidas,

y desprecian nuestras vidas.

Del Norte me ire

con ahorros y tendre

mejor futuro en mi patria.

y agusto vivire.

El desprecio no sentire,

de mi gente? Pura fratria.

Por ahora, regresaré a oficinas, labores y restaurantes en el Norte.

This is the first Spanish poem I ever wrote. I felt that it called for being written in Spanish to get the perspective of the person who decides to come North (Norte.)