Uniquely Mi Vida

I Am Short

Vertically Challenged

As I stood at the door of the classroom I figured, just another ordinary day of subbing. I was wrong. It wasn’t the kids that made it unordinary, nor the assignments, or other teachers… it was my inadequacy. Yep… my physical vertical inadequacy. I found this out when lunch time came and I was searching for the microwave. I found it, sitting on top of a 2 1/2 ft. tall fridge that sat on top of the counter.  I gasped, “Surely this teacher is not that tall!” Then I remembered, “Well, all of them are taller than me.”  Yes, I am short! Or, as I prefer, I am “Vertically challenged.” I got on my tippy toes and I still couldn’t reach the buttons. So, what does a vertically challenged person do when she is hungry and only has 25 minutes to eat (or less)? Be resourceful, of course. I looked around for something to MacGyver my way to hot food heaven. This teacher had unusual seating for the students, beans bags, crates, unshapely sitting stools and more, but nothing for me to stand on while being held up by gravity.  My next idea, well, long tools… pencils were not long enough and as I looked around (hearing time flying in my head), I found myself using scissors. Scissors! Who in the world needs scissors to press the dumb buttons of a microwave that sits 6 feet high?! Well, me!  UGH! Nonetheless, I got my food in and began fighting the microwave’s img_0657.jpgtouch pad and eventually heard the “beep” of the running heating machine. Sigh.. Finally After getting on my tippy toes to get my food out and eating I had 5 minutes. I had to leave to pick up the children from the cafeteria. I decided; I better get my bathroom break. So, off I went only to find the staff bathroom. Turns out, they didn’t have one. What they had was a “Staff’s stall” and gues what? It was locked! “Okay Raqui, breath, they don’t want anyone messing up the clean teacher’s stall, just unlock it from the inside.” I reached over the door stall, on my tippy toes (again…). Try as I may to strect like plasticman ralizing my arm can barely even make it over the dumb stall door… “Of course you know this means war! In the name of all who are short, I will get in that stall!” I went back to the classroom to get my trusty scissors. I reached over, struggling to finding the latch… meanwhile a 2nd grader comes in, looks at me very puzzled, or was that fear? “I’m vertically challenged… too short” and gave her smile, as I heard the “click” of the lock. WelI, I won. YAY!! It turns out that it’s easier to unlock it than close it and locking it back up from the outside…wound up leaving it unlocked. Sigh** That day I conquered the challenges of my height inadequacies.

It is not easy dealing with my physical limitations… I never thought of it that way until I came to the USA… Everyone arounds me likes to remind me. Like if I, somehow, was not aware of my height and didn’t know how short I am.  In Venezuela I wasn’t “short” compared to every girl, I was pretty average. In Guatemala, well, I was above average! Yes, I admit I’m one of the shortest girls in my family, but not the only one. I have learned to live with it and make the best of it. I have found ways to make up for it. Use a lot a resources to get around. THANK HEAVENS FOR HIGH HEELS!! I married a guy of “average height” who is really good at getting things off the shelves for me. Believe me, he is tall to me, and I have step stools pretty much in every room.  I became an expert climber too… There are just some things that are unavoidable, like “short” jokes. So what do I do when I feel frustrated?

Celeste on stool I have learned to see my height not as a limitation, but as a blessing. A blessing because God created me and I am wonderfully made: “You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother’s body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) Why? I don’t know. God hasn’t told me why even after I have asked Him time and time again. (Yes, God talks to me and “No”, I’m not crazy, well, maybe a little;) )I suppose that without us short people there wouldn’t be tall people. I’m sure that there is a scientific explanation due to genetics, environment and adaptation. None of this matters, really, because all that matters is that I am fine with the fact that God created me, with my vertical challenges and all. He created me. Best of all, I am wonderfully made.

I have learned that there are benefits to my shortness. I have been able to do things that others taller than me cannot. J I mean, why jump over obstacles when you can just go under them… My soccer coach learned this when she realized that I could steal the soccer ball from my opponents without them noticing. I was good at sliding between their legs and taking the ball! (No joke!) I was the best defense because of my height and my speed.  Even to this day I can sit in a car, or sofa, and curl up taking less space (okay maybe I do take a little bit more space than I used to, but still…). I can also find and see things that others can’t.  Did I mention I can use tools?? I also learned to climb just about everything just like Zacchaeus… not that I can do this well anymore…

“Short People: God only let’s things grow until they are perfect… Some of us didn’t take as long as others.” –Unknown

I have learned to laugh! How? Because, for every “short” joke there is a “tall” joke… Truth is, you can only laugh and joke about it too. It is just the way you see it. That positive attitude that makes us “tall” in our sense of humor is important. This is not to say that it doesn’t bother me when the short jokes don’t stop. I mean, if gets annoying and really?.. so you have to bring it up every time?? But letting it go and finding humor is better than getting upset. However, for those of you that are taller, and that means most of you, please don’t push it. There are so many times the joke is funny… In the meantime, laugh and smile and remind them that “the best things come in small packages”. (And if they don’t watch were they are going they are going to be surprise when they see stars after meeting the door way.)

I guess that even though finding a chair or stool to climb on may not be available, there is always a tall person that can help.  Just like being short can be beneficial, realize that having tall friends is beneficial too. God created them so they can be helpful to those who are created uniquely vertically challenged.

Uniquely Mi Vida

I Am Loud

{APRIL 2: So I went to see my doctor today… after weeks (literately weeks maybe even months) of allergies with congestion and loss of voice. While I’m there I figured, I might as well ask for a hearing test.
Me: Oh, can I have a hearing test? I mean,
I know Puerto Ricans are loud and all, and I’m Puerto Rican. Everyone keeps telling me I’m loud even when I don’t hear myself being loud… so I figured: Maybe I need my hearing test.😀
Doctor: {smiles, then laughs…and laughs}
Well, I guess that was that and I came out with a steroid shot and ant
ibiotics…for my sinus infection…. but what about the hearing test??? Not even an appointment…🤨 Well people, I tried… you are just going to have to deal with my Puerto Rican loudness….smiley laughing     …until the doctor stops laughing.} 

I am loud. It seems like everyone in the USA likes to tell me that… and for years, I didn’t realize it. After it was brought to my attention, I didn’t understand it. You see, it’s not just me. If I’m loud, so are over 3 million Puerto Ricans across the world.

I suppose that sometime in college, I realized what some students told me, but then they said the same about another friend of mine from Puerto Rico. I started to realize that this “loudness” was maybe a cultural thing.  It made me wonder: why are we loud? Well, we are emotional and excited, passionate and opinionated (very opinionated… or is that just me?).  It became clearer to me when my soon-to-be-husband came to Puerto Rico and brought his parents down for our wedding.

We all gathered at my grandmother’s house (I mean, when I say “we” I’m talking about almost 2 dozen family members; my family and Todd’s parents, and his brother and his girlfriend.) We gathered to discuss the wedding. My family met Todd and his family. We talked about our daily life, and so on. There were conversations galore, coming from all different directions, and covering a variety of different subjects all at once.  I thought this was normal. It is the way my family always behaves when the get together. We shared laughter, excitement, opinions, and more, all in a small 11 by 15 ft. room. The volume ran high with the emotions. I saw my future in-laws had concerned facial expressions. Then I saw my mother-in-law lean towards Todd, who had come to sit by her. She asked him a question, I saw him smile and respond, and her face relaxed. Later, I asked Todd about it. He told me, “My parents were concerned because they thought there were a lot of arguments going on, and asked if they should step outside.” Todd laughed, “I told her that you all were just communicating. There were no arguments; you were all just happy, emotional, and loud. The more excited or passionate you get the higher your volume was. I explained to her that it was okay…you don’t hide anything from each other not even disagreements.” This is when I realized “is cultural!”

Yes, we Puerto Ricans are loud. We express emotions in our tone of voice. We can share funny stories and laugh, loudly. We can share opinions and debate, loudly, and it doesn’t bother us one bit. We can have multiple conversations around the table and follow other conversations, yes, loudly. We can be brutally honest with each other. We just agree or disagree and life goes on. I truly believe that Puerto Ricans were born debaters. Our weakness? Sometimes our emotions overrule the facts. Yet, we listen to each other. Whether we like what we hear or not, we listen. Many of us may disagree, but will come back with an agreement after thinking about it. In many ways we talk before we think. Some more than others, me being one of them.

Yes, I am loud… I have learned to moderate it after marrying Todd, but boy is it hard! Even after 25 plus years of marriage, it is hard. But I turned him to the “dark” side and he too joins in the conversations. (But he still has the habit of thinking before he talks.) It has opened up a new way of communicating, because now he is able to balance his culture with my culture. He has learned to carry multiple conversations too. My family said once that I have “puertoricanized” him! However, I’m still working on thinking before speak. Frankly, it is difficult because you have to stop and access, and re-word, your thoughts, and I’m thinking, “Who has time for that?” I blame my ADHD! It really doesn’t help. In my mind, sharing my thoughts is more important than thinking it through. It isn’t an issue of pride or rudeness, it is just being part of the conversation. However, I can understand where the problem is seen by others, especially in the culture I live in. I have learned to bite my tongue more often than not, outside my home. It is painful, but necessary. (I have found it is much harder to do at home or with family, after all, home is your safe place. My daughters can attest to it. They were raised by a Puerto Rican mother with ADHD J ).

How then have I learned to mellow down in this culture? Or in areas of my ministry where it is extremely important? Through prayer, discipline and accountability.

girl-praying-hands-eyelashes-41942.jpegPrayer: I have had to humble myself often to ask God to help me control my immediate responses. Sometimes I flat out fail, sometimes I struggle and pause, but sometimes I do well. In order to succeed I have to stop and pray. It is not about a matter of stopping and thinking, per se, but a matter of stopping and praying. I must admit, sometimes it is hard, especially when I feel tired or stressed. It has been amazing how God has taught me to “not respond” when the old me would have. My prayers have been mostly about  speaking the truth in love, at the right time, and that it encourages, or challenges people to seek God more (Ephesians 4:15,25, 29). I must admit that sometimes what I think is not what I’m saying. I think it has to with how my mind translates my thoughts. But, I always pray that God may help me speak properly from my heart when I share my thoughts, and that they are according to His will.

Discipline: This is probably the hardest thing to do: to catching myself. This started later in my life. I realized that prayer was not enough but that I had to purposefully work at it. After 20 years among white Americans and other mixed cultures, it is still difficult to do this. It is easier for me to do this when I’m wearing my Pastor/Leader hat, but it is difficult to do it when I am not in my pastoral role. It is even harder when I’m with Latinos and forget about it when I’m among Puerto Ricans!selfie-portrait-picture-photo.jpg Self discipline is one of those gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more I seek to be more Christlike, the more the Holy Spirit helps me. I know that it will not completely disappear from my character, after all, it is part of my upbeat personality, but it can be mellowed down when God needs to do His work. I have learned that God doesn’t change who we are, He tweaks who we are, making us better and using our uniqueness to do His will.

pexels-photo-567633.jpegAccountability: My husband, and I guess to some degree, my daughters, have been great at this. Frankly, sometimes I wish they wouldn’t, but hey, I need them to. Just don’t tell them that because they will hush me all the time! Every one of us need an accountability partner. This person needs to be a person who we can not only trust, but know that they are in our court. They are there to help us be better and to encourage us to do better. They sometimes remind us when we have failed ( I think my family likes this part way to much). Yes, they need to be able to let me know when I fall short because honestly, my heads is not going to admit to me that! In the same way, the Holy Spirit also helps me in this area. However, allowing God to use a human voice to hold us accountable makes the voice of the Holy Spirit more solid. This is important to me because it keeps me from “hushing” the Holy Spirit and pushing Him down. I think He really enjoys telling me “I told you so,” or is that the voice of my mother I hear in my subconscious?

Yes, I am Loud! When I am happy, I am loud! When I’m excited, I am loud! When I’m sharing the word of God, you bet I am loud! But I am also quiet… when I need to be… and I’m sure my family enjoys that part of me most.

Doesn’t wisdom call out? Doesn’t understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way, she takes her place where the paths meet.
Beside the gate leading into the city, she cries out at the entrance. She says,
“People, I call out to you. I raise my voice to all human beings.  You who are childish, get some good sense. You who are foolish, set your hearts on getting it. Listen! I have things to say that you can depend on. I open my lips to speak what is right.”

Proverbs 8:1-6 (NIRV)