And This Is Almost 40

As I approach 40, I realized that I am a much better person approaching this age range, than I was approaching 30. I actually said that to my husband. He agreed, but asked me, “why do you think that is?” I immediately responded with, “I took a step back and took a personal inventory, then set about tweaking and changing what parts of my life I wanted to make better”.

I hadn’t realized that I was doing this, in a systematic way, until I reflected on it this afternoon. Crazy how that happens right? I would say, it started when I decided to become Catholic.  That was a long journey, and a tough road, because my husband at that time, was an atheist. I was also in a new state, knew no one, had no family, didn’t know where the nearest grocery store was, and really started with a completely clean slate.

I worked on my faith, my marriage (learning how to apologize and remember that my husband is on my team not against me, anyone else?), my vocation as a wife and mother, being a good friend, being vulnerable with people, and knowing when to say no to others, and myself.

Most recently, I have been delving into self care. This summer has taught me just how important self care is. I noticed that I thought I was taking care of myself, but I really wasn’t.

Golden Milk: I drink this every day. It’s like the most snuggly blanket wrapping itself around you. It’s also a great support to your hormones, and has anti-inflammatory properties. I don’t let a night go by without it. Here’s the Golden Milk recipe I use, so I have enough for 2 weeks!

Yoga: So yeah, we all know I love Yoga. But, since the nearest studio to my house has closed down, I’ve been completely lost, until a friend posted a link about a 30 day challenge. I’ve since completed the challenge (which is free) upgraded my subscription (cheaper than classes at the studio) and am maintaining a daily yoga practice! Wuuut? Class is in my living room, whenever I am ready. Here’s a link to the 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Each class is 10 minutes, the instructor is totally likeable, and her instructions are easy to follow (even if you aren’t looking at the screen!).

Prayer + Rosary: I can’t have one (yoga) without the other. I pray the rosary every single day. I offer each decade for someone that’s asked for prayer, or something I am struggling with the grace to get through. The last decade is to emphasize all of the other decades that I’ve prayed. My 11 year old son taught me that.

I recently went to confession, and the priest mentioned the book of John for me to read and reflect upon. No, not as part of my penance! I downloaded the She Reads Truth app and purchased their study on the Book of John for $1.99. It goes for 28 days. Once that’s done, I’ll go back to reading a psalm a day.

Becoming Vegan: Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! I was a vegetarian for years, then began eating fish, then meat, and now…I’m 100% Vegan. It started with eliminating dairy from my diet because I was always bloated, felt tired and groggy and read that eliminating dairy could help. Easy enough. I started to feel good within 48 hours, then even better in a week. I thought, hell with it. I’m going Vegan! This site has been super helpful! Here’s my favorite recipe, and it’s incredibly easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. Meals are now easy and quick to prepare, I feel SO much better, and I’ve actually lost a little weight.

I take some supplements to help with vitamin intake and energy, like Super B. How do I know I need more vitamin B? I enter my meals into this handy app and it gives me a breakdown of what vitamins and minerals I need to have more of in any particular day, or when I’ve had more than the recommended amount. Genius!

Epsom Salt Bath with Oils:  All that yoga, running after kids, and diet changes, calls for some detox! Bring in the epsom salts and my favorite essential oil blend to use in the bath! (just three drops in two cups of epsom salt and stir – never put the oils into the bath separately! Oil + water don’t mix, remember?) So simple. I bring a book in and read for 20 minutes (that’s the least amount of time I can soak for without losing it because my face is dripping with sweat!)

Reading: I decided I wanted to meet more people outside of the circles I usually run in. What do I love? Reading!!! So, when I read about someone on Instagram going to their chapter meeting, I thought…hmmm! Let’s see if there’s a chapter near me. There wasn’t so (go big or go home!) I started one. I already have 50 members and 9 people have RSVP’ed to our first meet up at the end of August! I am SO excited. I created a FB group so we can connect outside of the meetings and we already have our books selected. I went with The Girly Book Club! See if they have a chapter near you, or consider starting one. They make it super easy and I love their book choices so far!

So, this is part one of how I’ve been working on the self-care aspect of my life. Yes, there’s more. But tell me, Are you really practicing self care? How do you practice self-care? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments! 

And This is Almost 40 by Cristina Trinidad of The Trinidad Clan

I’m Catholic. What About Yoga?

I have a secret. I have a few secrets. One is that I commit to a daily yoga practice. For 10-15 minutes, I turn on my laptop, and fire up a quick video online.

I am also Catholic. I pray my rosary every day, read scripture whether it’s a Proverb a day, or suggested devotional reading. I go to mass every Sunday, and holy day of obligation. When I didn’t have two dogs and the kids were in school, I went to daily mass and weekly adoration.

 

Yet. I still practice Yoga every day. I was reading an article that came in my Young Living monthly wellness box, titled “Yoga The Young Living Way”. As I was reading how to use Frankincense, or Myrrh for standing poses, as these oils are grounding, it hit me. Should I write about this? The answer from a friend was “You’ll get a lot of comments”. I took that as a yes.

According to Catholic Digest:

People who don’t know the difference between Catholic belief and this kind of nonsense easily wander off, from the former to the latter.

And I think this also shows the Church’s concern about yoga: it’s not the stretches and poses that the Church is worried about, it’s some of the Eastern mysticism that underlies them and is often taught with them.

I get that. I get the concern. I get it so much that people have unfriended me on Facebook over it. Really. I even tried to share this link on Ignatian Yoga. Surely, that wouldn’t set anyone’s alarms off. No such luck. I still hesitate to mention that I am about to practice yoga to my Catholic friends, because I don’t want to see yet another eye roll.

I don’t practice yoga for the spirituality. I am a Catholic for that. I practice yoga to see how far I can push my body in a way that is different, and not aggressive. I go to mass to be lifted up in prayer. To be connected to Our Lord, and my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. I practice yoga because I like to feel strong and flexible in my body. The deep breathing helps with my emotions, just like passing the rosary beads between my fingers each morning.

I am a firm believer in The Trinity, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the whole (vegan) enchilada. Any spirituality or words chanted during class, means I haven’t found the right class. I have had teachers that don’t push the spiritual side of yoga because they know it’s not every one’s cup of tea. I just breathe deeply and say a few mental Hail Mary’s until the chant is over. The thing about yoga is, you can participate as much or as little as you want to. Nothing is supposed to be perfect, and you go at your own pace.

I’m not saying that those that practice yoga for both the health benefits and it’s spiritual benefits are horrible people going to hell. Not at all. I’m talking about what I glean, and how I practice, which is always going to be different for every one.

If you feel iffy about practicing yoga as a Catholic, try SoulCore.

The workout involves a combination of core-strengthening and isometric exercises, stretching and overall strengthening of the entire body…and recite the Apostle’s Creed.  Push-ups are done throughout each of the Our Father’s.  The movements vary for each of the Hail Mary’s.  And a stretching position of surrender brings us to each Glory Be.  Each Mystery begins with a scripture verse and a reflection, offering a time of rest.

Or even Pietra Fitness.

[We] utilize physical exercise to promote core strength as a solid physical foundation for the rest of the body.  For the soul, our workouts include prayer and meditations built upon the strongest of foundations: the rock of Christ and His Church.  This powerful combination truly benefits the entire human person – restoring harmony and wholeness to both body and soul.

Although, I agree with Heidi of National Catholic Register who writes:

Some have attempted to “Christianize” yoga — but again that comes from a perspective that sees “regular” yoga as dangerous to their faith lives.

Before you freak out on me. Let me follow that up with this: according to the Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (1989), Saint Pope John Paul II approved the following statement which sums up how I feel about practicing yoga as a Catholic:

The majority of the great religions which have sought union with God in prayer have also pointed out ways to achieve it. Just as “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions,” neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured.

Bolded for emphasis. So I’ll keep working my Downward Facing Dog, with my pups after I pray the rosary, thank you very much.

If you would like to read up on this issue a little more, here are some posts I found (there were SO many!)

Pope Francis Says Yoga Doesn’t Lead Us to God

Yoga Makes Me a Better Catholic

Can Catholics Do Yoga?

I would love to hear your take on this issue. Share in the comments below. Only please don’t tell me I’m going to hell, or I am opening a door to evil spirits. The only door I’m opening is the one to the pantry because after prayer, and yoga, it’s usually time for breakfast.

Never miss a thing, follow me @thetrinidadclan

P.S. Yes, those are my feet up there. See?

What About Yoga- by Cristina Trinidad of The Trinidad Clan

Where it All Started

It all began with a friendship, as great relationships do.

My then friend, Miguel, was newly divorced and I was married…to someone else. What?! Yeah. Miguel and I worked together, he in the mail room and I, an Assistant (Secretary). He was dating and I was pregnant with Alex. My feet swelled, I was tired, worried I would lose Alex, because I’d lost my baby the year before. I don’t talk about that often.

Mike and I have a lot in common, both Puerto Rican, both from Brooklyn, both grew up during the same time and have a lot of the same pop culture references. He’s only a year older than I am. I am funny, he is funnier, but that was it. I didn’t think of him as anything other than Miguel I didn’t even call him by the name people in his personal “circle” called him. I wasn’t a close friend, but a work friend.

13537513_10208196286839245_2794461133032126221_n

I gave birth to Alex and that was great. Really great. I remember every moment acutely and vividly. I was alone when they brought him to me in the middle of the night to nurse. No one woke me up to let me know he was being carried down the hall to nurse. I sensed Alex coming, turned on my night light and began the painful process of inching myself upwards in the bed to hold him properly. I had a c-section and was still pretty immobile. I could linger here in this memory for a very long time. It’s one of my favorite early memories of my special Alex. It’s here that I feel closest to our Mother, Mary. I have other Alex memories that I will share with you over time. They are the diamonds in my memory jewelry box.

Alex as a baby The Trinidad Clan

The moment I had Alex, I knew my marriage wasn’t going to work. Literally, the day I brought him home. I tried. I stayed. But I knew it wasn’t good. Just like I have diamond memories, I have black coal ones. That day, was a black coal memory day for me. Eighteen months later, I was moving out on my own. I got a new apartment closer to my parents, an artist loft. I didn’t need the room, but I got it in the hopes I would maybe give voice lessons. Maybe?

Within the first month in our new place, I had cramping in my abdomen. I didn’t think much of it. The night went on and the pain got worse. I didn’t have many people to call and I didn’t want to bother my parents at such a late hour.

That’s a strained part of my life.

I remember being in the bathroom, crawling down the little hall and then …

that’s it.

I woke up with my face in a pile of clothes and Alex sitting next to me saying “ok? mama ok?” It was about 5AM and I thought, I have to call my parents, something is wrong. I passed out from the pain. My stepfather brought Alex to the car and then carried me down the stairs. I couldn’t even walk. We drove to their house and to leave Alex with my mother so I could go to the hospital. While he was bringing Alex inside, I called my boss, co-worker and Miguel to leave messages. That was office protocol. The message was just to say I wouldn’t be at work, I was going to the emergency room and I would let them know what was going on as soon as I found out.

We made it to the hospital and the pain was so excruciating, they made a quick diagnosis that it must be my appendix. My stepfather, after hearing me scream in pain (I didn’t even scream during labor, honest). He kept stepping back and away from me because he couldn’t believe the pain he saw me in. I must have started bleeding because they figured out that I had cysts that were rupturing. A lot of them. I have endometriosis, so none of this is a real shock, but it was a shock, kind of. I had procedures done before to remove adhesions and its probably why I lost my first baby.

This time, I basically had to bleed out. My stepfather left and I was sent to a room to recover. I was put on a morphine drip. Ever have that? I don’t like it at all. I was having full on conversations with myself and then in a moment of lucidity, I realized I was in a room alone. I remember the room was dark.

12342738_10206654820903560_1104314778212992209_n

I received a text message from Miguel indicating that we needed to talk. The “text-versation” went something like this:

Miguel: When you get better, we need to talk.
Me: What do you mean, we need to talk?
Miguel: We just need to talk.
Me: Well what are you going to tell me? You’re really a woman? If you have something to say, now’s the time, because nothing will shock a morphine drip.
Miguel: OK. I love you. I’ve loved you from the moment I met you and I can’t see you in pain and by yourself with no one to take care of you. I want to be that guy.
Me: ….
Me: ….
Still Me: ….
Me: I’ve always loved you too.

In those “….” I can’t begin to explain what I saw. All the times he was around. All the times we laughed. All the times I gave him dating advice (ok, so I imposed my opinion). He never shared his feelings with me because he knew I was married and he respected the sanctity of that. However, being married at the time, I didn’t think to look there. You know, at any possibility. In fact, I was still looking through my married glasses well after the fact. But, in that span of his response and mine, I looked back with my unmarried glasses and saw that I loved him, so deeply that it was basic, deep, foundational and very real.

He went on to say that he would watch me walking down the hall with my swollen feet and thought I was the most beautiful pregnant woman he’d seen. Meanwhile, he would make fun of a belly chime I wore so Alex would hear a sweet sound as I walked. He said how he would get a rose for every assistant in the office just so he didn’t have to come up with an excuse as to why he gave me one. He would just staple his business card to each rose, signing only mine. I didn’t know. He would sit in the break room at the office and watch me work during his lunch break. He said he loved to just see me. I never even noticed. He said he knew, and made sure I wouldn’t notice until he was ready. He kept all of those things to himself. For years. There’s Mary again.

Some time during our “text-versation” I passed out. Morphine, remember? He came the next day to see me. I remember looking at myself in the mirror in my hospital room and thinking, how am I supposed to dress up a hospital gown? I pinched my cheeks and pressed my lips together to get some color. My hair? Forget it. A mess, similar to a rat’s nest. When he walked in, there was a light behind him or around him. He was just glowing to me. I remember feeling such a sense of relief at seeing him. He stayed in the hospital room with me even though he wasn’t allowed. My nurse knew something special was going on between us and said if anyone asked, he was my cousin. Mike slept on the floor and held my hand all night. He cleaned me up, walked me down the hallways for exercise. He took care of me. When it was time to go, no one was available to get me. No one had the time to pick me up and drive me home. Mike said, I’m here. I’ll take you home. He held my hand as I was in the wheelchair and he called us a cab (NY’ers don’t have a car if they can take public transportation) to go right to the pharmacy and fill all of my prescriptions.

I was put on disability and he took some time from work to take care of me. A few days later he said he had to go home. I told him that I didn’t want him to go, he said he didn’t want to either.

And we’ve been together ever since (11 years now). He will do anything for me, including taking the dogs out for a walk so I can sleep in. Commute to NYC 2.5 hours each way to support our family, and let me oil him down every night as my way of keeping him healthy! He patiently sat in the pew next to me week after week for years, when he was an atheist. Now he’s Catholic.

603103_10201478992111075_392105508_n

I never thought I would end up with a Puerto Rican man. I was raised to think that I should want to “shoot higher”, and “want more”. Whatever that means. This is as good as it gets and I need nothing more. We make more sense together than we ever did apart. This is my vocation. This is my most precious calling. I’ve learned so much from him. So much fruit has been born from this union. I know he was one of God’s most precious gifts to me.

Remember that big apartment? Mike has three children of his own and I had Alex. They all came to live with us. And now we have Gabriel, together.

17156189_10210340508483446_5558184355708669927_n

I call him by his personal “circle” name now. Meet Mike. Or wait. Miguel – you gotta be in his personal circle to call him Mike. Sometimes, still today, even I slip up and forget.

If he told you this story, it would be a paragraph. He cracks me up. And he kept the phone with our “text-versation”. He’s romantical like that.

Family The Trinidad Clan
When he came into the Catholic Church in 2015 at Pentecost.

Begin Anywhere

Hi.

Again.

I used to be the chick behind Filling My Prayer Closet. Remember? Well, I let that expire because I didn’t want to share personal stories anymore. I wrote something that was really deep and personal. I think I went too close to the core of my being, or maybe I peeled back too many layers and needed to pivot.

Begin Anywhere Cristina Trinidad The Trinidad Clan

So, I worked on this Faithfully Social and this Cristina Makes for this shop.

Long story short, I’m here to start over. I can’t say that I won’t peel back those layers again. I thought it would be cathartic, I thought it would help, but I wasn’t ready. A year and a half later, I am.

Today, I can say that I am a more grounded, see-it-coming, Jesus really has my back, kinda girl. You may be saying that all this sounds vague, or you don’t really get my brand just yet. Well, that’s because I am just beginning anywhere. Why? I’ll never do it otherwise. I will keep tooling around the theme, wait to purchase the domain name, debating whether I should go self-hosted or not, getting my old URL back for ($199, wuuut?) writing the perfect about me page, or think about what I should do about the other sites/blogs/shop before I start another adventure.

I’ll share what I find relatable, funny, joyful, poignant, must-have, exciting, and maybe ask you questions, because I don’t have all the answers.

The Trinidad Clan is how my family signs cards for Christmas, Birthdays or any special occasion. I even embroidered a hoop with that. I wanted to share our family with you. Our special, once-unequally-yoked, blended, Puerto Rican-American, traditional in most ways, life.

Here’s what I can say, and thankfully:

  • I am no longer in an unequally yoked marriage. My husband converted to the Catholic faith, two years ago this Pentecost :::praise hands:::
  • My oldest son is going to public school a year early. His decision, and he’s completely at ease with this. I am grateful.
  • My youngest son has Generalized Anxiety Disorder but we are managing it with lots of chats, snuggles, rosaries, and essential oils.
  • I no longer eat dairy. Wuuut? Yeah. Almond milk creamer and cashew milk smoothies for me thanks. I realized that I don’t feel as tired, groggy or bloated anymore.
  • I’ll be 40 this year. F-o-r-t-y.
  • I am 3-4 classes away from finishing my masters degree to teach High School English.
  • I’m a vegan.
  • I learned how to say no to things that I knew would help us financially as a family, but just didn’t have time for, if I wanted to focus on what I promised myself and my family I would #dreams. If you know me at all, you know I say ‘yes’ to all.the.things. (see all the sites I manage up there? all.the.things.).
  • I love yoga, but never make time for it (on my list).
  • I am proudly Catholic. A convert.
  • I have two dogs. A Beagle Basset Hound mix named Lucy, and a rescue Terrier Mix named Lola (we just got her a week ago).
  • I fixed my youngest son’s St. Padre Pio rosary in the middle of this post. Pray. Hope + Don’t Worry, indeed!

I am just beginning, and I’m not really worried about it not being perfect, about Pinterest, SEO, alt-text, adding links to keep you on the page. I am more focused on just beginning, connecting and writing.

There was more I was going to say, but after fixing that rosary, my mind is a total blank.

Thanks for welcoming me back.

Cristina

P.S. I wrote a guest post for Mary Lenaburg about a new devotional journal that I would love for you to read with me (the online community starts July 11th). Check out my review for Consider the Lilies, here.