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    Some milestones call for celebrations on top of the world!

    These pictures show us having a great time today, remembering old and new experiences and imagining how the next 32 years would be like. “I’d like to go to a nice restaurant to celebrate this day” I said, not giving Wally the opportunity to “suggest” the usual (which is basically whatever he has a taste for and me pleasing him with it). By the way, knowing that any restaurant we go to has choices for me, I don’t mind him choosing “the usual” which is normally asian food, pizza or steak restaurants. My reluctancy sometimes has to do with breaking my own commitment to stay fit and healthy and in my ideal weight but I find pleasing him a worthwhile cause, always!

    The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building was my choice. It was a cloudy day but we could still see the beautiful city through our window. The view in Chicago from any high-rise building is always going to be spectacular and I felt as if I was on top of the world, celebrating as I conquered the last 32 years with this man that enchanted me when I met him and is capable of enchanting me now. Yes, I said “he is capable” because he doesn’t always succeed just as I don’t always please him. We’re a normal couple with ups and downs because “normal” is not about being perfect. In fact, I woke up thinking “we weren’t always laughing” but we can sincerely say that, with God’s help, today we are in a place of joy, comfort, support for each other, mutual admiration, open communication and complete trust. Would we do it again? Yes! Over and over again.

    We’re grateful to celebrate the day we said “I DO” 32 years ago today through an incredible journey that allows us to appreciate significance.

    I invite you to do what it takes to be able to celebrate small and big milestones and live a life a significance as well!!

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    We are empty nesters, now what?

    We are empty nesters! What now?

    My time with my granddaughter today reminded me of years ago when I was raising our children. It seems like it was yesterday. However, our children are now adults and independent. We are officially empty nesters and it feels good! Not sure why part of the description I found on the dictionary says “being empty nesters could cause depression and loss of purpose for parents”. Wally and I actually feel quite the opposite and have a wonderful sense of fulfillment!

    People ask us all the time what we do to have a healthy and strong relationship after so many years. It’s no secret that we practice a few things that have certainly helped us. We still go out on dates, we support each other’s projects and give each other space. Throughout the years, we’ve invested in our marriage by taking the time to attend couple retreats, workshops or conferences like “I Still Do”. We both love to read and have invested in tons of books to strengthen our relationship. One of my favorite ones is “The Five Love Languages” by Doctor Gary Chapman and both Wally and I understand the importance of investing in our personal growth. In fact, the time and financial commitment to go through the John Maxwell certification and staying actively involved, has helped us both grow individually and as a couple. There’s been times when we’ve reached out to people we trust for advice or accountability and in more than one occasion, someone has interceded for us in prayer, which is probably why I’m a firm believer that prayer works!

    As I meditated on all these resources we’ve used, it’s obvious we are not a perfect couple and far from it, but it ALL has allowed us to improve in the following areas:

    1. Communication. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t be able to address and without a “good one” we would have been done a long time ago.
    2. Trust. Couples build trust and betray trust. It’s just part of being human beings. We’ve learned to trust God more that we trust us and simply love each other -to avoid disappointments.
    3. Forgiveness. I’d be lying if I told you we haven’t had to forgive each other. For many couples, a lack of this one is the reason to separate or divorce.

    Is there such love as the one described in 1st Corinthians chapter 13 of the bible? Maybe not but we can always aim at it and compromise.

    I hope you found this helpful and please share with others you know may need help in their marriage. Stay close to each other and reach out if you, or someone you know, needs help!

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    Why do all communicate but only a few connect?

    My mom had a special way of connecting with people. She was born in 1940 and way before social media was the thing to do. I know she would have exceeded the number of “friends” or connections allowed on any of the social media platforms if she had had a chance to be part of them. I often wonder what she would say if she was still alive and knew I was using social media to share her her teachings…The conclusion is always “mija, just make sure someone is inspired by what you do”.

    My mom was an open book and never ashamed of her experiences whether they were good or bad, and believe me, she had some really bad experiences in her life. She was so young when she married my dad. Merely 16 years old. Up until then, her mom, my Abuelita Carmen, provided her with everything she needed and even had a nanny and a new dress to put on every Sunday. But when my grandma gave my mom’s hand in marriage, I’m sure she hoped for her to have a beautiful life with my handsome dad and live happily ever after.

    My mom’s first marriage was far from ending happily ever after, but I know she learned from every single experience to become the strong and persevering woman focused solely on the wellness of her 5 young children, Luis Antonio, Jose Luis, Marco Demetrio, Martha Leticia and me, Norma Patricia, born to her and my dad, Luis Ibarra.

    I’ll always be grateful for her second marriage and for giving me the joy to have a younger sister, Noelia, a younger brother, Jose Juan and her adoptive son, Jacobo. Before marrying Manuel, she had to raise me and my siblings practically on her own and had to make use of connections in her neighborhood. Don Doroteo would allow her to buy groceries on credit and pay when she collected the money from sewing, ironing and cooking. The account was often negative. However, I never saw my mom worried or sad about that.

    My mom was friendly and kind. Everyone knew her by name -or by a favor she probably did for them or a family member. She lived by the golden rule and treated others how she wanted to be treated. My house was always full of people (mostly strangers to me) I mean, she took care of all my cousins and looked for ways to use her many talents to help make ends meet. One of them was her cooking. She was able to make a banquet within minutes and feed a whole lot of people from a small container of beans and rice. Simple food was her specialty -probably because we didn’t have the luxury to eat fish or steaks often. I remember some mornings she’d make me “miguitas”, which are fried tortillas with scrambled eggs. She’d send me off to school thinking how blessed I was to have had a delicious breakfast!

    Something I learned from my mom that I apply to my life now and see the benefits of doing it every day is to have a friendly attitude, be kind by paying a compliment and expecting good things in life. I really hope to be able to connect with people like she did!