cup runneth over

What do you take for granted?

Moving to Mexico has done a lot to change my assumptions and expectations. Some of what I needed to shift stemmed from my Type-A characteristics. Some of what I had to shift was due to where and how I was raised. I learned that nothing is perfect. I learned that things do not happen in my timing. I learned my privilege of being an educated Caucasian woman. I learned how what I thought were struggles and challenges were nothing in comparison to what others went through.

It wasn’t until Mexico that I really experienced firsthand how blessed I am in this lifetime. My family did not have much money, but I have learned we had much more than so many others. My family did not have a wall of college degrees, and yet we have more and better education than many. Just having consistent water and electricity, having a reliable car to drive, having money for some little extras, raises my quality of life above so many others. I also learned how this comfort I enjoy makes it more difficult for me to handle challenges. Over the past few years, I have learned my privilege, become grateful for those things I often overlook, and strive to provide empathy and support to others.

my cup runneth over
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

To help you have this same experience of gratitude for things we take for granted, I have written this piece to take you step-by-step through my journey to receive the covid vaccine. My intention is to just report the facts as I perceived them. As you read through the piece, notice how many things surprise and shock you. What do you take for granted?

DISCLAIMER: Although this post will share my experience with getting the Pfizer covid vaccine in Mexico, this post is not about any country, covid, the vaccine, or any other controversy. If you want to debate these things, maybe you want to explore why you want to express hate instead of gratitude.

The vaccine rollout in Mexico started December 2020 and was solely for medical professionals and front-line workers. The vaccine became available to those over 60 years old in February 2021. Starting in March, I began checking the government site to see when the vaccine was opened to my age group. I had access to a computer and internet. I was not worried because I was not at risk and I had a trip planned to the United States later in the year where I could obtain the vaccine. During 2020 and while waiting for the vaccine, I continued to work from home. The weather was pleasant and I had access to multiple safe walks through the mountains. I could order food online and pick it up with my own vehicle.

At the end of April, my health insurance agent – who is more of a health consultant – told me that the online portal for vaccine registration had opened up for my age group. I can afford health insurance. I was able to use my computer and internet to access the site. My Spanish language skills were sufficient, sometimes with help from an online translator, to register. The registration stated someone would call me with an appointment. I have a cellphone that I can charge and receive calls on.

I don’t remember if my neighbor or my insurance agent or both told me that vaccines would begin to be distributed the week of May 18th. On a neighborhood Whatsapp chat that I can access through the internet on my phone and I can access because I can pay the monthly fees to live in this community, I learned that others in my age group were receiving the vaccine. I was fortunate to have the time and ability to research how others obtained the vaccine. Had I not, I would still be waiting for a phone call.

I followed up with friends and neighbors who received the vaccine. One gave me the number of a man who offers to register individuals for the vaccine and provide them early times, for a small fee. Another provided the URL where I could sign up for an appointment.  The site only had appointments for that day, Sunday, at 5pm. I signed myself and my husband up and we immediately left in our car to go to the site. Upon arrival, we were told that they were out of vaccines. We provided our information and were told we would receive a call. Our only inconvenience was a wasted hour. Had we not had our own car, it would have cost us an Uber ride which may have been equal to the average half-day’s wages. If we could not have paid that, the local bus would not have gotten us to the location before it closed.

Monday morning, 8:45am, I received a call that we could receive the vaccine at a different location this morning at 9am. Again, we were fortunate enough to have our own vehicle and the money to pay for gas to get us to the location. We are also fortunate enough to have flexibility in our work to rearrange our day to accommodate this unexpected appointment. Some individuals could not have the ability to change their schedule nor afford to miss work.

When I registered on the initial website, it provided me with forms to download, fill out, and bring to the appointment. I had access to and could afford to have these printed out. I am able to read and write in Spanish to fill out the form. Other, Mexicans and expatriates, at the vaccination center did not have that ability. Staff and others receiving the vaccine who knew English asked if we had any questions and if we understood everything. They also assisted others who could not fill out their forms.

The vaccinations were administered at a school. I was able to walk from the front entrance to a staging area, to the room where the vaccines were given, to an outdoor waiting area to watch for side effects, through a back entrance, and then the two blocks back to our car. I saw elderly individuals being brought in taxis and assisted into the center. I am grateful I can walk, navigate stairs, and sit outside without discomfort.

The vaccination center was being run by the Red Cross, the marines, and a health organization. Hand sanitizer was provided to everyone entering the school. Everyone had some sort of face covering, although not all actually covered both the nose and mouth. Needles were new and the shot area was cleaned before injection. The medical staff did not wear gloves. In the waiting area, we were seated about six inches apart.

Everyone being vaccinated followed the same protocol. We saw three people we knew also being vaccinated: one a highly educated wealthy Mexican, one an American boat captain, and one a Mexican store clerk. All filled out the same forms. All stood in line. All receive the vaccine free.

We were told we would be called in a month for our second vaccine. If there are any issues receiving it in Mexico, we have a trip planned to the United States where we could receive the second vaccine.

Afterward, I shared on our community chat the steps we took so others could do the same.

Six years ago, I would not have handled this process as well. I would have wanted everything to be clearly communicated and for the process to be easy and seamless. What we experienced would have been stressful because I would have had different expectations. Thankfully, I flowed through the process. When there was a roadblock, I accepted it and looked for an alternative. I waited. I stood in line. I was patient.

I am grateful for the ability to:

  • Walk, see and hear.  
  • Read and write, in two languages.
  • Get where I want, when I want, how I want.
  • Receive information from and support my neighbors.
  • Communicate electronically and telephonically.
  • Pay for what I need when I need it.
  • Receive water, electricity, and internet to my home.
  • Accept things as they are.
  • Learn and continue to grow.

What do you take for granted? What are you grateful for?

mended heart

Our Role in Healing

Last Saturday, Joe Biden made a call to the country to unify and heal. He pledged “to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. . . We need to stop treating our opponents as enemies. They are not our enemies. . . This is the time to heal in America.” Hopefully, the Biden administration will lead the way to heal the country, but he can not do it alone. We all have a responsibility to heal our nation, our communities, and our families.

Stop Spreading Hate

The easiest route to take is always one of blame and attack. No matter where you stand, it can be easy to attack “the other.” Instead of pointing out the wrongs of others, be aware of how you are adding to the distrust and distress. Are you adding to misunderstanding and separation? Are you spreading misinformation? Are you sharing negative attacks on others? Or are you seeking to understand and accept?

Stop Labeling

No one is solely a Democrat or a Republican. We are women, men, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers. We are multi-faceted individuals. When we label and attack “the other,” we are being close-minded and closed-hearted. Seeing others one-dimensionally keeps us stuck in duality. When we can begin to look at people fully and completely, we can begin to have understanding and compassion.

Photo by Ante Gudelj on Unsplash

Reconnect

During this election and over the last few years, I have emotionally lost friends and family members to differing ideologies. Somehow our opinions on one subject became more important than the lifetime of experiences we had together. When did a political ideology become more important than family and friendships? We need to look at each other as friends, family, and people again, instead of boxing someone into this or that label. Stop using labels for groups of people and remember that the person you see is not a snowflake liberal – it is your loving Uncle Ted. That woman is not a crazy conspiracy theorist; it is the sibling you spent your entire life knowing. If we are going to move forward, we need to move out of rhetoric and into compassion for humanity on a person by person level.

Be Open

Much of the pain these last years is due to isolation and close-mindedness on all sides. I believe Biden calling us to “give each other a chance” applies to each of us. We need to take off the blinders of our viewpoint and be open to learn about others. Start by not just reading what agrees with your narrative. Look at multiple sources of information from liberal, conservative, and international viewpoints. Be open to what is written and draw your own conclusions. Don’t only listen to one source. Don’t negate immediately what does not agree with your view. Be open to new points of view. Knowledge is power and wisdom is how we use that knowledge.  

Choose

Each of us has the power in each and every moment to make life better – or worse. Biden beautifully said, “It is a decision, a choice we make and if we decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.” Are you choosing to make things worse, to keep us stuck, or are you choosing to act in ways that bring us all together?

Walk the Talk

If we want to be accepted, we need to accept others. If we want to be understood, we need to seek to understand others. We can’t expect someone to accept us as we are, if we won’t accept them for who they are. If we want inclusion, we need to include. We need to walk the talk and lead by our example.

Be Compassionate

I don’t know anyone who wasn’t emotionally engaged in the past months, if not years. We all have an emotional hangover, no matter where we stand on the results. Change – whether it is our address, our spouse, our job, or our political leaders – is difficult. As humans we like consistency, and any change is challenging. When we can move past the fear and anger of change, we can begin to build together. Even if we want things to go smoothly and we try to act our best self, we may not always. As we hope others will have compassion for us in our struggles, we need to show compassion to them as well.

Remember No One is Perfect

Biden used a very interesting quote in his speech, “We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darker impulses.” None of us are all bad. None of us are all good. We are all a blend. We are all human. As we begin to rebuild together, seek to find the good in everyone. It is there if we take the time to look for it. “Spread the faith.”

We welcome everyone

United We Stand

Cubs versus White Sox. Thin crust versus deep-dish pizza. Growing up in Chicago the debates were fun and fairly innocuous. These days the debates have become much more polarizing and contentious. More issues are black-and-white with no room for gray. Our opinions have become facts. Our beliefs are the only truth. The lack of open-mindedness and acceptance have led to a division in the States we have not seen at this level since the Civil War; although it may have always been there under the surface.

To me, the underlying issue is selfishness and self-centeredness increasing to obscene proportions. It started out innocently as the pride of being a self-made person and a true individual. Over time the scales have tilted too far. Today self-focus is not self-care, but a ridged extreme self-importance created at the expense of others. Sometimes this self-centeredness is created out of fear and sometimes it is created out of pure narcissism. No matter how it started, we are now at a critical time where we need to come together or we will completely fall apart. Now is a time to accept each other and find empathy instead of anger and hate. It is time to seek to understand differing viewpoints instead of dismissing others when we disagree.

To shift the current negative momentum, try to make a human connection and instead of labeling, get to know the other. You can hate what they do but hating the individual does no good. Brené Brown teaches of shame versus guilt; basically guilt is feeling bad for something done versus shame is believing the person is inherently bad because of their actions. Division occurs when we label someone as bad instead of labeling their actions as bad.  Each one of us is a bit of good and a bit of evil – we are a little Larusso and a little Lawrence – when we support and accept each other it is easier for all of us to stand in our good.

Instead of hate and labeling, take the not always so easy path of compassion. Compassion is seeing and understanding another’s pain objectively allowing you to act or provide relief. When anger arises, choose compassion over hate. Two wrongs do not make a right. The way to reduce aggression in the world is with compassion, not more aggression. Don’t forget to be compassionate to yourself. In these unprecedented times, we are not always going to act and feel at our best. That is ok. Do what you can every day and cut yourself from slack.

We may not be able to control the larger issues and struggles in the world. What we can do is change how we approach others. We can make decisions through the eyes of love instead of hate. We can focus on joy instead of fear. We can be the peace we want to bring into the world. 2020 is hanging around for two more months and 2021 does not necessarily bode a change, unless we usher one in. Find tangible ways to make your life better by learning to accept those around you. Together we can not only survive but thrive.

Earthday 2012

Environmental Responsibility and Social Enterprise with Camilo Ferro

Most businesses are focused on one thing, profit. They work for profits for their stockholders, profits for their CEO, and profits to grow the business larger and larger. The problem with a focus on solely profits is that often the consumer, the workers, and the environment can all fall victim to a company’s desire for profits.

Thankfully there is a new way to do business, social enterprise. A social enterprise is not a charity, although it may have a non-for-profit component. A social enterprise is built around giving back in a sustainable manner. It is a for profit business which is also conscious of its actions and how it affects individuals and the environment. In the case of Better Bag Benefit Corporation, it is a focus on people, planet, and profit.

Earthday 2012
Earth Day 2012

The Empowerment Show guest is President and a Founder of Better Bag Benefit Corporation, Camilo Ferro who is a passionate entrepreneur and environmentalist. Believing in the potential of social enterprise, he strives to bring awareness to sustainability issues through Better Bag and the newly created TOSS Group. Camilo comes from a family of business owners and has found his true passion in working to eliminate the use of oils based disposable as well as developing Zero Waste strategies.

Listen in and learn about the growing problem of waste. As landfills become more full, what are options and measures we can take to best handle the waste. One of Camilo’s answers is to increase what we can compost which not only helps get rid of waste but provides us with rich soil. Listen in to this engaging discussion about helping handle waste in the United States, Columbia, and other parts of the world.

The Empowerment Show

Camilo Ferro