One of the things I’ve learned as I have gotten older is the importance of disconnecting. For women who are mothers and for those who are workers, disconnecting is a luxury and it can feel selfish.But I’ve learned that it’s not.
I realize I come to this conversation with privilege. My husband, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, had a vision to eventually buy land and build a house in the country he once called home. Post 9/11, when we were considering leaving the U.S., he made that dream a reality. And so I was blessed with the luxury of the house he built here that we call La Pajarita, a place that gives me life.
There is a fair amount of guilt when you are able to live with privilege in a structurally racist and unequal country like the Dominican Republic. But that is the contradiction when living in the DR, Mexico, or the rest of Latin America. One of the personal commitments I made was to treat every person who crossed my path with kindness and respect.
I make an effort to bask in gratitude for our home. The end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 is a strange time for all of us. NYC Covid cases doubled the day after we left the city and it feels like another shutdown could be on the way. So I am focusing on the ground beneath my feet and each day that comes.
This year, I am not in the middle of writing a book and so for the first time in four years, I get to focus on doing nothing.
It's a challenge.
Disconnecting means making time to be more loving to my husband and expressing lots of gratitude with many please and thank yous. He says this house of his dreams was made for us, his family.
I give thanks that I get to wake up in a bed on an open terrace. When I open my eyes the first thing I see is the Caribbean sunrise through the trees. I sip on warm lemon water and make a decaf coffee with powdered cream and I get our min pin, Walter, for his morning walk. I put one earbud in so I can simultaneously listen to meditation and mantras while hearing the morning bird songs. It's just me, Walter, the sky, birds, hawks, and palm trees.
The thing I love doing the most is just chilling with my family. Sitting on the big couch, watching a movie, listening to my 70s playlist, and playing some cards. One thing I always loved getting from my mom is a foot massage, so I do the same for my kids as a form of extra cariño, especially now that both will have moved out in 2022.
I am working out intensely when I'm here because otherwise I begin to feel like a blob. But this is also the one place where I drink at least one beer daily. How can you turn down a Presidente beer vestida de novia?
I'm reading as much as I can and letting my mind free associate. All the while, I'm still in touch with the migrants and refugees I met in the jungle and in the caravan. Reality is very close to me every single day.
I bought poinsettias for the first time in my life and I plan on dancing my butt off on NYE. My warm up was the staff party in Harlem just before Omicron…but I feel like life is so fragile. I want to dance 2021 away, and say hello to an uncertain 2022.
I invite you, all of my readers and friends, to also take a moment for grace and gratitude. It empowers the soul.
Thanks for reading Malu & You, a weekly newsletter where I share my unfiltered and intimate ways of living life on the front lines as a journalist, mom, and compañera.