Happiness is

For some reason those license plate frames that read ‘Happiness is (fill in the blank)’ have always erked me for some reason. But last night, I seriously had a moment where I thought to myself, Now this is happiness.

I was driving to get frozen yogurt at a shop I used to visit often before the yogurt craze began. As a kid, it was a family ritual to grab yogurt on hot summer evenings, or even on brisk winter nights. My mom was even a pro at memorizing the daily yogurt flavors, without even needing to call to confirm. Our new house is conveniently in the very neighborhood of this shop. Closer than my parents house even.

But as I made the familiar drive, I realized our new house is in a neighborhood of my fondest childhood memories. Happy, happy memories that I am overwhelmingly thrilled to relive again! The yogurt shop. The grocery store we once shopped in regularly. The park that leads to the river. The local pizza place my childhood best friend introduced to me. The list continues. I feel like I’m breathing in all these old memories and it brings me such joy. Especially because now new memories will be made here in this very place.

The new house we live in brings me such pure joy. My main wish list item was a big backyard because my childhood home had the best backyard. As I gaze from my kitchen table, I see such possibilities if the memories that are to come. Chris and I continue to add to the already large list of ideas to make this backyard amazing. I’m dying to just lounge under an umbrella and daydream about our future in that backyard.

So though those license plate frames may cause me to roll my eyes from time to time, I guess I can finally say I get it. I have found that happiness.

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Go Kings!

My heart is swelling with pride.

I’m glued to local television coverage of the Sacramento Kings

Long Live the Kings Rally.

As a Kings fan, we’ve been in turmoil and a haze of wonder for the past few years.

Would our team stay?  Or would they go?

And finally, I can finally sit here with immense pride

not only for my beloved team, but for my city.

photo-22I have so many amazing memories of this team.

Above is just a small picture of the years I’ve spent cheering for this time

beside my family, and now, my husband to be.

I’ve been attending games for as long as I can remember.

My brother and I made friends with the long time usher in our section,

and we even have developed our own pre and post game rituals.

And if Dad comes with, there’s always the after game jog to the car,

just so we can hear Gary Gerould’s final commentary following the game.

The Kings came to Sacramento in 1984, the year I was born.

And my life has been filled with Sacramento Kings memories since then.

My high school graduation party guests sat glued to the television

as the Kings (sadly) lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Another season, my brother and I found ourselves on the Jumbo-tron

with a giant poster for Beno Udrich – “Beno es Bueno.”

And one of my favorite memories was my first date with

the soon-to-be Mr.

See!  I even saved our tickets from that night.

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Then there are the memories of sitting in the arena

during the two “Final Games” in 2011 and 2013,

where we didn’t know if this would be the final time

we’d watch Sacramento Kings basketball.

Both were two, very different nights with different emotions, but both held uncertainty.

But the end is here!  The Kings are here to stay!

So, long live the Kings!

For this is only the beginning of more memories to come.

I can’t wait for the day that Chris and I get to take our kids

to a Sacramento Kings game.

Though as a city, we’ve been through a rollercoaster of emotions,

the best are ahead.

Never been prouder to be a Kings fan!

Go Kings!

Nothing can stop me now

I felt like a little girl on Christmas Eve.

I knew it was well past time for bed,

but I just couldn’t sleep.

For the excitement for the coming day kept me awake,

but then again, so did the never-ending question, Is this really a good idea?

Sooner or later slumber greeted me, but morning arrived quickly.

photo-17Since returning to running I’ve been sticking to a slow and steady return.

April and May were meant to be ‘run for fun’ months

so that I could build up a base and really test my legs to see if they were ready.

But when my aunt invited me to run a Race for the Cure 5k with her,

I just couldn’t resist.  I signed up.

It was just a 5k, right?  I’d be fine. I prayed my legs wouldn’t fail me.

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Brewing a small cup of coffee, the zing of race day surged inside me.

I couldn’t wait to arrive and be among the people.

Though I always arrive way earlier than I should to races,

there’s something about the atmosphere that calms me.

The pre-race music, the people watching, and the children running about.

As I walked around the sea of people, my nerves became calm.

I started to feel more and more ready.

Bring it on!

This race definitely felt different.

For once, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about my overall time,

rather just curious what pace I could hold.

I decided to let my aunt do the pacing, and I was just along for the ride.

I wanted to take it in, and return to this happy place of mine.

Gliding along the pavement, and letting my mind run free.

The first mile and a half felt amazing!

We were zipping through the course,

and I could tell by my breathing that I was actually ready for this.

Then mile two hit, and I had to really get serious.

I started to feel tired, but I just couldn’t slow down.

I had to reach that finish line and feel good about it.

Push. I’d tell myself. Push.

I reminded myself to push because I knew I could hang on,

not because I wanted to push myself faster.

I just wanted to run, and keep running.

The finish line grew closer and I could feel the relief inside me.

I’d made it and I had no care to even look at my watch.

It’d been a year since I’d crossed a finish line.

But in that moment, I felt more unstoppable than ever.

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My PR for a 5k is 28:04. Looks like I almost broke a PR on accident! Not too shabby!

The name of the game is still slow and steady

as far as training is concerned.

But it makes me feel good to know I still got it!

Let it not be the Last

 April 13th, 2011

is a day I remember pretty vividly,

yet the parts of the day that stick out most

are the early morning and the late evening.

It was the “Last Game” that the Sacramento Kings

were supposedly going to play in Arco Arena

ever.

My day began listening to old Kings memories on the radio

as my old favorite morning show (that is no longer)

reminisced the days of old, the Good Times with the Kings.

Tearfully as I entered the parking lot to work,

I just had to call Dad.

My boyfriend and I had tickets to the game

and so did my brother and his girlfriend.

But Dad’s plan was to sit at home and watch the game.

It just didn’t feel right.

I couldn’t imagine that the team he’d taught me to love

would be playing without him in the seats watching.

Flash forward –

That night, I took in every moment.

Would this really be the last time I’d cheer my heart out for this team?

I sat in the upper deck, with a perfect view of our season ticket seats.

As the warmups began, I couldn’t help but replay memories

of my childhood memories in that place.

The game turned out to be a nail-biter, with the Kings losing in the final minutes

to our eternal rival, the Lakers.

But it was a good one.

And when it was all over, I had a hard time leaving.

How could I get up and leave?  Leave these memories behind?

Two years later,

and the story isn’t much different.

Tomorrow is the season finale for the Sacramento Kings.

Yes, they’re still here.  But our future is still unknown.

We’re still waiting for an answer.  For clarity.

Still waiting, for the confirmation that our team is here to stay.

The newspapers around here report a different story every day.

We really have no idea.  There are still so many questions that go unanswered.

Yet tomorrow I know there won’t be tears,

because this time I go to the game with hope.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of the underdog

and I’m pulling for the underdog in this case.

I’m hoping that the nation and the NBA will finally wake up

and see what an amazing franchise the Sacramento Kings really is

and that they will let the team stay where it belongs.

But the most important thing, is that if it really is the “Last Game”

everything will be okay,

because Dad will be in the stands with me

watching our team to the very end.

Go Kings!

Long Live the Kings

I think I have said this before,

but I’m a fan of the underdog.

There is just something about the fight

that lies within the one whom everyone counts out.

Tonight I sat and watched the entire

State of the City address by Kevin Johnson.

I’m a Sacramento native yet I never am one to get behind politics.

But tonight, I was glued to my television.

For the fate of my favorite sports team,

the Sacramento Kings,

is in limbo, and Kevin Johnson is our city’s Superman

when it comes to this issue.

Listening to his words, to his plan,

brought me moments of “Whoop-whoop!” cheers

and I am not shy to admit, at one point,

a few held back tears.

And for a moment I thought,

Is this how people who are gaga over politics feel when they

hear Obama speak?

Because I felt it.  I was sucked in.  I was moved and inspired.

For me, the Kings are more than just a team.

They are memories and cherished moments I get to spend with my family.

And I sincerely hope that after this fight,

the underdog known as Sacramento

prevails.

The Kings have been in Sacramento since 1985,

a year after I was born.

And though I probably attended my first game around age 5,

I’ve been a fan, thick and think, for 23 years.

I can remember sitting in those red plastic seats,

my feet unable to even touch the ground.

Back then, I probably was more interested in the cotton candy and sweets,

but year by year, my interest and love for this game grew.

Not only did I get to share some memorable moments with my dear old Dad,

but I learned the ins and outs of the game.

I’d plop my cereal bowl in front of the sports page in the morning,

memorizing stats to share with the boys at school so I’d look cool.

For a girl who knew her sports stats was way cooler

than the girl who spent hours practicing piano or ballet.

My favorite players may changed from season to season,

Walt Williams, Spud Webb, Tyus Edney, Doug Christie,

but my love for the team only grew and grew.

To think this team could leave my beloved town of Sacramento

it honestly brings a shortness of breath.

Last April, the day of the “Last Game”

I sat in the parking lot before walking in to work to call my Daddy.

I cried because I’d be sharing that evening’s game with my boyfriend

rather than sharing “one last” game with him.

Little did I know, there’d be a little hope around the corner.

The Kings stayed for one more season.

Which brings us to tonight’s State of the City.

Kevin Johnson is the Superman this city needed.

The Maloofs may be his Lux Luther

but I believe he’s going to make this thing happen one way or another.

I want to be able to share more games with my dad

and someday bring my kids to a Kings game.

We may be the underdogs.

People across the country may have counted us out.

But underdogs, they just don’t give up.

And Sacramento just won’t quit.

Not without a good fight.

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Abuelas are better than grandmas

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This is Abuela.

She’s the one who is responsible for my Cuban heritage.

My espresso addiction.

My fiery bulldog ways on the soccer field.

The woman who inspired my sewing hobby

and taught me to sew a project for “10 dollars or less.”

The woman who will always greet me with,

“Hay que linda!  Gina, you look like a million dollars.”

(Yes, even if I’m in workout clothes.)

Who told me to never leave the house without earrings

and a little bit of lipstick (or chapstick in my case).

She’s hilarious, thoughtful and you better believe she’s a good negotiator.

I had the best time sifting through old family photos with her yesterday.

We belly laughed as we shared stories

and passed back and forth, “Remember when?”s.

Brought me back to the days I’d visit her in Miami

on my Spring Breaks in college.

While my friends would visit the beach or go on some crazy college group trip,

instead I took a flight to Miami to spend time with Abuela.

She and I would shop and take in movies,

and come home to eat Cuban food with Abuelo.

We’d practice speaking spanish.

We’d drink cafe con leche.

To me, those were the best Spring Breaks ever.

Though I really do miss my visits to Miami,

I’m pretty happy she’s here in California now.

Because now I don’t have to wait for Spring Break

just to hang out with her.

Acts of Kindness

Well, December is here,

and with that, I’ve begun my month of Kindness project

as a part of my 30 before 30 bucket list.

I finally finished making my list of the 30 things I will do this month

in order to spread a little extra kindness to strangers

and the ones I love most.

I have to say, this took some research.

I wanted to keep this project low cost,

and I wanted each item to be easily attainable.

Now, I’d love to shell out a ton of money to brighten a stranger’s day

but that would leave me broke and not feeling so kind and cheery.

So though some of these tasks seem minor,

to me, they are enough to push me out of my daily routine

and do something nice and/or thoughtful for someone else.

Day 1: Send a note in the mail to a friend, just because.

Easy enough, right?  Shockingly, the hardest part was deciding who to send it to.

I have so many great friends that it was hard to choose just one person.

I have to admit, it felt a little funny writing a note to a friend

when it wasn’t her birthday, and she wasn’t getting married

or having a child.

But honestly, who doesn’t enjoy getting mail?

Like, actual mail, not bills, credit card offers or a catalog?

Here’s hoping this brightens my friend’s day.

Day 2: Surprise grandma with a visit, just to say hello.

My abuela has been on vacation in Miami since the beginning of November,

and it’s been strange not having her around.

She got back last night, and I knew a call to welcome her home

would have been sufficient.

But I knew an unexpected visit would have been that much better.

So this morning, I drove to her house and didn’t call her until I was around the corner.

Greeted by tons of hugs and kisses and squeals of delight,

I knew this was much better.

I showed her the skirt I sewed all by myself weeks earlier

for her to admire and praise with her ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’

She shared all the adventures of her travels

and I ‘oohed’ and ‘aahhed’ in jealousy.

Before we knew it, an hour had passed.

A phone call probably would have been quicker,

and probably, still, would have made her day.

But this meant more.

I could have gone to the hot yoga class I wanted to attend,

and called her on the way,

but this was more important.

Welcome home, Abuela!  You were missed!