Viva la Wifi in Habana

Viva la Wifi in Habana

I miss communism. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to live in a communist country at least not all the time. On first impression life in Cuba is much slower than the U.S. Our first day in country and you can tell we are some serious differences. It was like stepping back in time 50 years, a time before computers and the internet.

Our first experience with a drastic societal difference was when we went to eat our first day. As Americans; we are used to fast, prompt, and detailed service, when dining out. Our first lunch in Cuba was everything we were unaccustomed to experiencing when dining. It was slow, very slow; our server sat us in the small section of the restaurant that was air-conditioned and then left. While we waited, we noticed that all the plates, silverware, and cups were quite dusty and most of the items on the menu were not available. Our meal was long almost three and half hours. None of our food came out at the same time, and there were no apologies made for any of it, this is just how Cuba is, no need to rush and you eat what’s available.

The laid-back feel of Cuba would be something we would slowly get used to over the week-long trip. We had to learn to settle into 2-3 hour meals. We were, after all enjoying a luxury that most Cubans rarely, if ever, experienced eating at some the nicest restaurants in Cuba.

Cuba is a throw-back to simpler times a time before the internet. I would not say “the good old days” a phrase that irks me every time I hear it. But a time before we were all addicted to our smartphones and devices. Regression can be a bit jarring, we have so much to distract us from our everyday life and problems, and when it all taken away what do we do. We talked to each other, we argued with each other and had some great times exploring Cuba without worrying about recording every second of it for social media.

I enjoyed the change of pace for a bit. Like going camping for the weekend. At first, it is enjoyable to be out in the woods and enjoying nature in all its beauty, but then mosquitoes start biting you, it starts raining, and you have to dig a hole in the woods to use the bathroom. You start to miss home and all the luxury and amenities that affords. I missed being home but I want to remember what it was like to be in Cuba where things are hard to come by, access is limited to the internet, and people still have to entertain themselves. I don’t think it will be long before Cuba changes, although I kind of hope it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure we will never know those simpler times again.

 

 

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5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

In my last post I stated an exercise I wanted to incorporate into the Gentleman Farmer’s daily routine. We talk for five minutes uninterrupted about whatever is on our minds. Oftentimes we do this without having an actual timer. I think it’s pretty easy but sometimes the GF has trouble filling up his time. I chalk this up to men using less words to describe what’s important to them. However, we’ve done this for two weeks without missing a day. I think this definitely helps us to connect in ways we may not be aware. Case in point; the GF and I were working on what the Gottman Institute calls “love maps.” This love map is a series of questions that allows partners to see/realize where their partners are emotionally. One question asked was describe your partner’s day in great detail. We knew that about each other because we discussed our day hours before during our five minute exercise. We realize our stressors, cares, concerns, and accomplishments in those 10 minutes on a daily basis. 

Another update: salsa. Like the Gentlenan Farmer and I both stated, we’ve had a great time dancing. I more so have learned how my dancing impacts my partner’s thoughts and feelings about our relationship. I always think I have the best intentions and am displaying them in ways he can understand. However, that isn’t the case. We both have learned that we have to do more, be more, and act more in ways that we both understand to have a solid relationship. This came from our salsa classes! I’m staring my babe in the eyes, smiling and wishing he’d look back at me while he’s learning new steps and is concerned with leading us to be the best dancers we can possibly be. We are both learning to dance with each other but also I want to have the most fun with the person I’m with while doing justice to this very cultural dance. Whew! That’s hard sometimes. Emotions are high and the pressure is on! Haha. I want to be seen as the person I see myself as….including being a beautiful dancer. We’ll get there yet. We went to a dance showcase of other students from the Salsa Center. They did an amazing job and I see us up there soon! Why not?!?! 

Our trip to Cuba is next week! I’m excited to spend time with my sister and her boyfriend, two of my friends, and, of course, the Gentleman Farmer. The beach is my happy place and I hope we will have many sunny days ahead with lots of learning about the culture and people of Cuba. I imagine us dancing in the streets, going to the market, sunbathing, museums, food, and lots of fun! 

Forward Basic

Forward Basic

Ms. Coco and I have dived into Salsa dancing this month. We have done several private lessons with our salsa instructor. We are preparing for our trip in August.

They say if you can dance together then you can do anything together. I think, how well you dance also tells a lot about how well you will work together.

Sometimes in life, we get grumpy or frustrated. I feel like I get grumpy more than most. I liken it to the bell curve of life, sometimes you are on the up slope, and everything is fine, at others you are on the down slope reverting to the mean. If you can learn to dance with your partner through life cycles, then you’ll be ok.

Dancing with style and grace is not always easy. When you first learn the Salsa basics, there are specific step to follow. In life, love, and relationships there are also generally accepted steps to follow.

First, you have to find the beat in salsa. We do this with a halftime step that’s not as quick as the music so we can get on the beat.

The leader of the dance signals to move into the first step, usually something basic and easy. A forward and backward step that one dancer must lead and the other must follow. Dancing can be awkward at first as you learn to move and dance together. It’s not just about learning the steps, but how to hold yourself, and how to signal your partner as well. If I want my partner to turn, I try to squeeze her hand one count before the turn, so she knows it’s coming.

Like relationships sometimes we miss the signals and have to catch up find our way back to what our partner is doing. It’s not important if our steps are right but that we enjoy dancing with each other.

Wanna Dance? Of Course! By Ms. Coco

Wanna Dance? Of Course! By Ms. Coco

When the Gentleman Farmer and I discussed what our challenge should be this month we had different opinions. However, we decided to go with his of learning how to salsa. I know he likes to dance and I have never taken any dance classes at all, so once again this is new territory for me. I appreciate these experiences that we have together.

We went to two classes this week, and I must admit, it was a lot of fun! I am not shy on the dance floor, and I LOVE to dance! Salsa does not come naturally to me; I have a hard time listening to the beat sometimes. However, the GF is a great leader, and as long as I catch his signals, I can stumble my way through. I would love to be a great dancer. Also, our teacher is amazing. Visit The Salsa Center in Lexington if you have a chance!

I am also currently reading How To Be Married by Jo Piazza. The GF bought me this book because he said it sounds like something I would read – his assumption is accurate. In the last year, I read How To Be A Woman, How To Be A Person In The World, and How to Grow Anything – Food Gardening For Everyone (really a DVD, but, yah know), so this is right up my alley. In How To Be Married Piazza travels the earth asking advice from people from several countries. She also discusses the fact that marriage is not perfect and takes real work. As you may have realized by now, I am all for working on my relationships, personal – duh- and professional, to ensure success! In one country the advice given was to always dance with your spouse. If you’re able to dance, you should be able to communicate (I actually believe communication may be the most important link to a healthy marriage). We dance sometimes, but we can always incorporate more dancing, hand holding, and eye staring into our daily lives.

We can always talk more as well. There is one exercise that is brought up in the book about talking for five minutes each day uninterrupted. For example, the GF talks for five minutes about whatever he would like to discuss. It can be good, bad, ugly, or indifferent. I must listen to him and not respond but show nonverbal actions to encourage him to keep talking. Then we switch. This allows each person involved to discuss the important or nonimportant issues that may not be addressed because of distractions from our partners or not being fully engaged. Maybe we’ll try this tonight and report back our findings.

 

Dancing with Kids

Dancing with Kids

July has already been a busy month for Ms. Coco and me. The last week of June we went on a little vacation and watched Ms. Coco’s young nieces and nephews. We decided to bring two of them back to Kentucky with us for a week.

Our second week with the kids at home was fun and hectic. Ms. Coco had a county fair she was managing all week, and I was working on several projects while trying to keep the kids fed and entertained when Ms. Coco was busy.

My first idea was to take the kids fishing which turned out to excellent except we did not catch any fish and when we attempted to go a second time a thunderstorm rolled in and rained us out. We rushed back to the car just before the sky opened up. I drove the kids to Ms. Coco’s office while they slept in the back of the car.

We got to have dinner together while we watched a produce auction and a swine competition where pigs competed with their owners for money and the honor of being a blue ribbon hog. The pig show was entertaining, and the kids liked it until the pigs started getting a little too close for comfort.

To have children for two weeks was a new challenge for us, and I feel like we did a pretty good job of entertain the kids for the short time we had them. All the kids said they wanted to come back and visit again, so I say that was a win.

I look forward to the rest of the month ahead with Ms. Coco. We are going to be taking some dance classes before our big August trip. I hope that I can remember something from my high school dance class!

 

The Love We Share…By Ms. Coco

The Love We Share…By Ms. Coco

I am a thoughtful person, for good or for worse. I know that may get me in trouble sometimes…as some songs say, I overthink. However, we all do that sometimes. And since the Gentleman Farmer and I started this project six months ago – WOW – I think it’s a good time to do so. I spoke a little about this last month when we were determining our rituals, traditions, and special moments. So let’s get into what I have learned since starting this with my honey.

I have always known I can be stubborn. I like to get my way when I want it. I do not like when people tell me no, especially when it’s my man (and he rarely tells me no…but it still gives me a little pang in my heart). However, I have realized that this feeling is also something I see in the GF. If he asks me something, I attempt to do it when he asks. If he does not do the same, I am VERY impatient! In my mind, I am thinking of all of the requests he gives on a daily basis – which is many- and how quickly I respond. I also reflect on the years growing up with my mother. If she asked for something, she expected a response immediately. This trait apparently has been passed down to more than my household.

I also have realized no matter how well I believe the GF and me communicate, we sometimes are on opposite sides, and I have to be humble enough to fix the problem. Or at least begin to repair the issue. I shut down when there are problems most times. I do not want to say anything I will regret. I also need to gather thoughts. But at that moment my feelings are HURT! Within our relationship, I cannot shut down. And I won’t do that to him. He worries when I am not speaking to him, and I would never want to give him the thought that what is wrong is irreparable. Even when we are arguing – we have had a few of those – I still have to show him love in the way he receives it. For him, his love language is physical touch. He likes to hold my hand, touch my hair, or give me kisses when (I think) he thinks I am upset. At that moment the last thing I want to do is hold his hand, but I do because I still love him and I want to show him love always. I hope he does the same for me when he is upset. I need him to talk to me, listen to my concerns, and tell me what is going on since my love language is quality time.

One last thing I have realized over and over again is that the Gentleman Farmer loves me and will do anything to protect me, make me happy, and keep me safe. I adore him for all he is, pleasant or trying. We have done many things in the last year that have strengthened our love for each other, that have tested each other’s nerves, and that have affirmed – for me, at least – that he is the man I will love until the end of time. Of course, we have to decide on what our next steps in life are. Where will we live is something we’ve been contemplating for the last month or so. How will we keep our joint spaces neat enough that we won’t be irritated? How should our meals be prepared and seasoned (that’s all ME)? Where will our future children go to school (if our blessing is to have any)? Where will we feed Bates when we’re in other peoples’ homes? These are all questions that came up the past couple of months. We will get answers to them all. He gets All That I Got.

This month’s challenge is to create something together. Our first project is a menu board – I am always thinking of food. It will say “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalms 34:8. We’ll see how this turns out!

How does one live a good life?

How does one live a good life?

Work life balance is hard for many people; I’ve still yet to master it.

Last week Ms. Coco talked about a mission statement. I’ve been thinking about the question she asked last week. I don’t have many answers yet, but I’m working figuring out the answers.

I recently attended a conference for work. But this conference was quite exceptional in that, you could bring your family, and made time each day for a group/family activity. The family time not only helped the attendees bond, but it also gave folks time to bond in a new way.

Ms. Coco had to work this week and could not attend with me. I missed our time together and wished she could have joined me. But I feel like this period apart was also valuable in that it made me appreciate our time together so much more!

The habit of taking a break a once a year to reevaluate work and family priorities is important to me.

How does one make sure they are a good husband, father, and person? This issue that was presented to me this week; by a colleague. I’ve found that asking better questions is a valuable skill.

So my plan this week is to take some time to try to answer some important inquiries. How am I going to do this? I don’t fully know. But I’m sure it will start with reading and research.