All posts by Michelle Estrada

First Love

Have you ever been in love?  I mean that can’t eat, can’t sleep, head over heels, drive you crazy throw your phone across the room while running simultaneously to catch it to ensure that you won’t miss a phone call?   I’m talking about Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook meets Pablo Neruda’s Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) kind of love?  A love that is with you, everywhere you go.  A constant presence that you cannot evade because its dwelling resides within you.  There is no escaping it.  It is a force that bonds you to its magnetic field, and all that is left to do is to surrender.

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Alberto Crane, All In

There’s an air about him.  It’s a statement he makes the moment he walks into a room.  Without uttering a word, he surveys his environment and moves throughout with calm assertiveness.

Alberto Crane

Whether you are a student of his on the mat,  a student of life, or in my case, an observer; his presence emanates and evokes respect.  The Alpha I’m depicting is 4th Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and MMA fighter, Alberto Crane. Continue reading Alberto Crane, All In

Thank You Copernicus

Every morning, my youngest daughter Priscilla looks out the window searching for possible stray dogs who may have made their way to our backyard.  When none are there, she voices with an almost melodic chant, “Any doggies who want to be rescued…come to me.”

May daughter Priscilla with her first rescue, “Ginger.”

She walks outside to see if the bowl she left filled with food and water has been emptied.  As she walks back in with a smile, I know it has.  Her invocation continues when we take a trip to the store, and/or are on our way home from work, “Any doggies who want to be rescued…come to me.”  As soon as she spots one she exclaims, “Momma!”  That’s exactly what happened last Thursday.   On the side of the dirt road, (in Lake Los Angeles) walking at the feet of a gentleman and jumping onto his ankles was a little puppy.  The moment my daughter saw the man try to kick the pup away, she voiced her command, “Momma!” (which meant, “Pull over.”)  She practically jumped out of the car while I was driving and moved swiftly to lure him with some treats (if only she cleaned the house this swiftly)!

The little puppy came close, had a nibble, and in a moment, she swooped him up.  He had no collar, was dirty, hungry and alone.  We brought him home, fed him, gave him a bath, and she baptized him with the name, “Copernicus.”  I asked her why she gave him that name, and she simply explained it was the name that came to her.  Good enough!  This would be her second rescue…an inheritance, no doubt she has claimed.

January 1972. Tijuana, B.C.  My sister Yvette is to the right in the dress, and to the left on my grandmother’s porch is “Chucho”.  Yours truly is in the center.  I was four.

It seems that a love for animals and a calling to feed and rescue those that are in need is a gene that runs in our family.  My cousins and I often reminisce about how my Maternal Grandmother, “Mamá Jovita” always fed the Perros Callejeros (street dogs) and named each and every one of them, “Chucho” (dog).

Santorini Greece. 2015.  My cousin Jerry Vazquez with the local pups.

My mother began a non-profit organization about nineteen years ago (Miracle Dog Rescue) after she took in her first stray (a German Shepherd she named Prince) and since then has gone on to rescue and/or place for adoption thousands of pups (since she began about 200 per year).  They came from the streets of our cities to Ensenada, Chula Vista, Tijuana, B.C., Arizona, and all around the United States.  When my cousin Jerry goes on vacation, he always finds himself surrounded by the local pups, feeds them, gives them love, and has also rescued helpless puppies (some which he has adopted) cats and basically any animal in need.  My teenage niece Gaby just signed up to be a volunteer for Priceless Pets.  My daughter Brontë adopted Tapioca (her white wolf Husky from a Shelter).

You get the picture.  This great honor and affinity towards animals is part of our family’s inheritance, although I must admit, I do not feel a calling to be a devout dog rescuer and have a weak stomach in general, more specifically when it comes to picking up after them.  As happy as I was to support my daughter’s puppitarian endeavors, (yes, a totally made up word) there was one problem…she would be traveling the following day for a two-week vacation.  So guess who took on the role of Foster Mom?  Yup…yours truly!  I complained about how Esta Niña (this child) rescues a puppy and then leaves me with the responsibility! If I were Ricky Ricardo, I would have ranted, Mira que tiene cosa…

Copernicus napping and looking like a furry Angel

I was further resentful knowing that I had to hurry home after my weekend job and make the three hour round trip each day.  In addition, he was not neutered and I could only take him to the Veterinarian’s office Tuesday-Thursday, (another three-hour drive) plus, have to wait around for about six hours before I could collect him.  Oh! and not only did he require to be house trained, he refused to do his business outside and our living room became his dumping grounds!  Ugh! As upset as I was, I could not bear to place him in another foster home, because I knew he was my responsibility, not to mention, every time I looked at his damn face, my heart melted.

As always, I looked at Copernicus and asked the (at times) tiresome question, “What in me created you?”

 I knew Copernicus had come into my life for a reason.  Displeased with the thought of my three- hour drive on Sunday, and feeling shoulder pain, I arranged to work remotely.  I was home alone, slept in, made myself breakfast and sipped on a cup of coffee while watching Oprah on Super Soul Sunday.  Her guest was Dr. B.J. Miller (click on the link to watch full episode) who among many things is a hospice care specialist.  His life experience, profession, and insights on spending final moments with his patients before they die kept my undivided attention.  Towards the end of the talk, Oprah asked him, “When are you the happiest?”  He answered, “When I’m loving someone.”  Oprah expanded on the point of how our furry friends provide unconditional love, however, Dr. Miller made a statement that I had never thought of before…not only do furry companions provide unconditional love, they offer a safe place for us to love them.

For me, truth rang with his statement.  There is no doubt that Copernicus is happy to see me.  Not only does his tail wag when I walk in, but his entire body wiggles with excitement when I play tag with him.  I have no fear of rejection or thoughts of how I need to refrain my sentiments because it may be misperceived or I need to keep him interested.  If I need to spend time alone, I can tell him to sit, and he doesn’t hold it against me.  I took a pause, looked at him while he was curled on my lap and realized that if not for my Copernicus, I wouldn’t be home.  I would not have taken a moment for myself, to pray, to meditate, to write, to post this blog.  Feeling his warmth attuned me to the vibration of Spirit, reminding me with gentleness, that my soul wishes to guide me, beckons me to return to silence, feel the steady murmur of Creation and then, share it.

How did this little creature who weighs a whopping five pounds convey such a great message?  In love and in silence.  I was filled with tears and sat in the space of gratitude and after not writing since the new year, was filled with inspiration to once again…write.

Copernicus, wondering what the heck he did to deserve this cone!

Copernicus has now been neutered, (and is not too happy about it, as you can see) is calmer, learning to sit, walk on a leash, making progress with house training and continues to emanate pure love!  He will be with me until our time together is complete and his forever mommy and daddy come to adopt him and claim him their own.   I know I will cry when that day comes.  Until then, I will simply say, “Thank You, Copernicus.  Thank you for coming into my life.  I love you.”

Is there someone in your life whom you may be annoyed with?  Is there a responsibility that you feel was handed off to you? Take a closer look.  Everything…Every single thing that shows up in our experience gravitates towards us for one reason, and one reason alone…to serve us.  Keep asking the question, “What in me created you?”  Open your heart, and allow the Universe to teach you the lesson that you yourself are invoking.  To each person, each conversation, situation or illness, say,  “I love you, I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank you,” because they are all guests invited by you for your own reconciliation, growth, healing, betterment, and evolution.  And if for some reason, a furry animal who appears to need rescuing comes your way, open your heart and offer refuge, you never know what gifts he/she may bear.

With Love…Always,



How Far We’ve Come

It’s been over three months since my last post. After writing Dear MichelleI became a marathon enthusiast of Netflix, in addition to taking long naps and consuming plenty of fast food which contributed to my weight gain (I’m usually toggling between five to seven pounds).  Each time I sat with my laptop and placed my fingers on my keyboard, all I could do was type jibberish (ndkwldmfkthslsiekdkdeldk).

Continue reading How Far We’ve Come

Dear Michelle

I was born February 29, 1968.  A leap year baby and true Pisces.  From the early age of four, my dream was to become a Super Model.  I would gaze in front of the television; sit as close as possible to the screen when the Barbizon modeling commercial would air, “Barbizon, become a model.” ( I would do the voice over.)  You had to be thirteen or older to enroll.  Every year I grew with anticipation of attending.  Until then, I practiced on my own.

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Return to Gratitude

Sunday morning came accompanied by my usual ritual; I open my eyes, wonder where I am because for a brief moment all is a blur, that is until my eyes gain focus and then in an instant I remember.  I reach for my cell phone to confirm the hour, stretch a bit, and then rise, but wait; I’m not alone.  Lying next to me is The Judge telling me I should have gotten up sooner, along with The Drill Sergeant who points at my stomach and pudgy arms demanding that I drop (in the voice of my son) and give him 10 push-ups, (I can’t even endure one) and The Victim who tells me to simply pull the cover over my eyes and go back to sleep.

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