Dia de Los Muertos Altar: Flor de Cempasúchil

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It’s that time of year, Dia de Los Muertos season is upon us.

Maybe it’s because I was supposed to be born in October, or because I love the Fall season, or because I want very much to see how Mama is doing en el Cielo, but Dia de Los Muertos has become my very favorite holiday and time of the year.

I participated in one of the coolest Dia de Los Muertos celebrations this past weekend where we showed people what an altar/ofrenda is, what is featured along with the meaning behind all of the items on an altar.  Everyone has a unique take on an altar, so know that there is no right or wrong way to honor your departed loved ones.

I’m going to feature some of the traditional items one will find on an altar with information on the “why” you see them.  Altars/Ofrendas usually feature Flor de Cempasúchil which are Marigolds, or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life. It is also believed that the smell of Marigolds help lead our departed ones to their altars and to us.  Marigolds are native to North and South America, growing particularly well in Mexico and in the wild in the states of México, Puebla, and Veracruz.

It’s believed that Dia de los Muertos stems from an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl whose role was to guard the bones of the dead.  The Aztecs considered Marigolds a sacred flower so they bred them to create bigger and more attractive blooms. Aztecs used the sacred flower for decorative and medicinal purposes. The flowers are edible and thought by the Aztecs to cure hiccups and even heal those struck by lightning.

Normally, the Cempasúchil flower is placed on the floor, our Aztec ancestors believed that we have to make a road with the flowers, something like the royal carpet sort of way. We even haven a purple-reddish flower that looks like velvet (velvet flower) for this celebration. This road full of Cempasúchil flowers is made to “light” or “illuminate” the dead person’s way.  If any of you have seen “Coco”, you will see how prominent these bright and vibrant orange flowers are to the story.

Their use in these celebrations is believed to be tied to a romantic Aztec origin myth about two lovers, Xótchitl and Huitzilin. According to the legend, the lovers would often hike to the top of a mountain to leave flower offerings for the sun-god Tonatiuh, and to swear their love and commitment to one another. When Huitzilin is tragically killed in battle, a distraught Xóchitl prays to the sun-god to reunite them on earth. Tonatiuh, moved by her prayers and offerings, grants her wish by sending a ray of sun that transforms her into a flower as golden as the sun itself, and reincarnates her lover as a hummingbird. When the Huitzilin the hummingbird approaches Xóchitl the flower with his beak, her twenty petals bloom, filling the air with cempasúchil’s distinctive and powerful scent.  (Remezcla, October 2018 online edition).

Many churches all over the world celebrate this tradition:   Catholics celebrate “All Saints Day” on November 1st.  Anglican, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, Reformed churches and others celebrate “All Souls’ Day” on November 2nd, some religions and countries celebrate both.

I really love that el Dia de Los Muertos has soooo much tradition and ritual tied to it — especially as so many of our traditional holidays have become so commercialized.  Maybe you think that this holiday is destined for the same fate, however, I do not believe this.  We all want to honor our departed loved ones and we all have many unique ways that we honor their memory.  There’s no way that these memories can be duplicated, we are all unique.  I’d bet that if I asked any of my siblings how they remember and honor our mother, each one of us does it a very different way…this is the beauty of this holiday, no “right” or “wrong” way as I mentioned earlier.

This holiday allowed me to acknowledge my fear of death, my fear of never feeling Mama’s presence again, of never being able to reunite with her.  Where I mourned and feared before, I now celebrate my mother’s memory and the hope of seeing her during this beautiful season where we celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos.

I’m going to try and highlight more of this beautiful traditional from now to November 2nd.

Link about Flor de Cempasuchil:  https://remezcla.com/features/culture/cempasuchil-dia-de-muertos/

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Mirror Mirror On The Wall

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How many times have we looked at ourselves in the mirror?

What have we told ourselves as we looked into that mirror?    Some days, I’ll be nice to the girl looking back at me.  Most days, however, I tend to focus on what I think is wrong with that girl in the mirror:  ‘man I look old/tired”, “oh no, freakin canas”, “pinches wrinkles”, “look at this jacked-up hair”.   As it is, I’m not a morning person, and then here I go putting myself down and making it worse.

My Comadre was the first person that I ever saw make a conscious decision to be happy and to be proud of who she was, extra pounds and all, wild hair and all.   She was always a morning person.  One day, I heard her talking to someone at 6 or 7 in the morning.  When I got up to see who was at our house at that hour, I saw that SHE was the one talking to herself in the mirror.

“Ay Dios mio, que mujer mas buenota!”  “Porque me hiciste tan guapa?” “GotDam what a big, beautiful woman chingao!”  I remember that I starting laughing, I couldn’t believe that she would talk to herself like that.    You see, at the time, I looked at us and our curves, and our lonjas, and our imperfections as just that, imperfections, something to hide, something that “no one would ever want to see or touch”.    My comadre sees herself as an asset to any person’s life any business, any situation and I have been there to witness how people react to her,   Anywhere she goes, to this day, she lights up the room, easily the life of the party.

Another of my friends simply tells “Alexa, I’m home, talk to me” and Alexa proceeds to tell him that he is the most intelligent, handsome, funny man on the face of the earth, etc.   I died laughing when I first heard it.  But again, it hit me, there’s a reason that this man can walk into any place, light up a room, and worrrk that room.  He, too, talks into the mirror.

One doesn’t have to be perfect, have the perfect body, the perfect career, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect car, etc.  It’s all about being imperfect and EMBRACING the unique things about you, things that the world responds to, things that can open up any door for you, things that can bring your life up to the next level.

I’ve always wanted that.  However, I was never willing to do the work.   The very basic part of the work is looking at yourself in the mirror and, instead of tearing yourself down, build yourself up, recognizing what is unique about you and tell yourself how great that is.  This is an important first step.  If you do not or cannot love/accept yourself, it will be more difficult for others to do so.  No one, no man, no job, can do this for you, you need to step up to this one.

I’m now actively looking into the mirror and telling myself what I need to hear in order to make my day work to my benefit instead of against me.  The first person whom I need in my corner is ME.   If telling myself how beautiful I am, how great it is to have the energy of those half my age, how lucky I am to have survived ___ still smiling and working it, no one can do me like me, that it still takes 5 to 10 people to do what I do, I am the baddest chingona of them all, and on and on.

My hope is that, when I’m at a crucial moment, where I have to bring it, where I really need every ounce of my confidence, where Inner Chingona gets to come out, that I will be successful because the voice in my head tells me so…

…and because the girl in the mirror told me so.

 

 

 

 

Happy National Chingona Day!

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The actual National Chingona Day is October 1st.    I know that some folks might get offended with the term ‘chingona’ but this is the definition that I like to use:

noun. 1. a Spanish slang term meaning “bad ass woman” Although the word “chingona” is a Spanish term, it is not limited to Latinas. A chingona is any woman who chooses to live life on her own terms.

How many badasses do I know?  My hands hurt from all of the Chingona shout-outs I did just today alone LOL.  How many women do I know who work miracles every day with their money and their time in order to take care of their children, parents, and each other?  How many of my grandmothers, aunts, and cousins have endured one setback or hardship after another and come out of the other side?  When I think of how Mama, our Ita, and our Aunty Bea survived after their mother’s death and before they were eventually adopted, it’s almost mind-boggling.  When I think of our Grandma Hogan, who adopted three lil Latinas back in the day, unheard of, aaaaand she kept them in contact with their older siblings so that they would know where they came from?  Chingona-status, if I ever heard it.

My sisters and niece goddaughters, ni se diga.  These ladies, of all ages, will continue to change our world by working it day by day.  We are all confronted with issues that our ancestors could not even imagine yet find the way to come through the good, sad, and bad times.

So many of my Chingona friends come from my Radio and Event Family.  Say what you will, this is one tough industry, well-known for throwing people out onto the street, so what if it’s a holiday, so what if you have a mortgage, so what if you have family obligations.   It takes a strong person to roll with these punches and to the many have put in the years that I have and thrived, that’s straight-up chingona-ness.   Whether you are working at a station or in a city for an event, one thing is clear:  In order to survive, you have to keep reinventing yourself, NOT easy, however, tailor-made for a Chingona.

I believe in helping each other up versus tearing each other down.  Some people have told me that I would have “made it” much faster had I took the ‘mean girl’ route and plowed down anyone and everyone who got in my way.  Call me SonsaTontaPendeja, but that’s never been my style.

When I celebrate one of the chingonas, and there are many, I usually describe WHY I think that they are so badass, at least in my opinion.   Their chingona traits are the very ones that I wish that I had, the ones that I need to work on in my life.  These women give me the courage I need in order to handle things.   This is “celos a la buena”, “good” jealousy.   I am usually, front and center, rooting for these girls to make it, to work it, to teach me (without knowing it).

Looking forward to celebrating these Chingonas on October 1st and everyday!

Coincidence or San Rafa at Work?

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One of my favorite saints is San Rafael — the saint of happy meetings.  I know that I’ve posted about him before and wanted to share this experience with you.

I don’t go to Mass as often as I should, however, I do believe in the power of the Rosary and of praying Novenas – where you pray for 9 days straight and ask your saint to intercede to God for whatever you need.   I confess that when Mama was alive, I used to give her a hard time about this kind of thing, but have since felt the power of praying Novenas.   I saw her Novena prayer book and love using it, she has so many pages marked, I feel like she’s praying with me.

So lately, I’ve been praying for peace and patience as I navigate through my finances without my former salary and savings.  Also, I’ve been praying that meetings I have, as I continue the ‘hustle’, go well and that I’m able to bring in that much-needed income.

In the Bible, Rafael the Archangel helps guide a young Tobias as he goes to a new town and, as Tobias does follows Rafael’s advice, things go well for him.   So I was running super late to a meeting a couple of days ago and I was praying the Novena to San Rafael while on the way so that I’d arrive safe and, more important, that these potential clients would wait for me.

I get out of the meeting, which went very well and, as I’m driving away from the place, I come to a 4-Way-Stop;  the car directly across from me at the intersection has a personalized license plate.  The license plate reads “Tobias”.  Coincidence?  I think not.

 

Here’s the Prayer for Happy Meetings:

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.

Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.

Remember the weak, you who are strong–you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

 

Here’s a link to a previous post on St. Raphael:

https://ctorres716.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/st-raphael-and-the-power-of-coincidence-happy-meetings-life-under-construction/

 

Cat Lady No More Gatos

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I have never been an animal lover.   I’ve lived my life in mortal fear of animals.  No table, sofa, chair was too high when an animal was in my midst.  I never wished them any harm but I wanted no part of them.

Still don’t.

However, a few years ago, my father agreed to letting a cat live on the Ranch.   As horrified as I was, I figure, “it’s his house”.  Soon enough,  the cat had a litter of kittens.  Chiiiiin...I couldn’t deal with ONE, now there were these lil baby gatitos all over the place!   I was able to have my friend come by and help get the cats fixed at least and, little by little, there was only one cat left.

One day, this Siamese cat with blue eyes shows up and was fighting “our” cat for the food.  Eventually, this cat had moved into “our” cat’s territory.   “Our” cat eventually moved on once his owner did so now I’m stuck with this Siamese cat.  By now, my lil nieces were in love with the cat.

I told my nieces that we would not be keeping the cat as I was not a cat person and for THEM, I fed it and didn’t kick it around the yard.   As I wouldn’t touch the cat, I didn’t know that she had any kind of ID on her, they checked her out and her name was Bananas and there was a phone number on the tag.  We call the phone number which was disconnected and proceed to Google the number which gave an address not far from the Ranch.   So I put my nieces into the Jeep and we go in search of the owner of the cat.

Sure enough, her owner came out of the house and asked if the cat was in my car.  No. Not. Never.   We agreed to have him come to the Ranch to pick up the cat.   When he came for the cat,  Bananas went running.  Can you imagine us finding her in one of her many hiding places at the Ranch?  Owner said he’d be back.  Well, that was 8 months ago.

I went on social media and told my story and that I wanted to find a good home for Bananas before winter hit.  I had three serious inquiries and went with the one who had a Siamese cat for 18 years and who was good with cats.  I may not be a cat person but I hoped that I was a good judge of people.

When Debbie came for Bananas, I could see that she was a cat person and the cat didn’t jump at her or anything.  Bananas was crying when she was being put in the cat carrier but I could see that this reaction was different than when owner #1 tried to take her.  Bananas didn’t run and Debbie was gentle with her, and never let go of the cat.

I made sure that my lil nieces were there when Debbie showed up.  They were shocked when I cried when the cat left.   I couldn’t believe my tears…tears of relief mainly.  I didn’t want the cat, I’ve never wanted cats, and this ordeal could have ended earlier had I not been so afraid of cats, so afraid that I wouldn’t touch it.  It was important, however, that my lil mamitas saw that Nina Carmen was true to her word.  Plus, I have another lil niece who is just like NinaCarmen, deathly afraid of animals, I had also promised her that I would find Bananas a home so that she could visit Abuelito’s house without being afraid.

I got a text from Debbie later that night to say that Bananas was happy and on her lap inside of the house.  Being inside of the house was something Bananas always wanted but I was unwilling/unable to give this to her.    I smiled with relief and was happy for the cat.

While I am proud that, scared as I was, I took care of the cat/cats for almost 3 years. (I’m a little less afraid of them now),  you better know that I reminded Dad that “never again” will we have animals/pets at the house.  More important, I kept my promise to my little ones.

I’m a cat lady no more.  No more gatos.

 

 

Table For One

 

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For many years, I would never even THINK about, much less GO into a restaurant alone.

I had no problem if I was waiting for a client, a family member, a friend.  As long as the waitress saw that someone would eventually be joining me, it was all good.

I remember I had just moved to Denver and I knew NO one.  I barely knew how to get around and was still staying in a hotel as I looked for a new place to live.   I was hungry and was tired of the four walls of the hotel, tired of drive-thru food, junk food, no real food.    I didn’t want to eat in my car, I wanted to sit down at a table and eat a meal like normal people.

My voice shook as I answered “one” when the waitress asked “how many?”  Although the restaurant was almost empty, I felt like all eyes were on me, judging, wondering why I was alone, were they thinking, ‘look at her, no wonder she’s alone’.   I didn’t know what to do with myself once I sat so I just checked out the restaurant, listened to the music, and tried to relax.  Out of necessity, I ate alone in a restaurant a few more times before I got into my apartment.

After awhile, it did not bother me at all.  I’d always have a book or magazine with me, I’d always have something I was working on, even if it was paying bills, I found that I was able to get a lot of the little things done, little things that I didn’t need to share with anyone else.   I didn’t have to worry about what someone else thought of what I was ordering to eat, or if I wanted to have a drink, I ordered one.    I’ve moved so many times that I’m glad that I am able to walk in almost anywhere, safe places that is, when I need to.

Now, it’s very normal for me to go into a restaurant alone.  I usually take my phone and watch Netflix or YouTube, pay bills, work on work, wait out traffic, things like that.  My niece goddaughters will all tell you that I want them to be accustomed to doing the same thing — that they don’t need anyone else to go into a restaurant, a movie theater, or for a coffee when they want do. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to be social too, to go with their friends to these places but it’s liberating not the have to babysit someone, or to have to be “on”, just to be yourself, just to be.

It’s so fun to get a text message from one of my lil mamitas, proudly stating that they’ve gone into a restaurant alone and that they’ve loved the experience.

How Do These Señoras Know?

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It must be a mother thing.  For sure, they have a sixth sense.  But these Mexican señoras always know what’s up.   We’ve all seen one of these señoras at least once in our lives.

This morning, I rushed off to a job without having breakfast.   Once I was out of my meeting, I decide to stop at a Taquería called Las Comadres.

When I made my order, I tell the señora at the counter that I’ve had a little headache all morning. “Algo con mucho chile y cebolla“, I laughed as she told me that I needed something with a lot of onions and chile to clear my head.   “Y una coca con hielo“, I nearly fell over because anyone who knows me KNOWS I’m all about a Coke with ice.  How do they know these things?

I’m sure that I could have gone anywhere for a meal but it’s always so much fun to go into these mexicano places because, yeah, you’re looking for good food but it’s also one of the few places where you can have fun with these women who tell it like it is.  I have met many of these women in taquerias, panaderias, grocery stores, etc.  and always learn life lessons told in their straight-up and often hilarious ways and I always end up laughing out loud.

On this day, I asked her, ¿“how do you know these things?”.  Turns out, I was speaking with one of the owners, she says that it is her job to know what her customers want and she has learned to watch people’s faces and eyes to see how they are feeling, so that their food will go down well.   Any good owner will take the few minutes to engage with their customer and this señora insists that this is why she has repeat customers. People want to feel acknowledged especially if they are going to spend money with you.  All of the training that I’ve taken in Sales and this comadre broke it down to me in seconds flat.

Latina-owned businesses are at an all-time high.  People underestimate these women all the time.  Folks think that they are not business-savvy, that they have to have a man to make it in business, that they don’t have a pulse on the market.  Al contrario.  These señoras are super-sharp, know who their clients are, what their customers want, and are willing to work three times as hard to make it, to work it, to be their own boss.  These are the señoras changing our world.   With love.  With humor.  With their chingona-ness front and center.

I want to be just like them.

 

Here is a link to the woman in the picture, Señora Ema’s story.

culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/mexico-city/2013/senora-ema/

 

 

August is for Abuelita

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Two women.  Born 10 days apart in August.  Two of the most important women in my life.  One I knew well, the other I never had the opportunity to meet.   Guadalupe Lupe MaLupita Lucio was my Ranch grandmother;  Gertrude Tula Grijalva was my Grijalva grandmother.  Both women worked hard to keep their families together through the worst of circumstances.  Here are their stories featured on my social media pages:
Chingona Birthday Alert: My grandmother GUADALUPE LUPE LUCIO. Aug 16th belongs to the woman who created it all for us here at the Ranch, Mama Lupita would have been 110 years old and has been gone for over 30 years, but make no mistake, her presence is still so strong at the Ranch!  Our grandmother was a woman who ‘worked it’ for her familia and in business, something rare in her day, and you can so see her determination, her drive, her badasssness, her Jefa-ness, and her sense of fun.  We see so much of her in our parents and any of the family members who have inherited green or light eyes are directly from Grandma! Feliz Cumpleaños MaLupita, te queremos y te extrañamos! #LaMeraMera #TheRanch #GreenEyes

ChingonaBirthdayAlert:. Today belongs to my grandmother Gertrude Tula GRIJALVA. A cook for workers in Amador County back in the day, single mother taking care of her family, who got ill and left this Earth and her children motherless. Mama, along with her sisters Bea and our Ita, and brothers Jesse and Louie, were put into foster care. The greatest gift is that all Tula’s children stayed in contact and, as adults, spent a lot of time together so we cousins all know each other. At the end of Mama’s life, she spoke a lot in Spanish, which she never did in our entire lives. I like to think she was reuniting with her mother. The original chingona keeping her family together from heaven.

Both of my parents experienced trauma at their young lives, death of a parent, abandonment by a parent, having to be uprooted from a life they knew to an entirely new life.  My father eventually came to a new country.  My mother to an entirely new world which was not Latino with foster parents.    It’s hard sometimes to imagine how they survived all that occurred in their young lives.

While my parents still bore the scars of all of the change in their young lives, changes that would affect their lives forever,  they were able to give us #Torres5 a good and stable life when WE were very young.  We had one home, one routine, one life.   Mike and Margaret also made sure that we stayed together, watched out for each other, and understood that having brothers and sisters who were close was a huge gift.  Thankfully, all of these years later, we are still together, still united.  Maybe they wanted us to have emotionally what they didn’t have at the beginning of their lives.

I am also very grateful to Frances Hogan, Mama’s foster mother, the woman we know as Grandma,  for helping her to keep in contact with all of her Grijalva siblings.  Her efforts enabled us to know and love all of our Grijalva aunts, uncles and many cousins.    Our aunts on the Grijalva side all knew how to cook anything from papas to fried chicken, I believe that our Grandma Tula lived on through all of the awesome meals that brought us all together thus keeping her family together.

Growing up on the Ranch had us right in the mix with all of my tios, tias, cousins who are more than cousins for us, and of course, we got to see Mama Lupita every day as we walked by her house every day on the way to and back from the school bus, we would see her outside sweeping, cutting weeds, and killing the gophers in our yard 🙂   I also got to work side by side with my grandma as she taught me how to work on the tomato “maquinas” harvester machines.  One summer, as we worked in the dark, and the lady would put cut-up rodents in my face and then laugh her little laugh when I’d scream.   My first words of Spanish were spent talking with my grandma. I wish everyday that she could be here as I know that I’d have a blast with her.

Two grandmothers.  Two leaders of their families during a time when women weren’t “supposed” to be in charge.  Two women who had to do whatever it took to keep the family together. Two different countries. Two different situations.  Two different languages.  Two different mothers to two different children.

Two women to look up to, to remember, and to admire during the month of August.  In August and always.

 

 

Change the Game. Change the Plan.

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It is now a few months since I was shown the door at my job, it was not my decision, I did not expect it, and I went from being super busy to nada in a matter of minutes.

Let me preface this by stating, that in the broadcast industry, this is the way it is, one never knows when the day will come when you are told that your services are no longer needed.   While it is “nice” to know that you are not the first, nor will you be the last, to be given the boot, it still hurts.

Usually, I’ve had a week or two off to get myself together for my next opportunity in another station, in another city, and sometimes in another state.  These past weeks have allowed me to feel the entire range of emotions that come when the rug is pulled out from under one’s feet and it’s been a blessing to be able to do this alone inside my four walls at the Ranch.   If I’ve had to be depressed, sad, unsure of myself, afraid for the future, anxious…I’ve been able to do it alone and not have to deal with others all up in my face.  It’s a relief to be able to feel all of your emotions rather than having to hold them in and, worse, push them back, in order to try to navigate a new job and new surroundings.

Today, however, things felt different. I feel as if I’m being led to my next opportunity because, remember, I did not look for it nor did I want this change.  And remember, this is not the first time I’ve been let go.  However, this one felt different.   I had been doing a great job I can say with confidence, I was unafraid to try different ways to engage our audience, to do things on little or no budget.  So this one felt personal, because it wasn’t based on lack of work or diminishing quality of work.  My TypeA personality strives to the best at what I do.

While I could scream to the world the millions of reasons why I thought that I was let go, the bottom line was that it was not my decision and I was out.  As sad/mad that I was, there had to be a more positive way for me to walk through this part because, if I pushed THIS back, then I would end up even more messed-up and without a road map for my future.  It was time for me to walk through my pain and disappointment,  I knew that I was safe at the Ranch and, with no job, I didn’t really have a need to be anywhere that I did not want to be.

I decided to reach out to chingonas whom I respect/trust to get their thoughts on my ideas on how I’d like to move forward.  On the one hand, it’s scary to ask someone for help as you are at your most vulnerable, on the other hand, these are people who have your back and whose opinion you trust.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was still chingona, because, yes, this is important.  Also,  I was reminded that while change is hard, that I have a great opportunity to explore my passion, that not everyone gets this chance.  All I needed to do was to think about all of the things that I know how to do and to start picking what I wanted to do.  What?!?  I can actually c-h-o-o-s-e  what I want to do?  This is almost unheard of in my former, corporate life.  All goals are laid out and your job is fill in whatever blanks as need be and follow the plan.

Once I heard this, I knew that I was going to be ok, that GodJesusVirgenOfG do have my back. Somehow, some way, I will be working it and doing it my way.  It took reaching out for me to see that, yes, I have something to offer, not only that, I have a LOT to offer.  This time has to be at my pace, my way, all the while with the realization that it is not my plan per se.  GodJesusVirgenOfG are all up in this mix.  It will be a plan that includes what’s important to me.  We don’t have to fit into a corporate box or a station mentality to matter, to care, to work it, to be chingona.  There is a place for everyone to thrive and to shine.

What a difference a conversation makes. Thanks to ChingonaOfTheDay (ya sabes quien eres) for helping me remember my worth.

Do not be afraid to find that one person who will listen to you, your ideas, no matter how shaky your voice gets, no matter how much your palms sweat, no matter how stupid it sounds coming out of your mouth, no matter how scared you are…this is the person who will help lift you up when you are down, who will help you get back on your wagon once you’ve fallen off, the one who will remind you how chingona that you are, and can continue to be.   Most of all, this person will remind you that you are not alone in this, you are not the only one (even though it feels like it) who has had to go through a break-up, even if it was not your choice, and come back on the other side.

I’m still working on that coming back to the other side thing…

The Chingona Summer Book Challenge

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave2019 17/52

This summer, I was challenged by my cousin Angie to show one book cover a day on social media, no explanations for the covers, just the covers. The challenge is meant to promote reading books and to expand one’s reading list by checking out the books that others choose.

I had fun with the challenge and decided that I really wanted to talk about the books that I chose. Here goes:

Day 1: Songs of America. Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of library books and prefer to check out the new book section for my selections. I chose this book because I love music and have learned so much about the music that has accompanied USA during the founding days of the republic, Civil War, Emancipation, Civil Rights, The War Movement and more. I find myself going to YouTube to hear these songs and it brings history alive for me. I’m big on soundtrack of your life songs.

Day 2: The Beatles Lyrics I Read the News Today Oh Boy. I’m a straight-up Fab4 fan. People buy me memorabilia and I have yet to play my Beatles ‘Scrabble’ and ‘Monopoly’ games, a friend told me that when I do play these games, that I must have Beatles music playing in the background. So a book on the lyrics of these songs that I absolutely love, word for word, album by album, provides me with endless reading enjoyment and I learn something new every time I read the book. I’m also reminded that I taught my godchildren the words to “I Feel Fine” on a road trip one time. I’m in the process of teaching my lil ones “Drive My Car”. My favorite song “Things We Said Today” from the Hard Day’s Night soundtrack. My favorite album ‘Rubber Soul’.


Day 3: My Social Book 2014. The ultimate scrapbook. This book puts my social media posts, pictures and random pendejadas in book form. So crazy to check out my thoughts or my pictures for the year. I chose 2014 because it was my final year with Mama and included my announcement of her passing and the pages after pages of condolences. Every time I look back at the messages from so many of you, I am comforted once again. I’ve since done a couple more of these books which are super interesting and I’ve only done my Facebook stuff, the next book will be my Instagram stuff. The merging of old and new school in memories.


Day 4: Linda Ronstadt: Simple Dreams. Really good biography of this legendary singer. I really like that it focuses more on her music than anything else. I confess it was the first book that I picked up when I needed a book for Day 4. Since moving back to the Ranch, most of my personal books have been in storage and I’ve decided to bring out some of the my favorites so that I add them to my reading corner. Some folks enjoy Kindle but I’m more of holding the book in my hand and turning the pages kind of girl.


Day 5: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For. OMG. My book of the summer. I told myself that I would really try to do the exercises in this book to try to get myself back together, this has not been an easy summer for me. This book really helped me to dig deep and see what was up, how I could come back from disappointment and sadness. My journal, already a big book, has many many many new pages written by me in all states of emotion: panic, grief, sadness, happiness, aventada-ness, triumph. That’s how I know a book is working it for me. Best birthday gift I bought for myself. I’m not done with it yet, work is still very much in progress.


Day 6: Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chavez. I read books by any Chicana/Latina author I see, I’m always trying to find my story in these books, or better yet, finding a story that I can relate to. What I loved most about this book was the author’s way of saying things – you just know that she’s very bilingual, when she breaks into Spanish, it’s very seamless and hilarious and the way I think. I would literally laugh out loud or say things like ‘yep’ when I read her books. Reading Chavez’ books made me want to write my own stories, to not be afraid to be completely authentic, to break out in Spanish like I do when I talk, naturally. I’ve read books by almost all of the Latina authors and wouldn’t it be fun to have one of my books included in that bunch?


Day 7: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. Excellent story. The movie version does no justice to this beautiful book about the Mirabal sisters during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters were murdered in 1960 for their part in a plot to overthrow the government. Chingonas one and all and I love that the stories are told by all four sisters who have a different view of the events that went down. I remember being unable to put the book down and was sitting on the floor of my apartment reading until I was done, laughing and crying.

I’ve been a book girl since day one. I’ve always loved going to the library and went back to the library when I started spending way too much money buying books. I now only buy the ones I really love. I had a goal to read every book by a Latina author from A to Z, I didn’t finish yet and think that I was at M or N authors. So that means that I’ve read nearly every book written by Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, Angeles Mastretta, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez and more. So much fun and now I plan to finish that challenge, there are so many books out there, so much to learn.