Life With Mike Torres 86 Years Young

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Regular readers of this blog and my social media know my father very well. He has totally earned the hashtag of #LifeWithMikeTorres as there is always something funny, interesting or culturally relevant that he says or does and there I go taking pictures or video to document it all. Mike Torres celebrates his 86th Birthday this weekend! We put together the History of Mike that I think you will enjoy. Special thanks to my sis Christina for her contribution to this piece.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Mike Torres was born in Urequio, Michoacan on July 27, 1935. 

At a young age, Mike’s father, Jose, died suddenly, leaving wife Lupe a widow and Mike and his siblings without a father.  Lupe makes the journey alone to the United States to try and provide for her family.  A few years later, Lupe returns to Michoacan to pick up Mike and his siblings for their new life in the US, settling in Banta, CA. 

His mother later married Mike’s stepfather, Juan Lucio, a farm labor contractor, who helped bring stability to their lives. 

FROM MEXICO TO BANTA AND TRACY

Mike was educated at Banta Elementary and graduated from Tracy High School.  It was a challenge initially as Mike’s first language was Spanish.  While in high school, he began boxing and was named the local featherweight champion.

U.S. VETERAN

After high school, Mike worked in the fields helping his stepfather.  He also worked as a self-employed truck driver making long distance drives.  Mike then decided to enlist in the Armed Forces.  He proudly served as a PFC in the United States Army from 1959-61.

MARRIAGE, FAMILY, AND ‘THE RANCH’

In 1960, he met his bride to be, Margaret Grijalva.  They married on Veteran’s Day on November 11, 1961.  Over the years, they welcomed their children Carmen, Alicia, Mike Jr., Martin, and Christina.  They raised their children on a plot of land in Lathrop, California purchased by Mike’s mother and stepfather – now known as “The Ranch”, where they built the home Mike still lives in today.  The Ranch has been home to five generations of the Torres, Hernandez, and Herrera Families.  They have nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.  Sadly, Margaret passed away on their 53rd wedding anniversary, November 11, 2014. 

FROM MARIACHI TO THE MIKE TORRES BAND

Mike picked up his first guitar at a very young age.  He has always loved music and has been making music for over 60 years as a vocalist and guitar player in groups and as a soloist.  He was a member of Mariachi Los Jilgueros for a time.  One night, a local band asked Mike to fill in for the night.  Mike’s time with this band turned into Mike Torres y Sus Rebeldes.  One day, the drummer was not able to make the gig, and a very young Mike Torres, Jr. stepped in for the night.  Eventually Mike Jr. became part of Los Rebeldes and shortly after, Mike’s youngest son Martin joined the band along with daughter Christina.   For a time, the Torres kids only performed for certain gigs and then, as Mike recalls, “they became better than the musicians I had and I wanted them with me all of the time”, thus The Mike Torres Band was born.

Mike grew his band in popularity playing at local events, churches, dances, weddings, and festivals.  By the late 80’s they were very well known locally and regionally and were performing at national conventions and other large events while their popularity grew.  In the 90’s, Mike incorporated his grandsons Mike Torres III, Stephen Torres-Esquer and Angelo Torres-Esquer into the band.  As such, his dream of a three-generation musical dynasty was realized.  The Mike Torres Band gives back and over the years, they have donated performances to hundreds of worthy causes.

The Mike Torres Band has been a crowd favorite for 50 years and are still very active musicians playing almost every weekend.  Many local musicians have sat in with the Mike Torres Band and three generations of Torres family members have been part of this musical institution bringing in new blood, positive energy, and keeping the band musically relevant.   Mike, Sr.  still enjoys playing music, performing at events, and shaking hands with fans who can be found almost everywhere he goes.

Mike also heads Trio Los Torres, and with son Mike Jr., and grandson Rico, perform at functions and parties all over the area. 

AN EDUCATOR AND AN ADVOCATE

After an extensive injury suffered when he was a truck driver, Mike and Margaret decided he should go back to school.  He eventually graduated with his AA from San Joaquin Delta College and then went on to earn his B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Music from Sacramento State where he earned his BA in Spanish with a minor in music; and a few years later, fulfilled a lifelong dream of earning his master’s degree in Spanish from Sacramento State.

Mike began his work as a teacher working first as a pre-school teacher, then as an instructor for the State of California teaching incarcerated youth, and finally as a professor of Spanish and Music at San Joaquin Delta College. He retired at the age of 80. 

Separately, Mike took it upon himself to learn about immigration and naturalization processes to help others live the American dream.  At his own time and often at his own expense, he helped numerous people to become United States’ citizens – one of his proudest endeavors. 

Mr. Torres is a member of the Stockton Mexican-American Hall of Fame among other accomplishments.

Every day, at almost any time of the day and night, either in or outside, the strumming of a guitar can be heard in the Torres household.  Mike is always practicing, always trying to learn new techniques, sing new songs.  He is happiest behind a microphone, guitar in hand, singing for people.

IN CASE YOU’RE IN THE AREA

Mike’s 86 years of life and accomplishments will be celebrated on Sunday, July 25th.  Mike’s 86th Birthday Bash will be a family-friendly event, free to the public and will take place at 3:00pm at The Shipyard, 2305 Washington Street in Stockton, CA.  The event will be casual, held outdoors, and all are asked to bring their own lawn chairs.   The event will include mariachis, cake, and live music by the Mike Torres Band.

Dad is super-excited. We are super-blessed to have him with us to celebrate en vida. This girl is always super-proud of her father!

What Set Him Off?

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The first thing I noticed was how hot it was outside.

As I moved closer, I noticed that he was angry, about what, I did not know.

In a split second, he ran towards me and, as I put my hands out to stop him from running full-force into me, it started.

Pummeling me with his fist, scratching me with his fingernails and, when I was able to hold him back by his wrists, the kicking started. I was a combination of stunned and angry. I was not going to be able to stop his rage or get him off of me alone and, thankfully, someone came to help me.

A few minutes later, he was completely calm while I was a bundle of confusion, I did not know what to do, how to act, when I saw how sweet and loving he was after the meltdown.

When I was finally able to sit in my air-conditioned car, the tears came, tears that I couldn’t show at the time. Tears of anger, of impotence, of empathy. What was the trigger? How did I not see what was coming? Could I have stopped him? Did I hurt him when I tried to hold him back?

I had to call my support network to make sure that I was ok, to make sure that I wasn’t crazy for feeling as I did, and for advice of what I could do in the aftermath of this attack.

While the situation was violent, the ‘he’ was not a man, it was a 5-year-old autistic child in full-on meltdown mode. Had it been a man, law enforcement would have been called; in this case, a behavioral specialist was brought in to calm the child down. This lil one was so strong and went at me with all that he had. That’s what really concerned me, that as he gets older and stronger, that the next person he attacks won’t think like I did, they may react violently and this sweet boy could get hurt.

I plan to tell him that it hurt me when he hit me but that I will never be mad at him. I’d like to think that he’ll remember what I tell him and start learning how to better manage his frustration. I really hope so.

Tomorrow is my last day working summer school. Major props to all of you who teach our little ones, it is not for the faint of heart and you mean the world to all of these kiddos. I’ve learned that these lil ones are very easy to love and, most days, they love me right back.

My Week of Rocky Mountain Highs

A snowy picture of Littleton, Colorado — one of my former hometowns

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When I let everyone know that I was moving to Denver, everyone brought up this song to me and, now that it came on the radio, it took me back. This week marks the time I left California at the end of May/first week of June to start a new phase in my life. In radio, these kinds of moves are super-important, these kinds of moves show that you are serious about this business, that you are willing to go wherever it takes to do the work. A very crucial part of paying your dues.

As I write this, I’m in my office on one of the hottest California days of the year, a lovely 101 degrees. I remember that, in Denver, that my ears were always cold, which was a good sign as I have NEVER gotten along with the hot weather.

‘Rocky Mountain High’ reminds me of that morning, right at sunrise, when I was driving on I-25 into Denver for the first time. Denver sunrises and sunsets are the most beautiful that I have ever seen. So to be driving into that pink/purple/orange haze was nothing like I’d ever seen before. I was getting excited as I drove nearer to my destination.

Fast forward a few months, and, by then, I had been working and driving throughout Denver and all of the suburbs. I lived in Littleton and on my daily drive home, I would marvel at the spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. I always said that it was impossible to stay in a bad mood while looking at that scenery. There was always snow on the mountains, even on the highest peaks, for most of the year, even in summer.

The very first day that it snowed, or should I say, the very first night it snowed, I jumped into the car and told myself not to drive too fast as I didn’t have chains on the tires. Now I laugh, as I never used chains in all of the time I lived in Colorado, although I did have snow tires. All I did that first night was try to drive in the lines made by the other cars and tried to remember what a friend told me, “drive downhill as fast as you drive uphill and you’ll be ok”.

I think that the one time that my breath was taken away and all I could say was ‘WOOOOOW’ was the one time I was driving back to Denver from one of the ski resorts. I was in my own car as my crew left earlier than me. Visibility was not great and there was a hazy fog as I started down the hill. So there I am, toda careful, trying to keep things steady when, all of a sudden, the fog lifts. The sight of the magnificent, snow-covered mountains with all of the trees that seemed perfectly lined up opened both my eyes and my mouth wide open. It looked like a postcard, beautiful is an understatement.

These are some of the times that I thought of the song ‘Rocky Mountain High’ and, as my DenverFam will tell you, I do not go back to visit UNLESS there is snow. Although Colorado is beautiful year-round, I loved the zero-temperature weather and the snow. I loved that it was so different from all that I knew. At that time of my life, I needed to see the world from a completely different window and the Rocky Mountains did not disappoint. I felt instantly at home. More than the physical setting, I was able to completely start over and to prove to myself that, yes, I could make things happen from wherever I was.

Sometimes taking a pure leap of faith expands your mind and your universe, glad I said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no, I was able to experience life in a completely new way.

Yes, I See You

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I have been helping out with a special needs kid at a school near my house, literally 2 minutes away. Trying to get an education during this pandemic didn’t help these kids, these types of kids need their routines so, when they got the chance to be back in school, they LOVED it.

So this morning, this young man was right outside of the front door, crying uncontrollably. He didn’t want to go into the class yet, he was embarrassed that they would laugh at him for crying. As it is, he’s a target for these kids already, especially as communication in hard for him. Turns out he was sad as it was the last day of school. He was going to hate being at home all day. I could totally relate. I always cried on the last day of school.

As this special needs kid did not want to be singled out, he never knew that I was there specifically to keep an eye on him, he thought that I was there to help the entire class. So I got to work with the other kids as well. There was another lil girl who I always noticed walked around by herself. After talking to her one day, she was beside herself with joy when I told her that we had the same last name ‘Torres’. It was as if we were part of a very special club. This lil one ran up to me today during recess to give me a big hug and to thank me for always paying attention to her when she spoke and for saying ‘bless you’ every time she sneezed.

I’ve always been drawn to these types of students, students who want to be seen and heard yet struggle with how to do this. I’ve always sensed that these are the kids who will eventually be the stronger kids, as they are not the cutest, or most popular or, dare I say it, the followers. It’s very difficult for students who stand out, especially as kids all want to be just like other kids. Little Ms. Torres would take her drawing journal to recess, just in case no one wanted to play with her and we would share a knowing look if she didn’t stop and talk with me, because it wasn’t cool to always hang out with the adults.

To this day, I remember those teachers who paid attention to me, to what I said, to how I said it, to those who taught me that my voice mattered, that I was worthy of everything and anything good. I try to remember this whenever I have to deal with kids. And also when I start to watch the clock to count the hours when I am done. It was never my dream to be a teacher working in a classroom but I do enjoy being a mentor.

And yes, I got emotional when this classroom of 4th graders yelled out their thank you’s a few minutes ago. Hoping that these two kids, in particular, have a nice summer and learn to embrace their uniqueness rather than feel like they are nothing.

The Reunion to End All Reunions

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To the outside world, people probably look at each other and think ‘who are these guys?’ To Mexico, Latin America and Latino USA, Los Bukis has to be up there as the greatest musical group of all time. Born and bred in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and founded by cousins Joel and Marco Antonio Solis, this group had humble origins, yes. But the way Los Bukis were to transcend borders and countries was something spectacular.

I never grew up listening to Los Bukis, I knew OF them but didn’t really know any of their songs, they weren’t really my thing. But this group took hold of Mexico and the growing amount of Mexicanos crossing the border to work and live in the United States.

I was more into Tejano music and was working at a Tejano station when it was announced that the station would be sold. I was brought back by the new owner of the company who was seriously considering changing the music format of the station. I was devastated but my new boss asked me to coordinate a research project, there were no money for music studies or focus groups. We ended up calling about 1000 people, asking them what kind of music they liked and, if they could have their favorite music played on the radio, what would it include. To my shock, it was not Tejano music, it was grupos, rancheras and banda. I still remember telling myself, “there is NO way that I will be playing THAT music”.

I learned my first radio lesson. It’s not about me or what I like, it’s totally about the listeners. I either had to embrace this change or I would not be able to continue doing this work that I absolutely loved. A good 80% of the folks surveyed wanted to hear songs by, among others, Los Bukis. Almost everyone surveyed put this group at the top of their list. Very shortly after, we were now a Regional Mexican station playing what our listeners wanted to hear.

I was on-air Middays then and given a bunch of special programs to incorporate into my show. One of these shows was an hour dedicated to the 3 supergroups: Los Temerarios, Bronco, and Los Bukis. When I started, I knew nothing, not the members of the bands, not the hits, nada. But eventually I did learn most of their songs by heart, which albums these songs were on, and which ones were listener favorites. The one song that always seemed to be one of the most requested was “Tu Carcel”. This was the song that broke Los Bukis into all of LatinAmerica, Spain and made them even more popular in the US. I’ve lost count of the times that I was able to see Los Bukis in concert but I do remember it was always packed from the front of the stage to the back of the venue. I knew that I was in business, able to have my dream job because of Los Bukis and groups like them. Our lil station, which was an AM station by the way, shot up to #1 in the ratings.

In the late 1990’s, Marco Antonio Solis made the decision to go solo and leave Los Bukis. Folks were stunned, sad, and even angry at ‘El Buki’ for breaking up their favorite group ever. Folks have always hoped for a reunion ever since. Marco quickly became one of the world’s major solo artists and continues to be Mexico’s most prolific composer. I’ve also lost count of the times that I’ve seen Marco in concert and he always has a section in his show where he plays ‘Tu Carcel’ and other Bukis hits to the total delight of the crowds. At Marco’s shows, I used to always say, “if the Bukis ever get back together, es dinero seguro, they will sell every concert out”.

I compare Los Bukis breakup to The Eagles breaking up. Both bands ended their run at the top of their game with very strong composers at the helm of each group. When The Eagles broke up, there was still a way to hear them on the radio as the Classic Rock format was developed so you could hear their songs on Classic Rock radio anytime, anywhere. Same with Los Bukis. When they broke up, the Spanish Oldies format was developed and became super popular. Thus one could hear ‘Tu Carcel’ and all of the Bukis hits on any given day in any given city. So, Los Bukis never really went away, you just couldn’t see them together live.

A couple of weeks ago, Latin Internet went absolutely crazy when Marco Antonio Solis and Los Bukis got together one more time for ‘El Reencuentro’ where they filmed a virtual live performance of “Tu Carcel” with the original members of Los Bukis, who still looked good, albeit a little older, who still sounded good together, and who looked genuinely happy to be playing together. It truly was as if no time had passed. Of course, they played “Tu Carcel”. If you go onto any social media platform and read the comments — people are straight-up delirious to see this band together again, even for one performance, folks literally cried when they saw this video, and the shouts for ‘QUEREMOS GIRA’ (We want a tour) from almost every Spanish speaking country in the world, especially their native Mexico and USA are getting louder and louder every day.

As a business move – genius. The entire world has been grappling with the Pandemic, unable to go anywhere, to do anything. As we are slowing starting to open up the world, the world which has forced us to rethink what is really important in our lives, I think that we are all going to pick and choose those events that are really important for us to attend once it is safe. Since Day 1, Bukis fans have waited for this reunion. You better know that once a tour is announced, that it will not only be a huge musical event, it will be a cultural event. Los Bukis brought the Spanish-speaking world together with their music…now just imagine what the atmosphere will be like when these lifelong fans, and fans like me, will see and feel when they hear ‘Tu Carcel” live after so many years.

Throughout my career, I have been blessed to see every major LatinAmerican artist more than once. There are very few shows that I would WANT to see much less pay to see. Quien dijo ‘yo’? El Reencuentro de Los Bukis is definitely a show I want to see. It’s time for a happy event…and now I know all of the words to the songs!

Enjoy this video that Marco put up today (as long as it’s able to be on this page.) Los Bukis con la version reencuentro de Tu Carcel 2021:

Violence at the VTA

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So sad to hear of the mass shooting early this morning at the VTA Bus Yard in San Jose. So much of my career has been spent in the city of San Jose. There were always two offices to each radio station I worked at, one in San Francisco, one in San Jose. While I drove between these cities constantly, I also used BART and VTA especially – as my stations were right on the VTA Line at the Gish and the Japantown/Ayer stations. I drove past this bus yard every single day for a lot of years. Who would have thought that anything this sinister would happen at the hub of the South Bay transportation system?

As I write this post, the classic “Mercy Mercy Me” comes on my shuffle. This song was written decades ago and, while it mainly discusses the ecology, when Marvin Gaye sings “mercy mercy me…things ain’t what they used to be”, it does resonate with this situation. It’s hard to put into the words the magnitude of the situation but, for sure, lives were changed forever by this tragedy. At this writing, there is no confirmation of who the victims are by name. Those who work for the VTA bus and light rail are forever changed, will they ever feel safe again as they go to work GETTING the Bay Area to work each day? People who use VTA light rail to get to their jobs will have to temporarily find another way to get to and from work, this may be a hardship for some of the riders.

I don’t know what to say to try and make sense of this tragedy, I don’t know quite how we should handle this, is it a mental health situation? is it a criminal situation? For sure, it’s a combination of the two. What drives a person to commit such a heinous act? Was the killer’s rage justified? Was it straight-up crazy? Who knows? All I know is that there are consequences for every action. Sadly, people lost their lives today for simply existing, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, for getting up every day to do what they do. Tragically, someone felt that they should NOT exist, that they were in his way for some demented reason.

One of my cousins works at VTA and was there this morning as the events unfolded. The second I heard about this shooting, I reached out to her to make sure that she was ok. Below please find an excerpt of our messenger conversation. Thank GodJesusVirgenOfG that you are alive lil cousin.

Lots of people say that they are tired of prayers, that prayers don’t take the place of laws or in taking care of the victims, the company, the city, the county, the perpetrator…but I do KNOW that prayer does provide an immense amount of comfort, of closure, of clearing ones’ head so that the business of what comes next is done with a clear head. Prayer keeps people in check, maybe that’s why so many people fear the power of prayer, especially those who commit these crimes. Guns and violence tear people and things apart…prayer always seems to bring everyone together.

So, if all you can do today is “kiss it up to God” and pray for the best, do that. It can’t hurt. Prayers to everyone connected with this tragedy at VTA: the victims, the employees, the city of San Jose, the county of Santa Clara, the state of California, our country. And yes, the person who made the fateful decision to end the lives of so many, including his own.

Nah, I’m good right here

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It’s bedtime.

I know that he is expecting me to go upstairs with him.

Going upstairs with him will imply that everything is ok, that I’m not mad anymore. What was I mad about anyway? Whatever it was, it was tacked onto the large list of things that made me mad, mad at myself, mad at him, mad at the way I just gave in all of the time, mad at the way our lives didn’t click anymore, hadn’t clicked in long time.

I was laying on the couch reading a book, or at least TRYING to read a book. He had just gotten back from I don’t remember where. All I know is that I didn’t trust what he had just told me, I was done with the stories that began to make up our real life, I much preferred to read my book in peace and also know that he was at home, not out and about.

I looked at my things that were near the door. An hour ago, I went to that door a million times to leave his place. Angry that I drove all of this way to meet up with him, and he wasn’t here. I had tried calling and texting him, to no avail. I should have left but I also wanted to see if I would bust him in anything. When he finally showed up, all I could do was glare at him and shake my head. Finally, the only words that came out of my mouth, ‘What, did you forget your phone?’

I could see him watching me very carefully, trying to gauge my mood, to see how much of a fight-mode I was in. I didn’t even have the energy to argue with him. Truth is, I had already spent the majority of the night arguing with myself.

It was like I still wanted that control, control that was fleeting to non-existent, that control that would make me ‘right’, that would give me the freedom to judge him, to insult him, to be mad at him, to get one up on him. Who was playing games now?

I could feel his eyes on me as he went up the stairs…in disbelief that I would rather be on the couch than in his bed. It took everything I had not to look up to meet those piercing eyes. Had I met his gaze, I would have likely been convinced to go upstairs with him and, at that moment, that was the LAST place I wanted to be.

The next words out of my mouth, “nah, I’m good right here”.

At that moment, I felt like we were nearing the end of our time together. However, I was afraid to verbalize it. I always knew that, if I ever would be the one to leave, that there would be no looking back. I was scared to even THINK about it, so we would do this dance of drama/fight/make up instead of talking things out or getting to the breakup stage.

I ended up sleeping on the couch that night, my book on the floor where I must have dropped it. Thankfully, I was able to sleep. The next morning, I quietly gathered my things and left.

Keep Raising Your Hand Mamita

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I was thinking about a conversation that I had with one of my lil ones the other day when I picked her up from school. She told me that her teacher “ignores” her and doesn’t call on her when her hand is raised.

Part of me went crazy because I hate the thought of my lil mamita feeling less than, feeling like she’s bothering her teacher, how dare she break my girl’s spirit? I was ready to turn the car around and give the teacher a piece of my mind. The other part of me wanted to find a way to work with my girl so that she doesn’t get lost in any shuffle, that she will have her self-esteem and confidence to handle any situation, so that she’s not afraid to be her beautiful self.

As I was looking for information, I found a great list of leadership tips for girls. If you read these tips, you’ll find that they can apply to ANY girl of ANY age. It’s important that our little girls (and us) are lifted up instead of being torn down. It’s important that they have someone, and I want to be that someone for my lil ones, someone who will have their back, someone who they trust, someone who they can turn to.

These tips are from the Leadership Tips for Girls on banbossy.com:

“When it comes to girls and ambition, the pattern is clear: girls are discouraged from leading. When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy”—a precursor to words like “aggressive,” “angry,” and “too ambitious” that plague strong female leaders. Calling girls bossy is one of many things we do to discourage them from leading. It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are 25% less interested in leadership roles than boys, a trend that continues into adulthood. — banbossy.com/girls-tips

Remember: It’s Not Always Easy to Speak Up, but It’s Worth It.

You’re growing up in a world that’s still confused about how powerful it wants girls to be. Girls are supposed to be confident but nice, ambitious but not selfish, successful but not conceited. The rules can be confusing and unfair—which means not everyone’s going to love it when you speak up. In fact, no matter how nicely you say something, there may be a person who thinks you’re being mean. Trust your voice even when it feels like the world doesn’t, and stay close to the friends and family members who celebrate your strength. –banbossy.com

Trust Your Inner Voice

We all have a voice playing inside our heads. It might say little things like “I wish the bell would ring” or big things like “I wish my friend would stop asking me about my grades.” That voice is your gut. It’s telling you what you genuinely think, need and want. It’s easy to stop listening to that voice when you’re worried about what people might think. Stay connected to it as much as you can. It’s your inner compass. If you can’t share that voice now, keep a journal where you can—and keep looking for the people who want to hear it. –banbossy.com

Challenge Yourself

When we worry about failure or criticism, we’re more likely to seek out experiences we know we can control. But playing it safe means you’ll never have the exhilaration of overcoming an obstacle and proving to yourself (and others) that you’re brave enough to try. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take up a sport you’ve never played. Enroll in a class that no one would expect you to take. Learn how to code. Or take a small risk, like introducing yourself to someone you don’t know –banbossy.com

Every time I think, ‘these girls and their ATTITUDE, there’s no way that they want to hang out with me or even listen to me‘, and my lil mamitas always surprise me by wanting me in their life. I just have to learn to not get so sentida which is a nice way to say butt hurt, when they give me attitude. I also have to stop being afraid of calling them out on things for fear that they won’t like Nina Carmen anymore. More important, I have to find the courage to be straight forward with these girls so that they get their information from someone safe, someone who wants the best for them.

These tips work for us big girls too…speak up, losing your fear, challenging yourself, LISTENING to your inner voice, knowing your worth…that’s what this blog is all about.

I want these girls, who range in age from 5 years old to 30 something, to live their best life, to trust themselves, to not depend on anyone else for their happiness, to not get emotionally, verbally, or physically abused. It’s hard for me to look back at certain times of my life because of the way that I handled things, or didn’t handle things. I would have LOVED to have someone mentor me on how to live life debt-free, to learn how to manage my money, to better manage my time, to better manage my relationships. Sadly, like a lot of people, I learned life a puro trancazo, walking through walls. I don’t want this for our girls, I want them to be able to count on me and yes, to even roll their eyes at me, but to know that I am TeamMamitas for life.

I will first find a way to make sure that this particular lil girl is never afraid to raise her hand, and keep it up until she is called on or finds an opportunity to speak up.

It takes a village to raise our girls, I’m glad to be a part of their world.

I dedicate this post to all of my eleven niece goddaughters my TeamMamitas – they know who they are.

My Life Within My Ten-Block-Radius

My oficina

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Now that the pandemic is turning a corner, now that things are starting to open up, I was listening to the traffic reports this morning and the news was that traffic is now back to 94% of what it was pre-Covid19, which means that it won’t be too long before a lot of us will no longer be required to work from home.

So much of my business is done on Zoom that, I, too, often wonder what life will be like when I’m back in the car. The car, which, by the way, has probably gotten 10,000 miles on it in the last YEAR. In my super-commute days, I likely did 10,000 in a month!

One of the fun things that happened during the lockdown was that my brothers and Dad gave me an office in one of their studios. It’s been so much easier for me to take the 10 steps from the house to “go to work” and I’ve realized that I am super comfortable working from an office. In my workaholic days, I could always be found in my office at night and one of these offices had a shower so I didn’t have to drive home to change between events and I made use of the sleeping bag under my desk to sleep in my office. There were days that I could drive to events in the Bay Area and literally circle the entire Bay Area and I was fine with that, it was all that I knew, my real home was the car. That was then…’

This is now. My commute is literally less than five minutes. For a road dog like me, I didn’t know if I’d EVER get used to being at home, much less work from home. Another perk of my home office: it was a former “cabina” studio and any of us who work in radio are completely comfortable working in this type of environment: no windows, the padded walls, perfect for blasting music or doing voice work. I still go into the Bay often and, every time I do, I appreciate the freedom I have to work from wherever I am; and that I do not HAVE to be caught up in that traffic mess if I don’t want to be.

Life really made us all stop in our tracks in March of 2020. It has been necessary to embrace the new, the unknown, the untried. I used to think that “there is NO way that I’d ever be happy living within a 10-block radius!” and yet here I am, contenta. I’m still trying to build on my business but, gracias a Dios and my familia, things are always better when I can sit in my office and do “normal” work things like write, email, to-do lists, pay bills, think, and be ready for work.

Some things have NOT changed. My office is still open late (it’s after 9pm as I write this), my office is still messy, I have to clean things off every night or else it would be hoarder-status, the music is still blasting, I’m still in my bare feet, and, for the first time in a long time, doing my very favorite thing: writing.

Hope that the time in lockdown has been kind to you, that you’ve been able to find your “office”, the place that makes you feel productive, happy, gives you the breathing/thinking space you need to make your plan, work your plan and fulfill your goals.

QueQUE? A Day With No Azucar

#52EssaysNextWave2021 7/52  #52SlicesOfChingonaLife

I’ve always said that I did not have a sweet tooth, that you could put cake, pie, rich desserts, and the like in front of me, that I would have no problem turning it down, that I was more into salty things like chips, tacos, limon…

That is, until recently.  Especially when I got Covid19, I had no taste and thought to myself, “I’ll eat a piece of chocolate to calm my hunger down” and with the Covid19 insomnia, I would regularly get up at 4am and go into a local donut shop to “buy my Dad coffee” and I would always come out with a cinnamon roll and the like.  Adding to the madness, when I’m sick, comfort food for me has always been cookies.

On the day after Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be Fat Tuesday, I went into Walgreens to buy some paper towels and I came across the super-discounted Valentine Day candy section so I put a bunch of it into my cart, it was 50% off (or more), what was the harm?

I was thinking about Ash Wednesday, Lent, and what would I give up for Lent this year?   I know that this may sound crazy, but I kept hearing a voice in my head telling me to give up sugar.  After all, I was trying to work out and watch what I was eating.  Why should I give up sugar?  It had turned into my little reward…for working out…for handling my responsibilities…for anything.   It almost felt like my mind was fighting for control:  the devil saying ‘keep the candy’, the angel saying ‘you can do it, it’s only 6 weeks’.  A Day with No Azucar, maybe;  but 40 Days with no sugar?!?

In the end, I decided that it must be either God, Jesus, or the VirgenOfG, or a combination of the three who were sending me a message, because I did not want to put my candy on lockdown.  And, thankfully, Covid19 is over for me.  So here I am doing the no sugar thing until Easter Sunday and, while on Day 2, everything I saw looked like chocolate or donuts;  I’ve actually been very peaceful about it, doing pretty good and, dare I say it?  sleeping better, eating better, feeling better.

First week down, five more to go.  Note:  my ‘new’ candy in the picture.