Profesor Musico: Tribute to Daddy on Father’s Day

20 Jun


I love to read, I love to write, I love honoring my familia. I was able to do all three this week.

One of my very favorite authors is Victor Villaseñor. I have thoroughly enjoyed his books like “Rain of Gold”, “Burro Genius” and “Thirteen Senses”, among others. His books are culturally rich, hilarious, sad, poignant, and he interweaves familia through this stories. I related so much to some of the characters and stories in his books.

So when I read that Mr. Villaseñor was giving his Facebook FamFriends the opportunity to ‘honor los gran hombres de nuestro presente y el pasado on ‪#‎consejosdemipadre‘.  I jumped at the chance to submit an entry.  I was crazy-excited for this man to read anything that I wrote and hoped my entry would be chosen.  The entry with the most ‘likes’ receives an autographed copy of one of Mr. Villaseñor’s books.

I had gotten so busy with my day that I forgot to check until a few minutes ago. I’m very excited to present my tribute to my Dad Mike Torres. It’s well past 1am and – you know us Torres, we are still up at this hour.  I ran to read it to my Dad, who LOVED it by the way.

Tributes are best when done “en vida. Below is what appeared on Mr. Villaseñor social media pages…my entry…enjoy and Feliz Día del Padre!

Victor Villaseñor
June 18 at 8:46am

From Carmen Torres to her father Mike Torres.

Dad n Boys Classic

“My father has always shown us, by example, how to embrace the beauty of our Mexican culture. Mike Torres is a musician, a professor of Spanish and Music, and a hilarious folklorist.

A founder of the Mike Torres Band, he taught my siblings how to play in the band by saying, ‘síganme/just follow me’ and now we have generations of accomplished musicians in our family. “Maestro Torres” also teaches a Friday Night Guitar class in our living room for young students, some of which include his great-grandchildren. It’s awesome to see these kids having fun learning Mexican music and, at this writing, are working on “Las Mañanitas” and “La Bamba”.

A true folklorist, once when I was venting about having to discipline my crew, he told me to act like a boss and to be like Pancho Villa, who hated anyone else to give his soldiers orders, “solo YO para reganar a mis muchachitos’. A very funny way to tell me ‘no te dejes mija‘. Very blessed to have MIKE TORRES con vida y con salud, he will be 80 on July 27.”

You have until Sunday 6/21/2015 to ‘like’ my entry on Victor Villaseñor’s FB and social media pages :)  Love that folks love my Dad’s tribute…

Victor Villasenor’s photo.
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Inner Chingona Says Walk Don’t Run…Yet

12 Jun



After Mama passed away, my first doctor’s visit was sobering to say the least. My health was in shambles. Not enough sleep, eating all of the wrong stuff at the wrong times, stress, stress and more stress.

I had a follow-up check up yesterday and was very happy (as was my doctor) that my health had improved by leaps and bounds. I leave the doctor’s office feeling like I was all that and decided to go for my walk for the day. I’ve been trying to walk four days a week and I’ve been pretty good at keeping it going for a few weeks.

I always walk and watch the folks who are also walking/running. I always thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to run this park, never.” Well ON THIS DAY, I decided to try to run. Here I go, all motivated, and, after a few steps,  I thought my legs were going to start on fire!  I barely made it running one block.

So I decided that I would run-walk. I walked more than I ran but it really felt like I had accomplished something huge — a goal that I did not look for, that I did not know that I wanted to try. It felt like I was getting to my goal of losing weight and reducing my ‘lonja’ a lot faster if I were to run vs. walk. I felt, dare I say it, invigorated. Just the thought that I actually got out of my comfort zone to run opened my mind 300%!

I’ll be doing the run-walk for a while and hopefully, I will get used to the burning legs, doing that huffing and puffing thing all out of breath, and sweating sweating sweating.  Also looking forward to taking this ‘lonja’ out once and for all.

My sense of ‘aventada-ness’ had been gone for such a long time, it is great to see it coming back in a lot of areas in my life.


Five Months Feel Like Yesterday: The Healing Power of Familia

13 Apr

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFamilia makes everything easier. Over the weekend, we celebrated Mama’s life and I remember feeling happy…happy because we were with our family from both sides. The pic below really shows how we enjoy being with our Ranch and Grijalva family.


When we were all together, after we prayed, Daddy got up to speak and he talked about how he was getting through the loss of Mama…he said that for every sad thought he had, that he was learning how to remember something he was thankful for: like being able to get up and walk, that he could still drive, for his sons and daughters. While we were growing up, my father could always be counted on to joke and clown around so we rarely got to see the thoughtful side of him. It was pretty cool that he got up and said this in front of everyone.

The rest of the afternoon we didn’t see much of the kids – they were having a blast running and playing at the Ranch, we bbq’d, caught up on all things familia and had fun hanging out.


I read somewhere that, one of the ways to get thru grief is to spend time with people who love you and vice versa. We are always able to be our true selves at the Ranch and with our family.   Who taught us this?  Mama.   We are blessed.


Notes to Mama

25 Mar


I went to visit Mama the other day … half of the time I spent crying to her, telling her that I didn’t care about getting by, moving on without her, putting on that brave face, I wanted my mother BACK.   I was having such a hard time getting thru my many projects, I kept getting ‘stuck’.  So I told her what was up with me, as I did most of the days of my life.  I stayed there talking to her and crying for a few minutes with no one around…which was cool but had someone come around, my tears would have still flowed freely down my face.

Before I left, I felt like I had to write her a little note.  I told her how much I missed her and loved her and I thanked her for letting me cry to her.   Sure enough, I got on with my day and it was like ‘boom!’,  the energy around me had changed and I was working it again como si nada.  Turns out Mama was working it for me after all.

We are all still grieving and, some days, it’s so hard to believe that Mama is no longer with us.      I then think about how much she wanted to see Jesus and be in Heaven.   I then calm down and think that things are as they should be…maybe not as I want them 100%…but I feel her beside me thank God …like the day we were talking in the living room and the lights came on by themselves! LOL Love her, miss her.

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In Search of Peace or a Safe Place, Whichever Comes First.

25 Mar


While walking at the beach, I came across a little crab and, when I got really close to it, the crab retreated into its shell.  The crab goes straight off of instinct, if something doesn’t feel safe, he doesn’t go there.  My family has always told me that I have a sixth sense, that I can sense when something doesn’t feel right, I’ve been this way since I was a little girl.  Some days, I would love to be able to hide out in my personal shell as that crab does…to be able to just BE, to be myself, to dream, to plan, to cry, to work things out for myself, to THINK

It is so important to have that kind of place to recharge, reflect and vent…what does my personal shell look like?

Lots of green around me, breezy, with my huge comfortable green reading chair near a window, and within arm’s length there would be  a combination of books, music, a journal and my laptop.   I like to just stare out of the window for a long time, trying to decompress as I watch others live their lives.   When I’m in this mode, I usually pick a few songs and play them over and over, usually something to match the mood that I’m in or to match the mood that I WANT to be in.

Only after I decompress will I get this nagging feeling to deal with my problem at hand, why do I want to hide? what happened in my life that day to make me feel this or that way? who needs to be in or out of my thoughts?   This is usually when I pick up one of my journals and start writing and writing and writing.  Some days, I can get out my issues in one page or less and other times, it’s 20 or 30 pages.  In either case, by the time I finish writing, I’m usually exhausted and my hand usually hurts :)    It is very powerful when the ‘moment of truth’ hits as I am writing — sometimes I start crying right then or I say something like ‘yup’ as I write!    Only after I see it written in black and white can I start to find a temporary solution to whatever is making me crazy at that moment.

Behind the wheel of my Jeep does wonders for me too.   If that steering wheel could talk…I’ve practiced many a speech, request, pitch, conversation while driving — not to mention screaming at the top of my lungs in anger/frustration/fear;  cried my eyes out, watched the sun and the moon come up and go down.  I’m convinced that I have saved myself and my reputation by going off by myself instead of going off on someone else.   As I usually have a commute, my badass moods are usually over by the time I reach my destination.

It’s important that everyone find their own safe haven, to be able to gather yourself and your thoughts while you figure out what your next move will be.   For many months,  I needed to step back and escape for a minute but I wouldn’t do it…it didn’t feel that I deserved yet it I guess.  Once I started listening to my Inner Chingona, I started to make the time to work thru my big chunk of issues.  Taking care of yourself is very powerful and it’s one of the first steps to getting your life back and getting to the peace and happiness that you seek.

Which brings me to the final thought for tonight by John Maxwell…”…if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you GAVE IT AWAY.  You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens IN you.”    Once I stopped the blame game and giving in to the drama of others, Inner Chingona came back to ‘high five’ me and to get me to listen to myself, take care of myself, and more important, take responsibility for myself.

My soundtrack as I wrote tonight?  Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits over and over and over and over.

Haven’t Got Time for The Pain


That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be




Inner Chingona and Sailing

24 Mar


Milestone Day: 16 Belonged to Me Today

16 Mar



Love Milestone Days:  My journey to passing the State Exam begins again!   Part 1 to the State Interpreter Exam is 0ver and done now I move on to Part 2.  The studying paid off.  I totally felt my mom’s presence during the Exam, especially during the grammar part as no one had English grammar down like Margaret.

Love that 95 score and all of the support and love is great too!  Total motivation for me to get back into study-mode to pass Part 2 of the State Interpreter Exam!  I must close this circle eso si!

16 Weeks: Inner Chingona and Embracing Change

16 Mar

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16 weeks since Mama left us. A little less than 16 weeks before she told us of the plan that she had with God to do things “their” way.  It probably took me more than 16 days to accept this and Mama was with us a little less than 16 weeks after that…she was preparing us for now.  I miss her so much. I first met my mother face-to-face on July 16th so 16 has always been a lucky number for me.  I’ll strive to remember the importance of embracing change each month instead of fighting it.

What have I learned on this 16th day of this month?

1. Survival: If I can survive the loss of my mother, then I can survive anything. I’ve had some crazy things thrown at me lately, people have tried to bring me down and destroy my spirit again. When your mother is no longer here, your life changes dramatically, gone is the patience for, as Mama used to say, idiocies.   Negative people and situations are just that … and these people and situations will not bring my mother back, so ‘ para que darles importancia’?  No need for me to get all caught up into senseless drama.


2. Faith: I know that God exists. My mother went without food or water for weeks and I am amazed that, in the end, she looked beautiful, not emaciated or withered away. I am convinced that she was in God’s hands especially then.  God was with me when Mama has some really bad moments and I was able to think clearly and move forward thru my fear and tears.  I feel really bad that I was the one who totally tried to force food, water, and medicine into her body. I now know that I was only trying to stop the inevitable and that “their plan” was the right plan.


3. Priorities: My list of “important” things and goals is completely different. When I think back to just a few years ago when I would move around, move away, and distract myself with my career and lots of unhealthy choices — anything to steer clear of dealing with my personal life or familia, I struggled to forgive myself for staying away. I used to think that if I put family first, that I would not be able to have both, that I would never be able to have my personal goals and identity. How wrong I have been. I cannot believe how much I have able to accomplish in ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE once I embraced 100% my place within my family and my personal obligation to myself. The most recent accomplishment has been in working thru my financial mess of a life. I was pleasantly shocked at my progress as I’ve been able to bring down a good chunk of my personal debt, still help my familia and still take care of myself. The blessings started to come and my life became so much more peaceful when my family became #1.

4. Patience. Just work it, a little at a time, and I will eventually achieve my goals. Mama taught me to “Let Go and Let God” and, after having her in my life, I saw first-hand, that this worked every time.


5. Laughter Goes A Long Way. My mom used to have these really infectious laugh attacks so, even on bad days, she was still able to find the humor in life too. I used to love it whenever she would LAUGH at something I said or did. More than that, I LOVED knowing that she was having a happy or fun moment. My dad has always had a great sense of humor and always has us smiling with the things that he comes out with and we do a lot of laughing.  In his hilarious way, he takes good care of us.

Right before I was going to publish this post, sis LG sends me a text telling me that the number 16 was very significant in the Bible…being that she’s Mama’s Mini-Me, I smiled as it was so something that Margaret would have brought to my attention!


My Bolsa — a Teething Ring?

14 Mar


I’ve always loved purses and have a bunch of them.  We are also blessed with new babies in the fam whom are teething I think.  What does my ‘bolsa’ have to do with our bebitas you ask?


black purse

I was at one of my houses and I saw our lil Bebita O, the cutest tiniest thing.  She seems too little to be teething but I noticed she was trying to bite her hand.  She wasn’t hungry because we had just fed her.  Her big black eyes saw my purse and it looked like she was trying to grab it – but she’s so little, she didn’t really know how.  So I put the handle of the purse near her hands and she was trying to bite it.    So this Nina Carmen lets her BITE the handle and bite she did for quite a while.  When I would try to take it out of her mouth, she’d give me this look that said “what’s up?”.   Her little tears after I gave her back to her Mama made me want to leave the purse there so that she could keep biting LOL.

Our babies are the joy of our familia and we are going to have a very fun year with our 3 (and # 4 on the way) bebitos!

Inner Chingona and Hair, or Lack Thereof

13 Mar

dark hair on floorThe afternoon had turned muggy.  Muggy, stuffy, warm, stale.  I could feel the sweat beading on my face and neck.  An uncomfortable afternoon to say the least, a horrible day with ‘una tras otra’ things coming at me from all sides.   I started back into my office to finish up some work before going to my last appointment.

So I get into the office and the vibe had not changed.  All I wanted is for this day to END, it had been full of drama and negativity and, to be honest, the office was the last place I wanted to be.  I wanted to get in my Jeep and drive and drive until my head cleared and I felt more like myself, safe and confident again.

I was so down that I almost bailed on my final appointment.  But Julie was there waiting for me, scissors in hand.  After I sit down, she asks me, “how much do you want me to cut off?”  I told Julie that I wanted her to keep my hair long and to cut only about an inch.  Julie had other ideas and tells me, “I’m cutting hair until there are no more dead ends” and, zaaaz! just like that, Julie grabs all of my hair and whacked off waaay more than an inch!

After the initial shock of Julie grabbing all of my hair and going at it with her scissors, I began to laugh … it felt like she was attacking my hair just like I wanted to attack the day.  Snip by snip, or mejor dicho, chop by chop, the negativity began to leave my body, I relaxed and then I started to feel this intense powerful feeling .  Thank God I was sitting down because it was pretty overwhelming.   Inner Chingona began to stand at attention, as if supervising all of this rush of positive energy into my mind, body, and soul.

As Julie blow-dried my hair, I closed my eyes and began to think about all that had happened throughout the day, instead of feeling hopeless, I began to feel hopeful.  I started to think about all that I had in my favor, all of my work was not a waste of time, I had much to contribute and I could work at making all of my crazy situations bearable if nothing else.   As Julie began to flat-iron and style my hair, I knew that I was back:  no more worry, frustration, tears and wringing of hands.  I was ready to stand up for myself and to work it for ME.

Looking down at all of my hair on the floor…it was like each piece belonged to negative people and situations in my life, those who left me feeling betrayed, demeaned, embarrassed, angry, powerless, sad, defeated, frustrated, beaten-down.  As Julie swept up the hair and tossed it into the trash, two words came to mind.  Karma and Freedom.  Karma will eventually work things out so a tremendous weight had been lifted from me: I felt free and lighter with less hair, and, better yet, the clouds had lifted, the mugginess was gone and a cool breeze was blowing as I stepped outside into the night.


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