A Joyous Moment

#52EssaysNextWave 15/52

Just looked on my drafts, unwritten posts, unfinished essays, and find that I have over FOUR HUNDRED of them.

Every one who writes has a perfect situation where inspiration and creativity flows like a cool breeze or a gentle stream.  No drama, no craziness, no rush, no interruptions.

Here is my Joyous Moment:  Right now, here I sit, alone, in the living room of the house, all windows and doors open at this hour, music blasting, with only the light of Mama’s table, the TV, my laptop and a little flashlight, and me writing.  I’ve been at it for a few hours now and haaaaaappppy!

Especially as event season is upon me, I tend to write a lot every day, but I write proposals, copy points, event timelines, etc.   My mind is beyond busy with constant ‘to-do’ lists, what needs to get done, what has been done.  Granted, this helps me immensely to keep things moving and in order, and while it is joyous when events go well, it does not give me enough of these kinds of joyous moments, where I am ‘me’, at peace with the world, recharging my batteries, doing things that I love to do.

It helps that the house is completely quiet this weekend, as Dad is out-of-town.  Usually all of the lights are on, he’s working on some project or another, his music or TV shows blasting, and it doesn’t feel like a girl’s house LOL.  This type of night reminds me of almost every night when I lived in my own place.  While I still come and go as I please, it’s different with roommates and you know how it is, it’s a little harder to find those “me time” moments.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no where else I’d rather be, but sometimes, it’s the BEST to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

So tonight, I will sit back and enjoy this Joyous Moment, Me Time, Girl Time, blast MY favorite music, and write until I get sleepy…or write all night like I’ve been known to do.

I must make time for these Joyous Moments (and writing) more often.

 

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Dinner Time: The Power of Connecting

#52EssaysNextWave  13/52

A rare day off.

Just in from dinner with familia.

After I invited the fam, I went round and round, do I feel like going?  why did I invite everyone?  I’ve been cleaning and all I want to do is relax.  I was actually nervous about getting together with my familia.  I’m overthinking everything.  What was that about?

As I sat there with them, I was happy.  I was relaxed.  And I noticed that they were happy and relaxed too.

I was able to talk with them, no need to get into heavy-duty issues, at least not that minute.  It was fun to talk about our day, our week, my sister’s workout, my baby niece’s friend Rafita from school, joking with my niece and nephew, just having fun.  No one with their phones out, just hanging out, at least for most of the dinner.

The type A in me always tends to make things more complicated than they need to be, turning everything into an event…the reality is that sometimes all that is needed is to connect, really connect, with the people whom we love.

How do we do this?  For me, it’s all about making sure that I DIS-connect in order to RE-connect.

  1.  Put the phone down.
  2.  Look everyone in the face, listen to them.
  3.  Enjoy their company.
  4.  Work will always be there, leave work alone.
  5.  Be present.
  6.  Relax.

Driving home, I realized how much I actually MISSED my family.   I miss connecting with them – especially when I’m so busy with events that it seems that there’s no time to connect.  Tonight is a sign that I need to connect more often.  No big event required.  No over thinking.  Sometimes all it takes is a table, chairs, sharing a meal, and good conversation.

Thanks, familia!

Rest In Peace?

#52EssaysNextWave 12/52

Today’s is my lovely Mama’s birthday may she RIP.

I’m known to post regularly about Mama: random memories, how many months it’s been since she’s left us (44 months in a few days), pictures that I find around the house, pictures of her table that we update with each holiday, her tradition of giving treat bags to her friends (which, by the way, I’ve passed two holidays because my life got crazy-busy, yes, I feel guilty) and more.

More than once, I’ve had folks tell me that I should let her go, that I should let my mother rest in peace, that I have separation anxiety issues.

Having gone through the trauma of losing my mother, I’ve realized a few things:

  1.  Everyone grieves differently.
  2.  Everyone honors their loved ones in their own way.
  3.  The greatest gift that Margaret gave us, her familia, was sitting us down and telling us how she intended to live out her life, that she loved us and knew that we loved her, and that she knew that we would always be together.

Mama was right.  When she was gone, we would have each other to hold on to, we would know that we were loved, and we would know that she was going to be happy in her eternal home.

So the fact that I celebrate my mother constantly does not necessarily mean that I want time to stop, that I want her back, that I want things to stay as they always have, that I’ve not accepted her departure.  Wrong.  Margaret told us she would be alright, that she was ready to leave, that she would be happy.  There is no way that I would want Mama to be sad or suffering here on earth when she was clearly ready to go HOME.

It took me much longer than my siblings to accept this harsh truth when Mama first told us what was what.  However,  I became so convinced that Mama was right as we took care of her those final weeks:  no food, no water, no medicine and she didn’t look weak or emaciated or sad or suffering.  When it was time, it was time.

When she was with us, we Torres5 would always marvel about the crazy positive reaction would be on social media to anything we posted about Margaret, she would be a little shy when we’d tell her or read folks’ birthday wishes or comments to this or that post, but then you would see her famous little quiet smile.  Mama used to always tell me, “omg, this isn’t a competition!” to which I’d answer, “Of course it isn’t, you always win!”

Happy Birthday Mama/Mother/Mom/Negra/Prieta/Marga!

 

Feliz Dia Internacional de La Mujer/Happy International Women’s Day

#52EssaysNextWave 7/52

For all women who came before me who worked it and made it happen and paved the way.

For my mother who taught us, by example, to work it with class. Margaret, most definitely, lives in us.

For my aunts, who have always worked it for so many of us as bonus mothers, for my cousins, who teach us about life in ways that mothers didn’t LOL!

For my godmothers who are the best mentors ever and whom I try to emulate as I mentor, take care of, and enjoy my godchildren nieces and nephews.

For my radio fam goddaughters who are trying to make their way in life and I hope that I never lead you wrong when you ask for advice.  And for my wild, fun, and creative chicas of my radio fam, only WE know and understand the crazyass lives we live every day for “la radio”.

For Gina, Mandy, and Tisa, my goddaughters, I want to do better by you and share in your lives. Goals.

For my Comadre and BFFs, for keeping it real with me and loving me at the same time.

For those of you who visit this page and read my blog regularly, bet you didn’t know how much you inspire me!

For my sisters-in-law, past and present, we are family always.

For the “Mamita Club” – my niece goddaughters, AliyahAngelAntoniaAmyAdrianaDianaLuciaNicoleOliviaSeciliaYasminYesenia, the loves and beauties of my life who will change the world and I pray that you always know your worth and that NinaC is here forever for you.

And of course, to my sisters – the ones who have my back 24/7 and who are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many great women!  Let’s keep working it always, lifting each other up and supporting each other’s activities, families, lives, and careers.  FELIZ DIA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER… HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

2017

#52essays2017 52/52

Yay! I made it thru the #52essays2017 Challenge  — writing one essay per week. For the most part, I kept up really well but you know how life is, it really gets in your way some times.  I gained more confidence as a writer and always look forward to the time when inspiration hits.  The best part about this challenge was that I finally see the value of FINISHING WHAT YOU START. I was able to do this time and time again throughout 2017 and it is one great feeling to commit to a project and finish it!

I’m one day away from the big day: putting on my first New Year’s Eve Gala. It’s been all about flying without a net. Scary. Yet invigorating.  As I sit here reviewing everything, I see that I’ve done pretty good in getting the major stuff paid for before the event starts.   Yes, I’m still in “light the candle” mode because I’d love to break even with the event, maybe make a lil extra.   We had a couple of WTF freak-out moments earlier today and there are a few things that I cannot have because we cannot afford them – yet.  All that’s left for me to do is to find my peace and visualize everyone coming in and having a spectacular evening.   Last year at this time, I couldn’t even THINK about doing something like this, I was completely down and out.  2017 taught me that things can and do change for the better … if you’re willing to clear your decks of negativity, pendejadas, and close-mindedness.

I still have a way to go health-wize but I did a number of fitness challenges one after the other and saw my health improve, my lonja go down a little, my clothes get baggy, and my attitude began to change and my confidence started to come back.

In events land, you have to be confident and move forward even when others say that “we’ve always done it this or that way”, “we can’t do that” or “how are you gonna make that happen?”   I’m living proof that having your sense of “aventada-ness” and a “mevalemadre attitude” front and center when you need them, that GodJesusVirgenOfG can help you go farther than you could ever imagine.  I needed good things to happen in 2017 and they finally did.

For part of 2017, I worked with special needs kids and lil pre-kinder bebitos and had the time of my life.  I left happy and TIRED every day.    I now know that God puts you where you need to be and, let me tell you, I gained more respect for teachers and parents.  There is a reason why I have no children of my own but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a NinaCarmen, AuntyCarmen, a mentor, or a friend. All they want is a little bit of your time and attention.

In no particular order, here is what I’d like to happen in 2018:

What I’m happiest about:  TorresBabies, Torres5, my life with Dad Mike Torres, my writing, my events, our monthly prayer nights.

What I need to work on:  Making time with friends, working out, owning my power, learning to say ‘no’, not going OFF, making peace with the past

What I’m hopeful for:  A better world, Immigration Reform, patience, justice, successful events, change in Washington

Sad that we lost:  family friends Bernardo Santillan, Neftali Orosco

Personal Goals I’d like to accomplish:  Pass State Exam, Bring my Personal debt down, help keep our family together.

 

Have a safe and Happy New Year!  More to come in 2018…

 

 

 

The Things We Treasure: Nacimientos at Christmastime

#52essays2017  #51/52

I’m such a thing person sometimes, I have the hardest time throwing things out.  So to write about things I treasure should have been easy.  Not.

It’s Christmastime.  The time when gifts are exchanged, etc.  What did I ask for?  A giant sized bottle of Dawn for dishes and the giant PineSol LOL.  I’ve asked for these kinds of things for years as I’ve never been into the “gifts” part of things – ever.   Things I treasure most aren’t really things, they’re more like traditions, experiences, familia, friends.

All that, and the Ranch Nacimiento/Nativity, Mama’s smaller house nacimiento, working with our Ranch kids for the annual Christmas play, eating tamales and more.

The Ranch Nacimiento, especially, is priceless and unique.  There are people, animals, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, little burros, people carrying wood and animals on their backs like they did back in the day.  And in this year’s pilgrimage on the Nacimiento, another King was seen walking to see baby Jesus…and there he was, Elvis!  My grandma Mama Lupita collected the majority of the pieces herself and brought them back from her many trips to Mexico — most times, she was travelling by bus and I’m still amazed at how many figurines she had amassed, and how many of them made the trips intact.

However, my absolute favorites are those pieces that Grandma would try to “fix” when they would break.  There was that one little lamb whose leg had broken off which was then “fixed” by putting on an Elmer’s glue orange cap in place of the leg LOL.  Here’s the one gentleman whose legs had broken off.  Grandma gave him a new lease on life by placing him into a NyQuil cap LOL so now he could at least stand up even if he couldn’t walk.

When I first moved out, Mama had put a bunch of family “heirlooms” into my boxes and, one of the treasures was HER small plastic Nativity scene that I had seen for my entire life each Christmas.   My mother loved putting out her nativity scene (or having us put it up for her) every year and it’s the tradition that warms my heart,  knowing that I would see the same thing each year.  Very comforting to know that a few little beaten-up knickknacks can bring us to smiles (and tears)

Mama’s Nacimiento 2017

My most prized possessions are shared with others:  my entire Ranch family loves the Ranch Nacimiento and we love Mama’s Nacimiento at our house every year.  These traditions work it for us and I hope that I help keep these family customs alive.

Feliz Navidad All.   Below are pictures of just PART of the Ranch Nacimiento.  You’ll note that Mama sewed clothes for Mary and Joseph waaay back in the day.  This is one amazing display.

Scenes from the Ranch Nativity

 

 

 

 

Aaay! The Showers of Change

#52essays2017 47/52

 

This happened earlier tonight:

“The time has come to change Mama’s shower curtain. Tried to find something Daddy would like. As I was looking, I started telling the señoras working there what I was doing and, like true Latinas, they do that “aaay” thing, hug me and tell me their stories of throwing things out/saving things that their parents left behind and we were all almost crying. It did feel nice to be completely understood tonight.”

It’s a kinship borne of sadness, bittersweet memories, of feeling like there’s a hole in you – some days, it feels all-consuming, others it’s more of a dull ache.   And then when you finally are able to laugh, feel happier, able to move forward from your loss, you still miss them.    Once you lose a parent, you 100% understand what a person is going through when their mother or father passes.   No words are necessary.  And, yes, you really do feel that “aaay” in your heart when you know that someone has lost their parent!

It’s so hard for us to throw any of Mama’s things out sometimes.  I had to text the Torres5 to gently let them know that we would be changing the shower curtain, I feel like, if I don’t tell them or “ask” their permission to make changes, that Mama won’t be right with it either.  And knowing my mother, she would be all for my changing the shower curtain.   Her shower curtain had circles of green, blue, and lavender so I chose more “guy” colors – black and gray with his own circles.  Dad really liked it.   Even though I feel like “aaay”, it really is time and Dad has really been working on beautifying our bathroom lately so he’s excited to change-up the look of the place.

Dad is so funny.  Right away, he starts working on one of his “home-improvement” projects and typical me, “OMG Dad, que haces?”.  Turns out he’s making me a little shelf for me to put my “jabon” on, a soap dish, that no one else can use.   Big smiles that remind me how blessed I am to be able to enjoy the simplest things in my life with my father, that it’s sometimes OK to move forward and keep living life.

We all do change in different ways, at different levels, on different timelines.  Sometimes, those “aaay” moments are a good way to track your progress (or not), the “aaays” certainly keep you honest and, if you’re lucky, you are able to feel your feelings instead of backing them up, holding them all in.  What a relief to be able to feel sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty, pain, loss, blessings…isn’t it funny how a simple shower curtain or a soap dish can change your outlook on life?

To be able to share your “aaay” moments with people who understand is even better.  Thank God for those women in Walmart who “got it” and helped me see that, sometimes, change is a positive thing for me, for Dad, for my siblings, and for Mama.

 

Mike Torres, my father, working on my soap dish for my “jabon”… aaay!

Ya Mero! Almost to the Finish Line #52essays2017

 

#52essays2017  46/52

When I asked to be part of the #52essays2017, I thought, “oh it’s gonna be easy as I love to write”, and here I sit with 7 essays to go and, if I look at the calendar, I’m about 3 weeks behind, as we are to submit our entries on Sundays/Mondays of each week.  Some weeks, I’d have blog entries stockpiled because I’d be so inspired, others I’d be trying to find my voice, trying to find something legit to talk about, and then there are times like these, where I’m slammed with projects and trying to find the time to write.

This writing challenge has mirrored my life in a lot of ways. I’ve got goals that I made for myself at the beginning of 2017, some completed, others not. I’ve got a ton of projects for which it is “crunch time”. Lots of things that “need” to get done by December 31st.

I’ve never been a fan of December 31st. I tend to focus on what did not happen, what did not get done, what I was unable to do.  It takes me awhile to get into January 1st too as the upcoming 52 weeks always seem to overwhelm me, so new, so big, what do I hope to accomplish?

This year feels different.   Yes, I’ve got 7 more blog entries to do by December 31st.  Yes, I’ve got a busy month of events that end on December 31st.  Yes, the pressure is on big time to get stuff done.   The difference is that getting it all done somehow feels possible.  Possible because, once I started writing #52essays2017,  I was able to keep better track of my goals and the writing forced me to revisit them throughout the year.   I may have a lot of task-related goals that need to get done but, more important, I was able to work on life goals, things like putting family first, getting some of my demons out of my system, trying to work smarter, not harder.  And looove that I’m sitting in clothes that fit much better and in some cases, are too big.   Before I think I’m all that, my health goal, especially, will remain a priority for me.

I’ve taken my writing much more seriously this year,  I’ve started to own it that I’m a writer.  I’m more confident in my writing and can take it better when I get constructive criticism LOL.  I have my habits:  music opens up the creative side of my mind so 9 times out of 10, I’m listening to music – at present The Beatles blast through my headphones.  I work very well in warm places with good light, a roomy table, and the smell of cafecito so I can often be found at a Starbucks and especially love the ones where they know my name and know what I’m going to order.  I’m still trying to find the best way to write down/record/type out an idea so that I don’t forget it, I still haven’t figured it out!  I am learning how to find that balance of putting it all out there no filter versus keeping it a lil discreet so that I can protect the names of the innocent (or guilty), and to keep some things protected/close to my heart.  And then there are moments like these, when I get inspired when I should be sleeping and I “have” to write.   I’m finding my writing style, “Slice of Life”, it doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me…and I have found that so many folks relate to and have a good laugh -or cry- on some of the things I write about.

I’m very happy that I have been able to be part of #52essays2017 and will celebrate the day that I finish the challenge!  I’ve grown as a writer and as a person…looking forward to more of the same in the upcoming year.

One down, 6 more to go in 2017.  It’s all about accomplishing my goal of #52essays2017.

The Power of Mariachi Music

#52essays2017  43/52

The Torres household was not unlike other Latino households in that, we too, had to endure early Saturday mornings with the mariachi music going full blast.  But the difference in our house was that we might be hearing those rancheras on record, on the radio, in a JUKEBOX that was in our house for years, or with Mike Torres playing and singing live!  Our father is a lifetime mariachi and regularly rocks his charro suits.  This is my very favorite picture of his, happiest when singing with the mariachi.

So I’d be in that bed trying to will myself back to sleep, trying to close my eyes, trying not to think that, along with the music, that house cleaning wasn’t far behind.   Finally, I’d give in and wake up, laying there hearing the sounds of the house, the smell of breakfast cooking, knowing that in a few minutes, we’d get Mama’s call to get up and help do this or that and, through all of this, la musica ranchera a todo volumen en friega …music at full blast.

Back then, it was like “rolling the eyes” irritating on some days, at least those first few minutes of being up and about.   Maybe if it were another kind of music that I liked at the time, I might have had a better attitude.  Maybe not, I was and still am, to this day, a night person.   This familia of musicos are also night people so we all have to tread lightly every morning so that we don’t offend each other as we try to wake up.  And when we are all still living at home, we Torres5 used to regularly try to compete with Dad by turning the TV up, Dad singing/playing louder, TV up, music louder and on and on.  LOL

A little while ago, I was sitting here, all desvelada complete with that headache that you get from little or no sleep, and, just as I was thinking, “I’m gonna go home and take a nap“,  the music in my shuffle changes and I actually jumped as “El Son de La Negra” comes on trumpets blasting, all loud and proud.  I actually smiled as I felt this music wake up my soul with its invigorating and empowering energy, I was this close to saying ‘VivaMexico!’ but don’t know how my Starbucks table neighbors would deal with it LOL.

Gone are the days of “rolling of the eyes” when I hear musica de mariachi.  I have the gift of my father who, at 82 years old,  STILL plays the guitar DAILY, who still blasts his musica, who is a walking encyclopedia of Mexican music and who knows all of the fun chisme folkloric back stories of songs, musicians, mariachis.  You better know that we Torres5 know so many of these songs word for word.  And, every time I hear “El Son de La Negra“, I am ready to get my grito on and sing all of the words to these great great great songs, songs that I have heard forever in my house, songs of the motherland, songs that make me proud to be part of such a colorful, vibrant, always-at-full-blast culture.  These songs or powerful “sones” are guaranteed to give you the chills when you hear them, go anywhere in the world, watch (and hear) the reaction when this song comes on.  Gritos can be heard from every inch of the place almost as loud as the mariachi itself.  The pride and joy are in full effect — from the mariachis to the audience, these songs regularly bring any house down, anywhere, anytime.

And, songs like these probably still drive people crazy on Saturday mornings because, yes, they are some of the best songs to clean house to.  Enjoy “El Son de La Negra”… listen, watch and tell me you don’t feel it!

 

 

 

Inner Chingona Visualization: My Event in One Minute, Fourteen Seconds

#52essays2017 42/52

We all have one.  Anyone who plans events as I do has at least one.  That one song that will help you visualize, conceptualize, and see your event happening before your eyes.  I have many songs to walk me through an event:  set-up, event happening, tear-down.   We event folk, those of us who really work it and want to make an event successful, ALWAYS do some type of imagining/thinking about/visualizing…I just happen to work it better to music.

Maybe it’s because I started doing events at such a young age, I was still in the 3rd grade, but, at that age, I was already visualizing what my friends would think about this or that, what would they think of me doing this kind of stuff, how could I put in something they liked, that would impress them, into an event or program.  I trip out on how important working a crowd was to me, even waaaay back in the day.

As the majority of the events that I did (and do) seem to take place outside, the movie taking place in my mind almost always takes place at an outdoor venue.   I tend to respond to Classic Chicano/Latin Rock (Malo, Santana, El Chicano, War, etc.) when I need a soundtrack for my future event.  Usually I’m in my Jeep driving when inspiration really hits and I start thinking about how an event will look, sound, smell, and feel…I imagine who will be attending my event and when they will get there, I imagine how the view will look from the stage, to the stage, everything.

While I have a bunch of songs to choose from when I’m in visualization mode, this song always seems to get me going big-time: The classic “Nena” by Malo.   Once I break it down, you may want to listen to the song as you read this (a second time) so that you may see what I see…

 

Beginning Percussion:  This song starts off with straight percussion and what I see in my mind is the very start of the day, we are just driving onto the site, sometimes we have to drive very slowly through the entire festival site to get to where we need to be, no one is there but the folks unloading their booths, setting up the stage, event barricades just going up, people drinking that first, and perhaps only, cup of cafe for the day.  We finally get to our spot, step out of the vehicles and check out the place…

First guitar riffs:  We are now unloading our vehicles, delivering tables and chairs to clients, helping them set up, getting banners up, setting up sound system, making sure that our tents are set up, getting the backstage and VIP areas set up, we are in serious work-it mode, we are movin’ fast, we are on a deadline…

First horn sounds:  Almost time for “Doors” (for the event to start).  Time to take stock of the entire set-up, are we missing anything, ice?  send someone for ice;  trash cans for the backstage area, send someone to get to the event organizers for what we need, quick check of all of our booths and stage, first entertainers ready to jump on stage,  are we all good to go?

Second horn sounds:  Doors open.  People starting to come into the festival.  Which way do they go?  left to the booths, right to the food booths, straight-ahead to my area, the stage area.   There’s usually a Ballet Folklorico starting things off on-stage, warming the crowd up, we have officially passed GO, the event is ON.  People selling their stuff, people at the door checking thru bags, purses before entry, lines starting to form at the food booths…

The first “Nena” sounds and the remainder of the song:  I envision people enjoying the music, kicking back in the grass and sunshine enjoying their food and hanging out with each other, walking around, the looks of surprise “heeeeey!” before the big hugs after seeing familia and old friends, many now with beer in hand, some dancing going on, lots of folks watching entertainment from the stage, thinking to myself, ‘how can they be out there in this sun?”,  bands coming into the stage area, bands getting off of the stage, us trying to make sure no one makes off with someone else’s equipment, our folks enjoying food in the VIP Area, all going smooth.

The final percussion:  We’re an hour away from the close of the event, people are starting to pack up and go home, final act is on stage, partyers still out en force, booths running out of food, last call for alcohol, we are starting to try to get a head start on getting all of our stuff together ready to pack into the vehicles, and kicking back at the backstage area of the event, happy that all has gone smooth, “man my feet hurt” and doing that loud sighing thing as we sit down, likely the first time we have sat that long all day.  Event day over.

Most of this all happens within the first minute and 14 seconds of the song.  This is all I need to see and hear.  I am no rocket scientist but, if I am unable to visualize any event within 1:14, then it will likely not be a successful one.  Once I’m able to see the event coming together in my mind, I’m able to see the big picture, start getting that energy rolling into the right direction so that I can work out the small details in between the lines.   This formula rarely fails me and my method has helped keep my madness in check, kept me focused, and kept me “on it”.

Find whatever you need to motivate you through an event or a project or a workout or any steps to a better you…if it’s music, you’ll  KNOW when you’ve found the right song or mix because work will not feel like work anymore, it will feel effortless, it will feel like this is that way things are meant to go, it will feel like they will be a success…all it takes is opening your mind, finding your sense of ‘aventada-ness’, and using your imagination.  Try it!