Signs

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave  7/52

Yesterday I was a mess.  I was in a state of overwhelm.  It didn’t help that I woke up with remnants of a migraine, late, and rushing around.   Part of my morning routine is to turn off all of the lights and I always look out of the kitchen window.  It’s like my way of saying hello to the universe as I wake up.  The first thing I saw was Mama’s tree, covered in pink blossoms, her ‘popcorn’ tree she used to call it.  I took this as a sign that she was with me that second.

As I posted this picture on my social media, here were my thoughts:  I’m “off” this morning. This pic of Mama’s tree will help put things into perspective today. How this señora willed herself to wake up and be grateful for a new day, no matter how she felt, astounds me and propels my stressed-running-late-negative-ass forward to make this an important day. Thanks for the signs Mama. #MargaretLivesInMe

Regular readers know that my mother was left partially paralyzed from a stroke thus, for the most part, she was confined to the house and dependent upon us to drive her wherever she wanted to go.  Sad, because one of the joys of Mama’s life was to pick up her keys and take off driving in her car, her “me” time.  I remember she was a morning person and would wake up in a good place – she needed that positivity to deal with her family of night owls, morning people we are not.

So later in the day, I was still not right and was stressed going back and forth trying to decide on taking a class or not, I then saw another sign from Margaret:

Whenever I’m struggling, I always see pennies in random places, this one was on the seat on BART. Sign from Mama that I’m doing the right thing. It may have taken me 3 weeks to decide but I showed up to yet another Interpreting Drills class and talked my way in. I got called on a lot in class (maybe she was testing me LOL). Happy to know that my sense of aventada-ness is alive and well – fell on my face as much as I nailed it. With my crazyass life, these classes keep me focused . This next month, especially, will test my stamina and my time-management skills. No pain, no gain, no guts, no glory. I will handle this :).

I’m learning to pay attention to the signs when I see them.  Mama was reminding me that my goals are important, that they do matter, and that no one else but me can take care of my business.

DO NOT BE AFRAID to get back on your wagon for your health, for your truth, for your career or for your life goals. DO IT FOR YOURSELF – don’t let yourself down. Late or not, show up for you!

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My Ordinary Day

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife   #52EssaysNextWave2019   6/52

Ordinary Days. For years and years, I ran from these days, too square, too much of a routine, too mundane for my busy life.  All I knew, or wanted to know, was moving fast, planning one event bigger than the next, moving from one town to another and another.   I always had something to do, somewhere to go, moving, moving, moving.  No time in my life for ordinary days.

Don’t get me wrong, it was (and is) exciting and a lot of fun.

But there came a time where I had to be there for Mama and for my family.  In 2014, Mama was walking her last journey on this earth.   I rarely left home, I helped my familia to take care of Mama and I was the one who kept the house up and kept everyone on schedule.  I super-surprised myself by being the one to move Mama when needed and to help change and dress her.  I remember one time I made her laugh when I pulled out a splinter from her finger como si nada.   Mama laughed because she never expected this from me, I was her miedosa daughter, scared of everything.  However, at the time, her comfort took precedence over EVERYTHING in my life.

I went right back to work a couple of days after her funeral and something had profoundly changed in me.  At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was different.   I was exhausted from weeks of caring for my mother, out of it, way off of my work-routine, and, I sensed that I was barely getting through the day, I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore.

One thing I knew.  I got great comfort from the schedule that I made, week after week, for my family.  I knew exactly who would be at the house and when.   I was very happy that my family had agreed to keep the schedule going so that we could be there to take care of our father.    It was as if this simple, mundane, activity was keeping me on point so that I could get myself up out of bed every day to make it to work, to handle my everyday survival.  Day after day, I’d see members of the Torres5 doing what had to be done, and, some days, I’d see the same profoundly sad face that I wore on a daily basis.  I didn’t feel so alone.

Our sadness eventually lifted, as if we had all been in a fog.  Our household started feeling like home again.   It took a little longer for me to become accustomed to living back at home and, once I got into work and events again, I found that I was “back” and having fun again working it.

What shocked me was that I was starting to really look forward to ordinary days, days where I could just be, somewhere where I could breathe and recharge, where I could do cool things like laundry (my task yesterday) to organizing our spare room (which I did this morning).  OMG, my years of living my personal life on such a regimented schedule, was actually working for me!

The one thing that kept me from enjoying ordinary days was my lack of commitment to anything other than work.  Once I committed to our basic family schedule, it seemed as if more possibilities opened up, I started spending more time with friends, working out, writing, reading, and doing things that I loved, things that were, dare I say it, boring, mundane, routine, ordinary, and at the same time, glorious!  On the days I’m not “on the schedule”, I’m able to do “me” things and, truth be told, there’s no place I’d rather be.

My life might have been very different had I embraced the ordinary years ago.   Especially as I’m now convinced that this is where my true peace, joy, and happiness reside, inside of my ordinary days.

Now, it’s all about work hard and handle my business, so that I can enjoy my next “ordinary day”!

2018

First time since the end of AUGUST that I’ve blogged. Wow.

I had come to a point where I felt that I had nothing left to say. So much going on in the world like the children in cages, the election year, made me so overwhelmed that I just didn’t know where to start to write about anything. I made a decision to live life instead of reporting on my life for a while. Didn’t think that it would last for months.

I miss writing. I will challenge myself to write one article a week (at least) on anything. I spent so much time wondering what people would want to read/see/hear that, when it came time to write, I was already tired.

Taking breaks are important and, now that I look back, a lot has happened in 2018 in no particular order.

1. Decided to take a Interpreting class to keep myself sharp and focused as I try (again) to pass the State Interpreting Exam. Got an ‘A’ in my class and found that I was on top of this stuff, I really took it seriously this time around.

2. Got together with my friends for the first time in a YEAR. Fun to catch up and to relax away from my projects.

3.  Lost one of my really good friends a couple of weeks ago.  It’s sad because it’s one of the first of my college friends to leave this earth, couldn’t sleep for the first couple of days after I got the news.  It made me think about taking care of my business (one never knows).

4.  My godson nephew was named Teacher of the Year for his region for his work with special needs kids, he’s blessed.

5.  Am loving watch my godson nephews come into their own music-wize from high school band for one to La45 for another

6.  My off the charts smart niece goddaughter is a top candidate for valedictorian, how cool would this be?

7.  Enjoyed meeting my baby godson nephew for the first time when he visited us from Texas.  I tell Dad that this was how HE must have looked at that age.

8.  Lost one of our cousins to a stroke a few weeks ago and remember how it felt the day that Mama had her stroke, while Mama was lucky and always able to speak, it was a struggle for her from that day forward.  I confess that it scares me that one of us will have a stroke and it’s time to make taking care of ourselves a priority.,

9.  Watching my sister make the decision to live healthier and to work out and watch her meals has been an inspiration to me.   I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for her.

10.  Dad still going strong at 83.   It’s easy to forget his age because he still drives, goes out to hear mariachis, and is fun-loving.

11.  Trying to be there for my lil niece goddaughters and to be a good example for them.  Taking them places and showing them different things is important.

12.  Made a couple of chisme road-trips to Phoenix and Denver – no sightseeing required, just wanted to visit with fam/friends, it was so fun.

13.  Got a killer bronchitis flu that knocked me out, hoping that never happens again.

14.  4 years and one month without Mama.   We never stop missing her and we keep moving forward together thank God.

15.  Ita is with us for the holidays, she’s looking great.   Had fun with my Tias at Ranch Christmas, thank God for them.

16.  RIP Aretha.

17.  Got off track with Mama’s traditions, I did pretty good for 4 years and now it’s time to get back to it and to leave the guilt behind.

18.  Committed myself to being very informed through the political madness in which we now live.   It’s one thing to get all mad and react nomas porque si, it’s quite another to get all mad and react with the facts in hand.   Always praying that this country finds its way back from the cruel, divisive, dark, angry, racist corner in which it now resides.

19.  Saw some concerts this year and it’s so much fun that I must do more of this in 2019.

20.  Went through a lot of personal cleansing of personal demons.  My life is no longer dependent on what certain people do, think, say, or want.   December 12th is an important date in this regard for me — when I got to December 12th and realized just how many years had passed since my personal desmadre, I decided that, yes, I had done a lot of work in facing that mess, dealing with PTSD, and, thank GodJesusVirgenOfG, I’ve really put the majority of this mess behind me.

2019 will be dedicated to closing the circle on some important personal goals.   Getting my personal business in order, bringing that debt down, striving to work drama and desmadre-free, finding the joy (again) in putting events on and smiling more.  I’m also committed to bringing this lonja down and live healthier, going to Mass, clearing my life of the clutter that I tend to collect,  working smarter, not harder, doing the right thing, spending time with familia and friends, to be PRESENT and not stressed about it.

The way I see it, I was stopped in my tracks for a few years, no more, it’s time to finish everything that I’ve started.  More chingona. Less pendeja.

Happy 2019 All.

 

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!

 

Just Say Good Morning Already

#52EssaysNextWave 9/52

5 years old.   I was getting ready to start kindergarten.  Everyone telling me how exciting school would be, how many friends I would make, how many fun things I would do.   I was having trouble with this, I didn’t feel excited at all.

That first day, I remember being dressed in my blue dress with the white sweater, white socks and black mary jane shoes.  I don’t really remember anyone bringing me into Mrs. Brunton’s class.  I remember that I was just there.   I don’t want to think that I was just put on the bus to face it all alone.

Because that’s exactly what it felt like to me.  Like I was left all alone.  Without Mama.  And how were the kids doing at home without me?  This place seemed too big.  This place didn’t feel nice.  And why do I even have to come here?  This is what I used to tell myself every single day before and after crying tears into my little white sweater before hanging it up on the little hook.

Circle time.  Circle time was a nightmare for me.  First, I was afraid.  Second, I was almost in tears and didn’t want anyone to see me cry.  If I spoke up, people would see my fear and hear the quivering of my voice like I wanted to cry, who wants to be known as a big baby?

My teacher, Mrs. Brunton, was not kid-friendly, and to this very sensitive and scared little girl, not one kind word, not one nod of understanding.   She lost patience with me that first day when I did not answer “good morning” to her during circle time.    On that first day, she punished me for not speaking during circle time.  I had to stay inside during recess time, trying to understand what I had done wrong.

This went on for many, many weeks during that first year of school.  I remember being able to breathe and feeling so relieved “having” to stay in the classroom with the lights turned off during recess.  I was in there with the “bad kids” – always two or three kids.  But I did not have to feel the wrath of Mrs. Brunton for those blessed few minutes and my little mind would think and think about how to get the nerve up to be able to say “good morning”, how much easier my life might be, how much happier I might be — at least that’s what Mama and Daddy would tell me almost every night at home about saying “good morning” the next day.

Once the kids would come in from recess, I’d feel a little stronger.  And then this woman would have something negative to say.  Always something negative.  And my resolve to say “good morning” would crumble.

It finally got to the point where I was over being labeled one of the “bad kids”,  I wasn’t a bad person, I was a good girl.  There were a couple of kids who had not yet spoken up, and who had finally said “good morning” to the teacher and, when I saw that nothing bad happened to them after that, I started to think that, maybe it was time for me to say “good morning”.

It amazes me how, at that very young age, that I was able to watch things around me and find the safe time to use my voice and improve my situation.  One morning,  I shocked Mrs. Brunton and delighted the entire class when I finally answered “good morning”.

It would have been so much easier had the lady been a little more understanding and treated little Carmen with a little more care in those first weeks of school instead of losing her patience and being judgemental.   Little Carmens of the world need to be empowered and reminded of the rules for the classroom instead of being told that she is a bad girl.  All I remembered was feeling this intense pressure all of the time to say “good morning” – from home, at school, to the point of having headaches.  Now I think about…Who was right?  Who was wrong? How could this situation been handled in a more positive manner?  Why was it so hard for me to say “good morning”? why was this person so mean?

Shortly after that first “good morning”, the school year was, thankfully, over.   My parents received progress reports from Mrs. Brunton stating that I was withdrawn and would likely have learning issues throughout my school years.  Fast forward to first grade, and Little Carmen was happy, outgoing, and learning a lot.  I had a great teacher who was much more kid-friendly and I was able to thrive.  I also remember being happy to show my lil sister starting kindergarten that I wasn’t afraid or unhappy anymore.

Many years later, I heard that Mrs. Brunton was no longer teaching.  I felt a little vindicated, that 5-year-old Little Carmen was not crazy, that her instincts WERE right, that this was NOT a good person, especially not one to be in charge of the education, physical and emotional security of babies just starting out.  I was still a little angry, as I felt as if I got myself through this traumatic experience.  Even though it was the only way to relieve the stress from all sides, I spent many years trying to move past that fateful “good morning”.

I always harbor the hope that little ones have an easier time of their first days of school…that their little spirits are not broken as mine was, that they have positive people in their corners to help them see that there are more great teachers than bad ones.

I also know that this was one of the first times that my InnerChingona helped me get through it, even though, at the time, I had no clue who she was.

The Things We Treasure: Nacimientos at Christmastime

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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

 

 

 

 

The Nameless Lady

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My brother is so much like Mama.  He regularly performs random acts of kindness, buying food for hungry folks, sitting and talking with the homeless, always, always thinking of others.   I always say that I’m going to try to be like that and, this past weekend, I feel as if I came close.

I was out delivering Mama’s Treat Bags.  We make them every holiday to give out to her doctor’s office and her friends at DaVita Dialysis, she did this in life and wanted us to carry on the tradition.

On this particular morning, I was visiting the dialysis folks and handed one of the bags to a woman whom I’d never seen before.  I was struck by the way she grabbed for my hand to thank me – just like Mama used to grab my hand.   I didn’t even ask her name.   She told me that she had been in dialysis for a few weeks now and, as she grabbed my hand, she asks me, “was your Mom scared when she would come here at first?”

I started to tell this lady how Mama made the deal with us when it was time for her to do dialysis:  that “if I have to go through this, so do all of you“, and for the first few months, one of us stayed right there with her the entire time she went through her treatment.   I told her that Mama was very afraid at first and, while she never totally liked her time at dialysis, she was able to somewhat embrace her situation…until she decided that enough was enough.

The woman seemed to totally relate to what I was saying and she started crying quietly.   I held her hand for a few minutes more and had the feeling that Mama was present there, helping to comfort this woman.   I realized that, with every time I take out Mama’s treat bags, that I learn more about her journey, how, in many ways, she did this treatment for us more than for herself, how strong-willed she was, how else to explain the motivation it took for her to get up every day and soldier on, that my mother had so much faith, faith that it was all part of His plan.   Also, I gain more admiration for my mother:  as bad as she was feeling some days, she always wanted to make folks feel better, to not feel so alone in the world.

This nameless lady put me and my ego in check QUICK.  She’s on a life-changing journey, and not an easy one.  I felt happy that I made her feel better for those few minutes and she was able to not feel so afraid and alone.  Who knows what her life is like?  Who is there to make sure she eats before (or after) treatments?  Does she drive to the treatments?  Is her family supporting her?  I have no clue.  All I know is that I could sense that this woman was strong, strong enough to admit that she was afraid yet still there trying to get better.

I hope that I can see her next time I’m there.  I’ll have to ask her what her name is.

Maybe I’ll show her this story.

 

 

Aaay! The Showers of Change

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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!

The Power of Mariachi Music

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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!

 

 

 

Embracing Death with Love FELIZ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2017

 

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Dia de Los Muertos is such a beautiful Mexican tradition that has done the one thing that no one had been able to do: take away my fear of death. My fears surrounding death were related to things that I could only imagine: suffering, pain, leaving suddenly, violence. My imagination ran wild, I would imagine zombies walking about, people moaning in pain, screams of fear. Maybe it was all of the Halloween monster-type stuff in the movies and TV. Lots of the Halloween stuff is based on that, el Dia de Los Muertos is not…el Dia de Los Muertos is a great time to remember those you love who are no longer with you and shows you how to honor your loved one by getting their favorite things together and making them an altar.

Mama’s altar is on display 24/7.  We change it up for the holidays and the sentiment is the same:  we honor Mama and our good memories of her.  It’s so comforting to see her near her favorite window in her house.   I soooo love this tradition and love to see how my friends celebrate this special time of the year.   The holiday offers the hope that our loved ones will come to be with us one more time, the altars, the candles, the flowers, their things, their favorite foods are meant to guide them back to us.  Folks decorate altars in their homes, in the cemetery, at festivals, at celebrations.

I thought you would like to see altars created by my friends…so unique, so cool, awesome:

Ninel & Karla & The Cortez Fam honor their Mama and their loved ones…

Gracie and the Solorio Family honor their recently departed mother…

BFF Trini and Daddy’s Girl Trini honors her father along with familia…

Part of the Mejia Family’s awesome setup – this altar is dedicated to mariachis


Anna’s tribute to her father and departed familia…

My lil cousin Jami and Michael’s very first altar honoring their grandparents and Mama and their familia… loooove it!

And, here are a few pictures from the Ranch Dia de Los Muertos celebration honoring Mama and all of our fam who has departed…

 

Rest In Peace:  Margaret Torres, Edmundo Torres, Adela Melena, Prudencio Melena, Baltazar Perez, Neftali Orozco, Willie Herrera I, Juan Lucio, Mama Lupita Lucio, Joe Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Alfonso Grijalva, Albina Grijalva, Louie Rodriguez, Eddie Rafanan, Jenny Rodriguez, Jennifer Rafanan, Elio Rafanan, Robert Grijalva, Vera Espinoza, Ralph Espinoza, Joey Espinoza, Jess Grijalva, Rosa Sylvia Grijalva, Martin Prieto, Mark Prieto, Connie Cruz, Beatrice Hernandez

RIP Friends:  David Navarro, Joe Nieves, Maria Antonieta Garcia, Rosa Salinas, Rene Garcia, Roberto Vallejo Pantoja, Gabriel Rangel, Jr. Rangel, Cora Rangel, Marina Beltran, John Beltran, Susan Casillas, George Casillas, Ernie Gonzalez, Rosie Gonzalez, Rosita Aragon, Guillermo Prince, Salvador Sierra, Bernardo Santillan, Jose Gutierrez, Neal Sanchez, Ms. Gwen … I know that I will need to edit this as I’ve likely forgotten to list someone.

 

Gone. But never forgotten.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos.