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!


How Can I Help? Inner Chingona Has the Answer, I Just Know It.

#52essays2017  33/52

So much has happened in our country, from disasters natural to disasters straight-up unbelievable.  There is a definite ‘us versus them’ vibe, divisiveness, and negativity seem to be the order of the day.  I try to keep politics out of writing because I do not like to go on and on and on if I don’t feel completely informed.  I really do try to stay informed and I watch a lot of news and also get a lot of my news by listening to You Tube, yes, listening (as I drive) to msnbc, CNN, and other news outlets to see what this Administration comes up with next.   Every Friday night, it seems as if one bombshell or another is dropped.   I love Ana Navarro, she may be a Republican 🙂 but she is one Latina who is fearless and will call anyone out on their pendejadas – Republican, Democrat, and especially anything – policy, executive order, or otherwise, that comes out of Washington.  How I wish I could put it out there for the world as she does.

A lot of what comes out of this Administration is so offensive, it’s straight-up racist and it is so obvious that there is no love or support for my Latino community.  While I don’t expect red carpet service, I do expect fair treatment and it is disheartening to watch every single pillar of civil rights being torn down in front of my eyes, my community is demeaned, discounted, and defeated on a daily basis.  My Dad and I watch a lot of Univision news and, some days, it’s downright depressing:  deportations and discrimination are the order of the day and almost the entire newscast deals with this new, sick, normal. Spanish media HAS to talk about this, because it is rare to see these stories in mainstream media.  No matter how mentally exhausting the news is, I feel that we must not let this fatigue get us down, we must be informed, we must be ready to change the world.

I know that my anger hit the roof when all of the business with the Arpaio Pardon came out.  I’ve been screaming out this question:  WHAT will it take to get the Latino community galvanized, to stand up and fight all of these daily pendejadas?  It’s all around us, HOW can we just sit and take it?  I’m seriously pondering this question because I want to be part of the solution.  It just feels so overwhelming that I have no clue of where to start.   I’m going to start on the things that are important to me.

Culture, Familia, Musica, Art, Food – these have always been what has brought us together and invited others to learn about us.   I’ve always trusted “slice of life” things and values.  There has got be something in there that I can contribute to the world and learn how to change things…I need to keep looking for that little opening of the door, where I can do some good for others.  In order to accomplish this, I have to keep looking inward, keep living life, and looking to my InnerChingona for guidance.  How?  Quien sabe?  The one thing I don’t see in my future is running for office, I’ve always functioned best as an advocate for Latinos, promoting my culture, and things that may not seem heavy-duty to some activists, but that have always been important to me.  Somehow, someway, I will find a way.  Ya es hora.


April Writing Challenge, Day 4: Ten Things About Me

about me

April Writing Challenge – Day 4
Ten Interesting Facts About Yourself

These are always fun…

In no particular order:

1. My favorite color is GREEN. Always has been. I especially like how being around green in nature can soothe me in seconds, how wearing something green makes me feel cool, anything looks better in green.


2. I am a preemie: I was 2 pounds and 5 ounces at birth 3 months before my due date. It’s also the reason I am named Carmen, no one was sure that I would make it or not so I was baptized and they looked at the Mexican calendar on July 16th – the day of Nuestra Sra. del Carmen thus my name. I was on my own for the first few months of my life in an incubator without a lot of physical contact and since then, I’ve always been very ticklish, I’ve never been very touchy-feely-huggy and I’ve always been able to sense when something is wrong or dangerous in places or people…


3. I am a great cook with simple dishes, just ask my Dad. I am no gourmet cook but I can work it with carne/chile, beans, rice, simple salad, eggs, fideo, papas – the basics. All of the years that I lived by myself, I laughed because my cooking was just ok so I must have always liked cooking for others.


4. I love my godchildren niece nephews like they were my own. Different ages, shapes, sizes, all shades of brown, some light, some dark, all beautiful. I really do try to be there for them, they’re all perfect said this Nina always.


5. I have worked for 13 different radio stations throughout my career. Every station has been a big part of my life and so many stories come with each of them, I’ve been blessed to meet and work with sooo many great people, some legends, some legends in their own minds! One day, I’d like to get all of my crews in one place and take a picture – now THEY were the best and my favorites! I spent more time with my crews than my own fam and friends – there is nothing we have not seen and I know that anytime I get with my radio fam, it will be ON: chisme, laughing, crying, etc. Love my industry. Once in radio, always in radio.


6. My favorite city is San Antonio. I remember the first time I went there; I did not want to come back LOL. As my familia was not one to go back/forth to Mexico like a lot of my familia and friends did, and we did not speak Spanish at home; going to San Antonio was great – I related and felt at home right away. San Antonio, after all, is, as one of my friends from Mexico tells me, “no es Mexicano, es Mexican-American”, and love how he says it with an accent ‘mes-i-can, am-errr-i-can’! You can feel the vibe of this city, very Latino, Mex Am, Chicano, everyone looks like you, everyone speaks English or Spanglish, and when I heard Tejano radio for the first time: where they speak in Spanglish – I was like ‘whaaaat?’ loved it. I’ve been there many times throughout the years, and it’s still the same feeling. Great place.


7. When I went to meet the man who would be my boss at the Charter Way Denny’s, I sat with the wrong ‘white man’ LOL I still laugh when I think of the first time I met Mike Murphy. Who knew that he would be my first mentor and champion in radio. I learned so much from him about this industry and about how to conduct myself – no school could have done it better. I miss working with him every day.


8. Once I owned that I loved to write, my writing got much better. I was very much of the school that to do things by yourself was not cool so, for many years, I did not do them.  Now it is different.  I can get lost in my writing and am trying to write stories that I have never seen or heard before, which sound like me, where I can speak like I always do: in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, which celebrate family, friendship, culture. Part of becoming a better writer is to get to know yourself, working on this every day!


9. I am trying to pass the State Interpreter Exam for what feels like the millionth time. This past time, I was so close to passing that it really depressed me. But then again, I thought to myself, ‘you got this close/far on your own, by yourself, you can do it again’ When I think of all of the people I know who are working in the field without certification, I think, I should just do that and be done with it. But it is all about closing the circle and finishing what I started on that day that someone dared me to go to the orientation meeting at SFSU, saying that I’d probably not get in … not only did I get in, I was able to hang with my colegas, and I was not afraid to try it ever – even if I messed up. You better know I’ll pass the exam eventually.


10. I know how to get to a Starbucks in almost every city in the Bay Area, Stockton, Modesto, and Sacramento areas and all ranchos in between. I work very well in these places, they are just loud enough for me to do my Interpreter Drill Exercises, and, once I put on my headphones, I am able to get into a good writing groove and work my ideas out. Sometimes the stars line up and I get a good table with good lighting and it’s not too low or too high or too wobbly and I can get so much done. I have about 10 regular places where they know me, know what I am going to order, and they are always very nice about letting me stay while they close up when I’m on a roll.

Timing: Inner Chingona Sez ‘Todo A Su Tiempo’



For the past few months, everything has felt like such a mess, like as if my life and my goals were flying about in the wind as if they were pieces of paper, and there I was trying to catch these pieces of paper as if my life depended on it.  After what has seemed like loss, loss, and more loss, I feel like I’m being led to a calmer way of life, to really start thinking about what my next moves in life will be, to lose the drama, to,  as a good friend says, “divorce myself from engaging” from people and situations that no longer serve me.

It’s about time!  As I sit here and think about how I’ve lived and loved the past few years — unbalanced, yes.  unhealthy, yes.  fun, yes.  stressful and driven, always.    Some of the decisions that I have made overwhelm me with guilt, remorse, regret.   It’s like I went from living just for me 100% which ended up being straight-up empty to living to do everything right for others — at some expense to myself and my goals.  I wish that I had learned how to honor and listen to my Inner Chingona much sooner so that I would have had a more positive and healthy approach to everything in my life.  Lo hecho hecho esta and I now fully intend to balance what I have to do and still do those things that I love, hang with people who love and respect me, and realign my priorities and goals so that I can live a more healthy life versus a stressful and driven one.  To live more passionately and goal-oriented, to stand up for myself and to stop letting myself down.   I always try to come up with four things I need to work on to get myself together.  My four short-term goals from October 4th (my other birthday) to the end of 2015 are:

-Being there and spending time with my familia is important.

-Believing and having faith that God will guide me to the right path.

-Lose my fear of working it for myself the way I used to do for others.

-Accept that, while I have done and said some stupid things, that I also have done things that do fill me with pride and that I need to own that!

OMG!  Do you see anything that says I must succeed in my career at the cost of everything else?  Not any more.  I’m ready to work hard for something I love, but what would that be?  Sepa … who knows?    Giving up a little of the control-freakness is actually a relief.  Not knowing what comes next is kind of exciting, especially as I intend to embrace anything positive.  All of this loss happened for a reason.  The main silver lining right now is that I have had to start over from zero in many areas of my life and I have come through it all in one piece.   I have a few more rough days as I let go and let God pull me out of negativity and back on the path to living with passion, purpose, and a positive outlook.  Ready, Set, Go!



Day 9 of 15 Days Of Hispanic Heritage Photo Challenge: Familia/Family #HHM15Foto



Day 9 of 15DaysOfHispanicHeritage photos: Familia/Family.

Not enough words exist in the Spanish or English language to say how important familia is to me. My parents both lost a parent at a very young age, my paternal grandfather was gunned down in front of my father and my maternal grandmother died of cancer. Although it was traumatic for my parents both to lose a parent at a young age, it is beyond amazing that they were able to instill in us Torres5 the importance of staying together no matter what and that family is everything.


Both Mike and Margaret have told us how much we Torres5 are loved which is so important for a child to hear and know.  Above is a recent pic of Grandpa and Great-Grandpa Mike with some of his grand- and great-grandchildren.


Some of us at the Ranch celebrating Mother’s Day earlier this year!

1888744_10204099480901312_8767930624991095463_nSome of our Grijalva Fam celebrating at the Grijalva Girls Annual Christmas Reunion!


I also love that we grew up with our extended familia at the Ranch and that Mama made sure that we hung out with our Grijalva fam as well. Now we have to keep the tradition going with the future generations of our family. No family is perfect and not all is perfect but all is most def right in the world when all is right with familia. #HHM15Foto


Below please find The Fabulous 5 of our Ranch, the rocks of our family!  Tia Elvira (Tio Mundo RIP), Tia Lili, Dad, Tia Becky, Tia Chayo, and Tio Freddy.



Below is the future of our familia…the littlest Torres babies:  Lucia, Olivia, Yesenia, and King!  Love our bebitos!

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16 Weeks: Inner Chingona and Embracing Change

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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!


Music or Sports for Mi Familia?


The majority of our family, on both sides, are major sports fans and their lives revolve around sports:  coaching teams, taking their kids to and from sporting events, watching sports, cheerleading.   I’ve always admired the discipline that they have when it comes to sports – it takes both physical and mental agility, ability, and passion to watch what you eat, to make sure your body gets enough rest, to get yourself to and from sporting events, near and far.   I guess it could be said that we have a family of jocks.   When they are all together and enjoying sports, I sit back and think, “I would love to really be a part of all that, why can’t I get into that?”    It’s fun to watch the fam represent their teams too:  A’s, Giants, 49ers, Raiders, Bears, Cowboys, Yankees…


Then I think some more, and I realize that my familia DOES have a sport.  Our lives revolve around it, we take our kids to/from events, we watch it, we enjoy it, we cheer them on:  our ‘sport’ is LA MUSICA.   Music takes a different side of mental and physical agility, ability and passion.  I’ve heard my Dad say, many times, that he cannot eat before a gig, as it doesn’t allow him to fully breathe to sing.  I’ve watched my familia juggle travel time to and from gigs, loading equipment, rehearsing, the bus coming to the Ranch at 3,4,5 in the morning and STILL go to school and work.   While there may no sports teams up in here, it’s all about artists, bands, musicians and everyone has their favorites!

I never had the patience  to learn sports or play music.  I do, however, have mad respect for those who do.  It’s great to see the positive vibe that all sports has on our fam.  Our sports familia works it in daylight hours  from 9am-5pm for their events;  the music fam works it evening hours from 9pm-5am LOL.   I especially love to watch the ones who teach or coach … so many of my cousins coach and mentor their lil ones as well as have an effect on countless other kids via sports.   So fun to watch Dad and siblings teach our lil ones how to play a cumbia, how to pronounce the words in Spanish before they sing the songs, and to see how incredibly accomplished my siblings are musically not to mention my nieces and nephews.

I guess that the way that I support both sides of my familia is the way that the majority of people do:  as a FAN or by listening to music as I walk LOL.    SUPPORT your family sport or hobby today, work it and enjoy it together!    

Below are random pics of my familia enjoying their sport of choice!


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Turning the Tables: Caring for Mom and Dad


I’ve said it many times how blessed I am to have both of my parents here on earth, both bodies are a little slower but the minds are very sharp and very much intact.  

I was talking with friends last night about how many of us are now turning the tables, that is, we are starting to care more for our parents than the other way around.  I watch a lot of my friends who, at times, are the principal or only caregiver to parents. It’s hard on them and I thank God there are five of us to work it for my parents…and, some days, it’s even hard for us and we truly do try to work it evenly to make sure the folks are cool.

The more I talk to friends about caregiving, the more I see how much of a Latino thing it is for us to take care of our ‘jefes’, it is not even a question of whether we will care for them;  it’s a matter of figuring out how to make it happen because we WILL care for them.

As my brothers and sisters will tell you,   I tend to regress back to my role as the bossy, older sister and go crazy when any of my siblings make changes to the schedule (yeah, I’m a little control freaking too) or don’t pick things up around the common areas of the house.  I’ve been told that ‘ni saludo’ that I don’t even say ‘hi’ before I’m there trying to get things in order and yelling them at the same time.   

I’ve gotta work on being more flexible especially about having the house picked up and in order …You can always tell when one of us 5 has been cooking as the refrigerator is rearranged every time to fit whomever’s day it is to be with our parents … if it drives me crazy at times, it must drive them crazy too

When I sign off for the night, I’ll be going to spend the night at my parents’…they always tell me, “we don’t need someone here all of the time”, but I do know that they sleep better when one of us is around. I’m the one who’s up and down all night checking on them … now I’m so doing what they’ve always done for me. I’m just glad that they are here with us … I still need my parents.