La Tribu 

   

I remember being a little girl and admiring my grandmother’s strength and aiming to be just like her when I grew up, everything minus the pistol. That’s right my Abuela toted a 38 Special wrapped in a white handkerchief like any true gangster would. The images of Latina women would always pop into my head when I thought about determination, feistiness, power and la chancleta. She was a reflection of the women in her life: Belen, Berta, Ester, Rosalina and Maria. Unlike the women in Sex in the City, these women wouldn’t gather to discuss dating over Martinis. They were too busy trying to conquer issues of upward mobility, raising Latino kids with dual citizenships and identities, and making sure no one’s husband cheated. They were a group of the sweetest old ladies. A gang of gun-packing doñas (yes, they all had pieces) that were not playing any games. And, they had each other’s backs. My Puerto Rican grandmother would send medicine to her friends’ families in Cuba. Ester took care of the kitchen when my grandmother lost her son, and everyone took care of Berta when she was diagnosed with cancer. They were connected in so many ways and would be of support to one another like family even though they were from different countries.

Actually the rapport that they had was more of “The Godfather” than “Sex in the City”. And yes they had their disagreements, chismes and escandolos, but they had a bond and loyalty that any gangster, anywhere would envy. They raised their children and grandchildren together, they guarded our neighborhood and made it a village together and eventually all died together. But what they had was glorious because they created a tribe far away from their homes. A tribe where they participated in a cultural exchange that was incomparable. When old ladies from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua and the DR gather what you get is a beautiful barrel of jokes, colloquialisms, spells, stories and experiences that you can brag about for generations.

That was when I was a little girl.

As I’ve navigated through the many stages of my own womanhood, I’ve had such a tough time finding that Latina village. As a lover of my fellow woman, especially the one that looks like me, talks like me and more importantly, feels like me, it is my natural instinct to reach out and seek sisterhood. Yet, this experience feels like something of the past. I once auditioned for a TV show on a popular Latin network and got feedback that I was too dark and that my Spanish wasn’t Mexican enough. This news came from my own people: Latinos. How about that? Two things that I could never change. But what was most hurtful was that the dagger was delivered by a fellow Latina who was “white” and felt a bit pompous and condescending when she delivered the information. I guess this was something that I was supposed to come to terms with as an older woman who I looked up to explained, “ No esperes el apoyo de tu hermanas Latinas, están perdidas. No te pueden querer si no se quieren ellas mismas”. QUE? I refused to accept as a reality that my number one nemesis would be my very own people. I am Latina and I beam with pride every time Rosario, Salma, Jennifer, America, Gina, Zoe and the rest of them, no, US wins.

We can’t deny the disconnect amongst women because we are socialized to not trust and to hate each other. If all women stood in solidarity we could shut shit down. I believe in Latina power. We are so impactful and colorful, we can move mountains with our hips alone. We dance like nobody’s business, cook like nobody’s business and hold shit together like nobody’s business. Does it matter if you’re Cuban, Nicaraguan or Dominican? What is it that makes us feel that we can’t love Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek? Why can’t we all be pretty whether we have straight hair or pelo crespo? Chica, it is time for all of us to get it together!

So, let’s stay in solution. How do we work on making this pesky nat of a divide go away? Start by looking in the mirror and loving yourself, all parts of you. Yes, even the part with the non-English speaking Grandmother. Read about your glorious history. Not the ever trending headlines about Trump’esque thinkers highlighting the worst parts of us, but books about our rich cultures. We are all connected. Remember girl, your greatest ally can be someone who shares in your experiences and forming partnerships only empowers you despite what you’ve been fooled into believing. Now go and find your tribe, you owe it to yourself!

Little GIRL Lost!

I used to believe that I was adopted, I mean, really believe it to my core. I endured some of the(eee) most backwards shit as a kid, and every single transgression had a gross justification. Take this picture for example, there are two very wrong things going on here. That look on my face is not just depair and disdain, it is also deeply rooted in shame.

Lou Diamond Phillips

I used to have this green jumper, that was offensive, not just to those that had to witness it, but to my vag area. I was a tall kid and this outfit just didn’t fit, it was too short and it downright hurt my “Cu-Co” (as grandma would call it). My mother loved this thing for some reason, as you can see her proudly accessorizing it with Mr. Roper’s scarf.

MESSAGE: Don’t do this to your tall kids, it shits on their self-esteem and more importantly, their self-assessment.

Alright, let’s get to the more obvious. Why the hell do I have a haircut that speaks more to the military than it does to the first grade? Simple: some Latin folk believe that cutting your daughter’s hair, makes it grow back stronger. I really wish I had a better reason like I caught lice at school or had finished my chemo, but no,  this was my mother following the directions of her elders on how to get my hair in that “Head and Shoulders” commercial condition.

So, what do you get when you dress your 6 year old girl in a Soul Train outfit and give her a buzz cut? A baby Lou Diamond Phillips!

The Battle with Food Continues!

Food is great!  I hate food!  This is the internal battle that I’ve been having with food since I was a kid.  It really all started with a consciousness that I had never had about eating healthy, then my family jumped off at “Seventh Day Adventism” during their religious tour. Though, I wasn’t cool with giving up my earrings, pants and Saturday cartoons, I was not that bothered by not ever having to eat a disgusting ham steak ever again.  We gave up pork and this made me happy because I never really ate it without feeling disgusting and guilty afterwards, sorry guys.

Today I am on a juice fast and I continue to think about why I am constantly on a rollercoaster with this, when I do these things for my health, allegedly.  I can’t deny that the weight loss sometimes drives me and pulls me through when that Spinach, Kale and Chard juice is looking me right in the eye.  I mean who are we kidding, most women are constantly being reminded of how they should look more times over than how they should feel.  So a good “Juice Fast” is a great way to diet under the pretenses that you are really fighting for good health. COME ON, let’s be real with each other.

It sucks that what is being done to our food, environment and selves can be deadly in the name of profit, I used to enjoy a FRENCH FRY!  I say all of this to say my friends, that I will be juicing on and off for the next two years and I am not happy about it.  I want to eat a burger, but I honestly can’t, because meat makes me extremely sick (it’s pretty unfair).  Kale chips suck ass and green juice does NOT taste good to me, but crab legs are amazingly delicious, and sometimes I can’t cope!  Too much?

Battling with self destructive eating disorders are pretty common and unfortunately many of us do not know that we are in that battle.  It has a lot to do with constant images of these adolescent boy-body built women they continue to push on us as the standard of beauty. I can only speak on it from where I stand, but I honestly remember admiring my grandmother and being comfortable with growing into an old lady and being awesome.  Now, all I am reminded of is how I need to look and stay young forever.  Shit, that’s a whole lot of work for a goal that can never be accomplished.

I’m ranting because I’m hungry, I want to go to PF Chang’s, my favorite Cuban restaurant and McDonald’s all at once.  These are all of the things that I crave when I feel deprived, that I don’t normally eat, but this damn Kale can really get to you.

In closing, keep your head up (especially my ladies), trust me,  you are beautiful just the way you are.  Doing anything to improve your health is a great thing, it’s OK to be honest about dropping a few pounds being a motivator.  Just don’t get carried away and become a slave to this like I have for years!  It’s not worth it, life is worth living and you honestly deserve that french fry every once in a while!

theatrical

You Can Do It!

Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish begins with you.  I love films,  acting and comedy so I create my own way.  I have made movies on budgets that are unspeakable, and still they are completed.  No better film school or training ground other than to actually do it. 
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“Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams!”

 

Here we go, farewell to another year!  I would say glorious, but I don’t know if I could sincerely use that word.  This year was a tough one for me, containing some of the most valuable lessons, those lessons that knock the wind out of you.  I lost two of the most important people in my life that truly shaped who I am today and I am forever changed.  Up until then, I remember complaining about not getting enough work, people not liking me, forces trying to hold me back and then one sobering moment made it all suddenly unimportant, the perspective of what life is about for me was staring me in the face.

While most will resolve to lose weight, be better with money, get that magical job or whatever it is that is weighing on their hearts, I have but one resolution:  to embrace who I am and accept it.  From self-acceptance all good things grow, it is the one thing we are programmed not to do.

I have learned some very interesting things about myself that I was not able to face at one point because they go against the grain.   I release that and will share a few of the lessons that I have compiled along the way, they keep coming I hear.

I have a strong point of view and am very opinionated. This does not mean I’m an angry woman, am bitter or have been damaged.  Of course, I’ve experienced all of these things, who hasn’t?  That is not what my POV is born of.  I will not apologize for loving myself, respecting my people, embracing my journey and educating myself on life …that is what makes me who I AM!

I can be silly, I am immature and I have a long way to go.  As much as I think I know, there is a world of things I have yet to encounter.  This makes life a splendor; I am excited about learning everyday!  There are some areas where I really need to grow, I am human and that is a beautiful thing, not a deficit.

Every person in your life does not deserve a permanent pass. Let’s face it, some people serve as the best lessons in life, that doesn’t mean they are entitled to your forever.  The best favor you can ever give someone in your life that contributes to or shares in your misery is a departure.

Being alone is a gift! How can I work within any system, if I can’t exist on my own?  I have learned some of the most beautiful things about myself in solitude.  I have also been afforded the time and space to work on the things that are not so beautiful so that I can be an asset when I do join a partnership.  Don’t be afraid to be alone, the most important love affair in life you will ever enjoy is the one with yourself.

Your life space is a library. As abrasive as it may sound, people belong in categories…in your life!  This does not mean you have the right to discriminate against others as people, just as the people in your life.  I find that it is quite healthy to compartmentalize, everyone is not worthy of occupancy in that space around your heart.  Some people will just be those that you can have coffee with twice a year, and those two encounters will be great and enriching of your life.  What’s wrong with that? Nothing!  Everyone can’t be a part of your day to day, that is reserved for the your constants, not your variables.

I hope that some of these words can be helpful for you, as my discoveries continue to grow, so does my perspective.  I am in no way calling myself anything other than an expert in my life and am willing to share.  Take this New Year into your hands and create the year that you want, make yourself choose happiness even when it doesn’t show up as an option.  I know that those that I lost expect nothing but the best for and from me, therefore I will honor them by going back everyday to do my best and be my best self!  I wish you nothing but success and a year full of amazing decision.  After all, it is my fundamental belief that the Universe agrees with a made up mind.  God Bless you all.

Cheers.

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