Listen to hear more about Luminarios and being the light while leading.
As I sit her in my porch this rainy evening, I’m reminded of the story of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to new places to find refuge. With cultures changing over time, some of the Mexican heritage traditions have been lost, but an important one that my family continues to embrace is that of the luminarios. Luminarios are bags filled with candles inside or in the case of modern invention, electrical light bulbs. Las Posadas is a procession of biblical characters that sing as they reenact the search for a place to receive the holy child. Spaniards brought this tradition to Mexico and since most of the western region of the U.S. was part of Mexico, including Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and more, the tradition has continued for generations.
The luminarios are lit to lead the path to the location where a door will finally be opened and be allowed to enter and be served hot chocolate, churros, buñuelos or some type of cookie. It is celebrated a little different around the regions of Mexican heritage in the United States.
In all, the important take is that this community building brought much sharing and openness to accept those in need.
The time of the year is coming near when we all look forward to eating together a perfect diner, in unison with family. However, things are going to be different this year due to COVID. The Centers for Disease Control has outlined recommendations for the US. They are: wear a face mask, remain 6 ft. in distance, limit group gatherings to 10 people or less, thoroughly wash hands, and preferably, gather outdoors. Talking about how to safely gather for diner and fellowship is especially important during this time. Let’s look at what we can control within these guidelines. For those that are immunocompromised it is definitely not worth the risk, but you may join for example, by sharing your favorite recipe with your loved ones. For those that can gather during this time, here are some suggestions:
These suggestions don’t remove the risks, but allow us to keep the spirit of gathering alive. It is risqué during COVID, but there are ways to manage. Humans’ best attribute is to be social and what distinguishes us from other species is that we have a need to belong. As of today, WE (humans) have mastered the art of helping others belong with empathy. And with over 40% of adults struggling with stress and dealing with suicide, “Gathering at the Table” can be an option when done safely. Let's continue the need of being a part of a greater picture.
Finally, I leave you with these tips:
Happy Thanksgiving and Gatherings. Enjoy your meals together.
USDA Basics for Handling Food Safely
CDC How to Protect Yourself during COVID-19
CDC Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic
My family and I have relocated more than we would like to share, but probably about 11 times. One thing that really stands out is the personal interaction with neighbors as we move from one region to another. We have some stories that would be good for entertainment, but the most valuable to tell are the ones that have kindness written all over them.
There are some neighbors that seem to have all the right affiliations and privilege. They can be of any color or ethnicity and carry themselves with certain expectations. Their country of origin or style of living hardly has much to do with the way they mingle with others, however, their ulterior motive or interest does.
What may be a celebration for one family may not be for another and what may be a standard for one may not be for another. It is difficult to agree when there are many ways of doing life. However, one thing we can all agree on and cannot be forgotten is that of being kind.
With generosity and sensitivity, ideologies and stigmas change. Being a good neighbor embodies a sense of acceptance that can change towns which have been torn apart due to wrongful fundamentals, such as racial or gender identity oppression.
This season, especially in a time that has restricted much gathering, being abundant and compassionate overpasses political affiliations and identities. (Although affiliations may influence opinions.) Good neighbors don’t carry the traditions that have brought much pain and suffering to others. Things may not be changed immediately, but hopefully the small steps we all take can eventually lead to noticeable change. None of our ancestors did things perfect, but with the knowledge that brings the so desired wisdom some faiths seek, in today's living, we have an opportunity to embrace appreciation for every living being in this human race.
Therefore, being a respectable individual encompasses being a good neighbor on any sidewalk.
While I swim in my pool, there is a depth of 18 ft. below the water level in the deepest section. If I float above that area, I can see that it appears closer than it really is. My perception is misguided because I am using my senses to analyze or understand the depth of the pool. The sight of the depth has failed me, but I don’t know until I swim below to touch the bottom.
That example can be used when disagreements come into play. Each person argues based on their own experiences in their sense of smell, taste, touch, sight or hearing. As easy as a person is able to change the attitude about something, their perspective has been altered. This pivotal point of view is highly dependent on the establishment or ground the person has relied on for that duration.
Therefore the word, PERCEPTION, is the understanding or the becoming aware of with all senses and is primarily used in psychology. PERSPECTIVE is an attitude about something from the location of standing and is used mostly in art or math.
Sometimes you need the creative PERSPECTIVE to understand your logical PERCEPTION. You don’t need to promote it, but you should read about it - especially if you work with PEOPLE. Life is easier once you agree that ALL are equal. Don’t be afraid to recognize other views…to love even in disagreement is how humanity can survive.
Thank you for reading.
2015 International Expo, Milan
Mario and I enjoying the varying dishes from around the world.
What is going on with the culture we live in? This is the question that some of us are asking in 2020. Lately and perhaps with the opportunity to slow down through COVID-19, we can now take a step back and experience the change that many of us have been advocating. It is time for Society to make DIVERSITY a prime goal.
I wonder if instead of making excuses for not spending money on making our communities more diversely practical or becoming emotionally uncomfortable due to change, we could simply start by consenting to it. It is painful, no doubt. However, change is here. The question is now, exactly how can we accept the change and allow groups to diversify? Here are some practical tips:
For generations, privilege has been readily available only to those that possess certain qualities and it needs to stop. Rather than bore you with statistics, I choose to invite you to see it for yourself. Open up and in the words of a man that is very dear to me and happens to be celebrating a birthday tomorrow, “switch your watch to the opposite wrist to experience a different perspective.” For the sake of humanity, I agree!
Moms, Mothers, Mums, Mamas, Amas...
It’s not for everyone and in humans, MOTHERING has many options. Traditional identity in society defines it as a perfect role. However, that devalues the role by giving it expectations that can’t be met. If you choose to be a mother by giving birth, adoption or mentoring, thank you! We all need a mother to talk to, hold or exemplify. From conception to the able pregnancy and then the rearing of children in the years that follow, MOTHERING is something that should be held in high regard and admiration.
The point of where women begin the journey of MOTHERHOOD is also different. Whether you start at conception, pregnancy, birth or adoption, it makes no difference on the effectiveness. There are no limitations for MOTHERHOOD and it can start at any age. Biological reasons can affect the timing, but not eliminate the desires for being a mother. The truth is that, womankind holds the absolute judgement of MOTHERHOOD. Not a man.
I love art as a hobby and play with different techniques. I hope you enjoy the picture above, which is a representation of my personal life as a mother, entitled: A Mother's Love. The technique is a vintaged art form from Mexico called, Cartonería. (Or the fancy French name, Papier Mâché.) The making requires patience and a bit of creative talent. The outer shape is of a sacred heart or a Corazón Sagrado.
During this time of purposeful isolation and quarantine, our families have had to rely on technology more than ever. During this time, I have had the opportunity to watch movies and shows that date to 20 years past. My mind has taken me back.
Two decades ago, I was a newlywed and at the height of my potential profession. I was guided into a path of ultra-conservatism and customs. I admired and desired them for the promises of being included. Since I had been raised in an imperfect family, I saw the gathering of what seemed PERFECT families at churches and wanted to live in EXCELLENCE. I sought ways on how to fulfill the empty emotional turmoil inside me by checking off practices that were deemed MORALLY upright. I hoped that leaders of the organizations would notice but rarely did they take interest. Unknown to me, certain patriarchal qualifications (such as, being of the lineage or male focused) was expected of me to join the list of those QUALIFIED. Nevertheless, I gave it my best without ever straying away from what was so obvious – to love your neighbor as yourself or to love others without expecting anything in return.
Just as my desire to seek approval of imperfect systems has changed, so has the technology we now all dependent on, been drastically transformed in the last 20 years. I’m glad to use this technology for good.
I blog to inform and educate of deliverance.
I blog to quickly get the word out so that others should not feel obligated to do the same.
I blog to encourage others that may feel lonely and lost in a system that only aspires to serve their own mold.
No institution or system has ever considered me to teach or write for them because I don’t, “qualify.” This is why I blog. I don’t have expectations of receiving money or titles for my writings. I simply offer plain and honest details of my life. This is why I blog.
So maybe I’ll write a book or succeed at rightly being included in an organization that truthfully focuses on serving people, someday. But, HOPEFULLY, it won’t be 20 years from now.
This day is so special to me. I have many to thank, but in particular some that have pushed me to be better.
1. My dad for inspiring me to make education a priority. Even in his late 70's, he continues to learn and be an example to his grandchildren.
2. My mom for helping me see through people to find a true intent. That candid discernment continues to follow her where ever she goes.
3. My uncle Jose for telling me that I was a "virtuous woman" when I was barely an 18 year old. When I have been at my lowest moments, I have felt valued and powerful by the words he spoke to me when I was young.
4. My beautiful Ria, for asking me during her first grade project, "Mom, what DO you do?" That meant I had to work harder at showing her what an important role I was playing. Although, the society we live in does not value the work of a mother, I perhaps had joined the thought that moms where not important. From that moment, I swore I would highlight women that work so hard at home as well as in their profession.
5. All of my aunts, sisters and friends that love me and continue to see potential in me.
To you all, thank you so much because there are days that I really need to remind myself of how blessed I am. WOMEN, keep educating yourself, be real, find positive words about yourself and be ACTIVE in the change that is taking place in OUR world.
No other person has shown what LOVE for his family is, like my grandfather. He was not perfect but he worked hard as an act of LOVE. What’s most notable is how he was able to later continue making some important health choices in life. For years he had managed being without his family, due to him being in another country for agriculture work, by drinking beer and smoking. They became bad habits and one day he changed it all.
In the 1950’s through the following two decades, my grandfather would migrate back and forth from across borders as he had been recruited to work in the agriculture business. He would leave his family behind to earn promised money in another country with intentions of returning once a year to see his family, then return to a different ranch or location the following season. He did this migration for years and it was all LEGAL through the Bracero Program. Then one season of migration, he came across a generous owner. This ranch owner VALUED my grandfather’s hard work and wanted him to remain working for him. Therefore, he offered to take his helicopter to Mexico and bring back my grandfather’s family with him. Roots were left behind to a new beginning thanks to the sponsorship of a generous White man. It was a win-win situation and it was most importantly, an act of LOVE for all involved.
Later in the 1970’s after my grandmother and her children had migrated to stay with my grandfather, he decided to change some bad habits. He quit drinking excessive alcohol and smoking nicotine cigarettes. Perhaps the void he felt was no longer an excuse to continue with those habits. He had his family and LOVE with him and that’s what mattered most.
My grandfather continued to LOVE his 12 children and 60+ grandchildren unconditionally. Sometimes there were discussions about political affiliations and he never got hot and angry about it. He knew where he stood and what his values were. Although he was illiterate he could count extremely well and keep up with his bank account. But his divine sense was being able to discern when there were “fakes” among him. His talent was so candid. Martin lived to almost 93 and was buried in his country of over 50 years, the United States of America. Although his early Mexican ancestors of Europe and Native American had left connections in his new country, generations before.
I hope one day someone looks at my works of LOVE instead of those moments that were not so humbling. My grandfather was not flawless, but his kind way of LOVE overcame his inadequacies at bay.
Wow, it has been 10 years of continual change for myself. I have never paused to welcome a decade like I am this coming era. It may be due to the fact that I have officially, joined that next age category. Also in this decade, I have moved to 5 cities across the world, raised twin boys plus a girl that was born just before the decade started, gained/lost 60 lbs. due to those changes and continued to explore venues for emotional growth to avoid feeling lonely.
You may have had other changes in this decade than I in your life, such as, embraced a different identity, lost a loved one or accepted a new job opportunity. However change came to your life in this past decade and you have overcome, it is clear that we all share something special. We are ALL humans and experience change unfailingly. Change looks and is handled differently, but it occurs in everyone.
What I have gained from the past decade of change…
This coming decade, I continue to be human and learn about being a contributor of earth. If you are in need of a tribe that embodies peace and love for all cultures, let me know and we can gather to have dialogues that matter. Let's be Peacemakers.
When I was young, I was a member of a church that greeted each other in Spanish with, “Peace of Christ.” Even if the responder had issues with the other, he/she still repeated it when they greeted each other. Maybe it became such a common practice, that it did not mean much.
Two weekends ago I was able to attend a peace conference in Tijuana, MX. The American organization that sponsored it precisely educated us on the importance and need for Solidarity. You may apply it at home with loved ones, outside in your work environment or even in your communications outside of your personal life. Where can we all make this world better to live in? Solidarity is unity and agreement. Flexibility is possible and healthy for us all. The next time you think about disagreeing with someone, think about how you can harmonize instead. Speaking of, I have come to terms with me getting older.
Mario celebrated my birthday in September with a “big” party. To my surprise, there were mariachis, a taco truck and many dear friends. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before and loved every moment of it. Thank you again, Mario for making me feel special. (All I had asked for was mariachis!)
It has been a well restful summer and I am ear to get back to writing...I can’t help but look back at my decisions and life.
This past Christmas, Mario bought me a well sought pair of earrings. The earrings are not of value to me just because of their price, but most importantly, for what they represent.
On the picture above you see two very similar earrings. Except, one was bought 23 years ago to marry my true and only love. As a pair, they were not worth much, but I wanted to wear something that made me complete on my wedding day. I remember hesitating because I had not worn earrings for more than 8 years previously, although I had had my ears pierced as a baby. It was out of norm for me during that time of my wedding, but now I’m so glad I took my maid of honors’ advice (also my cousin) and wore them. These earrings were not made of gold and tarnished throughout the years, even though I never again wore them. With all our moves from city to city, I would come across them in our boxes and I would remind myself that one day I possibly could affording the real pair of earrings.
Last fall, I came across the catalog for one of the most well recognized jewelry stores in the USA. In it I saw the true pair of pearl earrings. I quickly ran to Mario with excitement and declared that there was nothing more he could purchase for me, but these earrings.
The earrings represent victory and redemption. Many times I feel unworthy, unwanted and lonely, but these earrings remind me that I am worth more than what some have said about my culture and identity. While certain organizations value themselves in belittling women or certain backgrounds, I chose to proof them wrong. I choose to be the real person I have been intended to be just as the pearl on the earrings. It takes time and persistence and I will not be passive any longer. I will love others and welcome all.
Will you join me?
Our family dog is very happy and content until, she smells or sees food. She has a history. Nine years ago, she was rescued from the streets. The organization that helped her get a home said she was hungry and in need of treatment for heart worms. She was a puppy and was surviving off of what ever she could find on the streets. Nowadays, she is found taking walks with us in our neighborhood or naps. However, every once in a while, she goes psychotic and reverts to her old self.
Paws, as we purposefully named her for her white “paws,” can trace food in any room of our home and take action to consume it, instantly. If it’s on the counter she jumps to reach it and carefully holds the plate with her nozzle to avoid being too noisy and being found out. It makes no difference how well she is fed daily, she is always hungry. I think she forgets how blessed she is when it comes to food. She does not need to continue having a “homeless” mentality, but yet, she behaves like one at the smell of food.
Do you have certain triggers that lead you to forget how blessed you are as well? I do.
I was the 4th child of 5. My brother, the entertainer and only boy, had the title of being the life of the party. My sister, Norma was the responsible one that I strived to be like for the unconditional approval by my parents towards her. My sister Liliana, was the caretaker, and continues to be kind and generous. Then there was me. I was the youngest…therefore, spoiled and annoying. Thankfully, my younger sister, Violet, was born 10 years later! She was the cutest and is the most thoughtful that will go to all lengths to help others.
In the scheme of things, I definitely became the black sheep of the family, if I was not already. I struggle with occasional loneliness and find it difficult to fit in. Being an immigrant and striving to assimilate did not help, either. However, I find it so easy to make long time friendships and have always been able to find friends where ever we move to. I have made some amazing decisions in life that have worked out, but I have also made some very bad decisions about me, myself and I. Those choices resonate in me louder than the blessings around me, sometimes. I have to constantly remind myself that my life is good.
This is the current situation in my head while my daughter and her friends are at the pool enjoying the long awaited sun.
I want to make a change and remember the blessings around me to be a better example to my children. Paws can’t turn off the smell of food that triggers her desire because she has no conscience. I do have a conscience and plan to shut off the bad self talk so I can continue to enjoy the life around me.
Thanks for reading about me and my season of life. I would love to hear your comments.
Hoy reconozco a todas las mujeres que se han esforzado en asegurar que sus hijos sean una de sus prioridades como mamas. Muchas de ellas trabajan afuera de la casa, otras se dedican a criar los chicos en casa, y también hay otras que combinan las responsabilidades en casa y trabajo profesional. No hay una solución perfecta pero, si se necesita de toda capacidad para seguir adelante.
En Inglaterra, durante los anos de 1600, era común dar honor a las madres cuatro semanas después de la pascua. Por primera vez se celebro en los estados unidos en 1908 y en nuestros tiempos, muchos países de la tierra celebran este día de diferentes maneras. Una cosa si es segura, todos lo hacen siempre con orgullo y amor a las madres. La razón será porque todo hombre y mujer es cargado/a dentro de una mama.
A todas mi amigas, mis queridas hermanas, primas y tias, y sobretodo a mi guapa mama, que tengan un día muy especial. Que sigan siendo fuertes y continúen en hacer este mundo un lugar mejor para vivir.
Today I celebrate all women from all walks of life that have made it a priority to look out for their children in every possible way. Many of them work outside of the home, others have chosen to stay at home and then others, carry the responsibility of working professionally and taking care of all responsibilities at home. Not one way is better than the other and all are necessary to continue to thrive.
Every country on earth celebrates this joyous occasion differently, but all do it with pride and love. All human beings are dependent on the beautiful task of a mother carrying her child to birth.
To all my friends, my beautiful sisters, cousins and aunts, but especially my gorgeous mom, please have a wonderful day. Continue to be strong and make this world a better place to live.
I love art and I tend to pick up the effort when time allows. I have my materials ready and I get into the brushes and colors of paint to create joyful work whenever I can. I also love watching others’ art work.
This past weekend, our town hosted an amazing art show. It was entertaining and most importantly, well organized. However, I can’t help to automatically think about an incident that turned mine and my husband’s date into pure discouragement.
We were at the end of our browsing as we entered the “Featured Artist Alley” and walked upon some paintings by a white haired man. We admired them as the paintings took us back to an anniversary vacation we had taken in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a couple of years ago. We discussed where we would hang the piece of art work in our home. However, nobody asked us about our interest, and it was obvious we wanted more information since we had made side comments to the couple sitting outside the tent. At least 10 minutes went by when a blond woman entered the same tent. Automatically, she was approached and asked if the artist could tell her more about the art work. My heart dropped and I walked out.My husband looked at the white haired man sitting outside the tent and said, “interesting- we have been in the tent for several minutes and no one offered to help us.” The white haired artist replied with his shoulders shrugged and turned away. I looked at Mario and said, don’t worry about it because nothing you say will help change his mind.
What this “artists” does not understand, is that his highly priced work would have been a lovely addition to our home. He either is not interested in making up for his hard work and is willing to lose a potential client just because of the way we “looked”. Or, he does not value his work. I doubt a true hard working artist would have preferences as to who is considered elite enough to own a piece of his.
Either way, we are better offbeing ourselves and me continuing how to make life with a variety of colors. Those that care to join will find true friendship and love.
Speaking of, this coming weekend, many will celebrate “Cinco de Mayo.” While it is not an official Mexican Holiday, I love the fact that many of my friends remember Mexico during this time. I hope that one day all Americans from the US will value every culture and their positive contribution to the rest of the American culture. Mexico is not just a vacation destination where you can create beautiful artwork. The Mexican hospitality is well known and loved. I am thankful that my beautiful new country of the United States of America has worked to embrace diversity. This is why I wonder, why do I still feel discriminated against for the way I look?
I have really tried to give this incidence the benefit of the doubt, but ultimately there was something this man did not like about us and his assumption was gathered by our outward appearance. When I was younger, I would dismiss those occurrences by making excuses that, "they probably think a young person can't afford it." However, I am in my mid 40's now! I’m OK with not being liked, until I get compared. I have been blessed and don’t need to seek others approval, but I do deserve respect. I would love to hear your perspective.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo and Viva México in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
I have for many years been frustrated with the decisions I have made that have taken me to the life style I’m living in. You glance at me and you see the nice clothing, therefore, you assume I have things together.
The truth is that I have not been able to reach my full potential and at 45 years of age, that scares me. Although financially, physically and spiritually stable, my emotional wellbeing has been lacking for years.
So lately, I have taken the step to work on, “me”. I have lost myself in the process of taking care of everyone else in my household. Spring is here and I’m ready to go to the next level. First, I need to capture dreams that I had put aside. Second, I need to analyze my health. And thirdly, I need to be intentional about putting my goals on the agenda daily.
Maybe this means I need to slow down and really enjoy the time I have by not attempting to be in control of every item that takes place in our house. This also means that I need to remind myself that what I had heard as Biblical authority was actually just false religious interpretation.
So many false beliefs about myself have caused me to feel unappreciated and unable to fulfil my passions. I’m so glad I saw the light and I’m moving towards feeling fulfilled. It is Spring and I’m so blessed to have friends that care to check on me, a family that continually prays for me and a home that I can feel safe in. I was raised to be a hard worker, and it will be difficult not to see a paycheck, but the smile on my face will be sufficient. Now, it’s time to enjoy the roses!
Do you remember the last time you felt tired and wore out? This could happen physically, after an exhausting exercise class or a 5K, but what about when your emotions have been tested and you are left with heart wrenching attempts of catching your breath to stabilize your mind?
My Grandmother Ramona had an extraordinary moment of taking air in to her lungs at birth. All thanks to a vigilant eye. As Ramona struggled to survive under the remains of a placenta and at less than 5 lbs., she made a kitten sound that alerted the midwife attending the birth of an unexpected set of twins. The midwife came to the rescue and pulled her out of the birthing remains, which then made a way for Ramona to take in a good, life-saving breath.
I think about how emotional that moment might have been to the midwife and not to mention my great grandmother or her family members. The midwife took a step closer to investigate through what did not seem usual. That decision opened the door of opportunity to a baby that grew up to almost 92 years of age.
There are so many people in need around us, whether emotionally, physically or spiritually. It can be small or large, but every citizen of earth, like the midwife that helped my grandmother; can make a difference to help someone take the breath necessary to continue living. Take the time to do something kind to someone you don’t know well. Give that moment of advancement to an eager employee, cut the yard of your emotionally strained neighbor or allow the hurried driver the right of way on the road. Give the breath of life.
It’s not fun, especially when it happens to a loved one. There’s a definition for “profile” as a verb, that I like and it’s from an artist’ perspective which is “to shape the outline of by passing a cutter around”.
When my boys where younger, we had them take an etiquette class in London and we all learned a lot. Etiquette comes from the French word which means, “label”. In today’s media driven world, everyone is being labeled, whether you like it or not. What you wear and especially, your actions DO matter on how people will perceive you.
It’s shameful that we all have presumptions about people before we even meet them. This is one of the biggest faults in humans. However, even if we are all at fault for doing it, profiling based on race, culture or gender is ALWAYS wrong. I encourage you to have a label that people will want to profile. What do you believe people say about your shadow? What is your experience in accepting others?
As 2018 comes to a close and 2019 begins, I want to express gratitude with honesty. Every year I suppress my needs for making changes at the beginning of the year because I am in constant change mode.
In the last 10 years, I have moved 6 times to different cities out of the continent and states of the USA. My family has learned how to make friends quick, be flexible and organized due to home changes while putting God at the center of it all. However, I still struggle with change every time it happens. It is difficult to look back at my mistakes, but more painful, to swallow those things that have occurred out of my control.
Perhaps you find yourself in decision mode and change is knocking at your door. Some things I have learned along the way are:
The process of change is painful, but when you look back, it is definitely worth it. Your health emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually needs change to continue thriving. Humans were created to make changes. History proves that humans change constantly. If you are not interested in making drastic changes, begin in small steps. The key is to say yes to change however you can. Sometimes change means looking at the opportunities a little different than what was expected.
If you find yourself stuck in the mud, see how you can make personal changes to make this world better. As for me, I will eat better, exercise more and have fun…will you remind me about my changes in 2019?
During the holiday season, Mona Chavez’s childhood memories bring her more joy than presents under the tree ever could. When she was five years old, Mona and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico. She says she’ll always remember the love and support her family received from their new neighbors: the teacher who helped her pronounce English words correctly, the church that provided her school clothing, and the elderly neighbor who showed her dad how to maintain a healthy lawn. Although those relationships changed her life, Mona knows building community with people from different cultures can seem a little daunting. She shares some simple steps to help you create space in your life (and heart) for these new relationships:
Do you have a story like Mona’s or about an unlikely relationship that’s blossomed into something beautiful?