Three Ways To Know If You Are Addicted To Struggling

There are many forms of addiction: drugs, shopping, food, and sex are among the most common. But there is one addiction that we hardly ever talk about: the addiction to struggle.

In her beautiful tiny book on daily meditations for people of color, "Acts of Faith," Iyanla Van Zant reminds us that for some reason, we believe that struggle is noble that somehow it brings special rewards. And that God or the force you may call God, is pleased when we struggle.

Struggling is one of the things that women and people of color know how to do-- and we do it well. Is it time to stop?

Listen and observe to the language around you. Everything has become a struggle--relationships with lovers, partners, husbands, kids, co workers, siblings, family, and friends--and its wrapped in hard fighting energy. We struggle about everything: money, love, diet, health, life in general. And a life weaned on struggle gets used to it. Chances are you are teaching your kids exactly what your momma taught you.

The Wisdom Of Fashion Maven Isabel Toledo

"There is no such thing as a map or a safety net when you are an artist." 
~ Isabael Toledo in "Roots of Style" part memoir, part beautiful meditation on love, life and fashion. 

I had the privilege of spending lots of time with the extraordinary artist and fashion designer Isabel Toledo and her equally extra special husband, the fashion illustrator and artist, Ruben during the making of her memoir several years ago. The jam sessions with the Toledos and Isabel, especially, were transformational. Years later, her essence lingers.

By Isabel's lived example I saw that art is divine. And that life is art. And that if you approach life like that, everything you do is magic. Isabel co creates with the universe and everything around her is beautiful. Plants. Food. Dress making. Dancing. Writing. Her relationship with her beloved, Ruben. 

During one of the sessions I remember a conversation about the idea that at the core, nothing is under your control. As an artist, you must understand that there is no map. At some point, if you really want to do this--be the artist you were born to be--you must s urrender to that idea of a safety map. You prepare for sure, you nurture your craft-- you take time to study, to plan, to learn, but you must especially take care to leave space to dream and to play. Don't for a minute think art is something you do. Art is something you are.

My Latest Film Project: The Women's List

My mom says that she knew that I was destined to be a journalist and a writer when I was in the first grade.

I was five years old when I conducted my first interview. It was unpaid. Instead of going to recess and playing in the yard like other normal first graders, I would sit with my teachers and probe. For me, these conversations were play! The teachers saw it differently. Apparently tired of these “sessions,” they sent a note asking to see my mother. They would tell her that my line of questioning was highly inappropriate for a child my age. I don’t remember exactly what I asked or what may have made these small minded instructors so uncomfortable, but I do know what I wanted to know from them is what I want to know from anyone I have the pleasure of interviewing—“Tell me about your world, what makes you happy, what inspires you, how did you get to be a you and why you do what you do?”

I am genuinely interested in people—famous or not. Over the course of my career, I have interviewed scores of humans—from Hollywood and Broadway legends to A-List superstars, from brilliant scientists to Hall of Famers, from farmers to cleaning ladies, from gang bangers to priests, from music impresarios to political beasts. I’ve come to learn that interviewing is a subtle art form—it's science and craft. And you have to be brave. And most of all understand that the reporter is never the story.

Racism In The Latino Community

Affirming my Puerto Rican blackness is not to deny all the other racial and ethnic ancestry that makes up my heritage.

One summer day, I was 14 and on top of the world. I’d just been accepted to represent my high school in a youth political convention at Rider University in my home state of New Jersey. My best friend and I were walking home, laughing and eating ice cream, when we came across my friend’s father, a black Ecuadorian immigrant. The dad sized me up and down and said that I would be a lot prettier if I didn’t have that "African" nose.

What would compel an adult to say that to a young resplendent teen was beyond me. My shock and hurt were physically palpable; my buddy stood up to his father and chastised his ignorance. I cried myself to sleep that night. At 18, I had saved enough money and at 19, I got a nose job.

I was reminded of those painful experiences after hearing Univision host Rodner Figueroa's derisive comments of Michelle Obama, a smart and beautiful role model who has done so much for this country. He followed the comments with efforts to defend himself by saying that he was criticizing a makeup artist instead and that, by the way, he also has African roots.

How To Throw A Mexican Inspired Dinner Party

In Chef Aarón Sánchez's kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday, you won’t find a chicken wing or slice of pizza for 6400 yards. Instead, the host of Food Network’s “Chopped” and the Cooking Channel’s “Taco Trip” will have a mouthwatering spread that pops with flavor and celebrates his Mexican heritage.
The chef known as the “King of Heat” says that Latin food and the big game go hand in hand.
“Latinos love football, there’s a perception that Latinos just like soccer but it’s really not {true},” he says. “The idea of doing the boring and customary wings and ribs just doesn’t jive with me."
And it doesn’t jive we us either. Chef Aarón shared some of his favorite recipes and tips for creating a memorable Latin Super Bowl extravaganza at home; here is part of our interview.

The Importance Of Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Check out my latest column on CNN where I explore the significance of our nation celebrating Hispanic American Heritage.

(CNN) -- From the White House to statehouses across America, from Main Street to Wall Street, there will be many commemorations marking Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially kicked off on September 15 -- but does all the hoopla matter?
Yes. All the proclamations, mariachi music and exultations, even the tacos served at these tributes are necessary -- especially if, beyond cocktails and soggy nachos, everyone takes the time to learn the stories and recognize everyday Hispanic American heroes who gave and continue to give of themselves to this nation.

My Breakup With High Heels

I've had a life long love affair with high heels. But a year ago, when I tripped and almost fell on a pile of dog dung, and my heel went one way and the ankle another, I knew it was time to give them up. There are no sensible heels anymore.

I share my break up story w Latina magazine in this month's issue. It's on newsstands now.

Your Cultural Beliefs May Be Keeping Your From Succeeding In The Workplace

Is it time you check what you've been told about what you can or cannot do because you are a woman,  Latina, a woman of color or all three?

Many times it's our own self imposed and super imposed cultural beliefs that sabotage our ability to achieve greater personal and professional success.

Latinas in the workplace struggle with limiting gender and cultural beliefs. And some of these cultural belief systems are so deeply ingrained they prevent women from climbing the corporate ladder.

In the piece I wrote for LATINA magazine this month, I explore four cultural roadblocks that many women say they grapple with. I interviewed experts that offer coaching tips to help overcome these hurdles:
  • Do you like playing humble?
  • Do you sometimes believe you don't deserve that corner office, or to be CEO? 
  • Do you have an issue standing up to authority figures?
  • And do you get pressured to live up to the good daughters should be married, preferably with a man and with kids?