Tomorrow The New Latina's Bible is officially in stores

This is a really happy time for me. And it shows in my photo. I am excited that the book that I wrote with so much love is hitting stores. Writing a book is a complicated affair. You have to find the space in your head and life to sit and get the words out. Sometimes words flow other times not. Sometimes I can't write fast enough and others, I have to stop the muse because business calls--the business that pays the bills which means freelance projects, or duties as a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I had a lot of support and cheerleaders, namely my family and loved ones. And then there are the experts to talk to--so many  who took the time to give me insight into their lives or expertise in--health, depression, beauty, self-esteem, career, relationships, spirituality, being young, being not so young, aging, sex, pleasure, cultural pride, domestic and dating violence, to name a few.  In particular there were nine experts--Adelita, Marlon, Nina, June, Emilio, Roberto, Elsie, Margarita and Rose. To you I owe great insight into my own life and the two new chapters, "Latina Blues: It's Not In Your Head," and "When Love Hurts: The Dirty Secret of Dating and Domestic Violence Among Latinas."

I am blessed that they took the time, shared their wisdom and humored me with questions and digging into places perhaps they were not ready to go. But they all did, and the end result is an honest and moving effort. And now to the photo. I don't usually look like this in my everyday. It's all the work of talented people. This photograph was shot by the talented shutterbug, Barbara Torres. The mural which you can't fully appreciate is in the lobby of my Manhattan building and painted by an artist who goes by the name, T Joseph. Barbara was assisted by the always beautiful producer and photographer, Arlene Fernandez. My hair was the work of the awesome stylist Paul Menoscal and my make up by the amazing artists, Jaqui Pullips who has awesome lip glosses, Angel Girl. All are masters in their craft, because lord knows the lighting, make up, and coiffing transformed me in ways that I still can't believe. 

Please pick up my book if you haven't yet (it's available online now) and give it a good read. Tomorrow Sunday, May Day, it hits stores. Thank you in advance for the love. I look forward to reader reviews. 

Countdown to Release of My New Book "The New Latina' Bible"

My beautiful book about health, spirituality, career, sexuality, family, friendship all from a US Latina perspective will be released in two days at your favorite bookstore.

We are women (and men) who live simultaneously in two worlds. The world of our culture and the gringo world. Sometimes the two worlds clash, other times they work seamlessly. This book is a reminder of the beauty, intelligence, talent and exquisiteness of Latinos! Sometimes living under siege the way we do--in these hostile anti-immigrant times--we forget our beauty! 

Please be the first to pick one up! "The New Latina's Bible" can also be pre-ordered online at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Latino Books y Mas, Amazon or by clicking here

Thanks again to all my wonderful fans that have been there for me throughout the years, who've supported and have followed my work.  I am so grateful to you all! 

Open your eyes, for real, and you may notice something truly inspiring in your midst

This morning on my way back from hot yoga I stopped by Staples to return some items and parked my bike by a baby elm tree. I've walked by this New York City Avenue many, many times in sunshine, rain, winter, summer and fall. But yoga does something to your awareness and life becomes new again. So I noticed a beautifully tiled wall as I stepped out of the store. This gorgeous Morrocan blue hues jumped at me. How many times and I never noticed. I was taken back to my teenage days studying philosophy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey when I took a vow to never walk through life in a wakeful sleep. It was snowing and in the middle of College Ave and I promised myself not to let days becomes weeks, weeks become months, months years and years decades, and look back and lament-where did it all go. I remember too that I was in the middle of reading Thorton Wilder's beautiful book, The Town. I've pretty much kept to this lifestyle, today was one of those glorious moments. Because I life in a moment to moment awareness--in the moment--I have experienced many, many beautiful moments, and met really extraordinary people. Many have become friends, good friends, and others, came and seamlessly left. My lesson has been that life, when taken in small sips with eyes and soul wide open, is quiet spectacular.

It's here!!! My book has arrived...

It's here!!!!!! I received a box with copies of my latest baby, "The New Latina's Bible: The Modern Latina's Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family and La Vida," and I cried. For 30 minutes. Non-stop. Big fat happy tears. I was overwhelmed with emotion. You see a girl like me--who ate dirt as a child, who wore hand-me-down panties and clothes, who grew up poor in a barrio in Jersey, was never supposed to be a published author... not according to society's standards and expectations for little Latina girls. But I surpassed whatever boxes society wanted to place me in and continue to thrive, and strive for greatness. For truth. For love. The poor child who grew up in a shack in the Caribbean is now an Emmy winning journalist and a published author, again!

The tears are a reminder of how grateful I am to be at the place where I am today. It's also a testament to the idea that if one takes responsibilities for one's dreams, as Langston Hughes wrote, if you stay strong, focused, cutting out the haters in the process, and working honestly and hard, you can live a life to your greatest potential.

This is no ordinary hot dog--it's a four course meal inside a bun

This is no ordinary hot dog, this baby is called a Tripleta, the Triplet. It's an extreme hot dog--served with chili (ground meat), french fries, onions and cheese, ketchup, mustard or relish to taste. It's a popular dish on streets of Puerto Rico, ground zero for obesity. And a dish that I have--proudly--never tasted! Yeah, that came across as smug, but, eating it would be akin to filling my gas tank with water and sugar. It's bound to ruin my engine. I was introduced to it by my beloved mother, who loves to eat the treat every once in a while, so she says.

Notes on healthy eating:

The other night during dinner conversation with some girlfriends one woman who was new to the group  asked me what I like spend my extra cash on--shoes or designer hand bags? She happened to be a shoe horse, and saves her pennies to get her pedicured feet into luxury shoes--Manolo Blahniks, Pradas and YSL's. That night, she was coveting a new Louboutin sandal she spotted on some celebrity (who PS, probably got the shoes for free so that she can create want in us!) The woman wouldn't stop yapping about how much she wanted to buy the sandals. I know that I deeply and grossly disappointed her when I answered--food! I spend my extra cash on organic food! Whole Foods keeps my whole check.

Here's the thing:

The Myth of the Latina Superwoman, she only exists in some retro-male brain or Spanish soap opera

This is Dulce Pinzon's gorgeous photo of a nanny from Puebla dressed as Cat Woman. It was part of a series that the New York City based photographer shot casting Mexican immigrants as superheroes. The series is worth a look for its wit and beauty. I especially love the Mexican Superman delivery boy. It's true that the work that Latinos and Latinas perform in this country on a 24-7 basis is super hero material, especially the women who have two and three jobs, and then come home to a third or fourth job to care for their kids and husbands. 

I was reminded of these images as I thought about how women, particularly and especially Latinas, still struggle with the notion that we can have it all: career, well dressed, behaved and clean kids, a sound marriage, a spic and span Mistolin-clean home with a nice doggie, and a picket fence. All while looking quite thin and fabulous. The truth is that many of us feel that  this Super Woman is real and attainable.

Spoiler alert: this Latina Superwoman is a myth and only exists in Spanish language soap operas or in some half evolved male brain. Unfortunately, she is also inside of many of us who grew up being duped into thinking that it was possible and expected to have it all.  The pressure to seek that elusive woman/life is hardcore. I still see it in many sisters I meet as I travel this great nation of ours. But this is the thing: the more we chase her, the further she gets and the more ragged we become.

If you walk around focusing on what you don’t have, you will lose the magnificent opportunity to experience the wonder of what you do have.

During a guided mediation last night, one of the questions that the brilliant teacher Davidji asked was to list the things we were grateful for. For me, there were plenty of blessings. And no, I am not living a charmed life walking around in Louboutins, wearing vintage Chanel, in perfect physical, mental and spiritual health, possessing a bank account overflowing with cheddar and getting daily massages without a care in the world. I have my share of pain and problems. But instead of listing the deficits–in my back account, career, family, health, love life, and beyond—I decided to focus on all the amazing wealth that surrounds me, the great cheerleaders that love me and support my dreams, and humor me on this journey of healing, wellness and writing, the great friends that I can count on, my amazing sons who are each perfectly imperfect as they grow into great healthy young men and my great disposition to look at life with an open, joyful, and humorous heart, among many other things. As soon as I started to list all the positives that swathe my life, I felt—and this is not hyperbole, people--wealthy as a modern day hedge fund billionaire.

"The true spiritual secret is this:

...what you seek, you already are. True success is discovering your inner divinity--it's the ability to love and have compassion, trust your intuition and awaken your unlimited creative nature." Deepak Chopra

Skinny mirrors are great for self-esteeem, try one and you'll see

ONE of the greatest gifts I gave to myself was getting a full length skinny mirror. I've had it for the past decade and its done wonders for my self-esteem. And the cool thing was that I didn't even know it was a fun house mirror until one day, I happened to catch my reflection in another mirror, outside, and I noticed the difference--a 15-pound difference! Now there's only one place I look at my reflection, and it's the mirror you see in this picture. It does my body good. It plays tricks on me in a really positive way showcasing a me that perhaps the woman I am inside, and not the one I show the world. I love it! If every woman would decorate their homes with skinny mirrors, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and all those other diet plans that make millions exploiting our fragile sense of self would be out of business.

Perhaps we wouldn't worry so much about the weight we want to lose and focus on the healthy foods we want to eat. Perhaps we would focus instead on nurturing our insides, and not so much badgering our shells.

I noticed that since the shift in mirrors, which was a total fluke, my focus changed too! I don't give weight a second thought, I mean, the mirror tells me I am just perfect! Hello skinny mirror!

To marry or not to marry, that is the question

Modern day Latinas are caught in a quagmire of sorts when it comes to love--they are damned if they want marriage, and damned if they don't.

I bumped into an old colleague of mine the other day, a beautiful 30-something single mother of one gorgeous little boy. She seemed less than happy and shared that it had to do with her boyfriend of a decade. He still does not want to get married. My friend does. What was making her unhappy interestingly enough was not that he wasn't ready, (I don't think he will ever be,) rather, it was the friends who keep telling her that she is being antiquated by wanting a traditional marriage. She said she was made to feel bad for wanting marriage by her more modern friends who feel its OK to be single, for life.

And this is where the conversation got really fascinating for me because I find that one of the areas where modern day Latinas get stuck is in the area of love and marriage. Culture is not catching up to the reality of a 21st century Latina. I devote two chapters on love and relationships in my new book and honestly, I can write a whole book, several books about the topic.

My book is for Latinas and those who love us...

Come celebrate with Rosie Perez and me the New York City release of my book! And help me spread the good word. 

Black, Beautiful & Latin American

Professor Henry Louis Gates's series exploring the relationship between Africa and the New World continues this month with his trilogy, "Black in Latin America." The trilogy will explore the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. "Black in Latin America" will air on Tuesdays on PBS on April 19th, 26 and May 3rd at 8 p.m.

I'm so looking forward to an exciting history lesson, especially for Latinos and Latinas. So much texture in this topic. I have faith that Skip Gates will explore the complexity of our history candidly. The trailer reminded me of my fascinating interview with musician Tego Calderón several years ago in which he said that what Blacks in Latin America and the Caribbean needed was a Civil Rights movement much like the one we experienced in the US. A quote from the interview:
"I remember, too, when Celia Cruz died, a newscaster, thinking she was being smart, said Celia Cruz wasn't black, she was Cuban. She was pretty even though she's black. As if there is something wrong with being black, like the two things can't exist simultaneously and be a majestic thing. There is ignorance and stupidity in Puerto Rico and Latin America when it comes to blackness." Tego Calderón, from my interview with him in the piece titled, Black Pride.

"Just because you have a nightmare doesn't mean you stop dreaming," the great & mighty queen, Jill Scott

Fidel Castro told young kids in Cuba that the only thing that is impossible resides in the minds of the incapacitated

A cubana who was born and raised on the Caribbean island says that this was a constant message that was ingrained into her as a child. Everyday she heard these words and repeated them like I did the pledge of allegiance, back in the day.

Whatever you may think of the Cuban dictator, one thing is clear: this is the kind of talk that gives it's young  citizenry a boost in self-esteem. By instilling young minds with the idea that the world is filled with boundless possibilities you're giving them wings to fly. This young doctor friend has since left Cuba's oppressive communist regime but the pride and limitless dreams she sees for herself and her future, her independent attitude she says that she attributes to those words from the iconic revolutionary who by the way, may be dead or alive. Imagine if instead of the vitriol and stupidity that spews from some of the mouths & minds of some of our leaders of late, kids heard this kind of uplifting talk? Imagine that...

How to properly eat a mango, pass the hot sauce, por favor...

For some people groundhogs are a sign of Spring. Others look to the earth for early sprouting of perennials like daffodils or tulips. I always look for the ladies who sell mangoes on the streets of New York City. These women come armed with special mango knives and boxes of the tropical fruit which are high in Vitamins A and C and rich in antioxidants. They proceed to carve the yummy fruits into all kinds of beautiful shapes. Maria, who parks her table in Soho on the corner of Broadway and Broome Street, confessed she's not really into the funky shapes some of her competitors are a fond of.

Choose love today

This mix media mural in Chelsea's Meatpacking district is always a joy to bump into. It reminds me of what really matters, for me is this: approaching everyday and every moment, every situation, no matter how rough and painful with love always brings me splendid results. Einstein may not have coined the quote but it's nonetheless fitting that the brilliant scientist is the poster boy for such beautiful words. Love and light exists within, tapping into both is always a choice.

A party without a purpose is a good thing to have...

The weekend has arrived and I want to throw something out there for consideration: how many of you have parties or get togethers just because? I know that I don't, or more so, I didn't. I became one of those people who penciled in everything. I call it by appointment love. My friend and my youngest son recently reminded me to take stock, be more present, and just have fun, for no reason other than just because. Sometimes life's little lessons come from the unexpected experiences. But you got to be open to catch em, and I did...

So my dear friend recently threw a party for herself to celebrate life and friendship. The gathering was held at a gorgeous club overlooking a glistening bay. The brilliant sun and blue sky outside dazzled everyone. Inside the grand room, the energy matched the glory. She was celebrating life--she'd been cancer free for a decade--and wanted to bring all her favorite people in one room and thank them for being present, helping her heal, and for enriching her life with love and friendship. It was a beautiful and generous gesture that she said she did for herself. I think she did more for those of us present than she intended. Well, I can only speak for myself, but I left that brunch with a heart overflowing with joy and a renewed commitment to be more present and to celebrate life just because, and for no specific reason. 

A couple of days later, my youngest son told me he wanted to have fun with me. "Let's play a game," he said. I thought he was trying to get out of doing his homework, but I stopped, and sat down next to him, and listened. I was present and in the moment. His message was clear: he just wanted to have fun and with me. And we did. And we did the next day, and the next. And my heart is lighter. And I am glad that I listened.