"Don't grieve. Everything that goes away comes around in another form." Rumi

Did you read my book? Did you like it? Don't leave me hanging... do tell

How will I ever know what your thoughts are about my book, The New Latina's Bible, if you don't share? Do tell! And I mean it-- the good, the great and the gorgeous? Or, on the other hand, if you were you so disappointed that you want your money and time back, I want to hear as well. Go ahead, express yourself. I can take it! 

If my words inspired you, made you feel a little bigger, wiser, stronger and that you fully understand to your core that being Latina is indeed a wondrous thing let me know. By the way, if you think that my book sucked, I wanna know as well.  I know that I am opening up a can of worms by asking for feedback but as an author, it's important for me to hear back. It informs my work in a nuanced way. Paulo Coehlo, one of my favorite authors, has set the publishing world by storm by using the Internet to give out free content and connect with his readers. Like him, I too like to engage and dialogue with my readers.

Yesterday, I received a message from Jessica, a brave heart who lifted my day with her message. My book came at a time when she needed to feel uplifted. I asked her permission to post:

"Dear Sandra, 

I'm not sure if you read these messages but I thought I'd send it anyway. I separated from my husband on June 15th and I'm only 27 years old, have a great career, have a great support system and yet hit rock bottom thinking that I was "damaged and a failure." I've been in psychotherapy and reading books but these emotions continued. I purchased your book about one month ago. I took my time reading through it and highlighted my way through until the end. I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time out to write a book that touched home. I continue to reflect on some of the chapters when I am not feeling as strong and worthy as I am. THANK YOU! From a proud Latina!, Jessica"

Here's another review which I accidentally I found on Amazon by Candidez:

I love this bible/book. I feel like it speaks directly to me. I can relate to everything the author speaks about as well as the different stories shared by other women. It is tough being a Latina, but I love everything about it and I am so proud of my culture, my heritage, my family. Couldn't have asked for anything better to read this summer vacation. I highly recommend it.

Latinos Have Arrived: Media projects that explore America’s emerging majority leave the community’s pathologies at the door

Minutes after Academy Award nominated actor Terrence Howard watched a screening of The Latino List, a film which will debut tonight on HBO, he told me, feeling very inspired by the compelling documentary, “what I loved most (about the film) was that there were no victims! The stories were unfiltered, honest and unapologetically Latino." 

The documentary, by photographer and director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, is an assemblage of more than a dozen interviews – think talking portraits – that languorously come to life to tell their own stories in their own voices. Maria Hinojosa and myself, two Emmy award-winning journalists, conducted these intimate interviews over a year and a half long period. 

After each conversation, because at the core that is what I felt that I had with these fierce minds and souls, people such as finance expert Juli StavAfro Latino cultural advocate, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, radio host, El Piolin, to name a few, I left a little bigger, a lot wiser and very much proud to belong to a group of people who despite, and in spite of societal obstacles, class, gender, color, sexual orientation and immigration status, broke through barriers to fulfill amazing lives. 

The feeling of awe and lift that I experienced each time I finished an interview was not mine alone. One of the film’s fascinating subjects, Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull, told me minutes after his riveting interview session that he wished more projects like these existed. I recall the Miami born-and-raised rapper turning to me after we finished and almost shocked, thanked me because ‘nothing negative’ was raised. He also said that it was rare to be part of media projects where Latinos are explored not as a “market but as human beings.”

Pitbull and Terrence Howard’s keen insights are worth noting and exploring not only because it’s a trend that has been slowly blossoming for the past decade since the “First Decade of the Hispanic” was declared in the 1990’s, but because the actor and the rapper’s observations offer a tangible example that Latinos – now at 50 million Americans -- have arrived.  When media stops only focusing the Hispanic community’s pathologies – and like the rest of the nation’s many groups, admittedly, Latinos certainly have our issues, ( think for a minute when was the last time any national media outlet delivered a series called, “White in America,” where issues such as teen pregnancy, crime, and awful health are explored within that group), and instead, we see more media projects featuring Latino and Latina achievements, not as paradoxical events, but as normal every day happenings, the ball moves forward, even if its just a tiny bit.   

I was drawn to journalism in great part to be able to report on the men and women in the immigrant working class New Jersey town of Jersey City, where I was raised, in a more balanced light. Newspapers, magazines and television shows when I was growing up three decades ago only focused on the crime and desperation of a community of people with names like Garcia, Rodriguez and Martinez. What I seldom saw in media-- and what I wanted to put a spotlight on-– was to report on an honest group of people who worked hard everyday, paid their taxes and raised law abiding, America-loving children. I wanted to be part of a group of journalists who told the whole truth – not the half story.

And for two decades -- whether as a reporter for El Diario La Prensa, a behind the scenes producer at Fox and Telemundo, an editor and writer at the New York Post, or as an author of two books - I’ve kept that promise. Journalism that inspires, educates and entertains is important to me not because it personally lifts my spirit or makes my “people look good” as someone once sarcastically accused me of doing, rather because these stories were and are a fact, an American reality, that happens everyday and that rarely, if ever, made its was to mainstream media stories. When media consumers see only half a story, they get a distorted view of a people and that is how stereotypes flourish. And, tragically, that is one of the ways that self-hate is born. 

More than a decade ago, I was part of the first wave of the shift from less “truthy” reportage to use a Stephen Colbert phrase and to a more balanced journalism about Hispanics when I was named editor in chief of Latina magazine. The magazine at the time broke new ground not just because it was targeting an invisible and largely ignored segment of the Hispanic population– Hispanics who preferred to consume media in English – but because for the first time on a monthly basis, Latina women were portrayed in our full breadth, not just as pretty things that made the world look good and smell pretty or clean someone’s homes or raise other people’s children, but Latinas who were making things happen in law, education, politics, science, government, the arts and more.  While I was editor of the magazine in 1999 I commissioned the first national feature story of a then rising star on the Federal bench, Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court Justice. Like Justice Sotomayor, who is by the way, also featured in The Latino List, there were many Hispanic women doing a superb job and yet invisible to mainstream media outlets.

Fast forward to Monday night, and minutes after the screening at the Brooklyn Museum, that I zip to a mid-town Manhattan venue to celebrate another great achievement, Latina magazine’s fifteen-year anniversary.

It was an extraordinary career night for me as a journalist that lifted me because a media that tell the entire story of a group as fully dimensional human beings – not just numbers to try to squeeze cash or votes from or a people with a series of pathologies –tell the story of an American people who are making progress, fighting obstacles, achieving success, and just as importantly, contributing to the betterment of this great nation. That is, at the core, a purely unique American news story and one that it’s exciting to see finally and fully being explored.

Happy Birthday Latina... getting ready to celebrate a big bash tonight!

This July 1999 Latina magazine cover image of the intelligent and beautiful Salma Hayek is one of my favorite covers during my time as editor in chief of the magazine. I dreamed up the styling of the actress as a 21st century warrior woman based on the Mexican women who fought in the nation's revolution. When I explained to Salma my vision, I was crossing my fingers on the other end of the phone. Her team was confused, but this warrior woman got it. It was and still is still one of my favorite covers. (See my second favorite cover after the jump!) For me this Salma cover is symbolic of the strength that Latinas possess. It's a power that we innately have and is always ready to be fulfilled.

I was the second editor in chief of the magazine, from 1997 to 1999, and to have witnessed the magazine that I helmed as an upstart blossom over the years has been a profound joy. I was recently asked to reflect on my time as editor in chief:

"I started editing Latina when the magazine was two years old, while it was still young, it was no longer a novelty and needed some sweet and focused attention, much like toddlers do,” Sandra Guzman recalls fondly. “It was an exhilarating time filled with purpose and promise. Out of that energy she created the Dolores Dice advice column. “In a sweet way, the magazine's transformation is akin to what the character has experienced--from sporting a moño (bun) to letting her hair down, loose and free—Dolores Dice has grown and so have we,” Guzman said. “The beloved advice column has been a metaphor for how the Latina community continues to evolve. Imagine my pride to have come back to the magazine more than a decade later to pen a cover story about my friend, and the nation's first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor! We've come a long way, Latinas in the USA, and have much more to go, and how sweet that this precious magazine has been there along the journey to be that good sister-friend who provides loving wisdom and great content about all things woman! ..."

I chose covers that were clearly obvious, Jennifer Lopez a couple of times and stories that told the complete story of who we are and the various roles we play. Love it, hate it, ambivalent - Latina magazine was a great idea that many of us had -- those in media and readers. An important idea that mattered. And it took the perseverance of Christy Haubegger to get a deal that made the dream of many a reality. She knocked on a lot of doors. Enter Ed Lewis. Then the President and CEO of Essence Magazine, Lewis backed her dream with his millions. Not a coincidence that the womb of Latina was in the offices of Essence magazine under the talented hands of editor, Patricia Duarte, who was the founding editor.

Celebrities, they're just like us...Khloe Kardashian dines on Puerto RIcan fare in NYC

Khloe Kardashian and her hubby Lamar Odom dined on Puerto Rican food last night at the famous eatery in mid-town Manhattan, Sofrito. How do I know--I know someone who works there. To be fair, my source  has shared some very interesting stories about other famous people whom he's served at the Carlos Beltran owned spot--the bad tippers, the decent ones, the ones who chew with their mouths open-- but I've never thought to write about them. But, I have cabin fever, been sick for a couple of days nursing a sore throat, a stiff neck, and why not... news this is not, but still.

The order:
Lamar ate oxtails. Having had the succulent dish at the restaurant, I think he ordered a great dish. . (I am not, but each time I go, my favorite is the lobster mofongo.) The Kardashian sister ate arroz con pollo Puerto Rican style. It's one of the most authentic dishes on the menu. I checked out her Twitter page and she tweeted hours before descending into the spot that is decorated with the beautiful and smart artwork of De La Vega's, "so many places to choose from." PS Odom is a regular there and has visited the spot without her many times.

She drank champagne with strawberries, he Remy with Amareto which they couldn't fully enjoy because a the end of their meal, the bus boy spilled the drinks. (See tip, below.)

Of parenting & other adventures...

One mental health counselor I interviewed recently declared that parenting is the most important job in the world and the least we are prepared to execute. He noted that as a nation, we spend billions on wars or to send men to explore other planets but there is no national budget aimed at helping families navigate through the tricky waters of parenting and family life. Being a mother is ripe with gold mines but also, replete with much drama. It is at once a complicated and nuanced affair. Throw culture into the mix and that is where is becomes even more intriguing. Mamiverse is a relatively new site that seeks to create a space where Latina mothers (and fathers) can come together and find stories from their unique Latino universe. Everything from money to health, recipes, fitness, career, wellness and style is discussed, with a Latin twist. They have a slew of amazing columnists and I'm thrilled to be among them. I've rounded up some of the stories I've posted to date:

I am Troy Davis

10/9/1968 - 9/21/2011 

Lessons from superheroes...

"We are all unique in our own way. To be honest, we've all struggled in our own way to get to where we are today. But what better reason to do that than to be a superhero," says Superman to his Justice League comrades on introducing the latest hero to his team, his cousin, Supergirl.  

I was watching cartoons recently with my young son when that nuanced line struck out. Not being a big fan of comic books, growing up or even now, I am sure that this is superhero talk all day long. So yes, I am late to the game. But, how wonderful it was for me to hear that one of my boy's favorite heroes was reinforcing something that is an undeniable fact of life: each of us is unique and it's in that singularity where we find our power. When we struggle may it be because we are doing it for something as big and wonderful as it is to be a champion that fights for what is right. And what is right at its core starts with accepting yourself as a unique superhero and that nurturing that self for its complete fulfillment of it's unique expression will take time and be challenged with all sorts of crazy drama. 

Many of us--for a million little reasons--can't look at ourselves in the mirror and see superhero. We believe what a friend calls, "the barcode" that society, family or tradition has placed on our potential and our ability to see ourselves in the purest of forms: a spectacular creation that was handcrafted from the perfect combination of feminine and masculine energies. This blind spot keeps us from blossoming and yes, reaching higher heights. 

The trick is, as Superman affirms, to recognize that each of will come across struggles to get to where the elite heroes go. So if you are struggling today, let not that be in vain. Go for superhero status. See that superhero in the mirror!

Would you let your son play with girl toys?

Are toys, colors, or fashion inherently gender specific? What would you do if your son wants to play with "girl" toys, wear dresses and prance around with a pink purse? Or if your daughter wants to play or wear boy "stuff?"

As a parent of a tween boy, I experienced this dilemma. Find out how I handled and what mental health experts advise. Check out  my latest piece on Mamiverse.

PS One expert interviewed said that  nothing is "wrong" with your child if he expresses a desire to play with toys outside his or her gender norm. Letting them explore will be good for their self esteem. PS Make sure you don't live in Utah before you go ahead and let your son wear a dress.

Live...Life...Like...You 'Effing Mean it ladies (and the few gents who follow me!)

Some us--correction--too many of us, live life going thru the motions like we were in a low level comfortable coma. We get up, work, go to school, eat, sleep--ay mi madre--even have sex--in a robotic state. And then we start it all over it again, day in, day out. The reasons are many (undiagnosed clinical depression, stuck in the pain of yesterday, financial worries, sickness, a belief in what haters in our lives have said about us, etc., etc) and how tragic. Living like this, David Simon calls it a "comfortably" numb, robs of us of the amazing grace and pure joy that our existence on earth has to offer. This morning during a walk in the park, I bumped into these two birds feasting on breakfast. I was delirious. Yup. Blissful. And I feel grateful that I can constantly tune in the moment of live my life with humble appreciation of even the tiniest things. 

I remember a old friend who when calling would ask "how is your day?" I would always respond, "great!" And he'd say, "what's so great about today?"... as if. Living and breathing coño, that is deliciously great! Yes, I could have and still can potentially list a slew of things that were/are not so great in my life (insert sad emoticons here) but why focus on deficits when I can rejoice in the surplus. 

Oops... change of location for tonight's reading....

Hello beautiful people... please note that the location of my book signing has changed.  Same time, same author (me) same beautiful energy!

Hoping to see you later.
CUNY Graduate Center
Hunter College
68th and Lexington
Hunter College Main Campus Lobby in West Building
1st Floor
 New York CIty 
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
RSVP: thenewlatinasbible@gmail.com

There is promise of growth when you try something new...

Stretch your mind, body & soul today and do something - anything -  that makes you uncomfortable.

This photograph was taken in the middle of a morning nature walk in Martha's Vineyard halfway between the start of the 16 mile hike and a gorgeous beach that awaited me. It's a pond where dragon flies meet every morning. It is a peaceful and gorgeous place filled with natural beauty. And it was the place where I confirmed once again the beauty of trying something new. My first morning hike ever. I got up at the crack of dawn -- something I find very uncomfortable, drove a few miles w a group of friends and hit the trail. I don't hike and certainly not in the mornings. But, it was a beautiful experience. And there will be more morning hikes in my future. I felt my spirit soar with every new tree, shrub, butterfly, flower and dragon fly that I encountered.  I hold on to that feeling because as comfy as my warm bed was that morning, and as comfy as I was in my pre-hiking days -- I know how sweet it is to try something new. It's was a simple thing yes, -- hiking -- but it was more than that. We get all complacent and seldom go beyond what we know, what makes us comfortable. Who can blame us -- if it feels good & safe, stay with it. But it's a natural thing to keep changing, evolving. Once thing is guaranteed, comfort zones were made to be stepped out of. Try it today and watch yourself grow.

Calling all Jersey book lovers...book fair mañana

I will be part of the 4th annual Jersey City Public Library's 4th Annual Book Fair tomorrow. Rain or shine dozens of authors are expected at the historic Van Vorst Park in Jersey City. If you love books check it out. If you love books and parks, then really check it out. Van Vorst is a gorgeous park from the victorian era.

Hope you can stop by.

The fair will be from 10 am to 4 pm. I am scheduled to read at 12:45 pm.

I'll be reading & signing books in New York City next week, will you join me...

The phenomenal ladies of 100 Hispanic Women will be hosting my next reading. Hoping to connect with many of you.

Spread the good word my beautiful señoritas. And don't forget to RSVP.

CUNY Graduate Center
5th Avenue @ 34th Street
New York CIty 
Thursday, September 15
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
RSVP: thenewlatinasbible@gmail.com

Sometimes life is as simple as Carl Jung put it:

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."

Happy Labor Day... don't be shy about your dreams, wants, wishes for yourself...remember what one wise woman said:

image by papayaart.com

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt