Introspection vs Reflection vs Projection

May 2013 be filled all things amazing and beautiful.

Reflection and introspection are often confused but in reality they are worlds apart. Both are valuable tools for continued growth. Introspection is the act of examining within. Reflection, on the other hand, is more like holding a space of deep consideration of something. One is not more important than the other and they work well together. 

Examining within is what we do to figure out how we process life and all its beautiful drama. It's like a trip around your inner world. Reflection is like staying in one destination and deeply visiting that place. When we look back in slow motion on the events of 2012 give meaning to these momentous moments, we are reflecting.

Quiet reflection and introspection are practices that are wonderful to do around this time of year. As we prepare to usher in another year, the practice will help clear the space for more goodness to come. For any kind of growth both reflection and introspection must happen. Of course they can happen at any point, not just the last day of December. Every day can be a new year if you make it so. 

Then there is projection which means to forecast the future based on an assessment of past events. This is the fun part. You can decide what your future will look like in every minute detail. The exercise is exciting if not daunting. But once you can taste, feel, see, and fully experience what new and amazing things you want in your life, you will have called upon the heavens and the earth to help you see this life through.  

Skip the whole resolution drama--they will set you up for disappointment. As I wrote in an earlier post instead of resolutions, I create intentions. I do not share them with the world. I just live hem. When you set the intention and project them into the world, it's like whispering or shouting to the universe, this is what I desire. More than a hope, it is a declaration. Like a manifest your destiny practice. Each day, work on it and stay on it.  

Remember, whatever you pay attention to will grow, whatever do don't, won't. 

There is a world that you can't see beyond the horizon in front of you...

But that doesn't mean is not there. 

Opinion is all about perspective. Perspective is all about where you are standing. What you see is not necessarily what is real. 

These are not riddles or head games, it is what sages have known for eternity. But we, modern day folks, have forgotten as much. 

What you get on the surface, like the line on the ocean that separates heaven and earth, is not the entire story. There is a whole universe beyond. We know this and yet we don't. Human beings are conditioned to see and accept what makes us comfortable. We go around being with people who confirm what we believe in,  seeking out "facts" in everything we do that will confirm our opinions.  

The bold and brave know this for sure: nothing is black or white or even gray. Real life has offered us the rainbow. And it's glorious. 

I'm always looking for the rainbow. Are you?

Focus on the possible, not the impossible

Believe that all that you dream for yourself + this world is possible...


Get giddy.

The good that you want for yourself & others will transform your world, and mine.

Cultivate gratitude, change your life

"How you live your life is a form of prayer." ~ Sandra Maria Esteves

Living in gratitude has connected me to the divine. I notice and rejoice the glory of each morning and the beauty of being alive. I pause and give thanks. Even on days when I am not feeling it, and trust, there are those days, I catch myself, breathe, and find one tiny thing that I am thankful for. In living like this, I've become awakened to glorious moments that otherwise would have not been perceived. I experience wonder because I live in gratitude. But it takes commitment to live in gratitude. And when I stray, I give myself a break.

Living in constant gratitude is like living inside a treasure chest. Everyday little experiences--dew on a plant, my radiant children being who they are, the smell of coffee, a glass of water, watching a butterfly breakfast--take on a more profound meaning.

Gratitude has been proven to change our brain patterns and allow us to have a more expansive view of our lives. It's been proven to improve happiness. Being stuck on what you don't have will dampen your spirit and mess with your head. Being stuck on giving thanks will deepen your joy.

Letting go of bad habits first takes diagnosing them

There is nothing more comfortable than the comfort of our habits. It's not for nothing that they are habits.

We are intelligent by design and part of this intelligence is that we conserve energy like no other beings on earth. Our brain is always looking for short cuts in order to work efficiently. When we learn something, for example how to parallel park, we figure out the moves it takes to get the four wheels perfectly and quickly parked so that each time we parallel park, we don't have to figure out how to do it like it was the first time, again and again. The more we parallel park, the deeper the imprint until one day, parallel parking is as familiar to us as breathing. And so it is with all our habits--the-good, flossing our teeth every day, several times a day, the bad, procrastinating on working out, eating healthy, writing that novel or the ugly and the bad, staying in shitty relationships or having self defeating thoughts etc.

We all have habits that one day were were meaningful but today no longer serve our continued growth.

I desire to walk with grace & purpose...

And to always be close to nature and the divine within.

What is your desire? What is your path? If you don't know where you are heading, chances are, you will likely get lost.

The word shanto, in Japanese and in it's original Chinese language, means a philosophical way or path. The energy of the word comes from Shantoism, a polytheistic religion that celebrates the worship of human spirits that are believed to have transcended and become one with nature. In some Asian countries during the new year, there is a ritual that was performed that beckon the energy of tomorrow. You are asked to write or draw a picture on a piece of wood, rock or paper of what your heart desires in the new year: health, wealth, love, fertility, wisdom, a new home. The idea is hold this image close to you as a reminder of your desire.

It's important to be mindful of where you want and what you desire and to create your version of happiness and fulfillment.

We are above all, storytellers. And images are a powerful way to tell a story to yourself. On this sacred day named after the brightest star in our skies, may you see the light within and start to imagine the year ahead.

You are like light bulb. If bliss starts growing inside you, it's like a light, it affects the environment. ~ from "Catching the Big Fish" by David Lynch

Welcome winter: a day of transformation

Winter Solstice 2012 has arrived! Celebrate the change of season and new era by taking a moment today for quietude and connection to the divine within. Give thanks. Discover your ancient and wise self and allow her and him to speak to you. Listen.

The ancients, who had a close ear to Mother Earth, understood that winter is a time to go into hibernation, both literal and metaphorical: to rest, restore, replenish, and revive. For most sage wise men and women this too was celebrated as a new year! Indeed, it is a time for transformation. Let go of the old that helped you to get to this point in the past but that no longer serves you to move forward. Welcome the new habits that will move you into the direction of your higher self.

I share a wonderful winter solstice meditation. 

Go within, your many lessons are waiting. Wishing you all things amazing on this special, more introspective time of the year.

A poem written in mourning for Newton

The angels of Newton should provoke us to think about how we each can make this a less violent, more loving world. Louisiana born poet Yusef Komunyakaa, moved by the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, wrote this beautiful poem, "Rock Me Mercy."

He read it on NPR and sounded just as moving:

The river stones are listening because we have something to say.
The trees lean closer today.
The singing in the electrical woods has gone down.
It looks like rain, because it is too warm to snow.
Guardian angels, wherever you're hiding, we know you can't be everywhere at once. 
Have you corralled all the pretty wild horses?
The memory of ants asleep and day lilies, roses, holly and larkspur?
The magpies gaze at us still waiting. 
River stones are listening.
But all we can say now is mercy, please rock me.

Your Breath is your Essence

STOP what you are doing for the next five minutes and take a deep breath. Let it go and do that a two more times. Welcome back!

How many minutes of our days that turn into a lifetime do we run around trying to cross off all the  things on the to do list and forget to breathe? Raise your hands if you are with me.

Our breath is our essence--we begin our lives with a breath, take our last breath and bow to this existence. So, are you making each breath you take count? If you are, there is not doubt that you are enjoying a life filled with quality--joy, health, abundance, sweetness and clarity. If you are not, just breathe. It's that simple.

My friend Belisa Vranich is traveling the nation teaching folks how to breathe. Turns out most Americans are not breathing correctly and it's causing all kinds of dis-ease. Poor breathing may be the at the root of insomnia, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol and even premature aging just to name a few. Let your brain receive the oxygen it deserves for optimal functioning.

RIP Jenni Rivera

I don't waste too much time dreaming, I rather get to work on the things that I have always aspired to have so that they become a reality. 

Stay gentle, be positive

These are the two challenging emotions to hold onto during stressful times.

What does it mean to be gentle with self, others, and the world? To be gentle is to be sweet with yourself. To turn off the self judging as soon as it starts. The hate against self is rampant and the evidence is everywhere. A great way to gauge where people are at or where you are at is to watch the way you speak to others and how others speak to you.

To be gentle with self is to give yourself a break. When was the last time you looked at your body and told it you loved it, thanked every body part that works? Be grateful for your feet that take you places, your eyes that allow you to see, your mouth that lets you taste, your heart that lets you love. When was the last time you took a deep breath, exuded joy and thanks for just breathing? It's that simple.

Examine the role that you play in your dysfunction

This is the thing, whatever issue you may be facing now--a difficult relationship with a loved one or with a colleague, hell, a hard time getting through to the barrista who makes your coffee at Starbucks, all roads lead back to you. And so in this journey of yours / ours it is worth examining the role that you play in the dynamic of your life. If you are now being challenged by someone or a situation, take a hard look at yourself. There are two sides--or many--to one story, and it's easy to slip into the blame game without hitting the pause button and asking yourself what part you play in the movie of your life. Are you the enabler or the one who is being abled? Is it the masochist or the sadomasochist, the passive aggressive or the aggressor, the master or the slave--who are you in your various relationships, and is it serving you?

Self reflection is ground zero for growth and taking a hard look at the role that we play in our dysfunction is not only insightful but it is the only road to healing. It is also, by the way, a most difficult road because much of us is required most importantly, that we look at ourselves with brutal and raw honesty. Damn it hurts when someone tells you the "truth" about yourself but it is even more painful to tell yourself the raw truth. To look at yourself in the mirror and admit it to yourself, yup that is where the seed that will lead to your growth lives.

The flowering of life depends upon finding a reflection of oneself in the world, and one's work is an important place of that kind of reflection. ~ from "Care of Soul," by Thomas Moore

Why your birth story is important

I am celebrating this weekend another trip around the sun, pausing, and giving thanks. And as it usually happens my mom calls and retells me my birth story. I am lucky that there was not too much pain and drama when I was born. As the third child, mom says she was an expert by the time I was born. My birth was pretty much pain free she says. But, what if there had been drama with my birth? What if my birth caused her emotional pain? What, if while I was in her womb, she'd been suffering greatly?

We know the profound links between unborn child and mom, and so on birthdays, as you toast another year, and look forward to another day, ask your mom, if she is still with you or any close friend or relative, to shed light on the circumstances around your birth and while you were growing inside of her.

In some cultures newborn baby boys are slapped across the face to prepare them for life. From the beginning, this tribe holds the baby will be born a warrior. What does your tribe do when babies are born?

Your birth story holds clues to your story. And no matter what that story is-- give praise and thanks for the opportunity that you've been given to bless the earth with your birth.

When you judge others, your are only judging yourself

The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself
~ Deepak Chopra

To observe oneself without passing judgment is the highest form of intelligence because it's the most difficult task-- a lifelong process that if you are awake, keeps you humble and evolving. One day, you wake up and give yourself a break and love yourself with enough clarity to embrace your flaws, fears, mistakes, decisions, or weight or whatever ails and you resolve to do better, be better and more kind to yourself. That is the moment where I see healing truly starting. It's a daily grind to be kind and non judgemental about the choices that I have made and when I have those moments of non judging -- of clarity and no self bashing -- it is the most freedom and joy I feel. And I work hard to have those moments expand to hours and days, months and years. I work hard to make it a lifestyle. But it's a choice and a commitment, and it takes self awareness and lots of falling down too.

Judging is a national sport and it's a poison that has consumed modern day society, eating one individual a time. This cancer is evident everywhere. The way the virtual world has reacted to General Petreus having an affair with a married woman or Bon Jovi's daughter nearly overdosing on heroin are two recent examples of people failing and so many of us well, simply, enjoying and pointing fingers.  Ugh... 

We love to point fingers or why else would Newt Gingrich, who had many adulterous affairs of his own before marrying his third wife, go on morning television moralizing about the general? 

 (Now, on the Petreus affair, it's not that he slept with a woman that is troubling and must be investigated, it's that he may have endangered national security for a piece of you know what. Good, bad, it's not for me to say. Besides, who knows if he and his wife of thirty seven years have an agreement that the rest of the world doesn't know about?)
We fall, other's love to laugh, criticize and point fingers. We rise, others point more fingers about our talent or alleged lack there of.  
But, this is the thing...

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. 
~ Etty Hillesum

True true! I love this quote because it gets to the core of what ails most of us. Not breathing right and therefore, not knowing how to relax when walk around like a wound up in knots all over our bodies. Modern day life is chaotic, busy, and with the many hats we wear and responsibilities we have, few of us know how to rest and relax. We run ourselves ragged. But, this is the thing, even if you think you are chilling, the tension in our bodies, hearts, and minds is so deep, that it keeps us from fully giving our best.

The great artists of the world know that in order to give what the soul has to share, relaxation is key.
Lee Strasberg, who taught acting to the very best in the world, past and present, knew this was the secret to the art form. And the core of his lessons revolved around the actors ability to fully relax.  Tension, he believed, is the occupational hazard of the actor. It's not just actors though, I believe it's the occupational hazard to us all.

This from the book, Strasberg at the Actor's Studio and one of my favorite blogs, Delancey Place.

Where there is tension, one cannot think or feel. The human being he noted, is naturally expressive so there in lies the beginning of the issue. "When he is relaxed and really thinking about or paying attention to something, or even when random thoughts move through his consciousness, impulses pass without interruption into pure expression. The voice changes. Distortions in the way the body or head or the arms and shoulders are held disappear. The expression of the face changes. The person actually takes on a new appearance."

Plant the seeds of your tomorrow, tonight

Cosmological show stopper: The New Moon & Solar Eclipse, 6 hours ago

We forget that with each sunrise, we are given a fresh canvas to start again. And so it is with each new cycle of the moon. My mother, an avid gardener, has taught me this. She pays attention to waning moons, full moons, to new moons and waxing moons--planting, harvesting, preparing the earth to plant, she is guided by the stages of la luna. Mom has more than two dozen different kinds of fruit and vegetable trees and many more herbs in her small garden. And she, like most people who toil the earth and navigate the high seas, understands the powerful connection that the moon has on everything on earth-- its creatures, oceans, and rivers and yes, to us.

Tonight's new moon is one of those powerful moons that astrologers talk about -- a moment for deep soul searching, and new beginnings. It's in Scorpio, a sign of emotional courage. Plant the seeds of your tomorrow, tonight.

I watch mom in her garden, and know that her lessons extend well beyond her patch of earth.

In case you missed it... I was on BET's Don't Sleep w TJ Holmes

Right before taping BET's "Don't Sleep" with host, TJ Holmes and panelists Chris Peña from NBC Latino and Columbia University's Marc Lamont Hill, the did a little pre-interview on my thoughts regarding the reelection of President Barack Obama. 

For the full episode where we discuss what happens after the historic numbers cast by America's emerging majority-- 93 % Black, 71 % Latino and 73 % Asian -- check out the full HERE.

Seeing light in the dark

Hurricane Sandy kicked our asses--hard too. Frankenstorm lived up to its name as it left devastation in its tracks--110 people dead, hundreds of thousands of people homeless, and millions without power. A week after being pummeled by this freak storm, thousands in the northeast are still without electricity or heat and many, too many, are trying to figuring out how to begin rebuilding their lives. The financial losses caused by Hurricane Sandy are in the billions. This storm had ramifications far beyond the states it touched. (Hello Presidential election!)

The City that never sleeps was forced to turn off the lights. In the scheme of things, the monster storm that caused so much mayhem and devastation, left me, a downtown Manhattanite, unscathed. I lost power, heat, and water for a week. Yes, I was a bit of a refugee sleeping, eating, and bathing in friends homes. But as the Spanish saying goes, no paso nada. The brilliant photograph above by Iwan Baan and this week's New York Magazine cover brilliantly captures the darkness that I lived for five days. But, oh, was I surrounded by light. Let me explain...

Meditation... it does your life good

Tomorrow starts the free 21-day meditation challenge offered by the Chopra Center. I've participated in several of these meditation offers and always felt recharged and re-inspired. They are wonderful and worth it. For those experiencing stressful times--especially the folks who live along Hurricane Sandy's path--this free offering could not come at a better time. If you can take 20 minutes of your day to pause, reconnect with self, it's guaranteed--meditating will do your spirit good. 

It's not too late, you can still register.  

Hurricane Sandy makes it way north, NYC eerily quiet

Took a walk in my neighborhood this morning some ten hours before Hurricane Sandy is expected to arrive and the City that never sleeps was sleeping. Still is. Businessess are closed. Streets are deserted. The usually buzzing Chelsea area of Manhattan was eerily quiet. Took this photo in the middle of the street.

Walked toward the Hudson River--three blocks away from my home--and it was already over flowing. Sandy is serious. Be safe y'all.

Learn to meditate for FREE

If you spend your days thinking about what you don't have, you will miss appreciating what you do have.

Abundance is all around you, can you feel it?  The Chopra Center is again offering its seasonal free meditation to transition us to winter. This next 21-day challenge will explore the topic of abundance, how to cultivate, create, and experience it.  Register for the free Create Abundance 21-day Meditation Challenge. It starts Nov, 5th.

Create your life manifesto...

Moved by The Holstee Manifesto, I decided to create my life's manifesto. It's a great exercise. Create the outline for the life you want to live and keep it close. 

Check out these  10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos. Mine is below. 

Get started. Life is short, live it fully.

Stay OPEN to life, you will be blessed with the essence of people, places + things. SMILE often, when you do, LIFE smiles back. LOVE deeply & without fear, even if the thought terrifies you. Be VULNERABLE, it is ground zero for so much. CREATE for yourself & not for someone else's approval. Stay CURIOUS & your brain will not atrophy. DANCE daily, alone, with the one you love, with a child, or in a club filled with strangers. Go BAREFOOT, feel the earth, skin to skin, under your feet. COOK for the ones you love. TRAVEL to foreign lands, or new neighborhoods. TALK to strangers. HUG a tree, smell a flower, SALUTE & CELEBRATE nature. Surround yourself with POSITIVE people. SHARE your unique gift with the world. PRAY to the sun, the moon, the stars, the ONEFORGIVE, life is really too short. BELIEVE in something, someone. BATHE under the moon, the stars, the sun, in a river, ocean or lake. MEDITATE everyday. Blow BUBBLES just for fun. Take time to PLAY. Be KIND to yourself, others & to mother earth. TRUST: the universe has your back.

This was so cool...

What an amazing time with Detective Gomez from that crazy show "Cheaters." I was on his radio program on a special thematic show "Guys Tell All." Also interviewed was sexologist, Dr Tanginika. Good interview. Check out the show. 

Your view of the world may keep you down, or not

Are are guilty of living while negative?

Do you look at the world and everyone you meet as guilty until proven innocent? Or is your view of the world, innocent until proven guilty? This question can shed much light and give you answers and insight into why things always work out for you. Or not.

The sages have always taught that the way you perceive the world is the way the world will perceive you. In other words, if you see the world as evil and guilty then you will be proven correct. You will harvest what you plant or have no harvest at all. It's that simple. 

I get why one would view the world and its creatures--human and not--as evil. There is a lot of ugly in the world. And yet there is also an abundance of good. I see it all the time, and in my life good supersedes the ugly. Does it in yours? 

No matter to whom you pray, remember this:

We are heard when we ask for guidance, and that's all that matters. ~ Caroline Myss

How to avoid being mean

When hurt, we want to hurt right back. Hard too! Rather than admitting we're in pain--which is also allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable and human--we turn around and maim. We turn on the mean girl & guy button and we cut people down with words, shitty attitude, gossip, vicious rumors, physical strikes--we kill spirits and much more. We seek revenge in epic proportions.

Ekhart Tolle calls this reaction the body pain. Cornel West, who has been the target of some vicious press because of his rightful critique of President Obama's anti poverty record among other things, says that seeking revenge against those who talk ish about him would have been the wrong response because he would have been dragged to their gutter. Love, he explained one recent evening, was the only rightful and noble response to those who heaped a pile vile toward him. Admittedly, West is a lot more evolved than I am. I guess that that is what the biblical advice "turn the other cheek" is all about. How I yearn to get to a place in my life where when hurt, rather than strike, I turn the other cheek...  I am a work in progress.

The thing is that wounding when hurt has become a global sport. It' a horrible bad habit and has become an addiction of mammoth proportions. But it's not just the world,  it plays out in the intimate spaces of our bedrooms, living rooms in addition to board rooms and the halls of Congress.

Are you squandering your potential?

When someone tells you how much potential you have, remember Fernando Pessoa's words: 

Success consists in being successful, not in having the potential for success. Any wide piece of ground is the potential site of a palace but there's no palace until it's built.  
Are you wasting your potential? Are you told how much potential you have and yet nothing happens with that potential? How much of your time is spent on dreaming, talking about what you want to do, versus executing? I've been there, believe me. Will your life be like the famous Norman Vincent Pearle quote, "the trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." Ouch.

Exploiting your potential takes many, many hours of hard work, with consistency, and courage. Of having the audacity to go against all odds and to keep at it even in the midst of self doubt, haters, and tremendous fear.

Calling all Dallas Ladies

Have questions about squirting? No mojo? Too much libido? Unhappy sex life? Or just curious about finding ways to cultivate healthy and positive sexual wellness in mind, body & spirit? Then we got the workshops for you.

Noted sexologist Tanginika Cuascud Vega and yours truly will host two free events exploring tools for personal, sexual and professional empowerment over a two day period in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.

Tanginika will explore sexual health and when she's done, I'll tackle heart, soul and business. Fun night, fun times.

Details after the jump.

Two reasons why its important to cultivate your inner world

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung

Don't be afraid of the universe that lives inside of you.

The more time I spend alone cultivating quiet time with me, exploring my inner universe, the more in awe I am of the woman I am. Raise your hand if you're with me? How many of us can honestly say those words and believe them? Sadly, modern day society is not built around self exploration. We hardly champion quiet time to just be. Let me explain: so much of our time is spent looking outside ourselves for approval, connection, acceptance, and love, that we forget that inside each of us is a rich multi-verse--complex, majestic, and magical: pure perfection.

When you travel inside and cultivate your inner world, you learn the nuanced language of your emotions, and as a consequence, be able to better articulate yourself and your emotions to the outside world. And also in the process of this self exploration, you will expand your capacity to understand others. Those two lessons are worth the trip.

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum's eloquence on this topic hit close to home. I read it on the blog of my new favorite blogger, Maria Povpova, whose intelligence, light, and beautifully cultivated blog about life, the arts, love, and all things in between is a daily inspiration. I wanted to share:

Dating a Latina: Do's & Don'ts

Secrets to Dating Latinos & Latinas 

Dating is a complicated and nuanced endeavor in any language or culture, but when it comes to dating a Latino or Latina, it's a completely different animal.  Cultural minefields abound. During the kick off to the series "Sundays with Sandra," at La Casa Azul Bookstore, I'll read from my book, "The New Latina's Bible: The Modern Latina's Guide to Love, Spirituality & La Vida." We'll spend the afternoon exploring the uniqueness of dating in the Latino world, including the sets of do's and don't for catching a good Latin man. An autograph session will follow the reading. Even if you have a copy of my book already stop by for engaging conversation on Love & Dating Latinas in the 21st Century.

La Casa Azul Bookstore
143 East 103 Street
Between Lexington & Park Avenues
A few steps from the 6 train, 103rd Street stop.

This Sunday, 10/14
3 p.m. -- 5 pm.

So cool...

Being Latino and Best Buy teamed up and are doing these amazing shout outs to Latinas and Latino achievers during Hispanic Heritage Month. What an honor to be included with such amazing folks. Actress April Lee Hernandez does an amazing job narrating the snippet of my achievements. But, I'm curious if you think I look like the sketch?

Do you love correctly?

Love is a threat to any individual who is not ready to be transformed by its power ~ Cornel West

I am in awe of love and also intimidated by it because to love properly one must surrender to it completely. And that is a scary proposition especially if you are afraid that love will fail you. And lets be real, love sometimes fails us miserably. And yes, we sometimes fail love too.  

But to love right is something that I want to learn to do in this life time. And so I find myself a lifelong student of love. I want to learn love's many attributes. Experience them, live them, know them. I have been touched by loves profound beauty and want to see more. I want to understand the role that love plays in our private and public lives. 

Reality shows & negative people bad for your brain

I've always known on an energetic level that negative people sap your energy - they bring you down. Though I have compassion and know these folks are in deep pain, I steer clear from all that drama. Same goes for reality TV. I've never taken to  reality shows where there is violence -- verbal and physical -- because I notice that I never felt good after I watched them crazy shows.

So it was not surprising to learn of a new study that has found that even 30 minutes of being exposed to complaining or bad reality TV, actually makes you dumb.

Here's the take away from the lead researcher, Trevor Blake:

...Research from Stanford studies showing that a person who is exposed to 30 minutes of complaining every day, physically damages their brain. It damages the neurons in the part of the brain used for problem solving and cognitive functioning by peeling back the neurons in those areas.

Bottom line: protect your beautiful brain. Curate the people and media you let into your life.  

Immigration Paradox Solved

The most divisive and heated issue in America today is immigration. The hatred spewing against Latino immigrants on the ground and over the airwaves is disgusting.  The new documentary film, Harvest of Empire, based on the terrific book by the same name written by award-winning journalist, Juan Gonzalez, could not come at a better time.

The film is powerful. Profoundly powerful! Do you know why Latinos immigrate to America? Even if you know your family's immigrant story, this is a must watch film as it goes over a history not taught in schools.

Due to the overwhelming response, the Quad Cinema in New York City will extend it's run until October 11th.

This documentary and book should be required viewing and reading for all, and especially, the haters who call themselves journalists and who clog the airwaves with vitriol about immigrants, in particular, Mexican immigrants. A must watch for sure. Trailer after the jump.

I'm passionate about words, are you?

I'll be reading this Sunday, October 14, at the wonderful Spanish Harlem bookstore, La Casa Azul Bookstore, owned and operated by the passionate book lover, Aurora Anaya-Cerda, pictured above.

Sundays with Sandra, a series discussion on all things Latina, will kick off with a discussion about cultural healing. Next up will be Sunday, November 4th, and December 3rd. 

Come say hello, get an autographed copy of my book, The New Latina's Bible. Or, if you have copy already, stop by and hang out for a few hours. 

La Casa Azul Bookstore
143 East 103 Street
Between Lexington & Park Avenues
A few steps from the 6 train, 103 stop.

Sunday, 10/14/2012
3 p.m. -- 5 pm.


What Maya Angelou taught me

"I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias." ~ Letter to My Daughter,  Maya Angelou 

The great poet taught me that we are all children inside, regardless of the many birthday wishes we've made. That we feel safest when we go inside ourselves. She taught me that inside of me there is magic, and poetry, and that there is a wondrous world that is truly safe, where I can breathe, and feel free, and protected.

An argument for beauty in your life...

"I dream of painting and then I paint my dream," Vincent Van Gogh

I spent the morning walking through the local flower market. For a city dweller surrounded by gorgeous skyscrapers, walks like these are blissful and nourishing to the spirit. These gorgeous plants and flowers enhance my life and I'm always in a better mood and ready to tackle my day after these walks. And the thing is, it costs nothing to walk around and bathe in the beauty of nature. Of course it's a fact that most beautiful things in life are free, but are you paying attention?

To do this month: Go Get a Mammogram

Art by Anna Alvarado
It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month ladies and the brave gents to read my blog posts.  Accompany a sister, a relative, a girlfriend, wife, someone you care about to get their tatas checked out.

This is the thing, when it comes to preventive care, so many women are so busy taking care of other people that they "forget" to take care of themselves. Do you know anyone like that? If so, I hope this post serves as a reminder to give this special woman a call. Help a that sweet woman in your life take care of herself.

No woman has to die of breast cancer today but too many still do. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 227,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year, about 40,000 die. Breast cancer is, after lung, the most common form of cancer and the second leading case of death among women. Chances of a woman getting breast cancer in their lifetime is 1 in 8! Death from breast cancer is preventable but not when it's caught in later stages. Latinas and African American women die at higher rates because it gets detected at later stages. Why not go get checked, like today, or soon? I got mine early this year. When are you getting yours?

No health insurance? No worries! And no excuses! Punch in 'free mammograms" on your search engine and you'll be directed to a free or lost cost service in your area. I found a list of centers in New York City when I did a quick search.

Find the time to play today...

Play is one of the highest spiritual forms of being. When we're in that state, we get lost in ourselves, which allows the mind to receive the message of the spirit. --Ellie Katz


I love being playful. Yes, life brings us serious challenges, but nothing lightens the spirit as being silly. I got that from my momma who, in the most horrendous situations, always finds a lighthearted comment to ease our little hearts. Her playful spirit is one of the qualities that I admire most in her and one quality that I try to emulate. The thing is that sometimes we, or others, take themselves too dam seriously. You know exactly what I mean? Add a little magic to your day and find the time to be silly.

Here's Ellie Katz waxing poetic about the importance of play. When you find yourself getting too serious about life -- keep Katz's words close your heart:

Playology is about waking up our senses, infusing our organs of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting-- and the higher cognitive senses as well, with the spirit of play. Play ignites creativity and spontaneity. Playing together leads to trust and cooperation.

Three reasons why being selfish is good for you

According to the dictionary the word selfish means to "be devoted to or caring only for oneself." In that sense, the word is quite lovely--what's not wonderful to care of self? But like everything else in life, the word also has its shadow aspect. And the other definition that follows is not so cute, "to be concerned primarily with one's interests, benefits, welfare, etc regardless of others." 

I think the word has been maligned and many people confuse the primary meaning of the word and only work with the negative aspect of the word. In a effort to rescue a perfectly marvelous word and make full use of its great energy, here are three reasons why being selfish is good for the soul.

1.     When you take care of self first--the world, including you--is kinder

"To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides," David Viscott

When I came across the quote I was so moved by it that I had find more information on its author. I am all over David Viscott! The late psychotherapist left us with a body of work that was genius and timeless: we have the power and capacity to heal ourselves, including healing our hearts and minds. This passage captures what his work is about: 

Your emotional resilience depends on your capacity to accept what happens to you without prejudice. Just because you are hurt doesn't mean you are weak, and just because you are sad, doesn't mean you are lacking a sense of strength or identity." 

Life pummels us with curve balls and each time we swing only to strike out, we lose hope. Whether it is losing a lover, a daughter, a job, seeing a relationship that you cherish disintegrate before your eyes, many of these experiences can be so tragic on the heart, on our souls. But, if above all, you can find the space in your heart to be grateful for what you experienced-- your time at bat, so to speak-- and learn to let go and let others and yourself evolve, you will be living fully in what seems to be the only sure thing in life, that change and evolution is our daily companion. 

Suppressed rage, do you have issues?

The Rage Within: dealing with unspoken anger  

I was at a cafe writing and sipping my chai tea as I usually do most days and I could not help eavesdrop on a conversation two women were having. They were talking about a mutual friend whom they describe as out of control. Nasty to her kids, nasty to her friends, nasty to her husband, and definitely nasty to strangers. If the coffee wasn't at the right temperature, the barrista at the coffee shop got it and so did the cashier if the groceries weren't packed right. These two gals were planning an intervention out of fear that their good friend was burning bridges and destroying everything she touched with wounding words. Know anyone like that? Hello Naomi Campbell!

Repressed rage is common. People are hurt and hurting. Women are hurt and hurting. And because anger is not really a sophisticated and lauded emotion like compassion or love for instance, most women hold it in. We swallow our rage and we and everyone around us suffers.

Happiness is when what you think, what you do, and what you say are all in harmony," Mahatma Gandhi

A friend texted me this Gandhi quote in the morning and it became today's mantra. Beautiful and inspiring, it served as a reminder to self. To match the internal voice with action that is in sync with words is to live in tranquility, balance, and pure joy.

Living by this code is easier to say than to do, this I know. We stay in relationships where we are not honored. We work in places where we are dishonored. We act against self in spite of ourselves. Yet you cannot fool that internal voice. Despite this, much of our lives is spent on quieting that internal voice - the intelligent one -- that guides. I've lived it. I've seen it. I've ignored it. Instead of listening and acting on behalf of it-- this holiest of trinities-- thinking, doing, and saying -- I've played stupid. I've played myself. And I know you have too! And the result is expected: we become unintelligible beings. A lot of heart ache happens when we don't honor our individual codes. We feel it hard--anger, fears, resentment, loneliness, sadness, and confusion. We get stuck. It doesn't have to be.

"Where your heart is, there is your power...

writes Caroline Myss. "Without this energy nothing in your life can manifest or flourish, from your romantic relationships to your artistic creativity." --from Sacred Contracts.

How to mourn the right way

While it's true that mourning is very individual, what is even more true is that there is a right and a wrong way to mourn. Knowing the difference will save you a life filled with pain.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross articulated eloquently what happens when we mourn: we enter five stages, anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not necessarily in that order either. Each person will experience these stages differently. But, eventually, we all experience them. And to heal we must journey through all of these stages. It is the way out!  This journey does not mean you fast forward or speed your way out of the feelings. You wear them like a leather jacket, you feel 'em and break em in. You acknowledge them. And most importantly, you don't judge yourself for what you are feeling. That is the correct way to mourn a loss: to allow yourself to feel the emotions and journey inside of these feelings not around them.

"Just keep going. Everybody gets better if they keep at it." -Ted Williams

Weekends were made for...

Dancing. Yup, it's one of the best medicines and it's free!

Sleeping in, already posted about the benefits of shut eye. See here.

Eating. Yummers. See here

Falling in love, with change. Check this out.

Being silent. It works. Try it.

Being vulnerable. Oh this is hard, but good too.

Biking. Check this out.

Bathing, in the forest or in your bathtub.

Writing a love letter, to yourself. Love this one.

Forgiving. Word