Should We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage? But of course...

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... the end of a love affair

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.

Are your cultural beliefs keeping you from getting that promotion?

I am so proud of this latest piece I wrote for LATINA magazine. This is about leaning in Latina style. For Hispanic women in the workplace (and at home too) it's not just limiting gender beliefs that can keep us from success, but cultural beliefs. Like, "good Latina girls are not aggressive," or we grapple with respecting elders and don't know how to stand up to authority figures, or we are afraid to makes make waves coz we look más bonitas when we are calladitas...

In the piece I explore four cultural roadblocks that many Latinas grapple with but also feature coaching tips to over come 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?

Building Community by Saluting the Sun: How rituals can be healthy for body & spirit

Tricia & Pamela celebrate as Anton photo bombing us
Those of you who follow me know that last year I participated in the largest Bikram Yoga class in the world in Time Square. Along with 4,000 plus yogis and thousands of tourists and New Yorker's looking on, I found my zen. I learned that day that in the middle of urban madness you can tap into your inner peace. As much as I was inside, I also felt amazingly connected to the men and women challenging their bodies in the sweltering heat.

This year when the owner of the studio where I practice Bikram Tricia Donegan announced that she wanted to start a tradition and celebrate Summer Solstice by performing this ancient offering, I jumped at the chance. With another amazing yogi, Pamela Herron, she lead a group of twenty brave ones through 108 yoga poses by the Hudson River just as the sun was hitting high noon.

Welcome summer

The Northern Hemisphere celebrates Summer Solstice today, the longest day of the year. Welcome change! Celebrate the star that gives us life.  What are you doing to celebrate today's change in seasons? Spend a moment giving thanks, welcoming change and celebrating that which gives us life, el sol.

Every year I mark the beginning of summer, the day when the northern hemisphere is tilted most toward the sun, with something special and always in community. One year I celebrated with 99 drummers. Last year I participated in the largest yoga class in the world -- 4,000 people -- in the middle  of Times Square. This year I plan to participate in a smaller community yoga class by doing 108 sun salutations by the Hudson River. Do you have any traditions? I'd love to hear about them.

Here's one of my favorite love poems by Hafiz, it's all about love and the metaphor is the sun's relationship to earth.

Five great Frida Khalo quotes...

"...The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration."

Imagine that? Living a life authentically as you feel like it? The boldness with which Frida Khalo lived her life continues to inspire. She didn't just paint, she painted to live. And as a result Frida Khalo lived a full life. While her life seemed like one huge performance art exhibit, she wasn't performing, she was living. This renaissance woman was interested in everything and not just 'art.' And, she had things to say about it all--politics, fashion, culture, women's issues, class issues, cuisine, marriage, sexuality, men, and much more. Khalo inspired women across Latin America and beyond to live authentic full lives.

Can you tell I am a fan? As I see it, Khalo showed us that coloring outside the lines was not only good thing but a great endeavor. Cheers to a woman not afraid to be authentic, even if that authenticity meant to live radically different than was expected of her and women of her culture and era.

I love this quote. Here's a little inspiration, motivation, and life vision from the master painter herself. For Khalo there was no such thing as living in a box because there was no box--life had no limits.

Today is a great day to... someone you love, used to love, want to love, the planet or fill in your blank... 

Adventurous: I added something new to my routine yesterday and got a little adventurous. I walked into a gallery near my home and got a personal tour of a recently opened show "Critical Condition," now showing at the Jim Kempner Gallery. The image is Robert Attanasio's piece, "Be Thoughtful." He curated the show which includes three other artists, gilf!, Bob Seng, and Adam Taye. This one particular piece is called, "Be Thoughtful" and its formerly a Gatorade ad that originally had the word "Be Tough" to which Attanasio ingeniously added h-t-f-u-l. Those five letters subverted the ad and created a whole new vibe. The South Bronx born artist said that this world has too much violence and he just wanted to soften it up a bit. Why promote tough when you can promote thoughtfulness? When you're adventurous lots of amazing things happen.

I discovered some kind of wonderful today...

That even when it rains, birds have a reason to sing.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~ Hippocrates

Would you feed your car water instead of gasoline? Each time I put a morsel of food in my mouth I stop I think about that, and I say a silent meditation that a friend taught me: "Let this food serve as medicine for my mind, body and spirit."

Focusing on how I fuel my body this way has allowed me to eat healthier not in a big visionary way, but with each small choice I make.

Is your job worthwhile?

We spend a whopping 90,000 hours working over our lifetime. That is alotta hours people. So, the question that begs to be asked and answered is: is your job worthwhile? Or, does your job bring you meaning? Does it offer you joy? If the answers are no, no and no, know that you are in great company.

Boston, here I come

I'll be speaking tomorrow at ALPFA's 7th Annual Latina Summit. If you are in the area, there is still time to register. Come find mentors, connections, inspiration, and new best friends.

"Fear is just an annoyance." ~ Leyhma Gbowee, winner Nobel Peace Prize, 2011

Favoritism will get you far, very far, so start kissing up...

Favoritism and social networks not only will get you in the door but they will keep you employed. 

Of course, this is not earth shattering news, or even news. But I thought I would blog about it because it confirms what most of us know. The culprit that reproduces inequality in the workplace is not necessarily the color of our skin, intelligence, skills, or talent, rather it's not having the right connections or being born into a well connected family.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a self made billionaire, calls it the "lucky sperm people." (It's tragic that someone who was so anti-nepotism is today an avid practitioner of handing out jobs to folks hardly qualified, but I digress.) It was wonderful to read Nancy DiTomaso's column in today's New York Times about how favoritism and social networks is what keeps Blacks (and I bet Latinos) longer on the unemployment line. The Rutgers University professor has researched this social phenomenon and her scholarly work proves that, as it always was, it's not what you know, but who you know. Dang it...

Here's the gist of her column in today's New York Times:

Is being a good girl killing you softly?

So thrilled to share a piece I wrote in the latest edition of Cosmo magazine now on newstands. It's the issue with perpetual bad girl, Michelle Rodriguez on the cover.

Here's the scoop: being a good girl is terrible for our individual and collective health. If you find yourself saying, "yes," when you want to say, "fuck no," then it's time to say adios to the good girl-- a syndrome that keeps women from fully living, from being our fun, fearless and greatest selves.

Keep your goals to yourself & you'll succeed

Next time you are dying to tell your best friend about your new goal, don't. Turns out that research is showing that yapping about your dreams is a sure way to kill em. Studies since the 1920's have consistently found that telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen. 

Derek Silvers' shares his short and insightful research on Ted Talk and it'worth watching if you have been floundering with a pet project. 

According to social psychologists talking about our goals tricks the mind into thinking that we have already completed them--it's a feel good reaction that satisfies the brain and makes us less likely to want to do the work. Kurt Lewin, who is touted as the creator of social psychology, called this phenomena, substitution. According to Silvers, Wera Mahler's studies in 1933, showed that when a goal is acknowledged by others, they feel real in the mind. In the 1980's Peter Gollwitzer performed and wrote about human action and reaction. Or rather, non action.

You are alone enough so stop playing yourself

You are alone enough you have nothing to prove to anybody. ~ Maya Angelou

Anytime you ever need a little lifting of the soul, Ms Angelou's words will do. Maya Angelou's words always make me feel majestic. She affirms my womanhood. She affirms my blackness. She affirms my spirit. And my beauty. Maybe because she looks like my late aunt Titi Himilce, I have a special fondness for the great poet. Thank you Ms Angelou for gracing us with your beauty. Here, her classic for women everywhere, "Phenomenal Woman."

Miss Piggy brings it, she knows it

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." ~ Miss Piggy

I bring you flowers...

Today's mantra: To have a meaningful day. To be grateful and graceful. To remain positive and be of service to others. To offer comfort to someone in pain, even if it's a just a kind word. To forgive. Above all, to remember that evil never wins, no matter how much terror it can cause in the human heart. In the end, it is defeated by the forces of good people coming together.

This is your life girl.  It's short. Make it beautiful. Make it count.

Before you know it, you will be dead. Not to be dark or anything, but like my momma says, if you don't wanna die, then don't be born. Death is the only sure thing in life. Growing up with a wise woman who often dropped those kinds of nuggets, I appreciate death for sure. And, as such, I am making my life count before I die. Are you?

All emotions are beautiful, even sadness

Embrace the good, the comfortable, and especially, the uncomfortable. They are your best teachers.

Let go of suffering: 5 daily practices

This karmic cleanse is a like weeding a garden, except in this case, you are not toiling soil, but weeding your soul. It all starts with the work we do within--clearing out spaces so that we can grow and harvest goodness. Going in and checking to see what weeds--or behaviours-- are disturbing your flow and your wholeness is essential. Each of us is a universal expression of love and perfection yet so few understand this. I was in that space--of not knowing my beauty--for a long time. The internal work has been arduous at times, but it's been worth it and it's ongoing. Each day, I learn something new.

What I have found to be true is this: what you pay attention to grows. My lovely friends, pay attention to the things you pay attention to... Here are some tips for a daily soul cleansing.

Tap your stress away

Have you heard of tapping? EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique is spreading like wildfire. The technique is based on the ancient Chinese healing method of acupuncture but without the needles.

While on a plane to Colorado Springs recently, I met a beautiful healer who was sitting across from me an isle away. Her joyful energy was so powerful that I gravitated toward her and by the end of the flight we were like sisters. The Mexico based woman is an EFT expert and has been using the method to heal abandoned babies and children who are dropped off at the adoption house that she started two decades ago. This healer, steeped in ancient indigenous traditions, swears by this practice. She has healed babies, teens, men and women, even pets, she says.

The idea is to focus on what hurts you--emotional stress of a broken relationship, loneliness, unhappiness, financial worries--and with two fingers you tap gently around different meridian points on your body. These are the points that where you have nerve bundles and your chi, or energy, is trapped. The gentle tapping releases the stuck energy and while you may still be worried, you won't feel the physical ramifications of the your stressors. Practitioners of this method swear by its power. They say it's a powerful tool to release old wounds that are stuck and making you sick. It's been used for all kinds of healing--to lose weight, heal broken hearts, physical ailments, addictions, old emotional wounds.

How to live in the present in three easy steps

The eloquence of trees in springtime is magical. Are you catching it?

After walking by this young tree this morning, I wasn't sure if spring brings out the eloquence of nature, or if it's the other way around. Either way, it was a treat to experience. To be so grounded that you can can appreciate tiny moments of beauty is your birthright. Are you claiming it?

We are all offered small miracles everyday but many of us don't see or are able to enjoy them because we are so anxious about the future or regretting the past. Being grounded in the now, as in the right now, has many advantages, most importantly, to experience being fully alive. It's also really good for your health. Here are three easy practices to help you live in the present:

Dating & Spousal Abuse: When women are the abusers

Art by Kara Walker
Woman: Are you the abuser in your relationship?

This post is about an issue that we hardly ever talk about: when women are the abusers. It's an indisputable fact that the majority of batterers and abusers are male and their victims are women. Abuse, after all, is about power. However, according to government stats, 5% of abusers are women. Yes, ladies can be very abusive too.

Spousal and dating violence is prevalent. We have forgotten how to love one another, how to be sweet with each other. People are angry, in pain, and emotionally sick. And when you are emotionally sick you act out and abuse. Men to women, women to men. Men and women to kids. And sadly, even to elders. It's a national problem. 

Dating and domestic violence touches all tax brackets--the uber wealthy to super poor, the famous and infamous, those with PHD's or  GED's and everyone in between.

Blessings to you on this beautiful Sunday.

Today's mantra scribbled on brick. I'd only add one more action verb, love! You are a child of the universe. You were born to create beautiful things. You were born steeped in love, to love and be loved. Live. Work. Create. Love.

Happy Saturday

This morning flower about to pop reminded me of the last line from one of my favorite Pablo Neruda poems, Poem IV from "20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair: 

"I want to do with you what spring does to cherry trees." Lovely, sexy, and yes, muy sublime. Here is the entire poem. Perfect to take in on this gorgeous spring day.

Being alone is healing, if you let it: 3 reasons why being alone is good for you

When doing things alone--without the buffer of another--friend, lover, kids, a pet--life is experienced purely. That is--your experience is unmixed with other matter. Little things take on a deeper meaning. 

I sing the praises of spending chunks of time in my own company. In doing so, I discovered the wondrous woman that resides within.

Eons ago, I was addicted to being with people--doing things with others--with a best friend or in groups. I was even addicted to being in relationships, even when they were shitty. I hated to be alone. I feared doing things sola. This fear probably had it roots in Latino culture where girls are never encouraged to venture the world solasMy life was great though! And I did many beautiful things... However, after nearly two decades of enjoying life like a free range bird, I can assure you--I was missing out. Life has gotten even better.

Once I overcame the fear and discovered the wonders of aloneness and spent considerable chunks of time in my own company, traveling, to near and far away places, going to the movies, catching an exhibit, my favorite bands--all by myself--my life, especially, my creative life--took off. Like, really took off.

For anyone who is fearful of being alone, you'll find plenty of inspiration Tanya Davis's poem, "How to be Alone," which was the inspiration for this post. There is safety in being alone she says. Yes, being alone can also heal, if you let it.

This culture has a deep antipathy to aloneness and I find it so tragic. 

One small change to improve your health

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha
Our culture does not champion stillness, or for that matter, reflection and introspection. And most definitely, self care. But, these are the essentials to a life well lived. S-l-o-w d-o-w-n and listen.

The idea today is to welcome the one thing in your life that will serve as a building block to perfect health--in mind, body and spirit. This is the only moment you have. The one huge thing you can do to reset your life is this:

Take 10 minutes of your day and hang out in nature

New studies are unequivocally confirming the positive healthful effects of nature. At the core of perfect health is your local park. No kidding!

People who are exposed to natural scenes aren't just happier or more comfortable; the very building blocks of their physiological well-being also respond positively.  ~ The Atlantic

Nature resets our internal clocks. A walk in the forest, or your local park, the more dense, the better, has proven to improve health.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~ Shakespeare

Happy Easter

Happy Easter by Gustabo Rodriguez 

Peoria bound...

Looking forward to visiting Casa Latina and the students of Western Illinois University.

Don't be so busy to miss out on spring. 

Some loveliness from my morning walk on one my favorites places in my home town of New York, New York. High Line Park. Bellisimo. 

The light of the season is sublime
Flowers are in bloom 

Stop sitting on your potential & do something with it...

Success consists in being successful, not in having the potential for success. ~Fernando Pessoa

We have all been endowed with unique gifts, but not all of us take advantage of these gifts. 

"If we become what we think we are, remember to carefully curate the thoughts you harbor about yourself."

Being perfect is so boring...

"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world...

Getting Un-stuck

"Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us get to work. ~ Chuck Close

Secret to a happy life

Highline Park installation, Spring 2012
Complex decisions become easy when you ask yourself what will make you happy. Take a deep breath & always choose happy.

Latinas Rising

We can experience everyday gifts when we allow ourselves to give of ourselves freely...

Wise Women Talking

I'm proud to join the authors of...
"Nothing can stop the human spirit, especially when it's aware of its own power." ~ Victor Villaseñor

America the beautiful...

This was the view from the skies as I flew into the great state of Colorado where I am scheduled to speak tonight at the 34th annual Dinner & Dance of the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce. But before the keynote I will visit Risley Middle School to speak to young Latina students. And I thought, this patchwork of beauty is inspiring. Each is so different adding to the majesty of the landscape.

As I get ready to speak to the middle school girls, I hold on to the message that the land is offering. I want to inspire young Latinas not to be afraid to dream big. I want them to know that there are tangible symbols of success all around them, not to be afraid to reach out to the elders. And that when you dream big as a child and take responsibilities for those dreams you can achieve great things.

As children of the universe, they and each of us was born to create amazing and dazzling things.
Nature gave us the code: there is beauty and power in what each of us bring to the table. Believe it.

Colorado... here I come

Honored to have been asked to deliver the keynote at the 34th Annual Dinner Dance of the good folks of the Pueblo Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce. This year's theme, "Una Noche para Celebrar La Tradición," is fascinating. 

  • How much of tradition serve Latinos who live in the US? How much does la tradición paralyze?
  • Is it healthy to live in two worlds? 
  • How do you balance the "old world ways" with the modern?
  • What are some of the traditions that serve us? 

If you are in the area of Pueblo, hope you can join in on the conversation and an evening of connection and celebration.