Sunday, August 23, 2009

This writer's coming out!

When I began writing this post at the beginning of the month I knew I wanted to chronicle my writing journey to publication. I want to inspire others as I want to be inspired. After all, that is what keeps the creativity flowing in us writers, artists, musicians, etc.

I think of those out there who are dying a little inside each day because they are not following their true self...and they are fully aware that they aren't. I completely understand that feeling. I also struggled with the idea of not being able to be a good mom and wife if I decided to seek out my passion~writing!

Today I spent a pretty quiet day away from the "networking" world. I woke up to a beautiful message in my inbox from an author I have admired for some time. I have been given an incredible opportunity by her. The details will be announced here shortly, but the fact is she read my blog. She visited and read my blog! On top of that, I had brief, but private & personal contact with her.

This has been huge for my soul within! If you read my previous post you would understand how this turn of events has lifted my spirits.

Okay, I'm not stupid! I know that all my writing days will not be sunshine and golden, but today was and I must acknowledge that! I have had rejection letters and I embrace them. I have not been the most outgoing person. Putting myself out there is huge for me! I have feared my own independence and success! I could single-handedly organize and throw an event for hundreds of people I didn't know to raise money for kids or to honor someone else, but "chat myself up" I have not been able to overcome that challenge!

My path has been crossed by another's who has been more than willing to assist me in my journey. I imagine us to be running laps on this gigantic track to successful publishing. My new friend is a few laps ahead of me, but without hesitation, stops to cheer me on and introduce me to new people and tools that will only aide in seeing me complete my own race! It has been because of her that I have this newly acquired strength! It is this new force of strength that gave me the courage to contact the author yesterday.

This journey has been better for my family than I thought. I raised my children-always doing for them and even their friends. Even opening up our home to their friends in need along the way. That was my main role, job, identifier...and I loved it. But, not writing has always left me with an incomplete heart. I learned to not love myself as I should and not care for myself as I should! Not knowing a soul in the business...I knew that I'd be going at this cold! My husband and children are incredibly supportive and our family dynamic is starting to change. They are proud of my strides and I feel more alive too! I would never give up my family for a career in writing, but I now know that I don't have to give up either. That was my misguided understanding of a mom and wife and successful writer!

It's hard to really understand if you have not been there, but I haven't seen a speck of me in years and I think I'm starting to see me again, people!

Dear readers, I hope you can find a way to embrace your dream, even if it has to start out as a hobby! Find someone to cheer you on and never forget to be in their corner too!

Wishing you dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

~the sol within~

Give it a listen! The songs that inspired this post:
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses
The Story by Brandi Carlile
Live Your Life by T.I. featuring Rihanna
Life Is A Highway by Rascal Flatts
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly & the Family Stone
Someday by Sugar Ray
Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac
New Soul by Yael Naim
These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs

Thursday, August 20, 2009

She wore what?! & The week that was!

I had high hopes for this week...

My family and I have been going through some big changes recently- some of them we have looked forward to for years. The anticipation was building and it all started rather uneventfully, but still was going well. So thankful for that. Suddenly, I felt in need of some immediate inspiration. My words weren't flowing as easily as they have and I struggled with what I needed to do to complete some of my projects.

Note: I am a quiet person and often people have taken me to be unfriendly because I am so quiet. I'd rather write than mingle and that has sometimes been a downfall of mine.

That said, it really sucks when I reach out to someone that I admire professionally and they basically ignore my existence! I am not asking to be BFFs or even to K.I.T. I firmly believe in helping others out. Maybe because I believe in Karma! I get that some don't...maybe out of jealousy, their own misguided confusion, or just plain ol' meanness. Whatever it is...well, it is just too bad- for them! Whenever this happens to others I often think of the wonderful George Lopez and his unfortunate incident with Eric Estrada...unfotunate for Eric Estrada because George Lopez brings up the offense every chance he gets! Payback's a...!

My great week had started to take on a bummer feel! Things were fine, but I couldn't break out of my lack of inspiration and tremendously disappointed attitude. No, the person that I had contacted couldn't have helped me with my writing or getting anything published because that is my journey, but what hurt was the lack of human decency! I think that's what gets me most is that people, Latinos/as, women have the opportunity to celebrate one another and yet, they opt not to. I don't get it! For a while this week I thought it was just me, but then, yesterday my literary guardian angel came to the rescue and shared some insight. She, too, feels that we should praise one another and help eachother as often as we can.

I realized that the "un-helpful one" was not what was really bothering me anyway. I had some other things going on cluttering my mind and couldn't find my way back to writing! Oh, woe was me...blah...blah...blah...was the sentiment for each day this week. I tried hard to get my inspiration back, but was forcing the process too much. Nothing was coming from my soul within anymore!

Today I awoke feeling a bit more at ease about things and decided to take a step back from the feverish writing projects. I hung out with a very special little person in my life. We played, read books, and just talked about so many things. I finally had a moment when I needed to write and send a very important email and in that time this hilarious little creature put things into perspective for me!

While I was at the computer the "kid" decided to put on her swimsuit, rain coat, and rain boots. (See portrait above.) I laughed so hard at the image and asked, "Why are you wearing all that?". "Why not? Am I not supposed to?" she asked. Supposed to...hmmm.

I got caught up in worry about what I was lacking because I was supposed to write and not allow anything to trip me up! I was supposed to enjoy this week with my family and welcome the changes with imaginary mariachis practically blaring in celebration! I was supposed to encounter only graciously accepting people as I would hope to treat others when I become more established.

The "little wise one" continued to dance around and play. "You can wear what you want, but I just wonder why you changed?" I tried once more.

"I'm wearing my favorite clothes because I want to! And, you write because you want to!"

Yes, this tyke made me see that my inspiration has been right under my nose. This is the reason why I write children's books and am following my passion to write...because I want to!

As I wrap up this post the "small fashionista" has stolen the swim cap of the older sibling-who is in the shower- and is running around in a tunic dress, leggings, and Speedo swim cap! I just love the confident and free-spirited souls who know what they want and do it when they feel the inspiration!

May all of you who have been in a creative slump find some inspiration right under your nose! And, may we always have the confidence to wear a swimsuit, rain coat, and rain boots all at once...just because we might want to!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

Give it a listen...
The music that inspired this post: Tenderness by General Public; Gives You Hell by The All American Rejects; You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones; All These Things That I've Done by The Killers; A Little Respect by Erasure; Express Yourself by NWA; Everybody Is A Star by Sly and the Family Stone; Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone; People Are People by Depeche Mode; Bad Day by Daniel Powter.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The two that I miss dearly...

I have been working on a project lately that involves some very special people in my Grandparents. I think about two of them in particular almost constantly. Even on my most insanely busy days I think of them for a quick second and a smile comes to my face. Whether in the back of my mind or looking at the picture above my computer or by my front door I think of them. It is already pretty tough to write this post! As I sit here writing to all of you wonderful people who will bother to take in my words, I am listening to the music my Grandparents loved...the music of my childhood! Tears are streaming down my face and I feel a lump in my throat! I miss them so incredibly much that it hurts almost causing a physical pain! Have any of you ever missed someone so much that you can understand my pain? I want to say that I hope not, but why not?

If you understand my pain then you are among the lucky ones who have had someone so special in your life that their absence causes such a deep-rooted and painful spot in your soul! That's what my grandparents were to me! They were two amazing people who gave me unconditional matter what I did or didn't do!

One was my Grandma-my father's mother. She lived four hours south of us. When we went to visit her she would wait up-no matter how late- and she would have homemade flour tortillas and a beautiful dinner waiting for us. I got to sleep with her and we would talk ALL night about everyone and everything! The next day her house would be crowded with countless cousins and aunts and uncles all eating Grandma's delicious food that she made with love from her soul. She always sat on her porch and watched people pass by. Nearly everyone in her town knew who she was and so most of the passersby had at least a wave for my Grandma! She spoke in English and in Spanish fluently, but when she said my cousin Nicole's name it sounded like Nickel. I loved that and so did "Nickel".

She was a mother of eight and therefore, a hard-worker! For most of her life she was a single mom. She buried two spouses and two sons before she left this Earth! She lived alone and maintained a clean home while working a full-time job at "la packing-house" as she referred to it, where she packed oranges that had just been picked from the nearby groves. When we visited we always had fresh fruit to eat and freshly squeezed orange juice!

She was strong and fearlessly independent! When she wanted to visit us or her other two sons and their families who lived near us, Grandma would take the Greyhound bus and phone my dad to tell him that she was in town. We would rush to pick her up and I carried her very old, but sturdy luggage to the car. Hmmm...old, but sturdy...I had never noticed that parallel prior to this moment! She was a woman of modest means, but she loved to go to Reno, Nevada to gamble. She would set aside a gambling allowance and when someone in the family was heading that way they'd take Grandma along. She gambled what she had saved and no more!

With the change she won she would start to save two little sandwich baggies filled with coins- one for my brother and one for me! We were her youngest grandchildren and everyone knows that I was her favorite! I am not afraid to say it! There aren't many things I am sure of in this world, but being Granmda's girl was a certainty for me! She introduced me to Country Time Lemonade, bologna in a tortilla, walking anywhere you wanted to go if you didn't have a car at the moment, and RC Cola straight from a glass bottle and recycling the bottles when we were done!

My Grandma died suddenly! I was going to p.e. class my sophmore year in high school. I got an urgent message to go meet my mom in the office. I immediately knew something was wrong when I saw her face! That four hour drive to her hospital bedside was the worst drive I have ever endured! Every so often I'd catch the reflection of my dad's worried and distant look in the rear view mirror and I'd shrink back down in my seat and silently cry. That drive we were all quiet and I knew each of us was praying in our own way.

The nurses were not going to let my brother and me in to see my Grandma because we were underage. Thankfully, my tough aunt/Godmother, also a nurse in another hospital, strongly persuaded the nurses to let us in. At that moment I was so happy to go in, but shortly after I realized why my aunt fought so hard for us and why the nurses bent the rules.

Three days later I kissed my Grandma goodbye for the final time and watched my dad through the doorway as he remained by Grandma's side as she passed away! It was Thanksgiving Day and in Grandma's fridge was a turkey and on her counter were most of the items needed for a Thanksgiving Day feast.

Grandma died with 20-something grandchildren and 37- or so great-grandchildren. The numbers have only multiplied over the years and I even named my first-born with part of Grandma's name. I wish she could have known my children and my husband! She would have loved them! I do believe she watches over me and I dream about her sometimes, but I miss her immensely nonetheless! I love you so much, Grandma!

My Grandpa- my mom's dad- was my Wello (short for Abuelo). He was AWESOME! That word, along with amazing, is used far too often in my opinion, but my Wello was! He could fix anything...a broken piece of jewelry, an appliance, a car, someone's self-esteem! He was loved by everyone he met. He was the one person who held me when I sobbed uncontrollably at my Grandma's funeral. He bought me my first pair of diamond earrings when I turned 5 and again when I turned 16. He dressed impeccably. Everyone admired his taste. He loved to dress well. He adored navy blue suits and accentuated his style with tie-tac and cuff links.

He, too, was a hard worker and father of six daughters and one son. When they were little, my mom told me stories, that he would line up their shoes and polish them before they went out anywhere. He never liked scuffed shoes. He also taught his grandsons to never start undressing when they are at a dance- wedding, quinceanera, party, etc. He'd say that it said a lot about a man who started to undress immediately at a reception. You know, the guys who undo their ties, unbutton and untuck their shirt, and remove their suit coat or tuxedo jacket. When my brother went to prom Wello let him borrow his diamond tie-tac and cuff-link set.

He worked in the school district most of his life as a custodian and was at one time the only hispanic in the entire school district! He fought racism and poverty in his life, but he had the most love and acceptance for people than anyone I have ever known! He was wise and brilliant! He taught me that those who listen are often smarter and wiser than those who are always speaking- even if they speak as though they are the most intelligent people on this Earth! He served in the Navy and loved this country with a passion! No matter what ailed him, he took the privilege to vote as such and always made sure he cast his vote! He always wore an American flag pin and that's something my kids remember about him!

My Wello could dance like no other! Forget So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars, my Wello could've danced circles around them! At parties he'd glide my Abuela around the floor as all the women watched adoringly. The other little girls and I would sit in the corner as I proudly claimed, "That's MY Wello!" "Aaahhh!" the other little girls always swooned!

My Wello died 5 years ago, so he got to meet my kids and my husband, but it still wasn't enough time! My oldest was just crying about him two days ago! Still to this day, when I encounter someone from the school district that knew my Wello they will come up to me and ask if I am his granddaughter. They feel the need to tell me everytime I see them just how much my Grandfather meant to them! "It was an honor to know him," they always say. Indeed, it was!

I can't stop missing my grandparents lately and it hurts, but this post isn't meant to be a downer! About a decade before my Grandpa died I felt that I wanted to write a book about his life. I asked him if I could interview him and he agreed. I spoke to him privately in his room and I was surprised at how much he revealed. I loved him all the more for it!

Take a lesson from me and if you still have a wonderful grandparent or any special person in your life...photograph them often, ask them questions about their life, and really get to know them! Appreciate them now- in this moment!

This post is obviously dedicated to two of the most wonderful people I didn't have enough time with- Grandma and Wello! They can never be duplicated, but having known them has made me a better person and a passionate human being!

To my readers, may you experience this kind of love with at least one person in your lifetime and may you mean this much to someone else!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!


Give it a listen: The music that inspired this blog was "El Nino Perdido" performed by Mariachi Nuevo Tecatlitlan, "Volver Volver" by Vicente Fernandez, "Angel of Mine" by Monica, "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel, and "I Will Remember You" by Amy Grant.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ch-ch-changes...and to all the creative people who've inspired my recent hope...

I am not even sure where or how to begin this first post. All that comes to mind is THANK YOU! I am a momma who has held the dream of becoming a published author within my soul since I was in the second grade. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading, reading, and reading some more about the subject and the process of becoming published. There seems to be equally encouraging and discouraging information out there. I would get excited and then...disheartened! I tried to live life being the good, loyal wife and best, supportive mother I could be. I was always involved to the fullest, practically volunteering all of my waking hours away at my child's school. Throughout some of that time I worked, assistant in an afterschool program. Then, I studied my evenings away at school in hopes of subduing my yearning for a writing career..."okay," I thought to myself. "I'll finally listen to everyone else who said I should be a teacher." Needless to say, I loved English classes and found my writing flourishing yet again. I tried to stay focused on the teaching career, while I renewed my subscriptions to the writer's magazines. Graduation finally came and I found myself in one of the most wonderful jobs I've ever had...teaching the most precious students! I was an instructional support teacher for the children of migrant farm workers!

Before I knew it, my empty journals were starting to fill up. Everyday I was discovering a new world through the eyes of my new little students.

My husband and I were incredibly blessed to have another addition to our family and I became a stay-at-home momma...again! I enjoyed discovering the newest little person in our family. What a riot! Sarcastic wit like her momma! My family is my ultimate inspiration for what I do and all that I strive for, but what I am writing about here is different than that. This new found attitude has been encouraged by some great people- most of whom I have yet to meet. It has been their work and blogs that have inspired me as a wife, mom, and individual to truly seek my dream!

Have any of you ever wondered if what you were doing was the right thing/path? You wished for a sign. I used to wish for that all the time, but the signs didn't seem to come. Actually, in retrospect the signs were there in the form of struggle or even the lack of having the positive support for my endeavor might've been a sign that I couldn't see until now. I have read so much over the past year and a half and listened to countless lectures about following your true path in life. When you do, the doors open up like never before.

A few weeks ago I received an assignment to write an article. I will let you all know when the article is published. I am thrilled to have the opportunity! My husband and children cheered for me, understanding what this means to me. My kids have seen me fill my journals, but stop short of taking the steps to see my work published. They read some of my work over and over and ask for them as bedtime stories.

The following day I went to a textbook store to purchase the books that one of my kids needed for school. After looking online I knew that we would be eating a lot of tortillas, bean, and papita burritos for some time to pay for the books, but it was a necessary purchase. Much to my surprise, the owner did something completely astonishing and extraordinary for my family. She knew my mother and therefore, did it as a "Thank You" for all that my mom did for her child, but I had never met this woman before that moment and now she was doing this wonderful thing for my child and our family! She has no idea the blessing she gave us, but I have prayed for her and her family every day since. I am tired of hearing the negativity in this world. I used to live the negative life. I guess you could say that what I am doing here is paying it forward to all those who have meant something to me and motivated me to embark on this journey!

Nicole- I have known for years in a professional manner because she is my Dentist's dental hygienist. She has recently become a friend. She has been a great listener and understanding comfort with some less than ideal situations we have encountered. She has shown her generous spirit many times, but most recently by sharing her very own garden vegetables with my family. Food that nourished the soul and bodies when my kids suffered a lingering cold and fever a few weeks back! Feed my family as you'd feed your own and I will never forget your kindness! Thank you!

Carolyn- I have been reading her blogs over the past several months and have enjoyed hearing what she encounters as a crafter, wife, and mother. I am inspired by her work and her passion that comes through each painting. In an artistic, creative world people write, sing, paint, draw, sculpt from the soul. Sometimes you don't get the praise or reaction you thought you would when you created what you deemed to be your best work to date. Ultimately, I have learned through Carolyn that you must love what you do to put your work out on display- even when, sadly, a vocal critic doesn't quite get it! Thanks for your honesty and inspiration, Carolyn!

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez Author- I have been so incredibly inspired by Alisa's work. I have followed her blog for years! I love her books. I was so intrigued by seeing her on the Today Show when the Dirty Girls Social Club book debuted that I immediately looked her up. I was graduating from college at that time, trying to focus on the teaching, but the universe presented this incredible Latina author in front of me. My parents knew of my interest in her and gave me the Dirty Girls Social Club as a grad gift! I read every ounce of that book and was in awe that a book centered around Latinas could hit the mainstream media. It inspired me to hold onto my dream of writing what I life as an American Latina! Thank you, Alisa, for fighting the fight-always- for what you believe in and the courage to continue to be the strength you are for your fans and especially for your son!

Gwendolyn Zepeda Author- I came across some titles by Gwen and discovered her blog and many books. She writes novels as well as children's books just as I have been working on. She has given me hope that accomplishing both can be done- and done well! She has been published by the same publishing house I first began my research on many, many years ago. Gwen is an involved parent of boys who loves her family time and enjoys going out to dinner with her husband. In the midst of it all, she writes a witty blog -that I have come to look forward to reading - and recently married her true love. Her blog about her honeymoon adventures had me laughing and crying! Thanks for the honest and real way in which you reach out to your readers, Gwendolyn! You have inspired me as a writer, wife, and mom!

Maya Murillo Maya in the Moment-Maya is the daughter of some very talented parents and is quite entertaining and talented in her own right! She is a refreshing break for me when I am working feverishly at the computer and someone I know my kids- from my high schooler down to my toddler- always enjoy watching or reading her posts! She gives me inspiration that kids can grow up and still be really good, loving, productive citizens along the way! You are awesome, Maya!

Kathy Cano-Murillo Crafty Chica- I heard through the grapevine that I had missed the Crafty Chica when she visited a nearby Michael's store last August. I looked her up and instantly fell in love with her blog! She is honest, kind, and inspiring...EVERYDAY! She is one of the very few bloggers who posts daily and I look forward to it. It's how I begin my day. Her work is artsy and original and full of sparkly glitter! Immediately, I felt as though I knew her and her family. When she began sharing her desires to write fiction I knew that there was a reason I had begun following her daily out of the clear blue. She has been a vessel for me to learn about the world of craft faires, publishing, working so hard for the sake of your family and your passion, and the love that only a family can evoke! Kathy's daily inspiration to others has really been the urge that has prompted me to see my world in a new way and accept the challenge within me to become the writer I want to be! Thanks, Kathy, for the wonderful things you write, create, and bring into this world!

Nilki Benitez musings- Nilki is a blogger and aspiring writer as well. She and I have recently gotten the chance to chat and it feels as though she has been the girl-friend I have been waiting to meet my whole life! She is supportive and excited about what the future holds for both of us in terms of our writing careers! We share our hopes, dreams, project ideas, crazy random thoughts and fears, and how chasing our writing dreams affects the loves in our lives...our husbands and children! She is inspirational and her words have fed my soul! Nilki, thank you, for the support. I know one day I will be the Louise to your Thelma or we can tour the country as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens!

What I have just written here is about the women that have touched this soul within me through their good work! Thanks to all of these wonderful ladies for what they do...following their dreams and being good people!
Ladies, you are all awesome!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

~Anna Rodriguez

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." Albert Camus