Tag Archives: love

The Shooting Arrow: LMU Acceptance

28 Mar

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Just as I expected, I received my acceptance letter from LMU to begin my Masters Program as an Art Therapist. I knew it. For almost 3 years I worked on my pre-requisite coursework on a part time basis at Los Angeles City College. I worked very consistently to get the best grades possible. I wanted my transcript from LACC to have straight A’s. I almost succeeded … I messed up when I couldn’t finish my Spring semester bc of my father’s passing.

When my father’s life came to a halt, so did my goals and plans for school. Everything stopped…for several months. I decided to continue pursuing my educational and career goals one day before the final class to complete my coursework began. And so I started up again 6 months after my father’s passing. Two part time jobs, one psychology class left, an entrance exam, and a 15 page autobiography were needed to complete my application for grad school. 

Everything was turned in! I met the deadline, checked every item off. I had a complete application and I knew I would get priority. Many students apply without having all the coursework completed. That’s because you need 12 units of Psych and 18 units of art coursework, this translates to 10 college classes. And so i waited.

While waiting, several people asked me, “well what happens if I dont get it”. To which I always replied, “Nah, I’m getting in, I did all the work”. I think it was Gurri or someone who said, “So you are shooting  with just one arrow and hitting the target”. YUP!

Finally I had my interview. I prepared myself and walked in with a lot of confidence. I had more questions for the interviewer than he had for me. He told me they would only accept 19 people into the program. Yikes! But i still walked out of the interview owning it. I had been very intentional through and through. Going to ceremony and sweat lodge and always putting that prayer forward. I am so grateful for my spiritual community that has grounded me in so many ways.

I am very grateful to the people who took the time to write me a letter of recommendation: Jeanne S., Camille A., and my art professor Robin Adsit. It was so hard to ask for a letter but it was my last opportunity to apply for grad school. This was it. Afterwards I continued to work on my autobiography. Again, I’m very thankful to my friends who went through each page and read my story. I know it was a lot to do for me, thank you for your feedback and encouragement: Maria Teresa, Maria R., Renaldo and Diana, Liliana, Sarita, Brenda Y., and  Barnica. To Sonji, Vanessa, and Xaris, thank you for being patient with me, we had a beautiful wedding to plan and I needed a bit of time to jump into gear with you ladies. Also my partner Jose, who simply continued to support me, lending me his apartment so that I could finish my application without any distractions. One more mention, when I was an undergraduate at UCSC, I participated in a program where peers and mentors supported me to have the courage to apply to graduate school. I wanted to keep my promise to myself and to the program that one day I would earn a graduate degree, it took  almost 7 years to believe in this dream again, but it was always deep inside. Thank you to the FMP 2004/2005 cohort, to EOP, and my mentors Paul Ortiz, Rosie Cabrera, & Gloria Chacon for inspiring that dream. Oh my goodness, and if I have to go even farther back … There have been countless people that have supported my journey into higher education. Period. This brown womyn needed all the encouragement possible!!! 

SO that’s it. That’s the big update. I sent my commitment letter in the mail today. I start grad school in the Fall …

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Letting go of 2013, one day, one moment at at time…

29 Dec

Its 3 days before 2014.

30 days ago I freaked out when I realized the year was coming to an end.

3 weeks ago I asked my partner, what do you have planned for New Years Eve? And I began to cry.

Grief hits in the most unexpected ways.

3 days ago I took the graduate school entrance exam for the school im applying to. I passed the exam, drove home excited, and then the tears rolled out.

My successes also bring about my grief.

In the past, I am always ready to let go of the year and bring in the new. This year will be hard to let go of.  2013 will be the year when I lost my father. It is the year that I buried him.

To let go of this year, means to continue letting go of him in this physical realm of time and space. The spirit world has different boundaries.

Last night I was listening to “El Condor Pasa”, one of my dad’s favorite songs, from his favorite genre of music, traditional Andean music. We had conversations about one day traveling out to Peru together. And in 2014, we were going to drive from Guate to Oaxaca in his truck. We were going to travel up the mountain and stay in Oaxaca for several days.

It’s not that I miss the trips that will never happen. It’s that I miss the conversations, the arguments, the understanding, and the friendship we were building as adults. I spent my childhood and adolescence with resentment towards the man my father had been towards my mother. I had witnessed and felt things that children are not supposed to see their parents go through. And once I was mature enough to understand the complexity of his victimization and suffering as a young man, I forgave him for eventually becoming a perpetrator.

My father had changed in many ways. Having seen those changes through the years manifested in him when I visited him a year ago. It made me proud of him. And I told him. I was at the airport, returning to L.A., and I called him para despedir me, and I said, “Dad, estoy orgullosa de ti.” Those words meant a different chapter for us in our relationship.

The months leading up to my father’s passing, we were in conversation about me going to grad school and my new job. We were going to meet up in Costa Rica in June, and instead I had to drop off his murder investigation files at the embassy.

2013 was the year I had the courage to finally apply to graduate school. It was the year I lived in Costa Rica. It was the year I turned my career into what I wanted it to look like, a teaching artist with organizations that use art as healing. It was the year that my nephews were old enough to recognize me as their Tia and listen to the lessons I have begun to teach them about patience, compassion, and anger. I have a home. I have food. I have health. I have friends. And I have a lot of love inside of me. It’s been a year I will continue to build and grow from because it taught me lessons of forgiveness, faith, and love.

Im writing this because im letting go… of what specifically, im not sure… but im acknowledging the pain in letting this year go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxVMNQo4HAM

The Longest Dream (12.30.09)

27 Mar

Part One: Lost

I was lost in the wilderness,
Attempting to escape claws and tangling ravines.
A wilderness that held my true colors and passions,
But my colors faded away into everything else.
I needed to stand out,
I had to stand alone,
By myself.
 
Lost in transitions,
I ran in multiple directions.
My own path was windy,
Filled with distractions,
Filled with guilt,
Filled with curiosity,
Filled with doubt.
 

Part Two: I Want To Be Art

An October day offered me new colors. It placed a brush and pallet in my hands.
I was gifted a magical wall and the love flowed out of me.
My colors blended into the concrete, becoming one.
And I became a little girl again.
Nothing mattered, except the present;
You didn’t matter.
He didn’t matter.
And neither did she.
It was just me and the colors of life.
Colors of creation.
With Mountains and Oceans,
The Lightning and Fire,
The Rain Drops and Snow Flakes,
The Clouds and the four Winds,
The Rainbow and the Seashells,
The Flowers and Trees,
I danced cumbias with them all.
 
Somehow it made sense,
This is what everyday should look like…
This is what life should be…
Creation and Art.
 
A wish, a want, a need was born!
I wish to paint like the wind does, all across the sky.
I want to be movement the way the mountains rise.
I need to reach my dreams and the passing clouds.
I want to create.
I want to be Art.
 

Part Three: Doubt

But I doubted myself,
I doubted my destiny.
Unknowing where to begin or continue,
Love laughed at me,
Love made me feel ashamed,
Love made me want to disappear,
And yet I held onto love with all my strength.
I doubted who I needed to become.
A daughter who could be responsible,
A writer who could be infinite with words,
A painter who could paint walls around the world,
A friend who could listen, give time and compassion.
A woman of wisdom who flies with the owls and speaks only when needed.
A woman to share love with all who are worthy.
I was drenched in confusion,
Distracted without a core.
I could not be there for myself,
I prayed for my solitude.
I yelled at the past,
I made a mess of the present,
I denied the future,
I denied myself.
 

Part Four: The Need To Know

I needed to leave.
All these questions and doubts needed an answer.
I needed to know what my destiny would become.
So I flew off,  over pink mountains, past superstitious roads, and crawled up a mountain of Turtles.
I arrived and I prayed,
For everyone.
Myself,
I could not forget myself.
I thanked the ancestors,
I thanked the Hawk, the Crows, and the Ladybugs that joined me on my journey.
The Rock held me up,
The Sun began to set amongst the most expansive Sky I ever saw,
Dusk lasted a lifetime.
And the Cold moved in amongst the heat of the Fires.
 
I descended into the Arroyo,
The smell and dampness allowed me to remember.
I walked into my dream,
The Eagle and the Bat were one in the same
It was me, it was I
 
I was in the middle of my spiral,
my own transformation.
I felt lost searching for a place to call home by midnight.
Then a stranger showed me the way,
A stranger like an angel.
He shared love stories with me,
I shared my stories as well.

“There are no guarantees.”
“Stop being afraid,
Let love be love”, he said.
 
It made me nervous so i walked away.
 
Outside the cold went thru my spine,
I shook it off and starred at the tree.
Completely leafless,
But filled with spirits,
We looked up into the branches.
Two little love birds gave each other warmth.
The Tree did not protect them from the weather,
They just had each other.
This is all they needed,
Love.
 

Part Five: The Longest Dream

I dreamt the longest dream,
I met the older me.
She held my hand and answered my questions;
You are a painter.
You are a writer.
You are a daughter.
You are a dreamer.
You are a lover.
You are magic.
 
In my dream I had wings,
I glided with the Clouds,
The Road below was umber,
The Hawk was my guardian,
The Sky above was every yellow, orange and blue that ever existed.
I Woke up with the sun and chased it all the way to the ocean’s side
The west side, the wild-west, the concrete jungle that waits…
 
As the sun set I realized I was ready
Ready to love, forgive, be challenged, be blessed…
I am ready grandmother.
I am ready grandfather.
I laughed and cried with the wind.
I am ready.
The greatest me has arrived.
Into the city of angels,
I return to join you.
I am not waking up yet, I am living my dream…
 

Definition of Feminism

8 Mar

I wrote this 10 years ago during my freshman year in college…

“My Definition of Feminism”

A feminist is a woman who seeks knowledge on all or most subjects. Challenges herself and the norm. Speaks her mind when treated unfairly and asks for respect. Makes choices about her body and keeps her body healthy. A woman who can love her body for every curve there exists. It is a woman with self-esteem, confidence, and strength. She will not depend on a male or anyone else. If in a bad relationship whether with a man or a woman, she knows when to get out and move on. A woman who is not afraid to step out of what is expected of her so that she can make herself happy. A woman who helps other women and men to recognize the value of women.

Thats about it. Pretty simple. But pretty heartfelt.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMYN’S DAY! ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY, ITS A FULL MOON AND IM DOWN TO CELEBRATE OUR FEMININITY, OUR COURAGE, AND OUR POWER!

Here’s how I’m celebrating tonight!

AF3IRM LA: Celebrating the Working Womyn 

in collaboration with

Mujeres de Maiz & Ovarian Cycles

From Volcanoes to Jungles and Islands

18 Nov

Walking thru humid weather feels as though my spirit has lived in the jungle before. El calor humido sobre mi cuerpo se siento rico y me da nostalgia de algun pasado vivido…

Hace una semana andava encima de un volcan debajo de la luna llena. Habia un friaso que hasta me dio dolor de cabeza. Usually when your hiking, you wanna take off layers of clothing, but as i kept climbing the volcano, it kept getting colder, and colder… ice cold. La noche que subi el volcan Santa Maria bajo la temperatura a menos de zero grados C. Estava super cansada al llegar arriba, mi respiracion me costo. Me dormi un ratito y desperte con el amanecer de el solesito. Poco a poco, el sol calentava la tierra y mi ser. Encima del volcan di un oracion y un agradecimiento al creador, los ancestros, y las quatro direcciones.

Full Moon Hike: Sunrise behind Atitlan, Solola (Elevation: 12, 375 ft.)

The rise of the sun over Guatemala/Quetzaltenango 11.10.11

Xela! My mother's hometown!!!!

Hi! Im hella tired, my feet hurt, and I dont wanna climb down!!!

This week I find myself among lush green palm trees, yerbas, y plantas. Its green and humid everywhere in Panama. Im in shorts and a tank top everyday. I’ve gone swimming in the Atlantic several times now, and ive gone to a couple islands. On one island we climbed all the way to the top and found a radio tower of sorts. We climbed up the tower and were at eye’s view of the entire island and the Atlantic Ocean. A friend that’s hosting me took the time to do some soul searching and i took the time to ponder on the definition and concept of a soul mate. What else are you suppose to do but think deep wonders about life when you’re overseeing so much beautiful earth and ocean before you …

Encima de Isla Grande, Panama

Volando sobre el Mar Atlantico

Panamanian Public Transit: El Bumpin' Party Bus

Soulmate: Alguien que quiere andar en las mismas aventuras conmigo! Alguien que no te corta las alas y vuela tambien!

This year ive had many of these moments where im among breathtaking views of the Earth and I feel that I have to be at the right place at the right time in my life.  What else can one do but give thanks, feel blessed, feel confident in your path, and look forward to the future.

La Puerta Hacia el Futuro

Cindi Santana and the Ovarian Psycos

14 Oct

Memorial for Cindi Santana @ Coyolxauqui Plaza | Oct. 12, 2011

The October Luna Ride:

And so it happened, the full moon showed up from the northeast and i left my house on my bike. I took the train to union station and biked to Hollenbeck Park, the meeting grounds for this month’s Luna Ride. The Luna Rides are called together by the lovely and beautiful Ovarian Psycos, aka the Ovas! Representing Womyn’s independence, sacredness and wildness at full speed, i joined these ladies to ride with the warm October wind.

As we left the park i counted 28 of us and took up a whole car lane. With the full moon on our east side in full bloom, i thought to myself, “we exchanged brooms for bikes but not our spirits”. Our bike route that night would take us to the Moon Goddess, Coyolxauqui, literally. A  replica of the Moon Goddess Monument that was excavated from Templo Mayor, sits in City Terrace, East LA. Here we would gather for ceremony to honor and remember Cindi Santana and the victims/survivors of domestic violence. Cindi Santana lived to be 17years old, a senior high school student in South Gate, CA that was beaten and stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. Youth dating violence is not new, its older than the time my mother was first hit by her partner 40 years ago. And it is more wide-spread than we could ever imagine:  “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.” (1)

Domestic violence is a truth that has lingered in my life since before me (my gramma ancestors survived rape and pillage from Europeans, the church, and eventually her partners). When i was in the womb i was already aware of domestic violence, as my mom survived, so did I… Along with 1 out of every 4 womyn. (2)

As we remembered Cindi, we told stories to heal ourselves from pasts that sometimes we bury in shame. Many prayers  and offerings were shared during our ceremony. I want to re-write some of those prayers and share them with you: 

Prayer for children who are surviving domestic violence with their mothers

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have survived domestic violence.

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have been murdered by their partner. 

Prayer for the mother of Cindi Santana

Prayer for men

Prayer for womyn to speak up if they are in a violent relationship.

Prayer for womyn to walk away from violent relationships.

Prayer for womyn’s eyes to see their own worth and value.

Prayer for womyn’s heart, womb, and mind. 

I wouldn’t usually share sacred prayers said in ceremony, but bc we need to talk about violence in our homes and in our relationships, i have to let people know why we do what we do. I have to share why as a womyn, wefind ourselves in ancient ceremonies as helicopters, cars, and flashing lights fill our urban lifetime. Our realities may not always be understood, but its time for a change in how we love, respect, and honor our womb and our womyn. If your partner is a womyn, take the time to reflect in the ways you love and honor her. And if you dont do this to the best of your ability, humble yourself to change, learn from her, and be a better person. 

If you’re a womyn who finds herself in an fucked up, whack ass, messed up, fearful, emotionally tolling, stressful, worry-some, and/or trapped situation, speak up. Get help. There is help. Start with asking your mom, she knows more than anyone about survivorship. Tell a sister, a friend, a cousin. Call a toll-free number. Listen to your spirit and fight for your freedom. We have to be free! We have to! 

Infinite Fuerza by Ajtun, 2008 (c)

(1) Information found at LoveisRespect.Org 

(2) Information found at Domestic Violence Resource Center

I remember Santa Cruz

27 Sep

This past weekend I returned to Santa Cruz for my 2nd time since graduating in 2006. It’s been 5 years of forgetting, forgiving, and healing from the college/first love/subtly racist hippie town experience. I was unable to return for a while, some of my last memories were painful. I remember when i left i was running away from the Ana in that town. How i got to that town had similar causes…Going to UC Santa Cruz was my ticket out of South Central Los Angeles when I was 18. and between the ages of 18 and 23 I learned to make friends, pass classes, and get by in an affluent, white, expensive-organic food eating, subtly racist beach town…

I grew a lot in Santa Cruz. One post could not capture it all. Lets just say this place offered a wide range of experiences. Positive and negative. I delved a lot into identity politics. I organized on campus for issues that truly concerned me as a student of color. I believed in the retention and outreach of students of color into the university system. I believed in education for people like me. I spoke out at ignorant comments in class. And realized by my third year that I was spending too much time and energy being angry bc I had to explain and defend myself. I worked at finding a place for myself at the university. I found friends through organizing. I remember the threat of resources and mentors being cut out, tuition hikes every year, and my classes holding only a handful of students of color.

Around town, i remember the restaurant with the server that looked down on me for being brown, i remember shopping at Trader Jose for the first time in my life and a man giving me dirty looks for shopping at his store. I remember fighting with a roommate because she was White. damn… I remember when I didn’t want to be angry anymore…

I remember ghost stories. I remember where the caves and best views of the ocean were. I remember walking down windy downtown streets, looking for hot coffee and a quiet place to study. I remember surfers, sunny days, and someone I fell in love with.

I remember the break up. It wasn’t easy, and the poor communication or lack of courage in communicating only hurt the situation.I remember the changes in me as a person. I remember i could only stretch and grow so much in Santa Cruz. I remember a court case where a supposed “friend” did not want to return my deposit money. I remember that woman lying. I remember the friends that believed her and stopped being my friends. yup…

I remember being jailed. I was on my way home, i was pulled over while I was trying to exit HWY 1 to get home on Soquel Ave. I was questioned, made to jump, walk a straight line, and count 30 seconds. I was fine, coherent, but brown. I was trying to get home. I remember them shinning their light in my eyes, blinding and blurring my eyesight. I remember the breathalyzer breaking and they couldnt prove i was intoxicated. I remember it did not matter to them whether i was drunk or not, they wanted to be in the right. I was humiliated, taken to a hospital.  They made me wait for a 3rd person’s opinion on whether or not i was drunk… those stupid cops couldnt decide on their own. i walked a straight line again. I walked straight. But it did not matter, I was hand-cuffed. I was put in jail. I was fuckin cold. I was angry. again.

I never had to go to court. My case was thrown out by the DA. There was no evidence against me. duh. I was only brown.

I am from South Central/the South Bay. I was in my early 20’s. And there were a lot of things that were being figured out during that period of growth. I didn’t go back to Santa Cruz bc th growing pains were too close to my heart and my identity. I didn’t go back because i wanted to desperately forget. In my own healing, i learned to forgive myself. I learned to let go of the hurt. I kept growing…

I went back this past weekend. I had fun. I had really good breakfast food. I went back to the old places i really enjoyed eating at. I still went to the best place i know where the waves crash. A place where my friend and i made friends with a gopher. I saw dolphins in the waves. I walked around a chilly downtown. i had breakfast with a friend and we questioned what really happened to us. Sometimes you dont want to believe someone said something to you or looked at you funky because of the color of your skin. But…it did happen… over and over…

I bought a clif bar at trader joes. The rich hippies and the homeless are still there. Homeless folks can’t collect plastic from trash cans, they will be cited. Homeless folks also cant pick food out of the Whole Foods or any food’s trash bin. Its illegal to take someone else’s trash in Santa Cruz. Classism exists. So does Racism.

I wish I didnt see these things. I wish they were made up in my head. But these inhumane, disrespectful subtleties happen. Everyday. Sometimes worst.

I remembered why i left and didnt go back.

Trust, i rather remember my friends, why i stayed there for 5 years,  and called it my home back then…