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…

Full Cirle

29 Aug

Circles are made to create unity. Circles and cycles mark the movement of the stars, the Earth and the Universe. Seasons and blessings come in cirles. And we live the sacred circle of life.

Visiting Medicine Wheel: Sacred Circle

In June of 2010 I was in Cypress Park holding my first Solo Exhibition of my art-work. Exactly one year later, a full circle was marked. I was in Cypress Park again, at Nightingale Middle School, directly across the street from the art space where my solo happened. This time, I was introducing myself to the parents and the youth I was going to embark on a journey with for the summer. Previous to this day, tt had been unclear whether or not I would be a camp counselor. The position i applied for was denied to me, but I did not realize the true blessings behind the change in positions. My ancestors and Creator was in the process of answering my prayers and they made the switches to place me as a counselor with high school students returning for their second year of leadership development in Wyoming. Instead of being stationed at a camp site, I was going to hike over 50+ miles at Big Horn National Park with 2 different groups of young womyn from Los Angeles.

C5 Dollz on our hardest day of hiking!

Trek Counselors and Guides at 9810

Photographs and words could not describe the magic and the blessings of the sights and sounds I experienced. I made friendships with trek guides from New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Ohia, and Cali. I made strong bonds with high schools students spread through out Los Angeles, from Huntington Park to South Central, to Northridge. I taught, I learned, I cried, I laughed, I climbed, and I swam, but what I did most was thank Creator everyday for the beauty before me. Whether it was mountain peaks and Lost Lakes or the youth and their everlasting sillyness, everything and everyone shared a beautiful spirit.

My own spirit felt like it was glowing.

Finding Lost Lake

Everything was so clear out in the mountains. Everything was true and rich; every color, every sound, every bloom. During my first trek, i saw many caterpillars and by the time i returned for my second trek, I saw countless butterflies. I swam in rivers  and drank water from them, knowing and seeing the direct source of the water I was surrounded by was an amazing blessing. 

In nature, everything is purposeful. Every leaf, every wind, every thunderstorm, and every bird singing serves a magical purpose of life and spirit. Having been back in the city for a few weeks now, I notice the noise, the confusion, and the empytness in people’s souls. This man made reality is harsh. It is not an easy one to live by day to day.

When I was in the mountains, i would go scouting for trails through forests and mountains I had never seen before. I would come across animals and rivers and never once was I afraid. I felt free and beautiful. The other day, I walked from 3rd Street to 7th Street in Downtown L.A., and men would stop there cars to honk or ask me where I was headed. Men would stare at every crosswalk and I walked with my head held high, but my spirit was sad for the level of disrespect I was receiving. I reminded myself that I have felt this vulnerability and uncomfortableness before. And healing is also a never ending cycle. 

I thank Creator and the ancestors for placing me in the mountains this summer and allowing my spirit to heal, grow, and evolve. Inspired from nature, I too seek my true purpose. I know that working with youth is my path. 

My first session with the Frig Friggies at Lily Lake

Transformation: Who we were when we entered the mountains is not who we are after climbing out.

Mi Chikis

17 May

It was two months ago this day, that I put my Chikis to sleep. Its taken this length of time to finally talk and write about her. After making the decision to put her down, it was very hard to think about her, it made me really sad.

I found Chikis Jaguar Ajtun on a cold September night in L.A., abandoned  in a box underneath a light post. As i was walking by I heard her little desperate meows. When i found the box I knew there was no going back once i opened it. Inside was this beautiful little baby kitten starring up at me. She meowed one last time and then cuddled inside my hands for warmth.

I took her inside and fed her milk. She was so little. I started to call her Chikis. By the next day, she learned her name and would come out from underneath the bed when i called for her. I took her to the vet, she weighed 6 ounces and was dehydrated and flea infested. The vets saw her and their hearts melted. People around me began to fall in love with her. Mean while i was trying to figure out whether to keep her or not. I figured a few weeks of care and then i would let someone else take her up.

I was not able to let go of her. I fell in love with Chikis. She was special and I needed to stop being selfish. I decided i would care for her. She came to me during a time that I needed to practice self love and self care, and she would be my constant reminder.

From the beginning I took her painting with me. I figured if she’s gonna be a callejera, it was gonna be because I was a callejera as well. I also took her to work bc someone had to feed her, she was too little to feed herself. Everyone at work loved her, including my boss. Chikis would fall asleep on my supervisor’s lap as she worked on the computer typing away reports. I would sneak her around in my purse, she fit perfectly, she was the size of an orange.

Chikis grew up and was no longer little. She became far from little. She gained excessive weight due to a liver problem. She also became blind and was no longer agile.  She never stopped being sick and was always having digestion problems. I took her to several vets but no one could tell me what was really wrong with her. Vets are expensive and I didn’t know what to do.

It made me sad to see her over-weight, unable to clean herself, and always bumping into things. She was smart and found her self around the apt., but she was also becoming sicker. I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to make the decision to put her to sleep. I asked my co-worker for help and she went with me the morning of March 17th, 2011 to put her to sleep. I sat in the car with Chikis asleep on my lap. When i was ready i put her in a box carrier and went inside the office vet. I sat there and signed all the paperwork crying my eyes out. I signed and paid and had boogers running down my face. I was a mess. The vet just looked at me confused. I was so sad. I said one last good bye and walked away. I cried my eyes out the rest of the day. I became sick too.

Who knew a cat or a pet could cause so much emotion. I love Chikis. But I promise to never take up another animal until i have my own home with a backyard where my pets can play and be happy. I want to have chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats. Maybe some rabbits too. I’ll make a little altar so that all my pets can honor her. She was my first pet and she taught me so much love.

Love and Live in Los Angeles

27 Mar

On 1.11.11, a couple of amazing friends of mine organized a beautiful event called Love and Live in L.A. The intention was to bring people together and acknowledge the ways in which we struggle living in this city, as well as to celebrate the ways in which we love and live in this amazing city. About 200 people came together to see art, and listen to poetry, songs, spoken word, and hip hop. We felt each other’s stories. We completed circles meeting people for the first time. For many of us, it was reunity.

Diana, curator, poet, and organizer, along with Skim, gave a beautiful introduction to welcome everyone to the space at KIWA. (the intro and recap of the event is in the video below) Diana spoke of the definitions of love that we have yet to create. Reflecting on 2010, the question was, “How do we love and live in L.A.” In finding an answer she quotes Bell Hookes so that we can build with one another and thrive in our city, “Love is the commitment to another person’s spiritual growth”.  This is so deep bc recognition of someone’s spirit would allow us to see plainly how we affect another being. If we bring true love and happiness to those we love, their spirit will clearly tell us.  Above all though, we must recognize our own spirits, love ourselves,and let it evolve by being in the practice of love with those around us.

I took in the sights and sounds of this beautiful event, experiencing past, present and future simultaneaously. It brought memories of my past and how i learned to love and become one with this city. I was present with other artists and friends. And during an interview that Diana filmed and shared at the event, I stated my future. I walked away with very deep and diverse set of emotions bc this event became more personal to me than I had ever expected. When reflecting on how I came to love L.A., i realized that it had happened through a past relationship. I fell in love with this city and I fell in love with art while falling in love with a past boyfriend of mine. I became emotionally connected to this event. Being at Love and Live also reminded me that it was this kind of space that cultivated my love for this city and inspired me to grow into an artist. I am grateful for everyone that has shared their love, creativity and beauty with me. I love this crazy city… i trully deeply love this city because of the wonderful friendships and experiences i’ve been blessed to have. I give thanks for being able to feel this, being reminded of this, and for living and loving in L.A.

how do you prove love?

9 Dec

“but ana, i dont get it, how do you prove love?”, asks my high school student as i was driving her home on the 110 freeway.

i answer the way people have said it before, “you just know. its a feeling. love comes from within…”

“but what does that mean, is it like having a soul?”

I thought about my spiritual path and i answered, “well i know i have a soul, my spirit, i can feel it and i connect with it. i cant see it or touch it, but i feel it. thats how love is, i feel it…i’ve loved before, but i have someone in my life right now, and we are in love with each other, and its never felt like this before…”

my student didn’t seem satisfied, she continued, “sometimes i wonder about couples in school. sometimes they look really happy together. and then the next month they don’t even talk to each other anymore. why does that happen ana?”

Why does teenage love last for a week or a month? I thought about my own high school relationships… “i think in high school you might not be mature enough to communicate and understand each other to the point where you work it out past one month”, i answered…

“but how do you prove love…?!?!”

All i could share with her is what I have learned thus far… “love is built on trust. trust is built on honesty and communication. love begins with a friendship. you can’t love someone and not trust them. you can’t love someone and not be able to communicate with them. love needs all these other things to truly exist …” 

she finally seemed satisfied with my answer, “that makes sense…hmmm…”

love doesn’t always make sense. we search for it in other people. hoping that it proves itself by itself. but in my experience, i had to learn who i was more, i’ve had to mature more. i had to learn what i want in another person, what works and what doesn’t. i had to learn how to ask questions and talk about so many unknowns. i’ve gone through relationships where the communication was tense, uncomfortable, and things were buried.

I’ve been trying to love better since my my college relationship. it ended so badly and painfully that i need to make sure to not repeat those mistakes. in the process, i had to also forgive myself. the hardest lesson was figuring out what healthy communication could feel and look like. when healthy, beautiful communication happens between two persons, it’s as if you are sharing your souls with each other. it is an exploration of what lies deep inside one another person. and you present it, bare and raw. it works out when the other person isnt afraid to share theyre ugly and their beautiful. and i’ve learned to be honest about my ugly and my beautiful. its been hard, but i finally found the me who is free to say and do what i want. and the person im in love with, loves my crazyness, my energy, my tears, my past, my future. i am sure ive been loved like this before. but still, something is different, and i can feel it, and it feels like love …


Design sketches of my future

29 Aug

Since the 13th Moon i began to move into a new moon, a new phase for myself as an artist. I began to ask myself challenging question about who Ana Ruth Castillo wants to be as an artist. It is difficult to walk through these journeys called life, love, and careers. Without a map, my navigational tools have become my heart and intuition. With these tools i was able to sketch some ideas about what my future could look like… they are all possible, but require focus & commitment to working the plan out.

I considered doing an artist residency in Bolivia, Morocco, Berlin, Thailand… i discovered countless possibilities and opportunities outside of the country for artists. I imagined leaving the continent for 2 or 3 years… but reality held my feet down. This summer life has been teaching me to be more responsible and more professional. I have felt some heavyness around my responsibilities towards my family, but i realized that I am choosing to take care of things at home, so i have to stop victimizing myself and just step up. Changing the way I think about these things helps me move forward with greater strength and victory. For now I am staying put, but I am still dreaming.

I had a dream that I went back to school. I woke up and began to search for MFA programs. I began to see the academic/professional world of art. It gave me new insight about this world that I wanted to enter. It opened my mind to different types of art that I can engage with and found myself most interested in public art. I really wanted to be an art student, but a $60,000 degree told me to figure it out some other way.

I began an internship this summer with muralist Ricardo Mendoza, whose work I truly admire because his art is never small. He goes big, and designs with great ambition… I relate. I began assisting in the production of a ceramic, glass, and aluminum mural that he designed. This public art piece measures 19 ft x 19ft and its gonna be installed at the entrance of Monterey Park Library. I have been cutting and organizing hundreds of clay pieces. They are then fired up into ceramic pieces. We are about to start glazing them with beautiful colors. The process has been a great learning experience and this is what I enjoy the most.

When i first began this internship I did not mind the added hours of work to my schedule. I did not think too much about the events or parties I would miss… but after a month into it i began to miss my friends. It did not help to see pictures of my friends on the facebook as theyre smiling and laughing at an event or gathering i should have been a part of. I tried not to let it get to me and remind myself that I was making good use of my time. And i have been, but 2 months into this, i realized that work needs to be balanced by friends.

I love my friends. They are amazing, strong, creative, beautiful womyn that I admire. I figured out that I need my friends for dancing, laughing, and just being. I’ve been critical of my productivity as a person and i thought that spending time with friends was not very productive… but indeed, i have to see my friends in order to continue on this journey with happiness. Its simple, friends bring me happiness.

Love also brings me happiness. This past summer I have been building a beautiful relationship with a person that i adore and admire. Since we first met there was magic in the air. Its been a crazy journey with this person so far, a journey both us thought was only going to last a few weeks. We did not know what would unfold, we just kinda went with things. We found each other in similar places and understood the type of space we wanted. We began to cultivate together and found seeds of love to plant. (awww, cheesy…)  A relationship is truly bound by healthy communication. Some of our conversations have not been easy, downright scary or painful sometimes, but we have gone through them, making ourselves vulnerable to each other, but finding and holding the love that glows between us. He has challenged my notions of love, commitment, and companionship. With him i realized that i did not want my past traumas to define my future.

What lies ahead in the future? Only the stars know. But what is certain is that I am going to back to school. I won’t be paying $15,000 per semester, instead it’ll cost me a couple hundred dollars. This I can afford. I am taking a sculpture class and an introductory course to architecture. Im going 3-D! This is where my art and creativity needs to move to. Canvas art has been a blessing for expression… but i am expanding in more directions. I hope to outline my career a little better and figure out what I want to do for a longer run. Its very hard for such an eclectic womyn like me. Not too long ago I wanted to be a radio journalist/writer. Which I was. I did radio production for 2 years and transmitted to Guatemala, weekly! I also started this blog, que no.

Anyways, I’m curious enough about architecture to figure out what possibilities exist there. I am also looking forward to sculpting with clay, stone, & wood. There’s also a muralism class that would be worth doing. Im excited about learning and school. I want to be able to fit school into my weekly grind. Most important would be to finish all the classes i commit to successfully.

Well i’ve explored many possibilities about my future since my Solo exhibition. I have done my research and will continue to do so as i figure out the most colorful and promising path to take. I hope I get to do an MFA program, but I hope to find some scholarships for it. I want to build my career, my art, and my passions. I want my friends and family to always be part of the journey. I’ve been very introverted this summer, but it’s been for a good cause, my future.

I choose Love as my fighting force!

7 May

“Stop racism!”
“End family separations and deportations!”
“No human being is illegal!”
“We are human!”
“Veto SB1070!”


The messages are clear. The emotions are sincere. The urgency is present. Our nation stands at a crossroads, a moment that will be written in history, a moment where we define ourselves by our fears, or we define ourselves by our love and our humanity.

Unfortunately, the state of Arizona has been exemplary in demonstrating how far the sentiment of hate and racism can go. SB 1070 was a bill that was signed into law on April 23, 2010 by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer demanding law enforcement to stop, question and detain those who are “suspected” of being undocumented. Residents of Arizona are forced to prove their legal status when racially profiled by police officers. It makes it a crime to look for work, or offer a ride to someone who may be undocumented. The last time someone in this country had to carry paperwork to walk this land was 1863, before Emancipation Proclamation.

During the week that Arizona state legislators passed SB1070, nine university students chained themselves to the state capitol’s building. Over 11,000 letters, and over 80,000 petitions had been sent to the governor and legislators to prevent the passing of SB1070. A vigil began after the arrest of the students. Two days later, on April 22, a bus from Los Angeles arrived to Phoenix with 56 students, elders, and organizers, including myself, to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Arizona.

I have been a community organizer since the age of seventeen. I became politically conscious and active through my involvement in Gardena’s High School Task Force. I I learned to become an advocate for myself, whether it was in taking a personal stance to not engage with drugs as a teenager or take a political stance against Proposition 21, a law that enacted the mass incarceration of youth in California in 2000.

At 27, I am still a community organizer taking political stances, standing up for my personal freedoms. When I jumped on a bus to Arizona, I went with love as my guiding emotion to fight and stand up against this racist law that was written to hurt someone like myself, a person of color. When I arrived in Arizona, I was caught by surprise at the love that was expressed in return by over 2,000 high school students that walked-out of eight different schools in Phoenix that Thursday morning. “Arizona, we got yo’back!” and “La lucha sigue, el pueblo vive!” where my statements on a megaphone. And when I looked into the eyes of Arizonians standing up for their human rights, we cried together and thanked each other for believing in one another and for believing in the movement.

The teenagers that walked out on April 22 are my heros. Even though they were sincerely afraid to step out of the gates of their schools, they found courage amongst each other, inspiring one another to take the risk. At the state capitol, students from the different high schools shared their personal testimonies. They were speaking out for their parents, themselves, and discovering their voice and power. This movement that we are witnessing is driven by many factors of love; the want to raise a family, maintaining a commitment to work arduously, accomplishing educational dreams, simply creating a better future for self and community. Will this country continue to arrest and deport those of us who hold these dreams and ambitions or will this country acknowledge the human right to pursue our life, liberty, and justice?

SB1070 will come into full effect on July 28, 2010, ninety days after its signing. The ACLU and MALDEF have already committed themselves to fighting this law in the courts, proving its unconstitutionality before it is implemented. Discrimination on the other hand, does not have to wait to be implemented. History will judge Ms. Jan Brewer and the legislators of Arizona for allowing racial profiling to be a lawful reality in their State. But the massive politicization and consciousness of an entire generation of youth has been set into play. This law has awaken the minds and consciousness of an entire generation of young people. The politicization that has taken place as a result of this law is irreversible and empowering for our future.

When I was in Arizona, we celebrated “nuestro encuentro”, our gathering. Abolition and Civil Rights were not won overnight, it took a movement and a whole generation. In this moment, our human rights are at stake, and this generation is taking part in the movement. We can all be in solidarity, we can all boycott businesses in Arizona, we can all speak out. If a 17 year old in Arizona can do it, so can we. And so the question is asked, “Se Puede?” Can we do it? Can we disobey immoral laws, the way Martin Luther King Jr. disobeyed them? In the spirit of Rosa Parks, will we refuse to be moved from our God-given human right to work or go to school without being arrested? Can we? If you listen, you will hear the answer… SI SE PUEDE! YES WE CAN!