I read an article about the author, writer, poet Sandra Cisneros turning 60 years young. To celebrate, she dressed up as a cake-A. Cake-and celebrated in her new town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
This is why I call her a chingona. Strong, fearless, badass (in a good way).
“I have never felt younger or happier – now I can take care of me,” she says. “It’s a good time.”
She had a few things to say about life at sixty. This is part of a list she composed the day after her birthday, which began with “This is what I know…”
When I let go of these distractions, then I write and live from a place of forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and humility.
Err on the side of generosity.
When in doubt, sleep on it. Ask and you’ll get an answer.
Trust what comes from intuition; doubt what comes from my brain.
And you’re probably wondering how did she dress up as a cake? Well, here’s the photo:
We marched down the street like a parade to the jardin, the town center. A row of brilliant mariachis dressed all in white and gold serenaded me on my arrival with “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional birthday song.
While reading a favorite blogger’s post “Emotion on Canvas,” this image caught my attention. Truthfully, all of Ray Ferrer’s artwork catches my attention.
The majesty of the ship, shrouded in the indigo shadows of night and ocean, seemed ominous. The words in the January 26th post were more forbidding:
Hi Friends and Fans of Ray! This is his wife, Rhian Ferrer…. Tuesday morning I found Ray in bed having a seizure (he has never had one before) I brought him to the hospital and he is stable but has a massive baseball sized tumor in/on his brain. He will be undergoing surgeries, radiation and chemo therapy in the upcoming months.
This young artist and his wife are now in for the fight of their lives. But fighters they are, as evidenced by Rhian’s post, yesterday:
As Ray deals with the hard news of a baseball sized brain tumor, I, his wife, am adding some of his works for public availability / purchase to offset some of the expenses and costs of his costly procedures.
Ray and his wife have their artwork on Etsy. This is the great gift, I bought for my daughter’s birthday, from Rhian’s site:
Go and check out Ray Ferrer’s site. They are so generous that even when they need all the funds they can get, Ray is discounting his art. Use coupon code ART50 for half off.
His wife set up a GoFundMe site. She is the epitome of a strong woman, una buen chingona. (Loosely translated as a badass, strong woman.)
Writers, poets, artists and those who love the arts are a community. Prayers, healing energy, and strength to this couple and their family.
I hope you visit the Ferrer’s artist pages and make a purchase.
She married the love of her life, a short three years ago. He was by her side when she left this world.
My heart holds a special spot for Michele Serros, or as she liked to hear, “Mrs. Antonio Magaña.”
A confusion of feelings surround death.
Why? Why her? Why didn’t prayers work?
I see her smile, lively eyes, texts at odd hours,
her words expressing identity, small towns, and individuality
a literary landmark
stories like my life and unlike my life
resonate with scenes only she could paint
She found love, at a vegan restaurant,
with a Berkeley chicano, a mexican, from her home town,
from her own high school, the same alma mater, so long ago
ecstatic with love, a new family
sharing her life.
That’s the way she was, loving, giving, living
daring to say the unsaid,
with wit and unique style,
inspired to write by Judy Blume.
A Medium Brown girl,
A Taco Belle,
who wrote outside of ‘barrios, borders, and bodegas,’
defining herself and the question of identity
to a mess of other men and women
boys and girls
high schoolers to old schoolers
on what is mexicano, chicano, americano.
A writer of handwritten notes,
handcrafted cards of
glitter and glue,
Michele was the first writer I knew, personally, and from my home town. I attended her readings back in the late 90’s. Her writing inspired me to think that I could be a writer. When I first met her, we clicked. She had that kind of personality-she clicked with everyone.
A giver of advice, affection, and friendship, Michele was a humble person who stayed grounded and a strong woman who was soft on the outside, tough on the inside. A chingona.
She was a long distance member of the writing group to which I belong, sometimes sending us articles to review.
I often felt inadequate, a published author asking me for feedback? But that was the way she was, as real as real can get.
An excerpt from her book, “Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard,” struck me, long ago. Her mother died, from cancer, and Michele wrote the obituary. When she described her mother as an artist, someone questioned it, “it isn’t like she sold anything.”
Definitions always played a big part of my life: a true Mexican versus a fake Mexican…a true artist versus a wannabe. Nonetheless, my mama would have been crushed knowing she left this earth not remembered as an artist. It was her fear and lack of confidence that kept her art stuck on an easel, hidden away in the corner of our family’s garage…it was her death that gave me the courage to finally share some of my own poems and stories. The purpose? to make someone happy, inspired…I just couldn’t bear the thought of questioning what my own obituary would say. 1994
There is no question that Michele was an artist, who made millions of readers happy, who inspired thousands of Latinas, Latinos, and others who rarely read anything that resonated with their lives. Her books are here.
She had been working on a new novel, An Unmarried Mexican, a title she borrowed from one of her favorite books and movie, An Unmarried Woman.
As you could imagine, medical expenses soared, especially for a self employed person. Give Forward has a campaign to assist Michele’s family. The fund is halfway to its goal.
The newspaper said that Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) was to speak at a local community college.
My mom immediately said, “I’ve never seen her up close or heard her speak. I want to go.”
Now, I was a little surprised since my mother marched four times with Cesar Chavez with the fifth time being his funeral procession to his resting place in Keene, CA.
That evening we arrived early so we could sit up front. The college students, who sponsored the presentation, made Champurrado, Arroz con Leche, enchiladas, rice, and a whole array of foods. One thing about Latinos, we do like to eat and we put out food for guests.
At the appointed time of the presentation there were no seats left with at least fifty people standing.
Dolores Huerta, a petite woman with a strong voice, took the stand.
She spoke about the hardship of the early days (1940-60’s) of farm labor work. No bathroom facilities, one water jug with one shared cup for everyone, the short handled hoe, no rest periods, and pesticide spraying over farmworkers in the fields.
My mom made the migrant circuit to pick crops with her parents. She nodded her head at this information.
This is what I learned from her presentation:
Dolores Huerta was a teacher in Stockton, California:
I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children.
She co-founded the National Farmworkers (later the UFW) in 1962. This was made possible by collaborating with other workers, mainly Filipinos, who were ‘imported’ to work the fields. She was not only an organizer, but a contract negotiator.
Who has the power? We have the power. People power.
Non-violent protest is difficult. Organizing workers was tough especially with backlash from growers and police. Huerta was severely beaten, resulting in broken ribs and ruptured spleen, by San Francisco P.D with batons during a non-violent march. Later she won her court case.
Dolores and Cesar spoke with Latino leaders in Arizona (his native state)when the legislature pushed through an agribusiness sponsored bill denying farm workers the right to strike and boycott.
Latino leaders declared this bill couldn’t be beaten. Cesar and Dolores silently listened while they explained why the fast and efforts by farm workers would be fruitless.
“No, no se puede!” (“No, no it can’t be done”), they kept repeating in Spanish. Dolores responded,
“Si, si se puede!” (“Yes, yes, it can be done”). Dolores Huerta coined that phrase.
Dolores Huerta is an intelligent, tenacious woman who has dedicated her life to her passion for social justice and equality for all people.
She teaches us that we have to get out there for the things we believe in and value. It’s not easy to make that trip, but it is worthwhile.
Ms. Huerta is 83 years old and still advocating for farmworker rights, women’s rights, and heads an education and leadership foundation.
Now, when you go see the movie about Cesar Chavez, UFW, and non violent organization (I really hope you do attend a showing) remember that this is a true story, part of history, and Dolores Huerta carries on this work.