AROHO, Chingonas, Dreams, Goals, How to be a Chingona, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing

Ghost Ranch, Greek Myths, and Writing

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Sunset over Sandstone at Ghost Ranch. Gettyimages.

My bags aren’t packed yet for my trip tomorrow to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, because one of the kids beat me to the washing machine this morning. I’m not stressing though because I am still drifting on a dream.

Last January I thought about my goals for the year. The intention word to myself was “Create.” To make the word more concrete, I found and filled out a printable called “Roadmap to My Dreams.”  In the area “bravery is a matter of belief, and I believe I can…” I listed “…submit my writing for a fellowship, contest, anthology, or magazine.”

In a matter of days I came across the website for A Room Of Her Own (AROHO): A Foundation for Women Writers. One of my writing buddies, Florencia, attended in 2012 and talked about her life changing experiences.  Applications for fellowships would close in three weeks. The chatter in my head kept me thinking about this challenge. There are thousands of writers who would love to attend a weeklong retreat filled with writers, poets, and published authors leading workshops. Should I or shouldn’t I submit for a fellowship.

I reminded myself of Sandra Cisneros’ “How To Be A Chingona in 10 Easy Steps.

Step One: Live for your own approval. Center yourself. Be alone. Create your own space.

There was that word again: Create. That is just what I needed to recharge myself. I submitted my application with a 10 page writing sample and was accepted. Writing is usually lonely and acknowledgements don’t come as often as rejection letters, so honestly, this award surprised the s*it out of me.

As a double bonus, I will be at Ghost Ranch during the peak time for the Perseid meteor showers. This display is named after the constellation Perseus, the hero of ancient Greek myth born from a shower of celestial gold. For three or four nights the sky will be pelted with shooting stars and fireballs.

The big city dweller that I am, I’ve never seen more than one shooting star before. But I can imagine that the expansive New Mexican sky will be sprinkled with brilliant heavenly dust. I’ll thank the stars, the universe, and God for giving me this experience, this impetus to move forward and keep writing.

Perseids Meteor Shower. Getty images.
Perseids Meteor Shower. Getty images.
Art, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, Latina, Latino culture, Papel Picado, Self-confidence, Self-Esteem, Strong Women, Yreina F.Ortiz

Today I Will be Chingona

I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or not, but Chingona’s have fallen out of the sky and into my lap. Most of you know the definition of a chingona. If not, here’s last week’s post which gives you an idea. For a practical application you can read the 10 Steps from Sandra Cisneros

Yreina Flores Ortiz is a Poeta, Artista Chingona. She used the Mexican folk art craft of Papel Picado to make this artistic piece titled “Today I will be Chingona.” (This is a photo of my own copy).


The designs are cut from tissue paper or by folding the tissue paper and using small, sharp scissors. They are commonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, baptisms, and christenings. 


This poem furthers the definition of Chingona.


Today I Will Be Chingona
Today, I will greet the sun as my relative
and give the morning my full attention.
I will say “I love you” into the mirror
and draw my eyeliner extra straight.
I will not call myself fat
because everything in my closet will look good on me.
I will rock my huge Latina hips
like the blessing they are.
Watch out!
I might even wear heels.
Today, I will not hand out one unnecessary apology.
Today, I will be Chingona!
-Yreina Flores Ortiz
You can find this framed piece on Etsy.com. (Please ask for permission to use poem or graphic, it is copyrighted). Click Yreina’s name under the frame to find out more about this talented craftswoman, photographer, graphic artist, and teacher from Indio, CA where the temperature rises to 120 degrees and your chanclas (sandals) melt if you don’t put them in the fridge, like my tia used to do. 

Loving yourself, taking care of you, appreciation for your body, feeling your connectedness to the world, and being your best self is what I find when I read the poem. 

What do you find?

Artist Frida Kahlo, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, poetry, Sandra Cisneros, Strong Women

Frida Kahlo- Chingona Artist

Happy belated anniversary date to Frida Kahlo, a chingona artist. She died on July 13, 1954 leaving art that lives on in perpetuity through her incredibly emotive images and poetry.  

N.Muray collection

  
The term “Chingona” is a Spanglish term, slang, for a

bad ass, wise woman, powerful, individualist, self-activated, a woman who lives a life for their own approval, self-empowered, a strong woman 

You might find the word in an urban dictionary but it’s a subjective term that’s more of a concept than a specific definition.  I think most Latino’s agree with terms similar to those I mentioned above and could probably add more identifiers. 


Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, and is perhaps best known for her self-portraits. Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as
La Casa Azul ( the Blue House). Diego Rivera was her husband. Leon Trotsky and Nickolas Muray (the photographer of this 1938 photo) were her lovers.


One of my favorite authors, Sandra Cisneros, shares her perspective on “How to be a  Chingona in 10 easy steps.” One of the steps rings true about Frida Kahlo’s life: 

Depression has a purpose if you use it before it uses you. Compost it through art

Frida Kahlo encountered much suffering in her life. The polio she contracted at age six left her right leg thinner than the other, a bus accident resulted in a broken back and a pierced abdomen resulted in subsequent miscarriages. Her husband was also tempestuous and unfaithful.


She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: “Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.” This video, from the History Channel, gives a view of Frida’s life:

This visceral poem is one of my favorites:

MEMORY
I had swayed. Nothing else. But suddenly I knew
In the depth of my silence
He was following me. Like my shadow, blameless and light
In the night, a song sobbed…
The Indians lengthened, winding, through the alleys of the town.
A harp and a jacaranda were the music, and the smiling dark-skinned girls
Were the happiness
In the background, behind the “Zócalo,” the river shined
and darkened, like
the moments of my life.
He followed me.
I ended up crying, isolated in the porch of the parish church,
protected by my bolita shawl, drenched with my tears.
—-
Reproduced in The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas, ed. and trans. Martha Zamora, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, p. 9. 
Today, more than half a century after her death, her paintings fetch more money than any other female artist.  Felicidades to a gran chingonaLa Frida.
Now go out and live like a chingona.

Authors, Chingona, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, Latina writer, Loose Woman, Sandra Cisneros, Strong Women, Wisdom

How to Be a Chingona in Ten Easy Steps-Sandra Cisneros

For some reason I had Sandra Cisneros on my mind. In my quest for something interesting to read tonight I pulled out her books from my bookshelf. 


LOOSE WOMAN is always an interesting book of poems and seemed apropos to read on a full moon night. I reread my favorite poem “You Bring Out the Mexican in Me,” and wished I had picked up a Cabernet at Trader Joe’s. If you’ve never heard it before, take a listen. She read the poem on NPR a few years ago.

So back to Sandra. I put the book of poems away and jumped on my laptop to view Sandra’s site (yes, I know I’m being very familiar but that’s what her writing does to me,I think she’s my amiga or comadre). I looked for her 2012 presentations, but they are in North Carolina and Japan.

Sandra spoke at the Coca Cola Tour Adelante a few days ago (unfortunately the video disappeared),
but,
I took notes of her talk so I’ll list the points. 

1. Live for your own approval. Center yourself. Be alone. Create your own space.

2 .Discover your own powers. What floods you with joy?

3 .Find true humility and practice it.

4 .Keep your palabra, your word.

5. What are you using to cover or mask your pain? Address it.

6. Your only true possessions are your actions.

7. Seek forgiveness.

8. Live in the present moment.

9. Depression has a purpose if you use it before it uses you. (Profound wisdom). Transform it to light. Compost it through art. If you can’t do it by yourself, see a professional curandera (healer, therapist).

10. Listen to your body.

There you go, 10 steps in 10 minutes. Are you feeling the power yet?

alvaradofrazier.com

These are my own thoughts on a definition for Chingona*. Feel free to add your own:

*Bad ass, powerful, wise woman, muy macha, activist in their community and/or home, talented, smart, resourceful, kick ass…