Family, Inspiration, Latino culture, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

Top 5 Posts of 2015 – An Authentic Cultural Experience

Top 5 #blog posts of 2015, blog posts
Happy New Year 2015

 

Are you excited for what’s ahead in 2016? I am.

The year 2015 had its up’s and downs. I think of the ‘downs’ as learning opportunities and the ‘up’s’ as blessings.

WordPress and Grammarly sent me year-end reports which reminded me of my writing during the past year. Their graphic reports were very cool with stats and all that, but I’m not going to post the whole thing.

Let’s just say my blog posts surpassed my 2014 stats in views and followers, a plus in my book.

Surprisingly, all of the most read posts had to do with aspects of my identity: Mexican culture, food, drink, home remedies, and the term “Chingona.” Interesting.

WordPress said,

If your blog was a concert at Sydney Opera House it would take 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see…representing 106 countries...with most referring traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Buzzfeed…

The referring traffic was a big surprise and means I need to keep up with my 20 Pinterest boards.

As for Grammarly, which corrects your grammar, I still hold the title of Comma Queen meaning I put commas everywhere but the right places far too often.

Now on to the “Top 5 Posts”:

  1. Five Important Ingredients for Tamales : The making of pre-Christmas tamales is a tradition where our family gets together to work towards a common goal, namely to make dozens of tamales for a communal feast. By the time New Year’s Day rolls around we are ‘tamaled’ out. Red tamales are filled with roasted pork simmered in red chile sauce and the ‘green’ ones are filled with jack cheese, strips of California green chile, and homemade salsa.
Christmas food, tamales, red chile tamales, green chile tamales, Mexican tamales
Red and Green Tamales. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

2. The Importance of Cultural Traditions: the title says it all. If we lose our culture we lose part of ourselves.

3. How to Be a Chingona in Ten Easy Steps: The steps are according to the wisdom of Sandra Cisneros, one of my favorite writers. We can all aspire to be chingonas. I love this image of Sandra Cisneros profile as an Adelita, a soldier in the Mexican Revolution. An Adelita is symbolic of the woman warrior.

quote on being a Chingona by Sandra CIsneros, woman, inspirational quote, women quote
Chingona- Sandra Cisneros quote. Quotesgram.com

4. Champurrado-Mexican Comfort Drink: this is a drink I make every Christmas since my mother ‘retired,’ from making a similar drink ten years ago. When she stopped making the drink, due to her limited eyesight, I was bestowed with carrying on a tradition. I make a vegan version for my sons and their friends.

5. Latino Home Remedies for a Cold: Back in the day, the standard issue for Mexican households was Vicks VaporRub, 7 Up, honey, Manzanilla (Chamomile) tea for cramps, Yerba Buena (Mint) tea for stomach aches, and caldo de pollo (homemade chicken soup) for flu or colds.

So there you have it, the top five posts in 2015.

I hope 2016 is a blessing to all of you and yours. Peace, love, and joy.

 

Chingonas, Encouragement, Latino culture, Sandra Cisneros, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

The Wisdom of Sandra Cisneros

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…”

Channel of Light-Love.

When I let go of these distractions, then I write and live from a place of forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and humility.

Generosity  and Selflessness
Generosity and Selflessness

Err on the side of generosity.

Divine Providence
Divine Providence

When in doubt, sleep on it. Ask and you’ll get an answer.

Do the thing you fear most.
Do the thing you fear most.

 

Trust what comes from intuition; doubt what comes from my brain.

On love and life.
On love and life.

And you’re probably wondering how did she dress up as a cake? Well, here’s the photo:

Sandra Cisneros as her own birthday cake. Piñata skirt by Eva and Jorge Rios, photo by Tracy Boyer
Sandra Cisneros as her own birthday cake. Piñata skirt by Eva and Jorge Rios, photo by Tracy Boyer

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.

Like I said, buen chingona.

Books, Inspiration, life lessons, Strong Women, Wisdom

8 Life Lessons from Women Writers

On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed
On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed

 

Joan Didion looks way cool in that Corvette. Reminds me of me, back in the late 70’s, in my blue metal flaked Chevy Malibu. But back to the life lessons.

In my section of the Southern California coast the marine mist appears in the early evening and grays over the landscape. This becomes a perfect time for reflecting on the day and writing in my journal.

Today I cleaned out one bookshelf and selected 25 books to donate to the library. The first 10 books were an easy choice, the last 15 much harder. A short task took a few hours. Any reader knows how you can get lost in a book, even if you’ve read it before.

I flipped through pages, reread paragraphs, remembered characters, and debated whether the book made it into the donation box. Many times I pulled a book out and put it back on the shelf.

At the end of the book donation I wrote down a few life lessons that made their way into my heart again.

One of the books was from Joan Didion. Here are seven more life lessons from other women writers:

 

1. Kindness can be a lifesaver.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop…Naomi S. Nye

2. Always be true to yourself.

“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are…” Sandra Cisneros

3-Heal your wounds. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you think you do. You’ll get through it, survive and thrive. 

 

“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise…” Maya Angelou

4–Leave the past in the past.

“Remember the past, but don’t get lost back there. Celebrate the blessings of the past in the present, but remember to live today. Today is built on the past and tomorrow is evolving from both the past and the present. The future? Quien sabe? (who knows)” Denise Chavez

5-Age is a number and an attitude.

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan

 

6. Solitude can be valuable. It’s all in your perspective.

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up. ~Pearl Buck

 

7. You can begin again.

Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer

Only one of the books that contain the above quotes made it into the donation box. Can you guess which one? Where do you find your life lessons?

 

 

Books, Writing

Continue #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign

 

Cute photo for a serious matter.

www.navdeepsinghdhillon.com
http://www.navdeepsinghdhillon.com

After BookCon, a major NY event for readers, listed their author’s lineup: 31 white males with one cat (Grumpy Cat), an article “Readers Deserve Better Than BookCon,”  made the headlines. 

The article inspired a grassroots effort, #WeNeedDiverseBooks (#WNDB), to call attention to the continuing lack of diversity in children’s and young adult literature. I can identify with this effort.

Nothing I read in my first 18 years, and I was/am a prolific reader, reflected my own experiences, setting, or ethnicity. I found a couple when I was in college but those were Mexican or South American authors, all male.

A few years later, I discovered Sandra Cisneros, and everything changed for me. That’s when I believed that my experiences had value and that they mattered.

The #WNDB campaign, initiated by a group of 22 authors, bloggers, and publisher Lew and Low, hoped to “raise [their] voices into a roar that can’t be ignored”. The NY Times, CNN, Guardian, Huffington Post, among others, picked up this issue. 

The social media campaign was launched on May 1-3, 2014. On Thursday, the campaigners set up the Tumblr We Need Diverse Books website – asking readers to take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because … ”

There are some thought provoking, inspiring, words from kids to adults. 

Father and child-Minorities are more than stereotypes #WNDB
Father and child-Minorities are more than stereotypes #WNDB

inhabit the soul

On Friday, a Twitter chat about the issue and why it matters using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks stimulated lots of conversation.

There were over 107,000 tweets and retweets during the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. 

On Saturday, the “Diversify Your Shelves initiative encouraged people to buy diverse books and take photos of them. 

Today, Patrick Flores-Scott, author and public school teacher, wrote, “Let’s All Make the #WeNeedDIverseBooks An Ongoing Movement.” His suggestions,

Members of The Movement need to request diverse books at their bookstores and libraries… post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and library websites…advise book bloggers and to follow and support blogs like this one. We need to give diverse books as birthday presents and to talk about our favorites on the bus, at work, in line at the bookstore…” 

He makes several good points that anyone can take to enrich our life and those we care about.

The biggest reason we need to continue the #WNDB campaign is to change these statistics:

And to make this happen:

Multicultural, Diverse Books, Stories, #WNDB
Multicultural, Diverse Books, Stories, #WNDB

Finally, we need to cultivate globally knowledgeable, compassionate, literary children and adults.

For a great list of children and YA books, go to independent publisher, Lew and Low’s book list.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks facts and figures are compiled here.