Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fab and 40- My Top 10 List

Yeah baby, that's right.

I'm 40. Say it loud, I'm 40 and proud! December 14, 2004 was my big day.

I sometimes can't believe it. Aren't I still 21, studying for a final or getting into hijinks with some undesirable associates?

It's all where your head's at, they say.

Well, my head is feeling pretty good about it. I feel a sense of relief hitting 40. Like it's given me some credibility. "Well you know, she is 40 after all."

Will kids listen to me now? Do my two cents somehow count more?

I always enjoy hitting a new decade. It makes me look back and reflect on what I'm so glad to leave behind. Turning 30 was nice because I finally felt like I left adolescence. 40 is good because I can leave behind some ghastly mistakes of my last decade and embrace the growth that I found along the way.

No matter how you slice it there are many awesome things about taking another trip around the sun. Here are my top ten things I love about being 40:

1. People think I'm younger (yay!)
2. Sheryl Crow said "40's the new 20". Works for me!
3. I can get subscriptions to "mid life women's" magazines and not feel like I don't belong.
4. Somebody somewhere has got to think that what I have to say matters... right?
5. I'm still younger than my husband.
6. I'm still the "baby" of the family
7. People call me "ma'am" and that's cool.
8. I'm old school cool. No one can take that away! New Wave forever!
9. I actually saw the Dead Kennedys and the Ramones way back when. (That's for all you whipper snappers running around with your DK and Ramones t-shirts) I don't need no damn tshirt to prove it either!
10. I don't have to know it all, be it all, try it all. I'm good with who I am and what's around me.

So happy birthday to me and saludos to my fellow viejas!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Localicious: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie to Die For

My sister and her husband are total foodies. Gourmet Ghetto denizens, they are the quintessential Bay Area food and wine experts and I rely on them to be my culinary resource center. Their bookshelf is packed with artisan cookbooks that cover every technique, every cuisine, every taste.

At least once a month I call my sister with a recipe request. It's usually for something I'm craving, like cheesecake with a graham cracker crust.

"How do you make a graham cracker crust?"

"Just crush up some graham crackers with butter and sugar and press it into a pie tin."


The other day I wanted pumpkin mousse. I didn't think she'd have a pumpkin mousse recipe handy, but if she could give me the basics of mousse making, I could take it from there.

She pored through Joy of Cooking, Bon Apetit, Gourmet and a few others. No one seemed to have a mousse recipe let alone a pumpkin mousse. "Listen to this: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie."

This pie is light and fluffy like a mousse, but it doesn't leave you with a pound of heavy cream in your gut as mousse does. You don't even have to put it in a pie shell- I just put mine into dessert cups and it rocked my pumpkin lovin' world to no end.

Pumpkin Chiffon

1 T plain gelatin (1 envelope) soaked in 1/4 cup cold water

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup white or brown sugar to mix w/ egg yolks ( I use stevia but the ratios are hard to translate)
1/2 cup sugar for the egg whites
1- 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or a 16 oz can)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
whipped cream

1. Beat slightly:
egg yolks, sugar, pumpkin, milk, salt, pumpkin pie spice.

2. Cook and stir slowly in a double boiler til thick. Remove from heat.


3. Stir in soaked gelatin, stir til dissolved.

4. Chill til set.

5. Whip til stiff 3 egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar.
Fold into cold pumpkin mixture.

6. Pour into dessert cups, a graham cracker crust, or baked pastry pie crust.

7. Chill.

8. Serve with whipped cream.

Buen provecho!



Saturday, November 13, 2004

My Child Will Never Eat Sugar and Other Heaps of B.S.

For the past three weekends, Citlalli and I have been doing birthday parties. First Amelia's, then Citlalli's, and today was Daniel's. All three kids turned 2 and all three parties were packed with abnormally high amounts of sugar.

In the course of these three parties, interspersed with Halloween, some of my stringent childrearing beliefs have been put to the test.

I've never given Citlalli lots of sugary treats like candy, etc. The occasional cookie, maybe a bite of cake, but never any full on straight to your bloodstream candies or sodas. Now before you go gagging yourself as you imagine me in a paisley skirt and birks (not!) grinding bran and rolling it with carob and dates, let me qualify. First of all, Citalli's dad is diabetic (in classic Chicano/Native American fashion). And me, well I'm sugar sensitive and susceptible to candida. So we don't keep a lot of sweets around the house (or at least not that I know of) and use healthy alternatives to sugar like stevia (chemical sweeteners are frowned upon in the Marmolejo home especially after learning what funky diseases they're linked to).

But at Amelia's party, mom Carol made some lovely cupcakes for the little ones and Citlalli devoured hers in no time flat. The next day was Halloween and for a kid who'd never eaten candy, she became a candy snob pronto. Grabbing her little jack o'lantern plastic bucket and saying "Trick or treat", how could you not give the little doll some jujyfruits?

By the day after Halloween, I had to hide any remaining candy from the now fiendish toddler. I poured her trick or treat loot into a shopping bag and gave it to my sister. "Take this to work... PLEASE!".

The following week we had Citlalli's 2nd birthday party and she started the day off with a cupcake I baked in an ice cream cone. (Thanks for the idea, mom, but the dang things tipped over in the muffin tin and poured cake batter all over my oven). Keeping on a cupcake monodiet, she proceeded to have another one before the party started and at least one more at the party. The echoing cries of "My child will never eat sugar" trailed off like La Llorona's wailing howl.

Today was the sugar topper of all. Daniel's mom Queta had goodie bags packed with Elmo candies and then we ate chocolate Elmo cake and drank juice box after juice box after juice box. The kids were peaking from sugar and giving the playground a thorough workout. When Queta's nephew came out dressed in this rather frightful Elmo suit, the tweaked out kiddies screamed and wanted their mamacitas.

Similarly, I once told my sister that my child will never eat a McDonald's french fry. That one flew out the window long ago. I guess it's only normal that the sugar ban soon followed suit.

Moral of the story: Always remember Rule #62.
(Rule 62: Don't take yourself so damn seriously!)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Maria's Gratitude List

My friend Maria Sanchez of SandiaFria.com sent out this gratitude list. I think it is the best gratitude list ever and reminds me how lucky I am to know such cool mujeres like Maria.

Maria Sanchez
My ABC's of Thankfulness (gratitude) (I wrote these a few months ago, but they are the same today.
A I am thankful for Art that colors my life.
B I am thankful for my body that puts up with the torture that I put it through.
C I am thankful for my children who I love with every ounce of my soul.
D I am thankful for the dreams I have that remind me to never give up.
E I am thankful for the energy and rush I feel when I’ve finished a painting.
F I am thankful for my faith, family and friends who keep me grounded.
(and flowers… I love flowers)
G I am thankful for God’s Grace, without it I would not be here today.
H I am thankful for good health, my home and hope for a better tomorrow.
I I am thankful for the things that inspire me.
J I am thankful for everything on this list that brings joy to my life.
K I am thankful for kind emails and comments I get from complete strangers.
L I am thankful for Love M I am thankful for the special moments and memories that I cherish.
N I am thankful for the newness each day brings.
O I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given and will receive.
P I am thankful for people I meet everyday.
Q I am thankful for the Queen Mums, my mother and grandmother Las Marias’
R I am thankful for rain, which refreshes the earth and my soul whenever I hear it.
I love the sound of raindrops.
S I am thankful for the Spirit that guides me day in and day out. Thank you Holy Spirit
T I am thankful for Tim, my husband, my hero, my love who has rescued me many,
many times.
U I am thankful for the universe, because it is so big reminds me of God’s greatness
V I am thankful for the many little victories that I am able to celebrate each day.
W I am thankful for the wacky ones too.
X I am thankful for this eX-ercize (I cheated) couldn’t think of an x word.
It’s helped me to have a thankful spirit and reminds me to realize that on those bad days when
life doesn’t seem fair, I can remember all the things that I should be thankful for.
Y I am thankful for a youthful spirit that sometimes makes my kids hide
in the car when I dance and sing at the top of my lungs while driving them to school.
Z I am thankful for the zest of living life with a purpose!


Maria Sanchez
www.sandiafria.com

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Dia de los Muertos 2004

It's Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is an ancient Toltec and Aztec celebration that got a dose of Catholic tradition when the espanoles came in 1519.

If you'd like info on making a cool Day of the Dead shrine, contact my comadre Kathy Murillo over there at Crafty Chica.

Plus here's a Loca Ritual on Dia de los Muertos so you can honor your ancestors and loved ones in a healing way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Usually I feel upbeat and jovial on Dia de los Muertos, but this year I feel somber.

I miss The Ramones. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee....two gone to cancer, one to a drug overdose.

I remember seeing the Ramones play a free concert in San Francisco when I was 14. After that I was hooked. So in honor of you, my original grungesters I say...
"1,2,3,4... 1,2,3,4!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and "Gabba Gabba Hey!"

Joe Strummer of the Clash. He helped form my consciousness.

Kurt Cobain. I shake my head in confusion, and I wish your soul peace, Kurt.

I feel jovial when I think of some of the wonderful people whose lives touched mine, such as my grandmother, my uncles and aunts, my cousin. I anchor my emotions to them when the sadness of dead musical heroes gets to be too much.

That is the bittersweet joy of Dia de los Muertos: laughing and crying, celebrating and longing.

Noxtin Nomecayotzin.
All My Relations.
Aho.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Gourd Fair LA

I love gourds, those woody shelled friends from the calabash family that serve so many functions and purposes I can't even start a list..

OK, you pulled my arm... here are a few:

  • decorative art
  • spiritual tools
  • vessels for food, water, etc
  • jewelry
  • fountains
  • drums
  • dolls
  • statues
  • masks
  • rattles
  • anything the imagination can come up with


We (as in husband, child and I)went to the Los Angeles Arboretum for Gourd Fair LA. It's a wonderful outdoor event that celebrates the incredible amazing gourd. Gourd artists from all over brought their works, growers had raw gourds just screaming to be turned into cool art, and musicians played gourd drums and even gourd flutes on the festival stage.

My introduction to gourds was several years back in a Native American ceremony. They are used in healing and treated with utmost respect. In Mexico, gourds are painted and decorated in folk art traditions, made into rattles and used the way pottery is used.

What I was told was that first came gourds. On every continent they exist, making them quite an old plant. Their bottle and canteen shapes were discovered to be ideal for carrying water and storing food. Ancient peoples used them, and when someone had the bright idea to make pottery, they copied the shapes of the gourds. Hence, we have bottles, canteens and bowls.

Gourd musical instruments developed in Africa, in the Americas and Asia. Special techniques for burning designs into the shell were developed by holding a red hot stick up to the gourd and burning the design in. Today, most people use woodburning sets, but in Peru and Africa people still use the hot stick.

When you start working with gourds, you become hooked. It is believed by many Indigenous peoples that each gourd has a spirit. I think that's why gourd enthusiasts get so into this art form. Whatever skill you had prior- painting, carving, beading, jewelry making, weaving, construction, drawing- can be used on gourds. They are easy to work with and totally addictive.

But don't take my word for it, check out these cool links:
Gourd Fair LA 2004
California Gourd Society (check out the gallery)

Support your local gourd artist and bring a bit of gourd magic into your life.

The Presidential Horror Show

My husband just sent me this link and it is soooooooooo funny. It's The Rocky Horror Picture Show meet partisan mudslinging. Absolutely brilliant:

http://davechase.net/presidential_horror_show.swf

Friday, October 22, 2004

Way Cool Locas!

The teleprogram Release Your Inner Loca just began last week and it is so great. What a wide reaching group of women. I'm very pleased with the people on the call and even got requests from clients to offer an audio only version of the course. That has turned out beautifully because several Locas weren't able to join the live class. So they listen to the class recording, have access to the private list serve and get the gargantuan 65 page workbook.

I'm wondering if I should extend that offer of the audio only program to others beyond my client circle... well, if it's meant to be I'll put a link to it here and see what happens:
Audio Only Program: Release Your Inner Loca

Speaking of audio...
Nobody knows the trouble I seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!
After taking the Audacious Audio class with Rob Schultz, I got so fired up to become an "audiopreneur" as he calls it. Actually I wanted to just feel the waters and see what would be fun to do.

Here is my current assessment:
I like to make audio available to my peeps (that means you reading this, clients, wandering weblings and ezine subscribers) but I don't like all the technical stuff like editing and converting files from wav to mp3 then uploading and writing code and all that detail work. Sorta kills the wind in my sails.

But alas, I don't want to pay someone a crazy amount to do that, so I try doing it myself.

Let's see, how many hours did I spend trying to figure out streaming audio?
And how many hours did it take to understand wav and mp3 and converting and saving and blah blah blah? Would paying a guy $100 to record my call and do all the clean up work have been worth it?

On the bright side, I learned a great deal. So that's good.
On the down side, I spent a lot of time dealing with computer stuff.
But back on the bright side, I'm that much smarter now and actually have a handle on some of this stuff.

However... when I make my big infomercial and offer my Mega Mucho Extravaganza cd set with a workbook and card deck -not-(oh please, if one more person makes freakin' card decks- these have got to be some of the most inefficient uses of paper I've seen. yes, I'll pull a card, look at a dreamy collage and suddenly my day will be set), Comadre accessories and belt buckle... what else can I throw in there???
How bout a deck of cards!
Go away you nagging voice. Be gone.

OK, I'm going into inner dialog mode. And all I wanted to do was tell you about my audio. Did I say that I finally found success and actually figured out how to do an upload of the Web Muse Teleforum? Only took me 2 weeks. Yeah, I got a Masters Degree but obviously not in something with technical applications.

I did wake up the other night thinking about that infomercial, though. My hair looked great and I didn't even high five anyone on a stage or offer to make someone a millionaire.

Friday, October 15, 2004

That's THE Reverend Doctor to you...

Back in the 70's, Rolling Stone Magazine classified ads ran a "Become A Legally Ordained Minister!" ad. For about $3.95 they'd set you up as a reverend. So I, in all my pre-pubescent wisdom, did it.

Reverend Nancy. It had a nice ring to it.

I had fantasies of performing wedding ceremonies, baptisms... you know, the usual rites of passage. Yes, weddings performed by an 11 year old. Nice idea.

Zoom ahead a few decades to the present day.

My sister calls me from work one day. Her coworker is getting married and the person who was going to perform the wedding flaked out.
"Gee, I think my sister can do that!", she told her friend.

So lo and behold, I "renewed" my credentials and was legally authorized to perform the blessed union.

We weren't able to get together for a rehearsal so we did it via conference call. (Modern technology helps in so many situations.)

The wedding was awesome. It was held on the beach near Malibu late in the afternoon. Everything was decorated with Hawaiian trimmings (the bride is Hawaiian) and the sun shone gloriously. It was absolutely beautiful.

The ceremony lasted maybe ten minutes but it was really cool. A few minutes before it started, four dolphins were spotted swimming in the waves. If that's not a blessing, I don't know what is. We stood in front of a gorgeous driftwood arch with Hawaiian greenery planted in the sand and tiki torches lining a makeshift aisle. The bride looked radiant and the groom was on cloud 9. His name was Lucky... how auspicious!

After the ceremony we ate Hawaiian food, then the bride performed a surprise bridal hula for Lucky. Her mom and aunties then got up and did a special hula for the crowd and everyone loved it. Everything was so much fun and we all had a great time.

So if you live in Southern California and are in need of a lady-of-the-cloth, look no further! I like this officiating business and can't wait to do another. I'll post a picture when I get one.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Family Pics

Citlalli throwing hay on amigo Ollin. Posted by Hello

Citlalli swimming in the hay at the Pumpkin Patch.  Posted by Hello

Fall Fun with Nancy and Citlalli

Citlalli and I just went to a Pumpkin Patch with our eccentric/eclectic playgroup. She's not big on staying still for pictures but doesn't she look like a total Loca in that leopard vest! (A gift from Grandma Bunny)
Posted by Hello

We are so lucky to know a great group of moms w/ toddlers. Each Wednesday we get together either at someone's house or at a park and just blow off steam. I look forward to these Wednesdays and so does Citlalli.

What's really cool about our group is that we're a bunch of Locas from so many persuasions. Dreadlocks, tattoos, body piercings, born again Christians, pagans... we cover the gamut, that's for sure. Where we all connect is a love for our kids, a strong belief in attachment parenting and free Wednesdays!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Leapin' Lizards and Crocodile Tears

Allison is one of the neighborhood girls who loves to play with my toddler daughter. She is a shy 9 year old girl who has an aversion to combing her hair, a penchant for turning odds and ends into toys, and a devotion to all things Hillary Duff.

One of Allison's hobbies is adopting lizards. She has a talent for catching them, then she puts them in a shoebox or clear plastic container, names them, holds conversations with them and makes them her new friends.

I didn't realize how much these animals meant to Allison until I set one free.

You see, I'm not big on putting wild animals in captivity. Domestic animals are one thing, but when I see a lizard, I want it to be able to stretch in the sun and scurry up walls. Under the Aztec calendar, Cuetzpallin (the lizard) is my birthday sign. I feel like I'm a lizard and have always enjoyed seeing them run about. They eat bugs, they're resourceful... not bad attributes.

Allison caught a baby lizard that Alyssa, another neighbor, was playing with.

"Hi baby, now it's time to go to bed!"
"OK, baby let's clean the kitchen!"

Alissa was torturing this poor creature in a Polly Pockets playhouse, a pink plastic thing the size of a jewelry box.

I couldn't stand it. This defenseless creature was being held hostage by a psycho six year old and I decided to do something about it.

I took the lizard, walked over to the bushes, and set it free.

Allison came downstairs and upon learning what I did, ran back up in tears. I didn't realize that the wailing and crying I heard from afar was her, and strange enough it increased in volume and intensity whenever she'd see me.

"What's wrong with Allison?", I asked her sister.

"Well, she's feeling sad."

That's all she said.

Not realizing that Allison's tears were aimed towards me, I went about my day playing outside with my daughter.

"Gee, maybe if she came down and played she wouldn't feel so sad", I offered. "Hey Allison", I shouted, " wanna play with Citlalli?"

Allison looked down from her front steps, caught sight of me, then ran off wailing and moaning.

"She's scared of you", Alyssa told me. "She thinks you're going to kill all her lizards. She's afraid that the baby you threw out will die."

I didn't throw out a lizard, I set it free! Here I am, a grown woman, wanting to defend and justify myself to a six and nine year old.

Just then, Allison came running down with a big box of kleenex in her hands, looking in all the bushes for her baby lizard. She'd look over at me and let out a huge sob. OK, the guilt trip is working, I thought to myself.

So I went inside, feeling bad and confused, sad that I alienated a child. I talked to a few people and was told the usual, to mind my own business.

"You took away a part of being a kid", my sister told me.
Ouch.

"It's none of your business what that kid does", my husband told me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

"I think you did the right thing", my friend consoled.
Finally, a kindred spirit!

Well, after stewing and thinking about it I realized a few things. Mostly things about Allison that have been under my nose the whole time, but I didn't add them all up.

Allison lives in a home with wrappers and dirty toys strewn about the front yard. She'll go weeks without combing her hair, often wears dirty clothes, eats only fast food and junk food and is afraid of people. Her dad can usually be found sitting in his van with the A/C on, talking on his cell phone. I've only seen her mom leave the house twice in the years they've lived here. They are an odd family, let's just put it at that.

I don't know much more about them, but from what I see, I think that Allison gives her little pets the love she'd like to receive. Each cricket she catches and names, each lizard, each rolly-poly... they're all her loved ones.

Allison doesn't torture animals and she honestly tries to provide a loving, safe environment for them. She wants to protect them from the harms of the world.

I still don't like wild animals in captivity, but I'm not going to get on my soapbox around Allison. I went up to her and apologized for setting her lizard free. She put down her kleenex, ran upstairs and brought down a tiny lizard, barely two inches in length.

"This is Baby Leopard. Wanna play?"

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Release Your Inner Loca... and my 1st Audio Blog

I have been a bizzy little bee today putting the finishing touches on my new teleclass Release Your Inner Loca.

This last summer I offered three different classes: one on Loca Rituals, another on Finding Your Purpose as a Creative Woman, and another on what stops you (Unpacking Your Procrastination Toolbox).

After talking to participants, the overwhelming feedback I received was to make the classes LONGER, and possibly combine them all into one. I think that's a great idea and am happy to announce a ten week comprehensive adventure into creativity, Release Your Inner Loca.

My teleclasses are tons of fun, deepen the conversation around creativity and give you the space to step into your Loca Greatness!

If you sign up by October 1 then you get a huge discount. You can get more info here..



OK, now what is this Audio Blog bidniss and what's so cool about it? After this post you'll see a little place for you to click to hear an audio blog. I made a mini Loca Ritual for you to ponder, an invitation to sum up your creative greatness in a single sentence.

You can hear what I sound like and also a special guest in the background, my comadrita Citlalli.

Enjoy my first audio blog and tell me if you'd like more. You can email me... just be sure to write "Blog Comments" in the subject line.

Later!

Audio Loca Ritual

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, September 10, 2004

Very Productive September

Last week Miss Amber and Miss Robin (my twin sister babysitters who alternate days with Citlalli) were out of town so I had to seriously readjust my work schedule.

Because it was the last week of the month, I didn't have clients scheduled so that was good. But I always have a ton of emails to deal with, an article to post, things like that. I was worried that perhaps I wouldn't get it all done and had alternate babysitter Miss Lupe in the bullpen in case an emergency fill-in was needed.

I awake each day between 5:30 and 6, which is normal now. (Unheard of a few years ago). I take 30 minutes for my SPAM time (Spirituality-Prayer-And-Meditation). Then I go to the computer, see how many Canadian Pharmaceutical ads I have, try to retrieve valuable messages that Spam Inspector trashed, and scan my schedule for things I better not space out on.

Something happened to me on that first day. I took a "how important is it" approach when looking at my to-do list. With no calls scheduled, I felt compelled to fill the time with random activities.

"Update your Quickbooks". OK, that took about 5 minutes.
"Send so and so this article." Hmmm.... another 5 minutes.


Things suddenly didn't seem super interesting or profitable at this point. Rather than create work to fill the time, I took the time off. Called my comadre Queta, invited her and her little guy to the park and made a day of it. Afther the heat of the day set in, we took the kids to a great taqueria where I had the best tacos: 1 birria, 1 carnitas. Big glass of horchata to wash it down, rice and beans for Citlalli.

Then a few days later, my friend Laurel invited us to this park that has water squirting out of the playground so the kids can get soaked. We met for breakfast and chowed down on eggs, bacon and french toast.

So why is this such a big deal? Well, the last time I had Citlalli in a restaurant, she ate all the butter packets, spilled jam everywhere and ran wild like the banshee that she is. I ruled out restaurants but my friends encouraged me. And like a charm, it worked.

OK, you say. Kid sits in a restaurant, eats her food, doesn't cause too much damage to the place. What's so special about that.

BECAUSE IF I HADN'T TAKEN A FREAKIN' DAY OFF I WOULD NEVER HAVE LEARNED THIS! Being able to participate in social rituals such as dining out used to be a big part of my life until this little dynamo of a kid entered the scene. With Citlalli, we've been sidelined so often that we became gun shy. Shut ins. Recluses.

AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED WITH MY BUSINESS WHILE I WAS OUT GALAVANTING AROUND? Well, everyday it seemed I had new clients calling me, people wanting to set up exploratory coaching sessions, women who found me on the web and wanted to connect, even a request to perform a WEDDING CEREMONY.

What would have happened had I stayed home and tried to force work?

I usually reserve Wednesdays for Citlalli and Fridays for family day. I expanded it, I felt better and my business did well.

My Inner Loca needed her batteries recharged and she got that.

What's good for the Inner Loca is good for all!

With all this insight, I forgot to mention how far out rockin' cool the first annual Crafty Chica Teleforum was. Kathy Cano Murillo is a powerhouse crafty diva with so much knowledge to share. Folks on the call were so lucky to connect with her. Those of you who missed it will be able to purchase a recording as soon as I get that in order.

Rock on Aztec Warrior Angels!


Monday, September 06, 2004

Bulletin of the Board

Today's entry is a substitute for my random newsletter, The Pocket Comadre. I've had a taste of keeping life simple and this blog thing is as good as it gets for right now. So please read this through as there are some fun and funny moments ahead.



1. Deb Deras, a loca from L.A., is a partner in a wonderful business called Synergy Unlimited. I met her other half , Adoley recently and she's an inspiring and powerful speaker. She and Deborah are hosting a workshop on time management that sounds different than any other seminar on the topic I"ve ever heard of. Here is a blurb from her:

How many of you feel overwhelmed by the demands of your time? Do you feel you are doing more but accomplishing less? Odunton & Deras, Results Coaches & Speakers of Synergy Unlimited have a seminar on Time Expansion unlike any other Time Management seminar because it works at the subconscious level to eradicate procrastination, perfectionism, tardiness, overwhelm etc. This seminar is valued at $297 however as a loca you get it complimentary as my gift to you as a faithful subscriber to this ezine. Space is extremely limited so call before September 7th to ensure your space at 1-888-886-6847. For more information go online at www.synergyunlimited.net.

2. I'm holding an informal open house this Wednesday at 4pm Pacific for anyone else interested in joining the Chispa coaching circle. I can squeeze three more bodies on the line. This is a special group for action oriented, creative women who have an idea they'd like to turn into something tangible. Whether it is starting a new business, writing a book, or sending out a big proposal, there might be some help for you here. If you are interested, please contact me by 12 noon Pacific Time on Wed 9/8.

3. There are about 5 openings left for the Crafty Chica Teleforum this Thursday 9/9 at 5pm Pacific. To sign up, go to www.comadrecoaching.com/murilloforum.html

4. OK, now on to the personals! I wrote a few blogs ago about my upcoming meeting with Lorinda Morales of Bella Brava Botanicals. We met a couple of weeks ago and it was awesome. We are long lost sisters! First of all, we're both tall Chicanas, a semi-rarity. Second of all, we are both post-punk chicas with sordid pasts of punk shows and thrift store wardrobes. We had such a great time connecting and getting to know each other more personally. She is a special person and puts that special touch in her products. The night before we met, I had a dream about her corporate headquarters, with this beautiful fountain out front and big semi trucks delivering her goods across the land. I hope she finds that level of success because her products are wonderful. If you have a bath shop or could recommend her items to a store, I suggest you share her name with them. She's awesome. We took some photos and I'll post those later.

5. Today, I did the ultimate Disneyland no-brainer. My sister has a pass to Disneyland and we went and had a four hour extravaganza! It was a little too easy and I must share this info with all who plan on visiting Disneyland in Anaheim.

First of all, we parked at Downtown Disney. That's 5 hours of free parking with validation. I arrived at 11am and the place was deserted for a holiday. Want to avoid major lines? Enter the park through Downtown Disney at the Monorail entrance. Zero wait, zero people. Hop onto the monorail, get to Tomorrowland, grab a bite to eat and watch a groovy Buzz Lightyear floorshow. (Yes, it was a Citlalli-centric visit.)

Our goal was to get Citlalli on It's a Small World and the line was practically nada. Got on a boat (front row!) and had a blast. She loved it and the air conditioning in the ride gave us a relief from the 100 degree heat outside.

We bopped around the park some more, took in a few sights and then took the monorail back to Downtown Disney where we had ice creams at Haagen Das.

Citlalli is not at the ideal Disneyland age. She's too big to carry around, too small to enjoy most of the rides and too squirrelly to sit in a stroller. This was the perfect visit. We got back home, she fell fast asleep and here I am blogging away.

Free entrance, free parking, big fun.

I like this life!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Not My Fridge

I just returned from a week at my parents' house and it was full of bittersweet moments.

There were several motives behind the trip. First, it was time to drop niece Kati off at the dorms of San Francisco State University. She is such a cool chica and one of the best old-school tattoo illustrators I've ever seen. (She's not inking skin, but she's famous for her Sharpie marker tattoo transformations on her pals).

Then we met friend Mo's little baby who is an absolute doll. That was my original reason to go up. Getting our kids together was this amazing arc that celebrated our lives. Our parents had grown up together in Oakland, and we grew up together and now our kids were rolling around together on the lawn. (The lawn at my brother's house which he shares with his wife Suzanne who was Mo's roommate who became my roommate who fell in love with my brother who is now my friend/sister in law and mother of my
beautiful niece. Got that?) I bought matching leopard outfits for the three baby girls and we did a sassy girl photo shoot which was akin to herding cats.

These were the fun moments. Then I totally screwed everything up by sticking my nose where it didn't belong.

I was looking for something in my parents' fridge when I got the brilliant idea to check the expiration date on everything in there and dispose of what I deemed inedible and a threat to public health.

This is an annoying and intrusive habit I have when I go back home, and it bugs the holy crap out of my mom. I've never taken her protestations seriously because I thought that deep down inside she was grateful for the clearing. I look at it as the forest fire of household organization.
Lots of destruction but look how clean the hill is!

Well, she didn't appreciate it and found nothing amusing or helpful with my actions. In fact she was pissed.

So she said something, then I said something then she felt bad then I felt bad...

I can't tell you how badly life sucks when you go all this way to see family and then something happens that casts a wet blanket on the festivities.

AND... it was all my fault.

I was feeling rejected and misunderstood, the whole routine I play in my head when I don't want to 'fess up that I was at fault.The painful lesson I learned was that:

1. I grew up in that house but it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to my parents.

2. How they choose to keep their fridge is their business, not mine.

3. Unless asked, I am not to offer helpful gestures or unsolicited advice.

Really what happened was that at age 39 I realized that the apron strings no longer fit. I have my own home, my own family. I am not the little girl of the family, I am not cute little Nancy who can throw stuff out then justify it with a wink and a giggle. My mom is the matriarch of her home and I'm not.

This may sound like duh and obvious, but it was something different for me. I never considered my parents' home just theirs. I felt like I still had a stake in it.

I still have my high school yearbooks in a closet there, I still have a portfolio of beginning paintings in a closet. There are probably tons ofother things I have stashed around there, but when push comes to shove, it's their house.

I felt homeless and alone and absolutely devastated for a while. I had a lot of feelings to work out. I talked to a good friend and wrote. I drove up and down the MacArthur Freeway playing the scenario out in my head. Then later that evening I called my mom and apologized.

That was another huge deal but it healed me.

Although I physically moved out of that house over twenty years ago, my head still resided there. The result of this trip was to collect the last of my emotional bags and bring them home to where I am now. I think of the transitions that occurred over this week: niece to college, girlfriends to momfriends, child to adult.

Home is where the heart is, they say.
I thought it was in that green house I grew up in...

I guess it's wherever I decide it to be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

With the Folks

My sister, my daughter, my niece and I had a lovely, uneventful trek up California Hwy 5. So here we are at la casa de los parents enjoying life.

It has been a nonstop whirlwind, much different than my last trip up here. Lots of stuff going on that must be dealt with:

1. Niece Kati (the one who was on Design on a Dime) just started at my alma mater, San Francisco State University. We moved her into the dorms which was a huge job, but the little coed is safe and secure in her new home. I woke up the next day worried about her... what if her alarm doesn't go off, what if she loses her schedule, what if she gets homesick? I'm not even her mother and I'm worried. Imagine what her mom is feeling!

Kati is a wonderful artist who marches to the beat of her own drummer. She is full of awkwardness, innocence and cynicism, a truly artistic combination. I just want everyone to send good thoughts her way and help her get through the adjustment period. I think she's going to find her groove at SFSU.


2. Good friend Mo is coming out here from Austin, TX with her new baby, Bridget (Bridie). Mo and I have known each other since first grade and have remained friends ever since. Suz, Mo and I all went to SFSU together and our lives have been intertwined as a threesome for almost 20 years. We all had babies in the past year or so, first Citlalli , then Suz had Elizabeth now Mo has Bridie. We couldn't have planned it better. This will be the first time we're all assembled w/ kids. Citlalli has been practicing "gentle" for the past couple of weeks so she doesn't overwhelm the little little ones too much. We'll get together later this week and I can't wait.

In the meantime, La Jefe Lorinda of Bella Brava and I are finally going to meet face to face and that is beyond cool. I'm going out there on Thursday. If you haven't tried her Cucumber Facial Tonic you must run and not walk to Bella Brava and get yourself some. I had an out of body experience, as in "this can't possibly be the skin on MY face". The thoughts that pass through our heads as 40 looms on !

So today Citlalli and I hope to get a little shopping done. We're on our own today as Grandma and Auntie must dash over to SFSU and deliver a few more items to niece Kati in the dorms. Tomorrow we have a big lunch date w/ familia, a major girl party with a newborn baby all the way up to my 90 year old aunt.

btw, we revisited the Scrabble game and both TML and I ceded to Bunny. Low blood sugar, tired, crabby, we just couldn't bear it so we ran off crying like a couple of distraught kittiies.

Asi es la vida!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Overdeliver Overwhelm

Seems like everyone is parading under the flag of "Underpromise, Overdeliver". But what may seem like overdelivering to one person might feel like an overwhelming dump to another.

If you've ever had the surreal experience of going to one of those day after Thanksgiving Super Sales at 5am, you're lured by promises of "goodie bags", "super discounts", "free TVs", and the like.

Now most folks are intrigued by the possible savings so they hunker out of bed at 4am, still hungover from too much food the day before, and head off down to their local big box store thinking they're getting something really cool for practically nothing.

"We Overdeliver!" promise the ads.

So what do you walk away with? A bag of soap samples, a big discount on merchandise that isn't really that great and a free TV that is so cheap it becomes a doorstopper within a few months.

I'm seeing a lot of "Overdelivering" on people's websites, particularly in the free download department. I must say, I come from the "if it's free you take it" school (a mantra drilled into me by my mother, who must have carried that message from growing up in the depression).

I order stuff and as a thank you I get tons of free stuff, "valued at over $1500!". Hmmm, let's break it down.

* A consultation with someone who would probably give me a free consult anyway.
* A reprint of an article that I already saw on a free ezine
* A 200 page manual filled with lots of white space, large clip art and 24 point font.
* A buy one get one free deal for something I probably could live without.

I'm not being cynical and I understand that there are a lot of really great resources out there. But my hard drive is so full of free workbooks and downloads and special reports and surefire hits and .... the list goes on.

I start to feel a bit duped after a while. You know how it is when a friend is moving and you end up going home with boxes and boxes of their old junk? Or when someone takes a present that they didn't want, rewraps it and gives it to you? It's that same feeling of letdown.

When I see these "value adds" of free stuff I get all excited. Wow, they are saving me so much time and energy! Then I get them and I realize that there isn't a whole lot to it. And because I prefer reading things from paper and not on my computer screen, I print them out and then I feel bad for all the trees that suffered just for this information.

What does overdeliver really mean?

To me, it isn't about filling my cart with as much junk as I can just because it's free. It's about knowing that someone else cares about me and isn't trying to buy me off with a bunch of words on paper.

I have so many cheap nylon "backpacks" that I've gotten for subscribing to certain magazines. They think that's overdelivering but all I get is a ripped backpack at the worst possible moment.

Last year a bank royally screwed up some paperwork of mine and I complained. A few days later a big Harry and David fruit, cookies, tea goodie basket arrived on my doorstep. Every time I go into the bank the people are courteous and offer me a beverage, ask how my family is, remember nice things about me.

They don't need to do that but they do. Great customer service is a form of overdelivering.

My coach Barbara overdelivers to me. I have access to her 24/7, whether by email or phone. She flexes her policies to meet my needs. That keeps me coming back. She doesn't have to send me free stuff, she gives me what I need: knowing that I'm taken care of and not just a number.

To me, overdelivering is a frame of mind. It's about availability, caring, treating me like a human being. It's not sending me tons and tons of papers or free crud that I don't find particularly useful anyhow.

People are too time starved to sift through the pages and pages of special reports and free downloads. What they need is human connection, genuine caring and concern.

That's the overdelivering that I crave.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Spam, Finches... there's just so much going on here

OK, in my last post, which due to the bizarre nature of blogging you must read on to see, I complained about the Spam problem w/ my email. I neglected to mention that I finally got a spam filter called Spam Inspector and it's working well. I tried Spam Assassin a few months ago and hated it... you had to read your email from their website and it was a big headache.

That doesn't mean I no longer receive 2 billion cryptic messages about refinancing my home, buying pharmaceuticals in Canada and the old standby, Viagra. (I'm curious to see what Google Adsense banner is running at the top of this page considering these hot key words!)

OK, I must get off this negative perch and focus on a more positive one. Speaking of perches, that reminds me of the finches.

A while back, I told you about the finch feeder I got myself for Mother's Day. After more than a month and several expensive solutions, I finally got finches to come to my feeder.

For about three weeks we had one, maybe two. They're cute little birdies, yellow-green feathers with black wings. Very green hornet in the color scheme area.

Then one or two more would come by, I'd see them more frequently...

Then suddenly one day there were about 10 of these little critters feeding on the special finch food that costs $40 for a 25 pound bag.

They devoured the contents of the feeder in one day. That was pretty fast. I went back to the bird store to get more food and asked the resident finch expert if this was a seasonal behavior, if they were going to be that busy on my feeder... he told me that finches live here all year round, that yes this was what happens when you put an attractive bird feeder outside and then he proceeded to tell me about the incredible diversity of California's wild bird population.

So I wanted finches, I asked for finches and I got finches!
Tons of little finches and they are amazing. Their cuteness makes up for their expensive eating habits and now we have doves hanging around in the late afternoon, stealing finch food and taking up lots of space on the feeder.

In addition to all that, we still have a prolific hummingbird feeder out front and a new passionflower plant (indigo) attracts a gorgeous butterfly.

Park a unicorn out front and I'd have a wonderland of sorts!

Don't think I live in some wooded area or enchanted meadow. I live in Southern California, a jampacked metropolitan area with donut shops and trendy tattoo parlors in every strip mall. But we managed to carve out a bit of wild space for our winged friends and that's all good with me.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Spam Hell: My Version of Open Water

Help!

Does anyone hear my cry for help?

I haven't seen the movie "Open Water" (don't really plan on), but judging from the previews, the reviews and the trailer, I get the gist: couple goes out on diving expedition, get left behind, must fend for selves in open water. I'm going out on a limb here, but since it's based on a true story I assume that someone lived to tell the story.

I feel left behind just about everyday when I'm on my computer, especially when checking my email.

This whole "Can Spam Act" is a bunch of mierda if you ask me. Today is Sunday, a day I usually don't work but I thought I'd do an early morning email scan before the baby woke up.

Inbox: 1237 emails.
By the time it scanned all the messages, the internet connection timed out. It took so long just to find out that nobody emailed me with anything crucial, but for some reason I thought that out of 1237 there had to be at least something I could sink my teeth into.

So for the time being, I'm doing an email check on Sunday mornings and evenings. What a drag! Can someone tell me what happened to email?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Chispas Light My Fire

Chispa means spark and that is also the name of my super coaching circle that meets every Wednesday at 4pm Pacific Time.

This group has brought so much to me and to each other. What amazes me more than anything is how EACH PERSON in the group, without ever meeting beforehand, without any conjuring or selecting before I came into the scene, HAD SOMETHING EXTREMELY VALUABLE to offer someone else in the group.

Suzanne is an original Chispa, a veterana in the coaching circle. She bonded and loved the original Chispa circle and was sad to see our original Chispas Diana and Ellen move on. How could we ever replace that synergy? I was worried that any other incarnation would fail.

Then I received word from two complete and total strangers, Maria and Ruth. They were both interested in the Chispa circle. We started off and from day one, Chispa sparks flew.

Ruth has a wonderful idea for a culturally based media project. Coincidentally, Suzanne has an extensive background in media and production and was able to give Ruth specific information to get her project going.

Coincidence or the work of the all so powerful Inner Loca?

Suzanne has this wonderful idea to spread dreamy story snippets and haikus to the world on cool, relaxing items. Ruth and Maria each gave Suzanne valuable feedback on their favorite surreal dreams Suzanne wrote and encouraged her when "administrivia" and the like crept in.

Maria is an enormously gifted artist who came into the group with reservations of putting her work out there. Within three months of being a Chispa, Maria produced 15 new paintings, was selling her work like hotcakes, launched new products for the home.... and so much more. (Does this woman not require sleep, I wondered...)

Meanwhile, Ruth overcame this huge block to being organized and is currently experiencing the domino effect of inspiration... the creative surge in one part of life seeped into all others. She is now recarpeting, repainting the whole house! The Mexican kitchen of her dreams is on the way and there is no stopping this Chispa.

Suzanne, whose creativity is boundless, was having trouble paring down her many ideas to name her product. She floated names out to the group, but finally the other day a name struck that sounded so authentic, so THERE for her that everyone unanimously supported her.

The beauty of this group is the total honesty and unwavering support offered.

At the request of the group, the focus for August will be tweaking and refining our creative mission statements. These are living documents that change occasionally, but constantly reinforce and emphasize our special gifts to the world.

Sadly, Maria just left our group because of a scheduling conflict. That won't keep us from calling her, emailing her and getting updates on her latest pieces. The bond we created will remain.

That means that we have space for more Chispas. Are you interested in turning your idea into a plan, of connecting with other creative women and being part of a community that honors and accepts you as a creative soul?

Let me know. Email me and I'll gladly explain the process for signing up, or you can visit the coaching circle webpage on my website.

paz,
Nancita

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Support the Arts!

Back in my old neighborhood in San Francisco, a wonderful muralist named Juana Alicia is struggling with the love of neighborhood and the frustration of not getting paid by the city for her work.

Juana is, in my opinion, one of the best muralists around. Her style is so unique and full of life, drawing upon indigenous themes, social causes and calls to action.

Long story short: her latest project, La Llorona, is in a budget crisis. She is working without reimbursement as the city's bureaucracy plays hot potato with her budget.

Juana needs your support. Her work is medicine in the truest sense of the word. The images she paints bring healing to the community.

Go to Juana's website to learn more of her story and how you can support this amazing muralista.

Friday, July 23, 2004

In the News, Ideal Clients and Other Cool Dealios

First the News Part:

I recently gave a couple of interviews that will be hitting the newstands in September, one maybe in October and another one pending. 

When Latinos see the name "Comadre Coaching" they are instantly intrigued. I didn't decide on that name because I thought it would attract news attention, I just couldn't think of a better name to describe what I do for a living. A comadre is a trusted female friend, advisor, confidant. She'll tell you when your gut is sticking out, she'll champion you in your endeavors. A couple of journalists contacted me to learn more about what I do, how I weave Latino/Indigenous philosophy into my work, what types of women I work with, etc.  It was fun being interviewed because I've been practicing for a while. I talk to myself when I drive and why not give an interview!  (Must note this for a future Loca Ritual!) 

Look for me in the Orange County Register in September or October, Latino Future in September and catch an article I wrote for Cuerpo Magazine that should be coming out soon.

Ideal Clients
Last week at a networking event for eWomen Network, Lisa Cherney of Conscious Marketing presented on attracting your ideal clients. Who are they, how do they make you feel, do you feel energized by them?  I instantly thought of several clients I currently have, especially my Chispa Group. They are the coolest bunch of women ever assembled in one place and I give thanks and praise every day for them.

During Lisa's talk, she identified her ideal clients. People who "get" her, who resonate with what she calls "intuitive marketing", which is not as woo-woo as it sounds! It's all about attracting people who you love, who love you and who energize you.  So at the end of her presentation, she passed out song lyrics, popped in a CD and asked everyone to stand and sing along!  You should have seen the botox squirm! I was in the back so I could see everyone and it was split between  "what the hell, let's have fun" and "no way am I singing at a women's networking event!"  Well, I sang and had a blast. The waiters stood behind me and laughed and I just shrugged it all off. I called Lisa the next day to congratulate her on her boldness. By being herself, she probably eliminated the discomfort of trying to make less than ideal clients into ideal clients. I applaud her courage and love the idea that people who are in love with her style will contact her.  There are lots out there and I wish her continued success.

Other Dealios...
I'm starting a new coaching circle and I'm so very very excited about it. I'm still doing the page for it, but if you want a sneak peak go to www.comadrecoaching.com/womenbusinessowners.html

Instead of a Master Mind group (a collection of successful people who gather to continue their success) it's a Maestra Mind Group.

Sorry guys, chicas only.  It's going to be great. The first group will be for women who have owned a business for at least one year with a newbie group forming later this year.

Then there is the Craftypreneur Project, an effort to help funky crafters take their work to a larger scale, make a living off of it and put more vibrancy in this world with their awesome work. Three free conference calls will take place in September... zap me an email and I'll send you mas info.

peace out mi gente!

 

 



Friday, July 16, 2004

Throw Another Plum on the Barbie...

MMMMMMM yum. Big family bbq last night, at least what we in California call a bbq. A grill-fest for you true blue que-ers. Here's what we concocted:

Grilled salmon w/ plum and fig salsa
burgers
guacamole
roasted tomatillo salsa
bearnaise sauce (yes, at a summer bbq- odd request from my dad)

My mom has a plum tree and she's not the canning/drying type of person so I decided to make a soy sauce marinade then serve sweet and hot salsa over it. Here are my recipes.

It's all about SWEET-SALTY-HOT-TANGY. nuff said.

Grilled Fruit Salsa:

8-10 Plums (I used black plums, the kind you make prunes out of, but any kind will work)
you could also use nectarines, peaches, or other stone fruit

1/3 c. finely chopped red onion

1-4 serrano or jalapenos chiles

salt to taste

sweetener of you choice (optional)

Instrucciones:
1. cut the plums in half and remove the pits.

2. Place the fruit skin side down on a medium hot grill. Put the chiles (serranos or jalapenos) on the grill and evenly blacken all sides. Leave plums on for about 10 minutes or until skin loosens.


3. Using tongs, remove fruit from grill and put aside. DIscard the skins.

4. Put charred chiles in a paper or plastic bag and let them sweat for about 15 min. After 15 minutes, rinse the skins off under the faucet. Don't do like i did and rub your eye or else you'll have this bizarre heat sensation going on that could be potentially harmful. So be forewarned and watch your fingies.

5. Chop the grilled fruit, finely chop the chiles and onion and put in a ceramic or glass bowl. Add salt to taste and maybe, just maybe a little sweetener if your fruit wasn't sweet enough. This could be a pinch of sugar or honey or stevia. Don't O.D. on the sweet or else you'll lose the focus of the salsa.

6. Let this lovely concoction sit at least one hour before serving.

Serve over salmon, pork, chicken or whatever your little heart desires. Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Scrabble With the Folks

I'm enjoying a week up in the Bay Area with my family. My itinerary includes lots of time hanging out with the family, running Citlalli around the backyard and spending evenings with my parents, Tom and Bunny.


Last night we played Scrabble after dinner- my mom was jonesing for a Scrabble game and felt excited to have a new partner. I'm not a big game player and lack that vicious competitive edge... well at least I thought I did!


The game started with me, flopping "bent" onto the board for 12 points. Whoopee.


My mom and dad kept the excitement going with such stellar words as "ant", "is", "am", and "bed". Not a big night for vocabulary building.


I don't know how, but I started getting a few triple word scores, and raked in 26 points for "zits", hitting double word score.


Mid-game score:
Nancy : 102
Bunny : 71
Tom: 70


"That darn Nancy, she's gonna smear us, Tom."


"Not quite yet", pipes in my dad as he settles his tiles onto the board.

"There ya' go", he pronounces, "KED".

"That is not a word Tom", protests Bunny. "I challenge it."

"Bunny, of course it's a word. 'KED'. What do you mean you've never heard 'ked'?"

She casts a doubtful glance my way. Oh no, now I have to get dragged into it.

"Nancy, have you ever heard of the word 'ked'?"

"Well, I know Ked shoes..."

"NO proper nouns, Tom! " slams Bunny.

As enjoyable as the exchange was, I really didn't want to sit and wait hours for my dad to find a new word so I voted that we allow "ked" and get on with it. Bunny rejected my obvious siding with my dad- "Nancy, he cheats! Don't let him get away with it!", but I wasn't really advocating, I just wanted to keep playing!

The game continued with my try at cheating by adding an "r" to "cage".

"Cager? That's not a word", Bunny says as she thumbs through her Official Scrabble Dictionary. "If it's not in this dictionary then it doesn't exist".

I justify: "A cager is someone who puts other people in a cage. Like a jailer puts someone in jail. I think it works."

Tom perks up. "Cager is a perfectly acceptable word, Bunny. Let her have it and put your word down."

So we went on and on like this, my score a good 30 points ahead of the folks. We were nearing the end of the game and I had to resort to adding an "s" to some words for lack of any other options.

Then it suddenly materialized on my little tile tray. I had an "x" worth 8 points, "v", "c", some real good ones. Enough vowels, an opening on the board- I had a killer word.

"OK", I warned, "I apologize but I'm about to smear you both and all I can say is thank you for investing in my education. Look at this as a compliment to your hard work and ..."

"Just put the word down!", they moaned.

"C-o-n-v-e-x. Convex- like a covex lens. Let's see, that's a triple letter score on the 'x', a double word score... That will be 57 points please."

They howled, they moaned, they felt the pain of defeat. I handled my victory with graciousness and
dignity. With hardly any tiles left in our hands, we ended the game with a jumble of letters making up definitions as we went along.

Tom invented "hajarped", modifying the existing "ajar".

Bunny daringly put the "q" she'd been holding onto and made up a bizarre word.

So it ended with lots of laughing and here I am, the next morning, looking at the score pad and marveling at that line under my name with the number 57 on it.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Quotes from Chairman Paco

Paco is my dreadlocked Chicano/Yaqui/Sober/Rasta/Radical husband who has a penchant for boiling down life's complexities into streetwise, edgy phrases.

Elusive as he is, I don't have any photos of him to offer. But I do have a couple of gems that only could come from Paco.

On going to see an artsy, foreign film:
"I don't want to see some movie about a kid in Norway tryin' to fly a kite."

On the misbehaviors of my twin 8 year old cousins, little demons with slickly combed hair and preppie sweaters:
"Who invited the Menendez Brothers?"
(remember Lyle and Eric?)

graffiti left on one of my inspirational, visioning post-it notes:
My words: What is it I want?
Scraggly graffiti added: "Chocolate cookies!! And a little respect..."

More will be revealed...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

More Musings On Mullets

I sent out a link to this mullet thing to family and friends and left a long message on my friend Suzanne's answering machine asking for specific definitions of "mullet", as perhaps I was confusing what I did w/ something else. Maybe I gave a "Jennifer" or a new century shag.

Suzanne straightened me out. Here is her response:

hi - got your message last night - and yes, a mullet, by definition is
short on top and long in the back. a bi-level, two-tiered hairdoo,
business in the front party in the back...

i believe the mullet was dignified and maybe even cool in the
post-punk, new wave music movement of the 80's when Bowie and Mel Gibson sported
the doo.
But all mullet-dignity plunged and staleness crept in when mulletites
michael bolton and billie ray cyrus came late to the party .

according to my book, "the mullet - hairstyle of the gods" by mark
larson and barney hoskyns, the mullet has been around for centuries.

"Will the Mullet ever disappear?" the authors ask themselves
"The short answer is, not as long as people have hair and ears." they
answer themselves.



Suzanne McKaig is a multi-faceted writer, product developer and dream documentarian. Her upcoming line of dream inspired pillow cases will be on the Bettyware label.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Oops... I Gave My Kid a Mullet

Hmmm.... it all started so innocently. Had a fun day at the park, Citlalli played in the sandbox and brought half of it home in her clothes, hair,etc. OK, this is a no-brainer... put the kid in the tub, right?

Yes, the tub. Rubber duckies, special organic natural no tears shampoo, washcloth... then I look at her hair and remember how I've been wanting to trim those sides. The left side was about 1/4 to 1/2 inch longer over the sides so I grabbed my haircutting scissors and thought I'd do a quick little snip.

Me, scissors.
Child in tub, hair nice and wet.
All signals say go.

Just as I go to cut it, she moves and I end up snipping her hair way over her adorable little ears. Oops. Better even them out with the other side. Oops again... hmm, I wonder how this will look when it dries.

Long story short- she has this faux-postmodern mullet that on her works... I just hope that the sides grow in quickly. Cami, our former babysitter is coming over tomorrow night to straighten things out. She's gifted in the hair arranging dept.

Yes, I am a lucky woman to have such great helpers in my life!

Bunny and Tallo Update
Talked to my mom today and now that she has become a Pocket Comadre subscriber, she does fun things like read my blog and my ezine.

"You haven't written a Bunny and Tallo Report in some time. Are you losing interest?"

"Of course not Mom, I just got busy and sometimes I can't get to the blogging... "

"And what is this about you giving away all your gourds?"

"Well, the garage was packed and we needed the space..."

"But your gourds are so outstanding! Please don't stop making them, they're so beautiful!"

"No, I'm not giving them up. I saved a bunch, I just don't need 200 in my garage."

She let out a "hmmmmmmmmmmmmm" and left the topic alone.

Meanwhile, Tallo is at a decorative painters convention and probably whooping it up at some hotel in Las Vegas with a bunch of senior citizen craftistas. Did I ever mention that she bakes about 1500 Christmas cookies every December? The woman is an ass kicker in the home ec world. You young crafty mamas could learn a thing or two from Tallo- she's been there, done that, bought the pattern.

And by the way, the finches finally came! They are lovely little green and black wild canaries and I love them. They co-exist nicely with the hummingbirds and we're one big happy avian loving family.

My midsummer resolution is to blog more, email less. Stay tuned to find out if I keep at it!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Teething Stole My Life...

When your child's molars grow in, life as you know it grinds to a halt. Especially if your child's name is Citlalli. The modus operendi with Citlalli is that NOTHING COMES EASY with her. She's a doll and the light of our lives, but she does everything with such GUSTO it can sometimes make life a bit tiring for us parents.

Citlalli is a "slow teether". That means that when her teeth come in, they creep in, they meander in, they take their sweet time coming in. So last Thursday night when she woke up at 10pm screaming, it was only a slight signal of what was yet to come. This past week has been a bizarre torture fest (for all of us) as Mother Nature plants those chompers in my girl's mouth.

I've tried to lower my expectations of what I can get done this week and am finding myself spending more time just BEING THERE for little Miss C. Today I took a nice long break to go out and play on the grass, kick the red ball around, turn her upside down. When I came back in, my comadre Lorinda emailed to say how much she loved Citlalli's recent pics, and how important it is to cherish each moment while kids are young.

Scroll down for a few of my favorites... those were the rare "still" moments, taken by our good friend Helena Pasquarella who co-owns Kiss of Light Photography. She has a gift for capturing natural moments of life.

Cherish a precious relationship today!

Young and intense. Posted by Hello

little doll Posted by Hello

Chicanita Tree Hugger Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 12, 2004


Finches feeding from someone else's feeder... it sure ain't mine! Posted by Hello

Waiting for Finches

Just as a watched pot never boils, neither does a watched finch feeder feed finches.

Finches are cool little birds with all sorts of afficionados... like me, Charles Darwin, the wild birdstore by my house, my husband... Second to hummingbirds, they are fun to watch.

OK, sidenote. I just realized that I'm going through this fascination with small animals... I want a chihuahua SOOOOOOOOOO badly, I have hummingbird feeders and hummingbird attracting plants all over and now the finch feeder. Tiny is good. Tiny is my friend.

Alright, back to my finch story: I went to the local wild birdstore on Mother's Day and got a new hummingbird feeder. While there, I became fascinated with the finch feeder they had hanging out back so I had to get one. This is the type of store that sells GOOD birdfeeders, not the Target cheapo good for one season til the cat knocks it over birdfeeders, AND the staff know their birds. So I went a little crazy in there, getting a feeder, special food, a big yellow overhang for the feeder to attract those little critters... but after 2 weeks no finches. I was so bummed.

I called the store and spoke with one of the guys and he suggested I move it to a different place, and maybe consider getting a cassette tape of birdsongs to attract them. I only want the best for my little friends so I plunked down another $50 on an adjustable pole with arms and hooks, a birdie filial, a claw-footed stabilizer so it will stay in the ground and yes, the $19.99 cassette tape of birdies tweeting.

With Paco's help, we set up the feeder, plugged the cassette player in, and blasted birdie dinner songs for all the neighbors to hear. My sister called and as I talked to her, I paced back and forth to the window looking for finches. She was talking to me about picking figs at Auntie Tallo's house. I'd say finch, she'd say fig.

No finches.

Paco is laughing because he thinks I'm trying to control the birds.

"No", I protested "I'm ATTRACTING them. It's not controlling."

Hmmm. Or is it? I am doing everything I can to make finches come to my yard but they aren't here yet. Is there something unattractive to finches lingering?

I'm not going to get that deep into it. I don't think it deserves a metaphysical treatise, but damn... I sure wish those birds would come!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Loca Update: A Review of the Week

The house painting thing:
If you read earlier posts, you know that I struggled with the whole paint the house thing. I can't believe I posted things in this blog and didn't update you. Paco, the man of the hour, tied his dreadlocks up and delivered big time with not one, but four walls of polychromatic splendor! The wall behind the couch is now a deep maple red and the walls in the dining area are more of a pumpkin/terra cotta. The couch is a solid blue denim-ish fabric so it all goes well. I know, I know I'm about 20 years too late for the Southwestern craze, but we're O.G. indigenous so it's all good! I have to be careful not to look too El Torito, but it's very nice and incorporates a lot of our heritage and spirituality into the decor.

The Babysitting Situation:
We met Lupe yesterday and she's a lovely woman. I'm such a %^&#&^& idiot, I gave her the wrong address and pobrecita, she spent half an hour trying to find our place. Meanwhile we're looking at the clock thinking, this lady must be a total flake. When I replayed our conversation back in my head I realized I said our street number was cincuenta y cinco not sesenta y seis. Upon realizing this I raced out to the garage and urged Paco to get in the car and circle the neighborhood to find her. I was out of my mind and he was all into this "Take it slow, slow down" mode. I DON'T THINK SO! Well, we saw a car circling around, it was her, turns out we know her brother, Citlalli liked her, so we'll see.

More Cool Client Stories:
Just got a note from a multi-talented localicious who said our coaching session left her feeling "like the Tazmanian Devil". Well wooo-huuuu. It's nice to work with clients who I "get" and who "get" me.

Gourds
I am a member of the California Gourd Society and that reminds me, I need to renew my American Gourd Society membership. Gourd crafting is the coolest medium I've ever worked in and I'm about to enter my masterpiece in the International Gourd Art Festival in Fallbrook, CA. Last time I entered a Virgen of Guadalupe gourd lamp and got second place (i deserved first, I tell ya...) This is a circle of Indigenous women all sitting around, each with a beautiful shawl. I really need to get a digital camera so I can put this stuff up. I can describe so many things, but I have trouble describing this piece. I gave it to my sister after she came and helped me after Citlalli's birth and she just shipped it down to me and then it's off to Welburn's Gourd Farm for the festival.

Anyway, my gourding days are pretty lean since Miss Citlalli came into my life so this weekend I'm donating about 50 gourds to my local gourd patch so they can use them in outreach. I think that the it will be good to let them go and introduce the medium to other gourders. If you've never gourded before, contact me and put "gourds" in the subject line. I'm a gourd evangelist. I think the world would be a much better place if we all crafted gourds.

Weekend Fun
Citlalli and I just got back from Alianza Indigena's Music, Poetry and Art Festival. It was so cool hearing these youngsters rapping freestyle mixes of Rasta, Chicano, Indigena lines. Plus poetry on identity, ancestry, racism, politica, todo. It was great plus I ate a killer taco de carne asada with a big glass of tamarindo. Now that's my kind of summer day!

Friday, June 04, 2004

WAHM -vs- WHAM

WAHM: Work at Home Mom
WHAM!: George Michael and Andrew Ridgley, pop superstars of the early 80's

Don't get the two mixed up.


So here is the ink on Citlalli and I in the Orange County Excelsior:
http://www.ocexcelsior.com/mi_negocio/locales/0604_mi_negocios_local_mujer_trabajo.shtml

The photo is me in my fannytabulous home office (originally intended to be "the nursery", yeah right) with young Citlallapalooza trying to snag something from my hand. Sadly, the photo says my name is Arabela, which is a fine name, it just isn't mine.

If you don't read Spanish, it basically says that I am a successful work at home mom who juggles raising a toddler with running an exciting business. And business is exciting, too.

Been getting client success stories galore... an artist featured in a newspaper article showcasing her work, a media producer getting a meeting with a BIG TV production company, a web solutions guru who has people practically beating down the door to hire her team, a healing professional landing a spot on a major documentary television show... for whatever reason, things really heat up when you add the focus of coaching to the equation.

Haven't interviewed the potential new CitlalliSitter yet, but that will come today at 1:30. What questions should I ask? How do I know who to trust? Whoever is out there reading this, drop me a line

paz out...

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Bunny and Tallo Report, Babysitting Woes, etc

Let's start off with some joy:
Bunny and Tallo are studying "Cats" in their Broadway musical class. First they read T.S. Eliot's book, then watched the video of the Broadway performance. Bunny, who sneezes in fits when near cats, confessed that she can now understand how some people (like my sister with 5 cats)can love cats as much as they do.

They are also studying a lesser known Shakespeare play in their Shakespeare class, but I don't even remember what it was! I'm not a big Shakespeare person, although I did enjoy the PBS special a few months ago. I'm just too much of a 20th Century women of color fan to sink my teeth into Bill's stuff.

OK, so the babysitting woes...
Cami, our wonderful babysitter whose daily presence makes it possible for me to run my business, just told me that she found her dream job teaching Special Education to deaf adults. I'm happy for her, but bummed that I have to do the whole babysitter hiring/screening thing all over again.

HOWEVER... I know that this is the Creator's way of clearing the way for yet another awesome person to enter our lives. We immediately starting talking to people and I've already received a call from a woman named Lupe who is coming tomorrow for an interview. I asked her if she'd be open to helping with some light housework and she said "Si, como no!". Well sign her up cuz if someone can not only help me with Citlalli but also help me clean... well, that's a dream come true.

I think there will be a I Hate Housework blog coming down the road soon.

OK, more cool news... Friday June 4 I'll be featured in a newspaper article about work at home moms for the Orange County Excelsior. It's a Spanish language newspaper and if it's online you know you'll be seeing it here soon.

As I write this, Citlalli has torn apart my office supply drawer and has post-its and file folder labels everywhere. And I wonder why I can't do housework!

Friday, May 28, 2004

June Gloom is Alright With Me

June Gloom has descended upon Southern California and I say "YAY".

Yay for fog.
Yay for the color grey.
Yay for wearing a sweatshirt in May.

I'm a displaced San Franciscan, one who bitched and moaned every summer because everyone else in the world (it seemed) was having fun in the sun while I was wrapped up in big coats, hats and gloves. I have a picture of myself and my friend Suzanne at a Giant's game one July. I'm wearing a beret, a big scarf and a heavy jacket. She's got a chiffon scarf wrapped over her head, her cheeks red from the wind. We were both freezing our butts off. I think the Giants lost that night too.

"Oh if only I lived in a warm climate", I cried.

Fast forward. I've now lived in Southern California almost 4 years and I'm ecstatic that it's foggy! I love the way my plants look in the light, I love the way we can go out walking at noon and not fry in the heat. Absence must have made my heart grow fonder.

So like a long lost love, I greet the fog with a familiar longing. I know it won't be here long enough for me to tire of it. I know that it's only a monthlong phenomenon. And like the recalling of long lost love, if it were to stick around long enough, it would remind me of all the things that drove me crazy...

Fog, you're welcome here today.
Just don't wear out your welcome...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Paint It Simple

Well, it's only taken me a year and a half, but finally, finally, finally I'm going to paint my livingroom wall.

Did you notice the use of the singular: wall. Not walls. Not the ceiling. A wall.

I'm often the victim of my own creative brainstorms, and when you're juggling a toddler, an at home business, family and all the other elements of life, it's hard to put a room renovation on the schedule.

Here I am, a professional motivator, nudger, and nag, not doing my own creative expression. What's with that? Here are some lame excuses I am now owning up to:

  1. The baby needs me.
  2. The baby will knock the paint over.
  3. I can't move all those bookcases alone.
  4. I have to finish writing my newsletter.
  5. I have a client calling me.

    AND MY ALL TIME FAVORITE................. DRUMROLL.................

  6. I CAN'T DECIDE WHAT COLOR TO PAINT SO I BETTER LEAVE THE WALLS WHITE.


Hellooooooooo? It all really boiled down to #6. Hmmm. What color. Red? Terra Cotta? Cobalt Blue? What if the room looks too small? What if it gets too dark? What if, what if, what if...

My friends Helena and Raleigh live in this cool house in Old Towne Orange, CA. It's an amazing neighborhood of old turn of the century homes, filled with interesting neighbors and fun shops. The interior of their house is painted so many colors, each one working with the next, complementing the artwork and creating a feeling of an artists retreat. One wall is a deep red, another has a deep green accent. The bathroom is beautiful and the yard full of funky finds. I love going over there.

I think of how great their house looks and I think, "Well, I know I can't do all that work, so I might as well do nothing."

How often do we fall short of our dreams because our time and resources don't match our vision?

So here is what I commit to doing this weekend. First of all, I'm starting with one wall in the living room and one wall in the "dining room" which is really just an extension of the livingroom with a kitchen table in it. I will TSP the wall on Saturday and apply a first coat of primer. For the livingroom I'm going with Autumn Red and the dining room will be more of a terra cotta/golden color. I know that after applying those first coats of paint, the fog that has clouded my head for 18 months of living here will lift and I'll get my groove back.

Then I'm going to my friend's 40th birthday party and will have a fun and relaxing time.

Sunday we go at it with the paint once more. If the mood strikes me, I will journey down to my office and put some Frida cobalt blue up, maybe some purple. I will create my own little artist retreat and make my space fitting to my personality.

I tolerated white walls for so long because other things were happening in life. Now I'm at the point where I know that action is the only direction I can move toward.

What are you putting off? What tolerations can you jump over?

I'll let you know how it all goes... wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Bunny and Tallo Report- Part 1

Bunny and Tallo (say "TIE-oh") are two 70+ sisters, inseparable for as long as I can remember. There are many remarkable facts to know about them, and let me start by giving you the basic rundown.


  • Bunny is my mom and Tallo is my aunt. Bunny's real name is Dolores and Tallo's birth name is Maria del Rosario which became Rosemary. Chayo is the nickname for Maria del Rosario but through the magic of Spanglish and the spoken word, Chayo became Tallo and I'm not really sure who decided on the spelling. In Spanish, tallo means stem. No, we don't call her Auntie Stem.

  • Auntie Tallo is about 3 years older than Bunny.

  • Auntie Tallo is a road warrior, able to drive long distances with ease, grace and facility. When Uncle Joe was still alive, they belonged to a trailer club and took serious road trips with other seniors. If it's a state or national park in the Western U.S., Tallo's been there.

  • Bunny and Tallo not only finish each other's sentences, they let each other know what the other should continue saying after that.

  • Bunny and Tallo served their aging mother like a couple of champs. My grandmother stayed in my parents' home until her death at the age of 97. My mom was still working as a nurse and Tallo would come over and take care of Mama while Bunny was at work.

  • Where there's Bunny... there's Tallo. They do EVERYTHING together. Read on for their most recent discovery: "culture".



A couple of years ago, Bunny and Tallo found a class on opera at the local senior center. Neither of them had ever listened to opera, been to an opera or studied anything about opera, but for whatever reason they signed up. My mom would call me after class with reports on what they were studying. First it was Carmen.

"She was a loose woman, if you know what I mean" Bunny told me.

"A real you-know-what", chimed in Tallo.

"Yeah", I replied, "I saw Carmen a couple of years ago. It's really cool."

"Uh-huh", interjects Bunny, "but did you know that she was a gypsy?"

"Well, yes... that's kinda the whole Carmen thing..."

"Did your mother tell you that we watched the video of Carmen in class and that everyone in the class is a former teacher and we told them that you were a teacher and then we told them about your baby and everyone wants to know if she's OK now and..."

I cut her off mid-sentence. "Actually yes, she told me that..."

"But", added my mom, "did we tell you that next we're going to study La Traviata and then Voggggggggggggggner?"

It goes on like this for a while. Who told me what, in what detail, etc. I rather enjoy it especially when they discover a minute detail that the other left out. That's the whole Bunny and Tallo energy. Up, up, up.

These two busy seniors then signed up for a class on Broadway musicals, Shakespeare and enhancing vocabulary.

"Nancy, do you know the story of Julius Caesar?"

"I taught Julius Caesar to my sophomores..."

"But did you know that..."

The beauty of talking to Bunny and Tallo is their awe of new information. Whether it's new to you or not isn't the point. When it's new to them, they share it with the whole world. Since they never were much for literature, opera and the like, there is a lot of new information for them to share.

I let them tell me whatever they want. It doesn't matter if I've heard it, done it, seen it. I think that by talking about it, they're relearning the material and becoming more knowledgeable in the process.

That's just a taste of Bunny and Tallo. Stay tuned for more Bunny and Tallo reports as they develop.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Girls Day Out

Today is Sunday and it's a girls day out for Citlalli and I. This morning we took a hike up an oak canyon and then went to the new Home Depot where I picked up paint swatches for my home painting project. I have been putting off painting inside the house for... way too long now. Life is going to keep going on and I can't face those white walls anymore!

At this point I need time, energy and a willing crew. For starters, I'm just going to paint one wall red. A deep red, not a shocking red. Right behind the couch. I still need to decide what color to paint my office. I'm tossing it up between purple or Frida blue. Like La Casa Azul. Yes, my little office needs to be Friday inspired.

Hmmmm.

If anyone out there has ever gotten stuck in the white wall paralysis of not knowing what color to go with, please share your story with me. "Just paint the damn wall" the voice inside me says.

"Oh, but you have to TSP the walls and get drop cloths and clean brushes..."

Can you hear that Trickster's voice? Anything to keep me static.

OK... I promise that by next weekend I will have AT LEAST painted that one wall red. On my honor. All my relations.

aho.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sometimes You Just Gotta Say What the #$%@

Back in college I slung hash, pushed cocktails... worked as a waitress for those of you unfamiliar with those terms. This one bartender named Ron used to always say "Sometimes you just gotta say what the f#$%."

For me today, that translates into giving myself permission to let things go. Let things slide so that I can enjoy life.

I was having one of those weeks where each day seemed more stressful than the previous. After a good long talk with my coach, I realized that I needed to get out and away from the home office, get out into the sunshine and PLAY. So yesterday Paco, Citlalli and I went to the park during a 2 hour break I had between client calls.

Paco pushed little Miss C on the baby swing and I took off like a badass 8th grader on the big girl swing. This permagrin started on my face and I felt the freedom of flight. It was very therapeutic and released an enormous amount of stress.

When I got back home, I had a consult with Anita Larson, the Web Muse and she gave me some amazing tips for my website. I felt so overjoyed after talking to her that I wanted to run victory laps around my house and high five the monitor. She's my kind of woman- straight talker, down to earth, ethical and fun. The lady knows her stuff. So I'm looking forward to revamping my website by the end of the summer. If anyone reading this is a website re-vamping expert, drop me a line. I'm looking for a few good vamps.

So back to this freedom thing. Today we took a very reluctant Citlalli to the Irvine Farmers Market- she won't do the stroller, didn't want dad, just wanted me, etc. Same old same old. But on the way home we stopped at Irvine Park up in the hills and took Citlalli on the little railroad there. Too much fun! She whooped it up the whole time. Then we went to the zoo but Paco had to leave because he's a vegetarian and has issues with animals in captivity. I tried to explain that they were rescued animals but he got too bummed. Citlalli and I were blessed to visit a red tail hawk, a golden eagle and a bald eagle. It is sad seeing an eagle in a large aviary, knowing that it must soar high to live, but I suppose that these birds had injuries or something that prevented them from doing things.

So here it is, Saturday afternoon. I'm feeling refreshed, Citlalli is napping and I just figured out this blogging thing. Look out world, this is the start of something SNAZZY.