Monday, July 31, 2006

NLBWA San Diego

When I told people in my last issue of the Pocket Comadre that I would be speaking in San Diego to the National Latina Business Women's Association, I got emails wishing me a great trip. I know it must sound far away, but San Diego isn't really THAT far from me, and the north side of the county (where my speaking engagement was) is a good 25 miles north of the city of San Diego. So all in all, I drove less than 90 minutes each way and what an amazing drive! Imagine a sunny day on the California coast, unclogged freeways, ocean views from the highway. It was heavenly.

In the picture above (I'm in the middle) you see Victoria Spencer of Fiesta Imports on the left. Fascinating woman- a background in anthropology and a world traveler, she opened this store filled with wonderful folk art and textiles from Latin America. I'm wearing a hand tied silk shawl from Columbia which I ended up going home with- lucky me!

On the right is author Sylvia Mendoza holding up her book The Book Of Latina Women: 150 Vidas of Passion, Strength, and Success . Sylvia invited me to speak to this group after attending one of my teleclasses. She was so inspired by what she got out of the class that she created a college course based on her book and will be teaching it this fall. Go Sylvia!

When I finish a speaking engagement my head is always buzzing, so I just turn the radio off and drive home with Radio Nancita blaring in my head: replays of conversations and feelings of immense gratitude for meeting such cool people. It's a cross between mind chatter and prayer chanting.

I got home just in time to rest for a half hour, then picked up my daughter and we went to our Aztec dance practice. (I'll be blogging more on Danza Azteca soon- we're a great little group of dedicated people, all ages, all ability levels. Let me just say that deep knee bends and lunges are off my list so I hunker along as best as I can!)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Education of Little C

My husband hates hot weather and it's been stifling here this summer. So when he is in charge of our daughter, he prefers to settle in a cool house and run a video.

Having endured Care Bears and Dora for a few years, he's taking the cultural reins and sharing some cool (perhaps unconventional for a 3 year old) movies with little Citlalli. Mind you, this is a child who can identify Bob Marley, Buddha, and Frida Kahlo. I mean identify them in her understanding- according to Citlalli Bob Marley and Buddha are Daddy's friends, Frida Kahlo is actually Mommy.

So here is their heatwave film fest with Citlalli commentary:

Neil Young Heart of Gold
Citlalli likes it when he mentions elements of nature. "He said 'ocean!'" He is now known as Uncle Neil.

Waking Life
Mom: "What's this movie about?"
Citlalli: "It's about people."


No Direction Home
"His name is Bob? Like Bob Marley? Are they friends?"

I think of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird who learned to read at age 3 by sitting with Atticus as he read the daily paper. With Citlalli's musical education, I'm wondering where she'll go.

Oh and she gives a big thumbs up to the new Michael Franti CD.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Taking off my God suit

Something about this photo of Diana Rigg stirs another dimension of my Inner Loca. The ass kicker, the invincible one. I think it's the catsuit. And it reminds me of something that happened the other morning.

I was sitting with my friend Maria and shared with her all of these things I had going on. Applying for a big award, preparing pitches, should we move out of our house, start Citlalli in kindergarten next year or wait, etc. Concerned about missing a great opportunity I told her this big plan I had to tell them this so they would think that and then they'd give me what I want...
can you hear the insanity?

She stared me straight in the eye.
"Nancy," she said, "take off your God Suit."

A God Suit is not to be confused with a birthday suit. It is that delusional mindset we don when we start thinking that we are in control.

"You don't know what is going to happen and face it- you have no control over the outcome. So far your higher power has done some pretty amazing things in your life, wouldn't you agree?"

I nodded. She was right. There I was, stickin' my nariz where it didn't belong. I thought that I knew the ideal outcome of a situation. As this old vato back in SF used to say, "you don't know nothin' bout noBody". Dang, he was right. And deep!

I have no beef with manifesting good in your life, but what I've learned is this. When things are hard, then I'm trying to force my will. When things come easy, that's my higher power's will working in my life.

I felt a great sense of relief when I let go of my need to know the outcome. Maybe I'll get the award, maybe I won't. It's not in my control... I submitted the best application I could. In fact by waiting, I got new information that may help my chances.

As for the pitch, the house, the kid... not every decision needs to be made now. Tomorrow a new person or piece of information may pop up and provide the missing piece that I need.

So off with the God Suit, back into abundance thinking and gratitude. It feels better already.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Remembering My Dad

It's hard to believe but it's been an entire year since my dad passed away.

To commemorate his passing, my family gathered at a farm owned by a family friend.
The weather was hot, the cherries ripe for the picking, and in the evening we joined in a circle and shared what insights we gained this past year without him.

I cry over my dad's death all the time. So does my mom, so do other family members. It's something I doubt I'll ever shake. Shopping for a Father's Day card then you suddenly realize you aren't buying one this year. Expecting to hear him take his customary 3 steps then spit out the front door every morning at 6am. I get pounded by grief with each holiday and special event, yet the unexpected reminders of his death are the ones that tear at me the most.

What struck me more than anything after my dad's memorial was how badly the men in our family needed this commemoration. As many men do, they held their emotions in this past year. Suddenly, in front of family they love (in-laws, surrogate siblings, close relations) they came face to face with the feelings of loss. My dad was loved and admired by many. He was a second father to a number of our friends, and a close confidant of many relatives. We put a bench in a special spot for him and I look forward to visiting the farm and having conversations with my Dad for many years to come.

The Drive Home

My sister, daughter and I had to drive home from Grass Valley, CA back to L.A. It's about an 8 hour drive. To get from the central valley of California to LA, you need to traverse this big mountain road called The Grapevine. It's a ruthless stretch of highway that consumers car radiators like candy and makes truckers cry like babies.

Fortunatley I have good Grapevine Mojo and never had a problem. Except Sunday when it was on fire and the entire road was closed.

We were 1 hour from my sister's house. 1 hour away if the Grapevine hadn't been a raging inferno. After conferring not only with fellow stranded motorists but my brother in law in Oakland, we decided not to sit and wait but to keep moving. My brother in law had all his maps out and was so happy to help us out. His Inner Boy Scout was earning a merit badge big time.

Now back to my dad for a moment. If this were a family vacation, he would have told us that we were the lucky winners of a dream vacation in Lebec, CA and that our prize would be a night at the nearest motor lodge, room service, and a swim in the Olympic sized pool. He'd maneuver our dusty station wagon to the motel and we'd be in hog heaven jumping on the motel beds, ordering Cokes from room service (we'd catch hell for that later when he got the bill) and disrupting everyone in earshot with our laughing. When asked why the Olympic sized pool was so small, he would have looked at us in disbelief. "This pool was specially built for the 1952 Midget Olympics. Didn't you ever hear of Hound Dog Henderson, the 3 foot tall high jumper?"

I was probably the only one who bought those stories... well, I was the youngest!

Anyhow, back to my journey home. Unlike Dad, we opted to keep going. Everyone had things to do Monday morning so it wasn't the time to pay hotel bills.

With my brother in law on the cell phone in Oakland, he mapped out a route for us that I confirmed w/ a local. Go north, over the Tehachapi Pass, down to Mojave, through the Antelope Valley, then you'll be in Santa Clarita 20 miles north of LA.

It all looked so easy on paper.

OK, the down side: it took over 3 hours.

The up side: It was a beautiful drive!

Up the mountains we saw the golden light of late afternoon reflect on the hills, then on the pass we watched a train circle up a mountain track going in and out of tunnels dug into rock. On our descent we watched the oaks turn into Joshua trees and before you know it we're in the Mojave desert. Edwards AFB was next to us - good thing the Space Shuttle didn't land that day too. We saw places I'd only read on maps and now I can happily say I've been to Lancaster.

It was a long trip, but with many sweet moments.

Monday, July 03, 2006

When Cool Kids Graduate

My niece Julia (pictured) just graduated from a public high school that is completely dedicated to performing and visual arts. You have to audition to get in and the dedication and talent of the students is phenomenal. These kids, from the jazz players to the dancers to the filmmakers to the actors to the visual artists to the opera singers to the gospel choir to the vocal ensemble (whew!) are already performing at a professional level. And no, they aren't rich kids who have spent their lives being tutored in the arts. The mix is as diverse as the county they live in. The common denominator is their intense passion for what they do.

I have to commend my sister, who as a single mom, searched high and low for public programs to serve her two talented kids. Now they're 18 and 20, both outstanding artists and ready to make their mark on the world.

The ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in downtown LA, home to the Oscars for many years.

My sister, mom and I (pictured) all laughed as we sat down in our plush orchestra seats: "I wonder whose famous butt sat here on Oscar night!"

The "show" for lack of a better word (oh yeah, diplomas were handed out but we were there for the talent) lasted over 4 hours and blew our minds. We saw experimental abstract theater, jazz improv, piano, dance, film, art...

I'm so incredibly proud of my niece and have to admit, it's nice being from a family that CELEBRATES when someone declares themself an art major (rather than disowning them as some can do).

Viva el arte!