Thursday, November 29, 2012

Empowering Women of Color

     I fell upon this tiny gem of a book unexpectedly as I visited the public library today.  Just this week the Women of Color Collective at my school gathered to have a discussion on what it means to be a woman of color.  We began with a short exercise on what we think it means to be a woman of color in the U.S.  Here are a few responses:

-to be silenced 
-to be resistant
-passing down the heritage
-being a fighter
-beautiful and unique
-complex situation
-blessed curse
-being strong when you don't feel like it
-being an educator when you want to be learning
-defined by her experience
-skin color/last name/physical features
-assertive, voice of presence
-sense of presence
-cannot pick and choose
-protector of men of color

     A long awaited and much needed discussion took place from the above responses.  It will, however, be an ongoing dialogue regarding issues of race and self-identification.  I hope we can continue to provide a safe space for women of color to come together and share the truth about our life experiences, thoughts, and frustrations.

Also some inspiring quotes that were shared by one of the members:

"Walls turned sideways are bridges"  by Angela Davis

"My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences" by Audre Lorde

    Now, back to the little gem of a book I mentioned above.  I wanted to share one of the entries in the book that spoke to me.  I am grateful to God that in my life experiences He has blessed me with the gift to be able to empower other women through my life's work.  I know there is so much to be done out there and still so much to learn on how to encourage and build one another up, especially when we ourselves are falling apart.  I share this bit of wisdom with anyone in hopes that it can speak truth in your life.


Lord, many are in destructive marriages, yet wish to state, as Your Word suggests: "Til death do us apart."

Thank you Lord, for granting us the spiritual discernment to know that You did not mean only the death of one's body, but also the death of one's spirit, and even the death of the contract.  As Nicodemus came to know, one does not have to re-enter his mother's womb to be born again, and neither does one have to die a physical death to be dead.

Give those who are being abused the strength needed to stand up to the abuse or give them the courage to leave.  Grant the abusers Your grace and mercy. Draw them closer to You, that persons may find spiritual nourishment for empty souls. In Christ's name we pray, Amen

taken from: Women of Color Pray: Voices of Strength, Faith,
Healing, Hope and Courage

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayer is Powerful..

     I can't help but think about the damage that Hurricane Sandy has done to the lives of many people.  Here I am grateful to God that I did not experience damage from the storm, yet I can't seem to disconnect myself from others who have experienced major destruction.  We don't know the importance of something until we lose it.  

   Sometimes during these difficult times it is hard to find the words for prayer.  There is so much we want to ask for.  I found the following prayers and thought I would share them here.

     For those whose lives have been majorly altered, I offer the following prayer:

Prayer for Overcoming Life's Hardships
O Lord, we call upon You in our time of sorrow,
That You give us the strength and will to bear our heavy
burdens, until we can again feel the warmth and love of
Your divine compassion. Be mindful of us and have mercy
on us while we struggle to comprehend life's hardships.
Keep us ever in Your watch, til we can walk again with
light hearts and renewed spirits.

     For those who were not majorly affected, I offer the following prayer:

To be Grateful
Lord God, may we be grateful for our lot,
and compassionate toward all those who are
suffering every kind of distress at this
difficult time.
May we hold back nothing, and 
hasten to be 
the ministers of prayer and mercy,
like the disciples of Him who went about 
good in times of need.

     The power of prayer is very powerful.  I thank my family and friends for all their prayers and concerns in anticipation of the storm, during the storm, and after the storm.  They truly served as a blanket of protection for me.  Now we must continue praying for others! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An open heart.

     This morning I awake in gratitude.  It has been a difficult road, trekking the edge of the path, hitting the rocky ground, and finding my way among the thorns.  This life full of distractions, full of rocks and boulders in the form of fear, shame, guilt, bitterness, selfishness, jealousy, and a shallow and passionless attitude about growth.  This life smothered by the countless worries and concerns of my life. Yet, there is something in me that is not content to hang about directionless on the edge of the path.  There is a thirst within me so strong that it will move aside the rocks and boulders to seek moisture.  There is a yearning so intense in the desire to put God first.

     Today I will contemplate on this scripture:

The farmer waits 
for the precious crop
from the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives
the early and the late rains.
You also must be patient.
Strengthen your hearts, 
for the coming of the Lord is near.
            James 5:7-8

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Art Journaling Course in Spanish Harlem

     Today I went to the first session of an art journaling course taking place at La Casa Azul Bookstore in Spanish Harlem.  The bookstore recently opened this year and is a very cultural, colorful and friendly space.  They have been hosting many cultural events this summer and one of them is the six week art journaling course given by fellow blogger and artist Diana Gonzalez.  Diana is a very talented mixed media artist who has given many art workshops in the past.  It was a lot of fun to sit and do art with a group of creative souls.  We did up to six journal pages and each of them using different mediums such as stamping, collaging, and water color painting.  Diana shared all of her amazing art tools with us and even gifted us some colorful fabric tape.  I took some photos of her class so she can share them on her blog and here are some more shots I took that day:

 Colorful Mural at the bookstore (not sure who the artist is but I will find out!)

 Beautiful vintage dolls

Paper, Paper, and more paper!

Diana, our art instructor, who guided us every step of the way.

Loved using the stamps!

This was one of the art journal pages I created using stamps, fabric tape and a vintage doll. 

This was the group in action.  

Colorful inkpads! 

This was another one of my journal pages using stamp and water color paints.

     I was really glad I came out to this class and it was great to meet and connect with Diana.  It was also great to meet Aurora Anaya-Cerda, who is the owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore.  Lately I have been connecting with many Latina women artists in the city of New York.  I am grateful to get to know them and their work, they are true inspirations for me and other Latinas who are starting to recognize their own work as an artist and sharing it with the world.  Below are some links to the AMAZING work of some of the Latina artists I have been connecting with that I truly admire.

Hope you support and enjoy their work as much as I do! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness...

   I am in complete awe at the way life rewards us and how interconnected we are.  Yesterday I went to the post office to send out some mail.  There was something powerful and deep about sending off that piece of mail that I felt was going to be helpful to the person who would receive it on the other end.  Little did I know that I had an unexpected piece of mail waiting for me when I got home.  I received a beautiful card about friendship from a special friend.  It was completely random and unexpected and it brought a huge smile to my heart.  I know that the scriptures say "Give and it will be given to you" but I didn't expect it to be so soon! Thank you to my special friend..YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

True Catharsis

     Lately I've been going through a true catharsis in body, mind, soul, and spirit.  For my body I've been eating healthier, playing tennis, and taking long walks.  For my mind I've been doing some meditating in the mornings and some self-reflection in the evenings.  I've been using the book mentioned in this previous post to guide me in my meditation which includes bible scriptures.  For my soul I've been listening to music by artists from the neo-soul movement and those who influenced the movement.  Growing up I was heavily drawn and influenced by this sub-genre of music and it still manages to stir up my soul.  This is one of my faves, makes me get up and dance each time and this one..and this one...

     Spiritually, I have also been praying more and asking for what I need and interesting things happen when one does that.  The other day I was looking at the cork board I have over my desk which has a bunch of creative knick knacks, messages, pictures, etc.  It was a bit cluttered.  I have the words FAITH in the middle of the board which is part of a beautiful collage that someone special gifted to me years ago.  It has been with me through lots of changes.  Its a beautiful collage that I have added to over the years and I realized that it was so full of stuff I could barely see the words FAITH anymore.  So I decided to give it a little makeover.  Its been sitting on top of my desk for days but today I decided to work on it.  I didn't want to stay indoors so I decided to pack my things and go down the block from my house.  This is a block which the city closes up to traffic all summer so the kids in the community can have a place to come together, play and do activities.  The block is right next to a playground and its always full of parents with their kids, teenagers playing basketball, and even older folks doing yoga or jogging.  I decided it was a good place to get creative so I went.  As I sat there painting, two little girls and their moms from the neighborhood came over and kept me company.  I spoke to the moms and gave the girls some paper and paint and they were painting away! They all thought I was an art teacher even though I told them I was not.  They kept saying  Now I'm in trouble though because they expect me to go back tomorrow! 

     I am blessed.

     Below are the before and after photos of the collage center piece I painted.  I will be using these words as a centerpiece to a bigger collage which I am looking forward to completing this summer. 

This is the way it originally looked for a long time..really beautiful! 
but its time for a little makeover to focus on the word FAITH.

I stripped it of all the images and here is how it looked..Now you can read the words! 

 My next step was to paint the whole thing white and hide the residue of the images.

  and WALLAH!  Now FAITH is clear.  My centerpiece is ready for the next project. 
(to be continued) 

This was one of the images one of the little girls made...She calls it the sea monster..she did a good job!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spiritual Sunday

     I went to mass today and it was very refreshing.  I had not been to church in a while and was craving to be in the Lord's house surrounded by the hyms, scriptures, and traditions.  It's like going back home to listen to old songs, hear all the old sayings, and participate in family traditions.  Going to church makes me feel like I am visiting God in His house.  One of my favorite parts of the mass is when we recite "Lord I am not worthy of you but only say the word and I shall be healed" which in Spanish is "Señor no soy digno de que entres en mi casa pero una palabra tuya bastara para sanarme" Its a little different in Spanish but it basically means the same thing.  That part is very meaningful to me because I feel that I am humbling myself in the presence of the Lord. Today's message included these scriptures: 

"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house"
Mark 6:4

" grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.  I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me."
2 Corinthians 12

   I also fell upon the quotes below which speak volumes of wisdom.  I will contemplate on both the scriptures above and the quotes that I stumbled upon this spiritual sunday.  

"Hospitality opens the doors of our hearts and minds to the stranger among us, no matter how familiar he or she may seem to be.  Faith enables us to accept the gifts of others, no matter how alarming or strange they may seem to be.  Discernment helps us to discovery the prophets in our midst, no matter how amazing they may seem to be.  Hospitality, faith, and discernment-cultivate these."

"Look to Jesus and realize that regardless of your earthly status, you are called to make a difference by the witness of your life."

Here are also some images of the day:

Read about this in the tablet today, didn't realize this upcoming liturgical year will be the Year of Faith, its so meaningful to me.  

Found this pic online and know I have to totally remind myself of this always especially when I am stressed with schoolwork!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spiritual Sunday

     I had a conversation last night with a spiritual friend of mine.  Our conversations always involve deep spirituality and inspiration.  I was telling her how much I long to see the details of my life in a spiritual way.  It seems that lately I've been feeling so overwhelmed that I am unable to make spiritual connections to certain situations in my life.  I feel like I haven't been tending to my spirit and I don't know where to begin.  When I woke up this morning I realized I had a dream.  In the dream I was in this dark apartment with a group of friends.  All of a sudden one of my little cousins walks in (he is currently going to be 18 but in my dream he was about 7).  Since it was only us grown ups I got up and walked him to a bookshelf and asked him to pick a book so he can go read.  Out of all the books that were on the shelf he chose the missallette which was the only spiritual/religious book on the shelf.  I was intrigued by his choice of book and looked back at my friends and told them that I was going to be with my little cousin.  Him and I sat down and began to read together.  I found myself teaching him about some of the bible scriptures in the book.  That was all I remember about the dream.  I am not sure what the dream meant but I felt it was powerful.  

     I went on to read Today's daily word and it turned out to be about divine order and how we must believe we are at the right place at the right time.  Here is the message of today:

I greet this day with gratitude for my life—now and in the past—and with anticipation of the wonders to come. Every day of my life is part of my spiritual journey, and I am thankful for each new experience.
In silent contemplation, I become aware of the power within that guides me. My heart opens to the wisdom of God and the perfect order unfolding in my life. Each person I meet, each decision I make, each opportunity I encounter is in divine order. I embrace every development as a gift and move forward with confidence.
Right here, right now, is the perfect place for me. I complete what is mine to do and grow into my full potential through the divine order at work in my life.
   As I look back at my day I realize that I truly was at the right place at the right time today.  I received messages of faith and inspiration from many.  From the live music and playing the congas to the revelation from a very humble and wise woman whom I hope to be working with soon, God always has a way of answering our prayers when we least expect it.  The toughest part is to listen to the call and act upon it.   One of the things I have been struggling with the most is just knowing why certain things had to happen the way they did in my life, but those answers will come in God's timing.

Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.—1 Corinthians 13:12

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How quickly we forget...

     Last night I had a conversation with my best friend. We talked about many of the political issues that are currently taking place in this country. Its often complicated to discuss politics or religion with anyone. Its so easy to think that our opinions are the ones that should stand above all. It takes a lot to see beyond one's point of view and know that its okay to agree to disagree. The conversation was exactly what I felt I needed because lately I've been so consumed by my own personal feelings toward my own personal world. I needed to be taken outside of myself and realize there is so much going on in the world and in the place where we live in. There is so much work to be done out there. There is a force inside of me that has always wanted to serve others. However, how can I serve others without making sure that I am well myself. This was one of the important points my best friend pointed out in our conversation. We do have to make sure that all is well with ourselves and our families first before we try to step outside of ourselves. I do believe that being an example is the first step. In the process of helping ourselves we inspire others to do the same.

     However, when it comes to national politics it can get complicated. There are elections that have to take place and the candidates are not thinking about making changes, their priority is to get elected first.  It takes a really humble person to think about the issues of the world on a deeper level and to want the same for the world that he or she has for himself. When it comes to a president having to make decisions for the country he or she serves, to be humble is a sign of weakness. A lot has rested on the shoulders of our current president but many people forget that. Everyone wants their issues to be on the forefront of everything. However, our current president has been gracefully tackling the most pressing issues that he has had to face. He doesn't think about gaining political status, he thinks about the millions of people that will be affected by the decisions he makes. Its so surreal that many people choose not to support him because he has not placed their agenda as a priority.  He is much too real of a person that has not been tainted by the wraths of money and political power.  Yet he is in an environment where he can be easily consumed by those things.  I admire his ability to be true to himself, his family, and to the country he was chosen to serve.  To me that is a true servant leader and someone I can trust to make decisions not for quick political change, but for long and enduring change.*

    I challenge folks to pray for our current president that he may be blessed with the wisdom and courage to make the decisions that will benefit us all in the long run.  That he can be the voice to the voiceless and that he can focus on the most pressing issues that affect us all even if it may not be what we want him to tackle first. 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Visit from mom in NYC (day 2)

     It has been really great to have my mom come visit.  Even though its been raining since she arrived, we have been enjoying our time together.  Yesterday it rained heavily so we decided to make it a movie day.  We finally watched the Avengers together..WOW what an awesome movie!  Though we loved all the characters, my mom's favorite was Thor and mine was between the Hulk and Captain America.  I can't wait to watch it again when it comes on DVD.  After the movies, we went home to have dinner together and then went to Junction Blvd to do a little NYC shopping.  Then we went to Target to get some things and headed home.

     This morning we were planning to go out with my aunt but she had to work.  So we decided to visit Brooklyn and were delighted to have my dear friend Hilda join us in exploring the borough.  We went to Knickerbocker Ave. which is a shopping strip in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  I remembered that my soul sister Gigi took me there when I first arrived in NYC where we did a little shopping and I had my first Jamaican Beef Patty at Tony's Pizzeria.  So my mom, Hilda, and I checked out the cool stores, ate some italian ice cream, and they both had their first Jamaican Beef Patty at Tony's.  We had a great time and they loved the patties!  We still had the whole evening ahead of us so we decided to head on to Coney Island.  I was so excited for them to see the beautiful view of the Verrazano Bridge from the Belt Parkway, however it was so foggy all we can see was the very tip of the bridge.  It was pretty spooky to see it but pretty cool.  I wish they could have seen that view on a bright sunny day...its truly captivating!  We finally arrived at Coney Island and enjoyed some of the boardwalk, the flea market, and Luna Park.  Once we worked up an appetite we headed to Nathan's and scarfed down some famous hot dogs with cheesy fries, which is all part of the Coney Island experience.  There are tons of Nathan's Hot Dogs around the city but the one in Coney Island is the original and its been there since 1912.  I am glad I was able to take my mom and that Hilda was able to join us.  We had a great time!  Below are some photos of our adventures in Brooklyn!

At Tony's Pizzeria enjoying Jamaican Beef Patties
At Luna Park, Coney Island Brooklyn
With Hil at Luna Park, Coney Island Brooklyn
So beautiful my mom : )
The real deal..Nathan's Hot Dogs!
Happy pretty!
Hey, how did this get in here?
Heart attack in a box..Cheesy Fries!
The three musketeers enjoying our dinner!
The fog covering the Verrazano-Bridge..spooky!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Visit from mom in NYC (day 1)

     Summer has officially began for me.  Last week Saturday I finished my last paper to close my first year of grad school.  Since then I’ve been unwinding and slowly motivating myself to be normal again and not a mad scientist doing research and writing papers.  In fact, its been a whole week and I am barely writing this because I’ve been taking a break from the computer for a while.  Though I must say I’m still experiencing anxiety about exams and papers when I sleep at night, but hopefully that will go away soon.  One great way to begin my summer of freedom from grad school is with my mom being in town.  She arrived on Tuesday and I am so happy that she is here.  Just having her here makes me feel peace and hope and most of all LOVED.  There is nothing like a mother’s love and I am grateful that I have my mother’s unconditional love that fills me up.  I truly hope that she is enjoying herself and that we are bonding.  Its the first time she comes to visit on her own so we are spending some good quality time together.  

     Yesterday after I got off of work I came home and she had made an AMAZING dinner.  After I ate we headed to walk the Queensborough bridge together.  It was so much fun and good exercise.  We walked all the way to 5th avenue to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Then we went through the Rockefeller Center and headed on to Times Square.  We took tons of photos (some are below).  Then we finally sat down at McDonald's in Times Square to eat hot fudge and strawberry sundaes with large fries...YUM!!! It was truly such a fun and beautiful night.  We were both so very tired when we got home that we fell right asleep! 

On our way to walk the Queensborough Bridge in LIC, Queens
De camino a cruzar el puente de Queensborough en LIC, Queens
Halfway across the bridge!
Llegamos al medio del puente!

At the Rockefeller Center Garden
En el jardin del Rockefeller Center

Two roses in the garden
Dos rosas en el Jardin

Jumbo Coca Cola!
Coca Cola gigante!

Mmm Jumbo Mug of Tea or Hot Chocolate..
Que rico una gigante taza de te o chocolate..
A beautiful night in Times Square
Una noche hermosa en Times Square

Waiting for the Subway
Esperando el tren

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In a bit of hibernation....

Grad school has been really getting the best of me.  So many assignments to complete and so little time.  There has been so much I've been wanting to share but have not been able to balance it out with schoolwork and other obligations at this time.  Prioritizing continues to be a learning process and although I do attempt to plan my daily activities, sometimes you just have to just go with the flow...

I struggle with the fact that I get inspired the most when I have a lot on my plate.  I wonder if its just the anxiety that builds up to creativity.  When I have all the time in the world to dedicate to creativity, that is when I least feel inspired.  Yet right now, in the midst of final papers and exams, I want to write, draw, paint, and collage.  A few weeks ago I had the strong urge to write a poem in the midst of writing a paper.
I called it a "Psalm of Lament and Hope" and it truly spoke to the way I have been feeling lately.  I share this very personal piece of me hoping it may bring some light to someone who can relate.

Time has been passing
and I have grown increasingly anxious 
with every second that goes by
as I try to cope day by day
I ask myself
will you go or will you stay
I feel an ache in my my soul
as I think of my poor 
broken emotional fragile heart
that does not want to part
from this unfinished canvas we once called love
and even though it was too soon to tell then
taking a step back now to breathe
has left me without oxygen
Will we stand the test of time
will we accept that a series of unfortunate events took place
which caused grief, rejection, and too much to face
which caused anxiety, resentment, and frustration
because no communication was taking place 
As I ask for guidance from up above 
I wonder can it all be mended by forgiveness and unconditional love
that although we have both been broken down to pieces
that we allow God to transform and release us
from our own imperfections and ego behavior
so that we can come together
or maybe we have been deeply scarred 
and have been losing connection 
and can no longer rely on our intentions
I don’t have any answers to these questions
but I know that I want to be the person that God has made me to be
and I want to be with the person that God has placed on earth for me
I hope and pray to God that it will be thee.

It has been a very challenging time for me of which I have been seeking clarity and truth.  In the midst of the struggles, however, I must acknowledge the many blessings along the way.  I see that God is opening doors for me and I pray for courage to enter them in faith.   I do see a ray of hope in the horizon that I could not see before.  I will continue to pray and trust that God will make everything work out for the good.  I will be relieved when this semester is over and I can dedicate more time to self-reflect, share, and get creative.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

An act of kindness...

Yesterday I woke up wanting to stay in bed. It's been a very difficult Lenten journey for me, so difficult that I didn't even make it to church. I have been stressing about everything in my life so much that I just wanted to pull the covers over my head. How many of us have had days like this one?

However, God always finds a way to pull me out of my mess. I received a text message before noon from my dear friend Diana. We had been trying to get together for a while now but things kept coming up. That morning she decided to come visit me and really lifted my spirits. I got out of bed took a shower and before I knew it she was at my door with food, gifts, and her darling dog Lily who brought me joy to see. There is something about dogs and how they make you feel like you were truly missed.

I want to express my sincere gratitude for such an act of kindness from my friend, who may have thought that what she did was nothing but it meant the world to me. Her presence and act of kindness truly lifted me up. God had a plan that morning and He was determined to make it happen. I thank God almighty for such wonderful friends in my life who take time to serve others and to share a special part of themselves with me. I want to say "Gracias amiga" for being open to God's will and for your beautiful act of kindness.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spiritual Sunday

It has been a challenging couple of weeks, filled with ups and downs. It seems like one minute everything is okay and the next minute things become challenging again. It is easy to think that things will never be the same, or to lose hope, or even to feel that God is not available at the moment things get hard. However, I am grateful that I have not allowed any of those moments of doubt to completely consume me. I continue to pray through it and spend quality time with God and with loved ones to help me through.

Below are a list of photos from the past couple of weeks, they all have meaning in my life and have all to do with my relationship with God and with loved ones. As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words" and can immediately trigger a memory, these all come from good times.

On my way to class every Tuesday, I stop at Andy's to get my morning tea and I get a short but sweet message attached to my tea bag each time. This message reminded me of the thought I had of spending my summer in Chicago this year (still praying and contemplating on it.)

I took this photo at Sunday Mass this morning. The English readings always have a neat reflection at the beginning. This is a reflection to the Gospel of John 2:13-25 "the Cleansing of the Temple."

This is from my Lenten Reflections booklet I read every morning. Ever since I read this one, I have been truly having several unplanned moments in my life that I can truly see as graced moments. Last Thursday I ended class at noon and usually would come home but stuck around and ended up having a great conversation with friends at school. We even discussed the possibility of starting a social work blog together (praying that we can make it happen). On Friday, my boyfriend (Diego) of almost 3 years and I went for dinner. We had no idea where we were going but ended up having a wonderful Greek dinner and spending some time perusing the shelves at Barnes and Nobles. Those are just two examples of several unplanned moments turned graced moments in my life lately.
I received this beautiful journal from my darling friend Hilda. The funny thing is that she had been telling me about the gift since my actual birthday in February, but was telling me she was not done with it yet. The journal contained some really meaningful treasures that reflect her beautiful and big heart and soul. The real gift for me is just to have her friendship, but she is one of those people who truly invests in her loved ones. I am very lucky and blessed to have her in my life. I will definitely be "keeping track of all the feasts of life during this chapter in my life."

On Friday, at my internship it was one of the counselor's last day of work there. His students were so sad to see him go and he was also very emotional to leave and begin his new journey. One of his students brought his guitar and at the end of the day we were in my office singing the song "the good life" by OneRepublic. This was the message that was written on his guitar and I just had to take a photo of it. To me it truly reflects how much meaning music has during our adolescence.