Today is March 8th, which is International Womyn’s Day, I was going to read up and write about the amazing womyn I admire, like Barbara Jordan, RBG, and Maya Angelou to name a few. However, I’m just ending my time working on a campaign (more about that later) and nursing an injury. So, didn’t get to do any of that-life happens!
Now mi bella gente, you all know me by now…I DO NOT give up that easily. My wheels were turning, God did they turn. Then it hit me, what about honoring the womyn in MY LIFE? The womyn that have in some way or another influenced me, the unsung heroes in my life. The womyn that I know, and that I pray to GOD you get to have your own version of in your life. Because let me tell you, there have been some amazing womyn in my life. Some I continue to have relationships with and some I don’t. Which is okay, not everyone is meant to be a permanent character in your story, some are just brought in to help your character evolve.
Let me tell you, some did just that. Some taught me so much with actions, words, love and it wasn’t all a fairy tale either, there were tough lessons sprinkled with tough love. There’s a reason they call them “growing pains”, you bet it was painful but extremely insightful-I mean look at me NOW! Not meant to be cocky (maybe a little); however, I know how far I’ve come, I know the struggles I faced to get here. I know that I or my life was not a walk in the park. I pushed people away, some left, others didn’t. Many of them strong ass women themselves who actually took the time to make me feel loved, valued, and begrudgingly to myself held up a mirror to my face so I could see the REAL ME.
These women were family, friends who later became family, or friends that took their friendship along with them once they were done contributing to the life I was meant to live.
Let me introduce you to some:
My mother, who was and continues to be my teacher of all things life and motherhood. Our relationship is not your typical mother/daughter one, my mom says she doesn’t know how to love the way that I do or that my grandmother did. I blame this on the fact that she was made a mother when she was still a child and in dire need of love herself. She has often times looked for love in the wrong places, which later made her look for solace in the bottom of a whiskey glass. She had it tough, she was undocumented in a country where they were seen as less than human and cheap labor. Having to work hard to provide for half of her family in El Salvador while trying to provide for her first American born child as well.
I have memories of her intoxicated, her breath a combination of alcohol and tobacco, her hangovers, her guilt after spending a day drinking. But then realizing that in a blink of an eye, she could have lost it all when she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed in the freeway. It wasn’t easy, she fell off the wagon, but she got back on and has remained on for 33 years now. She made it clear once I was of age to understand that she didn’t do this for us, her kids, but for herself. It may sound harsh for some, but I got it then and I still get it today.
My mom, most likely because she was a mother at a young age, was never your typical mother. We had many moments in which I could speak to her womyn to womyn, she was never all up in my business, she didn’t judge me when I decided to do the mother thing alone. She actually moved in with me and supported me as I finished my last year of grad school, she pushes me to go out and have my own life outside of motherhood (still working on this one). This also meant that at times I had to be the parent, I had to step in and be the adult in the room. To some of my siblings this wasn’t fair, but I didn’t see it as fair or not, I saw it as “we are a team, she did her share now it’s my time to take care of her.” I’m very protective of my people, so this wasn’t hard for me, in retrospect I should have set up some boundaries, but it’s too late now.
She taught me how to work hard, she gave me strong work ethics. She taught me to never harbor any negative feelings towards ex’s, she did this by example. I still cringe at how friendly she was with my father on the rare occasions we saw each other. I was perplexed by it then, but now as an adult I completely understand. She never spoke ill of him to me.
Even when she was beaten up by the world and those in it, both figuratively and literally she didn’t turn out to be a bitter person. She is my quinceñera: she smiles, can be selfish at times, has fun, dances, sings, and still believes in love; although, she is currently directing it my way. Loves to travel, loves casinos, and just loves life! She is one my biggest SHEROES!
My Abuela, ya’ll know how I feel about this lady (if not, read this post). She helped me realize my place in my family, before this I felt as an outsider in my own family. That is until, I lived with her as a teenager. I realized how similar we are. I learned how to love hard from her, I learned how to be an over-the-top-protective mother from my Abuela. I learned to be proud of who I am, where I come from, and who I’ve become because of her. I am proud to be Salvadoran because El Salvador, that little tiny country in Central America, will always remind me of her. To be proud of the mother-land means I am proud to be her granddaughter.
She worked hard all of her life. She loved unconditionally, she was kind to those that had less than her. To the point where she had to close her business because she acquired more debt than profit. She would sell rice, beans, and sugar on credit but these families were so poor they never paid their debt. I think my viejita knew this, but she didn’t care. My mother when little got mad at my Abuela for giving everything away on credit: “Usted todo lo da fiado, esta gente no paga.” my Abuela with no hesitation smacked her and said “tonta lo hago por ustedes”. She believed that all good deeds come back and not necessarily to you directly but to those you love. She was planting these blessings for her children and grandchildren.
She was scared of no one, when she was diagnosed with Cancer she didn’t give the notion of fear. Even when I man tried to rob her at gunpoint she wasn’t scared, she was pissed. She beat the crap out of him with a gaseosa bottle (coke bottle) knocking the gun out of his hand with the bottle. Fearless. I honestly don’t know if she was ever scared. However, I would imagine that her biggest fear; because of how hard she loved, was for anything to ever happen to us-her loved ones. Everyone knew not to mess with her kids and her grandkids, people both loved and lowkey feared her. I get that, as in, I’ve had people tell me I lowkey scare them.
My sisters taught me love, one in her traditional old school manner. The oldest Rox, is old school, is patient and loving. Every time I’m with her, I learn something new about our traditions or family. She’s also the scientist of the family, so when I was a kid she taught me scientific names of everything.
They both taught me how far studying would get me. They both taught me how to run a household and a family. My second oldest Sandra, taught me how to budget and save, something that I am forever grateful for. They helped me build a relationship with God, but one that fits me, not the one the Church pushes down your throat. Sandra supported me going away to college, she made me realize that it was time for me to do something for me and not the family. She was the only one for a long time I shared my writing with, then we both shared our love of reading, as we would ship books back and forth, East to West Coast. She introduced me to the love of my life Colin Firth via Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones. Yes, she introduced to me to the books and then the films.
Now, that I’m a mother both continue to teach me how to be a mother by example. Both genuinely have proven to me how much they love my child. They are so patient and loving with him, what momma doesn’t love that?
My Godmother, Sylvia. She became my Godmother when I was 10 and has never skipped a beat. She’s been in every single stage of my life. Every milestone, heartache, memory- she’s in it. Whether it’s for me, my son, my mother, or any other member of my family. She’s been there for all of us. Not having her in these moments is an impossibility because she is FAMILY.
Professionally, Carmen Murray she owned Rodeo Carpet Mills back in the early 2000’s. I was hired as a receptionist and then I moved up to Production Assistant. This was the most stressful job I’ve ever had, but it was the one that marked me forever. Carmen had started in this company as a part-time receptionist and ended up owning the company. I was amazed by that, I admired her business savvy. The flooring industry is a man’s world and she and her line were recognized wherever she went. We made custom carpets and rugs for celebrities and wealthy ass people, I mean who else could afford a 100% New Zealand Virgil wool blend with Egyptian silk?
As a receptionist she would take me to the bathroom in front of the mirror and we would practice picking up the phone. She taught me that people could hear the smile in my voice. When I got promoted she realized that I still doubted myself, and she pulled me into her office, and made that self-doubt disappear. She taught me how to be professional when traveling for tradeshows, how to speak to salesmen, purchasers, designers, etc. Which I later used in every job I’ve ever had.
You know what else I admired the most? That she came from humble beginnings and that didn’t stop her. Her and her sister, who she made VP of the company, sold burritos in the streets of Juarez to help their mother. Yup, I can’t even make that up. She didn’t let that hold her back, she used that as a propellant, she used that same hunger to get ahead in this industry. Carmen, thank you! You saw what I didn’t see, and in that bathroom mirror you allowed me to see more than you ever intended to simply by believing in me and taking the time to teach me.
Friends, Darlene and Vilma, two women I no longer speak to, but God did they have a huge impact in my life. Darlene came into my life when I was 19, she flipped my world upside down. She helped me realize that a big girl; such as myself, could still be feminine. It might seem, as something so lame and so unimportant, but for someone who was bullied for her size, raised by a beautiful mother who didn’t have to try much at being feminine, and with the stigmas of the 1980’s towards big women, this was BIG! Before her, I hid my body behind baggy clothes. She introduced me to what I called “big girl stores” this was pre-Torrid. She even introduced me to pedi and manis, and THONGS! Yes, THONGS! She helped me find a certain level of femininity I never knew I could ever achieve because of my size. I will forever be grateful to her.
Vilma, is someone I met a few years after Darlene. This woman is beautiful, I mean really. When I met her, that’s the first thing I thought. Then I got to know her, and realized that the outside matched the inside. I loved her confidence, I brought this up to her years later, and she laughed because she believed I was so wrong. But there was something about her femininity and her confidence, that just hooked me and I knew I wanted to be like that.
These womyn are amazing, they made a big impact in my life. I will forever be grateful for that, even though we are no longer in contact I will forever wish them well. Gracias Chicas!
My Soulsisters, which means we started as friends but are now family.
Karen, introduced me to Agape and the love of hiking. She also invested in my potential, she paid for me to attend a Tony Robbins seminar. Now you know those cost a pretty penny, but she somehow believed I was worth it. That seminar, was an eye opener, a blessing. I came out of there knowing I was meant for bigger things. I decided to go back to school and study what I wanted to. A shift occurred in those four long ass days, and it changed the course of my life forever. She’s constantly introducing me to new things, hears me, loves me, prays for me and pulls my ear when I need it.
Sandra, I pretty much forced her to be my study partner at ELAC and have been friends since. It’s been 10 years and we have managed not to kill each other, we are both extremely stubborn but it works. We’ve been there for each other, she was extremely supportive of me being a mom from the minute she found out he was coming; although, she didn’t like the baby daddy she didn’t judge or hold that against me. She immediately dove in and became the best aunt my kid could have.
Kathleen; although, our friendship has been strained due to distance lately she was a vital part of my life. When I messed up my foot and needed help taking groceries up my stairs she was there for me, when I couldn’t drive because of it she was there too. When I was pregnant, she stepped up. I needed help packing and she was the only one that cleared up her schedule to help me. But it didn’t end there, she helped along with my friend Theresa load up the truck and unpack. Then she came and helped build almost every single piece of baby furniture and bookshelves in my new place. She also most importantly is the Godmother of my child, she was also my doula! She was my support system during my pregnancy, she went to every class with me, she stuck with me during my c-section and cut my child’s umbilical cord. She is my little ray of sunshine, always looking at the bright side of everything and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. She’s a lovely and kind soul, always with a smile even when you don’t want one. Will forever be grateful for all of her kindness.
Katie, another one who because of distance and life we don’t talk as much as we use to. But this girl, she taught me to hustle. She doesn’t know how to sit still, especially when it comes to achieving her dreams. She was the first friend I had in the Bay Area and man was she a resource, she helped me get a job at the Fillmore which helped me survive my last semester of undergrad. She also was the one that pushed me to starting a blog again, she didn’t just push me she built it for me. She is just someone I always admired because she made the hustle so flawless, she’s creative, dorky, adorable, and has such a big heart, almost as big as her beautiful smile.
Claudia B., this chick is hood but fuck does she have your back. She’s not one to let you get too close, so don’t even try it. She’s been through some crap, so you learn to work around that, not an easy friendship but I learned so much from her. She also, had her own way of showing you she cared, she made pancakes when I was in pain, she payed for my groceries when I was in my extreme version of starving student in undergrad. But she too taught me about the hustle, about working hard both in and out of the classroom for my people, she helped mold me into the organizer I am today. This girl is bad ass, hoops and all, she’s one of the smartest and most motivated womyn I know. Although, our friendship has turned into an occasional text every now and then, the impact she had in my life will last forever.
Claudia L. (kindest heart I know), Theresa (I wouldn’t have survived undergrad without you and your fluffy pancakes) ,and Tiffany (my little sister, who just makes me prouder and prouder each day.) My soulsisters who have impacted my life in so many ways. Who have been there through different phases of my life and are vital in my son’s life, as they are in mine.
As you can see, I’ve been honored to meet amazing womyn. I know this list will change, life is not static, neither are the people in it. Sometimes you are just blessed to have a few angels see you all the way through your journey. One thing will remain, every person you meet teaches you something, adds something to your life, or takes away what should have never been yours to begin with.
To every womyn I’ve met, thank you! Because even if you don’t find yourself on this post, you remain in my heart, and the impact you made in my soul. Today and always I celebrate you and all the WOMYN I will soon meet, and the WOMYN reading this. You are unique, beautiful, and one bad ASS MUJER!
¡Que ViVAN LAS MUJERES!