From Her: Mexican in Maine goes to Hollywood
















































Yes, I know it's Saturday and there was no #ChingonaFest Fridays post.


Life's been kind of crazy lately and I promise that I tried. All I know is that I'm still figuring out this whole Squarespace business and I gave up after writing the entire post five times only to have it default to the original and unfinished draft each and every time. In the interest of Me and Not Killing Anyone, I opted for Not Going to Prison by drinking wine and saving the headache for next week.

It's all good. Cuz I've got news to share, anyway.

I'm honored to announce my inclusion in the juried 2015 From Her Art Exhibit in Los Angeles! My photograph, Mexican in Maine, will be included in this year's show, running from March 5th through March 22, in honor of Women's History Month -- and I couldn't be prouder. 

Mexican in Maine by Pauline Campos. Pinata by  Mainly Pinatas . 

Mexican in Maine by Pauline Campos. Pinata by Mainly Pinatas

Unfortunately, I can't be at the opening to celebrate because I don't own a Tardis and plane tickets don't grow on trees, but a few LA-based friends have promised to attend the event and take a ton of pictures because they love me. 

So, why this piece? For every item submitted, artists were asked for a statement to explain why we felt it was reflective of the for the Women's History Month focus. My artist statement for Mexican in Maine reads as follows: 

As a mother, I strive to teach my daughter that she can go anything. I want her to know that it's more important to create her own space rather than try to fit in. 
We moved to Maine two years ago and do not blend; our olive tones made more obvious by the white snow covering the ground for most of the year. But we are creating our space. In this photo, my daughter, 7, stands in a barn beneath the princess pinata made by a local woman, also Mexican, for her birthday party. 
She is fierce, focused, and stands tall, daring anyone to question her presence, her choices, her right to wear that crown or the cape she says makes her royalty. In this moment, she has claimed her space.

I think this is where I drop the proverbial mic and saunter off the figurative stage. 

Dimelo on Aspiring Mama

The Laundry List is long and overwhelming my frazzled brain as I fight my way to something vaguely resembling Normal after last week's trek to Los Angeles. (The flights were great and the Lifestyle Bloger Network Conference was fabulous, by the way.) The official recap comes in a day or so, but for now, I'm sharing an Almost Latina Magazine #Dimelo Question with you because I bet The Husband $5 that this ain't going viral to illustrate how much I suck at Reverse Psychology.

Don't get all flustered, y'all. The question came in too late to be relevant for online magazine publication, so I cleared publishing the text here with my editor earlier today. Ypu're Welcome.

Dear Pauline,

My prima and I read your #Dimelo column all the time and would like to ask you to settle an argument between us. We watched the Academy Awards and have been debating about Sean Penn's "offensive" joke while presenting Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu with Best Picture.

I think it was funny and a big deal is being made over nothing. Mi prima says I'm wrong and that the green card comment was offensive no matter what Inarritu told reporters Why was it a big deal and why are we all still talking about this?

What do you think?


The Punchline Police


Dear Punchline,

You are referring, I assume, to SeanPenn's "joke" while presenting long-time friend Alejandro GonzalessInarritu with Best Picture for Birdsman during the 87th Annual Academy Awards . Upon seeing Inarritu's name as he opened the envelope, Penn cracked what may end up being the singularly most over-examined joke since the first time anyone asked about the chicken and why it crossed the road. For those who may live under a rock, Penn lit up racial insensitivity sensors when he said of his longtime friend, "Who gave this sonnifabitch his green card?"

Social Media exploded with cries of racism while I laughed my ass off remembering all of the highly inappropriate jabs I've traded with close friends over the years because that's what friends do. A personal favorite is the time I made a big show of emptying the silverware drawers in a good friend's kitchen because his dad liked making cracks about Mexicans and silverware.

No, don't get offended on my behalf because that, Senorita Punchline, is exactly the problem here. The way I see it, if Inarritu is good with the green card joke, then so am I. There's no point in getting our collective 'chonis in  a bunch if Inarritu himself says there's no reason for the outcry.

But who's right? What about those who say it doesn't matter what Inarritu says because the joke was offensive to an entire culture? I'm going in swinging here, Punchline, and probably going to do my own fair share of offending when I say this: The gay white guy hosting the show may have raised a few hackles poking fun at everybody, but he gets a pass because NPH is a card-carrying member of an oppressed minority. As for the rest of us? I think we need to stop taking everything so seriously. -- Laughter is good for the soul

-- P 


Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist and founder of the #ChingonaFest community. Email her your questions at Connect with her on her blog,, follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos, and learn more about #ChingonaFest by following on instagram and tumblr.





Remembering When: A New Day

This post was originally published on Janyary 17, 2013. Two years later and I'm still working on my new beginning. And I'm okay with this because it means I haven't stopped trying.  



A strange thing happened today. I didn’t notice it right away, of course. There was no dramatic realization. No being struck by a figurative lightning bolt. It was more like the rising of the sun…

Slow. Steady. And something that, when you stop to think about it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Sleep has been fitful and restless and mostly non-existent. I was lucky to wake up in time to get Buttercup to her morning pre-ballet/tap class. I didn’t bother bringing a book to read. She upgraded me, you see. A few weeks ago, when she first started, I was timidly asked to remain downstairs in the waiting room while she danced. I’m embarrassed, Mama. Instead of allowing herself to fully relax and enjoy herself with her fellow dancers, I think she had been too focused on my opinion of her performance.

So I waited. And eventually, she asked me to leave my book at home.

I sat in the dance studio with the other mothers while the dancers sues-sused and tapped their happy little hearts out. We smiled and laughed as our daughters delighted in the movement their bodies allow and reveled in their own conspiratorial giggles. We clapped, as a proper audience should at the end of a worthy performance, when the teacher announced the end of the class. Then we helped our happy girls change out of their dance attire and into their street clothes and made our way across the studio to go on with the rest of our days.

That’s when I saw my reflection in the studio mirror. I barely registered what I was looking at….there were too many things to do and think about to concentrate on the size of my ass or what my hips looked like. Hear that? Taking the time to criticize myself would have been a luxury. Buttercup was asking questions and we needed to go to Target and The Husband needed me to pick up a few things at the grocery store before we headed back home and I was trying to remember what they were and…hell. If I don’t have time to read a book or watch trashy T.V. or sleep, do I really have the time to stand in front of a mirror and pick myself apart?

And more importantly, is that how I want to spend the few precious moments I do find for myself? Self-criticism and self-directed body hatred as LUXURY like fine velvets and expensive champagnes and rare jewels and days like tomorrow when I can stay home all day in my pajamas and don’t have to bother with a bra?

I met my own eyes in the mirror once more before leaving the studio and that’s when I saw myself through the light of the new day and realized I had sat in front of a mirror for an hour and only concentrated on my daughter, her happiness, and how I hope she grows up stronger than me.

The woman looking back at me in the mirror was smiling now. Maybe because she realized feelings weigh so much less when shared with others who understand.

Am I fixed yet? No. But it’s a new day.

And that’s a start.


The Prompted CopyCat: Second Edition

It's time for the Second Edition of the #PromptedCopyCat here on Aspiring Mama.  For those of you just joining in, the premise is a simple one: we start with an image and a story. I'll post one of my original pieces for you to replicate in your own style with your choice of medium and include a writing prompt that ties in to the artwork. You'll have one week to complete your art and short writing from the prompt (500 words or less), and post both completed works on your website, blog, instagram feed, or Facebook account. I don't want this limited to the blogosphere, so I'm open to sharing and connecting on any platform that appeals to you. The Prompted CopyCat is nothing formal. Just an idea to pass on and join in on if it calls to you. Every week I'll post my own completed writing from the previous week's prompt so you know I'm here to play with y'all, too, before posting the new art and prompt combo. Think of it as a living, guided artist journal. Or an illustrated writing journal, depending on which identity you feel more drawn to.

Last week's art and writing prompt asked you to recreate (or create your own spin on) one of my newest doodle pieces, titled Storybook Love, created on an old book page. I asked you to write a short love story, the one you see in your drawing. As promised, here is my own.

Storybook Love by Pauline Campos

"His legs were too skinny. That was her first thought. But he seemed nice enough. And his eyes did this cute wrinkly thing in the corners when he smiled. Alicia liked that.

But the leg thing...

"He has no ass," Alicia's sister said as he walked by the table she and Alicia had set up with linens and silverware.

It was a slow night at the family restaurant, which was why Alicia had arranged to meet with her potential prince charming near the end of her shift. She figured all her options were covered his way. She had the kitchen to disappear to if a quick escape was needed and her brother and sister could pick him out in a lineup if he decided to hide the crazy until the second date. But if all went well with tonight's introduction, her date would at least know which restaurant not to bring her to for a romantic evening.

Her sister, Daniela, smirked as she rolled silverware into linens for the next shift. "I can't believe you asked Prince Buttless to meet you here. Mom and Dad aren't exactly going to offer to pay for the wedding when you tell them you met this one on the Internet."

"This one?" Alicia rolled her eyes. "Dani, you say that the way Dad asks me what I'm going to do with the next stray dog I find. And besides, I knew Mom and Dad were taking the night off. Besides, I met the last one on the Internet, too."

Dani snorted "Yeah, and that turned out just dandy, didn't it?"

"Well," Alicia said, laughing at the memory. Her ex-boyfriend, forgetting where he was, had kissed her in full view of the kitchen. Her father put an end to that nonsense when, mere moments later, he personally delivered a steaming plate of huevos rancheros to their table. The crowning touch, of course, had been the silverware wrapped in what turned out to be a freshly printed Urban Dictionary page explaining exactly why the dish served as a very descriptive warning to keep his hands to himself.  Alicia hadn't been surprised never to hear from him again. "Okay, so not exactly. But who knows? Maybe this one will be different."

This One, who also happened to be the tall, dark, and handsome kind that made Alicia go weak in the knees, was heading back to his seat at the bar, He had one arm hidden behind his back, and on his face, his smile was strained.

"Is everything okay? Alicia asked.

He handed her the small bouquet of brightly colored flowers he had gotten from his car. "These are for you. But can you tell me why the waiter was taking pictures of my license plate?"


And now, here's the new assignment: Show me the words at the center of your universe. This piece started out with acrylics and a paintbrush before morphing into my visual reminder of the mantra I repeat to myself as needed. As a rule, I photograph each original for print sales before manipulating the image until I'm happy with the result. I went heavy on saturation and vibrancy in this one and the final punch was the text.

Feel free to copy what you see here (it's best to start with a pencil before moving on to painting), or give the entire thing your own personal spin. All I ask is that you draw a sun, add the words you see here (or better yet, words that make you feel strong, and write 500 words or less on why the words you selected have meaning.

The rules are simple:

1- Always play nice. We are here to create a community, which means we always play nice in the sandbox.

2- Please link each week's prompt on Aspiring Mama when sharing your work online.

3.Use #PromptedCopyCat on twitter and social media outlets like instagram (which doesn't allow for live links).

4. Leave a comment linking to your work and completed prompt in order for me (and hopefully others) to find and support your efforts.

I'll be back next week with my completed prompt and the next Prompted CopyCat assignment!

Hope to see you then!




This Artist/Writer/Photographer thing is still new territory for me. Fear wasn't the only reason I held back from just running with it all because, and let's be honest, it's gonna be a bitch redesigning business cards. I'll deal with that later, though. For now, it's Show and Tell time because I spent entirely too much time making Scrunchy Faces I never selfie'd while over-thinking the Artist Statement portion of a recent art show submission. I apologize to Instagram for robbing you of the chance to point and laugh.

I'm sorry. I'll try to do better next time. I promise.


Image by Pauline Campos

As a mother, I strive to teach my daughter that she can go anything. I want her to know that it's more important to create her own space rather than try to fit in. We moved to Maine two years ago and do not blend; our olive tones made more obvious by the white snow covering the ground for most of the year. But we are creating our space. In this photo, my daughter, 7, stands in a barn beneath the princess pinata made by a local woman, also Mexican, for her birthday party. She is fierce, focused, and stands tall, daring anyone to question her presence, her choices, her right to wear that crown or the cape she says makes her royalty. In this moment, she has claimed her space.


Photo by Pauline Campos

As the founder of the #chingonafest community, I strive to empower Latinas to embrace (and celebrate) their true selves and voices in the face of cultural dictates telling us to do otherwise. As Latina Magazine's #Dimelo advice columnist, I made some waves of my own when a conversation with my daughter turned into a column on called "5 Ways to Raise a Chingona". And as the mother watching this girl grow sure and strong, I hope she never loses the spirit and determination that I was lucky enough to capture in her eyes and her stance when the flash went off.


Autobiography by Pauline Campos

I was running behind so I forgot to copy and paste this one but basically I said lots of words and then wrapped it up with "This is my story told on canvas." The end.



#SheSePuede by Pauline Campos

My goal and my purpose is to inspire women to embrace and celebrate our voices while forging our own paths -- and inspiring the next generation to do the same -- despite a culture dictating we do otherwise. I am the daughter of a Mexican-born father and was raised by my village, including my parents, tias, tios, and Abuelo. I am the mother of a second-generation daughter who is being raised by the girl who grew up to break away from the accepted in order to find myself. I am Chingona. #SheSePuede. Because alone we can, but together, we thrive.


The Prompted CopyCat: First Edition

I am the queen of ideas but pretty much suck at implementation. I'll be honest: the only reason I'm trying to score a ginourmous book deal is because how else am I going to afford to hire all the people who brilliantly do all the things I forget to? For now, I'm happy to wave the shiny new ideas I do manage to move from the THOUGHT IT UP pile to the GOT THE T-SHIRT pile proudly, like the $1,000 lotto ticket I once held in my hand and managed to not lose. Today's Shiny New could be a giant fail or a quiet success, and both are okay with me. I just want to give it a shot and see what comes of it.

My friend Cecily, a brilliant writer and (she doesn't realize this yet, but she is also a very talented artist) and I had a conversation the other day about doubting ourselves and undervaluing our own talents. It's human nature, we both know. And human nature sucks sometimes. But back to the Shiny New, which is an idea I've been dreaming up since the first time I realized that I had Actual Artistic Ability. I've wanted to somehow combine writing and art and provide a place and a space for the many talented writerly artists I know (and those I hope to know). I also wanted to make sure that whatever I came up with allowed for all levels to participate -- from the basic beginning artist or fledgling writer to the accomplished and successful.

On instagram, I'll often see friends post pictures of their beautiful creations (almost always with a big and slightly bemused I did THIS smile) after a fun evening at one of those painting events where you get to drink and laugh with your friends while creating something beautiful on canvas. I live too far off the beaten path for that sort of thing, but I love the idea of self-doubt (I am no artist!) being quieted by sheer joy, togetherness, and perhaps a bit of wine. I think that's why these group painting events are so successful, really. After you sign up with a friend or two and arrive, probably thinking you wasted the money because you can't draw a straight line, you realize you already spent the money on the participation fee and you are already there and what the hell...may as well have some fun, right?

The beautiful thing is that most of the others are thinking the same and they dive in when you do, because even if you think you can't do it well, you may as well have fun with it. Right? And then you step back and you are smiling and bemused because you did it and you love it and look at that, you just got 67 likes on instagram!

I live too far away from civilization for any kind of writer's group, too. My friend Mercedes is a fantastically talented horror writer and I am in awe (and totally jealous) of the constant support and obvious camaraderie shared by her writing group friends in my Facebook feed. They have things like word wars where one will say something like Okay Gang, I've got 30 minutes on the clock! Go! And then they will all report back on the same thread in 31 minutes with the number of words written within the timeframe. They make each other remember that the dream takes work and sometimes that work means forcing the words from our veins because how else will they appear 0n the page? They build each other up and talk smack and laugh and cry with each other because the writing life is a roller-coaster just as often as it is a Bill Murray Ground Hog Day marathon.

I want that.

I want all of it.

So here's what I'm thinking. An image and a story. I'll post one of my original pieces for you to replicate in your own style with your choice of medium and include a writing prompt that ties in to the artwork. You'll have one week to complete your art and short writing from the prompt (500 words or less), and post both completed works on your website, blog, instagram feed, or Facebook account. I don't want this limited to the blogosphere, so I'm open to sharing and connecting on any platform that appeals to you.

The Prompted CopyCat is nothing formal. No official forms to sign. No fee to be paid. Just an idea to pass on and join in on if it calls to you. Every week I'll post my own completed writing from the previous week's prompt so you know I'm here to play with y'all, too, before posting the new art and prompt combo. Think of it as a living, guided artist journal. Or an illustrated writing journal, depending on which identity you feel more drawn to.

I'm going to forgo linkies, at least for now, because I'm not quite sure how this is going to play out yet, but I do ask that participants do a things for us to be able to connect with and support each other on our respective journeys:

1- Always play nice. We are here to create a community, which means we always play nice in the sandbox.

2- Please link each week's prompt on Aspiring Mama when sharing your work online.

3.Use #PromptedCopyCat on twitter and social media outlets like instagram (which doesn't allow for live links).

4. Leave a comment linking to your work and completed prompt in order for me (and hopefully others) to find and support your efforts.

That's basically it. For those of you interested in joining in, here's your first assignment:

Valentine's Day is on my brain because the jewelry ads are telling me I need more shiny things. So we start with doodles and hearts.

Storybook Love by Pauline Campos

I did this one with ink on a torn out book page. Used book shops and garage sales are great places to score deals on pages it won't hurt your wallet to doodle on. Another option is to raid your own collection of books. Instead of getting rid of the ones your don't read, try using it instead as a starting place for your art.

I prefer to rip the page out before doodling, that way I only ruin one page if I decide what I end up isn't what I intended it to be. And while I started out with zentangle books, I usually end up veering off into another direction, so now I tend to just put the pen to the paper and look up when I feel it's time to stop. For this week's Prompted CopyCat, you are welcome to try replicating this image, or go wild and see what you come up with on your own. As y0u can see, I like swirls and curves and I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to clean lines. But if you are copying or merely using this as a starting point, remember that this is yours to create with the eyes you see. Art is not supposed to be perfect. Embrace what you see and how you see it.

As for the writing prompt? Tell me a love story. It can be any genre, but please try to be respectful of the fact that Prompted CopyCat is meant to be an open community, so no 50 Shades stuff, okay?

I'll be back next week with my completed prompt and the next Prompted CopyCat assignment!

Hope to see you then!

ChingonaFest Fridays: Helen Troncoso (Take 2)

Welcome to WEEK 22 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring MamaIf you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Jessica Mazone and Heiddi Zalamar  were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

This week, I'm doing a little throwback to my week 4 Featured Chingona, my good friend Helen Troncoso, because girlfrfiend just had a birthday and gotta show some love, right?  Troncoso, who is a doctor and title-holding beauty queen, has her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.


And now! Time for the interview!


Dr. Helen Troncoso


Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Helen Troncoso: I'm not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I'd rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.

PC: Okay then... *pushes The Box Helen Doesn't Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let's try this one...What's your favorite quote?

HT: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream" by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people's dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn't want to get out of bed, but I did it.

PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HT: Feminism is defined as, "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities."  I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a "feminist" but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what's right for her life. Feminism is not a, "zero sum game" as Nancy Redd once said. It's not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it's no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women "si se puede" when our own words and actions don't reflect that.

PC: Yes, people will bitch because that's what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.

HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She's also one of the most sensitive women ever. She's a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.

PC: You said "probably". I say "Definitely". Who inspires you?

HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem.

PC: I'm a fucking mess, which -- if you connect the dots inside my head -- means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I'm wrong.  Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?

HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can't recognize who's staring back at them in the mirror. I'm there to tell them sometimes God's rejection is blessed redirection.

PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?

HT: I don't dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film.

PC: I like black & white. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...

HT: Pa'que tu lo sepas!

PC: Orale, mujer! How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

HT:I don't think we're represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don't thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we're represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.

PC: You're damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don't ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.

PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I'm finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It's all good! If I'm tired or you're a good friend and you won't judge me, you'll probably hear my crazy Spanglish.

PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what's your favorite dish? Why?

HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It's the ultimate comfort food.

PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom's homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HT: I think I've come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My "Latino" experience was limited to my family members. It wasn't until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It's not about speaking Spanish (although that's important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.

PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?

HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that's how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger.

PC: I'll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HT: That we're family orientated.


And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists…. Also, be sure to send me your questions to


The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

#ChingonaFest: More than We Are

An Artist Trading Card of mine. Make your dreams a reality. I'm not new here. In fact, I'm what some of you may refer to as a veteran blogger (but I'm not really. I know a few who've been doing this way longer). But before I was a blogger with a column in one of my favorite magazines, I was a writer with a dream.

It was a simple dream, really. I was eight when I decided I was going to write books one day and maybe 10 when I dug my (obviously clueless) heels in and selected Canadian middle-grade author Gordon Kormon as my basis for having my own books on the shelves by the time I was 13. That's how he did it and it seemed simple enough. Write a full-length middle grade novel for an English assignment and blow the socks off my teacher who would then prep the manuscript for me to send to publishing houses and wait for the offers to start rolling in.

Seemed easy enough, right? Seemed would be the key word here.

An original Ink Drawing: Show of Strength

I could lie and say I totally rocked my pie in the sky three-Year- Plan but it wouldn't even be a good lie. And to be honest, I'm pretty sure the chocolate-flavored angst that followed the year I turned 13 and realized I had failed at life, consequently sending me spiraling into my first midlife-crisis, is the kind of angst every good writer needs tucked up inside. This is the kind of inner-artistic-creative-crazy IAMTHEBESTWRITEREVER tempered, naturally with Doubt (IAMTHEWORSTWRITEREVER) and a smidgen of necessary self-righteousness (thoseASSHOLESdon'tknowTALENTDammit!), that I think most writers would refer to as our inner drive. It's the source of our creativity and the reason we keep going when agents tell us our platform sucks because a platform that doesn't exist usually does. As do the platforms that aren't big enough to guarantee 10,000 copies sold if a publisher were to bite.

Sleepy Moon Series: Moon # 4 of 15.

Honestly, it's pure ego that keeps those of us with vision boards and high school classmates to impress at the next reunion from just saying Fuck It and changing our name to Snooki before querying again because platforms mean name recognition and publicity, not innate writing ability and Stop Looking at me Like That. I didn't  say I think Snooki can't write or ask the Gods of all Things Literary why agents don't just stop telling us that we need anything other than a reality show, a bump it, and a good spray tan because Really? No, my friends. I didn't say anything of the sort.

That would be unprofessional.

*Nods head solemnly*

Another ATC/ACEO card. I love making these and using bits of Kathy Murillo's paper from her Michael's line in my work.

What I said was that I didn't get a book deal the first time out the gate 'cuz I was 13 and nowhere near ready to be published. What I did get was secure in my identity as a writer. I called my friends at 11 p.m. at night on school days with my newest essay on Life and All Things Hormonal, freshly typed out on my new typewriter, and read to them the words that formed the path I was (and still am) dead-set on following. That's all well and good, except that in telling myself I was a writer, I inadvertently also told myself that I was only a writer.

Imagine my surprise when I sat down just last year to hand draw a set of animal note cards for a homeschool lesson and The Husband -- all sweet and surprised-like -- told me that my drawing didn't suck. High praise, you guys. High praise.

But it was enough to send me into an entirely new direction, complete with watercolor pencils and acid-free drawing paper and an etsy shop in which I sometimes remember to post my latest little creation. Even with art being commissioned by friends and strangers alike and the occasional sale from the artsy things I did manage to post, I still had a really hard time referring to myself as an artist. And don't even get me started on the inner-struggle I wasted five minutes on regarding the Being a Photographer thing. I am a writer, remember? I couldn't possibly be more than that because that's all I had ever allowed myself to be. Until, at least, I accidentally remembered I wasn't too shabby at this drawing and painting and mixed media thing and stopped telling myself I couldn't be more than I thought I was.

Original Mixed Media: Autobiography by Pauline Campos

We can all be more than we are because we already are more than we realize, usually. All we need to do is own our own potential.

And if that doesn't work, I suggest talking to yourself like you would your crazy talented and inspiring BFFs who you swear to God you are going to bitch-slap if they don't stop minimizing themselves and their talents and just say Thank You for once because Dammit, that's what you do when someone pays you a compliment, already. Honestly, it's like we can't create enough variations on the "I look good? But look at this ASS! No way, Bestie, YOU LOOK GOOD!' 'Really? BUT THIS TUMMY FLAB!'" bullshit we seamlessly fall into when trying to compliment our Best Amigas. Why can't we just learn to shut up and take a fucking compliment?

Good Hair Day. Photo by Pauline Campos

We can pay them forward all day long and we mean them when we say them to the women we care about. Which makes me think I had the "Stop Defining Yourself Through Other People's Eyes" thing wrong. Maybe we need to do the exact opposite, if the Other People are the ones telling us that we are Beautiful, Smart, Important, Talented, Funny, Inspiring, and Chingona to the hilt, that is. Maybe it's the perspective change that we need because we've been brainwashed to always see ourselves as Less Than because Celebrating Ourselves is seen as improper and stuck up  --  which is complete and utter bullshit, y'all.



So maybe the trick is to start with changing the inner dialogue and swapping our own internal Critical Tia for that of a good friend. Look in the mirror and let HER tell YOU why you are All Things Fabulous. You'll know you're doing it wrong if you suck at being a friend and tell your besties that they suck at that thing that they secretly think they might be sort of good at. If that's the case, I'm betting your friendship circle totally gets bigger if you give my way a try. You can thank me later.

A Mile in Her Shoes. Photo by Pauline Campos

Obviously, I eventually got over myself -- at least in this particular case -- and that was a good thing. I'm still a writer. But now, I'm more. And I like it that way.

Now it's your turn. I don't often ask for comments on my writing here, but the point of this Aha! Moment of mine is that we all could use a reminder here and there to swing our hips a bit more confidentially and to stop playing the Humble Card because Self-Pride is entirely underrated. Whether you are a proud member of the #ChingonaFest community or a writer, blogger, or fledgling underwater basket weaver, you are always more and capable of so much more than which you give yourself credit. Always Celebrate Who You Are. No One Else is Going to Do It For You. That's one of my most popular Chingonafest quotes, and for good reason. We are too often told that , as women and, for many of us, as women of color, that we aren't supposed to be anything but humble and unsure of ourselves outside of cultural and societal dictates.

I'm a writer. An Artist. A Mother. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Photographer. Friend.

I'm creative, driven, bull-headed, caring, bitchy, sarcastic, and sassy.


I'm that and I'm more and I'm ready to be open to the possibilities of what and who I may become tomorrow and proud of who I was yesterday, just as I am of myself and my capabilities today. And this is where I leave the ball in your court.

Tell me, amigas...

Who are YOU?


That Time I Compared Santa to Chocolate

  Photo by Pauline Campos

My sink is full of dirty dishes. The house is not Santa Spotless as is my usual. I have tons of gifts still to send out and even more missing from under my tree. I lost our magic Santa key so I told the child I texted Santa the code to the lockbox we save for dog sitter. I didn't bake one christmas cookie. I only sent out 15 christmas cards. My usual is 50. It's hard work dragging your ass out of bed when there's no other place you'd rather be, what with missing friends and autoimmune hell running the show.( I got an answer, by the way: psoriasis. The rest of that story will have to wait for another post another day.) But it's work that must be done when you're not the star of a one woman show. And my costars demand Christmas cheer and holiday magic. This is good, because I am doing Christmas even though I'd rather be binge watching bad movies and eating too much ice cream. Pretty sure that depressive, self-indulgent luxury is one every person who agrees to cohabitation loses as soon as Yours  becomes Ours. I'm even telling myself the cluttered mess of a house and the dirty dishes are progress because Instead of staying up until 4 am to scrub the house clean just so I could say I did,  I'm leaving them as they are.

Photo by Pauline Campos

My plans include wrapping a forgotten gift, writing a tiny goodbye note from her Christmas elf in sparkly gel pen in teeny tiny writing, and climbing into bed with The Husband and the child who was too excited to sleep, because Obviously Mom, Who Can Sleep On A Night Like This? She can, Obviously and Thankyouverymuch, tucked up between heartbeats that sandwich her own. Its the only sound loud enough, I think, to soothe her into an instant dream.

Photo by Pauline Campos

The dishes can wait. I've got sleepy hugs waiting. This is progress. Santa, like chocolate, understands.

Catching in the Rye (in Spanglish)

If The Catcher in the Rye had a sequel based on a Spanglish-speaking Mexican-American homeschooling, allergic to everything, eating-disordered writer mama of one, I’d be a happy girl. Because then, at least, I could just hand people a copy of the book when they ask how I’m doing.

‘Fine?” That’s usually a lie.

“My cat just got ran over, thanks for asking,” could possibly be the truth, but when people ask other people how they are doing, no one really expects an honest answer if honesty means replying with anything other than “fine.” Except  I don’t have a cat. I do have three dogs, though. And a kid. And two websites and an agent and a manuscript sitting in a file because I don’t have a platform big enough to stand on and wonder if I ever will.

This isn’t a Poor Me post. Don’t get your violins out, folks. This is a Truth post; one in which I step out behind the bullshit and tell you that fine is a lie and that I miss my nonexistent cat because I am, in short, a fraud. Not the Push Up Bra and Spanx Coming Off On the Third Date kind of fraud, mind you, but the Holden Caulfield kind in which I find myself standing in the middle of the high school cafeteria, holding my lunch tray, not sure where to sit because I have no idea where I really belong.

I preach body pride and self-acceptance because for some of us, we can't do the work required to care for ourselves if we don't value ourselves. I encourage you to find your inner chingona, redefine your path on your own terms and to celebrate the hell out of her because no one else is going to do it for you. I say thing like Love Yourself As You Are NOW and Our Daughters are Counting on Us to Get (and Keep) Our Shit Together (And I mean them...for you). I want to mean them for me, too, and I figured that if I shouted it long enough and often enough from my soapbox that I’d start to buy my own bullshit, but that hasn’t happened yet.

That, my friends, pisses me off.

I want to connect and inspire and feel validated for what I say and what I do and what I am hoping to become and I see so many others doing exactly that while I sit back and cheer them on, not sure what I’m doing wrong to keep missing the boat or if the boat’s going to bother coming back to the dock again to give me another chance. I want to speak to women on the same journey and let them know it’s okay to be where we are right now as long as we keep trying because that’s what matters. I want to organize inspiring workshops and a regular conference for women to focus on fixing the mess inside of our own heads because our kids aren’t going to believe in their own self worth if they constantly see us tear ourselves down.

It’s the old airplane analogy: No point in passing out from oxygen deprivation while trying to get our kid’s mask on first if the cabin depressurizes. The only way we can truly be effective role models is if we fight every maternal instinct and put ourselves first for fucking once. Once our heads are clearing from the oxygen-deprived fog can we be there to ensure our children are breathing, safe, and secure in the knowledge that Mommy has her shit together. And this Mommy is busy focusing on raising a future self-respecting bitch who (I hope I hope I hope) will never second guess putting her happiness before society's complex.

Maybe, I think, the boat is on to me. The boat knows I’m a fraud and frauds are not allowed on board. Only passengers who are truly at ease in their own skin who don’t look for and rely on approval and validation outside of themselves are allowed on this boat. I’m not there yet. I used to be. I will be again. But right here, right now, I’m a self-destructive mess who’s best bet it is to just let it all hang out because it’s the truth and it needs to be said.

I don’t have The Answers. I’m not standing at the Finish Line waving the Official Flag of Self-Acceptance because I haven’t run my own race yet. What I do have is a burning desire to share the crazy idea that it’s okay to be a fucking mess. It’s okay to have bad days and worse days and throw a party on the good days because they are so very worthy of celebrating. It’s okay to not love yourself (but want to) yet and it’s okay to talk about the bad in public because if we don’t then no one else will and the world will just continue to assume that “Fine” is the only acceptable answer to be given when they ask how we’re doing and that’s really just a giant disservice for those of us who need to know it’s okay to celebrate The Journey because The Destination is just a little too far away right now.

I’m not fine. In fact, I’m a royal fucking mess. My ADHD and anxiety are triggering my seven-year-old’s anxiety into fodder for her therapy appointments which happens to fall under the Mexicans Don’t Talk About That Sort of Thing category because it’s uncomfortable and much easier to sweep under the rug with the rest of our emotional baggage (like  the whispers about how pregnant the bride really was at the last wedding we went to while we collectively pretended to believe she wasn’t because it matters even though it really shouldn’t). It’s why I told The Husband I wanted yellow gold when he asked what kind of ring I would like when he was fishing for engagement ring hints because that’s what my family wore. It took me ten years to admit I hated yellow gold and really wanted platinum because that shit doesn’t work for me anymore, either.

Away with the rug. Let the dirt fly. And when the dust settles, I’ll still be standing here holding my lunch tray because I’m not sure where to sit because no matter where I choose, I feel like everyone else will judge me for my choice even though none of that should matter. But it does.

And I hate that.

I most decidedly do NOT have my shit together. You need to know that. It’s okay to be a royal fucking mess. You need to know that, too.  I miss my imaginary cat and I have very real cellulite and I have a sweet tooth and a closet eating habit. I don't sleep enough and I am never on time unless a deadline and a paycheck is involved (or someone else is driving the bus.) My yoga mat is my zen place and I'm working my way back to being brave enough to step into the raging quiet inside my head (I'm almost there). I make sad things funny and funny things funnier because that’s how I deal.

I'm almost 37 years old and sans The Husband and the child, the words you see and the words you hear could be the same words I wrote when I was seven, 17, and 27.

All of this is today’s truth.

Now tell me…

How are you doing?

A Thanksgiving Transcription

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends List:

I wanted to thank you all for helping me sort out the Cooking of the Turkey in the Roaster Thingy that goes on the Counter minus the Rack Thingy I couldn't find. You are all geniuses and I wanted to let you know our little dinner turned out wonderfully.

Or not.

Actually, the tutkey turned out okay. The pre-dinner conversation was fucking fabulous. I'm a writer, so obviously, the evening was a total WIN.

Keep in mind that the following transcription is mostly true because totally true would mean I KNEW it was going to be this good and I'd have had my phone on record and that would mean I'm psychic and why would I be bloging FOR FREE THEN? So, let's jump on to the convo, shall we?

The sweet potato casserole I made that never made it onto instragram. I must be slipping.

The Scene: Thanksgiving, Somewhere in Maine with Lots of Snow and a few Moose, 2014. The Husband has returned from work and dinner is *not* ready to go as he'd hoped.

Him: turkey smells great. How long till we eat?

Me: 2 hours later than you are hoping.

Him: Why?

Me: Because I got it going 2 hours later than you told me to.  Obviously.

Him: What the hell, woman? Can we start with the pie, then? I only ate half my lunch to save room.

Me: No pie. I was too busy asking FB if could cook the turkey in the Roaster Thingy that goes on the Counter minus the Rack Thingy I couldn't find. Don't worry, 27 friends liked my confusion and 19 commented, which is the only reason you aren't giving thanks for peanut butter and jelly right now.

Him: Twenty-seven, huh?

Me: Or five. Whatever. The Queen of Spain says I'm good. That's all anyone needs to know.

Him (checking the turkey): UPSIDE DOWN? You put the turkey in Upside Down? Who DOES that? And what does Facebook have to do with my lack of Pie?

Me: I had to wait for people to COMMENT, yo. You know how the Internet works, right? And what the hell? Upside down? What are you talking about?

Him (speaking deliberately and now enunciating every.single.syllable lest he scare the jumper off the bridge):  Wait. The Queen of What? Pauline, look at the turkey. Can you tell me where the breast went ?

Me (indignant): I went to high school with royalty. Jealous?

Him: Not really. Just hungry. The breast? Show me. (Calm down, people. He was pointing to the turkey.)

Me: (Looking. Processing. Y'all might wanna thank The Husband for not making you wait ... ): Ummmm...

Him (reaching into flip the bird over): It's RIGHT HERE, babe. (And yes. He pointed. Multiple times. As he turned the bird "right side up", his eyes saw something else apparently even the manliest of men already know, and when he picked his jaw up from the floor, he said...) and so is the plastic. (Dramatic pause) ...and all the bits normal people pull out of the Turkey before stuffing it.

Me (meeting his raised eyebrow with my own): We agreed we weren't stuffing the Turkey.

Him: That's all ya got?

Me: Is it edible?

Him: Yes, thank God.

Me: Exactly. And now that we've acknowledged the true meaning of today, do me a favor.

Him (grinning): Yes?

Me: Shut up, sit down over there, and give your little girl a kiss. I've got a conversation to transcribe before we eat.


Prologue: I didn't finish baking till 9. They had a few store bought cookies for dessert. and yes, the upside down turkey was delicious


The Hastags Explained: #Latism14 & #TopBlogueras


I'm not on a plane right now on the way to an event I've been looking forward to since last year. Turns out that sometimes it actually is just too hard to get from Point A to anywhere involving a plane when Point A is smack in the middle of nowhere.

#MexicaninMaine. That's me, remember? I am defined by the hashtags I have created to suit me.

#Dimelo. For the name of my Latina Magazine advice column.

#ChingonaFest. For my growing community and podcast supporting the spirit of the Latina women and our desire to raise the next generation to always celebrate their voices and their spirit.

#BitchRedefined. For the non-Latinas finding themselves drawn to the ChingonaFest community. I get it. I'm hyphenated and usually straddling the tightrope between both halves of my identity, never quite standing still long enough on either side to catch my balance. My Spanish is too choppy to be considered fluent and my English spoken in the same rapid-fire rhythm of the language I once didn't realize I thought in. My skin brown enough to arouse curiosity because What Are You seems to be considered an appropriate question to ask a perfect stranger while checking out the asparagus. My hair kinky curly enough for the person asking to step back, grin, and tell me that I do not fit their perception of who and what I claim to be. No way, they say. You're mixed, right?

I used to not know how to answer that question. Of course not, I'd think. I'm Mexican. That's what I'd want to say, but it felt like I was denying the unknown. I see my hair. I see my body. I know that when I tell people which area of Mexico my maternal grandfather was from, the asker will sometimes nod knowingly because they've now matched my appearance to the other side of the tracks in their minds' eye. Now, I just raise an eyebrow in silent warning to step away from the line in the sand. I may raise it higher and ad an eye-roll if the asker misses the first hint. Should they miss both, I feel justified in responding with many words considered inappropriate for mothers shopping with their little girls to be using. I'm not worried. My daughter is brilliant and is perfectly aware of the words Mommy uses verbally and in my writing and -- yes, I am bragging here -- she even knows which ones she is not allowed to repeat until she's paying her own rent.

I am mixed. Every Mexican is. And I live in Maine. Not every Mexican does that. In fact, I'm pretty damned sure I am the the first ever in my family to own a pair of snowshoes. That makes Eliana the second. Paths are being forged, my friends. We are pretty fucking fabulous at falling. That means we are even better at picking ourselves up.


#SheSePuede. Because I can. Because I believe she can. Because we all can. Because I have to remind myself of my strength and pull myself up from the dark places that never have enough chocolate just as often as you do and because I know I always will. Don't be fooled by my resume. I will never have the five steps to unfailing happiness and self-acceptance because I am my history and my history is the Spanglish version of My So-Called Life. What I do have is a stubborn streak. I am bull-headed. I am determined. I am a realist. And a dreamer. I know I will fall again. I know I will pick myself back up. I share that because this is where we connect and relate and why it won't seem strange when we meet in person and squee and hug like we have known each other forever and really, in a way, we sort of have. So it's okay.

I'll be missing many hugs and Spanglish-lovin' this week as many of my friends and colleagues travel to Anaheim, CA. for the #Latism14 conference. I already am missing the party before the party I still can't believe I was invited to when I was named a Top Bloguera. I am honored and humbled and in need of a thesaurus, and I truly wish the four hours between me and the airport weren't an issue. The extra plane ticket I would have needed to buy for my daughter that just wasn't in the budget didn't help matters. One door opens. Maybe it closes. Another appears. I wish but I'm not. I am not but I was. And the sun will rise again. 1 of 100 selected of 400 applications. I suck at math an am easily impressed, but I still like what I see here.

I'll still be a badass. You'll still be a badass. And my daughter will still be working on my last nerve and saving my sanity at the last minute with a giggle and a smile. Thank you, Ana Roca-Castro. Thank you for today's reason to smile when you reminded us all that even if not at the retreat, the title is still ours to hold on to.

#TopBloguera. This is the one for which I thank you, my dear friends and readers. Because you read and you support and you share the words I write because we did that relating thing. Thank you. Let's do more of that, okay?

The Canadian GoldFish & the Dead Cat

I'm friends with Canadian fish who thinks she's a peach-flavored desert. Despite her incredibly amusing identity crisis, she's pretty much my favorite imaginary friend with access to wifi and a Facebook account. Peach Flambee (that's her name and it' perfect) keeps me around, I think, because she finds me --  and my penchant for amusing word tangent in response to her Facebook updates -- as endearing as I am easily distracted. Personally, I think it's unfair to bait the woman incapable of one word responses without first checking if:

A) I'm on deadline

B) what were we talking about aga...

C) I've got any adderall still working in my system whilst being tagged.

Because what's happening here is a perfect example of why Peach could probably live quite happily without cable.


Peach got downright philosophical in response to Piccard voicing the very thing most of us are thinking when someone else says something like this after our cats get run over on the very same day we seem to have run out of chocolate. I was just going to paraphrase, but I went with a straight up cut & paste because I'm already losing interest here.

The meaning of what we say is determined by denotation, connotation, and context.

"Everything happens for a reason." Denotatively, this is self- evident, so why say it?

Consider the context: Something unfortunate has happened to someone you care about, typically involving a loss: life, mobility, job, functionality, home ...

Some well meaning folks respond with "Everything happens for a reason." What is the connotation of this? Somewhere, somehow, a benefit will come from this loss, so really, you don't need to feel so bad.

Excuse me??

That's right, you shouldn't feel so bad.

This is invalidation of normal, healthy grief and anger. And why? Can this person tell us what the elusive benefit is?

Uhhhh ... no. Well, sort of. Maybe. It might be guesswork, But no, not really.

Who feels better for this? The person suffering the loss? Let's see: The loss is still suffered, and in some way that he can't quite put his finger on, he now gets the sense that the way he feels is somehow wrong, or inappropriate or demanding ... but no one told him that, so *that* perception must also be wrong ...

How about the well- meaning person? With one platitude, he's spread a positive thought to a suffering person, and without any real effort on his part. He's been thoughtful and it was so easy ... and now he can stop feeling awkward because he has had something pleasant to say and something helpful to do.

We feel uncomfortable when the people we care about are suffering. This encourages us to say or do the first thing that will alleviate our own discomfort, often without thinking, because this is what we have learned to do by watching other people. We're not alone in this so it must be the correct thing to do, right?

When you're on the receiving end of the platitudes, they great, but you're conditioned to believe that you're just grumpy because you're suffering. All the same, you find yourself feeling that you want to push away the people who care about you, and that makes things worse. Around and around it goes.

Sometimes there really is no useful advice you can give to a loved one. So don't. Just offer to be there and not judge. Accept the sufferer's feelings. Give him space if he needs it.

I adore how Boggle the Owl presents advice for these situations. I suggest giving Boggle a read

(Tagging Pauline, as the resident expert )


I know what you're thinking...that's one smart goldfish. But stick with me here, because one of us need to stay focused and we both know I'm pointing at you when I say that.

My response?

The Reasons that Everything keeps happening include ( but are not limited to): - life's a bitch - karma has probably *always* a bitch - no, seriously. Have you EVER heard someone say "Wow, that Karma...sweet as pie, that one... No?! -EXACTLY.

* you like pounding your head, repeatedly, on a hard surface.

* don't lie and try to cover it up. "Namaste" is nowhere nearly as effective a mental picture as *HEADDESK* when trying illustrate frustration over The Everythings & The reasons the Everythings don't take a fucking coffee break

* your mother called

* his mother called

* you didn't forward that chain letter meme to 667 people before mercury went into to retrograde, DID you?

* you IDIOT

* You got out of bed this morning

* You cut the tag off of your pillow just to see what would happen

* It seemed like a good idea at the time

* You didn't bother aiming and crossed the wires, thereby angering Zuel and inspiring over-achieving Pinterest users to make your s'more look like the unoriginal schlopp is really is

* You wore white after Labor Day

* The damned chicken just wanted to get to the other side, okaaaay?

* Well you see, Susie, when a Mommy and a Daddy like each other, they share a special hug...

* You poked the bear. Stop poking the fucking bear, will you?

This list could very probably never become suddenly outdated because there will always be stupid people in the world who say stupid (but well-meaning) things like Everything Happens for a Reason when the best response is usually none at all.

It's either that, or Ben & Jerry's better get to mixing new flavor combinations and slap Sorry About You Cat on the label. Because that's really the only acceptable alternative allowed.

-- Signed,

The Resident Expert

Rick Najera & a New Shade of Green

  photo (4)

So, this one time I went to New Mexico for my first writing conference ever and I met a lot of people and one of them was Rick Najera. He doesn't remember it, he tells me, but that's okay with me. I'm lucky if I remember what I said five minutes ago, so I won't guilt-trip Rick into paying f0r my therapy sessions to make up for him forgetting me like that. 

Then, this other time, the internet proved the nay-sayers wrong. Turns out the world-wide web is just as round as the world itself. Rick Najera showed up in my tweet stream when somebody else retweeted something he happened to tweet when I happened to be around to see it, and then I found myself on a train to to NYC to speak at his #AlmostWhite book launch event and I called him Motivational and Not an Asshole. He's still talking to me, so there's something to be said for my broken filter.

What follows is an Op-Ed by Rick himself. He's going to be performing at The Americas Latino Eco Festival in Colorado this week. Because an arrogant reporter wanted to know Why, Rick decided this totally arrogant blog would be included on his list of the right places to respond.  (No, no, it's okay. It's not like I thought it was the ONLY place... Nope... I just need a minute....) 

And make sure to check back here for link details about tomorrow's #ChingonaFest Project Hangout at 2 p.m. EST. I've got exciting new segments planned, Rick's stopping by to talk about the Latino Eco Festival, and we've got four SIGNED copies of Almost White to give away live during the hangout. 

You're Welcome. 





Recently, a reporter asked me why I was going to be performing at the Second Annual Americas Latino Eco Festival in Colorado. Billed as the “the new shade of green,” this festival asks for all Latinos to fight for our planet and become leaders in the ecological movement within the Americas. During the interview, the reporter asked me, “Rick, I did my research on you and noticed you were involved in Latino issues, and diversity issues and Hollywood issues but not ecology, or the environment or any other green issues. Why are you getting involved? Why is ecology and our planet so important to you?” He said the last part as a dramatic ‘I got you’ inflection. As if I have decided all at once to care about our environment like I was some kind of green movement carpetbagger just looking for some Hollywood Swag. I thought about his question long and hard.  And this is my answer,

First off, like most Latinos I believe more in environmental issues than most cultures. In fact 93 percent of Latinos believed in global warming While only 60 percent of Anglos believe in Global warming.

Latinos also have deep conviction that acting as environmental stewards is part of their moral duty. More than 92 percent of Latinos polled in a Sierra Club study said they “have a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creations.” 94 percent of Latinos say that outdoor activities like fishing, picnics, camping and visiting national parks are important to them and their families.  Lastly Latinos are more affected by the environment

Asthma, for instance, is twice as likely in Latino children as it is in white children, according to an EPA study. Latinos live  in the environments effected by our pollution and lack of air quality.

“But Rick, what does this personally mean to you?” The reporter asked. Personally? I answer, personally I’ve seen our environment change first-hand during my own lifetime while growing up in San Diego. I remember the farms in Mission Valley, in San Diego, a chicken ranch down the street and even more farms littered up and down the coastline. I grew up with nature. I spent my weekends at the beach, feasting on freshly caught abalone. I trudged into the surf and sand with bonfires crackling in the background during summer night and gathered grunion. (A smelt like fish that came up on the beach to spawn.) I drove up and down along the coast in California with orange blossoms perfuming the air. For me, it seemed as if our world was a better, safer place back then. Now, the abalones have become rare and endangered. It’s rarer to find grunion as a kid, there were several creeks filled with crayfish, bullfrogs & all other kinds of aquatic life in my backyard. Those are all gone now.  As we enter in the second year of one of the worst droughts in California history, our state is becoming drier and drier. The Climate is changing. I’m seeing it first hand. Yes, It’s personal

I have personally added  new names and words to my vocabulary, words like: Fukishima, Katrina, Deepwater Horizon & Valdeez. Words I learned in my life time.  GMO’s, global warming, and cancer clusters.  New words new problems.  Now we have  Pesticides  that are sprayed on Genetic Modified produce, not just on farm workers, at an alarming rate, fisheries are being decimated, and more and more farms – the same places I remembered from my childhood – are being paved over in favor for the urban sprawl and profit. I remember drinking out of  cold mountain streams in the Sierra Mountains. I can’t do that anymore. It’s not safe.  And I don’t breath in air perfumed by orange blossoms anymore. I remember my childhood, and the nature I loved. That nature is in my culture and in my history. It’s in my blood and in my soul. Latinos have fought for the environment, and more importantly, we have worked in that environment. That nature is entrenched in each and every one of us. It’s part of our shared indigenous culture.

Why shouldn’t this Latino care? Why should we not lead this fight to save our planet?   In our  Latino culture, we have a belief that this world belongs to not one person or corporations  but all of us  and we are only stewards of this planet.

But most of all, It ‘s personal when look at my three children, and think what kind of world am I’m going to leave them? And that makes it very personal and this is why I’ll be in Colorado at the Americas Eco Latino Festival.  Because I’m hoping more people will begin to feel the same way.


Rick Najera will perform his one-man show one-man show based on his book Almost White at The Dairy Center For The Arts on September 13. On September 12, Rick will perform his Broadway show “Latinolouges”, including additional monologues with a green twist and featuring an all-Broadway cast. For tickets, visit here.


F-Bombs & 51 Things

Watch your back, Cinderella.

  1. I hate spiders.
  2. If all the Disney Princesses tried to take out Wonder Woman in a fight, I’d put money on Wonder Woman. Hands down.
  3. Real shredded coconut “tastes” like paper to me. Shut. Up.
  4. When I am out in public here in Maine and make eye contact with another minority, they give me the Nod of Acknowledgment.
  5. I always nod back.
  6.  Strangers can read anything I write. I’m not afraid of you judging me.
  7.  It took me a long time to get comfortable on my own blog to drop an F bomb. And look at you still reading, you naughty, naughty person, you….
  8. It was liberating as hell when it finally happened.
  9. Sometimes I have to pretend temporary amnesia when I write here & my column because now that my family knows what I do, the pressure is on, y’all.
  10.  I swear like a sailor but blush when people say that P word that rhymes with hussy (Hint: smartasses who try leaving comments containing that word will be deleted. Me and my virgin eyes can’t handle it, so don’t try it.)
  11. I'll be starting a podcst/Google Hangout session pretty soon.
  12.   I never got  pregnancy/labor amnesia. So we got a new puppy. Since my ovaries hate me I guess I don’t have to worry, anyway.
  13. Related? Only people without kids can say that raising a puppy is like having a child. We used to say it all the time. Then we had a child. All I’m saying is rubbing your kid’s nose in their pee spot on the carpet might not work out so well for you, so I’d advise against being stupid.
  14. I was 5’1? when I was 8 years old. My mother is 5,1?, which means I was wearing her pants in the third grade. Which also means I have only grown 5-inches in 27 years. Wow, that’s depressing.
  15. My mother brought me home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking.
  16. There’s a reason I prayed for a summer baby, y’all.
  17. I was left standing on my porch, dressed for the senior year Homecoming dance, with mascara-stained tear tracks in my blush, when I realized the high school friends who had invited me to “go stag” with them never showed to pick me up.
  18. I had my first kiss with my first boyfriend at 16 years old.
  19. I speak really good Spanish when I’m drunk.
  20. I never have time to get drunk.
  21. My Spanish usually sucks.
  22. My mother dressed me as a clown for Halloween one year and combed my Mexifro out into an afro and sprayed it to look like a wig. She must have done a really good job. I spent the entire Girl Scout party beating Brownies off my head as they all tried to yank my wig off so they could try it on themselves.
  23. I hate clowns.
  24. I had a reverse boob job when I was 24. The Husband looked like a proud new father when he told his friends that his wife’s former GG’s were now cute and perky DD’s.
  25. Eliana fit in one of my old bikini cups when she was born. (Like you wouldn’t have tried?)
  26.  You know that scene in the original Blade movie where the vampires are in the underground club dancing in wild abandon as the sprinkler system showers them in blood? Yeah…that’s the song The Husband and I were introduced to at our wedding reception.
  27. #26 was my idea. The Husband is still grateful.
  28.  I didn’t know MTV existed until I was 14. i also didn’t realize that our car radio played anything other than Mexican music or oldies stations. My social life? Sucked.
  29. I’m the oldest of five girls. The youngest two are 10 and 11 years younger than me, and Mom used to make me wake with the crying babies at night and still go to school the next morning.
  30. My mother is an evil genius.
  31. I hate it when people refer to how big my daughter is. She’s tall, assholes, not big. Can we talk about how big you are now? Oh right, that’s not polite.
  32. Milk makes me sneeze. A lot. Which makes me miss ice cream.
  33. Bananas also make me sneeze. Which just makes me weird.
  34. This is my third blog. The first two were me trying to write what I thought other people wanted to read.
  35. Are you still reading?
  36. My goal in life is to make it onto Graham Norton’s couch & the Top Gear track. I’ve got a think for BBC.
  37. I typo. A lot. Deal with it.
  38. I have ADHD and wish people knew that the condition doesn’t just mean I’m forgetful.
  39.  I homeschool and wish people didn’t assume that means my child is locked in a closet all day. We at least let her out for five minutes of sunlight every day. Twice on Sundays.
  40. I once yelled at my sister for closing the car windows with my fingers in them after I told her to close the window and left my hand there.
  41. I met The Husband online when online dating was still something to whisper about.
  42. I was the Mexican Princess Searching for her Prince.
  43. Chuck it up, people. Chuck it up.
  44. I queried 45 agents before I got signed.
  45.  My agent never saw my query.
  46. I'm single again and looking for a new agent.
  47. I’m Latina Magazine’s advice columnist only because I didn’t think I was going to get the job. Think about that one.
  48. I write first and think about sharing later.
  49. I never self-censor words that need to be written. I decide if they should be shared after. But I always write them.
  50. I choked on water once. In a cup. Sitting at the kitchen table. Yes, I am that talented.
  51. The End

Episode 1: ChingonaFest LiveStream Event



I'm going to start with the disclaimer. Front and center. Screw the fine print.

What I'm about to say includes a very famous name of a man who committed suicide earlier this week and with the world being what it is, I'm going to tell you right now that Robin Williams was not a coward, that depression is real, and that it's high-fucking-time we realize we can't stop talking about suicide prevention and awareness when the headlines fade away.

Because eventually, they will. The aerial video of his home, the conjecture, the theories, and inflammatory (and triggering) comments made by those who refuse to open their eyes to the reality so many of us live with -- all of it will stop when the next Media It Topic of the Moment proves itself click-worthy and the herd lose interest in chasing a dead man's shadow. And when that happens, because it will, the world will keep spinning even when the conversation stops until the next celebrity loses their own battle with the personal demons their too tired to fight anymore.

Rinse, lather, repeat, and a spin around the mulberry bush for good measure.

Meanwhile, we continue to lose our friends and out family members -- current statistics show that one person dies every 14 minutes) to suicide. That's unacceptable. In the Latino community, the statistics are terrifying.

According to the NAMI Multicultural Action Center, Latinos are listed as a definitive high-risk group for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. This Nami FAQ also states that:

  • Latinos are more likely to experience a major depressive episode with about 45 percent women and 19 percent of males affected
  • The Common Wealth Fund Survey revealed that surveyed Latino and Asian American girls exhibited more depressive symptoms than the African American or Caucasian teen girls.
  • And from a 1997 study, the rate of attempted suicide among Latino high school girls was about 1,5 times higher than that of their counterparts.

And yet, we don't talk. We don't reach out for help. Instead, we do as our cultural upbringings have taught us and that, my friends, is to pretend the bad things don't exist and sweep it all under the rug, lest we bring shame to ourselves and our families.

That shit needs to stop and for that to happen, that means we need to start talking -- and then not stop.

Tonight marks the premier #ChingonaFest Google + Hangout in just over an hour. (Shut up on the short notice thing. It's called Mexican Time and since I'm posting with over an hour to spare, you totally got an early invite.) Topic? Mental Health and the Latino Community. I'll be joined by Ane C. Romero, Sr. Legislative Assistant/ Mental Health Advisor at U.S. House of Representatives and Heiddi Zalamar, a licensed bilingual mental health therapist based in New York.

We may have a bit of a learning curve, but stick with me as I hit the ground running to take ChingonaFest to the next level. And stay tuned: If I can bribe The Husband into being my lackey, each livestream episode will be converted into a podcast the following week. For now, though, I'm concentrating on tonight. And lastly, due to the sentitive nature of this topic, I'd highly recommend anyone who may be triggered by the dicussion to take care of themselves first by watching The Travel Channel instead and, of course, by making sure the little ones are already chasing their dreams.

See ya soon!

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Carol Cain

 Welcome to WEEK 13 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama!

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies?  Lorraince C. Ladish made me look bad two weeks ago (but only because she looks so good and Elisa Camahort Page shined last week because that's what happens when you're Made of Awesome.

Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’s featured Chingona is …Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel.

 Cain is an amazing force on the internet, sharing her passion for discovery in food and travel on her award-winning site, Girl Gone Travel. Trust me when I say that if you aren't already following, that you should be.

And now? It’s time for the interview!


Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel


Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?  

Carol Cain: Chocolate…and a little nutty, like me.

 PC: And the tone of this interview is officially set. I like it. Favorite book and why...

CC: The Illiad because I first read it in college and was so engrossed by the story and how beautiful it told. There are tons of others: Like Water for Chocolate, In The Time of Butterflies, but that is one of my all time favorite.

PC: I love Like Water for Chocolate! I may re-reading that one soon. What's your favorite quote? 

CC: “It’s not that I’m fearless. It’s that I hate being afraid.” It’s actually my own, and a mantra I tell myself over and over to find courage when it fails me.

 PC: You are *so* #Chingonafest material. I KNEW it. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

CC: Ahhhh…loaded question. And, no. I suppose that others will, and have, thought I am because of my strong will, and confidence and outspokenness. But I am not much of a follower and I don’t really love labels, nor the expectations that they set for you. Though there are many feminists of color, I don’t really feel like the movement speaks for me and my lifestyle. That’s not to say I don’t support the women’s movement and female empowerment. I just want to be able to walk around barefoot  and pregnant while doing laundry and making dinner, and my husband supports me and my children and not get shit for it. I want to live my life however I please without having anyone tell me I am lacking in representing any group or movement. So I just don’t claim to and owe no one anything in exchange.

PC: *Nodding head* Sugar Jones had a similar answer in her interview. She basically said Yes, but as defined to suit her own definition. I'm down with that. And I get it, too, now that I am being referred to as a Latina feminist here and there. The label doesn't really fit, but it does sometimes and, oh hell...back to Why Carol Cain Kicks Ass, yes? Describe yourself in third person…

CC: Carol really hates describing herself in the third person.

 PC: I think we should have recorded this one and saved it for the podcast I'm eventually going to make happen. Points for perfectly timing that deadpanned response. Tell me, who inspires you?

CC: My mother. She was the strongest woman I ever knew. I wish I had time to grow into my own womanhood long enough to tell her that.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

CC: My children.

PC: I love how you share your family with us on social media. Every time I see your boys in a photo, I see their love for you in their eyes. And the kicker isn't sappy, which is surprising, because it *should* be sappy...which just makes it even more awesome. Right? Now...Do you dream in color or black and white?

CC: Color most of the time, but sometimes in sepia.

PC: Pretty sure the Sepia thing is a new one over here. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…

CC: Confident and brave.

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

CC: According to the media, there is only one kind of Latina…or two. She’s fashionable and really pretty and delicate and is an amazing cook and really sexy – without even trying – and just charming as hell. And Latinas play into that and it sucks. I'm an adventurous, tomboy, non-fashionista Latina.

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest…

CC: You can do it, and when you can’t it’s OK too.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

CC: Walking barefoot along the shores of Puerto Rico as a little girl.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

CC: English, my first language. Unless I’m angry…than it’s Spanish all the way.

PC: Right there with ya, sister. What's your favorite dish? Why?

CC: Rice and beans…with avocado salad. Yum.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough?

CC: For me I assume, cause really who gives a shit. And yes. I’m enough.

PC: BOOYAH, bitches. You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine. AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

CC: My mother. Sushi and Malbec because I so much to tell her!

PC: Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

CC: Ahh…that’s just you, girl.

PC: My mother always told me I was special. *shrugs* One Latina stereotype you despise?

CC: That we are sex-obsessed. That we all want to have children and get married. That we all know how to cook. That we all like fashion and heels and make up.

PC: Okay, I said one...but each single piece adds to the stereotype as a whole. I'll just shut up now. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

CC: That family is everything to us. For the most part, this is very true. Familia sobre todo.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

CC: With my family at home or traveling. I enjoy them so much.



And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Two besties made a bet on who I would say is right. For the record? They were both wrong.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to Don't worry. I promise to give you a kick-ass code-name that doesn't rhyme with your own.


Who likes Pretty Pictures? My art and #ChingonaFest related snazziness are available by clocking the following links:

Etsy - #MexicaninMaine

Etsy - ChingonaFest

Zazzle - ChingonaFest (make sure your filter is set to moderate because Zazzle says I'm a badass.)

Society6 - Pauline Campos

And because I like you so much...

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! 

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

#Chingonafest: When the Starfish Dreams

It's not glamorous by any means, but I spent Tuesday in my yoga pants and a tank-top -- one of those with a built-in shelf bra -- trying to beat the next power and internet outage. I had a #dimelo column to turn in and frankly, the internet connection was turning out to be a major pain in my ass. Write a sentence, save it (just in case), write a sentence, save it (and the power would go out). I was perfectly aware that emailing my editors on my iPhone to let them know I had no internet with which to work or turn in said work once I finally inched my way to the end looked about as solid an excuse as claiming my dog ate my homework in elementary school (when I only had a hamster), but the truth is usually amusing enough to remind me why I prefer to write non-fiction. In between power outages and working on today's language arts lesson with Eliana, I fielded questions from BlogHer newbies in the Skype-sponsored chat rooms (on my iPhone because No Internet, remember?) in my role as a member of the BlogHer Buddy System, responded to Facebook "likes" and "shares" showcasing my member news announcement (Can you believe it's been one year for my #dimelo column with Latina already?), made a note to remind myself I needed to share the news about hosting the #MultiCulti party at this year's event with Dwana Delacerna and Ananda Leeke (this would be the sharing of the news, y'all), and finally relented to the need for a bra when the time came to work out.

Eventually, the chats died down (because normal people sleep), the internet connection stayed connected long enough for me to actually hit send on the column, and my workout had left me stinking and satisfied. Eliana looked pretty smug, too, what with one of two book reports completed for the week and all.

There's plenty I didn't get to, mind you, so don't think I'm sitting here all waving my completed To-Do list in your faces...mainly because I didn't. I'm not even close, actually. My novel wast left untouched, the #chingonafest podcast brainstorming wasn't stormed, the blog posts I wanted to write and stash to keep myself from going insane in the next few weeks have been shrugged off for another day -- just like the columns I need to write before I leave for San Jose. Also left in the Fuck It (for Today, Anyway) List were the dishes still in the sink, the clothes in the laundry baskets needing to be put away, and I'm obviously not in bed by 1 a.m. again. There are errands to run -- quite a few of them, actually -- so I've informed Wednesday to be as agreeable as possible seeing as how Thursday is earmarked for another homeschool/work-at-home joint session. I've already decided the bra isn't going on until it' time to work out and getting dressed after my shower will mean putting on a clean pair of yoga pants and one of those tank tops with the shelf bra attached.

Somewhere in the craziness that is my everyday, I will find (read: make) the time to piece-meal added words to the novel, draw more Artsy Things because it turns out Other People Not Obligated by Blood or Marital Status consider me an artist of sorts, and if I'm really on track, I may even remember to list a few things in the etsy shops. I've got  suitcase to prep, business card to make for me and Eliana (yes, she blogs...on occasion), dog hair to vacuum up before the piles become puppies, another batch of homemade glittery paper to make with the child for this week's craft, and a #chingonafest chat to run. All of this I can do. Most of it will get accomplished, even if not exactly as soon as I plan for. I already know I will be reminding myself often that I'm only human and that 24 hours in one day are never enough to do it all. That's okay, too.

This is my Today and my plan for Tomorrow. I think my father would be proud and tell all his friends from both of the jobs he worked to support us all that his daughter became a writer, just like she said she would. "Ya did good, kid," he would say. Then he'd crack open another Miller Lite, take a long drink, and smile that smile he smiled when he was proud but knew neither one of us was good at getting all sentimental with the other so a smile -- just a slight dimpled smirk with an emphasis to the left -- a smile would have to do.

Tomorrow, (Wednesday, July 9 at 10p.m. EST) we talk about our dreams and how to keep our focus on what we know is good for our souls. We are not that far removed from the yesterdays lived by the previous generations when work meant putting food on the table and dreams were reserved for sleeping hours. Maybe our dreams aren't paying the bills just yet, or maybe they are and it's glorious. Either way, it's the making of the time to wish our dreams true on the topic list for #chingonafest.

Make sure you use the hashtag during the chat for a chance to win a signature Starfish necklace, courtesy of this week's official #chingonagfest chat sponsor, The Starfish Project. You also can earn one extra entry per sharing of this post via any and all social media channels as long as you leave a separate comment for each share containing the link. I'll add in two more entries in your name for signing up for my newsletter, The Tortilla Press, but only probably because it's late and I'm slap-happy. One winner will be announced on Friday via my newsletter, so be sure you're signed up!

Starfish Project is currently offering it' 50/50 Summer Sale, featuring 50 percent off orders of $50 or more, through July 15. Shop and feel good about your purchase. And don’t roll your eyes at me, y’all. The #chingonafest hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind it is universal. That means we all get to play together in the sandbox.