#ChingonaFest: The Backstory

Photo by Pauline Campos

As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well.I’m a mother now and my daughter is feisty and brilliant and wonderful. I want to raise her to be a Chingona the Mexican slang term for “bad ass bitch“. It’s a word steeped in history and controversy (and one you most certainly do not repeat in polite company or within earshot of your tios because Aye, Dios, y'all ), but it’s a word author Sandra Cisneros made a case for  in HBO’s Latino List, and one I've come to embrace. I want my daughter to grow up to be the kind of woman who respects herself and others, stands up for her ideals, and celebrates all that she is without feeling the need to apologize for it. Put in plain English, my end goal is for my girl to grow up to be the kind of woman the word  “bitch” is used as a compliment to describe. A real chingona.But this little chingona of mine isn't going to be the bitchy, self-centered, jerky kind, if I have anything to do with it. Instead, my goal is to raise m'ija to be the kind of hell-raiser that radiates sass, self-confidence, independence, and doesn't take sh*t from anybody...but in a totally respectful way. I want to raise a hell-raiser who is respectful of herself and others, yet stands up for herself and what matters no matter what anyone else thinks.I want my daughter to know she has a voice now and that what she says today matters so that tomorrow she won’t think to look for validation outside of herself. I want her to feel and recognize her own value because it took me far too long to realize there are certain things we can only find within ourselves. I want for her to understand that the village is probably doing something wrong, even with her best intentions guiding our every choice. And I want her to know she can speak her mind, even if what she has to say goes against the culturally accepted norm.So far, I'm pretty certain The Husband and I are on the right track. She's seven and has been proudly mismatching her entire wardrobe since she was two, perfected the side-eye around kindergarten, and has no qualms about telling you what exactly she has on her mind. I don't have solid numbers, but I imagine it's not an every day occurrence for field trip-tears and a mommy/daughter heart-to-heart to result in mami writing her Latina Magazine #Dimelo advice column about the exchange. The odds are probably a lot smaller that said column would result in the  creation of a community and podcast encouraging women to find and embrace the unique power of our voices while encouraging the next generation to do the same.

Through the #chingonafest hashtag and twitter, instagram, and Facebook accounts, I share sassy sayings (They say Chingona like it's a bad thing...) and empowering life-lessons with like-minded Latinas. The #ChingonaFest Fridays feature on Aspiring Mama is your primer to the Latina bad-asses leading and inspiring with their own brand of special -- and lemme tell ya -- there's nothing quite as liberating as finding your tribe and knowing you're not the only one dropping well-placed F-bombs into random conversation while bucking those pesky cultural norms. I'm on week 25 of the weekly feature and am proud of having featured inspiring Latinas such as BlogHer's Elisa Camahort Page and Lori Luna, #365feministselfie founder Veronica Arreola, and Latina Lifestyle Blogger Collective and national conference founder Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco. (To submit nominees for future #ChingonaFest Fridays -- and tossing your own hat in the ring is always encouraged -- just tag me on instagram or Twitter with the hashtag, or simply email me at chingonafest@gmail.com.) And the #ChingonaFest Project Podcast picks up where the Friday blog feature leaves off with plenty more Spanglish sass and interviews with Interesting People, Actual Conversation with fellow #Chingonas, and Interesting Content Very Probably Not Suitable for Sunday Dinners con la Familia.

Of course, this line of thinking is not just meant to empower mothers of daughters. Hell, you don’t have to be a mom to get in on this party, either. If you’ve got sons, you’re raising the boys who will become the men who will love the women our daughters will become. Teach them and guide them on their path and show them why there’s nothing better than a relationship in which both parties are equal partners.

No kids? No problem. You are an aunt, a prima, a friend, teacher, a sister. You are an inspiration and the motivation to work harder and do better and never give up. The next generation is looking to you just as they are looking to the rest of us. That makes you part of my village. If you are the kind of woman who takes BITCH as a compliment, welcome to the party.

(Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Welcome to WEEK 25 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 Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Ane Romero and  and Veronica Arreola from an Orphaned Earring 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.

Today’ featured Chingona is not afraid to say exactly what she’s thinking. And I’m not just saying that. Agree or not, you can’t help but respect the kind of attitude that makes Ana-Lydia Ochoa Monaco a true Chingona. Ochoa Monoca is a blogger and founder of the Latina Lifestyle Blogger’s Collective (and the conference of the same name). Connect with Ochoa Monaco on Twitter and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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anaochoamonaco

Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ana- Lydia Monaco: Can I get both…like a soft serve ice-cream…maybe dipped in chocolate and served on a waffle cone?

PC: – Okay there, J.Lo. I’m getting you’d be the diva telling the event managing team handing your concert venue that your dressing room is unacceptable and WHY THE HELL DID THEY NOT REMOVE THE GREEN M&Ms LIKE YOU DEMANDED, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE PEONS, AmIight? No, it’s okay. That  self-satisfied smirk on your face  i kind of a giveaway. What about your favorite quote?

AM: Before I tell you which quote it is, let me tell you how I became aware of it: I was having major problems work many years ago. My boss, using his small brain instead of his big brain, was promoting the laziest and less qualified woman in our team. Being the person I am, I noted his indiscretion and brought it up to HR. I didn’t back down. That helped me gain the trust of my client and the HR team, but major hate from both that woman and my boss. A few days later after venting with a dear friend about this situation, she mailed me a card with a magnet that had this quote printed on it: “Stand by your convictions, even if you’re the last person standing.” That magnet changed my life.

PC: You wave that diva card, Ana. But you should get it laminated if you’re going to be showing it off this often. No, you are welcome. I do it because I care. So, who inspires you?

AM: That’s a hard question to answer because my inspiration comes from many places, people, and the most random situations and things. Like right now. At this very moment I have The Voice playing the background and both my laptop and Princess Maya (my Boston) on my lap. Hearing the passionate voices of regular people pursuing their dreams inspires me. My husband working late while I’m at home pursuing my dreams inspires me to be the best that I can be to make him proud; and to show him that all his hard work is worth it.Having a mother that not only survived stage three cancer, the death of the love of her life (my father), cared for her mother that has Alzheimer’s (my grandma), and has gone through so much to raise four children in an upper middle-class family inspires me. The ocean breeze that wakes me up most mornings, the sound of the waves, the priest in my church, my young college colleagues, the future…all of this, and so much more, inspires me and drives me to do better.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

AM: I dream usually in black and white, but most recently my dreams are literally a

Technicolor rainbow of colors and sounds. Someone told me that the reason my dreams are so vivid is because I am pursuing my actual dreams.

PC: Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

AM: Thank you. Can I have another. :)

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

AM: Since I don’t biological kids, I hope that my stepdaughters realize that my advice and suggestions were given in the spirit in seeing them reach their full potential.

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

AM: You are going to hate me when I saw this, but I really despise Spanglish. Now that I got that out of the way, I promise to tell you this if you keep it a secret from my Real Academia Espanola-thumping family: I think in English.

PC: *blinks* I won’t tell anyone. No one reads what I post here anyway, so..um..I think you’re good. Also? I think in English, too. Unless I’m saying “pina colada or Antonio Banderas. Those come out with the accent whether I want them to or not. What’s your favorite dish? Why?

AM: I am proud foodie, and as such I could in no way pick a single dish. Although I can admit to this much: Truffle. Truffle on anything will make even toast and butter taste like the God kissed your tastebuds.

PC: I was wondering how long I was going to have to wait for a reference to Jesus appearing on a piece of toast. *crosses off bucket list* Do you feel “Latina enough”?

AM: My blog is called Cabeza de Coco. A little tongue in cheek reaction to something I have been called many times over: Coconut (Meaning, brown on the outside and white on the inside. Does that make a Latina or not Latina enough? Not sure. But it makes me me.

PC: I’m officially in love with you now. And I totally knew the coconut reference already. I’m married to one and raising another. We might not be “doing” the “being” Mexican enough part right for some people, but I’m pretty sure you’re my spirit animal so I’ll just hsut up now. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AM: Lick, lick, bite with my lips, and swirl in my mouth to make sure all my tastebuds explode with the yumminess of the ice-cream flavor.

PC: Oh, the SEO on this answer alone is going to be fucking fabulous. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AM: One? Only One? Thats hard. But, I will start with a big secret. As a Mexican-American, the stereotype dictates that I (should) love, breath and die by Mariachi music. As a Tapatia, Mariachi music should be the music to my soul. As me, plain ‘ol Ana Lydia, I feel nada, zip, not a tingle when I hear the stuff. I am not a fan.

PC: I’m not judging.  Also? I hate lengua. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

I will never forget when my my boyfriend (who is now my husband) told me that “Latinas are good wives.” My claws came out. “What do you mean?” I asked, as he listed every single 1950’s housewife stereotype: “They cook, clean, take “care” of their man.” I hate to admit it, but he was right…and it gives me great pleasure to do so.

PC: Are we the same person? Describe your perfect day.

 AM: In a perfect world I would wake up when my body told me to wake-up, not when the alarm buzzed or my husband nudged me to cook for him. We wake up together, shower together, everything we want to wear is found clean and wrinkle-free. I have a good hair day, my skin glows, I have every single make-up color I need and want. My makeup is flawless. My outfit? Perfect and on point. My hubby says I look hot. He looks mighty hot himself. We do everything together: Shop, cook, see a great movie, go to the beach and watch the sunset before heading back home to cuddle on the couch. (p.s. after typing this I realized that a perfect day has nothing to do with work – but has everything to do with my relationship.)

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week's reader asks how to handle the relationship she believes is hurting her. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

 

 

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

 

 

 

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 Fridays: Ane Romero

It’s WEEK 24 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with proud feminist Veronica Arreola  and this week, I'm (hopefully) back on track with a new interview! It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). 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's Featured Chingona is an amazing woman I met at the LATISM conference a few years ago when she spoke on a mental health panel I moderated. She is a nationally recognized and award winning mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer She received her B.A. in Political Science and M.P.A from New Mexico Highlands University, where she served as the first female elected Student Body President and was appointed to the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. Ane is trained and certified in suicide prevention through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and has provided training services for schools, communities, including on the Navajo Reservation. And if that's not enough, An also was crowned Miss New Mexico n 2005, she was crowned Miss New Mexico and competed at the national Miss America Pageant.

Check out Ane's blog and follow her on Twitter!

And on to the interview!

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Ane Romero

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ane Romero: Caramel. I’d eat a shoe if it was covered in caramel.

PC: And I'll call this proof that beauty queens like food. Hell, I'd eat a shoe covered in caramel. Probably why we get along. Favorite book and why:

AR: Oh, this is tough. I absolutely love books, but if I had to pick one it would be “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” by Henry Miller. It’s a series of short stories and essays about his philosophy on life and a book that I “grow into” as I get older and every time I go back to it I learn something new.

PC: Ya know? I think we need to start a ChingonaFest Book Club. Oprah's had her 15 minutes and ya'll make me want to pick up a new book with these great answers. What's your favorite quote?

AR: Some of my favorite quotes is a line from Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be Number 1” speech.

“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.”

To me it’s a reminder that when you do something with good heart, pure intention, and give your all—you will never lose even if you don’t “win.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AR: If wanting equal opportunity for women (or men) to live, lead, and fulfill their dreams makes me a feminist, then sure I guess I am.

PC: Describe yourself in third person.

AR: Well, in 7th grade my history teacher told my dad that I was a, ”firecracker” after I noted that I did not like the term “minority,” because to me it meant less-than and I was no less than anyone else in the room. Then again I was called this in college when I spoke out against the proposal to raise tuition. Some might say “firecracker,” but I like to think more “fireworks.” J Okay…I don’t think I correctly answered this question?

PC: No you sucked at it and it's beautiful because it's honest. I'm totally smiling now. Who inspires you? Those who have overcome adversity in their life and never give up on their dreams.

AR: Who is it you hope to inspire? I would hope to inspire youth, by letting them know just how important and valuable they are. I don’t think our society does a good job at appreciating young people and what they have to offer. I would also like to inspire others through my work in mental health and help breakdown the negative stigmas that often keep people from seeking help. As my former boss Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, says “there is no health without mental health.”

PC: I agree and this is such an important topic in the Latino community. Let's keep working together on this, yeah? But first, do you dream in color or black and white?

AR: Color and sometimes glitter…

PC: Glitter and caramel and word tangents. I do believe I'm in love with you. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

AR: Let’s be friends and do you have Instagram" (because you know any Chingona has a great Instagram).

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

AR: The depiction of Latinas has come a long way, but we still have much more to overcome. The day we have a Latina version of Olivia Pope or with a role as the President of the United States, then I will really feel like we have arrived.

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

AR: Empathy. I would want them to know that this quality will enable them to see the beauty in others and with that will follow an appreciation and respect for life.

PC: I think I'd like your kids. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

AR: The car broke down and so my mom had no other choice, but to carry me in the snow to the babysitter. As I wrapped my tiny arms around her neck I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of pride and love. My mom has and always makes the impossible possible.

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

AR: I think in “feelings,” if that makes sense? I always try to be conscious of my words, but sometimes nothing really captures the meaning like Spanish. I mean, try translating Mana’s song, “Vivir sin Aire” in English and all the umph just totally goes out the window, but in Spanish it’s a pure masterpiece.

PC: Kind of like "Sana, Sana Colita de Rana" makes no damned sense in English but in Spanish it's all MY BOOBOO STOPPED HURTING MAMA! Right?  What's your favorite dish? Why?

AR: My favorite food is a hot dog with mustard, but my favorite dish is fried papas (potatoes) with thinly sliced onions and red New Mexican chile. I love this dish because whenever I eat it, I know I’m home.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

AR: This is hard to answer, because I have never been anything other than Latina. Our culture has so many facets that you can’t just lump it all into one mix. I think that too many times there is this assumption of what “being Latino” is, but none of us who are Latino will ever fit neatly into a “box.” We are linked by a common thread, but I believe the intricacy of our culture is what really makes us who we are. So at the end of the day, I would say yes...even if there is so much more for me to learn.

PC: Wow. Ok, so Ane wins the Internet with that answer. Love it! 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?

AR: My great-grandmother Ane, whom I am named after. We would eat ribs from Silky O’Sullivans. I first tried these ribs on a trip to Memhis, TN and they were so delicious I literally got teary eyed. I would probably pair them with Capuline wine (choke cherry wine) and apple pie made from the apples in her orchard. I never got to meet her, but any time someone talks about her their face lights up. She use to play the harmonica and loved music. She and my great-grandfather built their house with their own two hands, which still stands today. She was independent, strong willed, admired, and respected. Being named after her, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to live a life that would make her proud to carry on her name.

PC: I want in on this meal. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AR: Hmm…I never really gave thought about it. Probably because if and when I do eat ice cream it’s usually annihilated in seconds.

PC: Especially if served in a shoe covered in caramel. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AR: All of them. Being from New Mexico I can’t tell you the absurd things I have heard whenever I travel elsewhere. The top one being, “what part of Mexico are you from.” The look of confusion on some faces when you note that New Mexico is a state is always classic. I once had to literally show a clerk where New Mexico was on a map, because she said the store could not accept “foreign” driver licenses as proof of ID. She called her manager, who immediately apologized to me. I laughed so hard I cried. J

PC: So I was in the the fourth grade when I realized New Mexico was part of the United States during a social studies report and I was SO mad. I'm still getting over it. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

AR: That we are all “great cooks.” I can’t cook to save my life, but if others assume that I can because I’m Latina, well then who am I to ruin their dream?

PC: Describe your perfect day.

AR: May 30, 2015. That is when I get married, so it doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by all the people you love…and cake. Oh how I LOVE cake!

PC: Is it caramel? And where's my invite? *winks*

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com 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 if she is aiming high enough with her dreams.

Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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!

 

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.

(The Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Veronica Arreola

 

It’s WEEK 23 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with Dr. Helen Troncoso and it was fabulous. Today, the Fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat once again. (And yes, for those of you who are actually PAYING ATTENTION, I backdated this post cuz FRIDAY but obviously it is NOT Friday. This is called Full Disclosure and probably has something to do with Using My Authentic Voice. You're Welcome.)

It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). 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.

Veronica is a a force to be reckoned with. By day, she runs a women in science & engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Research on Women and Gender and by night she’s a PhD student in Public Administration. I’m assuming that means she earned her veteran blogger stripes (and became a social media addict while doing the public speaking thing) when she should have been sleeping. Oh, and that #365feministselfie thing the entire internet is talking about? Yeah, Veronica founded that, too.(Of course, I’m posting the daily selfies because I like words that start with the letter “F”.)

And on to the interview!

 

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Veronica Arreola

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Veronica Arreola: Vanilla bean.

 

 

PC: So you’re a rebel and don’t like boxes, then. *nods head* Can you tell me what favorite book is and why?

 

 VA: This is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Oh wait, I only have one. Damn…still, you can’t ask a bookworm this.

 

 

PC: I should have seen that one coming. Okay, let’s go three for three. What’s your favorite quote?

 

VA:  “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” Bella Abzug

 

 

PC: Alrighty then. Um, and now for the obvious. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

VA: OF COURSE!

 

 

PC: Good. You had me worried there for a minute. Let’s talk about who you hope to inspire.

 

VA: My daughter. She is everything that I had hoped to have as a daughter. Smart, witty, strong, athletic, caring and with an eye on justice. It is an honor to be her mom. Watch out world!

 

 

PC: Sweet. When she’s old enough to say Chingona without getting grounded, send her my way, will ya? But back to you…do you dream in color or black and white?

 

VA: Technicolor. When I was a kid, I often got dreams and real life mixed up. I’d swear things happened and my mom would have to explain that I dreamt it.

 

 

PC: Why am I not surprised? Okay, so, let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

 

VA: VIVA!

 

 

 

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

 

VA:  Hijole! The sad thing is that I think of the awful representations first. SNL’s Cecily Strong’s continuing to play the ditzy Latina, Sofía Vergara’s Gloria on “Modern Family” is like a Latina Peg Bundy without Peg’s sharp wit and then there’s a new Latina character on “The Walking Dead” who looks to be drawn by a 13-year-old boy. ENOUGH! But then we go to the news part of the media and we see Latinas like Maria Hinojosa and Soledad O’Brien, who show our intelligent side. Thank goodness for America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson making movies with strong and intelligent Latina characters..or at least not a stereotype of a Latina which the rest of us have to dispel over and over.

 

 

PC: hmm..I see your point, but I also loved Peg Bundy. But it was probably the sharp wit thing. Anyway, NEXT! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

 

VA: To keep exploring the world.

 

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

VA: Hard to choose just one! Why do you do this to me, Pauline? OK, so my dad always had pick up trucks when we were kids. I loved riding in the back, especially when he didn’t have a cap on the back. It was heaven. I vividly remember my girlfriends & I tagging along while he want to the auto-part store. We piled in with my boombox, turned up the music and sang all the way there and back.

 

 

PC: Oh that makes me think of my Guelo’s station wagon and the seats that flipped up and telephone poles with signs with phone numbers for the “Yunk Yard.” *sighs wistfully* Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

VA: English

 

 

PC: Yeah, unless I’m drunk (and I mean like College Frat Party levels), I think in English, too. So what’s your favorite dish? Why?

 

VA: Cheese enchiladas con mole. My mom use to make the best enchiladas. When I moved out of my parents’ home, I started my now 20+ years of trying to replicate her recipe. No canned mole for my mom’s enchiladas. And since she died 11 years ago, my quest for that perfect recipe so my daughter has the same memories keeps me going. BTW – Anyone know where I can get some California Chile powder?

 

 

PC: Going out on a limb here, but California sounds like a good place to look. What? The door..it was RIGHT THERE. You can glare at me later. For now, I wanna know if you feel “Latina enough”?

 

VA: Not really.

 

 

PC: WHAT? You so NO and leave us hanging? That was just mean. Let’s see what you do with this one: Describe your perfect day.

 

VA: A warm day, full of sunshine, cool breeze, then climbing up a tree. I’ll find a comfy nook, then settle in to read a good book. These perfect days happened almost every day when I was a kid. Now I substitute biking to a park with my family. Still toting a book along.

HT: That we’re family orientated.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com 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 if her husband's lack of sexual desire for her means he's cheating on her.  Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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!

 

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.

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 Editor@Latina.com. 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!

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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.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com 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 dimelo@latina.com.

 

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 Fridays: Jessica Mazone

Welcome to WEEK 21 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 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 Editor@Latina.com. 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?

It's also important for me to mention the Chingonafest podcast Patreon Fundraising page. Think Kickstarter but for writers and you've got the basic idea. In order to get the podcast going on a regular basis, I need your help. With a minimum commitment of $1 per episode, you can help move our community to a a whole new level. Feel important yet? 'Cuz you are.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Writer and New York therapist Heiddi Zalamar and Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective  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.

Today’ featured Chingona is the talented woman behind Tejana Made Designs. She owes me a bitchin' hand-tooled leather cuff because we've been talking about one forEVER, but I'll let that slide for now and focus on why she's fabulous.

For starters, stop by her blog and read her latest post because she's talking about depression and divorce and pulling herself from out of the gutter that many in our culture pretend doesn't exist. Hats off to Mazone for speaking up on these important topics. Eventually, Jessica and I will get off our respective asses and officially release an official #ChingonaFest line of leather cuffs, but for now, we will just put the pipe dreams back on the backburner and get to that interview, shall we?

(Don't forget to check out the Tejana Made Etsy shop and follow Tejana Made Designs on twitter!

 

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Photo courtesy of www.tejenamade.com

#Chingonafest Project Interview Questions

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Jessica Mazone: Chocolate because it's a girls best friend

PC: This is why we are friends. Favorite book and why:

JM: Ooh...This is a tough one. I am a huge speculative fiction fan so I'm going to with Ink by fellow Latina Sabrina Vourvoulias. It is an exceptional book that discusses immigration, segregation, and rebellion in a Cybertech world. Plus, she has plenty of badass Chingona characters who have to save themselves.

PC: I think you need to assign my reading list, Ms. Mazone. What's your favorite quote?

JM: Right now...it's what my mom told me when we were discussing the Chingona cuff. I asked her if anyone had ever used that term in a derogatory way towards her. She said that it happens often  but she always answers the following way:

No creo....soy Chingona.

I am always answering this way from now on.

(I don't think...I *am* Chingona).

PC: Okay so this is probably an obvious question now but, do you consider yourself a feminist?

JM: Yes.

PC: I'd have bitch-slapped you had you responded with a no at this point. Describe yourself in third person.

JM: Opinionated, artistic, maker of leather things, and lover of embroidered cowboy boots

PC: Not really third person but I'm a week late publishing this 0ne so we will call it a draw. Who inspires you?

JM: The wonderful network of women I have met working online. Each and every one of them inspires and motivates me to be a better version of myself as cliche as that sounds. Even when I want to give up, they are there. A text or a phone call away to bounce ideas or just vent.

PC: Let's start a Chingonafest Textline. Cuz phone calls are just so..all-encompassing, right? But we can discuss that later. For now, who is it you hope to inspire?

JM: Students in the rural town I grew up in. I want them to know that the poverty we face there isn't permanent and that we are the key to reviving our communities. We have the tools at our fingertips and all we need is the desire.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

JM: Color because it's more fun.

PC: And you say that like it's a choice. Interesting....,Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

JM: Fearless

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

JM: I honestly believe that we need to relinquish the idea that one Latina can represent the meridian of Latina subsets in our culture. Even though we may have Spanish to unify us, it's regional dialects and cultural nuances are what makes being Latina so beautiful.

As a pretty assimilated Latina, I would like to see more characters who happen to be Latino instead of Latino being the character. Does that make sense?

PC: Hell yes, that makes sense. I've got that novel I'm working on. Maybe you need to be my writing coach and threaten me with bodily harm after I hit publish here. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

JM: Don't be afraid to go against the norm. It's not about pleasing me but finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are and utilizing them to create the career you want.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

JM: I lived on a ranch for most of my childhood and teen years so bonfires were one of those things we always did. We would sit in front of mesquite fueled fires that filled the air with a sweet stench that permeated your clothes and hair. We talked about our dreams, ff escape, of lost loved ones, and broken hearts. I actually miss it sometimes.

PC: Dude. I'm allergic to your childhood. Keep the mesquite the fuck away from me. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I'm just allergic to being Mexican. *glances up at the heavens* (Sorry, Guela!) But forget me. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish, Jess?

JM: English and Spanglish

PC *blinks*: Isn't that the same as Spanglish? No, don't answer that. What's your favorite dish? Why?

JM: Kung Pao Chicken. I don't get to eat it very often but I have this strange love affair with Asian  food... especially takeout.

PC: Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure the Chinese place we ordered from when I was a kid played did a Mexican hat dance every time we called with an order big enough to feed 20 of us from my sisters to my tios and cousins. Mexicans can put down some eggrolls, amiRIGHT? Anyway, do you feel "Latina enough"?

JM: Hell no. I don't speak perfect Spanish. I say y'all often. I would dare to say I'm too Pocho to be Latina. This break in my identity is what forced me to fully embrace my unique Texas Mexican...ahem Tejano upbringing.

I grew up as a ranchero, a vaquero, a cowgirl if you will. Complete with blingy butt jeans.

PC: Gimme a sec...

*Looks up "Pocho"*

*Laughs because this is about the time Jess is wondering why the hell her phone is asking her what Pocho means*

Girl, I'm not even a Tejana and I say y'all like it's going out of style. As for the blingy butt jeans, well...it's okay. We all have phases like that we'd like to forget. Although I'm going to go out on a limb and say that blingy butt jeans will never be as bad a fashion choice as sequenced Uggs on anyone over the age of 10. As for not feeling Latina enough...here's an eggroll. That should help.

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?

JM: Gloria Anzaldua, the author of La Frontera/Borderlands. She is an iconic Texas Feminist writer. Her words made me realize that it was okay for me to feel divided as a Mexican American.

For dinner we would eat some good old fashioned Ranch cooking. Cabrito Guisada, Tripas, and of course Mesquite smoked Fajitas with Fresh tortillas and aguacate con Chile Picin. I don't drink wine so an ice cold Budweiser would have to do.

PC: I'm both hungry and allergic to your answer. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

JM: I live in South Texas so ice cream meets a rapid death and most times I'm slurping it like an amazing chocolate soup

PC: I lived in Tucson for four years. I chewed my ice cream then, too, but I think that just makes me weird. One Latina stereotype you despise?

JM: The Virgen and the Malinche paradox. Essentially, it breaks down to the Virgin and the Whore and feeds the one-dimensional characteristics of the Fiery Latina sexpot. I'm tired of non-Latino men ask me if I'm a good cook and if its true that Latina women are there to serve. Apparently, I have to be a great lover, an exceptional cook, and look like a Salma Hayek/Sophia Vergara hybrid. No mama, that's just too much work.

PC: You got that right, sister, One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

JM: Strength. We have a silent strength that binds our families together and in my family it was the matriarchs who were the glue, the center, the sun.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

JM: Spending the day on a wrap around porch with a good book.

PC: Sounds beautiful. Any eggrolls left?

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com 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 dimelo@latina.com.

 

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!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I’ll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

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

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

Rinse. Lather.

Repeat.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Heiddi Zalamar

Welcome to WEEK 20 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 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 Editor@Latina.com. 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? Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective and Myrah Duque of Cupon Mamacita-fame, 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.

Today’ featured Chingona is good friend Heiddi Zalamar, a mama raising two boys to be chingones (because Obviously, right?). Zalamar is a licensed therapist and deals primarily with low-income families in New York, while simultaneously fielding text messages from me, because my own therapist was smart enough not to give me her cell phone number. Zalamar is also a writer, blogger, and the New and Unpaid, Totally Appreciated, Bad Ass Volunteer #ChingonaFest Social Media Manager. YAY, Heiddi!

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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Heiddi Zalamar

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Heiddi Zalamar: I prefer strawberry.

PC: Well, well, well, Senorita Sassy..,.Strawberry it is. So, what's your favorite book and why?:

HZ: I have favorite books at different times in my life. Probably one of my all-time favorites is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

PC: I obviously need to get out more. Or start a Pinterest board consisting of the ChingonaFest Book Faves, so I can at least feel slightly productive pinning the books I have yet to read. *sigh* Moving on...What's your favorite quote?

HZ: Ooh, I live by many quotes, but if I had to choose one it is “I can do all things with God who strengthens me.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HZ: Yes. I feel that I should be able to live my life and raise my kids without being required to repeat the same traditions just because my parents said so. I want to do things my way because I have good reason to.

PC: I think I'm making you a soapbox for Christmas. Describe yourself in third person.

HZ: Heiddi is an amazing, strong, resourceful woman who has a great heart, but doesn’t see herself as this wonderful person that others see. She has a hard time accepting her awesomeness and needs to remind herself often. Either with inspiring quotes or talking to her Chingonas.

PC: And I love your answer to that. We're here when you need us. Who inspires you?

HZ: You do, my love.

PC: *Blushing* You say all the pretty things, Heiddi. But who is it *you* hope to inspire?

HZ: Kids/teens like me who grew up thinking that no one was on their side. And other moms who need a boost in their self-esteem. And the whole world.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

HZ: Color all the way.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

HZ: Fest, Chingonafest!

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

HZ: I feel that Latinas can be a strong force in society if we can be united. Unfortunately, we are separated by whether or not we are US-born or foreign-born and class. As for the media, not all Latinas are cleaning women or sexy bombshells. Many of us do different things – therapists, social workers, teachers, lawyers, advocates, doctors, supreme court judges, etc that are NOT shared in media.

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

HZ: For them to know that they have the choice to live out their dreams.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HZ: I just shared this today with my co-workers, having crab picnics on my living room floor with my parents and younger brother. It was as much about preparing the meal as it was eating it.

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

HZ: 75% English; 25% Spanish – Mi Mami’s quotes tend to pop up often.

PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?

HZ: I already answered that.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HZ: Sometimes, I don’t. I feel like I don’t know enough about my heritage as a Boricua/Equatoriana. I also feel that I need to speak to my kids in Spanish more often.

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

HZ: Oh I let it melt.

PC: One Latina stereotype you despise?

HZ: That we can’t speak English. Pisses me the hell off.

PC: Tell me how you really feel...KIDDING! How 'bout one Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HZ: That we want to take care of everyone. Hence, my desire to inspire the world.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

HZ: My perfect day would have me on a sandy, white beach, my lounge chair at the water’s edge with an umbrella for shade and one in my drink. With my bff next to me and the kids with their amazing Tia Pauline. Ha!

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com 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 survive the familia holiday drama without losing her mind. go ahead...tell me you don't relate (without laughing!)! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

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!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I'll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

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

Forward, always. Together... stronger.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

  Welcome to WEEK 19 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 Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Myrah Duque and Nessi Montalvan from an Orphaned Earring 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.

Today’ featured Chingona is not afraid to say exactly what she's thinking. And I'm not just saying that. Agree or not, you can't help but respect the kind of attitude that makes Ana-Lydia Ochoa Monaco a true Chingona. Ochoa Monoca is a blogger and founder of the Latina Lifestyle Blogger's Collective (and the conference of the same name). Connect with Ochoa Monaco on Twitter and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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anaochoamonaco

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ana- Lydia Monaco: Can I get both…like a soft serve ice-cream…maybe dipped in chocolate and served on a waffle cone?

PC: - Okay there, J.Lo. I'm getting you'd be the diva telling the event managing team handing your concert venue that your dressing room is unacceptable and WHY THE HELL DID THEY NOT REMOVE THE GREEN M&Ms LIKE YOU DEMANDED, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE PEONS, AmIight? No, it's okay. That  self-satisfied smirk on your face  i kind of a giveaway. What about your favorite quote?

AM: Before I tell you which quote it is, let me tell you how I became aware of it: I was having major problems work many years ago. My boss, using his small brain instead of his big brain, was promoting the laziest and less qualified woman in our team. Being the person I am, I noted his indiscretion and brought it up to HR. I didn’t back down. That helped me gain the trust of my client and the HR team, but major hate from both that woman and my boss. A few days later after venting with a dear friend about this situation, she mailed me a card with a magnet that had this quote printed on it: “Stand by your convictions, even if you’re the last person standing.” That magnet changed my life.

PC: You wave that diva card, Ana. But you should get it laminated if you're going to be showing it off this often. No, you are welcome. I do it because I care. So, who inspires you?

AM: That’s a hard question to answer because my inspiration comes from many places, people, and the most random situations and things. Like right now. At this very moment I have The Voice playing the background and both my laptop and Princess Maya (my Boston) on my lap. Hearing the passionate voices of regular people pursuing their dreams inspires me. My husband working late while I’m at home pursuing my dreams inspires me to be the best that I can be to make him proud; and to show him that all his hard work is worth it.Having a mother that not only survived stage three cancer, the death of the love of her life (my father), cared for her mother that has Alzheimer's (my grandma), and has gone through so much to raise four children in an upper middle-class family inspires me. The ocean breeze that wakes me up most mornings, the sound of the waves, the priest in my church, my young college colleagues, the future…all of this, and so much more, inspires me and drives me to do better.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

AM: I dream usually in black and white, but most recently my dreams are literally a

Technicolor rainbow of colors and sounds. Someone told me that the reason my dreams are so vivid is because I am pursuing my actual dreams.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

AM: Thank you. Can I have another. :)

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

AM: Since I don’t biological kids, I hope that my stepdaughters realize that my advice and suggestions were given in the spirit in seeing them reach their full potential.

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

AM: You are going to hate me when I saw this, but I really despise Spanglish. Now that I got that out of the way, I promise to tell you this if you keep it a secret from my Real Academia Espanola-thumping family: I think in English.

PC: *blinks* I won't tell anyone. No one reads what I post here anyway, so..um..I think you're good. Also? I think in English, too. Unless I'm saying "pina colada or Antonio Banderas. Those come out with the accent whether I want them to or not. What's your favorite dish? Why?

AM: I am proud foodie, and as such I could in no way pick a single dish. Although I can admit to this much: Truffle. Truffle on anything will make even toast and butter taste like the God kissed your tastebuds.

PC: I was wondering how long I was going to have to wait for a reference to Jesus appearing on a piece of toast. *crosses off bucket list* Do you feel "Latina enough"?

AM: My blog is called Cabeza de Coco. A little tongue in cheek reaction to something I have been called many times over: Coconut (Meaning, brown on the outside and white on the inside. Does that make a Latina or not Latina enough? Not sure. But it makes me me.

PC: I'm officially in love with you now. And I totally knew the coconut reference already. I'm married to one and raising another. We might not be "doing" the "being" Mexican enough part right for some people, but I'm pretty sure you're my spirit animal so I'll just hsut up now. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AM: Lick, lick, bite with my lips, and swirl in my mouth to make sure all my tastebuds explode with the yumminess of the ice-cream flavor.

PC: Oh, the SEO on this answer alone is going to be fucking fabulous. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AM: One? Only One? Thats hard. But, I will start with a big secret. As a Mexican-American, the stereotype dictates that I (should) love, breath and die by Mariachi music. As a Tapatia, Mariachi music should be the music to my soul. As me, plain ‘ol Ana Lydia, I feel nada, zip, not a tingle when I hear the stuff. I am not a fan.

PC: I'm not judging.  Also? I hate lengua. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

I will never forget when my my boyfriend (who is now my husband) told me that “Latinas are good wives.” My claws came out. “What do you mean?” I asked, as he listed every single 1950’s housewife stereotype: “They cook, clean, take “care” of their man.” I hate to admit it, but he was right…and it gives me great pleasure to do so.

PC: Are we the same person? Describe your perfect day.

 AM: In a perfect world I would wake up when my body told me to wake-up, not when the alarm buzzed or my husband nudged me to cook for him. We wake up together, shower together, everything we want to wear is found clean and wrinkle-free. I have a good hair day, my skin glows, I have every single make-up color I need and want. My makeup is flawless. My outfit? Perfect and on point. My hubby says I look hot. He looks mighty hot himself. We do everything together: Shop, cook, see a great movie, go to the beach and watch the sunset before heading back home to cuddle on the couch. (p.s. after typing this I realized that a perfect day has nothing to do with work - but has everything to do with my relationship.)

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader asks a very serious question that makes me hope like hell he keeps me updated Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions todimelo@latina.com.

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

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. Stay tuned, because the podcast launches IN JUST A FEW DAYS! 

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

#ChingonaFest: The Plan

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This is why it always feels like I'm doing it wrong.

Life keeps happening & I can't keep up with it AND with work.

Chingonafest launches as a podcast early next week. I haven't formatted the new interview for the next feature. I'm nowhere near close to having time to figure out the next topic for the next podcast recording or firming plans with guests.

I haven't sent out a newsletter in months.

None of that matters because the apples are falling from the trees right now. Dinner must be cooked right now. The vacuuming needs to be done last week, but let's not get into semantics.

I have friends volunteering their time to help launch this community to the place I think it can reach, but I can't ask more than they already do. For their efforts, I am already grateful. For the support and enthusiasm of those already supporting #chingonafest, I am grateful.

I'm not giving up. I'm just reminding myself that I am one person & there are only 24 hours in a day. If #chingonafest is meant to go mainstream, it will whether or not I lose my mind trying or not, so I vote Stay Slightly Sane.

A #chingona may dream impossible things & may take on more than she should because saying no is not what we normally do, but she's going to go down kicking and screaming in an effort to make whatever dream she committed to become the reality she believes in.

Maybe we are hard-headed, but we don't walk away from that in which we believe. I'm finishing the apples. I'm doing the dinner dishes. I'm getting the kid into bed. And I'm grabbing this project by the cojones and

moving

the

fuck

forward.

Because that's the plan.

Raising a Chingona: Her voice (& Why it Matters)

Photo credit: Pauline Campos This girl.

She drives me insane.

Pushes every button.

Tries to work every angle.

Won't take no for an answer.

She's gonna be one hell of a #chingona one day.

But right now, my job is remind her daily that mama makes the rules and her job is to follow them. She can keep pushing. I don't want her to ever stop because that's the signal she's stopped believing in the power of her voice.

The goal is this -- and I tell her this often -- you can ask me why, but not until after you've done as you have been told. That shows respect and tells me you're still as smart as you think you are. Ask my why before and you're telling me that you're weighing you're options; trying to decide if not obeying is worth the consequence.

Mama's not playing that game.

And she gets it.

I know this because tomorrow, we will have this conversation again.

I look forward to it.

 

Update on the #ChingonaFest Project podcast: We're now shooting for early next week for the official launch of the first episode. Probably Monday or Tuesday. Until then, stay strong, my friends.

The ChingonaFest Pledge

Repeat after me.

I am...Redefined

I am a

Chingona.

A Hell-Raiser.

A Bitch who takes no offense when you call me

the very word hurled at me as an insult.

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My smile confuses

You.

My thanks steals

The wind in your sails and cools my

Cheeks.

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This is where I leave you,

Blinking and reassessing, only because

I don't feel like wasting my time waiting for you to figure out

I never needed anyone's approval

to

move

Forward

But my own.

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This is

My Journey.

As I define it

I define myself.

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I lay the foundation for

The tomorrow's during which

My sons and daughters

Will search for their own words;

Their own

Ways.  I am

A Chingona.

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I am not

Perfect. I am my own story

Being Written with Words

I

Choose

to use.

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Words Redefined.

Turns out...

I never needed

Anyone's approval but

My Own.

wondereliana

Permission Granted.

The ChingonaFest Project Podcast with Pauline Campos is coming. Hopefully maybe tomorrow. I run on Mexican Time, which means I'm usually behind of and ahead of myself, and usually at the same time. Stay tuned in by connecting with me on the ChingonaFest Project Facebook Fan Page, and on twitter and instagram because you love me. It's okay, I love you, too, in a totally We've Never Met But Would Probably Be Besties kind of way. Oh and all that art? It's mine. I'm on Etsy with my Mexican in Maine shop, but I'm holding the ChingonFest branded art for a lil' something special that involves me, you, the podcast, and community exclusives. *winks*

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Denisse Montalvan

Welcome to WEEK 18 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 purpose, Las 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 Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Myrah Duque and Jesenia the Comedic Actress 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.

Today’ featured Chingona is a saint of a woman I consider myself lucky to call a friend. Her name is Denisse Moltavan and she's the founder of the Orphaned Earring, an incredible non-profit benefiting Latin American orphanages. The premise is simple -- you send in your orphan earring and/or donate any unwanted jewelry pieces and Denisse turns them into new pieces like these to sell for The Orphaned Earring.

To be clear, y'all, this is what Moltavan does in her spare time -- on top of the 60 hours per week she puts in at her PR job. (I know, RIGHT?) Connect with Moltavan and The Orphaned Earring on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

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Denisse Moltavan

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Denisse Moltavan: Chocolate.

PC: OMG TWINS, right? Favorite book and why?

DM: Amor en Los Tiempos de Cólera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez has the ability to transport us to different ages and eras and make US feel like the main characters in his books. He did just that with Amor En Los Tiempos de Colera, so as a child my first love was the book character.

PC: My high school AP English teacher would have loved you. What's your favorite quote?

DM: “We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work” ? Thomas A. Edison

PC: Opportunity needs a new stylist. Or maybe a friend brave enough to tell her that the overalls are not doing her any favors. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

DM: No, I consider myself an independent woman

PC: oh SNAP. I think you tie with Vannessa for best answer to this question EVER. Who inspires you?

DM: Many successful “everyday” Latinos who have found their success through hard work such as Richard Montanez of Pepsi Co. and Tommy Thompson of Moroch/iNSPIRE. I’m also inspired by Malala Yousafzai.

PC: I need to up my game. I was gonna say I'm inspired by the BFFs in the world brave enough to tell their overall-wearing BFFs that they aren't allowed to leave the house until they've changed. Who is it you hope to inspire?

DM: I hope to inspire everyone around me to identify the opportunities to do good and take them! We all don’t have to have our own non-profits, we just need to train our hearts and minds to feel more compassion for others in the world and act on that compassion, just not be a spectator.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

DM: Both!

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

DM: BEAST! It’s fun to be a sexy beast, but chingona is the new sexy!

PC: That makes me the new Sandra Cisneros. I'll take it. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

DM: Not enough Latinas are highlighted for their accomplishments and intelligence. Latinas “make it” in media if they are very sexy and dress sexy as well. I’m not only referring to general market media, our Hispanic media puts so much pressure to being beautiful and sexy on TV that the rest of the world thinks that that’s all we have to offer.

PC: I knew I liked you for a reaon... Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

DM: You must show God’s love and mercy with others by helping and caring for them. People will be able to see God’s love through their actions.

Everything is possible, everything has a solution and the worse others can say to us is NO, and that’s not a big deal.

PM: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

DM: Being at the baseball field watching my daddy play every weekend, he was my childhood hero

PC: I like your dad. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

DM: I think in Spanish at home and with friends and English at work.

PC: That sounds entirely like way too much work. What's your favorite dish? Why?

DM: Fritanga which includes red beans and rice, carne asada, tajadas verdes, ensalada de repollo, queso frito

PC: Bless you. Why am I suddenly hungry? Also, Do you feel "Latina enough"?

DM: Yes, very very Latina.

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

DM: Nope, I take a bite, hold it in my mouth and let it melt.

PM: Patience, young grasshopper. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

DM: That we are nurturers.Screen-Shot-2013-07-11-at-6.09.16-PM-e1375409462117

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me 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 handle a competitive best friend. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

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 Fridays: Myrah Duque

Welcome to WEEK 17 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 purpose, Las 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 Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Jesenia the Comedic Actress and Vannessa Vasquez 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.

Today’ featured Chingona is too fancy for a last name. She’sMyrah Duque, otherwise known as Coupon Mamacita (or Mamacita! with in italics and with an exclamation point, if she's feeling sassy)...Duque is a wife, mother, former realtor and PTA President and if you read her about page on her blog, she's been an "etc." three times. That last one sounds important.

Duque set 0ut to live frugally after watching a TV show featuring a woman who paid $10 for $200 at a local store with extreme couponing. Turns out Duque has a knack for what she refers to as her "frugal passion-venture", which, by the way, she happens to share in English AND Spanish. Duque, who has been featured on NBC Latino, Latina.com (a personal favorite.. a*HEM*), among others, is one busy lady.

So let's get to that interview.

 

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Myrah Duque

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla? 

Myrah Dulque: Vanilla

PC: I like a woman who gives a straight answer. Favorite book and why:

MD: "Remarkable Courage" by Deb Cheslow. This book's message transformed my negative "I can't do that" attitude to a permanent daily POSITIVE attitude.

PC: Come to think of it, you are pretty perky. It' a wonder I haven't felt the urge to slap you yet. What? Why the shocked face? Most perky people drive me up a wall but you? I like you. So... let's talk about your favorite quote. Spill it, sister.

MD: "Fake it till you make it."

PC: *Nods head* A perennial favorite amongst these parts. Describe yourself in third person.

MD: She overcomes difficult barriers. She is strong. She is influential.

PC: Ohhhh you're gooood. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

MD: STRONG MAMACITA!!!

PC:  You sassy minx, you. I think I just fell in love with you, Myrah. Do you dream in color or black and white?

MD: Color

PC: Shut the front door! Me, too! But let's get serious for a minute. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media? 

MD: Latinas are strong, open-minded mamacitas! We are underrepresented and misrepresented, however that is rapidly changing with the growth in roles social media, fashion, politics, entertainment, sports.

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

MD: The sky is the LIMIT! NEVER, Ever, EVER give up!

PC: Okay, perky and...and yet...I still don't wanna slap you. Maybe it's the chingona mixed in with the perky that totally make me just wanna ply you with alcohol to see if I'm right, cuz I bet you swear like a sailor when you drink. NO! Don't say a word. Let me just hold on to the dream for a moment here. Tell me about one childhood memory that has stuck with you...

MD: Relocating to NYC's Spanish Harlem from Santo Domingo at the age of 6.

13 - Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?  Spanglish

MD: Spanglish.

PC: Me, too, Mama. What's your favorite dish? Why?

MD: Sancocho Dominicano, it's synonymous of Family gatherings, Family Love.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

MD: Oh yes! To the bone!

PC: 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?

MD: Hillary Clinton. A nice lavish Sancocho Dominicano with tostones and aguacate! Wine: A tasty Merlot since the sancocho I like has 7 different types of meat in it. Why Hillary? She inspires with her strong, courageous, tough character, leadership skills, handling the Monica Lewisky scandal, who won’t walk away from what is truly important to her.

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

MD: Chew ice cream? Say What??

PC: Watch it, sister. I chew ice-cream always. I think it's a rule. Anyway, one Latina stereotype you despise?

MD: That we are all dark skin. Look at me: Fair Skin, BLonde, blue eyes DOMINICANA. We come in all skin colors

PC: One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

MD: EL Baile! We hear music, we are moviendo la colita!

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. This week's reader is 20 and dating a 45-year-old and SUPRISE....mami is NOT happy. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

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

First Star I See Tonight...

"Do you know why I'm sad?" I asked her when she looked t me with those eyes of hers.  "No, mama," she said. "I just want to love you." I had plans today. Lists and To-Do's are part of my every day. Without a list filled with items one would expect to see of a freelance writer and mother, the utterly mundane fills the majority of the space. Even if I spaz and never get to the important stuff, I can at least feel like I got something done because sometime anything is better than nothing.

Sometimes I make it through the mundane. I brush my teeth. I workout. I shower. I get out of bed before breakfast becomes lunch and lunch pushes dinner into the bedtime.

And I delete as I move through my day, only to replace the item just deleted with four more reasons I'm never going to catch up with myself. If you're new here, I'm severely ADHD, which can be easily confused with bipolar disorder. I swing up and down with highs and lows, only to a lesser extreme, than a bipolar person. For me, depression has been an on and off and off an on part of my entire memory.

Today, between fielding calls from my mother in Michigan about her basement flooding and learning of Robin Williams' apparent suicide, I stopped moving forward.My kid and I ended the day with her reading to me from a fairy poetry as we snuggled in her bed. She had no idea why Mama was crying, but she didn't need to know and she didn't even ask. All she asked was for me to get into her bed because she wanted to love me.

My heart hurts. People will talk. They will guess and discuss and no one will walk away knowing more than they did when we learned Robin Williams has died of an apparent ssuicide. Some will say he took the easy way out. That he was a coward. That he was selfish for hurting those he left behind. None of this is true. His family and friends are lost in grief. The world will mourn the loss of a genius who made us laugh to distract himself from his own pain. The only lesson is that sometimes even the brightest stars aren't capable of recognizing the very light that keeps the darkness at bay for the rest of us.

When I was in college, I was hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn't hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.

Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home.

Suicide is steeped in stigma and misunderstanding. Those who keep their pain so secret that a suicide attempt shocks even their closest confidants are the ones who the judgmental will refer to as selfish for not thinking of the loved ones left behind. Remarks will be made about if how they'd really been looking for something other than the easy way out, counseling probably would have been a fantastic idea.

And then we sit and wonder why so many suffer in silence when the answer is staring us straight in the face: it's not that not one single suicidal person has ever felt the need to call out for help. I was one of them. The problem, my friends, is that when we're so down that we honestly think we are doing the world a favor by ridding you of our presence, you tell us to cheer up, snap out of it, and expect the despair trapped inside of our heads to instantly be replaced with rainbows and unicorns.

That's not the way it works, but we know you don't understand. So we smile and nod and try to act like everything is okay because it's supposed to be. We have friends and family who love us or a great job or just graduated as valedictorian from high school. We're not supposed to feel like going to sleep and never waking up is a solution. For those of you who do not understand, I am glad. The kind of despair that led Robin Williams to his tragic end is not is by no means the fault of the depressed, nor is it a choice to be made. Depression just is.

And that fucking sucks.

Robin Williams' death has everyone talking. And a huge part of this conversation needs to focus on more than the often-mentioned connection between creativity and depression. My friend and suicide prevention advocate, Cristi Comes from Motherhood Unadorned, reminded me when she said that while she understands the media coverage surrounding Robin's death, the conversation simply cannot be dropped. Every fourteen minutes, we lose a loved one or a friend to suicide. To honor their memories  and keep the conversation going - I invite you to submit their name(s) here by emailing me at aspiringmama@gmail or tweeting me with your message at @pauline_campos. As soon as I am able, I will add a linky.

Don't Stop Talking.

1. Libano Castro, Father. 139-2002. Submitted by Joy Castro

2.  Martin Aguero, Friend. Submittted by Claudia M. Elizondo

3. Matthew Cox, Friend. Submitted by Christopher Ortleib

4. Wendy, aunt. submitted by Aubrey Ortega

5. Jeremy, friend. Submitted by Aubrey Ortega

Hug your loved ones. Hug yourself. Reach out, please, for help, before you try. Call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 . If you need to connect or just talk, I'm here. Tweet me. Email me. Aspiringmama@gmail.com.

Just don't close your eyes to your own light.

 

#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 Editor@Latina.com. 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!

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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 is..it 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.

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com 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 dimelo@latina.com. Don't worry. I promise to give you a kick-ass code-name that doesn't rhyme with your own.

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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.*

Man V. Food Star, Adam Richman, Tells Woman to Kill Herself

This would be the first domino to fall. 'Maybe he just didn't know." The Husband said to me. "No one can blame him for... Oh wait. Never mind."

As soon as he got home from work, I told The Husband to go online and Google the name of one of our favorite Travel Channel hosts. We're kind of on the crazy-strict side of what television shows we allow Eliana to watch, what with all the crap on TV these days, but we seem to have hit a consensus on our TV-happy place with many shows on the Travel Channel, including host Adam Richman and his show, Man V. Food. While we can't eat most of the food he consumed on the air (we are gluten-free due to Celiac and allergies), we still watch. Richman's energy is infectious, making him a natural in front of the camera.

Very recently, I saw Richman featured in a commercial and stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Richman, who had filled out during his time traveling the country in search of various restaurant food challenges, looked a different person entirely, having shed some 60-pounds. A Men's Health article describes the weight loss as "taking control over his own body." I don't know Richman, but I was proud of him, and I told The Husband as much. I couldn't wait for his new show to air.

"This is bad," The Husband said, glancing away from the computer monitor. "He didn't just burn a bridge here. He blew the damned thing up."

I nodded. I can't see anything good coming when a television personality tells a woman to kill herself in response to her comments regarding the #thinspiration hash-tag used by Richman in a post celebrating a too-big suit. Richman was understandably unaware of the dangerous connotations associated with the tag. It seems harmless enough -- take inspiration and add the "th" at the front of the word and show the world that eating right and getting active does, in fact, work. (I'll save the Thinness and Health conversation for another day). I get why he used it, honestly, I do. But the fact remains that the term is laden with dangerous undertones; it's the tag used by the eating disordered in pro-anorexia ad bulimia forums to cheer each other on. So an instagram follower commented on the post and asked him to please refrain from using again. If I'd seen it, I admit I would have done the same.

Remember, this is cute and cheerful, seemingly lovable Adam Richman we're talking about here. Who knew he was a Complete and Total Asshole?

Richman's responses (which have since been deleted) , however, may have been his undoing, already resulting in his new show being pulled "indefinitely" by the Travel Channel.

 

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 Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

And suddenly I'm inside my own head. I'm a college sophomore student home for the Christmas break holiday. I haven't told my parents I'm on the brink of failing out. My friend and sorority sisters are tired of my drama and antics and if they haven't already was hands of me, they are about to. I know this because of the letter I'm holding in my hands. My mother said it arrived with the mail earlier that same day, which mean it was sent from campus and intended for me to read alone and without  chance to respond. The words on the paper are blurry because I'm crying too hard to focus, and yet, I've somehow managed to keep the letter from getting wet as I sit in the tub, cocooned up to my neck by the weight of the piping hot water.

I had been hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn't hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.

"If you really wanted to kill yourself you'd be dead and if you really had an eating disorder, you'd be a hell of a lot smaller than you are right now. All you are is a drama queen looking for attention."

Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home. Not too much time passed before I found myself with a letter sent to me by a "friend" and "sister" from the sorority I used to belong to.

With the letter in one hand, I kept reading those words over and over. I had the razor in my other. Maybe she was right. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. Maybe I was still eating to much. How many calories did one apple have? And one slice of cheese? That's all I allowed myself every day. Anything over that, I punished myself by purging until my throat was raw and I was empty again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the hospital and just waited to disappear.

Or maybe not.

Maybe she's wrong, I thought. Maybe I'm here right now because I got pissed off about being labeled and misjudged and knew I had to put the razor down if I was going to do any good in writing, sharing all of my experiences, and showing this bitch just exactly who she was dealing with.

I survived because I was told I wouldn't. I kept going because someone told me to stop living. Anger and stubbornness are what set the razor back where it belonged in the tub. Growth and the desire to help those who are currently where I've been are why I'm writing the words you see here. Fuck Adam Richman and his close-minded vitriol. Fuck suicide and eating disorders and self-hate. Fuck all of it and Richman's "apology." Because words can't be taken back, especially once they've been given shape and weight after having been written.

Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

Richman showed his true colors in this exchange and may have ended his television career in one fell swoop. I wonder if he's even begun to grasp the severity of the situation or if he's still convinced he did no wrong here. But then, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? What does is speaking up and speaking out in an effort to reach those depressed enough to harm themselves and letting them know that someone gets it. That someone understands. That someone cares and will, without a doubt, miss them -- sopleasestayalive.

Maybe Richman just didn't know. Maybe he just didn't care. Either way, the rest of us who do care are going to keep trying to pick up the broken pieces left  in Richman's wake. I'm not fooling myself into thinking anything written on the subject at hand is going to change his mind, nor do I believe any and all apologies on his part are actually sincere. Instead, it's time to focus on the silver lining.

#eyesontheprize #victory #anythingispossible.

Yes, Mr Richman, anything is possible. There are those of us who will continue to speak up in the hopes of helping the eating disordered recover and remind the suicidal that they do matter to those who need and love them. Feel free to sit this one out, Richman. We're doing just fine without you.

Find out the warning signs of suicide and how to get help:

If you're thinking about suicide or know someone who is, get help now. Not sure what signs to look for if you're concerned about a friend? Here's a list of warning signs from the You Matter Lifeline website:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. Dial

1-800-799-4TTY (4889) for those with hearing or speech impaired with TTY equipment.

#ChingonaFest: The Hyphenated Tightrope

 

 

I grew up in the burbs with my (very stereotypically) large family being the only interaction I had with Mexicans not standing on the other side of the looking glass. If you had a tan and an accent, you must be related to me. Respect for our elders drilled into our heads since birth had us referring to any adult our parents' age or older as Tia or Tio, which, quite honestly, only confused us even more.

Suffice it to say, sometimes I forgot I wasn't white. The moments were few and fleeting, but they were there. And they were obvious. As a 15-year-old, I nervously told my dad about the cute boy at work who asked me on a date and my father simply replied by asking what he was.  Italian and French-Canadian, I told him. My dad looked at me. "So he's white." It wasn't a question. It took me a minute, y'all. I just stood there blinking until I realized that Oh RIGHT...I'm not.

Or whenever there's family drama and I'm mad-texting BFF Mel about whatever wedding, milestone party, or funeral (generally the trifecta of Latin Commandments for Your Ass Had Better Be Showing Up No Matter How Much the Plane Ticket is) her response to my And then She Said's is usually a tired yawn and a sleepy giggle. Then she asks me why we bother to put ourselves in those situations to begin with.

"When white people don't like each other, we just don't talk to the people we don't like," she said during a trip home for a wedding a few years back. "It's hard to feel sorry for you, babe." I gotta admit, I really didn't have a snappy comeback. It's hard when what she said made so much sense. Not only had we walked right into a stressful situation willingly, we paid a whole lotta money to do it because doing otherwise had never even occurred to us.

And there it was again: Not White. See Also: White People Veggies, a crazy-good side-dish consisting solely of California Blend veggies baked with a metric ton of Italian dressing, which Mel served up to the obviously easily impressed.)  If looking up cultural dictates in a dictionary, the See Also would include additional il' bits 'o' wisdom like:

  •  Spanglish Guilt Trips are legendary. See Also: Final scenes in Real Women Have Curves.
  •  The fact that your Abuelo's dog was named Come Cuando Aye is actually still funny to you as the grownup who refers to her dogs as her furbabies, mainly because you know your Guelo loved that dog.
  •  You're birthday parties as a kid weren't themed, didn't have balloons, and no one needed an invite because the guest list is made up of people who've been grounded with you or used to change your diapers.
  •  You were raised to say "Todo esta Bien" (even when it isn't) when anyone asks how you happen to be esta-ing, especially if we swap our normally Whatever Guacamole (read: fork plus salt plus avocado = done!) with the fancy version with cilantro and pico de gallo whenever they come over for dinner.
  •  Never speak publicly about that which is better saved for the Sweeping Under the Rug thing. Except for that family wedding you're going to next week. Everybody knows the bride is pregnant and everyone will continue to nod and smile when the baby is born six months early, weighing 8 lbs, and give Gracias to Dios for miracles such as this one.
  •  Family comes first. Always. And family means everybody your Anglo buddies usually refer to as extended family.

I love my cultural identity -- hyphen and all -- because I am as American as I am Mexican (and both by my own definition, thank you very much), but I'm also a realist in the sense that I am not afraid to address the good with the bad, which in this case, oftentimes just means outdated thinking. As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well. Remember, I'm the girl who responded to my now-husband's pre-engagement request for my choice in band color for my ring by telling him to get me yellow gold, not because I liked it, but because that's what my family wore.

Maybe things wouldn't have changed if we hadn't moved from out of state, removing us from the familial (and related self-imposed) pressures. but they did change because we didn't stay. Removed from the filtered reality I grew up in, I was wide-eyed and full of wonder when I started to realize the freedom and purpose that come with thinking for myself. When I became a mother, my daughter's future became my present-day reminder to raise her to always know what it took so many of us so very long to learn for ourselves.

Tomorrow, (Wednesday, June 25 at 10p.m. EST) we discuss keeping our balance on the hyphen between our two cultures and remind each other that it is entirely possible to honor who we are now while still holding on to where we came from. I'd love to see you join us for the weekly #ChingonaFest twitter party at 10 pm. EST. The hashtag, obviously, is #chingonafest. Don't roll your eyes at me, y'all. The hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind it is universal. That means we all get to play together in the sandbox.

Now... rinse, lather, and repeat.

#ChingonaFest: The Starfish Project

  Image credit: The Starfish Project

I have a story to tell you about a starfish.

Well, a lot of them, actually.

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The Starfish Project is a socially responsible business providing exploited women in Asia with alternative employment and a chance to heal and grow through counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education and grants, and access to health care and housing in their dedicated shelter. As of 2013, the Starfish Project has grown to support 50 women, allowing them to provide for their families through meaningful employment creating stunning pieces of jewelry.

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Starfish has expanded it's business model and holistic care program, expanding into poorer locations to reach more women by opening two more branches of the Project. As of 2013, the Starfish Project now operates and offers care and employment to exploited women in three different cities in Asia, committed to restoring hope for them and serving as a beacon of hope with the change they represent.

A very worthy cause, you think. But what the hell does this have to do with #ChingonaFest, you think.

I'll tell you.

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I founded #Chingonafest as a means to encourage Latinas to embrace our own voices in the face of a culture which dictates we conform, keep our thoughts to ourselves, and always put the needs of the many before our own. It's about female empowerment and finding the strength within to stand up for ourselves no matter what. Chingonafest is here because you made it happen, and it will continue to grow because you continue to make it happen. A Chingona knows that in lifting up women in need of support, regardless of culture, we make ourselves stronger. The hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind the hashtag is universal. Tonight's #chingonafest chat is about all of this and so much more.

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My BFF, Heather Jackman, recently joined the Starfish ranks in the role of Director of US Sales & Operations, and I can't even begin to express how proud of her I am. Heather is a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse who has supported Starfish long before packing up her belongings and moving from Tucson to Indiana  -- where the US offices are located -- with her new husband just recently. Tonight, Heather will be representing the Starfish Project as our featured guest.

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The Starfish Project has graciously offered one lucky winner one of these beautiful necklaces. To enter, you must follow Heather on twitter, a well as The Starfish Project, and Chingonafest (from which the chat's main tweets will be generated) And, while not required, I encourage you to sign up for the Starfish Project Newsletter, and shop their selection. If you see something you love -- and I think you will -- I invite you to take advantage of the Starfish Project's sale, offering free shipping on orders $50 or more.

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I hope to see you tonight from 10-11 p.m. EST. Don't forget to use the #chingonafest hashtag.

As Latinas we must work against the tide to force positive change for ourselves, as well as for our daughters. As women, the mission is the same. The only difference is the size of the playing field.

#Chingonafest Fridays: Pauline Campos

Welcome to WEEK 10 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 Editor@Latina.com. 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? Juliana Maulanda and Lisann Valentin 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. 

 

Today’s featured Chingona is ....me.

 

Yes, I realize this smacks of All Things Self-Centered and Self-Serving, but if I tell you that it's my kid's birthday week and that her party was today and I decided to say Sure, Princess! when she asked for homemade coloring books as her party favor, and that The Husband and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning manning the two-person hole-punch & ribbon line while the cupcakes cooled enough to frost, you'll understand the reasoning behind turning this week's Chingonafest into a dual anniversary celebration for my role as Latina Magazine's #Dimelo advice columnist. You'll also pretend to not notice I'm posting a regular Friday feature on a Saturday night because, yaknow, Motherhood.  It's either now or never, which is also why I'm mentioning the Speaking at BlogHer '14 Thing for the first time on the blog. It's time-management at it's finest.

 

My mad self-promotional skillz are mind-boggling, I know.

 

Don't feel bad if you didn't buy me a present. I didn't even know I missed it until LinkedIn started sending me congratulatory notifications from friends with better observational skills than my own. I probably owe myself flowers.

 

After I put out, that is. For now, though, let's get to that Talking to Myself thing.

 

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Is a caption really necessary?

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Aspiring Mama: Chocolate if it's a shake. Vanilla if it's ice-cream.

PC: Neurotic much? Wait, don't answer that. Describe yourself in third person instead.

AM: Pauline Campos is neurotic, has a weird thing with ice-cream, including the need to chew it even if it's plain vanilla, and thoroughly enjoys arguing with her DNA over her love of snow-shoeing. She's also the founder of #chingonafest and ha that column where she tells people what to do on life, sex, and cultural drama topics. to Oh, and her favorite days are the ones where she gets paid to give solicited advice from the comforts of her couch without ever having put a bra on.

PC: Weirdest. Mexican. Ever. It's like Freaky Friday but with better dialogue. You do realize there's a poor Swedish guy somewhere trying to figure out why he felt smug about knowing who Ricky Martin was before General Hospital served as his crossover to mainstream, right? No, don't answer that one, either. Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

AM: Color. I don't remember most of them, but when I do, it's all kinds of High-Def in there. Also? Re-read your last question to me. Now who's the neurotic one? *blinks* Wait, never mind.

 

PC: You see my dilemma, then. Carrying on...Do you feel Latina enough"?

AM: I'm allergic to eggs, dairy, corn, yeast, gluten, and a bunch of other crazy stuff. What do Mexicans eat for breakfast? Whatever we had for dinner last night scrambled with eggs, wrapped in a corn tortilla, and washed down with Cafe con (a fucking-lot of) Leche. This makes me allergic to my childhood and probably the world's worst Mexican.

Of course I feel Latina enough.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

AM: FEST!

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AM: Only if I don't have to burn my bra. Triple D's take precedence over social and political ideals.

PC: I'll second that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AM: I'm English-dominant now, but as a kid I know I wasn't aware of when I switched between languages. Now? I'm so concerned I'll pronounce something wrong in Spanish while sober that I think I'd benefit from an AA meeting and a sponsor prior to any events where my Spanish-speaking skills are a requirement. Also? Spanglish is my national language.

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

AM: Seriously?

PC: Okay then. Moving on. Favorite book and why...

AM: Right now it's Rick Najera's Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. It's so much more than an exploration of Latinos and how we are represented in the media. I've been recommending it to writing friends of all backgrounds...because it pertains, dammit. And no, I wasn't paid to say that.

PC: You don't get paid for a lot of shit on this blog. But following up to your last answer, how do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

AM: It's equal parts a bullshit and wake-up call. I grew up watching telenovelas at my tias house and all the rich and beautiful were portrayed by the blonde and blue-eyed. If you looked like me, you were the help or the poor villager. While that needs to change -- because it's still an issue -- we can't bitch if we think our job is done simply because we complained.

PC: Opinion much? Who inspires you?

AM: Anybody who has the courage to say what they think and stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

AM: My daughter, Eliana, is my number one. Right now, she is everything I wish I was growing up; feisty, independent, strong-willed, and confident as hell. Everything I say and do comes from that place where motherhood takes us and the realization that my todays are building the foundation for her tomorrows.

PC: 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?

 

AM: My dad, I don't care, I'm allergic, and because I miss him.

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

 

AM: My mom and me sitting on the front porch in the middle of the night during sticky summers without central air. We'd tiptoe outside and talk for hours, ignoring the mosquito bites, while the house slept. I can't tell you one thing we talked about, but I'll always remember the laughter.

 

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

 

AM: That it's always perfectly acceptable to leave the house in red cowboy boots, a blue tutu, and a super-hero cape, public opinion be damned.

 

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. A non-Latina wants to know how to navigate cultural differences with her employees.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

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