topbloguera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on…

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Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y’all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you’ve been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That’s when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it…

…and now you know what validation feels like.

I’m proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys — has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II’m not an idiot, so I said yes, but I’m also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here’s the thing, y’all…we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who’s talking about us. Whether it’s building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it’s big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we’d love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don’t have time to click every link from the very friends we’d support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing…

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn’t think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren’t a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I’m about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision’s kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because…)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I’d like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let’s see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

 

I think it goes without saying that I’m a bit behind. Life can get in the way sometimes and when that happens, all bet are off. These are the times when the words I write for a paycheck take precedence over the ones I write in the name of building a fucking platform without a solid set of directions because subjectivity is A Thing to clear my head so I can sleep.

A lot has happened since I posted last. No book deals. No agents fighting over me and my mad writing skillz. But I have launched two etsy shops, a podcast, and can now officially cross Be Mentioned in a Tweet with Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez by Rick Najera off of my bucket list. I’ll fill you in on the specifics about the etsy shops and the podcast on Wednesday. For now, I’ll just remind you about the Me & Robert Rodriguez in the same 140.

 

 

See? It did sound just as badass the second time around. I kinda figure it would.

For now, though, I’m going to focus on I’m concentrating on waiting out an allergic reaction and passing the time by creating a Pinterest board for my writing clips. So much as changed and so much has stayed the same. And Then There was One was written in December of 2012.

 

***

I’m selling baby clothes. I guess I didn’t think writing up ads for cloth diapers and Gymboree jumpers was going to be as depressing as it’s turning out to be, but it is. I’m not just selling clothes. I’m putting prices on memories and letting go of hope. I’m the oldest of five. The Husband is the youngest of four.

Eliana wasn’t supposed to be an only.

For Sale
* Honest baby tee 12-18 mths
* George newborn white dress worn 1x after baptism 0-3 mth, plain white diaper cover included. 
* Old navy blue striped skirt 18-24 mth 
* Gender neutral newborn sleeper (baby) 0-3 mth
* Pink striped hooded dress 18-24 mth (plain pink diaper cover incuded)
* Old navy burgundy dress pink collar 18-24 mth 
* Pink tutu up to 12 mth (used once for 6 mth photo session & Halloween) 
* Vincent size pink frog shoe sz 16 euro 
* U of m lined windbreaker 18 mths – $6
I start with the basics. Photograph each piece. List the size and write a brief description. Calculate a fair price that allows for people to talk me down a bit and feel like they got a deal. I try to ignore the images in my mind with each item I put in the box marked “baby items for sale.” I remember almost all of it. And my mind took more photos than I realized.
This sleeper she wore when I was hospitalized the third time for severe mastitis in her first six weeks. I’ve got a photo of her on my chest, head held up, nurses stunned she could already do that. I list it for $2.
* Dress my Godmother brought back from one of her trips to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Not for sale.
 * Children’s place adjustable waist 18 mth ruffle jeans – $5
* Brown old navy winter baby boots 6-12 mths
* Matching Hawaiian  hat and onsie set (worn once for an island themed wedding right after she was born) $5
* Carter white spring sweater 9 mths (used for Easter & other special occasions, no stains) -$3
* Pink sweater, newborn, knitted for me by my grandmother who never learned to speak English & wanted my mother to name me Erika because the woman on the soap opera she couldn’t understand was glamorous & feisty, not for sale
* The yellow one she made me, not for sale
* 6-9 mth jeans with white dog embroidery. Not sure of brand. Perfect condition $2
* See Kai run black sandals sz 8-$10
* Open back summer dress top & ruffled diaper cover, white, no stains. Sz 3-6 mth (I should know when she wore this but maybe I shouldn’t. Dad died when she was 5 mths old. I’ll set this one in the maybe pile) Oh wait…never mind. We sold that one this afternoon.
* 1 Carter’s white newborn onsie. Still white. I promise this means we forgot to put this one on her and not that I bubble wrapped her through babyhood. 50 cents
* Make that 2 Carter’s unstained white newborn onsies for 50 cents each. 
* More handmade baby clothes. One for me by Guela. A few for baby by my sisters ex-mother-in-law. One outfit worn for hospital pics. None is for sale.
 * Newborn tee, super tiny, no sz, maybe hospital issued. Free with anything else you buy
* Gerber onsie, 0-3 mths, still white. I’m starting to wonder what small miracle allowed this to happen. She wore this one. I know she did. And yet I can’t keep a white t shirt stain free for longer than it takes me to cut the store tag off. I now have a complex.
* Random but not random pink flowered newborn summer romper & diaper cover. I don’t know when she wore this & that bothers me. But I need to put this one away for her with that little pile of memories to pass down one day
* 3-6 mth  cotton pants & matching hat. We’re keeping the shirt on the dog stuffed animal we made as a keepsake. Her name’s on it. I’m making myself be practical. Daffy never wore pants so I’m not allowing myself to keep those. See? Progress.
* Pink sweater for me by Guela. I see the photos of me wearing this in my mind. I see the ones of my child in the frames. Not for sale.
* 0-3 mth gender neutral sleeveless onsie. White. Stain free. I should maybe start going to church regularly again.
* 3 mth gender neutral white sleeper. I know I won’t get up in time for the Sunday morning mass. But Saturday at 5 pm is totally doable. Maybe. Fine. We all know I’m not going and spending the entire mass explaining to Buttercup that church and Easter egg hunts are not synonymous or the explicit difference between being Catholic and Mexican-Catholic…because there is.
* Gender neutral onsies of various sizing & hospital issued baby tee. All as a package. Now questioning why white is such a popular color for clothing meant for adorable little beings who live to eat, sleep, poop, & spit up.
* Pink frog face pre walkers (not in original packaging) sz 17 (euro)
* My baptismal bonnet. Wow.
* 12 mth turquoise tee. My dog Walks all over me.
You’ll buy it from us for your firstborn, still convinced your friends with older kids are all heartless bastards. *Your* dog will not get demoted. There will be 2 walks per day, trips to the dog park to socialize, & that Christmas stocking Will Get filled. The walk…right…. After you find something you can wear out of the house that doesn’t have spit up on it, the baby has woken from her nap, and you change because she spit up on you again. You give up & barely register the dog didn’t even get excited when you jingled the collar while there was still hope. But you tried. And your dog still loves you. I promise.
* Robeez pink pre walkers sz 0-6 mths. Loved this brand. You totally will too. You’re welcome.
There.
All listed and pretty on the private Facebook group saving me the headache of dealing with a garage sale.
And then The Husband comes home from work with news. We are being transferred to Maine for his job and it’s going to happen pretty quickly. It’s time to repack. And maybe I can buy enough gas to get us from Arizona to Maine after I sell the last seven bins full of the dreams.

 

 

 

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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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 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..

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.*

 

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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.

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