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Latina

Growing up a bicultural first-generation Mexican American Latina, my viewpoint may be a little different than others. I think my unique perspective and exposure to the Latino culture and Southern American culture growing up let me look at the world with an open heart and open mind.

I grew up in a very culturally rich city, Chicago where it was normal to see people of all different races, religions and countries of origin. It was nothing exceptional to hear many different languages spoken at any given time. Even in my own home, Spanish and English were both spoken.  I thought this was completely normal and I wish it was.

When we traveled abroad, our parents demanded that we treated the people and country of others with reverence and respect. We were taught to immerse ourselves in the culture. When in Rome, live as the Romans was sort of my dad’s travel mantra. I’m so grateful he did this for us. I want to do the same for my girls.

I want them to embrace their Latina and their American cultures and I want them to respect the people and cultures of other people. We do this through exposure, travel and teaching patience and tolerance and immersion.

I think our cultures, our religions, our circumstances and experiences give us all our own very unique perspective of life and here I share mine.

jennifer lopez, shakira, emme Muniz, super bowl, half-tme show

Adult women dancing in bodysuits on a public stage is apparently very offensive to some Americans. Not even Shakira and Jennifer Lopez are above the scrutiny of super bowl fans. Monday morning quarterbacks all over Twitter were appalled at JLo and Shakira’s Super Bowl half-time show.

Did JLo and Shakira Super Bowl halftime show offend you?

The whole world is freaking out that JLo and Shakira took the stage dressed in unitards (what most dancers in the world wear when performing. Have you ever seen a ballet?) and gyrated to Latin flared pop music. Oh how the mighty have fallen. So bizarre to me because these prudish, middle class, moms

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event planning tips, quinceañera, Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom, quinceanera

We are less than 6 weeks away from Bella’s big day. Her quinceañera is something we’ve been planning for years and I can’t believe it’s almost here. For her, it’s the moment our culture recognizes her as changing from a child to a woman. As a mom, it’s a moment of ostentatious pride, which if you know me is not something I ever do. It’s also the opportunity to learn all the event planning tips I didn’t know I needed.

Give me all of your quinceañera planning tips.

I love my daughters more than everything but I’ve never felt the need to brag on them to impress anyone. I know who they are and what they are capable of. I know that they are smart, funny, witty, creative, kind, compassionate, good human beings who love life and care about people and they know that I feel that way about them. I tell them. I just don’t feel like it does anyone any good to boast about them to strangers and put them in competition with anyone else. The only competition I want them to have is to become their own best self. But, make no mistake, I am so proud of my girls and then young ladies they’ve become.

READ ALSO: How to plan a quinceañera

Next month, we’re celebrating Bella’s indoctrination into womanhood with a big party with all of our family and friends. Think of a wedding-like party celebrating how much we love our daughter, how proud we are and how excited we are for all to come for her in her life.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Basic Invite. However, all opinions are my own and Bella ( and I) adore her invitations from Basic Invite. They’re everything we’ve dreamed of.

Big life events like a quinceañera are exciting. The energy, the love, the sheer celebration of such a momentous occasion. There’s nothing like it. When you’re hosting the party there are added stresses. In fact, it can be very stressful.

Everyone expects weddings to be challenging to plan, coordinating and organizing all the things is hard. I’m finding that planning Bella’s quinceañera is pretty much the same.

Event planning tips to for the best quinceañera ever

It’s helpful to be organized and to take the time to plan and do research, from choosing the venues to deciding where to shop for the dresses for the quinceañera and damas. There are a few simple tips that we can do to help make the whole process easier on ourselves and get the celebration of our dreams without the anxiety.

  • Start planning as soon as you set the date… or sooner if you can. Sure, you may not have plans to celebrate your daughter’s quinceañera for several years, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get planning now. It’s never too early to go on Pinterest and start a wedding planning/quinceañera board with ideas of things you’d like. It’s never too early to start watching hours and hours of quinceañera surprise dances. You can also start looking at venues and booking appointments. Starting early can be the one thing that gets you the date that you want for your event.
  • Sort out your budget at the very beginning. No need to make big plans with no realistic budget in mind. Before you can start buying anything, you need to know what your budget is and what’s going to tip you over the edge for your big day purchases. The earlier you have a concrete budget outline, the more accurately you can plan your event. This is one of the hardest parts for me.

READ ALSO: How to throw an awesome party on a budget

  • Get as much of your family and friends involved as you can, from photographer and videographer recommendations to getting to know who’s able and willing to help you with your big day. You need to know which family members are willing to give you a hand with organizing everything from the prevents to the main event. The most important thing is that you enjoy every moment with the people that you love.
  • Be selective with who you choose to invite. Everyone you’ve ever known doesn’t get to be a guest on your big day. You need to get RSVPs to know how many people you’ll be catering to. Invite the people who you know will show up. Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you share DNA with or anyone you’ve ever known.
  • event planning tips, quinceañera, guestbook, basic invite, quinceanera
  • A well-thought-out personalized custom guest book can really be the perfect keepsake for your big day. With almost unlimited colors at Basic Invite, it is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can change the color of each element on a card or guest book. With over 180 different color options, your invitations or guestbook can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail, making the little details perfect.
  • Pick your court early, you’re going to need their help. The planning won’t be as smooth without them by your side. They’ll need dresses and tuxes, makeup and hair. Ask them early and plan accordingly.
  • Always have a backup plan. Things can and do go wrong, even if that’s the last thing you want to think about. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your special day can go off perfectly, as long as you do your research.

What is your best tip to make your big day the thing dreams are made of?

 

 

 

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My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

Once upon a time, there was a mom who forgot to take care of herself. She put off physicals, yearly gynecological visits, haircuts and dentist’s visits because everyone else came before herself. She got diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, had a heart attack and died obese. She didn’t know the signs of diabetes. She didn’t know type 2 diabetes symptoms. That’s how the story could have gone, still can, if we’re being honest. Make good choices people. And the story could be how that mom worked her tail off, put herself first for the first time in a very long time and figured out how to reverse diabetes in 3 months.

The kids were healthy and never missed a dentist appointment, doctor appointment or even a haircut. They wanted for nothing. Neither did her husband. However, mom always came last. No one asked, or expected, her to do this. She just did.

Diabetes didn’t care how selfless she thought she was.

One day after many years of ignoring her own needs, eating whatever was fast and cheap, not exercising and wearing herself out doing for others, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. She is me. I am the mom who forgot to take care of herself. I am a diabetic. Have you forgotten to take care of yourself?

READ ALSO: How a Simple Doctors Visit might have Saved my Life

I’m not special. This isn’t an unusual set of circumstances. Many parents, especially moms, put ourselves last because the goal of life is to keep your family alive and healthy. I didn’t know the symptoms of diabetes so I didn’t think anything about it when I was tired after eating a high carb meal. I just thought I was an exhausted mom.

Do you know the signs of diabetes?

The life goal was a good, strong marriage and to raise good human beings. To travel the world and enjoy life. This is the ball that we keep our eyes on. Then one day, it’s too late. Suddenly, the signs of diabetes are everywhere you look and somehow you managed to miss every single one of them. You’ve got a diagnosis or three and shit is about to get really real for you. Hypertension. Diabetes. Anxiety. Depression. High cholesterol. Cancer. A heart attack. A stroke. There are too many diagnoses to mention but if you’re a mom, you’ve probably already gotten a diagnosis or two of your own and maybe you don’t even know it.

So there I sat in May hearing the “wahwahwahwahwahwah” as all the blood rushed to my head, after my doctor delivered the blow, “You are severely diabetic and you need to leave here and go directly to the pharmacist, do not stop, get your prescriptions and take your high blood pressure medicine in the car because you are also super hypertensive and could literally have a stroke at any minute. Also, you are morbidly obese.” *Slightly rephrased because “wahwahwah” was all I heard after she told me that I was severely diabetic. It felt like a death sentence. I could have been. My Uncle Ramon died from his diabetes. Latinos are highly predisposed to diabetes and high blood pressure. Why did I think I was special? I was terrified and depressed. How had it gotten to this point?

Type 2 diabetes doesn’t discriminate.

It was just a “few” bad choices, right? Ate some junk food. Never counted calories. Never counted carbs. Either ate whatever, whenever or never ate at all. Never “had time” to exercise. Ignored the symptoms or poopoo’ed them away because who has time for such luxuries as being sick and getting well. I have places to be, people to see and children and husband and the PTA who all depend on me.

Spoiler alert: The world will not implode if you take a few days off and take care of yourself. People can pick up the slack and figure shit out if they need to. No one will hate you (and if they do, so what). Generally, people are pretty good and they really do want the best for you but people only treat you the way you allow them to. If you show them a martyr, superwoman then they are going to push you like a martyr superwoman. Pssst, it’s ok to be human.

READ ALSO: What to do when You Realize You’re Doing Parenting All Wrong

But you don’t me to tell you that. You need me to tell you how I changed all of that. How I went from a morbidly obese, hypertensive diabetic to a mom on a mission who reversed her diabetes in 3 months. Sounds easy right? Like turning a car around but it’s anything but. Being a diabetic is a serious condition and can have serious health ramifications so if you have been warned that you are “prediabetic” take it seriously.

Being prediabetic is a major diabetes symptom red flag. Don’t ignore it.

Soon, you will drop the “pre” and just be a full-blown diabetic and your doctor will be checking your feet to see if you’ve lost feeling and never allowed to go barefoot again. You’ll have to have a special diabetic eye exam to make sure you’re not going blind and will never see your children’s beautiful faces again. You’ll have to count your carbs and work out like your life depends on it because it does. I was prediabetic before I was diabetic and I did nothing about it. That “pre” gave me a false sense of safety.

What did I do to reverse my diabetes? Yes, reverse because you can’t cure. Diabetes is incurable. You either live with it and die from it or you do what you need to and reverse it and get back to a non-diabetic state but whatever damage has already been done, has been done and you can always become diabetic again if you start making those wrong choices again. That’s my warning, that’s my real talk.

READ MORE: Food’s an Addiction and Sugar’s a Drug

How to reverse diabetes

My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetesPutting Yourself First

The first thing you have to do is make yourself a priority in your own life. Really. You won’t be alive to take care of or love and be loved by anyone if you don’t take care of yourself because you will be dead. Diabetes can kill you. Type 2 diabetes is completely controllable and reversible but you have to care about and love yourself enough to put your health above everything and everyone else. It sounds impossible but it’s not. With the love and support of those you love, you can do it.

Medicine

If you’re like me, you hate to take medicine. It sucks. Everything has side effects. You’ve seen the commercials; to help alleviate your depression you may become suicidal and to alleviate your migraine you can go blind. They have to list every side effect ever. But sometimes you need medicine to survive or at least until you can work towards getting healthy enough to not need it. I’m not on insulin but I was prescribed medication to control my diabetes and my high blood pressure, along with a plan to eat healthy, count carbs and exercise. There is no easy fix. A pill cannot fix everything. A pill is a Band-Aid to help you get well enough to get healthy.

Working Out

This is hard. Starting is overwhelming but it’s not impossible. When you’re a mom, especially, trying to find the time to work out can feel like trying to find time to do your nails or get a massage, non-existent. Remember when I was talking about putting yourself first? This is part of that. Just move. It doesn’t matter how. I started with a Beachbody workout (dancing), then I threw in some BBG ab work. My mom kept urging me to “just walk” and I thought it sounded too simple. I was hesitant but it was doable and it gave me time every morning to reflect and get my mind right. 50 pounds later, mom was right. It was simple. Don’t overcomplicate things. Just move. I document my daily walks on InstaStories to keep myself accountable.

Join me on Instagram to follow along as I reverse diabetes. We can get healthy together.

READ ALSO: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Fast

Eating Healthy

Not going to lie, this was hard because eating healthy means being mindful of what you put into your body and investing in yourself because healthy food is not cheap. It is so much more affordable and convenient to buy a McDonald’s dollar menu meal than it is to go to the grocery store, buy fresh produce and lean protein, cook it and eat it after a long day at work. And that is how we’ve gotten to 30 million Americans with diabetes. Most people start showing symptoms of diabetes after the age of 45 but there are more and more children, teens and young adults who are getting diagnosed. By taking care of ourselves and choosing more carefully what to put into our bodies, we are affecting our families and their health too.

I’m not saying you have to make perfect, healthy choices every single day. I’m not saying to deprive yourself. I’m saying to be mindful of your choices and how what you do affects your body. The most important thing is to not let a little blip derail your whole program. A blip is just a blip. Move on and get back to your plan. You can do this.

Drink Your Water

Yes, water weight is a thing and drinking enough water is good for your body in so many ways. It helps flush toxins and maintain the balance of body fluids. It just makes you feel better. You should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day. I drink closer to 100 because it’s the only thing I really drink aside from coffee and tea.

Counting Carbs

I’ve never been one who could stick to Keto or no carbs. I love carbs. Bread might be my love language. But the thing is carbs are in everything; fruit, vegetables, rice, milk, meat and sauces. But yeah, there are a lot of carbs in bread so choose wisely.

My doctor gave me a finite amount of carbs each day to consume. 45 per meal, 15 per snack, three times per day for each. Now, it’s like money, I can spend it my carbs wisely on lean proteins and fresh produce or I can waste it on a snickers bar. You can see that a grilled chicken breast, asparagus, watermelon and brown rice would be more filling than a Snickers bar. Mostly we should choose the balanced meal but if you want to choose the Snickers bar occasionally, that’s ok. Just not all day and not every day.

Portion control

Last but, definitely, not least is portion control. Before I had no idea what correct portions were. The portions that most restaurants serve are not the right sized portion for an adult human. They are often double and sometimes even triple the portion size, carbs and calories that we need. So, I started reading labels and measuring. I know, it sounds like a pain in the ass and it is but so is being dead when you want to be alive. Soon, you will learn the right portions and you won’t need to measure everything anymore. Before you know it, you will be eating for fuel and only until you are full not until you are stuffed.  I used to east mindlessly and that’s how I got to where I was. Now, I am thoughtful about my choices; what I eat and how often I move.

This is how I reversed my diabetes in 3 months. It’s been 6 months since I was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. It’s been 3 months since I reversed it all. I will have to be mindful of my choices and work on my health every day for the rest of my life but now, it’s a habit. I look forward to it because I know I’m working towards being a better me. I feel better and I’ve lost 50 pounds. My goal is to lose 70 more pounds and to do a 5K in 2020. Did I mention by listening to my mom I’ve been walking a 5K every morning, 4-5 days a week? It’s the best part of my day and I’ve done it in everything from 20 degrees to rain, snow and 110 degrees. It’s hard but I’m worth it and so are you!

My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

This is how I reversed my diabetes in 3 months and saved my life. Are you taking care of yourself? Why not? You deserve to be alive and happy and most certainly, healthy. You are worth the investment. I know, as moms, we put everyone else above us, it’s in our DNA but remember your why. My family, my girls and the Big Guy, are my “why” but I have to take care of me to be here to love and be loved by them. I have to love me to be able to love them. It’s simple. Take care of yourself before it’s too late.

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Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

Halloween is next week and I’m not going to lie, I want to be Lizzo. But I’m not sure I can do it because my skin is white. I’m Mexican but my skin didn’t get the memo. I’m a freckled Mexican and that’s ok because Latinos come in all shades of the rainbow. But I’m not black and I don’t know if it’s ok for me to be a famous black woman for Halloween?

Lizzo is such an inspiration to me. In honesty, Melissa Vivianne Jefferson may be one of my favorite people in pop culture right now. She is such a strong, straight up, force and I love that my girls have someone like Lizzo to see in the world right now. There is something about her that speaks to my soul, in a way that I’ve not felt connected to art in a long time. She is truth for so many girls and women.

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriationsREAD ALSO: Happy Halloween, No Treat for You Fatty

Halloween is a favorite holiday at our house. We all get into it. We have, by far, the creepiest decorated house on the block. We have an annual Halloween party. We do family costumes and Zombie walks and on any given weekend, you will find us, as a family, binge-watching horror movies. We’re that family.

Halloween costumes are more than just dressing up as our favorite heroes or villains for a night, it’s the chance to emulate some of the people we love most in history and pop culture. I’ve been everyone from Bing Bong to Miranda Sings and Carrie White for Halloween. This year our family costume for the party is the Addams family. I will be playing the role of Morticia for the evening. But for the big night, Halloween, I really want to be Lizzo. This bitch is 100% that bitch.

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

However, as a POC (if you know me IRL, you know that I can be any shade from alabaster to a golden goddess with my olive Latina skin) I find myself asking if I can be Lizzo because y’all know that I’m not about that appropriations life.

READ ALSO: Easy Dia de Los Muertos Make-up Tutorial

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

I am a bi-cultural Latina woman who grew up in an urban African American neighborhood in Chicago. While my skin may be white and my culture may be Mexican, black people have always been a part of my story. I see color and I respect differences but to me, people are people. But as someone who has written about cultural appropriations and admonished those who’ve done it and warned others against doing it, would I be appropriating if I dressed as Lizzo, a strong black woman who I admire?

I think the fact that I’m even asking and giving pause, is a sign that I just shouldn’t do it. But at the same time, I feel like I’m a curvy woman with long wavy hair who loves and respects Lizzo and I really want to play Lizzo for a night. No, I won’t be adding padding or altering the color of my skin. It’ll just be me, as Lizzo. But that’s the thing about appropriations, right? I can be Lizzo for a night but then I can be Debi again. Debi the white Latina who blends in almost everywhere. And that is what is really giving me pause.

READ ALSO: Best Horror Movies to Watch with your Teens

So, I’m coming to you Internet and I know you’ll give it to me straight because isn’t that what the Internet loves to do?

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

Is it inappropriate for this white Latina to dress up as Lizzo for Halloween?

I don’t want to be Lizzo because of her outrageous outfits (while the That Bitch outfit is amazing and I’d feel like a boss wearing it around my neighborhood) but I want to be Lizzo for the night because she is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong, vivacious and full of self-love. She has life figured out. All the things that women struggle with universally, she’s already had a come to Jesus meeting about and she has made peace with it. She is a strong female, maybe one of the strongest in pop culture, and I want to be that iconic empowered character for one night. It’s sort of like dressing up as Wonder Woman with slightly more clothes and 1000% more relatable to every woman.

Well, if this mama can’t dress up like Lizzo for a night, I guess I’ll just get tickets to a concert, wear the t-shirt and support her in all the ways I can because the world definitely needs more women like Lizzo in the world.

What say you, internet? Can I dress up as Lizzo for Halloween without being a skeevy culturally appropriating jerk?

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Disclosure: This is a compensated partnership with Torani but all opinions and this iced Café Bombón recipe are my own.

Coffee is my jam. It’s something I’ve been drinking all of my adult life, and if we’re being quite honest, something I’ve been sipping from my parent’s coffee mugs since I was a child. There is something special about the creamy goodness of a good cup of coffee that reminds me of home. Nothing reminds me more of home than Café Bombón.

I remember my dad and uncles drinking Café Bombón at night after dinner at the dining room table while having late-night conversations filled with laughter and reminiscing. I have fond memories of my mom and aunts playing gin rummy and Yahtzee while sipping on Café Bombón and all of this makes my heart happy. Every time I take a drink of Café Bombón those memories are what flood my mind and fill my soul.

What is Café Bombón, you ask? It is literally, candy coffee.

What makes it different from your typical cup of coffee? That would be the sweetened condensed milk. What makes it extra delicious? That would be the Torani salted caramel syrup that I add to mine.

To be honest, I thought “Café Bombón” was how everyone drank coffee because it was the only way I ever saw it drank. The same way I thought everyone made their grilled cheese sandwiches sprinkled with a little sugar on the cheese (made with love as my mom used to tell us). Yep, apparently, my Latino dad and my southern mom made up their own rules along the way.

Typically, Café Bombón is made by simply using 1 ounce of espresso and 1 ounce of sweetened condensed milk. Simple. You can sip it or shoot it, depending on your caffeine needs that day. As I’ve gotten older, I need a little more caffeine to start my day so the 1 to 1 ratio needs to be upped for me in the morning and I like to put mine over ice in the warmer months for drinking convenience.

Café Bombón Recipe

Ingredients:

2 ounces of Espresso or strong coffee
2 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
2 ounces of Torani salted caramel syrup (if you prefer your Café Bombón less sweet, up the coffee ratio to 3 ounces.)
1 ounce of half and half
½ cup of ice

Instructions:

1. Pour sweetened condensed milk over ice.
2. Pour Torani salted caramel syrup over sweetened condensed milk.
3. Add espresso to top.
4. If you have a milk frother, froth 1 ounce of half and half.
5. Pour frothed milk over espresso.
6. You should see distinct layers of ingredients.
7. Enjoy with family and friends.
**I prefer to mix my Café Bombón all up and blend the flavors more evenly but it tastes delicious either way.

It’s that simple and even more delicious. By adding the Torani salted caramel syrup to the traditional Café Bombón, it completely elevates the flavor profile. The great thing about Torani is that is mixes well to bring out the best in your Café Bombón without overpowering everything else. Torani is made with real, simple ingredients that you can recognize.

To make this delicious and easy Café Bombón recipe find Torani at your local Kroger grocery store or online at Torani.com.

What is your favorite Torani flavored syrup for your coffee?

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Our oldest daughter, Bella, just turned 14-years-old which means next year is her quinceañera. That means this 1/2 first-generation Latina is planning my first ever quinceañera for my 1/4 Latina. I never got to celebrate my quinces and I regret that. The planning process is exciting and overwhelming but I love that my daughter and I get to do this together with a little help from our village. It’s bringing us closer in ways I hadn’t considered.

What is a quinceañera, you ask?

It is not the same as a sweet sixteen in American culture. Is it the same as a Bat Mitzvah? Closer, there is definitely a religious aspect to it. Because I didn’t get to celebrate the quinceañera tradition myself, I’ve always secretly hoped my girls would want one.

Most cultures celebrate a young girl coming of age, in the United States that’s usually done by throwing a big sweet sixteen party. For Latinas, ideally, we celebrate our becoming a woman when a girl turns 15-years-old, the age of maturity in the Catholic church. (Similar to a Jewish girl who celebrates her Bat Mitzvah at 12-years and one-day-old; the age of religious maturity in the Jewish religion). As Latinas, we celebrate this birthday with a mass followed by a huge celebration with family and friends. It’s a time-honored tradition and a big part of our culture.

READ ALSO: The Day My Teenager told me How She Really Felt

I didn’t have a quince because, quite frankly, my parents couldn’t afford it. It’s expensive for a birthday party. I always wanted one and I promised myself that if my girl wanted one, I’d find a way to make it happen. That’s what I’m doing. It’s a bit overwhelming since I’ve never planned one before. My mom is not Latina and I don’t live near any of my Latina friends or family so everything is a work in progress but 100% worth it to see the excitement in my daughter’s eyes.

It’s hard to explain the entire idea of a quinceañera to people who didn’t grow up around the culture. Basically, it’s celebrated like a wedding, often referred to as a mini boda, minus the groom and the honeymoon. If you’re not raised in the culture, from the outside looking it, it looks a lot like an extravagant party for a fifteenth birthday but it symbolizes so much more than that. It’s the celebration of a girl becoming a woman and I think that should be celebrated like this for every little girl.

What is a Quinceañera?

For Latina girls, the 15th birthday marks the most lavish celebration of their lives. Symbolizing a girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood, the quinceañera is a two-part celebration consisting of a religious celebration and a reception that traces back to both indigenous and European cultural traditions. Parents often spend more on their daughter’s quinceañera than their actual wedding. In fact, quinceañeras are often referred to as mini bodas, or miniature weddings. A low-key quinceañera in the United States can easily cost upwards of $3,000. The key is to set a budget and stick to it.

When you see the quince girl (nickname for the quinceañera honoree) on her special day, the high price tag makes sense. A prom-like gown (quinceañera dress) like the ones found at PromGirl.com is the central quinceañera tradition. They’re often made of satin with lace overlays and rhinestone accents, not unlike a wedding dress. Think Cinderella dressed for the fairytale ball. Traditionally white or pale pink floor-length gowns were worn, but in modern times dresses in all colors of the rainbow are acceptable. The quince girl wears a delicate tiara or crown (corona) and during the mass, she carries a Bible or book of prayer.

READ ALSO: Things to do in Chicago with Teens

The Quinceañera celebration traditionally begins with the religious ceremony. We’ve already booked our mass and priest for next year. Before anything else happens, the quince girl attends a special Mass in which she reaffirms her dedication to God and receives a blessing from the priest. The Quinceañera will also leave a bouquet of flowers at the altar of the Virgin Mary to symbolize her purity. As a symbol of her transition from childhood to becoming a woman, a quince girl gives away a porcelain doll (ultima muñeca) to a younger sister.

How to begin planning your quinceanera

A reception is held following the mass at home or a banquet hall. We reserved our hall in December, well over a year in advance. The celebration includes food, music, the quinceañera dress and most often, a choreographed waltz and baile sorpresa (surprise dance) performed by the Quinceañera and her Court de honor (honor court).

What is a quinceañera honor court?

Quinceañera custom calls for 14 damas, or maiden attendants, to accompany the quince girl and symbolize the past 14 years of her life. And a group of young ladies needs a corresponding group of escorts, which means the quince girl must also select 15 chambelans, or male attendants. Less formal quinceañera celebrations typically use 7 or 4 damas and chambelans.

At the reception is where the quince girl is officially presented to guests. She can pick a quinceañera theme of her choice. I’ve seen everything from Disney princesses to Great Gatsby. Similar to cotillion and debutante traditions, quinceañeras serve as a young Latina’s official entrance into society and womanhood and incorporate a host of unique elements and rituals that celebrate a young woman’s coming of age as well as her Latino heritage.

One of the final rituals of a quinceañera, and most sentimental, is the changing of the quince girl’s shoes. After the party is in full swing, the quince girl’s father will remove the flat-soled slippers his daughter wore to the party and replace them with a pair of heels. This symbolizes that the 15-year-old girl who arrived at the quinceañera will leave a young woman. This pays cultural homage to coming out ceremonies orchestrated by Aztec high priests in the early 1500s.

READ ALSO:  What Does Be “More Latina” mean?

Aztec Indians considered young girls marriage-ready at the age of 15. As a result, ceremonial rites of passage including parental speeches begging their daughters to become wise, upstanding women. When the Spanish invaded modern-day Mexico and overthrew the Aztecs in the 1520s, they brought their European influence to the indigenous people. The upper-class debutante aspects of quinceañera emerged as a result.

Today, there were certain privileges associated with the quinceañera. Being that it is a celebration of her transition into womanhood, the quinceañera might be allowed to attend adult parties, pluck her eyebrows and shave her legs, wear makeup, jewelry and high heels and maybe even start dating. Whoah! We will have to wait and see about this “dating” business. I mean, she’s still my baby.

Quinceañera Traditions

From surrendering the last doll (ultima muñeca) during the Catholic mass to the shoe ceremony before the final father-daughter dance afterward, the quinceañera is full of symbolic gestures and gifts. Unlike the ordinary birthday parties that the quince girl might’ve enjoyed for the first 14 years of her life, her quinceañera party officially marks her coming of age and therefore, requires appropriate gifts and apparel to carry her through that transition.

The quinceañera itself is the present for the birthday girl from her parents. Sometimes, parents may give their daughter a regálo sorpresa, or surprise gift. However, the emphasis of traditional quinceañera presents, including the prayer book, rosary and Bible needed for Mass, is on what the quince girl will wear and carry to her ceremony. These gifts may be given by a combination of grandparents (known as padrinos), other relatives and friends, and each of them carries a special meaning:

Traditional  Quinceañera Gifts

  • Quinceañera dresses represent femininity.

  • Quinceañera rings represent a girl’s bond to God, family and her community.

  • Quinceañera crowns and tiaras represent her superior morality.

  • Quinceañera cross necklaces emphasize a girl’s devotion to the Catholic Church.

Considering everything that goes into planning for your quinceañera, it’s understandable that they only happen once in a Latina girl’s lifetime. Though the rite of passage may vary slightly from country to country, the heart of the quinceañera remains constant. Whether it’s lavish or low-key, these extraordinary parties allow young girls to become fairytale princesses for one day on their way to becoming grown women and embracing all the responsibilities and duties that come with it.

We’ve just begun planning my daughter’s quinceañera but we’ll be sharing it all here and hope that you’ll join us on this exciting journey and celebration from little girl to young lady. We’ll be sharing everything we learn along the way and all things quinceañera.

 

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Champurrado, Mexican hot chocolate, Chocolate atole, Easy delicious and decadent champurrado recipe, recipes

Have you ever had a taste or a smell that reminds you of home? For me, that would be Champurrado and Suavitel. The smell of Champurrado wafting from the kitchen and the fragrance of Suavitel coming off the freshly washed linens. All I know is one sip and I’m a little girl again, home with my parents and my brothers and sisters sitting around the breakfast table eating pan dulce.

The champurrado was ( and if we’re being honest, still is) always perfect. I have no idea how my mom gets it so perfectly smooth (it’s like her secret for having the worlds softest towels. How does she do it?) it’s just one of those “mom things.” The pan dulce is always warm and the laughter is always intoxicating. It’s home and everything that I want my daughters’ to think of when they think of home. That warm nostalgic feeling of belonging and being loved.

READ ALSO: The Most Important things to be said Don’t Always Require Words

So what is this magical drink of my childhood that some of you have never heard of? It’s called champurrado or chocolate but it’s not like Swiss Miss. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Swiss Miss with marshmallows too. This just isn’t it. This is something more substantial.

What is Champurrado?

Champurrado is Mexican hot chocolate or chocolate atole.

Atole or Spanish, from Nahuatl ātōlli, also known as atol and atol de elote, is a traditional hot corn- and masa-based beverage of Mesoamerican origin. Chocolate atole is known as champurrado or atole. It is typically accompanied with tamales, and very popular during the Christmas holiday season. Maybe? But in our house, it was just called breakfast.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Atole Champurrado is deliciously spiced drinking chocolate that is sometimes so thick and rich you’ll need a spoon! That’s the champurrado that you’ll drink on Christmas morning. It’s flavored with cinnamon, star anise, and Mexican chocolate, but gets its velvety pudding-like consistency from masa harina. That is delicious, but that is not what we had for breakfast every day or we really would have all been diabetic. We drank a slightly lighter version.

READ ALSO: Delicious Summer Rum Cocktail Recipe

If you ever do find yourself in Mexico or a really good Mexican restaurant and they offer Mexican Hot Chocolate Atole Champurrado, get yourself some. It is delicious.

If you want to try it for yourself at home, my mama’s easy delicious and decadent Champurrado Recipe is perfect.

Mama’s Every day Champurrado

Easy recipe for Mexican hot chocolate, Champurrado.
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings: 6 people
Author: Deborah Cruz

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped Abuelita or Ibarra
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour)
  • 4 cups Vitamin-D Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup piloncillo/ or brown sugar Piloncillo is raw form of pure cane sugar that is commonly used in Mexican cooking. Unlike brown sugar, which is made by coating refined white sugar with molasses, piloncillo is pure sugar with no additives.)

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan boil water with the two cinnamon sticks.
  • Remove from the heat, cover and let the cinnamon sticks steep for 30-45 minutes (depending on how cinnamony you like your Champurrado.) 
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks from the water, return to a slow boil and add the chocolate. Bring to boil while constantly stirring the chocolate as it melts. 
  • Add the brown sugar or piloncillo. Whisk until well blended.
  • Slowly add the masa harina to the warm water, whisking until combined. 
  • Add milk and whisk until smooth and well blended.
  • Warm over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until chocolate is completely melted and sugar is dissolved, whisking occasionally. 
  • Serve immediately.
  • If the champurrado is too hot, pour it back and forth between two cups to cool it off. That’s what my mama did. 
  • Optional: Top with whipped cream. This is my daughters' preferred way to drink it. 

This champurrado recipe is perfect for cold mornings before school and work, long Sunday afternoons by the fireplace or for sipping just because around the dining room table playing board games with your family; filling the house with laughter and your hearts with love.

That’s what this Easy Delicious and Decadent Champurrado Recipe is to me.

It’s family.

What is a favorite food or recipe that reminds you of home?

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recipe, Mexican food, easy recipes, chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, elote casserole, Hass avocados, type 2 diabetes

This recipe for chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Hass Avocado Board. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Did you know that in the United States, Latinos are twice as likely as non-Latino people to develop type 2 diabetes? That’s a scary statistic that I’ve been acutely aware of for a very long time. I lost someone very important to me, my favorite Great Uncle, to type 2 diabetes when I was 15-years-old and it was horrible. The worst part is that it could have been prevented with a few simple changes in his diet and a little education about eating healthy.

Cardiometabolic abnormalities, a cluster of risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood glucose levels are higher in the Latino population overall than among non-Hispanic whites.

We can help prevent ourselves from developing type 2 diabetes. One of the most important and effective things we can do to lower our risk for type 2 diabetes is to eat well to maintain a healthy weight. This can be done in many ways and one of the easier ways is to take some of our favorite Latino recipes and reconfigure them to be healthier.

One of our favorite recipes in my house is beef tacos. We love tacos. We can eat them every day of the week. Literally. We could eat anything in a tortilla but tortillas are not the best things for us to eat, especially since our favorite is flour tortillas filled with sour cream, cheese and ground beef. But with a few simple tweaks we can make tacos less hazardous to our health.

Here is my recipe for Chicken Tacos with Avocado Cream Sauce:

Ingredients

Tortillas (or you can go the healthier route and eat as a bowl on a bed of lettuce)

Olive Oil

Taco Meat

3 Chicken Breasts

1 Garlic Clove, diced

3 lemons juiced

1 onion, diced

Salt/ Pepper to taste

 Directions:

 

  1. Boil the 3 chicken breasts for 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Shred chicken.
  3. Heat a frying pan on medium heat until water sizzles when splashed on pan.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Add onion and garlic to hot oil, sauté until golden brown.
  6. Add shredded chicken, stirring thoroughly until slightly golden.
  7. Add lemon from three lemons.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. When thoroughly heated, turn heat down and start working on Avocado cream sauce.

Avocado Cream Sauce

recipe, Mexican food, easy recipes, chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, elote casserole, Hass avocados, type 2 diabetes

Ingredients

2 Hass avocados
1 lemon, juiced
1 large clove garlic, pasted or grated
A small handful fresh cilantro leaves, optional
About 1/3 cup light sour cream

Directions
Place the Hass avocados in a food processor. Add the lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, if desired, and sour cream and process until very smooth and mayo-like in consistency.

recipe, Mexican food, easy recipes, chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, elote casserole, Hass avocados, type 2 diabetes

Avocados are virtually the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fat, and they are sodium, cholesterol and trans-fat free. How can something that tastes so good be so good for you?

Toppings

Salsa

Shredded Quesadilla Cheese

Refried beans with Sazon seasoning

Tomato, diced

Shredded Lettuce

Next, heat your tortillas up on a comal (ten seconds, flip, five seconds, flip, five more seconds and then remove) or in the microwave, 35 seconds for a pack of ten. I’ll be honest they taste better heated up on the comal (griddle) and if you want to go healthier eat on a bed of lettuce.

Then spread your warm refried beans with Sazon seasoning (about 1 tablespoon), next add your quesadilla cheese (about ½ a teaspoon), top with sautéed chicken breasts.

Top your chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, salsa and diced tomatoes. For extra crunch, shredded lettuce will do the job.

If you really want an authentic meal, make elote casserole or Mexican rice (recipe coming soon) to accompany the meal.

recipe, Mexican food, easy recipes, chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, elote casserole, Hass avocados, type 2 diabetes

Enjoy this easy recipe for chicken tacos and avocado cream sauce with your family knowing you are serving them a meal that you made with love and is good for them.

recipe, Mexican food, easy recipes, chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, elote casserole, Hass avocados, type 2 diabetes

For more information about type 2 diabetes visit saboreaunohoy.com/aguacatesydiabetes. Share your favorite avocado recipe and follow the #SaboreaUnoHoy 10-day photo challenge for a chance to win prizes.

My favorite recipe for Hass Avocados is Chicken tacos with avocado cream sauce, what’s yours?

 

 

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Avocado Toast Recipe, avocado recipes, how to make avocado toast, avocado recipe

Have you been wondering how to make avocado toast but just don’t know where to start? A healthy avocado toast recipe is super easy to make and we live in a time where avocado recipes are everywhere. It’s the new “wonder food” plus it makes the perfect breakfast ( especially if you add an egg) or really the perfect anytime meal or snack.

For many, the idea of avocado toast is a fairly new one but not for me. I’ve been eating avocados since I could chew. I’m not even sure I needed teeth because they are so smooth and creamy. I’ve been feeding my own daughters avocado since they were allowed to eat solids. Avocados are healthy and delicious, why wouldn’t I?

READ ALSO: Elote Casserole Recipe

If we’re being honest, my family grows avocados in Mexico. We had to, we eat too many of them not to grow our own. Of course, that doesn’t help me at all here in the Midwest but it gives me something to look forward to when I take my family to visit the place I spent my summers as a child.

 Avocado toast has become my new addiction.

It’s healthy, simple, and delicious. The  best part of all, it’s super easy to make and ready in like 3 minutes minutes. I’m pretty sure that it takes me longer to eat it than it does to make it. This avocado toast recipe is so simple and easy that it’s hardly a recipe at all. But sometimes the simplest pleasures are overlooked and I didn’t want you to miss out on how to make avocado toast.

 This avocado toast recipe isn’t one of those fancy, complicated avocado recipes. Some things are just better simple, like butter tortillas. Butter + a warm flour tortilla = crazy delicious.

This avocado recipe is simple but the possibilities are endless. You can make it into avocado toast or if you’re trying to keep it more keto-friendly, eat it straight out of the bowl. If you want to serve it without the bread to guests, you can present it on a crisp, clean piece of iceberg lettuce.

READ ALSO: Chicken Enchilada Recipe

Sometimes zest up our avocado toast and top it with jalapeños, siracha, tomatoes, bacon, beans, spinach, salsa macho or pretty much anything your avocado toast loving heart desires.

To begin, toast your bread. I like mine nice and golden. You can use any kind of toast or sliced bread you have but I like to use hearty whole grain or sourdough toast. 

Next, mash an avocado in a small bowl with a fork. Add cilantro, lime, diced tomato and salt + pepper. Then, spread the creamy, smooth mixture on the toasted slice of bread. For me, 1 whole avocado makes 2 pieces of toast. Sprinkle with pepper flakes, if you like, and serve!

 If you want a little extra protein, top the avocado with an egg cooked any way you like. We like it over easy and runny but sunny side up, scrambled, poached or sliced hard-boiled works too.

READ ALSO: Easy Recipe for Chicken Tacos with Avocado Cream Sauce

Avocado Toast Recipe, avocado recipes, how to make avocado toast, avocado recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Simple, Easy and Delicious Avocado Toast Recipe

If you love avocado recipes and want a simple, easy and delicious avocado toast recipe this is the one you want. Even a child can make it. I know because my girls make it. And it only takes 5 minutes with vegetarian ingredients. It's a healthy, delicious and amazing avocado toast recipe.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican, vegetarian
Servings: 1
Author: Deborah Cruz

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado peeled with seed removed
  • 1/2 small tomato
  • 1/4 wedge lime
  • 1 tbsp cilantro to taste
  • olive oil drizzle
  • 1-2 slices whole grain ( or whatever you prefer) bread toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 eggs (optional) cooked to preference

Instructions

  • 1. Toast 2 slices of whole grain bread ( or whatever kind you prefer) in a toaster until golden brown and crispy.
    2. In a small bowl mash the avocado then combine cilantro, lime, tomato and salt + pepper to taste. Spread half of the mixture on each slice of toast. Drizzle with olive oil. Optional, top with fried, scrambled, or poached egg if desired.
    3. Serve with love! 
    4. Enjoy.
    Avocado Toast Recipe, avocado recipes, how to make avocado toast, avocado recipe

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Aretha Franklin, Do Right Woman, Pancreatic Cancer, Grandma, Family relationships, Latina, Aretha Franklin Dead

The Queen of Soul has left this world. Aretha Franklin, the original Do Right Woman, has died from pancreatic cancer earlier this morning at 9:50 a.m.

Aretha Franklin, whose voice was sweeter than honey, was one of the most admired singers of all time. She died this morning at the age of 76 after battling advanced pancreatic cancer. She died loved and surrounded by family and friends in Detroit. The Queen of Soul, a woman’s voice who has been around for my entire life, is no longer on this earth and it’s hitting me in a way that I never expected.

Yes, I loved Aretha Franklin ‘s voice and I respected the fire in the belly of that fierce Feminist woman who commanded everyone’s attention and respect. She was a woman who fought for the betterment of other women. She believed in empowering her sisters. She was a big, beautiful force of nature in this world. She was goodness and light and it saddens me that she is gone.

But, I’m sitting here sobbing and I couldn’t figure out why a stranger’s death would have such a profound effect on me. Then I realized, my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer a few years ago on July 8, 2011. She was just a couple years older than Lady Aretha. I’m not crying for the reasons you might think.

READ ALSO: The END of the World as We Know It

I’ve never written about this before because my relationship with my paternal grandmother has always been very private and personal for me. It was strained when it existed. It was the sum product of the relationship she had with my father and the way she treated most of the people that she was supposed to love. I had the misfortune of being old enough to witness and understand too much.

I found out that my grandmother had pancreatic and stomach cancer by an out of the blue phone call one night from my aunt as I was putting my babies to bed. Begging and then demanding that I get on the phone and tell my grandmother that I loved her, that I let her know things were fine between us, and I do it all in Spanish. It was a call for forgiveness after a lifetime of not caring about the consequences of her actions.

I did as I was told. I told the frail voice on the other end, “Te amo, Abuelita.” But I didn’t feel it and if all she wanted was the words to be said, I had done my part but if she had wanted more, she was left wanting. I cried when I hung up because I never wanted her to be in such physical pain, no matter our differences. I cried because I knew this would crush my dad.

This was the first time I had heard from her since my baby shower in 2005 that she had unexpectedly shown up at. She hadn’t been invited because we had no contact. Previous to that, I saw her at my bridal shower that she crashed in 1999. Before that, I think it was when she lived with us in the mid 80’s. I was not a priority to her. Or maybe she didn’t know how to come back from the painful way she had behaved when I was a child. I think maybe she wanted to have a relationship in her old age but had no idea how to reach out in any meaningful way. I had already long given up hope for one.

I was a new mom with little girls. I had long moved on from caring whether or not she cared about me. I only met her a handful of times before she moved in with us when she left my grandfather behind in Mexico to come to live in the United States with her children. My father adored her no matter what she did. In his eyes, even when he knew she did wrong, he chose to look passed it.

READ ALSO: Sometimes the Most Important Things to be Said Don’t Require Words

She fought with my dad over everything. She never liked my mom and was unkind to her. She got mad at my dad if he couldn’t give her all of his attention immediately. She gave no consideration that he was a husband and father of 6 children. To her, he was her son first and foremost and anything he did, she took as a purposeful and personal affront to her. There was no way to win. He lost because he chose his family over her every beck and call.

One day when my 4-year-old brother ran to his grandmother screaming, “Grandma, Grandma” she stopped him cold and pushed him away saying, “I am not your grandma.” My little brother, the sweetest kid I’ve ever known, walked away deflated and crying. I witnessed the deflation and, at that moment, I saw the petty, coldness reveal itself. I was 11-years-old.

I realize you can’t judge someone on one terrible moment in time but that was just one of many moments like this. I don’t want to speak ill of my dead grandmother out of respect for my father. He loved and still loves her very much. He has seen all of her faults and she has done unspeakable hurts to him as a child but he has forgiven her and so have I. I have no room in my heart for hatred. I am thankful that she brought my father into this world and, for that, I will always be grateful and love her.

But when she was dying, she wanted to make an amends with everyone she had wronged. She wanted forgiveness at the very moment I was learning what it was like to be a mother. You see, by the time she called me, I had figured out that my children were the most important thing in the world to me and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. Nothing. I definitely would not have taken my 9 children and pushed them to be at odds with one another to prove their love for me.

I can’t explain the whole story of her lifetime, it’s so long. But from the beginning, she had a hard life. She was orphaned, raped by someone she knew, thrown out and living on the streets and a mother by the age of 13. The world made her hard from the very beginning but even when she met my grandfather and they got married and he took on the responsibility of her child and they went on to have 8 more children together, she had been hungry for too long. She had become feral and she never softened.  She stayed hungry and autonomous.

She pushed everyone who could ever love her away. Maybe she believed herself unlovable. If that is the case, I feel sorry for her. Her children loved her blindly and unconditionally and she never could reciprocate entirely. She was too guarded.

The thing is the weeks leading up to her death, everyone came from near and far to visit her, let her make amends, give their forgiveness and be there to support her in her final days. They congregated around her hospital bed in my aunt’s living room praying the rosary and crying, supporting one another; being there for one another like only family can. I’m sure the love was palpable but I wouldn’t go. I know that sounds cold and harsh.

I wasn’t trying to withhold anything but I couldn’t go there and pretend that I belonged. We never had a relationship. I told my father that if he needed me there for support, I would go for him. But, my going had nothing to do with her. I didn’t need to say goodbye because we had never really said hello. We never really got to know each other and that’s how she had wanted it my entire childhood. She had lived withholding love for so long that she had to think about it to remember to hug us so mostly she didn’t. My dad told me that he understood and it was fine if I didn’t go. So I didn’t.

She died. I never even cried. I remember the date she died because remember that little 4-year-old brother of mine who she told she was not his grandma? She died on his 32nd birthday. Neither of us cried. Neither of us went to say goodbye.

Over the years since, I have seen a few pictures of her smiling. She looked happy in her way. I only saw her smile once in my life, that was at my baby shower. I think she was excited, in her way, that her first granddaughter was going to have a daughter. I’ll always love her for loving the idea of my daughter and loving my father, even if she didn’t love me. Or maybe she did, in her way.

Aretha Franklin, Do Right Woman, Pancreatic Cancer, Grandma, Family relationships, Latina, Aretha Franklin Dead

Today, when I read about Aretha Franklin dying of pancreatic cancer, the painful, terrible disease that killed my last living grandparent, I cried for my grandma. It took me 7 years but today, it hurt remembering that she was gone. It hurt remembering that she is no longer here on this earth for her children. It pains me knowing that my father hurts every day missing his mother. It hurt knowing that there are no more chances for redemption for her.

Today the true forgiveness washed over me and I let the pain go. I wrote about it. “Te Amo, Abuelita.” Today, these words have weight. She never did get to meet my girls. But then again, she never asked to and maybe that was her gift to me. No words to hurt, no deeds to be undone just the fond, edited memories recounted by my father with love to his granddaughters.

As I sit here listening to Do Right Woman on a loop, I hope you rest in Peace Aretha Franklin and you too, abuela.

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