Feminist or nah?

As I write this I’m listening to the hip-hop samplings of Migos. Hip-hop as a genre does very little for the women’s movement. They consistently call a woman out of their queen title with misnomers like hoes, freaks, nat-nat (ATL-ien for ho), thots and bitch. Meanwhile, my hips are moving and head nodding as Quavo “Pop Shit”. And it’s not just Migos, it’s various other artists. They are just my current hip-hop obsession. Women hip-hop artists also spew the nouns and adjectives synonymous with slut-shaming and degradation. Most notably the two women on top of their hip-hop game: Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Cardi B has now somehow become the face of human empowerment and anti-slut shaming. I, for the most part, co-sign Cardi B’s raw talent and self-expression. Shit! I even bought her new album in the name of supporting a woman from my neck of the woods, whom I may add beat all the odds. So how can someone, like myself, and these strong women artists embrace the same genre that knocks women down to sexual objects and property? Well, I don’t know, dammit. I can’t sit here and tell you with a straight face that their just words. Words are everything. Don’t think I can convince you the intent to insult or degrade is nonexistent (or can I?).

So how can I be so in love with a culture that so blatantly berates its listeners with offensive commentary on women’s worth and sexuality? I clearly believe women are equal if not a superior being. They are capable of so much more than men, both biologically, emotionally, and mentally. Is it just conditioning? Are we vying for a top spot in the big boys club? As a NYC born and raised female, I can confess to being “one of the boys.” Having to be rough and tough in the big city is a must if you want to survive. But not sure if I can deem that a cop out for taking sexist tones in casual conversions. I also have a really bad habit of calling anyone I’m comfortable with (male or female) bro or ‘b’ (As in, “Nah, b”). After moments of going back and forth with my inner voice in between stops on the C train; I chalked it up to “bad habits die hard” and switched to my meditation app to get some ‘HeadSpace’. Or snooze? I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on that particular ride to enlightenment. The next day I looked through the Spotify categorized playlists. There were a few calling right at me as I looked for the perfect playlist to focus me at my desk during one of many seemingly useless, monotonous tasks. I can get real cranky and indifferent around 3pm so I needed a playlist that inspired but also didn’t impose or propagate angst. And there shined a playlist. So simple yet so true, her name was “Focus”. Can’t make this stuff up! So I said come’on Miss Focus let’s see what you got. She did not disappoint. I felt like I was playing the soundtrack of a movie. They were a string of lyricless, delightful and moving instrumental. Some incorporated nature and environmental sounds, some boasted percussion and world rhythms. Others made me feel like I can lift a car or win a supreme court case. I almost wanted to apologize to the playlist for doubting its awesomeness and to myself for thinking I was lame for trying it out.

Now I’m not saying I’m giving up hip-hop forever. Not all hip-hop artist or hip-hop music degrades women but I am saying it is very important to think about what you’re feeding your mind throughout the day. Maybe listening to someone calling women bitches and hoes, especially at your place of work, when you are looking to be inspired as a woman and inspire other women is not the right alignment of flow. Maybe listening to some kickass blockbuster epic instrumentals is key. Maybe listening to some nature sounds or uplifting beats is what you need. Not sure one would listen to the blues when working out; but I know for me I’d just end up laying on the stretch mat, letting the tears roll down to my ears regretting the waffles I hate before my workout.

And I’m gonna listen to the new Cardi B album, no question about it. I am, however going to be a bit more conscious of the messages I’m feeding myself daily. I am a feminist and hope to be raising one too. That means being more in tune with the art, news, products, and organizations that filter into my life regularly. The next time you are looking for inspiration or feel it strike, note the energy and message of that moment. If you are feeling melancholy what’s the mood in the room? If you are feeling angsty what’s the tone of the music you are listening to? It’s all relative; just make sure you’re relating to the world the way you see it. Not how the way the world wants you to see it.

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The book is here! Pour the lemonade.

Oh, hello dear! Sorry, it’s been so long but I have been rather tied up in the lavish life of becoming an author. OK, OK, I know, where I left you last I was completely freaking out.

However, the book is done, and in the hands of the editor. The cover was thoughtfully crafted and graciously gifted by my talented niece. The book is set to release on Kindle just a week from today and in paperback two weeks later. I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams that I’d write a book but I must, of course, confess it has been my biggest dream. Ever since I could identify the comforts of book reading and storytelling as I child, I had this inclination to write. Whether in a journal, a short story, or a school report, the feeling of transferring thought to pen, pen to paper, felt like a true release, a true transfer of energy. Writing my book, “Flipping Awesome”, was no exception. The healing and insight I’ve experienced whilst writing this book surpass any profit or recognition I could hope to expect or receive. I wrote the book in hopes of sharing my story and relating it to whoever could find comfort in knowing someone shared the same experiences, thoughts, and feelings while navigating this journey called life. What I did not expect was to come to new revelations, new truths about myself and ideals.

As I guide the reader through circumstances, tools, beliefs, and self-evolving resources that helped me transition from a life turned upside down to a world turned on its head I shined a light on the blind spot I’d ignored for years. During the review and preliminary editing process, a theme with-in my struggles, limits, and setbacks glared at me through the print. It was clear, I’d been struggling with substance abuse, and moreover alcohol abuse for much longer and more severely than I had ever thought. My affinity for cocktails and brews was not a surprise but my sabotage, my self-medicating, and susceptibility to binge drinking was. On the outside looking in it appeared to me, at least before the review, that I had quite a handle on it and could take breaks at any moment. But as I read the book and review the events in my mind and my heart, the overwhelming theme was a tendency to self-medicate and self-soothe. Alcohol numbed all sensation, whether it be joy, pain, discomfort, disappointment, or gave a falsity of confidence, courage, and prowess. So, as I delved back into my spirituality and made my way back into my faith, I chose to give up alcohol for Lent. In Catholicism, Lent is celebrated in honor of the forty day period Jesus spent in the wilderness, avoiding worldly temptations. Christians, for forty days, pay homage to the period by giving up something for forty days to deepen their discipline and faith. I chose alcohol. At day twenty I made a conscious decision to give up drinking altogether.

It’s important to me and my journey that I feel present, affected and supported. My consumption of alcohol, I found diminished, diluted, and often times degraded some of the most memorable experiences. That is not to say I didn’t make some amazing memories over a glass wine, or a cocktail with friends. But I can say that it’s also been a common denominator in lapses of judgment, illness, conflict, and distraction. It is now time that I see my life without my beer goggles and come into life as it comes and forms around me.

Another beautiful prize the project has rewarded me is a deep, newfound, closeness to a distant relative. My eldest brother, a half-brother on my father’s side, passed away when I was seven or eight. I don’t remember much of him other than the fact he was my father’s first child fathered out of wedlock during a teenage tryst during his upbringing in rural Wisconsin. Joey Jr. passed away at the young age of 20 years old. My mother tells me stories of the young, almost identical clone, of my father’s namesake. Apparently, he spent some time with us in NY when I was an infant. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of him nor did I ever get a chance to meet or visit with him during my childhood. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard his voice over the telephone. But when he passed I remember the sadness, remorse, and regret I could see in my father’s eyes and demeanor. When the opportunity came to write the book, I knew instantly that I would reach out to the talented young woman my late brother brought into the world. My late brother not only mirrored my father in looks but in life. He to entered the journey of fatherhood in his teens and by the time of his death he had fathered four beautiful little girls. All of them grew to be beautiful, strong, opinionated women. All intelligent, independent and talented. I had the pleasure of meeting one in particular years ago and followed her journey closely. Her family, mother, step-father, and sister stuck by my father closely for years to come and we were able to stay close as well. We followed each other on Instagram and Facebook and developed the unique and loving family dynamic we have now. When I stepped into this journey, of exploring my creativity as a writer and healer, it only felt natural to reach out to the ones I love and supported to support me and my dream. My talented artist of a niece, Lisi, was the first person that came to mind when considering artwork and design for my book cover. She delivered, exceeded, and brought to life my vision. As I reviewed the final book-sleeve and e-book cover I was just so overcome by emotion. I felt this warmth and the overwhelming feeling that destiny played a huge part at this moment. The baby girl and baby sister of the young late Joseph Anthony Torres Jr., years after his life’s end, collaborated in ways no one could ever have imagined. I feel so much closer to my niece, my brother, and the person that brought us all together, my father. My feelings for and about my father have wavered throughout the years. However, none of this would be possible without him. For all it’s worth, he is truly a key contributor to me fulfilling and realizing my dreams and potential. My father will continue to be a key influence and truly the biggest loves of my life. This whole project has opened my eyes to the true abundance and love that surrounds me and us all on a daily basis. I can’t wait to share my work and my journey with others. I hope in some way I can inspire a few or even one person to do the same. There is such a healing in sharing our stories. I look forward to sharing more stories and to hearing more of your stories as well.

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Gratitude for that Attitude

Today was a rough day. I have a cold that won’t quit. My kid has a cold that won’t quit. My mom went to the hospital because her cold and respiratory system decided to clock some overtime. This all meant working from home, under the weather, whilst caring for my drippy tiny tyrant. The lows were low. He broke his car lamp, stuck post it’s all over the place, colored the floor with green markers and shrieked incessantly at the top of his lungs. Work, was, well worky. Can’t say it was more worky than usual but under the circumstances it was definitely hard to concentrate or focus. With each email request or meeting arrangement I could feel my skin crawl. The back and forth of one particular exchange inspired many an eye roll and unheard “wtf’s”. Is this my life purpose? To babysit an inbox and several calendars. Was I put on this earth to ignore my health, my need to rest, and my sons need for attention to frantically schedule meetings that are only to be canceled or rescheduled? I kept wondering if it was all a sign to whisper “fuck it” to the wind and start drafting a resignation later. As quickly as that thought came over me a bolt of wisdom shot through me. “Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.” This golden rule sits at number 8 on my son’s ‘Rules for my Son’ plaque his dad got him. I read the rules everyday while a change my sons diaper. The plaque sits at eye-level right above his changing table. Up until my mini meltdown I was on cloud-nine. I had added a couple thousand more words to the rough draft of my book. I started the search for a financial planner to get me back on track. Shoot, I made myself gluten free juevos ranchero for breakfast. That joint was lit! So what the hell was I complaining about? Literally, forty-five minutes before, I was doing the cabbage patch in celebration of me sort-off adulting. Now look at me! Pouting about being home, in my sweats, surfing Facebook occasionally, able to take a cat nap, play with my son, answer a petty email here and there, while getting paid. Go ahead, say it! “Boo, fucking, who!” I deserve it. A) That all sounds pretty sweet. B) On the other hand if I don’t want to work on a sick day; then I’m responsible for setting the precedent. C) Perhaps all that annoying shit is not my calling, but I chose it. D) I don’t have a D but I overcommitted to lettering my thoughts just then. Wait, light bulb moment: I over commit! We all over commit. It’s inherent and ingrained in us. Maybe it’s a woman thing. Maybe it’s a people pleaser thing. Maybe it’s a self sabotage thing. But how can I be mad at my managers for over committing themselves, their time, their team, and myself if I’m guilty of overcommitting myself. That’s the issue with my finances, that’s the issue with my businesses getting off the ground, that’s the issue with my work life balance, that’s just the issue point blank. If I focused doing what is possible and reasonable from a place of joy instead of trying to do it all from a place of misery, I wouldn’t feel the need to resign. Duh! And if I can change that for me it surely will trickle into my work relationships and the people I serve. Tomorrow we vow to take it one thing at a time. We focus intently on ourselves and our boundaries. We give thanks and we don’t bitch…about anything. And by we I mean we. We’re in this together. Namaste. Amen. Bet.

Am I doing it all for the right reasons?

I feel like I’m putting a lot on the line. I’ve put my credit, my money, my future and my well being on the line to reach the end goal: authordom. Up until now I was rather responsible and played it safe. This year I decided to go all in and I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. OK. Maybe I won’t have a heart attack but I’m one more internal conversation from rocking in a corner. This weekend could make or break me. Working on this book, my call to action, my purpose, my brand, my life is literally keeping me up all night. That and the stupid ice machine next door. Part of me is go big or go home! The other part is just go the fuck home already. But what’s done is done. The money is paid, the time is spent, the debt is climbing I have to push through. I tried a mantra or two. I’ve tried self soothing. Every attempt to shut my eyes and tune it all out has just ended up in a spiral of more self doubt. “This is a mistake, what are you doing?” “You’re not prepared!” I’m behind on word count. I’ll now be sleep deprived. I have less than 24 hours to get my shit together or drag my knuckles home in defeat. Am I going to go home, short rent, short of a book, short of an opportunity to chase me dreams because of the voice in my head? Am I really going to allow the opportunity of having the wisdom and expertise at my finger tips pass me by simply because I’m “inexperienced”? I’ve got to cut the shit. The gig is up. I’m a fraud! Right? No that’s not it. Maybe I roll up in a ball at the commencement of day two. Cry my eyes out in an attempt to gain some empathy or sympathy. I’ll take either. Or perhaps they’ll feel so sorry for me and return my money because who wants a pathetic quitter’s money. I’ll go moping back to Brooklyn with my dignity left in Deer Park but my rent paid and a comfy bed that doesn’t make me sweat like a whore in church. Yay! Quitting! I love quitting. It makes me feel better about playing it safe. Playing the victim will certainly help me this time. WRONG!!!!!! Ugh, why do I psych myself out when it’s my own same psyche that amped me up in the first place. Following your dreams is hard work! I don’t want to do hard work. I don’t want it to be scary. I just want to write my book, people pay me for it and my insight, my awesome story telling funnels into my social beverage business; become a millionaire, write a screenplay about my success or at least a Netflix mini series, call it a day and then go home to my cute little chunk of a baby. Is that so much to ask for? I’m not asking a lot? Am I? In the famous words of Drake, “I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful”. Or was it Trey Songs who song the hook? Oh fuck it, you know what I song I’m talking about. You all were Drake obsessed too; even if you didn’t like him. The point of the matter is I feel inadequate in this group of greats. I feel like I’m lacking the prerequisites. It’s pre-health professional sciences all over again and I’m about to get a big stinking “D-” in crappy book writing. Now can I crawl into a ball and cry? NO!!! You can’t. You need to go to sleep. Catch some zzzz’s and grab this book and this experience by the collar and politely ask “Ay, what the fuck am I doing and how do I do it? …..Thank you.” Great! Glad I got that out. Maybe now a writing-ass-betch can get some sleep around here. Goodnight! Ummm I mean good morning!

Happy New Year! Bien Venidos 2018

Oh man what a year 2017 was! Highs and lows alike…it really couldn’t have been a better year. I’d say there were way more highs than lows. My son turned two, solidifying his toddler stage. First few words and phrases dribble out his cute little cheerio obsessed mouth. He closed out the year with a new sense of humor and amazing comedic timing. Thank the lord he has my sense of humor and wit. The kid is just flourishing and I thank the big guy above and the big momma above (my mother who literally lives the apartment above me). Secondly, I got to catch a few flights and take a few flicks. Greece was breathtaking and my two brief trips to the mile high city of Denver were amazing as well. Made a few friends, caught a few feelings, learned a lot about the human spirit both others and my own. 2017 was a true awakening and classroom of sorts. It was a strong year for personal development. I read a lot of books, become a bit bolder, a bit more intentional in my movement. I launched this blog, I re-introduced and re-launched my start-up beverage business. I shared some talents, spoke up more, and put goals both near and far on paper. 2018 for me will be the year of results. With that said a few steps backward have been taken. I came into 2017 with a clean bill of financial health or at least a cleaner bill of financial health than the year before. I over extended myself this year. I moved into a brand new apartment (a rather expensive apartment), furnished it fully, and then proceeded to ball out in Greece. Not to mention upon my return, still in vacation mode, proceeded to get my music festival on and host a guest or two in between. Pro: I had the time of my life and set the tone to how and by what term I plan to enjoy my life. Con: Destroyed my bank account and credit in the process. But hey, it’s the lessons you learn that are the true currency and I have made the necessary steps to at least get the wheels turning on saving money and cutting my expenses. Honestly, I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in years. I’m definitely happier than the years I was working two jobs to hoard cash. Those two years between 2012 – 2014 were just a work horse blur. It strained relationships, fueled a mean drinking habit, and completely exhausted me. Not to mention all the cash didn’t make me happy. So I did the next best thing, I spent it! So…money doesn’t buy you happiness? No, but what it can do is offer you a tool, a key of sorts, to unlock your freedom. That was clear of 2017. So the year of 2018 is making bolder but wiser decisions. 2018 is a year of belief and work ethic. It’s the year I reach out and get the help I deserve. Its the year all my dreams or the most pinnacle ones come true. Whether that means finally getting my beverage to market, moving to a much affordable well rounded city, or getting my finances back on track, the journey will forge on. No more excuses, no more hesitation, and no more ignoring the inner voice telling me to go for it. Now, one of the goals is to post more and document the process. And I do try to do it more often than I have been but finding the time and prioritizing the process is getting increasingly hard. A simple fix is launching a daily podcast via Anchor. An app that makes recording and broadcasting seamless and instantaneous. Qualities that are heralded by our generation. I’ll be recording my first podcast later today. A little something, something to get the ball rolling.

OK, so that’s it! I’ll leave off with wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. PEACE!