Confessions of An Introvert…

I am an Introvert.

I live right on the edge of the bubble. Just outside of the excitement, of life happening at the moment. Peeking in like a desperate window shopper longingly gazing at a purchase she can’t afford to make. Envying the absolute delight in all of the faces inside of the coveted bubble.

I am an Introvert.

More often, I‘m caught between a fraught yearning of desperately desiring to experience life inside of the bubble and utter contentment of observing it from the outside. A constant struggle of feeling like I’ve missed out on the only opportunity to fully be alive and another chance to grab life by the wheels is just around the corner. An optimist and pessimist in the same body. On the outside, I appear quiet, reserved and reflective. That’s how most view me and the label shy has been thrust upon me more times that I can recall. The revelation here is that this couldn’t be further from the truth about the real me. The shy label is only armor, armor that protects my rich inner world of a constant stream of loud thoughts, an imagination that floats to unimaginable heights for days even weeks at a time and vivid color filled dreams of past and future life. And while my exterior expression may communicate I have nothing to speak about, my mind is playing like a tape recorder on fast forward all of the time. Much of my teenage life I spent in angst and while this is normal teenage woes, for me it was because I wanted to accept the shy label, I thought it was befitting. True, I didn’t talk much, striking up conversations with strangers and friends alike caused anxiety. Instead of conquering my teenage angst, my worries only advanced into deeper roots as I developed into an adult. I spent years attempting to outgrow the shy label, struggling to be more assertive, more open to life, more social, all the while fighting against the grain of who I was originally created to be.

Again, always just outside of the bubble.

A traumatic experience forced me into therapy a few years ago, extensive therapy, where I had no choice but to face my nightmares alone. And speaking of alone, I oft wondered why I so cherished, essentially thrive at times when I find myself there. I spent years convincing myself something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t normal, like everyone else. Therapy, good therapy, gently places a mirror in your hand and lovingly forces you to stare at your reflection. At your insecurities and fears and again lovingly pushes you to embrace all of it. And in the accepting, the false layers began to peel away until you are stripped down to your true core. In all my getting, I got an understanding of me, of my introverted nature. I’m learning about self-care, what it consists of and how it relates to me. I’m learning to unleash the creative inside of me, instead of hiding her, allowing her to breathe and live. I’m learning the endless stories, fantasies inside of my head can actually be turned into something magical once my fingers hit the keyboard. I’m learning music, an impromptu solo dance party, an uninterrupted walk in the park, a glance into the blue sky on a busy day are like white blood cells fighting foreign substances attempting to invade my soul. I’m learning to pull all the way back after a really people intensive, environmentally stimulating work day in order to recharge. I’m learning to say no when I don’t possess the desire to say yes and not to accept social invitations out of guilt. I’m learning I cannot give of myself if my tank is empty and refueling requires alone time. I’m learning not to fear the unexpected waves of creativity, which usually involve a tsumani of intense emotional vulnerability, but instead allow it to swallow me, get still and just create. I’m learning mistakes are not fatal but directional and purposeful, and they are needed in any growth process. I’m learning that I am me and me, fatally flawed but gracefully forgiven, is enough.

I am Enough.

I am an Introvert.

And I’m finally living my truth.



We Miss You, Alexander McQueen

mcqueen4It was five years ago, this fashion week eve, that the fashion universe stopped mid tilt on its axis and ceased from spinning for a few minutes. Lee Alexander McQueen, mister boy wonder turned creative genius, died by way of suicide and the world of fashion grew a little more darker. We miss him, the fashion industry misses him deeply and there has yet to be one proven to fill the void of McQueen’s out-of-this-world creations. Certainly any artist can attest to the dark side of creating…the unstable moments, the isolation phases, and the loneliness. And while these muses often are responsible for giving birth to greatness and mass appeal, they can be downright detrimental if not periodically checked and balanced.  No one knows the real reason(s) why McQueen, a bright beacon in the fashion community, decided to end his life. Rampant speculations followed the days after his death; some say losing his longtime friend/confident Isabella Blow and the support of his mother who passed away just days after Blow is what drove his decision to book an earlier appointment to meet his maker.

We miss you, Mr. McQueen. Your brash ego, eccentric behavior, your dark interpretations of fashion. We miss the electric atmosphere of the unexpected expectation you created with each of your collections. We miss the way you created purely and passionately. We miss the effortless way you would marry opposing ideologies; luminous & obscure, structured & disheveled or confined & unrestricted. You weren’t just a fashion designer; you were a designer of hope and like the Sex Pistols who ushered in the punk movement, you knew exactly what the industry needed to wake it from its lofty snooze fest.


The loss of McQueen has been tremendous and sad, leaving fashion with a gaping hole in its heart. But we are grateful for the years he lived, the lives he touched and the collections he designed. May his spirit of just the correct dose of controversy injected on the runway live on. May his legacy continue to thrive, and as Sarah Burton strives to maintain his original aesthetic, inspire another young man with big dreams of fashion design.




Fashion Foul

APC_logoNothing separates a fashion show from the mundane during fashion week like controversy. Ask Jean Touitou. During A.P.C.’s AW 2015 collection, the provocative laced designer was asked to describe his inspiration behind the presentation. Never one to run his thoughts through conscious filter, Touitou explained plainly to the unexcited media the collection was a “mix between the Watch the Throne (the 2013 Jay Z + Kanye album collaboration) single N***** in Paris and the famous Marlon Brando film Last Tango in Paris.” And as if those few comments didn’t spark a charge to the raging, out-of-control flames of current racial tension and discrimination, Touitou, often a walking figurative of inserting foot in mouth, looped Timberland into the charring by stating the brand, “is a very strong ghetto signifier.”

Fail. When asked to further explain those comments, Touitou immediately cited his friend/workship with Kanye West as a source of endorsement. Momentous fail. West, a like sufferer of inserting his foot in mouth publicly, hasn’t been very successful in his attempt to ascend to the glorious realm of fashion royalty. In fact every attempt West has made in designing has been met with either mixed or poor reviews, including his collaborations with A.P.C.  Mixing West into an already disastrous elixir coupled with Touitou’s larger than life attitude led Timberland to sever their working relationship with A.P.C.

“We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the A.P.C. brand. Simply stated, this kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our valves. Timberland seeks to collaborate with designers and brands who are at the forefront of lifestyle trends, equally important, they must also share our values. We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand.”

Designers like Touitou create in the dark. Gone are the days when the French ruled the fashion universe, dictating unanimously the what, how & why of fashion. Long gone is the era of a trickle down theory in fashion, where the upper echelon of society decided acceptable wear and then over a period of time was slowly adapted by the lower classes. Today, the instantaneous realm of social media, the fashion blogger extraordinaire, street style & Instagram stars heavily influence and determine what design houses are sending down the runway. CoCo Chanel, a visionary and creative force, understood this, adopting it well before its time. “Fashion is not something that exists in dress(es) only, Fashion is in the sky, in the street…”

Maybe Jean Touitou should hire a good publicist. Then again, not even the best of publicists can dislodge his foot out of his mouth if he’s so insistent on keeping it in there.

*Touitou issued a standard statement exclusively to GQ on January 29th:

“When describing our brand’s latest collaboration, I spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive. I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words, which are in no way a reflection of my personal views.”

Learning to Love

Things I Learned (To Love) About Myself During My First Year As a Freelancer

They say that it’s great pressure that removes impurities and creates diamonds. If not for the hard times, we wouldn’t be able to expose the dark parts of ourselves to the light. Well, thanks to the past 12 months of my freelance career, my skeletons are out of the closet and doing a tap dance routine in my living room. From the constant solitude, to the pressure to perform, the glorious rejections, and mind altering approvals, my dirt has been put on display day in and day out for one year and the experience has changed me for good.

Of all the shifts, the ability to recognize my real self, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I love me anyway has been the greatest take away. I’ve been shown my strengths and my weaknesses, faced the dragon, slayed it, and received a well-deserved aha moment to cap off the adventure. Each victory refined me into a new person, but at the same time made me more me than I was before.

The mark of a great relationship is the ability to see the other person as they are and love them anyway. I think now I am in a fantastic relationship with me and it is getting serious.

Here are a few of my hard earned pearls. I share in hopes that they resonate in others and set them on their journey….

You are good, you are enough.
One of the hardest lessons to learn and even harder to walk out each day – YES, I can tell a great story and people will want to listen to it.

I am an expert in my world, and I should never discount my knowledge.
In the beginning, I defaulted to others too often thinking they knew best. My insecurities were suffocating my ability to do my best work.

I am hilarious, and I don’t need to hide that to be taken seriously.
I like to add humor to things and I should never think that makes me a clown or makes others perceive me as less than.

I can be in the company of other talented people and not disappear.
Shrinking violet syndrome was running rampant and it wasn’t until I stopped positioning myself in the fringes did I find a place at the table.

No, it is an honor to work with me.
I’m done with taking what I can get because I’m just happy to be here. I have earned my place and deserve to be valued.

I am not afraid of pushing towards excellence and I shouldn’t be scared to require that of others.
If they leave because I set standards, then so be it.

If it doesn’t create a positive platform for something or someone, I don’t want to do it.
I only have so much time on this Earth and I want to spend it doing something worthwhile. I am not building a career, I’m planning my legacy.

Be brave enough to say no.
I like to give 100 percent, so I must watch what I dedicate myself to.

My instincts are always right when it comes to me.
No one knows what is best for me better than me. Period. Trust myself.

Accept the seasons, nothing is meant to last forever, even your blessings.
Let go when it time to let go. It is not that it wasn’t good, it is just that something better is on the horizon.


cherise Cherise Luter is a freelance writer with and Houston Press. To learn more about her or connect with her, visit

In Love.

lia      How did SHE fall in love with herself? I was always driven. From a young age I knew I was going to be the best lawyer that ever was. I am proud to be the first generation to graduate with a high school diploma, Bachelor’s Degree and now Masters from my household. During parent/teacher nights in elementary school, my teachers would be surprised to find my short 4’9 mother shaking their hand. She has always been refined in presentation yet modest at heart. They were expecting to find an educated professional but instead of a little stern woman. “Digame la verdad, como se porta mi hija” translation “tell me the truth teacher, how has my daughter acted in school.” She never worried about my grades because I always brought home A’s. The important factor for her was my conduct. I went on to High School, was honored with the Gates Millennium Scholarship to go to college and moved into Law School in the cold state of South Dakota. The first summer I lived there I was gracious enough to live with a recent graduate. It was the most economic option for me, he was married and had one child. That family had no clue I was Latino, maybe, but one day I was saddened by the words that came out of their mouth after a news report.

“All those Hispanics are coming over, they are crossing the Rio Grande and just coming over. They ought to stay where they are.”

As an adult, I was now worried about my conduct. Was I acting in a way that would honor my family’s legacy? I had choices, yes, and one of those was to be quite and excuse myself. I left to the Mexican restaurant in town and had a wine-rita (because they weren’t able to sell the real stuff) and I reflected. Was it racism? Was it buying into the media? Did they really have a problem with my culture? It was at that pivotal moment I decided the next time my mother called and I was in a common area, I would answer the phone. They had yet to see an educated Hispanic person and I would subtly introduce that part of me. She called the following Sunday, I picked up the phone and started talking. It then prompted the question, “what is your background” to which I responded. The look of surprise will never leave my memory bank.

It was in that moment, I couldn’t be prouder of my heritage, of my values and of the extreme form of discipline I had undergone. I didn’t make a big deal of it, instead I found a way to educate them and maybe change their perception. At that moment, I fell in deep love with the passionate, empathetic, tactful, proud Latina, ME.


–Laura Isabel Alvarez

Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.

The Anniversary of Silence

As we continue our series SHE…


I am often asked, “How long have you been writing?” My answer usually ranges between the ages of 17 and 19, but the truth of the matter is I have been at it since grade 5. I was in a talented and gifted program (TAG), and I was tasked to create a book of poetry for a class project. This project introduced me to my love for words being eloquently linked together to tell stories. Not just any stories, but stories that my imagination birthed.

Over time I became more enamored with the multitude of pictures I could paint with words. It became an addiction for me to see how many people I could touch; how many women I could woo; how many of the fellas I could inspire to be more creative in their approach. I guess in a way I felt like writing was my mutant power (LOL). It was something about that pen and pad in my clutches that made me feel invincible. Writing gave me a power, an unequalled high, and a borderline sense of superiority. This craft has taken me on an amazing journey. I have been on stages with gifted musicians. I have headlined open mics with some of the most talented wordsmiths. I have been adored enough to be called a mentor to some of the most creative minds one would ever want to know. I enjoy the creative process, I really do. It’s like breathing the freshest of air. I cannot wait to inhale and exhale again.

The Anniversary of Silence

Facial features disguised

But she couldn’t hide the pain that outlined the unrest in her eyes

Untruths buried… Fed far to many lies

Even her tears had tears, drowning in cries.

Scared to be alone, so she couldn’t find the strength to leave him,

Unable to see past the blurred lines of hate wrapped in love, overwhelmingly deceiving

Because he loved her so much in that right eye that she hated to see thru her left

Thieving her self-esteem which each punch and kick, last breathes

Mommy I try to remember you,

But I pray to forget

The way that temperament changed when his empty bottle tipped

Liquor infused with the devilish spit

Massacre ensued, how fatal the script

Baby brother cry’s still echo with pain

Blood soaked denim still clutters my brain

No longer enjoying the beat of the rain,

Crazy how GOD’s music conjures up so much disdain

I just want to be plain,

A regular man who sleeps at night without the shakes and shivers

Without the cold sweats that my memory delivers

Without the eerie vision of a canvas painted in a nauseous river

My breathing is hampered

My legs are wearily weak

My arms don’t move

My mouth doesn’t speak

A victim

A witness

A murderous cowards retreat,

I try to drink the pain away

Smoke out the guilt

Purge the details from that night she was tragically killed

Silenced by Daddy




ts Tamir Salaam is a Dallas resident and a master composer of the written word. You can connect with him on facebook or blogspot to read more of his work.



I am the proud alum of the University of Houston. I was blessed to work in downtown Houston and my mother made sure I had a humble heart. I was blessed to speak Spanish and understand the language of poverty.

During my stay in Houston I learned about the worker’s will to unionize and of the incredible push back they were receiving. The janitors that worked downtown after hours only earned minimum wage, which at the time it was $5.15. They also paid for their own parking. When I worked late hours, I saw kids, not that much older than me, taking out the trash, vacuuming and covering the square footage of this twenty floored sky high building. I decided to join them for the march that would not only change the earning ability of Houston janitors but ultimately the minimum wage of the country.

They won their campaign and I went to law school. Through life’s journey, I did not become the lawyer I dreamt of becoming since the 6th grade. I instead became something better (it is my interpretation, so to my lawyer friends, don’t get offended) by quitting law school and become a (self proclaimed) epic organizer. Giving a voice to the voiceless or ignored, I facilitated an organization of janitors in negotiating their pay just like lawyers, doctors, and business professionals. I organized over 500 janitors to go on unfair practice strikes because they were not being treated fairly, and getting taken advantage of.

I had to have tough conversations with families who shared a one bedroom apartment to prepare them for the aftermath of a strike. I had to prepare them for worst case scenario and give them hope for best case scenario. I had to talk to people who were making decisions for their children based on their minimum wage and had 16 hours of sweat and tears, emotional roller coasters. This was the biggest growth and stretch of SHE.



–Laura Isabel Alvarez

Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.