Stretching…

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.

 

 

 

The Beauty of Retreat

Often times, retreat signifies defeat in battle or the act of moving back or withdrawing.  How can that be good? Where is the beauty in it? It’s admitting failure and running away with your tail tucked between your legs, well by my understanding.  But during my recovery from oral surgery (which was quite traumatic) these last few weeks, I struggled immensely to pick back my routine up of writing every day, posting a few times a week.  An internal battle raged within me, my inner critical voice loudly proclaiming victory as I preferred to recuperate rather than half *** some writing just for the sake of writing.  Admittedly the times I tried, I didn’t feel the familiar rush of sensation normally felt when I sat to write.  Dry spell? Lack of inspiration? A trip to the dreaded land of writer’s block? For days, I had not a one inkling of an answer.  For weeks, I’ve gotten back into full swing at my day job yet unable to find the courage to clock into my real passions after hours.  My inner critic continued to scold and mock me, whispering how worthless and phony of a creative being I am.  My dreams, colorless, haunted me because they provided no inspirational outlet.  My thoughts, empty and focused mostly on the pain in my mouth and on the right side of my face, frightened and confused me.  I threw many questions before God (and myself) at odd hours when pain would jolt and awaken me.  Was what I labeled as passion really just a need to perform, to please? I obsessed over every single detail.  As a writer, obsessing over minor details can be beneficial but in real life, this can be downright detrimental.  Obsession of every single detail can led to compulsion which can in turn lead to a torturous thought life.  Again, all which kinda sorta assist me when I’m creating stories and characters (maybe those are my real muses) but can lead to a life of pure insanity.  One night, I realized my need to control was in cahoots with detail obsession AND that I was unnecessarily carrying this ginormous load on my tiny little shoulders.  It was in that moment, I made the decision to retreat.  Not in the way of the more common meaning but to surrender my obsession and control issues about my writing career to God. To trust the process, this beautiful, confusing-at-times, wonderful, satisfying path I am currently walking on.  That I will reach my destination as long as I continue to do my part and leave the detail obsession and need to control in the hands of the Creator (higher power, Universe, etc). Exhale. Let go. And that is where I found the beauty in retreat.

Some Right Now Inspiration

pic3Thank you Dame Elizabeth Taylor.  I needed this reminder! After a short hiatus (due to oral surgery and a slower-than-expected recovery), I have been silently battling a serious case of what I call the “don’twannas.” You know, I don’t wanna do anything because I’m not feeling 100% yet.  Yet, creativity pauses for no one, if I don’t entertain the muse she will surely find some other lucky individual to visit.  Then I’ll be dealing with the don’twannas cousin, regret and she is even harder to kick out.

Dame Taylor had it right, so I’m sitting here in my MAC Ruby Woo, a glass of red wine and I’m pulling myself together.

 

New post in the am! Have a lovely restful night Beauties! Xo

 

Pieces of Me

Be You. Two simple little words with profound meaning. For me, those two words represent freedom. Up until the last year or so, I wasn’t basking in the glorious freedom of just being me that I am now. By all outside appearances, I was a woman pursuing my dream career whilst working a regular paying 9-5 gig. By outside appearances it would seem I led a well-balanced life, with meaningful relationships, spiritually growing in my relationship with God and group of supportive friends. The reality was on the inside, in my secret cave (my apartment) I was silently mourning. You see, I was trying to be the person I thought my family wanted me to be, whom my co-workers and friends sought me out to be. I wasn’t abused or depressed (well maybe I was depressed). I was just unhappy. And I did various activities (shopping online, watching endless TV, eating unhealthy junk food) that helped me “zone out”/mask my true feelings and I was doing nothing to further my budding writing career or improve my life. In other words, I had learned to keep the wound covered up, never allowing air to bring healing to the infection or ever addressing the cause of it.  I had lived this way for years and though I knew it wasn’t healthy, I continued in my dysfunction.

One night while sitting watching the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts (yes, I’m guilty I had never seen it) combined with these life defining questions I could no longer cover up finally combusted as all of these thoughts started pouring out of me within the first 30 minutes. I realized, in that insignificant moment (but tremendously significant), I wasn’t whole. There were pieces of me floating everywhere. One piece my family knew and loved. Another piece went to a job every day. Yet another piece went out for sushi with friends. Who am I? And why am I in pieces? I was asking God and I was demanding answers! Soul searching, prayer, meditation, journaling for months and investigative research brought the realization that I was living out life as a carbon copy of who I was really created to be. Perfectly perfected on the outside but inside crumbling to pieces, giving those pieces away, never fully engaging in life and relationships. I couldn’t live that way any longer. I wouldn’t, I wanted,  no needed to be whole. I realized I would never be able to embrace what I am called to be in this life in broken pieces. Tear filled nights with intensive writing, early morning conversations with God gave birth to the woman I am today. Not perfect, no but whole. Learning every day I no longer need anyone’s permission to just BE. Me. Perfectly imperfect in my beautiful skin.  The more I embrace me, the more I reach my highest, most authentic self.  And there is no happier state to find yourself in.  I’ve chosen to just BE, will you join me?

 

6 Days

Sometimes a story comes to me through an image, a random thought, a song…I used to think I just had an over active imagination. I haven’t quite gotten used to calling myself a writer but I do understand better now that it’s not just imagination. It is a gift. A calling. Nothing helps me thrive more, lights up my world than writing (and fashion). The better I understand who I am created to be, the better I can love and accept myself. I’m learning just to BE. Here’s to finding out what lights up your world!

A small excerpt from a short story 6 Days. Enjoy!

The slow rhythm of a ceiling fan spinning nonchalantly amidst a quiet background. A young man, in his early thirties, stares blankly at it. He appears to be completely at peace amid the chaos that surrounds him. You see the stillness is only in his mind; for he is lone island in company of a tumultuous sea. Sirens, tortured screams and faint cries for help color the night outside of his bedroom window. A foul thick stench paints the air inside of the tiny room he has chosen to take cover in. Rodents, the size of domesticated animals, scurry across the floor and his lower extremities in a game of hide and seek. Yet the young man, clearly not alarmed at his living conditions, has found a peaceful solitude among the bleakness. The retreat of his will and soul has almost driven him to madness and he no longer gives a damn about consequences or outcomes. In fact, he prays to the gods for madness! Before it all ends, before he takes his final bow, exits stage left. Besides is there any more to the maddening insanity called life? For him, a wasted valley of year after year of utter nothingness with a few insignificant glances of familiar faces and feelings of love. Not real love, because to really be loved or love, one must possess some human quality…what is it? Ability? Ah yes, one must possess the ability and willingness to participate in the dance of love. The young man neither has ability, will or resemblance to humanity. He has known this and accepted his fate at a young age. He smiles at his deepest secret, although the emptiness of the present conditions would suggest this is no secret. And then he draws his eyes on the only decorative object hanging loosely on a pissy wall. A calendar. Gazing upon it makes him giddy, light headed and in comes a fresh release of endorphins. He must keep his composure, remain calm and steady and sure footed for he knows his fate, accepted it at a young age.
As a boy, his parents were told he had the IQ of a genius and they, being average people, dreamt of a wondrous life for him. A magnificent life, filled with accolades and accomplishments, making them proud to have birth such a gifted human being. But at eight, when he slit the throat of the neighbor’s cat from ear to ear, their dreams began to float into darkness until swallowed up, lost into a black hole. From there on, it was rough ride, all through middle school, junior high and high school. When he finally graduated from high school, the parents had hoped the military would bring a sense of balance and discipline into his life. Push him, where their guidance had failed, toward manhood. Make him responsible, a productive citizen of society. Sadly, his short lived stint in the military didn’t provide any of those; instead he was introduced to class three and four narcotics and episodes of gluttony and indulgence at the highest levels. This period, known as the Dark Ages, robbed him mercilessly of health and bled from him the wee bit of human likeness left in his wretched soul. What has remained isn’t a monster, per se, but a hollow gut of a young man who has lived a very insubordinate life. What’s remained is a young man whose life is abruptly ending and he, like a solider perched in a trench on a pre-war’s eve, is preparing to meet his maker. This young man, once labeled talented and thought to be going places in life, is facing the final finale of colossal proportions. Because for all of the days we live unnumbered, careless, drifting through life, unconcerned about the space in time where worlds conclude, chapters end, life ceases to exist…6 days is all that remains for him.

 

6 days.

No Fear Factor

I awake startled, in night sweats, breathing heavily with my heart racing frantically..no this isn’t some fictional story I’m constructing in my head. This is real. Terror sweeps through my physical body, as familiar menacing thoughts replay over and over again. What if I fail and fail miserably? What if no one responds? What if I’m a fake, a phony? What if people think I know nothing about fashion? What if I’m completely delusional about my writing? What if no one gets what I’m trying to do? What if I’m just not good enough? What if? What if? What if? What if?

These thoughts have plagued me for weeks, months ever since I made the decision to bear my soul to the world by starting my own blog. After all, I have dreams of creating and running my own magazine one day so starting with a blog seemed ideal at the time. Taking the necessary steps to set up said blog has been overwhelming, frightening and exciting. Partially because I’m such a perfectionist but mostly because of fear. And each time I get a dose of confidence or some outside encouragement, fear raises his deceptive head, smiles wickedly at me then privately shuns me. One particular Wednesday night when I should have been writing but because fear had already made an appearance, I was sitting in front of the television zoned out. Channel surfing. Wasting away the creativity that burns within my soul.  I happened to stop on the premier episode of American Idol. Staring at hopeful talents audition before “seasoned professionals” struck a chord (no pun intended) in me and although I was no AI virgin, something was different as I began to think of myself as one of the contestants. Maybe I am slightly delusional or a bit narcissistic in my thinking,  that I’m good enough to venture out on new waters by starting this blog. Like some AI contestants, maybe my talent would not be so apparent to “seasoned professionals” and I would never earn the golden ticket to Hollywood (ie be apart of the fashion elite). Watching the contestants break down emotionally, seeing them melt utterly in rejection, I imagine my inner fashion editor/budding author scurry and cower into the corner of my bedroom as negative thoughts wrap around me like a poisonous python ready to inject me with disbelief. I’m not good enough. It isn’t going to work. I will fail. But the most beautiful thing happened amidst the broken chords of failure seeping through my walls, instead of allow defeat to conquer me,  I jumped into action pulling out my laptop and began to write. And silenced that inner critical voice in my head. If hopeful talents could bravely face a panel of the best of the best in their field, stand tall and take the shot, well why can’t I do the same? It takes tremendous courage to pursue your heart’s desire, to believe in yourself. And faith to simply pursue your passion.  A dreamer can’t sleep forever; at some point you have to wake up, take in the moment, stand before the panel and take your best shot.  This is my AI moment.