Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Corina and Erika’s Unconditional Love and Friendship goes beyond Valentine’s Day

February is the month we most equate with love.

After all, Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14. There is no shortage of roses, candy, bears, balloons and hearts during this time of the year.
Love can show up in a lot of different forms. The kind of love I want to explore is not in the form of the traditional love between a man and a woman or two partners. It’s about a love and a friendship between two Latinas that has formed a bond that will last a lifetime.
I first met Corina and Erika more than a year ago and was able to spend a good amount of time getting to know these two strong Latinas. I always enjoy listening to women share their stories about resiliency and how they have overcome tremendous obstacles in their lives.
I really admired the kind of enduring, genuine, inter-dependent friendship these two friends had for one another. They met while working together and they were both married at the time and both pursuing their master’s degrees. A few years after meeting each other, they separately were contemplating divorce. Within a two-year period both of them found themselves divorced and single with children and that’s when they began to serve as each others’ support system.
Like many who have gone through a divorce they had to learn how to adjust to life as single parents. They shared some of their bad dating experiences and how they began to find themselves. What really caught my attention were the strategies that they employed and how those can help other women going through similar circumstances.
With only one income after their divorces, the two single mother’s would look for deals to do group activities with their children. Like many other divorced families, their children had visitation with their fathers every other weekend, so the two amigas made sure to make their schedules coincide with their paydays on the weekends they both had their children.
They became a family unit.
They even planned and spent holidays together, sometimes they had their children and other times they would find themselves learning how to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas without their spouses and children. They also began to meet and bond with other single divorced parents. One thing they said that helped them was to go out together in groups, instead of launching into the single scene all alone.
Times were tough for them, especially in the beginning. One of the two friends fell into a terrible deep depression. At one point, one had to literally feed the other in order for her to eat. They also would help each other with the kids schedules and even have each other listed as emergency contacts at the schools.
This type of love, friendship and support is what got each of them through this difficult time. While both of them are still single, they are doing well and have been promoted at their places of employment and are serving on various community boards and continue to be actively involved in each other’s lives.
While this may not be a traditional Valentine’s love story, this type of unconditional love between two friends is a powerful form of love that has helped them to become the resilient women they are today.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

One of the toughest years of my life -- Yet, I am Still Standing!

Me and my sister April, who almost lost her life in 2004.
When I'm faced with difficult times in my life, or trying to overcoming obstacles, I think back to everything I've been through and have overcome. I realize that if I was resilient enough to survive some of the tragedies that I have had to survive in the past, then I can and will survive whatever I am faced with in 2015 and in the future. I have had to overcome many difficult life-changing events throughout my life, starting at a very young age. From domestic violence in our home, to divorce, poverty, losses and losing everything.

One of the toughest years in my life, was 2004. In April of that year my nephew was shot in a drive-by shooting, thankfully he survived and is alive and well today. A couple months later in June of that same year, my sister, who was 40 years old at the time, went to have what we thought would be a routine surgery and ended up in a coma and ICU for several months. Everything that could possibly go wrong, seemed to be going wrong. She almost died during an emergency surgery 10 days after her first surgery. They had to remove 2 ft of her intestines and give her an Ileostomy bag and while she was in ICU recovering, her lungs were filling with fluid and her kidneys began to fail. 

Me and my father, on Father's Day, a year before he passed away.

On Aug. 18, I received a phone call to go and sign for her to have acute dialysis because of her kidneys and while I was there I received a phone call about my father and a DPS officer walked in and said that my 56 year old father was killed on the I-17 freeway and they believe he had committed suicide.

I was devastated. In shock. Angry. Sad. Confused and probably just felt like giving up.

At that moment, I knew that I had to be strong for my sister, who was still at the edge of death's door, my mom, my brothers and the rest of my family, as none of them knew yet that he had died. I had always had a strong faith and during that difficult time I had really been communicated with God on a daily basis begging and pleading for him to save my nephew and my sister. It was then when I remembered a vision that God had given me earlier that year and how my faith had helped me overcome so many other tragic events in my life and at that moment, I knew I had a choice to stay down or stand up and be strong. 

I not only chose the latter, but the events motivated me to share my story as well as the stories of other Latinas still standing after experiencing their own personal tragedies, struggles, and challenges.  
Because of this story and other difficult trials that I have experienced and overcome, I launched the Latina Still Standing blog as a passion project in 2010.This allows me to encourage other Latinas, who may be facing difficulties in their life and feel like giving up. I also created a Facebook page and have more than 10,000 Latina loyal, resilient followers who I am honored to encourage and empower on a daily basis through posts. Additionally, I created a Latina Still Standing twitter, instagram and pinterest page.

I consider it an honor and a privilege to help other Latinas.I am able to write about my story and the many stories of other Latinas who have overcome tremendous obstacles and are still standing. In a way, it is like a sisterhood, we support one another through good times and bad.

My story starts off sad, but ends up helping and empowering so many others, because I made the choice for it to be that way and you can too!

If you are reading this and you are facing a difficult challenge or tragedy, I want you to know that you can and will survive!

(more to come on the vision)