The Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E. Brunch

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One of the reasons that I started this blog was because I wanted to write about things that interest me. Furthermore, I wanted to highlight women that truly inspire me because they want to make a difference in this world. I believe that the universe gives you exactly what you ask for, so it was of no coincidence that I attended the first, The Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E. brunch, event held at Katarina Bar & Grill in Queens, and wanted to write about it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 1:30pm. I was on my way to Kew gardens, in a cab. The day was gorgeous, blue skies and lots of sunshine. I was wearing a purple shirtdress, high heels, all accessorized, feeling myself as I felt fierce!! That was the premise of the event, to get women together to show up and show out. And so I did! Of course there was more to it than that, I will get into it later. At the beginning, I didn’t really know exactly what to expect. I only knew that three successful women in their own right, Nancy Arroyo-Ruffin, Justine Hornedo and Wendy Angulo, were going to talk about empowering women through their experiences.

So I arrived… A lovely woman greeted me at the door and handed me a blue folder with quotes inside. I entered the room. All the women that were there were dressed for the occasion. The energy in the room was vibrant, loving and welcoming. I felt very comfortable in the space and just what I needed to reinvigorate me.

Nancy Arroyo-Ruffin started the F.I.E.R.C.E. campaign with the hopes that women can come together and uplift one another, which prompted her to bring guest speakers to empower women for a brunch.

But before I go any further, what is the Fierce woman?

The Fierce woman is, “Female Inspiring, Empowering, Recognizing, Cultivating Evolution. The evolution of herself and other fellow women. In a time where most women are conditioned to compete against one another and tear each other down, this campaign is focused on uplifting and building each other up. The FIERCE Woman is focused, determined, and knows that there is no competition when you’re doing what you have been uniquely gifted to do.”

Nancy was a gracious host. Looking fabulous as always. She made sure to make everyone feel at ease and comfortable with her words. She spoke of her experiences and what led her to create the FIERCE woman campaign. She believes in sharing ideas, resources, and putting out the best. “You have to invest in yourself and help others.”

What I am going to do is to write about some of what caught my attention from the guest speakers.

I will start with the first speaker, Justine Hornedo. Justine is a mother, manages two busy health care practices at one of NY’s top health care facilities, and she has literally done it all.Her current goal is to speak to teens and motivate them. It was Justine’s first time as a motivational speaker and she did a fantastic job. She kept the women engaged. She was vulnerable and honest about her experiences. She explained that no matter the obstacles and hurdles, she did not let it defeat her. She spoke of her childhood, how she overcame living with drug addicted parents and the death of her mother at the age of 7. And since a young age she knew that she had the power to change, she had a choice. Justine has gone through a lot, from job loss, getting evicted, among other things and turning that around to buying a house, and living her dreams all because she did not let loss take over or debilitate her.

Here are some of my favorite points she made:

“Nothing should control you. Choose to do better. Choose to know that you’re more than capable of doing what you want to do!!!”

“My reason is bigger than what life could throw at me!”

“Reinvent yourself. Make goals and once completed you will be successful”

“Be passionate and do due diligence. You have to change everything within you and around you. Laser focus on a goal.”

“Believe in yourself!”

“Think about what your passionate about. And what you have to do to go to the next level.”

“If you speak it, it is possible!!”

With Justine Hornedo

The second speaker was Wendy Angulo, of Wendy Angulo Productions, she is the CEO and Founder of Canvas of Words. She is a lawyer, a mother, a well-rounded woman, who is on a mission to make a change in the poetry/art world. Wendy spoke candidly and honestly about her life. Wendy shared her experiences, of how divorce and the loss of her mother who died of cancer has made her the woman she is today. Although, these experiences were difficult to live through, it taught her resilience, determination, and acceptance of self. She had to rebuild herself in order for her to grow. It began with a journey of self-love, exerting human evolution. Buddhism has helped her to continue her path of self-love.

Here is some of what she had to say:

“I have a passion to inspire and motivate everyone. To go to your highest potential.”

“Do what works for you!! Always!! Customize to your needs. Doing what you love.”

“Create possibilities. Create opportunities.”“Reflect!”

“Believe in yourself enough to follow your dreams.”

“Be determined and passionate and love what you do.”

“Respect your craft. Respect yourself. Improve it.”

“Network build connections. Use all your resources.”

“Be realistic understand what works and what doesn’t.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. Get rid of the need of pleasing people.”

Wendy ended with this quote, she lives by: “The only limitation we have is within ourselves, anything we are determined to accomplish will be accomplished as long as we set our minds to it. We should constantly manifest our highest potential as human beings through wisdom, compassion and courage”. By one of her favorite Buddhist Philosophers, Daisaku Ikeda

Wendy Angulo and I!

To conclude this powerful event, Nancy Arroyo Ruffin, left us with some words of wisdom. Nancy is a mother, an author, and a motivational speaker. She spoke of her dream of having a child and the attempts that were tried to conceive. She had a miscarriage, and although it was devastating, she continued to have hope. She realized that when she did get pregnant, that timing is everything. Things happen at the time that they should. And to never give up on a dream! And now currently she created the FIERCE woman campaign.

Here is what she had to say:

“We all have that gift.

“We need to bring each other up”

“We have the life to live and make our dreams come true.”

“Making the most of the your time.”

“We all have the power of choice. Decide to make the most of those seconds.”

“Dreams you can’t put on hold. Trust in timing. Except things at their own time. Successful people keep climbing.”

“Create for yourself opportunities. Make a desicion. Dream. Plan. Execute.”

“One failure doesn’t equal loss.”

“Adversity gives us strength.. Surround yourself with a good team.”

“Focus on the positive.”

“You have the power to change lives.”

“Successful people have visions. They believe it. And work hard. When earned it can’t be taken away.”

“Trusting yourself and talent.”

“Make positive choices. Dream Big!”

“Believe in yourself.”

This is what propelled Nancy to create this event because she too saw a need of uplifting women to reach their highest potential. And she did a great job putting it together. I loved it!!

With the hostess and creator, Nancy Arroyo-Ruffin!

Well, there you have it!! If this doesn’t inspire you I don’t know what will. It is affirming to know that these women held to their convictions and decided to pursue their dreams. No matter what was in their way. Nancy has a vision that the FIERCE campaign happens internationally. I can totally see that happening. We need this. We need to see women of color get together and empower each other. We cannot do it alone. We need each other. If we work together we can thrive.

I had a lovely time… I hope you can make the next one. For more information about Nancy Arroyo-Ruffin visit www.thefiercewoman.com there you can read more about her and the guest speakers and what this campaign is all about.

Some of the materials included in the folder.

This event has been beauty, brains, and blogging approved!

‘Til the next event my loves!

Brooklyn’s Daughter

Hey beautiful people!!!

Let me tell you about the latest event. It was a rainy Saturday night, and if you know me at all you will know that I love rainy days, so I knew it was going to be a good night for celebrations and new things! So it was fitting that I went to Maria Rodriguez book release event at a quaint place in Brooklyn, named Simplicity, where she debut her first published poetry book, Brooklyn’s Daughter!!!

Everyone there showed Maria so much love. Her family and friends showed up and showed out. The outpouring love they had for her was palpable. She had a few poet friends read some of their work. She chose them because of how powerful and great they are. She was definitely amongst great people. She started off the night with the beautiful voice of Luminisa Di’Lorenzo with her band Indigesoul. Her sound was soothing yet powerful, it was poetic. The poets included in the line up were True, Roya Marsh, and Peggy Robles-Alvarado. (fyi: If you do not know who these women are please look them up!!) Maria concluded the night by reciting some of the poems in her book having the drums played as the background by the group Machete Movement. It flowed really well as well did the drinks! It was a lovely night for a beautiful person. I am glad I was there to experience that moment with her!!

I know Maria through the NYC Latina Writers Group. I’ve heard her poetry throughout various events done throughout the two years I have known of her and her work. I have to say that she is passionate about the poems she recites. You could feel exactly what the poem conveys when you hear her speak. She takes her craft seriously and is always looking for ways to expand, which she has! She is one of the cast members of Soledad Speaks and has played an important part in the production of the show.* Ad hello she published her first book of poetry!!! My hat goes off to Maria. Being a mother of four and accomplishing so much, she has shown what it means to be a renaissance woman. I don’t have any excuses!!

All I can say is that she has grit, beauty and power, which exudes with the work that she does!

Maria celebrating her book release

Maria celebrating her book release

 

I asked her a few questions to get to know her and her writing process a little better. Enjoy!!

Andreina: What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you wouldd like people to know?

Maria: I do not have a cleft chin. It’s actually a scar I received one summer in Puerto Rico. I was about five. I couldn’t reach the porcelain sink and tried brushing my teeth by balancing my elbows. Slipped and busted my chin wide open. I was creative even then.

A: What scared you the most about completing this poetry book? And how did you overcome that?

M: I’ll be honest, self doubt. Was I a good enough writer/poet to publish a book?  Would it be good enough? Had I paid my dues? I have the utmost respect for the written word and the legacy paved by those that have come before me and I hoped that my poetry would reflect that. I overcame that doubt when I began work shopping my poems on stage. When I wrote for Soledad Speaks. The connection the audience had with my words cemented my belief, that yes my voice is important. We have stories to tell.

A: What were some of the obstacles if any did you have to face to complete/finish the book?

M: I didn’t have many obstacles. I had a really great team. Artist Nelson Santiago created the artwork, which became my book cover. Graphics Designer Sal Acosta worked his magic on fonts, sizing and dimensions for my front and back cover. Charlie Vazquez edited and Emanuel Xavier wrote my forward. I knew what I wanted and was blessed enough to have these wonderful people deliver.

A: What were the good parts of going through the writing process? (I might word it differently but you get the idea)

M: Many of these poems were written over a period of time. Other than the Anthology “Me No Habla With Acento” my work had never been published in book form. Sometimes I would get a burst of inspiration and my pen wouldn’t stop. Within minutes I had a new poem. I posted some on social media and the responses were very positive. I knew those poems would make it into my book.

A: If you could go back what advice would you give yourself about this journey of writing poetry?

M: If I could go back I wouldn’t change anything. Things happen when they’re supposed to and I believe every connection I’ve made, every open mic I’ve done, every work shop I’ve attended has prepared me for now. This moment.

A: Is there anything you would do differently?

M: I wouldn’t have done anything differently because it’s all been a learning experience. The times I’ve bombed, forgotten lines, did a shitty piece, all those moments humbled me. Taught me to go home, rewrite, rehearse, remember and come back harder. I wanted respect from my contemporaries and ultimately I got it.

A: From your book, which one is your favorite poem? And why?

M: Ahhh my favorite poem question. This book is my baby, so you know you’re basically asking me to choose which one of my babies I love the most! Ok, since I have to choose, I’d say “Straight Shootin’ “. It serves as a reminder to always speak your peace 🙂

A: Why should people read your poetry?

M: I’d like people to read my poetry because it’s speaks to everyone. There’s pride, culture. grit, humor, love, pain, strength and it was written by a teenage mother from Brooklyn. I’m no different than anyone willing to dream and live and live their dream.

Finish the statement:

My legacy will be in the written word

This book means that I’m ready to write my second

My inspiration is everything everywhere.

Love is simple but we make it hard

Renaissance means rebirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

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Thank you Maria for sharing your words with us!!! Thank you for telling us your story!! Thank you!! I love the work you do and how you do it!! Love the book!!

If you want to purchase her book please go to mescribidora.wordpress.com

I suggest you get it because it is real, you will be able to connect with her words and you will love it!!! I’m just saying.

If you have read it, which one is your favorite poem? Please share.

Then I’ll tell you mine.

Bueno mi gente, this has been beauty, brains and blogging approved!!

 

 

*for more info on her bio and work you can check her out at www.thefiercewoman.com where she is featured for the week ending the 8th of April because she is a fierce woman!

 

 

Soledad Speaks!

Good evening Beautiful People!

Continuing with the theme of breaking silence. We all know how living in a Latino/Caribbean household is, while growing up our parents would say, “”los trapos sucios, se limpian en casa”, what happens at home stays at home. I’m sure most of us can relate. Which is sad because keeping things silent has not helped anyone. Many have gone through abuse in silence, afraid of not being able to speak up, scream, cry or even believed if they were to say something. And I am talking about all kinds of abuse, no exceptions!

With that being said, I had the privilege of seeing the performance show, Soledad Speaks at BAAD!* for a second time. The show was directed and executed beautifully by Linda Nieves-Powell featuring the poetry of the talented Latina women, Meriam Rodriguez, Maria Rodriguez, Peggy Robles- Alvarado, J.F. Seary and choreography by Milteri Tucker. “The Journey begins during the seventeenth century on the island of Puerto Rican and ends in modern day New York City. Revisiting colonialism and the effects on women, the journey from slavery to rebellion to freedom, SOLEDAD SPEAKS pays homage to those who came before us in the hopes of understanding how their legacy has defined who we are today.”

To me, this show is about speaking up against the stereotypes, stigmas, social norms, patriarchy and displacement that exist in this world.

This show gave me life!! It was wonderful to see the performers give their all on the stage. It was felt. I felt their words, their emotions, their strength through their language. This show will make you laugh, cry, and even cringe because of its honesty but most of all it will make you THINK! Think about this patriarchal society. Think about the social constructs that have been imposed on us. Think about how silence is deadly. Think about sexuality. Think about how society makes us feel that we don’t belong when knowing very well we bring sazon to this bland country!

This show was very empowering and it showed vulnerability that allowed me to relate to everything. Specifically, I was able to relate to Meriam Rodriguez’s ‘coming out’ story, how difficult it is to ‘come out’ to your mother while she is more worried about the fear and the opinion of others than your happiness. And the scenes where they were all around the dancer, Milteri Tucker, trying to fix her hair, relax her hair instead of making her feel proud of the texture of her crown. How she needs to look like a ‘white’ American. I also appreciated the scene about women’s sexual liberation because of course we are taught that we shouldn’t talk about sex. I especially liked how they were able to convey the message that although we are in America we belong here and we are here to stay, that we are EVERYWHERE, “we are breaking stereotypes” because “we be the beat of this city, and we be the spirit of this city”!!!

I can go on and on about this show but I am sure it will be on again so you need to see it for yourself so you can understand what I mean. You will not be sorry!

This show uplifts every woman, the Latina woman, the Caribbean woman, all women of color. It shows us that we are powerful beyond measure. We deserve to be here and we will show you why! One line that I will always remember that was said by Peggy Robles-Alvarado, “a bowed head can not properly carry a crown, baby girl”. So, let’s adjust our crown because we have things to do!!

 

Thank you for making SOLEDAD SPEAKS heard!!! May it continue to do so!

For more information about the show and the director/cast members please visit www.soledadspeaks.com

Visit and Like their page on Facebook

 

*BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance- www.baadbronx.org

 

This has been beauty, brains and blogging approved!