Guide to a Better Mental Health (8)Everyone in their lifetime has struggled with some kind of problem and has sought out help for advice, comfort, and reassurance. There is no shame in asking for guidance when you need it nor does it mean that you are weak. Humans are complex, social creatures and we cannot live life in emotional isolation from one another. Yet, strangely enough, something has changed. When we seek help for our troubles, it now means that you are not strong enough to deal with it alone, that there must be something wrong with you. In other words, seeking help for our emotional troubles has become stigmatized. The good news is, that there is absolutely nothing wrong for asking help nor is it indicative of the strength of your character.

Summing up enough courage to seek help to treat a mental illness or a personal struggle is a huge step towards the right direction. Seeking help is indicative that the individual acknowledges that they are not “okay” and that they cannot go through the process alone. Luckily, there is a large amount of resources available for those that want to receive help that range from therapists to hotlines. Each type of resource varies in its treatment, but ultimately they serve to improve the well-being of the individual.

Professional Help
Seeing a mental health professional has the benefit of having a face-to-face, private session. Having a safe space where you are able to freely express yourself in any way without judgment can be liberating. According to Celeste Nevarez, a licensed psychiatrist who works at the Family Service of El Paso, she believes that confiding in someone, whether it’s a professional or a friend, helps remove the feeling of isolation for the individual. Just talking can be therapeutic in of itself.  Often times where might be situations where the cost of therapy comes up and whether it can be affordable in the long run. Fortunately, there are systems in place that can make therapy a viable option.

Nevarez urges to call your doctor, regardless if you think you can afford therapy or not, to see the options that are available for you. The doctor will direct you to the right places. The “sliding scale” is a paying system that some private practices have adopted to help their patients. In this system, the patient pays only a portion of their earned income or what they can afford at the time. This varies with the private practice you’ve gone to, so you’ll have to call. Another way is to search for the local community mental health center since they are generally less expensive than private practices. These health centers are open to the public and are there to serve you.  Other times, there could be organizations in your city that offer their services completely free or therapists that do pro bono.

Support Groups
Support groups are another viable option for teens or adults. Sitting in a safe-environment where you are able to hear people having their own struggles helps alleviate the feeling of isolation. According to Wichita State University, support groups are often effective since it provides an environment where members “provide emotional support to one another, learn new ways to cope, discover strategies for improving their condition, and help others while helping themselves.” Knowing that you are not alone helps cope with feelings of isolation.

Mental Health Websites and Hotlines
Going to mental health websites are often helpful since you are able to obtain important information such as knowing what resources are available around you, give you tips, and to make you know that you are not alone. However, Nevarez warns that the internet is not the way to diagnose or to treat yourself. This is dangerous since the individual needs to be able to talk to someone and receive guidance.

If there is an urgency to talk to someone, hotlines are there to help you. According the Nevarez, “these will help you to bring your energy level down” and to make sure that you are okay. There are hotlines that operate 24/7 to be available to anyone that needs their help. There are also some hotlines where you will be helped through text. These serve as important functions since they are always there to

There is help out there, chicas. You do not have to go through this alone. The best option will vary between individuals, but they have one thing in common: they acknowledged that they need help.

Not sure where to start? Below is a list of resources from Celeste Nevarez that you might want to use:


Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

National Suicide Hotline
800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
800-422-HOPE (4673)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline
800-USA-KIDS (800-872-5437)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

National Institute of Mental Health Information Center
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday

National Mental Health Association Hotline
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

Bullying Support and Suicide Prevention
(855) 581-811 (24/7) or text TALK to 85511 (4-8P.M. everyday)
Chat is available Monday-Thursday from 7:30 P.M.-12:00 A.M.

DIY: Lace-Trim Shorts


We can all agree that trendy shorts can be a little over-priced. There are a variety of shorts that are in style such as high-waisted, distressed, and detailed, yet we may still have trouble finding the style that best suits us. So, instead of worrying about the money and whether you will find the right shorts that fit your taste, why not take it into your own hands and make them yourself?

Step number one is to go to your local thrift store, such as Goodwill, to find any high-waisted pants that are your desired size. Some may be a little big, but just find the ones that work best for you. Now that you have your high-waisted pants, you will also need a pair of scissors and some tweezers for the distressing process.

To begin, you will want to first cut off one pant leg to the desired length of shorts that you will want. Then, fold the cutoff leg over on top of the other pant leg, and cut the uncut pant leg so that the shorts are even. At this time, you may not begin to distress your trimmed shorts by using the tweezers to pull on some of the threads at the ends of the cutoff part of the shorts. You can even use sandpaper or a nail filer to distress the shorts more if you prefer. Next, you can cut slits on the front of the shorts and use the tweezers again to add more distressing.

Remember: The distressing part is based on your preferences and style.

For this next part, you will need some hot water, bleach, a stick, a bucket, and your shorts. Pour in the bucket two parts water and one part bleach, and proceed by dunking shorts into the mixture. To make sure they are evenly in the water mixture, use the stick to move the shorts around so that the shorts are entirely soaked. Let sit for 20-30 minutes depending on how quickly your shorts are discolored. After this is done, take shorts out of bucket and rinse them in the sink under some cold water. Try to wring as much water out of the shorts, and toss them into the dryer until they are completely dry.

Next, you will need some lace and fabric glue that you can find at any sewing or craft store. You will need to measure the amount of lace you will need to wrap around the inside part of the bottom of your shorts, and cut off the amount you need. Apply the fabric glue to the part of the lace that you will be attaching to your shorts until the ends meet. Gradually attach, and complete both sides of your shorts with this process.

Depending on your style and fashion preferences, you may add any other details to your shorts such as garlands. Allow a sufficient amount of time for the fabric glue to dry, and your shorts are complete!

Review: Spare Parts

 213957Spare Parts, directed by Sean McNamara, is a film that was released in theaters in January 2015 and is now available for purchase. The movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Alexa Vega, Carlos Pena, and George Lopez, who is also a producer.

Spare Parts is based on a true story about a group of Latino high school boys who join an engineering club. These boys, with the support and guidance from their teacher Fredi Cameron (George Lopez), strive to build a robot that they hope to enter into a robotics competition in which they would face-off with championing schools such as MIT and Stanford. Winning this competition means beating the odds, though, because these students have practically no funding and a limited amount of resources in order to get the job done.

Although science and robotics is one of the reasons why this rag-tag team formed, it is not the only theme within the movie. This film covers the heart-warming bases like family and friendship as well. However, this film does not shy away from the hard-hitting issues that can be relevant in the lives of hard-working Latin American families in the Southwest United States. Carlos Pena’s character, Oscar Vasquez, hopes to join the U.S. Army, but his plans come to a halt when he learns that he cannot do so as an undocumented immigrant. Undocumented immigration, financial struggles, and tough life choices are the foundation for a film like this, a film about how dedication and ambition can take you places you wouldn’t have thought possible.

Spare Parts is definitely a film worth checking out! It is well paced, running just under 2 hours. The plotline is easy to follow but not without its shocks and surprises throughout that will make you want to lean just a little bit closer to the screen, wondering…who is at the door, who is on the phone, who will win the grand prize?

Finding Comfort in Family

Hispanic girk looking sad

Living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be hard, there’s no doubt about it. And that goes for any mental illness – whether it be depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and so on. For one, it’s almost always hard to understand what they’re going through and, naturally, you want to help but might not exactly know how to. There also might be the problem of being a little jealous of the attention your brother/sister has been getting. It’s okay, you can admit it. We all go through it, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t.

A lot of mental illnesses come from a person’s DNA and all of the science stuff that makes them a person. Some are genetic, which means that someone in your family might have it and it was inherited by your sibling. Some are just chemical imbalances in the brain. Whatever the reason, scientific or not, no one chooses to be mentally ill, and that’s important to remember.

Mental illnesses affect 30 percent of young girls and teens in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And 7.4 percent of the world have a mental illness. The most common mental illness is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and some symptoms of that are: constantly being worried about things, not being able to relax, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, sweating and nausea.

These are not all of the symptoms listed by the NIMH, and someone may not have all of the symptoms of GAD, but if they have a handful of them, it would be best to check on them and possibly take them to see a doctor.

GAD can also lead to having depression, the two tend to go hand in hand in some cases. As far as depression is concerned, about 13 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 have major depression. Although there are different kinds of depression, some of the symptoms of the most basic kind of depression are: being sad for long periods of time, feeling guilty for many things, loss of interest in hobbies, getting tired often or easily, trouble sleeping or constantly waking up, change in weight and irritability.

It is important to remember that not everyone with the symptoms of a mental illness will have a mental illness, but if a sibling seems to have several of the symptoms, it would be wise to get them help or to talk to them. That goes for any mental illness. Keep an eye on them to see how they act over a period of time so you can see if they fit the list of symptoms you have looked up. And there are many other mental illnesses that are not the most common in the world that your sibling could possibly have as well. Mental illnesses are not just confined to General Anxiety Disorder and Depression.

It’s also important to remember that living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be life changing for the both of you. Things in the household can change completely and that’ll have an effect on you.

Everyone reacts to things differently, but Andrea Lugo, 19, was very certain in how she’d feel if her older sister, Yazmin, had a mental illness. “I believe it would be a lot more stress put on me with everything I have going on,” she said. “But she’s my big sister and whatever I could do to help get her through what she’s going through, I’ll put everything aside to be that little sister to do whatever needs to be done for her.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the best way to deal with a sibling who has a mental illness is to learn what their mental illness is and get a better understanding of it. That’ll definitely make it seem less scary to you because you’ll actually know what’s going on. You can ask a family member to explain it to you and if you’re both still pretty confused about it, using the internet can be a huge help too.

Yazmin Lugo, 21, said she’s not completely sure how she’d handle her younger sister having a mental illness. “As her big sister, I would definitely try to talk to her and then to figure what the root of the problem is.” She also said that if she needed assistance with getting her sister help, she would make sure to go to her mother.

Once you know what the mental illness is, don’t try and fix everything on your own. Mental illnesses cannot be cured, but they can be treated. So if you’re sibling is already getting help, that’s great! Now make sure you take care of yourself as well. While it is totally understandable to want to help out your brother or sister, you have to make sure you’re doing okay too. Sometimes being a little selfish can be a good thing when it comes to your own health and emotional stability.

According to Psychology Today, there are a few self-care tips that several psychologists follow and you can follow too:

  1. Pets! If playing with a pet is something you love to do, and just being around a pet tends to make you happy, doing this whenever you aren’t feeling well emotionally can actually help you feel better and it gives you a reason to play with your animal.
  2. Love: this may not be for everyone, but if you’re a huge hugger, asking friends or family for a hug can easily help you out. It’s a great reminder that these people are there for you can help you out, even if you don’t want to talk about what’s wrong at the moment. Hugs can make you happier.
  3. Laughter is huge for self-care. Whether it’s a funny joke or a funny picture or just a funny face, if it makes you laugh, take advantage of it! Laughter = smiling = happiness, and it just naturally makes a person feel good.
  4. Breathing exercises are good for calming yourself down. If you’re feeling stressed out, just take a moment — a minute or two, if you have the time — and focus on your breathing. This can also help you get to sleep, if you’re having trouble with that. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. If these amounts of time don’t work for you, don’t worry. Adjust it to whatever you feel comfortable with.
  5. Yoga/Stretching/Exercise: If Yoga isn’t something that interests you, stretching and exercise can be great for self-care too. It helps you release chemicals from your brain that are scientifically proven to put you in a better mood. Plus, it can just be fun. Yoga is good for meditating and focusing on your body, rather than the things going on around you. This too can be really great for relaxing and caring for yourself.

Lastly, remember you’re not alone in all of this. Find comfort in your own family – parents, brothers and sisters without a mental illness, cousins – if they know about the mental illness. You’re all in this together. If not, you can always try talking to your friends or school counselor about the situation as well. Talking about it can always help.

Breaking Puerto Rican Stereotypes

By Vanessa Mari

I come from a very proud family. I was raised to love my culture and my heritage, and for that I greatly appreciate my family. I think this is something very important for Puerto Rican. As a colony from the United States, many feel as if our culture is being lost…as we no longer have an identity of our own. Not only this, but being a colony also takes away our independence and freedom. This is one of the reasons there have formed various misconceptions of Puerto Ricans that I would like to eliminate.

The first term used to describe Puerto Ricans is “Spiks”. This is the nickname Americans gave us because when the first big wave of Puerto Ricans first immigrated towards the United States in the 1940′s (specifically New York) many did not know how to speak the language. Puerto Ricans said “I don’t spik English” and that is how the nickname of Spik came about. What I find ironic is that when people from the United States visit Puerto Rico, they are surprised by the amount of people who know English. And when they don’t, they expect us to know their language, but they make no effort in learning ours. I would like people to stop with this misconception and realize what we are a SLA speaking society and that we are doing our best to learn English in a place that was first colonized for over 500 years by the Spanish.

The other misconception I hear a lot about Puerto Ricans is that we are lazy. This one bothers me a lot because I know so many hard working individuals that have accomplished many great things. I am a hardworking independent woman who is finishing her masters degree. I am aware that there are a lot of people living in projects and others who depend on welfare, but so does many other countries. This is a topic I could write my dissertation on. My last thoughts for this is that believing we are lazy is only promoting self hate and this is the worst thing that could happen to a small community like ours.

When this happens is very important to spread awareness of how beautiful our culture is. I am more than a Spik or a “lazy” person. I am a proud Boricua and I want to people to know where we are located in the map. Even though we are a small island in the caribbean, Boricuas have a big heart and we have accomplished great things. Yo soy Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepas! ;)


5 Things You Learn In a Crowded Home

Families are complicated and living situations vary from one household to another. Latinos are typically associated with strong family values. Familismo is a term used to describe how Latino culture values the importance of immediate and extended family ties. Among many Latino families, it is common to have a big family with several extended family members and multiple generations living under one roof. Latinitas shared what they learned from having large families living in a crowded home.

1. Being Selfish Does Not Fly
“I learned to be happy with what I got because I didn’t really have the luxury to be picky in terms of the clothes that I wore. Like I’ve never really been ashamed or embarrassed about family and friends giving me hand-me-downs because I wasn’t going to ask my mom to take me shopping,” shared Kimberly Cabral, age 21 who grew up with five siblings and her parents under one two-bedroom roof.

2. You Were Brought Up To Be Close With Your Family
“I got to bond a lot with my family since it was a lot of us in a small space (in two bedrooms until her father made a third room). I think it helped me appreciate my family more when I moved out,” added Kimberly.

“There was never a dull moment because (as a kid) I could be inside playing video games and if I got bored I could go outside and join my cousins would be playing in the front yard. Everybody was just doing their own thing and were willing to include you,” said Angie Dominguez, age 23 who lived with extended family members, all eight of them in a four bedroom house.

3. There Has Not Been A Moment Where You Felt Alone

“There is just so much support I feel. If you need someone to lend you money or like talk to, someone is always there to give you any type of support that you need. You always have people watching out for you,” said Desirae Nicole Gomez, age 16 who lived with up to 15 people at once in a five bedroom house.

“You won’t ever get lonely. Like I don’t live with my parents anymore and where I live now there are only three people living there and it makes you feel a little crazy when you’ve had the house to yourself a couple of hours,” shared Kimberly.

“Even when we were going through rough times, it was easy to find happiness and turn to each other for that comfort or even a laugh,” said Christa Samaniego, age 34, who lived with up to 17 other people at once in a five bedroom house.

4. You Were Always Encouraged To Help Out
“It gave me a lot of responsibility. As soon as I got a job, my mom expected me to help out with the bills since it was six of us (kids) and our utility bills were not cheap,” added Kimberly.

“My mom worked a lot and because of that I had to babysit my four younger siblings a lot,” said Angie.

5. You Can Be Productive In A Chaotic Environment
“When I had homework in high school I got used to doing it while babysitting. I have become quite good at multi-tasking,” added Angie.

“It is hard sometimes trying to get my homework done if the kids are being rowdy ,but for the most part I am used to it and I notice it helps me balance life when things get busy,” shared Debbie Sifuentes age 23, who lives with 5 other people in a three bedroom apartment.

Super Food Diet from Peru

Here’s to saying goodbye to unhealthy diets, and hello to the Peruvian Super Foods diet.

According to the Boston Medical Center, about 45 million Americans of all ages diet each year. Dieting should only be done when completely necessary – generally when there is a medical issue that is forcing the diet. Dieting when not necessary can be dangerous for anyone, especially teens whose bodies are constantly changing and in all sorts of ways.Remember, a few changes in a girl’s body shape almost never means a diet is necessary. If a teen or parent is curious about going on a diet, it is best to speak with a doctor about it before trying one out to make sure it is safe for her body.

If a diet is needed, this one may be the way to go. All of the meals in the Peruvian Super Foods diet are healthy and natural, which is the ideal way to diet. With Manuel Villacorta’s new super foods diet, people all around the world can lead can throw out their old diets (that probably aren’t allowing them to eat enough each day), and start leading healthier lives. Manuel Villacorta is an award-winning registered dietitian, author, spokesperson, and educator who just came out with his newest book, “Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Super Foods Diet To Detoxify, Energize, And Supercharge Fat Loss.”

What exactly is a super food though? Super foods are types of food that do not have many calories but still have high amounts of nutrients. These are the dream diet foods the world has been hoping for, and they’ve always existed, but now is when more and more people are becoming aware of them.

“The benefits of consuming Peruvian super foods are astonishing: from fighting cancer and reducing inflammation to boosting energy and enhancing memory,” said director of communications for HCI Books, Kim Weiss.

And if eating low-cal nutritious foods aren’t enough, Villacorta’s book doesn’t give meals for just anyone. He offers meals geared toward women and men, as well as specific meals that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, as well as for omnivores.

Instead of telling the people trying out his diet how it works, he explains everything from why he chose certain foods to make a meal to how it can help cure certain diseases and promote healthier lives.

Don’t worry about these meals lacking flavor, either. Villacorta’s meals have their own Latin twist on it. For example, he took his mother’s dish called Pallares and changed some things here and there to make it healthier.

Villacorta said in his book, “(my mother) tasted my version, said I did her justice, and gave me her blessing to share this dish with you. Buen provecho!”

Here is the recipe for his version of Pallares:

2 Cups Butter Beans

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced

4 Cloves Garlic, sliced

1 Tablespoon Oregano

8 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Cup Dry Sherry

Salt and Pepper

½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Put the beans in a stockpot and cover them with 3 inches of water. Let them soak for 4 hours. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water.

2. Transfer the beans back to the stockpot and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring them to a boil over medium heat. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water (this process helps remove the oxalates in beans that are responsible for gastrointestinal discomfort).

3. Using the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and oregano. Sauté until the onions begin to soften.

4. Add the beans, stock, and sherry to the pot and bring to a boil. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, reduce heat, and cook at a simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Per Serving: Kcal 188g, Protein 9g, Carb 16g, Fat 6g, Sodium 874.5mg, Dietary Fiber 3.5g

Daily Values: Fiber 14%, Vit C 3%, Vit A 2%, Vit D 5 1%, Calcium 22%, Iron 10%

He even offers all of the nutrition facts at the end of every recipe so dieters can know what they are actually putting into their bodies.

Cooking this may seem a little hard, especially shopping for the right ingredients. So why not make it a family dinner? It never hurt to try something new, especially if it’s yummy and healthy. Getting together with the entire family to try this meal, or any meal in his book, could be a lot of fun – especially if you get tired of eating the same types of meals all the time.

Villacorta said it himself, “I don’t kill flavor for health. You can have both; a flavorful and healthy meal. I can teach you how in Whole Body Reboot!”

Hollywood Movie Director Carmen Marron

Carmen Marron is a filmmaker and the founder of Sparkhope Productions, a company dedicated to creating films that bring awareness to women’s issues and teen struggles. Latinitas got the chance to speak with Hollywood movie director Carmen Marrón about her upcoming Latino-focused film, and her advice to Latinitas on how to chase your dreams! Carmen produced the 2011 movie ‘Go For It’ starring Gina Rodriguez and her new movie ‘Endgame’ is set to hit theatres soon. Her story is sure to inspire you to follow your destiny.Film Producer

Latinitas Reporter (Mariel):

Hi Carmen! Why don’t you tell us about your newest movie ‘Endgame’ that you presented at the Dallas Film Festival ?


Endgame is my latest movie and it is an inspirational drama that is actually inspired by true events in Texas. We shot the movie in Brownsville, Texas. It’s about a teacher who teaches at a time in which Brownsville, Texas was the third poorest community in the US. The teacher takes a bunch of these detention kids (Rico Rodriguez from Modern Family plays the lead character) and starts teaching them about chess thinking that this would be a positive way to keep them focused on school and keep them out of trouble. Through practice and over time he realizes that they’re really good, so he puts a team together. Lo and behold, this team starts winning! They ended up winning all the regionals. Then in the teacher’s second year as coach for the team, they ended up winning the state championship. And then they ended up winning 7 years in a row after that! It’s an amazing story.

L: Well, I’m excited to see this film. How did it go showing the film at the Dallas Film Festival?

C: Oh, phenomenal! We screened the film twice at the festival and the audience loved it. They really did. The theatrical release is probably going to be at the end of summer. The distributor is still looking into different theatres. Right now it’s scheduled just for the East Coast and the West Coast, but the distributor is actively looking to put in in theatres in Chicago, and probably in Dallas.

L: Another topic I wanted to touch on: Both of your films – ‘Go For It’ and ‘Endgame’ – feature Latino leads and lots of other Latino characters. How does your identity as a Latina woman play a role in the movies you choose?

C: Well, I’ll tell you a little bit of my background because I think that’s just as big a part. I actually was a guidance counselor in South Phoenix. I grew up in inner city Chicago in an all Latino, very poverty-stricken community. I was one of ten kids. I put myself through college, through graduate school, and then I personally chose to work in the direst school district because I felt like I could relate to the kids. So when I moved to Phoenix I chose to work in the poorest community because I used to be one of those kids, I related to them.

But what I saw as guidance counselor was that these kids really looked up to characters in television and film as role models for guidance and answers, and it killed me. I was seeing young kids look up to Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears, literally even dying their hair and buying colored contacts. And so I thought, “Oh my gosh, there are hardly any Latino role models on television and in film!” And I saw that the majority of Latinas in Hollywood played the maids, the housekeepers, the nannies. That’s when I decided to become a filmmaker. And I made the conscious decision to specifically focus on creating roles for Latinos and young women that are very empowering and show them in leadership positions while also addressing their issues.

L: Were there any failures along the path to success?

C: Oh gosh, yes. I had family and friends telling me to stop, to just give up, that it wouldn’t work. It was like 2 years of people slamming the door on me or laughing at me. It took me seven years to finish my first film. In the beginning, I didn’t know anything about making a movie. I set up and researched everything. I actually got a job as a pharmaceutical rep just to help me pay the way to making my own film. I basically moved to LA with nothing but a dream, and I made it happen, ultra low budget.

L: I’m so curious to know: how did you keep the fire in you to keep trying despite the whole world telling you not to?

C: To be totally honest, I can get emotional right now just talking about it. It was my firm belief in the message I wanted to send young girls: that they could achieve their dreams. I had been working with girls that didn’t think there was anything for them out there besides getting married and having kids, and a lot of these girls were getting pregnant at really young ages, and I just desperately believed my movie could inspire girls and make a difference in their lives. They have the right to be proud about themselves. I truly believe it was the path I was supposed to take in life. I believe that the life I’m leading is my destiny.

L: That’s so inspiring! Do you have any special message for Latinitas?

C: If I can do it, you can do it. Anything you can imagine can become your reality. Focus on your goals and give it your all. You have a destiny to fulfill.

La Malinche Book Review

La Malinche, or actually Malinalli, was not the Aztec princess legend says.malinche She was royalty in the Aztec empire, but was discarded by her mother as a baby out of preference to her siblings and dodged being sacrificed upon the intervention of her loving and mystical grandmother who raised her. Well, so relays acclaimed author Laura Esquivel who is writing about a legendary character born in a time when public record was chiseled rather than written. Esquivel brought us one of the most adored narratives in Latino literature: “Like Water for Chocolate,” a novel also became an award-winning movie.

La Malinche tells us the story of a young woman finding out who she really is through the power of language.  And, though it is set in the late 1500s, early 1600s, it’s as timeless as any story about a girl finding her power in her own voice, beliefs and self.

If you are not familiar with La Malinche, legend says she is the mother of all Mexico, or, for many, she is also remembered as the destroyer of all Mexico .  La Malinche, represented by the character Malinalli in Esquivel’s book, was multi-lingual and could translate Nahuatl of her elders to Spanish and vice versa. As a result, she gained the fondness of Spanish conquerer Hernán Cortes.  In Esquivel’s story it’s clear Cortes is drawn to Malinalli, but we are not sure if it is his bloodthirst for power that drives his admiration. Feeling discarded by her mother, Malinalli gains worth in Cortes’ troops as a translator and in a romance with him that produces beloved children of her own.

But, after Cortes repeatedly uses her to conquer and kill the native people of Mexico, she sees him more for the short, unhappy, power hungry villain that earned the nickname early on: La Malinche, in which she was named for.  It is so rare we get to read a story of Mexican or any Latino history from the point of view of a girl. It is also rare to get a whole sensory experience in a book and Esquivel is all about revealing tastes, smells and what a time feels like. Malinalli shares that the Spanish soldiers reek of the garlic they eat and don’t bathe often.  Though we have perceptions of “primitive” life, such as that of the tribes that existed in what is now Mexico and that Spain was “developed” or “advanced,” in just a few short lines we realize native peoples of America were leaps ahead of their European visitors – even if it was just about good hygiene.

What I most loved about this book which I’d recommend any teen reader is how La Malinche is not demonized in this story as she is in most accounts. She is made human. We find out her need for human love, the rejection of her mothers’ love and her place as a girl in a society where human sacrifices were necessary and common. We learn about her bravery, contributions to Mexican history and a broader picture of who Malinalli (La Malinche) was.

DIY: Father’s Day Gifts

Finding out what to give your dad on Father’s day can be extremely hard. And sometimes, even when you have the best idea ever, you may not have money for it! So what’s the point?

Well, giving him a gift is still a great idea, and, believe it or not, there are ways to give him a gift without having to spend a whole lot of money. It’s the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) system. The following gifts will be things that can be made at home with all sorts of household objects, as well as fairly cheap arts and crafts that can be bought at most stores.


Father’s Day Goodie Bag: fast and easy and thoughtful. This bag is going to just be a mixture of things your dad likes.

-      Paper bag (brown or white, whatever you prefer)
-      Something to write on the bag with
-      Different things your dad likes (snacks, pictures, little games, notes)

1. Take the paper bag and write a note on the front of it. It can say something as simple as “Happy Father’s Day” or “Father’s Day Goodie Bag.” It can be anything you’d like so he knows it’s for him on his day. Feel free to decorate the outside of the bag however you like. If you have any other crafts at home, you can definitely use those as well. Draw pictures on the bag if you’d like, too.
2. Now all you to do is put the things your dad likes in the bag.  Then fold the top of the bag closed so he can’t peek in it without you knowing.
3. You can either place the bag on the kitchen table for him to find in the morning, or give it to him yourself. When he opens it, he’ll be happy to find all kinds of things for him to enjoy on Father’s Day, as well as later on.


The Wallet Surprise: All you have to do is make “coupons” for your dad and hide them in his wallet.

-      Paper
-      Markers/pens/crayons
-      Scissors

1. Take a sheet of paper, fold it in half “burger” style, then fold it in half “taco” style, and then fold it in half one more time “burger” style.
2. Unfold the sheet of paper, take your scissors, and cut along the folded lines of the paper. You should have six small rectangles by the time you finish.
3. Take your markers/pens/crayons or whatever it is you’re using to write on them, and write down things you will do for your dad that you don’t normally do. It’s all up to you, and it can be funny things or serious things, it can even be chores. Ex. “I will do the dishes without complaining” or “I will tell you one joke every day for the rest of the week”
4. Once you write down what you want, feel free to decorate them however you want. Remember, this is a gift from you to your dad. The more it looks like something you both like, the better. Don’t forget to put your name on them somewhere so he knows they’re from you.
5. When you finish, and when he’s not looking, find his wallet (or ask your mom or siblings to help you with this if you need to), and place the coupons in there without him knowing. Then the next time he looks in his wallet, he’ll find the coupons waiting for him and it’ll be a surprise!


Father’s Day card:
This sounds very simple, and it is, but it’s also a great gift to tell your dad how much you love him.

-      Paper (it can be notebook paper, or a white sheet of printer paper would be good too)
-      Markers/crayons/color pencils

1. Take the paper and fold it in half, “burger” style.
2. It should look just like a card now. Make sure the folded side is on your left, and the side that opens is on your right. This is just so your card isn’t upside down when you finish.
3. Now, take one of your writing utensils and write, on the front, “5 Things I Love About My Dad”
4. Then write the numbers 1-5 below that, make sure you leave space so you can write down what you love about him.
5. Write down five things you love about him. They don’t have to be serious, and they don’t have to be silly. All you have to do is think about anything you love about him and fill in the blanks.
6. Open the card, and write something Father’s Day related on it. Again, this can be whatever you like. Ex. “Happy Father’s Day!” or “Thanks for being the best dad ever!”
7. Once you’re done, sign your name on the inside so he knows who it’s from. Now, on Father’s Day, all you have to do is hand him the card!


Father’s Day Poem: This explains itself, and comes straight from the heart. You will need:

-       Paper
-       Anything to write with (it would probably be best to start with a pencil just in case you make a mistake)
-      Frame to fit the paper (it will probably be an 8×11 frame)

1. Take your paper and start writing! Start in pencil, if you want, and go over with some color when you’re done. Remember, poems can rhyme, but they don’t have to. Just make sure it’s a poem about your dad. If you need help writing a poem or remember different kinds of poems, feel free to click here.
2. If you haven’t yet, give the poem a title.
3. Go over the poem again with a marker or crayon or pen, if you want.
4. You can always decorate the page afterwards to. Draw a picture of your favorite time spent with your dad, if you want.
5. Place the poem into the frame.
6. Give it to your dad on Father’s Day! And because it’s framed, he won’t lose it and can keep it forever.


Father’s Day dessert:
Most, if not all dads, love desserts. So what better gift to give than something you make yourself? To do this, you’ll probably need some help from another parent or one of your brothers or sisters or even a friend.

-      Because every dad is different, there won’t be a specific recipe for you to use. Just think of your dad’s all-time favorite dessert ever. Cookies? Cupcakes? Flan?
-      Go out and buy the ingredients for this dessert (you’ll probably do this with the person helping you).
-      The day before Father’s Day, start baking/making it. This is so you aren’t waiting for it to be ready on Father’s Day, but it’ll still be fresh for him the next day.
-      In the morning, surprise him with your gift! But let him know it’s dessert so he can’t have it until after lunch or dinner.

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