Inspiring Beauty

Today I am participating in Dove Inspired, a campaign to promote self-esteem in young girls. Dove believes that beauty should be a source of confidence in young girls, not a source of anxiety, and that a simple act like starting a conversation about beauty can promote self-esteem in girls. Research shows that 72% of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful, and only 11% feel comfortable using the word beautiful to describe themselves. While these numbers seem shocking, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised because I have two teen girls who are both beautiful in many and varied ways, but who don’t feel comfortable using that word to describe themselves. The statistics shouldn’t have surprised me either because I still remember my teen years when I felt like the ugly brown duckling waiting to bloom into the the elegant white swan, complete with blond, flowing locks a la Farah Fawcett. (Remember, it was the early 1980’s.)

Needless to say, I never got the long, blond, flowing Farah hair, but it was not for lack of trying. One disastrous perm and several curling irons later, I resigned myself to the fact that my long straight, dark brown Latina locks would have to do. You can imagine how ironic it was for me when I found myself one day speaking to my younger step-daughter, Erica about the fact that her long, brown, wavy hair was just as beautiful as her older sister Olivia’s long straight, black hair.

Olivia and Erica, have always had a relationship fraught with rivalry. Their early bickering about Bratz dolls has grown into full out yelling matches about clothes, and yes, even hair straighteners. One day Erica was comparing herself to her sister and began characterizing the differences as shortcomings. Olivia, sensing Erica’s vulnerability, moved in for the kill, taunting Erica with a hair straightener and saying her hair looked like Hagrid’s from Harry Potter. Erica was understandably upset. I pulled her aside and we looked in the mirror together. I pointed out the many features she possessed which were beautiful. Her long, wavy hair, her thick eyelashes which frame her deep brown eyes. Then we talked about those other attributes, which are less superficial, but even more important, her energy, her quick wit, her loving affectionate ways. We spoke how beautiful she is on the inside and outside. These things which may seem insignificant or unimportant now, but which she will grow to appreciate. Then I told her about the standard of beauty with which I grew up. The blond, blue-eyed surfer girl, and my feelings of awkwardness as a dark hair, brown eyed Latina. Now, my ethnic appearance makes me feel special, unique. I don’t know if it really sunk in but at least we started the conversation. I hope that it won’t take long before it resonates with her. I hope that it at least will make her to think twice before she gets into an all out yelling match with her sister over a hair straightener.

How do you talk about beauty?

This is a compensated post in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Dove.

Avocado Inspiration

Recently I was selected to participate in an Avocados from Mexico promotion. I was happy to be included in this campaign because I love avocados. It wasn’t always like this for me. I can remember being a little girl and not liking avocados, even though I had never actually tasted one. Then, one day my parents encouraged me to actually taste an avocado, and I was hooked from that day forward.

Luckily, I don’t have to force my family to eat avocados, because everyone in my family loves them. In fact, I have a hard time keeping avocados in the house. One of my co-worker’s knows this about me, so every time she has an avocado, which in her opinion is too ripe, she will give it to me. There have been many mornings when I walk into my office and see an avocado waiting for me on my desk. (Thanks Ann!)

So, you can see that blogging about avocados is not a real dilemma for me. But what is more challenging is blogging about a recipe I use with avocados. Honestly, we eat avocados very simply, with a squeeze of lime and salt. Diego is a purist though, and enjoys his avocados sans lime or salt. Even though we love avocados, as I considered what recipe to share with you all, I was stuck. I decided to look through my pantry to inspire me to come up with an avocado recipe. Nothing. Then, I opened my freezer and I came across this.

Bags and bags of tuna.

Yellow fin tuna that Juan and the boys caught on a fishing excursion while we were on our family vacation in Cabo San Lucas. The guys caught a total of 18 beautiful tuna. The fishing crew cleaned, filleted, packed and froze it for us. The day we were scheduled to leave we went to WalMart, bought a cooler, packed it all in and brought it all home. We’ve been enjoying it ever since. Last week, while at a family barbecue my brother asked to use some to add to some guacamole he was making. Hmmm….

I was inspired. Now, not only did I have the two major ingredients–avocado and tuna, as it happened, I also had an occasion to cook something. All summer my next-door neighbors had talked about getting together on our porch for a happy hour. The summer was nearly over but we finally managed it. They planned to bring the mojitos, and I would bring the appetizer. I looked on-line for some guidance on what ingredients to include in my avocado tuna ceviche dip. I was missing some ingredients, but fortunately I had found suitable substitutions. I decided to improvise and this is what I came up with:

Avocado and Tuna Ceviche Dip. 

It was a hit. So easy, so good! I was so glad I could use the tuna that the boys caught. Then next day, I had unexpected company so I whipped up another batch. It was gone in a flash, but not before Olivia tried it and raved. She asked if I could make it for her to take to school. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of recipe you make and pack for lunch. Something about taking raw fish and avocado and storing it in your school locker until lunchtime, doesn’t sound like a good idea. Still, I was happy the kids tried it and liked it too. Even Diego, the avocado purist, loved it. But, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because the main ingredient was avocados!

Happy hour on the porch.

Here are the details:

1-2 ripe Avocados

1/2 pound raw good quality yellow fin tuna

2 tablespoons chinese chili paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Chop the avocado and tuna into bite-sized pieces, equal size. Finely chop onion and cilantro. Add the onion, soy sauce and chili paste to a bowl. Squeeze in some of the lime juice. Stir to combine. Add in the avocado and tuna. Stir gently to coat with chili paste mixture. Squeeze in additional lime juice and continue to stir gently to coat. Toss in cilantro. Add additional soy sauce or salt if needed. Serve immediately with chips, or crackers. Eat and enjoy. Repeat.

Do you want to try out an avocado recipe?  Go here for recipes. Or if you’re a purist like Diego then just use the coupon on the sidebar, buy the avocados and enjoy!

We Decide- As a family and as a Nation.

This summer Olivia travelled to Medellin, Colombia with her aunt and cousins. Olivia had the chance to visit the town where her grandmother grew up, and she met many family members for the first time. It was Olivia’s first time to Colombia and she loved it. Juan and I wanted her to go for many reasons, one of which was to learn about the country where her grandparents were born, and lived. It was a chance to connect with her history, her roots. It was also a chance for her to be exposed to a different way of life. She had a fantastic experience.

After four weeks in Colombia, Olivia came home and immediately left again. Two hours after her flight landed, she boarded another flight to our state capitol, Sacramento. Olivia was selected to participate in a week long conference called the Chicano Youth Leadership Project. There she had another kind of experience putting her in touch with her culture as a Latina in the U.S. Olivia is interested in politics, policy and social justice, and will be going to college next year to study international relations. Her week in Sacramento exposed her to some of the political and social issues that Latinos face today, and have overcome in the past. Through this dynamic program, and perhaps her month in Colombia Olivia has gained a deeper appreciation about what it means to be an American of Colombian ancestry–and what it means to be a Latina. She came home after 5 weeks away on fire!

Olivia was inspired and motivated to begin working in politics and social justice issues. She wasted no time. A few days after she returned from her travels, she began interning at a US congresswoman’s office, a Latino organization and a grass-roots organizing group. I am so proud of her and excited for her future. She is interested in poitics and as the election draws closer, we discuss the issues more frequently. As a Latino family we have been discussing those issues which are personal to us–immigration, education, voter disenfranchisement, and of course, the economy and health care.

That’s why I was so excited to read about the launch of a new program on nuvoTV. We Decideis Latino town hall program moderated by Natalie Morales, and premiering on Sunday, August 19 at 8 pm. The program will feature a panel of high-panel experts who will engage with a live audience and other virtual particpants engaging through social media platforms. The program will cover how the presidential candidates are addressing issues specific to America’s Latino population. Not only will Latino celebrities and political figures be appearing on the show and tuning in, but our family will be tuning in too. As a social network savvy teen, I hope Olivia will be able to contribute to the discussion by accessing the Facebook site. Even though Olivia is still to young to vote, she’s not too young to follow the discussion and stay informed on the issues we face as Latinos, and as Americans.

Click here for a preview of We Decide on nuvoTV.

 

This is a compensated post in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and nuvoTv.