Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you 2013... Welcome 2014!

Where to start? 

Two thousand thirteen was seriously an amazing year. I cannot be thankful enough for all the wonderful people that supported me and helped make many of my dreams possible! To my beautiful family, to my best friends; to all of you I say THANK YOU.

On this post, I will share pictures of some of those important moments; however, there are a couple of achievements that cannot be shared on pictures. I am very proud to say that I have now better control of my work life, and personal life; and I also learned to ask for help every time I need it! Well, maybe NOT every time but at least more often. 

In regards of the balance between my personal life, and my work life, it was a hard thing to do but I think I am at a point where, I can say with confidence, that I made it. Was it hard? Yes; of course! What helped? That old saying that my grandma and my mom used to tell me all the time: "No seas candil de la calle y oscuridad de tu casa/ Don't be a light of the street and darkness in your home."

Those simple but powerful words made me realize that if I wanted to see my business, and my community grow, I needed to start by giving that same amount of time, love, and patience to my own family. And so I did.

Now that you know my secret to find balance in my life, I will share the other moments that were a highlight during my 2013. 

Let's start with February. Not because there wasn't anything exciting in January, but mostly because the first month of the year was used to plan my 2013. On this month, my dear friend Penélope Lara asked me to join her in the "One Billion Rising" movement against the domestic violence. 

Photo by Mary Gomez Camba

In March, La India "The Princess of Salsa" came to Seattle, after having been hospitalized days before because of an alleged accident in her home. (Rumors said she was a victim of domestic violence).

It was amazing to see her performance, and hear her beautiful voice!
La India and I. 

In April, I was invited to Univision-Seattle to talk about my beautiful non profit organization, the Latino Community Fund. I was surprised to hear myself speaking in Spanish so fast! I never realized that before. 
Photo by Amalia Martino. From left to right: Jaime Mendez (news anchor), me, Evelyn Padrino (board member), and Teresa Gonzalez (news anchor).

In May, I was invited to the Governor's Mansion! The elected governor of Washington state, Mr. Jay Inslee, gave a small reception for the leaders of the minority communities, so yes; I was there. 
Mrs. Trudi Inslee, and I.

June... Oh June was so good to me. In June, my second granddaughter was born! Also in June, a second project as an entrepreneur was launched. 
Baby Araya Jean Munoz and I.

At the end of 2012, I was invited by two wonderful and powerful Latinas, to join efforts to create a full PR, and marketing agency that would focus on creating bridges for business interested in marketing to the Latino community. And so, after working hard for several months, on June 19th of 2013 the Latina Creative Agency was launched.
From left to right: Cynarah Ellawala, Amalia Martino, and I. Principals of the Latina Creative Agency.

July was an especial month. For some reason, I don't engage too much on Facebook around the subject of social justice. However, I do it very often on Twitter. Why? Because some people take things too personal, and very often, they like to disrespect a different opinion. That said, on this month I changed my profile picture to a black square in protest to the Trayvon Martin case. Remember, I am only sharing my most important moments on my work, personal, and social media lives. This moment was a big step out of my comfort zone, that's why it was so important. 

In August we started, as a company, the filming of a very especial music video. The artist is a young leader in the Latino community that decided to write a song around the subject of immigration. His artistic name is "Invictuz." It's a very powerful and moving song, and I can't wait for you to hear it!
"Invictuz" One the left Miguel Munoz, on the right Lonnie Tristan Renteria.

In September, Inocente Izucar from the Oscar Award Winner Documentary "Inocente," came to Seattle! Her story is one that must be shared, and heard everywhere. 
Photo by Steve Schimmelman

October. On this month, I had two big moments too. The first one was having the opportunity to have a brief conversation with the fabulous Mexican actor, and activist Damián Alcázar during the Fifth Annual Seattle Latino Film Festival.
Photo by Mario Zavaleta

The second great moment meant a lot to me as a social media influencer in my Latino community. It happened when, Keridwyn Dweller, one of the most influential persons in social media in Seattle, invited me to be a guest tweeter for the Seattle Art Museum during one of their biggest events. Their SAM Remix!
Everyone has fun at these events!

November... As many of you know, I am a musician too. I may not play with my band "Utopia" as much as I used to, but we still get some pretty sweet gigs. This one was at the Bellevue Square Mall, one of the biggest malls in this area.
Photo by Kurt Clark

I was also honored to be invited to Ring the "Roll Call Bell" to start the day at the Pike Place Market. On this day, I had the opportunity to learn more about the artists in our community. Like I said, it was an honor!
Ringing the Bell

And finally December. This month brought many good things. Two of my highlights are: 

  • My blog was finally accepted in the Blogs by Latinas website, and 
  • Filming in a courthouse! Am I crazy for thinking about that as a highlight?
Yes, that's my blog circled in red. 

All these moments would not have been possible without the help and support of my lovely husband, and the rest of my family; and the unconditional love that I receive from my friends. 

I hope that all of you have a wonderful end of 2013, and a marvelous 2014. See you next year my dear friends and...

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Am Now Officially a Member of "Blogs by Latinas."

I started writing this blog in July of 2012, and many things have happened since then. I sometimes get caught up in work, and it gets difficult to find the time to write in this, my space. But, when I get good news like the one I got today, I simply have to share them with the rest of my readers. 

It took more than a year to being accepted as a member of the "Blogs by Latinas" community, but I am finally there thanks to all of you who have supported me, and have read my posts! 

The one circled in red is me! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Am a Pike Place Market Bell Ringer!

And what's so exciting about ringing a bell at the Pike Place Market? And where is such bell?

About a month ago, my dear friend and famous Radio DJ Lori Ness, asked whether my husband Miguel, and I would be interested in ringing the bell to start the day at the Pike Place Market. The "Roll Call Bell" is rung each morning at 9am, and it essentially calls out to the community to let them know that roll call is beginning, and to be ready to choose their market space for the day. Because no one has a fixed place, their spot changes every day. She explained that this is a tradition that they have been following for the past 40 years, and they usually have leaders or celebrities of the community doing it. So, we obviously said yes! It was an honor to be asked to do this!

When we arrived to the market early in the morning on a cold Saturday, we were welcomed by Pam Corwin who represents the Pike Place Producers, a group of professional craftspeople and artists of Seattle's historic Pike Place Market. She explained to us that the group was formed to create opportunities for members of the craft community to present their stories and to participate in informing the world at large as to who they are and what they have to offer on their tables at the market and beyond. 

After exchanging laughs and hugs, she gave us a tour of the area where the artists keep their art, and told us fascinating stories of the people that have been there for so many years. We also learned about the process to be able to sell their products at the market, and that it's not as easy as one may think. They have to go to a series of "tests" to prove that their art is handmade, and they are checked regularly to  make sure that doesn't change.

Pam also explained how, when they are first approved to sell their products, they are not really sure of wether they will find a spot at the market to place their tables and merchandise. They have to be assigned a spot daily, and sometimes, some of the new artists are not able to find a space in the market and so; they have to set up their tent outside. They also have to dismantle everything every single day. It's a tough job!

It was truly an honor to be invited to be part of this tradition, and learn more about the artists that work at the Market. That said, I highly encourage you to get your gifts from these artists for Christmas, birthdays, or whatever especial occasion you may celebrate soon. It will not only be completely unique, and beautiful, you will also be supporting many local artists!

Our view as we were arriving to the Pike Place Market.
Pam Carwin in the middle introducing the famous Lori Ness, Northwest Prime Radio DJ. 
Lori, on the right, introducing us. 
Ringing the bell! 
Group photo. From left to right: Miguel Munoz Lucho, me, Joe, Lori Ness, Pam Corwin.
My "I Rang the Bell" pin.
We couldn't resist the temptation of reenacting a scene from Sleepless in Seattle. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Celebrate Día de Muertos at the Seattle Art Museum for FREE.

It's SAM's 15th annual Día de Muertos celebration! 

Come and celebrate one of the most beautiful Mexican traditions, Día de Muertos /Day of the Dead, at the Seattle Art Museum this November 1st from 6 to 8 pm.

Visit the tapete de arena (Sand painting) made by local artist Fulgencio Lazo inspired by Oaxaca's traditions for the holiday, while you enjoy great music, outstanding performances, and delicious food.  

This is a free event, and it's open to the public. For more information go to: Seattle Art Museum. 

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reasons Why You Should Not Miss the SAM Remix on October 25th, 2013.

The Seattle Art Museum has hosted the recurring event, SAM Remix, for several years now, and what makes the remixes so especial is the combination of music, fun, and art all under the same roof. The next remix will happen this Friday, October 25th from 8pm - 11:59 pm at the Seattle Art Museum. 

If you have attended a SAM Remix in the past, you know about all the amazing activities that SAM offers during the night. But, if you have not, here are a few of those fun activities: 
  • You will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition "Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon." 
  • Part of the live music will be provided by, our very own Grammy Award winner Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao
  • Arts and crafts will include: Creation of knot necklaces with designer Rachel Ravitch, inspired by quipu (knotted-cord records) from the Peru exhibition. Cosmic face painting by makeup artist Angie Glasser and Rashawnda Fitch, and construction of wicked or whimsical hats with artist Alicia Betty
  • Capture your fun and excitement of the night by posing for images solo or with friends with photographer Megumi Arai.
I hope you join me on this cosmic night filled with Latin rhythms, as I do a live guest-tweeting for the Seattle Art Museum from 10 - 11 pm! 

Prices are: SAM members $12. Adults $25. Students $20.
Tickets may be purchase online, at the Ticketing Desk at any of SAM's three sites or over the phone with a credit card by calling the Box Office at (206) 654-3121. Print at home tickets are strongly recommended. This event is 18 and older.

For all of the Twitter lovers, make sure you follow the Seattle Art Museum's Twitter handle (@iheartSAM) on the night of the event. I (@UtopiaMediaEnt) along with three other great twitter users, will let you know of all the fun, and cool things happening during the night by using the hashtag #SAMRemix. 

One more thing, because this remix is right before Halloween, costumes are encouraged but please, no masks. 

See you there!  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 5th Annual Seattle Latino Film Festival Brings Big Names of the Film Industry to the Pacific Northwest.

This year, Jorge Enrique Gonzalez Pacheco, Seattle Latino Film Festival's executive director, has brought not only striking Latino films, but also great figures of the film industry like, Damián Alcázar from "La Ley de Herodes," and "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian", film director/writer/producer Leon Ichaso, very well known for directing the movie "El Cantante," and filmmaker/screenwriter Fernando Trueba.

This past Saturday, despite the huge traffic that I knew I would encounter on my way to Seattle, I had to go to the SIFF Cinema at the Uptown to support one of my favorite Mexican actors, Damián Alcázar. And boy, I am so happy I did!

The movie "Fecha de Caducidad/Expiration Date," where Damián is one of the main characters, is a satire in which the writer shows us how each character has a different perception on a series of events happening before their eyes.

It's a fantastic movie. The dark Mexican humor is something that I had stopped seeing sometime ago in films, and it was refreshing to see it again.

After the film, there was a Q&A session with starring actor Damián Alcázar. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time for questions, but it was enough time to find out a little more about his thoughts on the film industry in Mexico nowadays. 

I knew of his political activism in my home country of Mexico, but now I also know that he has been one of the very few actors that have been faithful to his principles. He has rejected to be part of several movies that could taint the image of Mexico abroad. He mentioned that he is presently focused on making Independent Films that can shed some light on the real issues that affect the people of Mexico. 

Another personality of the film industry that I recommend you to see is, Cuban American Director Leon Ichaso who will give a Free Talk on Thursday, October 10th at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. followed by the screening of his movie "El Cantante," at the WA History Museum. For more information on the event click "here."

Another great artist that you would not want to miss is the Spanish book editor, screenwriter, film director, and producer Fernando Trueba who won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with "Belle Époque" in 1994. He will be present during the screening of his film "El Artista y la Modelo."

I decided to share the names of these extraordinary artists with you, because I have always admired their work. However, my recommendation is that you go to see as many films as you possibly can during this festival because some of these films, will probably never come back to the U.S. 

Mexican actor Damián Alcázar during the Q&A session 

Giving an interview to Martha Sanchez of Latino Northwest Communications

Photo by: Mario Zavaleta
Filmmaker Leon Ichaso. Source: Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Filmmaker Fernando Trueba. Source: Servicios Internacionales

Thursday, October 3, 2013

To Yelp, or Not to Yelp.

My parents used to tell me that, even when I didn't like something, or someone, I always had to be respectful because that would show the type of person that I am. So, when I see people leaving not very pleasant comments on social media platforms, it makes me wonder what kind of person they are.

Last week, while I was reading my Twitter feed, I read a tweet from my favorite coffee shop that shocked me:

After reading it, I asked what had caused that tweet? He replied to me that a Yelp user had left a not very nice review on their Yelp profile... 

I understand that many rely on the ratings that other users give to a place to decide wether to go there or not, but was it really needed to be rude? I usually use Yelp to find places nearby, but I don't always follow the reviews because, what one person finds very delicious, I may not, or vice versa

For example, some think that Tex-Mex is very good Mexican food, and they rate a Tex-Mex restaurant as the "Best Real Mexican Restaurant Ever," when in reality, is not. But they like it, and that's fine with me.

We have seen very often a fabulous restaurant lose points on their reviews because of a silly comment, and that's, to me, pretty absurd. Don't you think? 

I have taken several friends to "El Portal Coffee Roasters" because I love the place, the food, and the coffee. And because the owners are very kind people with that Veracruzano spirit that reminds me of home whenever I go there. So, if you are one of those friends, and if you disagree with the review the other user gave, would you mind going to the El Portal's Yelp profile and write a review? Thank you! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Inocente Izucar in Seattle.

About a month ago, I received an email from a friend letting me know that the Seattle Art Museum, and the Seattle University were looking for community partners to help spread the word of an event that would take place at the Seattle Art Museum at the end of September. 

The email read like this:

Dear Community Partners:

 "Seattle Art Museum in partnership with Seattle University and Sanctuary Art Center will be hosting a screening of “Inocente” On Friday September 27th. We would like to invite your organization to co-present this event with us given the theme of the documentary and the community work that you do.  We have the opportunity to list you as a co-presenters in promotional materials. Could you please reply ASAP* and let me know if you’d like to do this?"

As I was reading the email, I knew that the Latino Community Fund of Washington State had to be a copartner. And that's how my involvement in this event was possible. 

"Inocente" is an Academy Award® Winner as Best Documentary Short Subject based on the life of a fifteen-year old teenage girl who refuses to surrender her dream of becoming an artist, decides to wake up every morning with a positive attitude, despite the cruelty of her surroundings as a homeless, undocumented person living in San Diego. I will not tell you what the whole film is about because then, I would kill the emotion; what I can say though, it's that this is definitely a documentary you have to see. The Seattle University brought this documentary to Seattle to increase awareness about their Project on Family Homelessness, which goal is to help the public understand family homelessness, its causes and its solutions, and to engage the public to end it. 

Inocente herself, her mentor Matt D'Arrigo from A Reason to Survive (ARTS) San Diego, and Troy Carter, executive director of Sanctuary Art Center, were available for a Q&A session right after the short film ended. The audience asked many questions, and the group of Latinos that was sitting in the back of the theater, was accused of holding the microphone for too long... yup, I was one of them. It was just very difficult to not take this opportunity to learn more about this amazing young girl who has a beautiful spirit, and never gives up. 

The night ended with a small reception for ticket holders at cmd+p, the Pioneer Square gallery of Sanctuary Art Center, where a group of friends, and I, had some pictures taken with Inocente Izúcar.

It was a magical night that made me think again, about how often we complain about trivialities, forgetting that, there's usually someone having a much difficult life.  

From left to right: Teresa Gonzalez, Fernando Luna, Heather Villanueva, myself, Tino Gallegos (on the back), Teresa Jones, Miguel A. Munoz Lucho.
Photo by Steven A. Schimmelman 

The reception after the screening at cmd+p. It was a full house! 

Inocente signing the T-shirt I bought for my granddaughter.


My message for Inocente. 

Inocente and I.
Photo by Steven Schimmelman

Steven Schimmelman, Inocente and I.
Photo by Steven Schimmelman

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What I Learned From The Play, "El Año en que Nací."

Last Saturday, I went to On the Boards to see the play "El Año en que Nací/ The Year I was Born," and the expression "it moved me to the core," falls short.

I laughed, I cried, and then I laughed some more, all the while the characters explained their parents' political ideologies, and experiences during the year that Augusto Pinochet took over Chile. 

At some point in the play, one of them tells the rest of the actors to form a line according to their parents' ideologies, or the social status the family had when they were born, or the color of their skin. It was funny, and not, to see them arguing over who had to go to the left... or to the right. "What are the parameters that say whether one family had a better social status?" - asked one of them.

It made me realize that, way too often, we are trying to find our place in a society that has very confusing parameters; and that I too struggle with the idea of who decides "what", and "why" I am what I am. 

The play got me thinking about talking to my mother, about what she was doing when I was born. To ask her more about my dad, and his involvement in the marches during the tragic night of October 2nd in 1968, "La Masacre de Tlatelolco." The day that thousands of students were killed in Mexico.  

I left the theater hungry for knowledge, and with a great deal of respect for the young actors who decided to share their tragic stories of their lives in exile, in terror, in sadness, but with much courage, and admiration for what their parents went through. 

It was beautiful.    

My dad (who passed away about 16 years ago), my brother, and I in Toluca, Mexico.

My sister, my mom, and I (the one winking). 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrating The 203rd Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico in Seattle.

Celebrating Mexico's Independence Day has a different meaning since I moved to Seattle twelve years ago. I know there are many issues with Mexico's politics presently, but I am still proud of my culture, and that's what I celebrate.

In past years, my husband and I went to the Seattle Center to enjoy the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, but this year, we were invited by the Consul of Mexico, Mr. Eduardo Baca-Cuenca, to attend the festivities to commemorate the 203rd Anniversary of Mexico's Independence. An event that I anticipated would be filled with many familiar faces, and great entertainment. 

One of the most important reasons that made me attend this event, was to show my granddaughter the beauty of these celebrations, and how to respect the Mexican flag and National Anthem during a formal ceremony. Why? Because she is an American just as much as she is Mexican.  I explained to her that she is Mexican-American, and she is lucky to enjoy both cultures. 

We danced to the Mariachi music performed by the Wenatchee High School Mariachi, a program that has been nationally recognized as being the fastest growing Mariachi Music Program outside of Mexico, and it's currently integrating over 300 participating students ages 9-18. 

We also ate some delicious food, and took pictures with handsome men dressed with the traditional Charro outfits, and women dressed as Escaramuzas.

It was a fine event where I had the opportunity to celebrate El Grito de Dolores (The cry for battle made by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) with other immigrants from Mexico,  and with many Mexican Americans. It was also a great opportunity for my granddaughter to learn a little bit more about her parents, and grandparents' culture.

Invitation by the Consul of Mexico.

The Food. 
Consul of Mexico getting ready to depict El Grito de Dolores.

Folklore dancers
Andrea with Escaramuza
With Charros
With Mexican Consul Eduardo Baca-Cuenca
Wenatchee High School Mariachi performing "El Son de la Negra."

Wenatchee HIgh School Mariachi performing "Viva Mexico, Viva América."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Northwest Latina Entrepreneur Brings Us a Front Row Seat at New York Fashion Week

I am very proud of all my friends. They all are successful professionals, and fantastic human beings. On this post, I would like to brag about a very especial Latina friend and her team. Her name is Cynarah Ellawala. 

Cynarah is the founder and publisher of Moda& Estilo, an online magazine focused on global lifestyle and emerging fashion. Last week, she led a team of fashion experts to Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. Cynarah and the talented Moda & Estilo team, including five writers and three photographers, covered it in a big, big way; literally bringing it live to our desktops. 

Moda & Estilo published runway reviews, with amazing photography, multiple times per day and almost on the hour on M&E From the RunwayEstablishing a fashion publishing footprint in Seattle and the Big Apple is a task for the brave. So how does Cynarah, a Dominican Republic-born, Bellevue resident, balance a growing company, a happy home and the demands of the largest and most important fashion event of the year?  With style and grace, plus a talented team of Northwest fashion experts, of course. 

“New York Fashion Week sounds glamorous, and it is, but it is also a lot of work. We are working 18 hour days and I always come back without a voice. It’s hard on my daughter that I am away for so long, luckily I have a very supportive family and my Mom and Aunt help out while I am away,” says Cynarah Ellawalla, Publisher of Moda & Estilo.

This is the second time at Fashion Week for Moda & Estilo – a huge accomplishment given the fact that the publication is just one year old and press passes/credentials are both coveted and hard to achieve.

Great job Moda & Estilo team! We are very proud of all of you!