Whenever I return from a conference, I suffer from Chronic Recap Deficit Syndrome (CRDS). Yep. That’s in addition to spina bifida!
What is CRDS? It is usually characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
(1) Panic or anxiety when logging into my blog dashboard
(2) Feelings of inadequacy when reading other bloggers’ recap posts
(3) Frustration (maybe even cursing) while uploading photos
(4) General unease or distress at not being able to summarize events adequately
I’ll admit– here and now– that I live with CRDS. And while there is certainly no cure, I’ve come up with a way to make my life (and yours as the reader) easier: make a list. So, without further ado, here’s my list of the Top 12 Hispanicize 2013 Moments (in no particular order of preference)!
1. The Sherwin-Williams #SWpintura Downtown Miami Design District Tour
At the Grand Opening of a new Sherwin-Williams store in Miami! #SWpintura
Yes, I know I recapped this already, but I can’t help but mention again how awesome this tour of Miami was. We got to see the part of Miami most people don’t think of when they think of this beautifully diverse, energetic city. So at the risk of sounding repetitive– it rocked.
2. Dinner with #ToyotaLatino representatives, bloggers, and communicators in the automotive industry
Javier Moreno has been a great friend since 2011. I was absolutely thrilled when he put his faith in me and asked me to be the official correspondent at Hispanicize for Toyota Latino!
To me, it was just an incredible honor to be invited to be a correspondent, so I hardly imagined what Toyota had waiting for me– a multi-course dinner at OLA Miami, one of the trendiest spots in Miami Beach! The restaurant is located inside Sanctuary Hotel, and in it, you can enjoy the Latin American flavors created by renowned Chef Horacio Rivadero.
Oh là là!
Clockwise from top left: Marlin tacos made a very tasty appetizer; Toyota pulled out all the stops by presenting us each with a goody bag; we also get to each take home a coaster; the Chocolate Cigar, very popular at OLA, was the perfect ending to a delicious, sophisticated meal; dinner kicked off with an assortment of tantalizing and upscale Latin appetizers.
My very dear friend, Javier Moreno, Assistant Manager of Corporate Communications at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. He’s the one who made this experience possible for me! Thank you sooo much! I owe you a few.
The very first Latina blogger I ever met– and to this day, one of my absolute favorites! Jeannette Kaplun is a beloved friend and “big sister.”
Besides, the amazing food, drinks, and atmosphere at OLA, my favorite aspect of the evening was being able to engage in candid, casual, unscripted conversation with people I normally would not dine with!
I was completely taken by surprise when I found out I’d be sitting next to Jorge Bernal, Entertainment Anchor on “Al Rojo Vivo” on Telemundo, and host of “Tu Mañana LIVE!” on Sirius XM. I’ve been wanting to meet him for quite some time– and here he was, inches away from me!
Sharing a special moment with Jorge Bernal of Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo” during the Toyota dinner. Thanks, Toyota!
Over dinner, we were able to learn about some Toyota’s social initiatives. Toyota is currently focusing on growing programs in the following areas: education, environment, and safety. (To learn more about all of these programs, please visit the Toyota In Action blog.)
The bloggers and communicators were able to express our own ideas and opinions on a variety of topics, and basically outline what matters to us. The stories we shared ran the entire gamut of hilarious, moving, compelling, and informative.
There was definitely an underlying current at the dinner table– a desire to effect social change. I will always be grateful to my friends at Toyota for making this all possible!
(From left to right: Javier Moreno, Álvaro Castillo, Heather López (seated), me (seated), Javier Mota, Jorge Bernal (seated), Jeannette Kaplun, and Janice Lusky-Greenspan. Photo courtesy of Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global.
There are more photos to come on Espresso con Leche, plus an interview with Javier Mota of “Autos 0-60″ on Sirius XM Radio Channel 146! Thank you so much, Javier, for interviewing Javier Moreno and myself!
3. Attending a private screening of “Filly Brown” and chatting with the cast during an exclusive Q&A session, followed by an after-party at The Stage!
Yep. This actually happened.
And yep. He really is that awesome. What a classy, fun guy!
Earlier in the day, I had a *totally chance encounter* with Lou Diamond Phillips in the lobby! We weren’t even at the screening yet! Of course, I never miss an opportunity to talk to celebs about The Cause.
The stars of “Filly Brown” and the Director/Writer/Producer, Youssef Delara, held a Q&A session immediately following the film screening.
With Gina Rodríguez, star of “Filly Brown,” during the after-party at The Stage. She is super sweet– and crazy talented!
Lou Diamond Phillips tore it up with “Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Oh, yes, he did!
4. The Adelante Movement
One of my absolute favorite moments was meeting longtime online friend Dan Pérez– blogger, filmmaker, philanthropist, and “all-around nice guy.” Words can’t express what finally meeting him meant to me! Love you, hermano!
I know many people will think the Adelante Movement is just for women, but I know at least several guys who were “man enough” to stick around for this spectacular experience! One of them is my very good longtime friend Dan Pérez, who I got to meet (finally!) for the first time during Hispanicize. That moment was priceless to me! Getting to share it with our mutual hermano, Juan Alanis of Juan of Words, made it all the more special.
Familia. I love these boys so much!
Clockwise from top right: With NHLI founder Maria Elena Toraño; with Rita Moreno of “West Side Story” fame; with Charo, the “Cuchi Cuchi” girl; Nely Galán interviews Charo onstage; with Nely Galán.
5. Hanging out with and interviewing Los Tweens!
What can I say about Los Tweens? Founders Cristy Clavijo-Kish and Katherine Doble are doing such a fabulous job of raising kids who are at once socially conscious and aware of their own potential. They are now “paying it forward” with their work for Los Tweens, where they share advice, tips, and stories with other multicultural parents of children ages 7-12.
Of course, being raised by blogger parents, the youngsters want to get in on the fun, too! That’s why Cristy and Katherine have created My.LosTweens.com, a safe place where tweens can interact and share their own experiences, traditions, interests, etc.
Here’s a really cool video that I did with Maddy, Sophia, and Olivia!
Thanks so much, Los Tweens! I hope to someday host your Girl Scouts troop in Orlando.
Maddy, Olivia, Sophia, and Cristy (the twins’ mom) from Los Tweens. (Where’s Katherine?
6. Connecting with Sonia Velasquez.
Oftentimes, I’ll attend a conference, anticipating to run into a friend, and we’ll always miss each other, or only see each other once, in passing.
I met Sonia Velasquez on Monday, when my family arrived in Miami, and she was the guest of honor during the Sherwin-Williams #SWpintura event. I feel blessed to say I saw her every day until I left on Sunday! We were able to have real, honest conversations, soul-to-soul. There are a lot of people I’ve known for several years. Few people actually talk to me on a soul level like Sonia did– within hours of us knowing each other.
Sonia Velasquez and me. This woman has a heart of gold. So Blessed to now call her a friend!
Her advocacy work for AIDS and domestic violence causes, in addition to her job as host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Latin America, make her one of the people I was most looking forward to meeting! And…it was just icing on the cake that she joined my “Blogs with a Cause” panel.”
I want to be just like Sonia when I grow up!
Sonia and me by the pool, catching some rays of sunshine– just minutes before I caught a few too many!
7. Emilio Estefan.
I remember maybe about four or five years ago, being in Miami on vacation with Papi and Mami, taking one of those cliché boat tours where they point out all the mansions of the city’s hottest celebs.
We saw Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s house. I bet the extent of my thoughts was, “Must be nice.”
And then, years later, this happened…
Emilio and me. Gloria was right– eventually the rhythm IS going to get you!
OMG. I’m in the Target #SeHablaMúsica Lounge and Emilio Estefan is hugging me. As Mami takes our picture, he says, “You’re small, just like Gloria.”
OMG. Emilio just drew a comparison between his wife and me. He’s comparing me to Gloria, the Gloria!
What a friendly, classy, awesome gentleman. I will never forget this moment!
8. The McDonald’s “Me Encanta” Yacht Party!
What happens on the boat, stays on the boat– and on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Foursquare, on Tumblr– and if you hit the photo booths, they give you a copy to take home!
The McDonald’s #MeEncanta Yacht Party for Bloggers and Journalists, celebrating the Chicken McWrap, was, hands-down, the most fun one can have on the water!
We were treated to drinks, hors d’oeuvres, the best party music, and a floating dance floor (you know, ’cause it’s a boat) for several hours!
9. Carlos Ponce
Let me say that again. Carlos. Ponce. Man, it felt good saying that!
I just handed Carlos Ponce my business card. Carlos has my card. Heck– he has my number. Call me, maybe?
Okay, so I gave him my elevator pitch about The Cause. This was really when I was supposed to sing a few bars of one of his songs and persuade him to let me be a back-up singer for him!
10. The “Blogs with a Cause” panel.
There’s nothing I can say about the panel I moderated without practically bursting into tears. Um, not practically. Actually. Because organizing this session, coordinating with the girls, and actually connecting with them in person was one of the most spiritually enriching experiences of my life! I can honestly say I went to Miami barely knowing these women, and I left with four new best friends.
Denisse, Debbie, Teresa and Sonia– I owe you an overwhelming debt of gratitude for your commitment and your enthusiasm in joining the panel. When Manny asked me to “put together a panel” for Hispanicize, I thought it would be easier to master underwater basket-weaving rather than find a group of at least three people who not only were passionate about a cause, but were fluent in distributing their message across social platforms. Together, Manny and I found four.
As they each elaborated on their respective causes and initiatives, and as I asked them questions, I couldn’t help but be in humble awe at the magic that was unfolding. Here were four women from different corners of the U.S. with very different projects, coming together for a common purpose: to educate the public about very urgent, pressing issues in our diverse society.
We also got some wonderful questions from the audience. They went straight to the point– they each wanted to know how they, in turn, could effect change in the world using social media. We discussed how some of them are balancing their “day jobs” with their labor of love, and how we can make money while advocating for a worthy cause, too.
I think the best compliment we received after our panel was from people who friended us on Facebook immediately following our session! We were very grateful to meet people who wanted to connect with us right away.
What we need is a name for this group! Unfortunately, The A-Team, the Powerpuff Girls and Charlie’s Angels are all taken.
Those who attended the session enjoyed the wisdom of these four dynamos for about an hour. But the bond that was formed among the five of us will last a lifetime.
I love you ladies. ♥
11. Meeting Janice.
You know when you have one of those moments of clarity when you just met someone, and realize that you were meant to meet all along? I had one of those moments during Hispanicize, and it wasn’t when I met Carlos, Emilio, Edward, or any of those other celebrities.
It was when I met Janice Lusky Greenspan of PRecise Communications. To call her friendly, sisterly, or even motherly at times (because I definitely needed that!), all seems inadequate. Although I’ve attended plenty of conferences in the past, in different capacities, I had never been treated quite like the rock star I felt like during Hispanicize.
Janice and me. I feel so blessed to know her!
Janice looked out for me on behalf of Toyota Latino, and was such a fabulous facilitator of opportunities. Whenever or wherever there was someone to meet, or an event or session I absolutely needed to attend, there was Janice, making sure I didn’t miss out. I feel incredibly humbled and honored to have connected with you on such a personal level. The mofongo is on me when you come visit me!
12. Honorary Mention: The Sunburn
By now, most of my friends have seen on Facebook The Epic Sunburn that literally handicapped me from doing anything other than surfing the Internet in my pajamas for about four days after returning from Miami!
Vanessa Smith and I don’t always use the best judgment when we hang out together, and we spent a long time in direct sunlight on the pool deck after the conference was over.
Great times with one of my besties! It was totally worth it, hermana.
Ouch. Consider this an unofficial PSA for protecting your skin against the sun!
Mercifully, as soon as I posted a photo of my badly-burned back and shoulders (although the arms and legs were burned, too), I immediately received comments from friends, with tips and homemade remedies I could use. Literally, all of these products lived in our kitchen!
Mami had just a little too much fun mixing a potato salad on my shoulders!
The Human Salad Bar. On my shoulders: orange blossom honey, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, redskin potato peels. Yum.
More to come on Espresso con Leche!