Your Shoes are Killing Me

 

One of the definitive moments of the feature film, “Sex and the City,” shows protagonist Carrie Bradshaw entering the large closet of her would-be new apartment. As the lights flicker on, she takes in the size of it (really, it’s ginormous) and imagines all of the designer shoes she will fill it with.

I cringe whenever I watch that scene, as much as I love that film (can you say, “guilty pleasure”?).

Because I would never find enough “sexy” shoes to fill that closet with, even if I could afford them all.

Because the shoe industry has neglected to make shoes for women like me. Women with small feet. Women with spina bifida

For me, an assertive invitation of “Let’s go shoe shopping” from Mami evokes feelings of being a lamb dragged off to the slaughterhouse.

I’ve been that girl— the one who has broken down in the size 5 aisle of Payless, or many a shoe store. Because they don’t carry anything smaller for me

Indeed, some of my cutest “girly” shoes are in children’s sizes. And yes, they’re flats

I can’t wear heels unless they are even. None of those stiletto-style heels or wedges— even the shortest heels will have me teetering off-balance within seconds of standing.

 

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One of the few pairs of shoes in my closet that have short heels. I wore this outfit to a vintage-themed event. When I posted this as my profile pic a while back, I received compliments on my cute pose. Little does anyone probably realize I am grasping at the tree to keep from stumbling.

 

As I visit shopping malls and see signs indicating accessible entrances and restrooms, and ramps conveniently placed across from accessible parking areas, I am reminded of how far we’ve come as a society that is striving to welcome people with spina bifida and other disorders.

As I scour the ladies’ footwear section of any major department store, I am cruelly reminded of how far we still need to go. 

Indeed, I think my gender makes things worse for me as a shoe consumer. Men can get away with wearing more comfortable shoes, and even dress shoes don’t have heels. In fact, they could probably get away with wearing the same pair of shoes for a week straight, and no one would be the wiser.

The entire culture of being a woman in the 21st century is centered around footwear. “I don’t know if I have shoes that will match this outfit!” “Let’s go shoe shopping this weekend.” “Oh, my shoes are killing me, and I didn’t bring rescue shoes.” 

Guess what? Your “rescue shoes” are what I would wear to a social function. For me, there is no such thing as rescue shoes, because I cannot wear the shoes you need so badly to be rescued from. 

I can recall so many occasions on which I’ve attended parties with girlfriends. Near the end of the night, they are complaining about their shoes. “God, my shoes are KILLING me, Laurita! You are so lucky you get to use that wheelchair. Can I borrow it?”

No, you may not borrow my chair, because it is not a one-time deal. With this wheelchair, (which I use often for events, especially when I have to resort to wearing uncomfortable boots to match an outfit) comes a lifetime of regret. A lifetime of envy, resentment, and anger, because I cannot wear the shoes that are killing you right now. Because I wasn’t granted the luxury of being able to wear strappy heels that I will remove in less than two hours to dance barefoot on the dance floor after my feet have blistered.

Because as much as I hate to admit it, especially to myself, I LOVE the shoes that every woman loves— the strappy, shiny heels that you seem to glide effortlessly in, while I stumble clumsily in my flat boots.

Because Fate long ago decided that I do not get to live the Carrie Bradshaw fantasy for one lousy night, because that’s life.

Oh, your shoes are killing you? Then by all means, be my guest and remove them. You know what? They’re killing me, too. 

The 2014 SoftRock Holiday Giving Gala #SRGiving

This past Saturday, I was invited by a new friend to attend the SoftRock Holiday Giving Gala at Tier Nightclub in Downtown Orlando! Samantha Weaver is senior writer for SoftRock, a media company that designs software and multimedia for businesses.

The premise of their Giving Gala was to invite guests– in exchange for a pledge to give time in volunteer hours for any charitable organization.

I love that concept. 

Indeed, for me, there is nothing better than encouraging employees to support a worthy cause, or even several!

So, when Samantha invited me to this event, I simply couldn’t resist. 😉

Mami was my plus-one at the gala, and we got the star treatment that night! We were picked up promptly by a car service and taken to Tier Nightclub, a trendy spot in Downtown Orlando.

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I was really impressed to see so many plush, comfy sofas in a club setting! I wasn’t expecting that.

 

SamanthaWeaver_and_meWith Samantha Weaver, Senior Writer for SoftRock

I enjoyed drinks and tasty appetizers with Mami, and did a lot of people-watching!


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Mami and me. :)
 

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Caught live-Tweeting and instagramming! 
 
 
It was great to run into several friends– some of them from way back! 
 
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With Lynn Hoppes, who now works with SoftRock, and who I met as Sports Editor when I was interning at Orlando Sentinel in college. 
 
 
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With my friend, Jen Vargas, of Central Florida Top 5
 
 
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With the ladies! Samantha, Jen, me, and Jeanette Scott of J’s Everyday Fashion
 
 
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With Alec Difrawi, Founder & CEO of SoftRock. 
 
 

I’m so glad I was invited out to the party, and even more excited to start the year off by taking a pledge to volunteer in my community!

Thanks, Samantha– and thanks SoftRock!

Laurita :)

 

Hispanicize 2013 Part 2: My Top 12 #ToyotaLatino

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 

 

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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. 

 

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Oh là là! 

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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.

 

DSC06143Goodies!! Ah, yes, please note: the scarf I’m wearing is part of my “welcome gift” from Toyota Latino! #Spoiled 😉

 

 

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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. 😉

 

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I’m so happy I got to connect with Heather López, a.k.a. The Social Commerce Mom of Bloggin Mamas and Happy and Healthy Mom on a more personal level! She rocks!

 

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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! 😉 

 

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 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!

 

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(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. 

 

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And yep. He really is that awesome.  What a classy, fun guy! 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

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The stars of “Filly Brown” and the Director/Writer/Producer, Youssef Delara, held a Q&A session immediately following the film screening. 

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With Gina Rodríguez, star of “Filly Brown,” during the after-party at The Stage. She is super sweet– and crazy talented! 

 

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Lou Diamond Phillips tore it up with “Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”                   Oh, yes, he did!

4.  The Adelante Movement 

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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.

 

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Familia. I love these boys so much! 

 

Adelante

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. :)

 

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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.

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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! 😉

 

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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…

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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! 


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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! 😉

Right before Carlos took the stage to accept his Latinovator award and be interviewed onstage, my friends Vanessa Smith and Janice Lusky Greenspan intercepted him and I got to meet him!

 

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I just handed Carlos Ponce my business card. Carlos has my card. Heck– he has my number. Call me, maybe? 😉

 

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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. 

 

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(From left to right): Debbie Bookstaber, Denisse Montalván, Teresa Correa,                    and Sonia Velasquez

 

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.

 

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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. 

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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.

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Great times with one of my besties! It was totally worth it, hermana. 😉

 

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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!

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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!

 

Laurita 😉

Hispanicize 2012 Recap Part 2 – Cruisin’, Cubans, Cronies & Croquetas with #ChevyHispz!

As my body and mind seeks to recover from all the fun and excitement of Hispanicize 2012, and I work to keep up with the connections I’ve made, I’m finding a lot of merit in my idea of compartmentalizing my experiences into separate posts. The truth is, I honestly couldn’t consolidate it all into one blog post if I tried.

So alas, here’s the second installment of my Hispanicize 2012 series!

On the first official day of the conference, Tuesday, April 10th, it was very exciting to begin seeing friends from all over the country pouring into the JW Marriott Marquis. I reconnected with many old friends from LATISM, NAHJ, and also from many local organizations I’m familiar with.

 

I started off the day at the Non-Profit Case Study: Using Social Media to Deliver Health Messages to Engage Latina Moms and Families" presentation, with Carla Briceño of Bixal and Lilliam Acosta-Sánchez of March of Dimes' nacersano.org.

 

One especially interesting session I started the day off with was with Carla Briceño of Bixal and Lillam Acosta Sánchez of nacersano.org, the Latino outreach branch of March of Dimes. I had the honor of being a co-panelist with Lilliam at LATISM 2011 in November. The information they gave during the session really highlighted key ways that organizations, whether non-profit or not, can engage with the Latino community and get their message across effectively using online channels.

During the panel, Lilliam actually called on me to explain folic acid’s role in helping to prevent spina bifida! It caught me completely off-guard. Fortunately for me, I can talk about this, even in my sleep. 😉

 

An amazing, Caprese-style appetizer at lunch!

A great turkey wrap. Because ALL good food deserves to be photographed!

 

Right after lunch, I ran into one of my good friends, who until that moment, had been online-only– Eva Smith, legendary co-founder of Latina Mom Bloggers!

With Eva Smith of Latina Mom Bloggers. What an awesome moment! :)

 

Then I was distracted by coming across even more of my cronies– Cristy Clavijo-KishLibby Juliá-Vázquez, Lynn Ponder, Fernando Rodríguez, Andy Checo, and a new acquaintance, Albert Collazo (Albert and I became fast friends, though!).

 

(From L to R): Me, Cristy, Libby, Albert, Lynn, Fernando and Andy. Priceless pic! :)

 

Getting my badge always makes it more official!! :D

 

Perhaps one of the most invaluable things for me was being able to personally thank the people who made it possible for me to attend Hispanicize. I loved meeting Katherine Johnson!

With Katherine Johnson, one of Hispanicize 2012's organizers. She's so awesome!!

 

Ever since we met during BlogHer ’10 in New York City, Blanca Stella Mejía and I have been like blogger besties! To say that she has been an inspiration, a mentor and like a sister to me would be a vast understatement. She has been one of the most supportive people for me in the social media world, and offline, she’s the best!

Blanca was one of the first blogueras to interview me for her own blog, MiCaminar.com. She, Jeannette Kaplun of Todobebé, and Maria De Los Angeles of Sex and the Beach are no doubt my best friends in South Florida!

 

With Blanca. I can't imagine what my life would be like without knowing her! :)

 

The next part of my day was spent cruisin’ around in a Chevy Volt, which is an electric-powered car. It will use electric power for the first 40 miles, then the battery takes over. The Chevy Landmark Tour was one of the most clever features of Hispanicize 2012, as it took attendees on not only a scenic tour of Downtown Miami, but it also engaged all the senses.

 

With Arturo Villar, Publisher of Hispanic Market Weekly, just before we each loaded into vehicles for the Chevy Landmark Tour!

 

From the moment my parents and I jumped into the Chevy Volt, it was a pretty smooth ride!

The Car. A brand-new Chevy Volt.

Juan, our driver/tour guide, was great! He's from Colombia-- I love that Latin America really represented.

 

I was quite fascinated by some of the Chevy Volt’s high-tech features.

 

This. Is. Awesome.

 

The tour took us to the Little Havana area to see the Cuban Memorial Plaza, where cubanos who had been exiled from Cuba and who fought in the Bay of Pigs invasion are remembered with reverence.

In Cuban Memorial Plaza. :)

 

During my excursion in Little Havana, I got to meet a group of Cubans who are protesting the the incarceration of political prisoners in their native land.

Even if my interaction with them was very brief, I felt the energy of their cause, and it certainly ignited a fire in my activist’s heart. :)

 

My new amigos. May God keep them safe and guide their efforts in the name of justice.

 

But visiting Little Havana wasn’t all politics and patriotism. I saw a few more great sights and grabbed a bite at the famous Café Versailles.

 

At a very famous intersection: Tamiami Trail ("Calle Ocho") with Cuban Memorial Boulevard.

 

They really roll out the welcome mat for visitors!
Love this architecture!

 

I really identified with Miami's rich heritage of revolutionaries and activists.

 

No visit to the most famous Cuban neighborhood in Miami would be complete without a little Latino flavor! The tour stopped at Café Versailles– where tour participants were treated to coladas (tiny shots of espresso) and croquetas– both staples in the Miami diet!

 

:)

 

How exciting!!

 

I'm oh-so-excited about trying one of these croquetas!

 

Okay, maybe MORE than one...try five or six!?

 

I need something to wash down the fried food explosion in my mouth...how about a coladita?

 

Okay, I'm sold! Can I get something dulce to go?

 

Too. Many. Choices. But I went with my usual, a quesito, a sweet, creamy cheese-filled pastry. Never fails!

 

I had sooo much fun cruisin' in this Chevy Volt. Here I am, between Juans-- the one on the left dropped our Chevy Traverse off at home to use for the week, and the one on the right was our tour driver!

 

Still need to explore more of this beautiful, diverse city!

 

Thanks so much, Chevy, for the awesome! memories!

 

There’s much, much more to come soon on Holdin’ Out for a Hero about Hispanicize, including a review of my panel discussion, Blogging for a Cause, with Lisa Quiñones Fontánez, Eliana Tardío Hurtado, and Chantilly Patiño. Keep checking back for updates, and don’t forget to also visit Espresso con Leche for bilingual content and more photos!

 

–Laurita 😉

This Week’s Rundown– I Need a Schedule!

Every time it seems I’m about to settle into a routine, something comes along to turn my “schedule” upside down. The truth is, right now, I don’t have a schedule. I have a calendar on which I write down potential opportunities as they present themselves, but I don’t really wake up in the morning knowing exactly what I have programmed for the day.

So, what I really could use is a secretary. Any takers? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

On Saturday, I attended Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s 6th Annual Neighborhood & Community Summit at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Hotel. Even though I had to be there by 7:30 a.m., I jumped out of bed with a [partial] smile on my face, because I knew in my heart, it promised to be an exciting day.

During one of the time slots, I went to the “Ask Your Mayor” session. I didn’t hesitate when I asked Mayor Dyer his thoughts on Gov. Rick Scott’s recent cuts to disability programs. He immediately expressed disdain and disgust for the governor’s harmful policies, and stated that he was certain those cuts would jeopardize Florida citizens. At least, there is no doubt in my mind that he is on our team.

I could not leave without making sure that the Mayor and his staff members had my business card. I also made my “elevator pitch” to them, meaning I plugged Holdin’ Out and the spina bifida cause big time. 

With Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer!

With Orlando District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz, whom I first met at Relay for Life, and Juan Triana, and Juan Triana, Neighborhood Champion Award nominee.

As some of you might know, right now I am preparing for a trip to Miami (although I won’t say it too loudly!) to attend SheCon. You might recall what happened the last time my family planned a trip to Miami, and for a blogging conference, no less! I’m going to see if I can’t fit a few more necessities into my luggage, namely: a four-leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot, and a Rosary. (Probably not kidding about the Rosary!)

During the Mayor’s summit, I made a new friend, and she told me about an upcoming blogger event I hadn’t heard of– and which is very close to home! So, now it seems I’ll also be attending the Central Florida Blogger Conference in Maitland. I’m so excited about this one-day, no-travel-required, very-affordable event, which will hopefully be one more venue where I can promote the spina bifida cause.

And now I want to tell you briefly about a wake-up call I received. I got a phone call today from a young woman who was referred to me through a mutual contact, and whose daughter has spina bifida and is in those trying young adult years I’ve written about before. We were on the phone for over an hour! It seemed that, in talking to me, this mom was able to get a first-hand perspective of what those years are like, socially, emotionally, and in other ways. Before we ended our conversation, she thanked me over and over, and blessed me, for listening and talking to her.

So, I want to leave you all with this thought: I started off by saying I needed a “schedule,” but today’s phone call and the heartfelt exchange that followed showed me that God had other plans for me. Instead of just handing over my business card at an event for professionals and speaking to the bigwigs, I comforted a distressed mother. It’s easy to forget your true purpose when you’re busy chowing on chicken and risotto at a Hilton, but I’m glad this young woman reminded me that I live to serve, and not to be served.

Love,

Laurita ♥

P.S. I really missed being able to put a “heart” at the end of my sign-off. Thank you, WordPress!