All I can say is WOW. This We All Grow recap will barely scratch the surface of my experience, but I’ll do my best to spill all the details! Remember my last post on this topic, I was gearing up for the weekend? Well, everything went off beautifully! Vive Mejor and the new Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant sponsored the two-hour session which ended being the grand finale of the Summit. They gave us a huge stage with giant screens on either side to share pictures, then played a clip from a song we chose.
First up was Jeannette Kaplun from HispanaGlobal.com. Her story was about as a teen, she challenged her dad’s wishes for the first time when it came to choosing a college. He wanted her to take an easier route, she wanted to challenge herself. She shared what it felt like to have to believe and stick to your gut instinct when even your strongest supporters want something different. One of my favorite quotes from Jeannette: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” Didn’t that just make you lose your breath for a sec? In other words, if things are too easy, you are not reaching your fullest potential. We always have to be willing to start at the bottom in order to reach the top.
After that, Astrid Rivera from LatinaBlah.com took the stage. Her story was about finding the love of her life, only to discover her soon-to-be father-in-law was hard to win over. After doing her best to charm him with her cooking, she had a breakthrough. He was diagnosed with cancer and she went to visit him every day in the hospital. He finally told her he loved her and gave the couple his blessing. On their wedding day, after Skyping him in to watch, he passed away at the reception. Astrid explained how she learned about unconditional love in this life and the next and shared a favorite quote from her father-in-law. Astrid was nervous about making it through her story without crying. We could all see how close her father-in-law is to her heart. But she did it, she pulled through! It also happened to be her birthday, so we surprised her with singing, a cupcake and candle!
Carol Cain from GirlGoneTravel.com made us all bust a tear. Her story (first time she ever shared it, so she was nervous too) was about growing up in La Perla, Puerto Rico, loving her life, not realizing her family wasn’t exactly wealthy. One day, when she was five, her father came to visit and ended up taking Carol and her sister away to America for what he thought would be a better life. Carol never saw her mother again until decades later, and only for a short time. Can you believe that the week before We All Grow, Carol looked up her mother on Facebook and found her? She wrote a mega-heartfelt letter to Carol, which Carol read out loud to all of us. She has us in tears. Carol is now looking forward to reconnecting with her mother on a deeper level. Plane tickets are already purchased! It just blows my mind that this experience led to this chain of events. My heart is quivering right now as I type this as I take it all in…
After that, it was MY turn! I knew emotions would be riding high and I chose to share a (now) funny parenting story about the time when, my son, DeAngelo was in 2nd grade and got asked to read a speech for MLK day at school. His teacher mistook him for being Black instead of Mexican. DeAngelo came home thoroughly convinced – “I am so proud to be African-American!” he announced. He didn’t listen to me or Patrick when we tried to explain that she made a mistake. That wasn’t a big deal, people never know our background, they always ask. But we didn’t want DeAngelo to be confused. Honestly, we were confused! We raised him on all things Latino, our art, food, but all I could think was, “Did I ever sit him down and tell him point blank, you are Mexican-American?” So much self-doubt set in! But this wasn’t about me, it was about DeAngelo. Patrick had to go into the classroom and find a non-awkward way to bring up the topic to his teacher. She laughed and corrected DeAngelo. She said she assumed we were a biracial family since Patrick “had dreadlocks and wore a cowrie shell necklace and because DeAngelo was dark complexioned.” The experience actually brought us all closer through laughter and storytelling. DeAngelo read his speech and spent the entire next week informing EVERYONE: “I’m not African-American, I’m Mexican-American!” My message was that as parents we don’t always have control over how our kids process information. We can only do our best to offer a steady stream of positive reinforcement, right? We used to call DeAngelo “Just the wrong facts, ma’am” Murillo. Thankfully these days he has worked that all out…LOL
After I finished, Lorraine C. Ladish from VivaFifty.com took over. One thing about this series, these women were brave. They shared very raw stories in order to inspire others. Lorraine’s story was about the time when she was flat broke and had to sell her family heirloom jewelry pieces in order to make rent. Depressed, but still charging ahead, she took time out in order to dance and forgot her troubles, if only for a night. She met a new friend, told her the story and this lady took Lorraine on a long nighttime journey to her house. Why? To gift Lorraine two sets of gold wedding rings from this lady’s failed marriages. Upon her request, Lorraine sold them and used the funds to help her and her daughter’s future. Lorraine’s message was about letting go of material things, knowing that the only gold that matters is the one that lives in our hearts, not on our fingers. She also reminded us of the power of women helping women!
Next was Ana Cruz of CBS Radio! Ana opened with a shout – literally. She reenacted a scene she heard growing up when her father abused her mother. She recalled the painful memories and how she swore she would never find herself in that situation, only to have the pattern repeat. While her story could have gone into a hard cry, she kept it very uplifting, with many lessons to take away. She made us all laugh and cheer. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, educated or not – anyone can fall into the trap of verbal or physical abuse. She presented her personal experience of how she overcame it and went on to become a superstar in the world of broadcasting. These days she lectures on domestic abuse to help others.
And bringing it home was Claudya Martinez of UnknownMami.com. Claudya is known for providing the laughs, and said that was her first choice for this event. But another voice popped up and told her something else. Claudya went with her gut and shared her story of the time she was mugged in her hometown of San Francisco. Her themed was about fear. She feels fear saved her life that night, but afterwards, fear almost stole her life from her. She didn’t want to leave the house for years after the incident, and became very afraid of anything and everything outside. She told us that we need to embrace and accept fear into our lives because it is what pushes us to the next level, but at the same time, we can’t let it rule every waking moment. I think this was the moment when we all stood and clapped.
Now about the product campaign that was able to make the night happen? That is thanks to the new Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant! You may have already seen the commercials on TV!
Here is what is cool about Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant – it is DRY when it touches your skin, and it doesn’t leave any visible residue. It doesn’t contain any goopy residue like the sticks and gels we’ve been used to. That’s a biggie for me because I hate applying those cold sticks, not to mention the residue. And because it is Dove, it has the signature 1/4 moisturizers so it leaves your skin soft and smooth, and provides 48-hour odor and wetness protection! You can find Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant at mass food and drug retailers nationwide!
Thank you so much to Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant, We All Grow (and my friend Megan Finnerty from Arizona Storytellers for inspiring me!) for this opportunity!