“Hi, Kathy!” she said as she clasped my hand and shook it eagerly. “I’m Luisa and I just want to let you know we’re gonna be really good friends!” She then burst out in giggles and patted the air with her hand to let me know to relax. She wasn’t crazy, she explained, just excited!
This was several years back when I vended at an event and Luisa walked up to my table and made this proclamation. At first I felt a little overwhelmed at her boldness but then the energy quickly shifted to one of delight. Her spirit felt familiar, like… I agreed with her sentiment.
And Luisa was right. We became very dear friends and mentors to each other.
This is a photo from the day we met!
We had many totally EPIC adventures together. Painting, traveling, teaching art workshops, long conversations. No matter what Luisa had going on she always made time to learn something new, help out, make new friends. So much energy, power and will – which is why I’m still shocked that she passed away. Even though it was last August, it feels like last week.
I’ve attempted to write this post for months but every time, my emotions take over. But now that the new year is here, I’m doing this to honor her. I want her to know how much she is loved and remembered. Luisa was one of the brightest, strongest, talented, prolific people I ever met in my life, and I know others will agree.
She was also one of The Phoenix Fridas!
I look back and realize how tightly packed and concentrated her life was. She accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.
So I’m going to share some of the gifts she left for us – life lessons and wise words!
Make every day a masterpiece.
This is from my podcast! One day we were at Fair Trade Cafe, deep in conversation and I felt so inspired by our talk, I whipped out my phone and interviewed her. This is such a great episode, I highly recommend giving it a listen. Other people might say, “Kathy, I need time to prepare!” but Luisa was like – “Let’s do this, bring it on!”
And her masterpiece wasn’t always literal as in art – she also meant it for relationships. With her daughter, her sister, mom, El Novio, and her friends.
Takeaway: You are in control of your thoughts, actions, and intentions.
Be bold, fearless and unapologetic.
When Luisa set her mind on something, she followed through. She wasn’t one to procrastinate. I think she knew she didn’t have time to waste so she made every day count. As a single mom, she left a full-time job to pursue a career as a full-time painter. And she succeeded in so many ways. From painting pregnant bellies, faces for Halloween, sides of giant buildings and of course, canvases – she rarely set down her paintbrush. One time I texted her, “Can you paint Adam Sandler’s portrait on a pumpkin for me?” and boom! She came right over and did the job.
Luisa constantly came up with marketing ideas for her business and set them all into action. If she had a collab idea, she reached out to connect with people and pitched her ideas. That’s how she created so many wonderful opportunities, she recognized her value, honored her gift of creativity and put it all into motion. By her example, many of us around her adopted that mindset as well. She believed anything was possible. She once priced a tiny painting at $200, because why not? She knew her work was worth it!
What I loved was she threw herself a party every year to celebrate her accomplishments! She knew everything she created was to beautify our community, lives, the world, so she worked hard at it.
Takeaway: If you were to throw a party for yourself, what would it be in honor of? Think about your accomplishments and celebrate them!
There is more than enough space for everyone to succeed!
This picture was pre-Covid, Luisa used to teach painting classes all over Phoenix. When Mucho Mas Art Studio was open, she taught there and we could barely contain all the students, her classes were so popular! Once Covid came and we all went on lockdown, Luisa started what become one of her biggest projects – teaching a free livestream painting class for 100 nights in a row. In the early days, she had 10-12 people, by the end she had hundreds of budding artists tune in each night and followed along with her. I saw families at dining room tables painting together, it was beautiful. Many said her nightly sessions are what helped them get through that stressful time of quarantine.
From that experience, many of her students went on to develop their own art careers, using what they learned from Luisa to create their own style.
She helped to co-found Mujeres Mercado, Phoenix’s first and biggest Latina monthly mercado.
Takeaway: Your contributions matter, you may be inspiring people and not even realize it.
High frequency mindset, healing.
In the last year of her life, Luisa really stepped up spiritually. She knew the importance of being present and the impact each day had on the big picture of life. Embracing imperfection, pushing to grow and learn. LOVE was what mattered to her – self love, love for her family, love for her friends, love for all.
Even people who blocked love, she still sent them love!
She was never one to gossip or gripe, and didn’t take it personal if someone didn’t like or agree with her. She knew she had a big personality and rather than diminish her voice or presence, she respectfully gave them space, genuinely wished them the best, and moved forward. I noticed she paid attention to things that bothered her and worked to figure out why so she could fix it, whatever It was. I never once saw her have a victim mentality. Except if someone drank from her iced coffee without asking!
Takeaway: Appreciate every moment, don’t sweat the small stuff. Work on healing yourself and there will be a positive ripple effect.
Take time to play, dance, and create new experiences. She let go of worrying about looking silly, that’s what we loved about her. She didn’t care, and that made for lot of giggles, and full-on laugh sessions. Her life wasn’t about looking cool, it was about embracing all kinds of experiences!
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to be the center of attention and live your life to its fullest. Don’t take things so serious, let your heart be light, find something to laugh about every day.
No mud, no lotus.
Failure wasn’t a word in Luisa’s world. Lesson learning, growing, evolving were there instead. She used every setback as a redirection and verbally stated what the lesson was so she could grow from it. She’d often tell us, no mud, no lotus, to remind us that going through the mud is absolutely necessary if we want to bloom. I think of this phrase every time I’m going through something rough.
No mud, no lotus!
There are so many more lessons I could share. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading through this!
If you knew Luisa and want to share something, please do so in the comments!
This has been so healing for me. I’ve been holding on to this heaviness for months and doing my best to have a stronger outlook, but I’m learning that grieving really is a long process. I can’t even image what Luisa’s family is going through and I pray for them constantly.
I know Luisa is in a better place. I feel her spirit with me every day.
OMG, you’ll never believe what just happened!
I became emotional writing this post and was going to take a break when all of a sudden I heard my printer start printing. I knew Patrick didn’t print anything, I thought what if a neighbor found our printer or something. I stood over the machine to see what would come out of the tray.
LOOK: It’s a print out of a draft of this blog post!!! WHA???
I’m seriously laughing through my tears, Patrick just said – “She is trying to tell you: “FINISH MY BLOG POST!”
Okay, Luisa, I hear you! I’m finishing! And I’m smiling so bright right now!
Takeaway: Our loved ones who have passed are with us every day in so many ways. Keep your mind and spirit open to see the signs of them, keep sharing their stories and memories. The BEST gift we can give to them is to keep them alive through our conversations, photos, life lessons. Talk to them if it brings you comfort. Know that grief is not linear, it will come and go in waves and let yourself cry when you need to, welcome your emotions in whatever way feels right for you.
One month after losing Luisa, my mom passed away, a month later, my uncle, weeks later – my next door neighbor of 20 years. Grief is something I’ve become accustomed to. In case you wondered why I haven’t blogged a lot last year, that’s why. I had to slow down and take care of myself. All we can do is make space for it, support each other, have empathy and compassion. Get therapy if possible, that’s what I’m doing (I’m going to Luisa’s former therapist!) and it has helped so much in handling all of these emotions!
Sending LOVE during this time and for the new year. I feel excited to create new blog posts, art, tutorials and more for you.
I’m closing this out with the last message I received from Luisa.
My sentiments exactly.