With commitment naturally comes challenge – a challenge to make the time and effort for the cause. And all causes -- such as mentoring -- that you take time out of your schedule to contribute to, are great causes. Some people do it because it’s a mandatory part of their job, but I’m more interested in watching people who have a complicated life and family, yet still have enough time to give of themselves. I admire those people who aren’t afraid to put their titles and wealth aside just to give back to someone who needs it. Those are the people who really matter in communities. If I can’t feel what someone is doing, then it doesn’t move me.
There is a dicho I learned from my mom “El diablo sabe más por viejo que por Diablo”. When my mother tells me this dicho, she is really saying is that with age comes experience which brings about knowledge. It’s nice to have somebody who can share their life experiences with you. That’s why I rely so much on my parents. They are truly my mentors.
My mom is the quintessential Latina and I have learned an endless number of things from her examples. She has always managed to put her family first, working tirelessly to keep our home in order -- doing things like keeping fresh fruit, food and flowers on hand for unexpected visitors. She is always taking on several different tasks at once and remains the backbone of our family.
Women like my mother are typical Latinas and I am privileged to have her as my mentor.
As mentors, we have a lot of work to do and a continued presence to create via the next generations of young Latinas who are eager to make their marks on the entire culture. We need to let our communities and the nation as a whole know who we are and what we stand for. We must take the vision of our own past mentors and continue to make it a reality for Latinas everywhere. It’s time to attain the more widespread respect, and our mentoring relationship with other Latinas is the launching pad to make that happen. Now that our voice is greater than ever, in order to continue our success we need to turn the volume up!
Did you know that today’s Latina is part of the fastest growing ethnic group in the country? BUT Latinas are not as easily defined, as they are labeled. We are complex, and long to be understood. Regardless of education, Latinas believe we can have it all - be a good wife and mother and have a career at the same time.
Some people today call this “multi-tasking”. But women, historically, have always been multi-taskers. It has been the role of the woman to have the children, raise and care for them, cook, clean, and serve her husband when he gets home from work. A woman is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, expected to always comply with her duties, rain or shine, sickness or in health. It is in our blood to be doing more than three things at once. We were raised knowing we would have to raise the kids, cook and clean simultaneously – Mrs. Cleaver and Ms. CEO all in one. I think there is a very fitting dicho that says, “La necesidad es madre del ingenio” (“Necessity is the mother of resourcefulness”). We find a way to make things work.
My mom was and remains our family’s leader in every sense of the word. We call her “Chiquita pero cumplidora.” She taught me how to do the same thing by her example. PAUSE
NOW. . . I don’t mean to exclude fathers – especially my amazingly resilient father. It’s just that I think women find it especially difficult TODAY to balance their roles as mother, wife and professional.
As we all know, Latinas wear many hats, among them we are mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters and we are professionals, politicians, students, or just friends. Inherent in all of these is the leadership role. We assume a leadership role that is dedicated to serving others, whether it is to our family or our community. We serve as the window for the rest of the world to view our community.
As Latinas, we are naturally looked upon as role models for younger generations in our own culture and in others. It is common for the public and especially the media to look to Latinas as leaders in the community, the workplace and the family – all at the same time!
It is so important that we as role models pass these lessons and messages along to the next generation of Latinas. It will be impossible for them not to see the pride we have in our culture. We need to give young Latinas all the tools to be self-confident so that they succeed and continue to embrace leadership roles in the community.
The community looks to us for advice as respected contributors for its success. While we may not realize it - ALL Latinas are critical role models. We play a critical role in the family, organizing communities and advocating for its improvement. And let's face it - we influence public trends and policies.
On my court television shows, I have the privilege of helping litigants work out the details of their lives. Sometimes those details are small and the arguments are over dollars and cents. But I don’t see my role as any less important in these situations as in any other role in my life – as a wife, mother, daughter or professional. The decisions I make on the show hopefully bring balance back into the litigants’ lives, and in that way, the hat I wore on the show that day, made an impact.
I love the roles I have voluntarily undertaken in my life and work to be good in everything I do.
Loving what you do IS AN INSPIRATION to others AND it IS living the lifestyle of a Latina.
We all know America is a nation of immigrants. Throughout its history, this country has represented the opportunity for success for all people. The strength of this country is founded in the unique cultural influences and traditions that immigrants bring to the United States and how they balance those traditions with their new life in America.
When I first ventured out into the world as a brand new attorney, my father gave me some valuable advice about my Latina roots. He said: “You can’t be afraid of people telling you that you’re a minority because you’re not. You have to understand that you are a majority, especially in your business.”
Together, let’s make it a priority to impress upon young Latinas – whether they are family members, friends, employees, young people in your community, or scholarship students like Juana – to take pride in their cultural identity and use it to their advantage in everything they do -- from school all the way to the workplace.
Whether as immigrants or Latinas born and bred in America, we are required to balance our cultural identity with the rest of who we are. As Latinas, we are called upon to balance all these pieces of our life seamlessly, gracefully and with passion. Some call this CROSSING OVER I just call it MY LIFE.
I personally embrace this as a challenge, to see how many lives I can affect with all the different hats I wear. We each have so much to offer – more than we think we do sometimes. Once you realize that, it gets easier to see your talents and strengths as wonderful gifts at your disposal. AND
Then and ONLY THEN you will start to see that all your responsibilities in life are really privileges – and also lessons that you can pass on to young people who want to someday follow in your footsteps.
I would hope that someday my daughter will say about me: “My mother is my mother but she was this incredible go-getter, fought and stood up for what she believed and worked extremely hard, but she was always my mother first.” I want her to know that being true to yourself and being true to your work is the key to success.
SO. . . Each day I make sure I carefully heed to my mother’s attitude on life and wisdom and gladly take in every consejo. So yes, I am tired when I get home from work and yes I get tired of juggling, but this is my role and I willingly accept it. I am proud to be a devoted and supporting wife and mother and dedicated professional. SO when people ask me - Cristina, how do you do it all? MY ANSWER is simple --- " tengo la sangre de una mujer Latina, tengo la sangre de mi madre." (I have the blood of a Latina woman; I have the blood of my mother).