Clockwise from top left: Sister, Paternal Abuela, Daughter, Mother, Best Friend, Sister.
Contributing author: Lisa Renata
When I think of Latina women that have inspired me throughout my life, I don’t think of women like Frida Kahlo, Isabel Allende or Salma Hayek. (Not that they aren’t women to admire and learn from.) No. Instead, I think of those women closer to me. Women, like my abuelas, my mami, my sisters and my friends. They are women that unknowingly and selflessly have taught me- and continue- to teach me so much.
These are the women that inspire me:
Mama Lisa, my mami’s mom. Though I was only 9 years old when she past away, she has been the one to inspire a lot of what I do and have come to be. In the mere nine years that I was blessed with her presence she was able to leave such a huge mark in my life. From her I learned to be strong (she lost her husband at the young age of 29 and left her with two young girls), a goal getter (she studied and learned English while working to support her daughters), the grace of elegance (it came so natural to her. When you look at her in photos, it is like looking at those beautiful black and white era movie stars), to love the craft of sewing (she would make gorgeous outfits for her and her daughters), and to be a true friend (she was and will always be my first best friend). I miss her.
My Mom. She is truly the best mother anyone could have. Really. From her I have learned to be patient, to love my family with all my might and to enjoy being at home. She has always been there for my sisters and I. She’s not pushy nor does she drown you with phone calls, like many Latina Mom’s do, nope- she knows when to step back and wait. She listens, boy does she listen. That, I also learned from her. To listen. She is a very creative woman, with wonderful taste. She is my biggest fan. Always ready to praise and support any crazy idea I might have. I love her.
Yama, my dad’s mother. (A name I apparently invented when I was a child because I would hear all my uncles call her Ama and I could not pronounce it correctly- and now 37 years later, everyone still calls her by that name.) A strong women that bore 15 kids. Yes you read right, 15! (My dad is the oldest of 13 boys and 2 sisters. Can you imagine raising that many boys? Gees!) She’s definitely one to admire. And what’s even more amazing to me is that she remembers everything. I mean every single grandchild’s name and birthday (and she has way over 30 grandkids). She has definitely taught me to be strong and patient. And… how I wish I had her memory.
My sister Leslie. She has taught me to not take life so seriously (trust me, that is hard for me). She is funny, intelligent, caring, hardworking, straight forward (yea she’ll tell ya what she thinks), all of that and more. She can always find the brighter side of any circumstance. She can make you laugh even though you want to cry. I am grateful to have her as a sister.
My baby sister Pamela. If you think I am creative, well you have not met my baby sis Pam. Anything creative and crafty comes so natural for her. She has such a keen eye for design. She’s also the most sensitive, caring and giving person I have met. She knows how to listen and give advice without being pushy. She gives without ever asking for anything back. I am also grateful to have her as a sister.
My best friend Lucia. Since the day I met her over 18 years ago, she has taught me so much. She is the true description of a modern Latina– Working mom, with a PHD, stylish, environmentally conscious, healthy and fit, and a great friend. She amazingly knows how to balance it all, and does it well. And even when she was fighting for her now four year old daughter’s life, she still found and finds the time to be a friend. She’s amazing.
My wonderful daughter. Though she is only three, she has managed to inspire my life in ways I never knew possible. She is strong, silly, daring and determined. She knows what she wants and cannot convince her other wise. She is so different than how I was as a child and I love that. I love that she is willing to climb up that rock wall her 5 year old brother is climbing. I love that she picks out her own outfits- as crazy as they might be- and will fight me if I try to change her mind. I love her confidence and independence. She makes me proud.
To these women (and child) that inspire my life everyday, I thank. I am so grateful to have them in my life. They make me proud to be a Latina.
Lisa Renata is the creator of Sabor a Cajeta, where she share her crafts ideas, and her passion for sewing and photography.
Photographs credit: Lisa Renata