Nudges, Shoves and Cosmic Cachetadas by Ericka Sanchez McCarthy

ERICKA_FINALI was the recipient of several “cosmic cachetadas” (term courtesy of the wonderful Diana Pando), during 2013. These weren’t necessarily physical manifestations but their effects warranted an actual need for me to act on things I had been ignoring or avoiding and continuing to live in a “comfortable/safe predictability.”

Life was moving forward, but the universe sought me out time and again through little nudges, then shoves and signs here and there to let go of what I perceived as safe and secure. One of the most important “cachetadas” first started with nudges and shoves over the past few years after having had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the ladies at Proyecto Latina.

There was a joy in sharing poetry with other poets and interviewing and writing about Latinas talentosas that didn’t just talk the talk but were doing what they felt was a way to nourish their creative spirit and breath for their soul. It was in these meetings, readings and discussions that the nudges and shoves became more frequent and imposing. I will be honest and say that there was always this self-doubt, and fear that it would be reckless of me to jump and follow that trail of word crumbs that had been slowly winding around my heart.

In the past, I had been able to ignore or avoid those feelings, that something was not right, that I wasn’t getting that “air”  I longed for which would in turn make me feel every breath I took feel full of actual enjoyment. However, there was a great feeling of creative bliss over the summer after having a poem published and shared in the company of wonderful Latinas who revealed a part of themselves through their words (shameless plug here, Rebeldes:  A Proyecto Latina Anthology, if you haven’t gotten your copy, you’re missing out on awesome Latina writers and poets).

That experience ultimately led to leave the “safe zone” and quit a profession that I was no longer feeling fulfilled in. A choice that I went back and forth weighing the pros and cons, then trying to justify the negatives, talking myself into continuing because if I didn’t, in my mind I would be a “quitter”.  The truth was that I wasn’t feeling the passion or fulfillment I once did and now I was starting to feel the anxiety that comes with not loving what you do.

The “cachetada” came one day, as I was getting ready for work, knowing that even though I had taken some time to think about the choice to quit, I had to do it now and give my notice. This decision caused me to stop accepting what had become a “predictable” way of life for me. The “cachetada” forced me to stop and follow this new path, which I look at as a new adventure towards what truly brings me joy, which is writing.

I am not without appreciation for the support system I have in the forms of my husband, children, family and friends, fellow writers and poets and creatives. Also, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not scared of what the future will hold or that the process to get where I hope to be one day will be smooth and easy. I know it won’t be, but I’ve also learned when the universe gives you nudges, then shoves and finally “cosmic cachetadas” I’ll be paying attention with a notebook in one hand and pen in the other, ready to write it all down.


ERICKAEricka McCarthy is a Mexican import that has called Chicago home for a large portion of her life. She was raised in a bi and later tri-lingual home in the Little Village area where many a weekend, involved long walks with her mom and sister down 26th Street taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and shopping the neighborhood had to offer. Ericka was a monolingual Spanish speaker until she started pre-school and would meet a wonderful teacher that introduced her to the awesomeness that language, reading, writing and freedom of imagination would inspire. Her experiences through varying employments have helped her develop an appreciation for finding humor and thought in everyday events of life that can be written about.

Most recently, she worked in the education field, where for almost 9 years she enjoyed teaching, molding young minds, and learning a lot from her young charges as well, such as not all scissors are fool-proof and yes, if a child forgets their lunch over the weekend, a penicillin type mold will be begin to grow, thus creating an inexpensive class experiment! Ericka has had the amazing opportunity to work in the past with the illustrious crew at Proyecto Latina as a featured artist and, interviewing Latinas in the arts as well as being able to share poetry in the Proyecto Latina Anthology: Rebeldes. Ever changing like a chameleon that adapts, her current adventure involves leaving the teaching field and focusing on her dream of writing a children’s book, storytelling for children as well as adults (because come on, who doesn’t love a good story?), working on voiceovers for TV and radio as well as continuing the poetry and writing journey that she began long ago.

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