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.

Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology

Cover art by Diana Solis, "Mama Bird," hand-cut paper, 2009

Cover art by Diana Solis, “Mama Bird,” hand-cut paper, 2009

!!Book Launch Reception!!

Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology
We are thrilled to invite you to join us in a toast as we celebrate the birth of the Proyecto Latina Anthology! In the tradition of our reading series, we will have a few featured writers and the Chisme Box will also make an appearance.

Monday, August 12th – 6:30PM to 9:30PM
@ Meztli Gallery & Cultural Organization
2005 South Blue Island
Chicago, Illinois, 60608
Street parking available / CTA – #60 Blue Island bus

The anthology spotlights the creative spirit and diversity of writing that is the Proyecto Latina community. At this time, it is the only book being published in the Chicago focusing on the writings and artwork of 26 Latinas.

Special thanks to all of our Madrinas y Padrinos for supporting the literary arts and to Paloma Martinez-Cruz for her creative leadership in making this dream a reality.

Please spread the word about this event by sharing via social media. We’d greatly appreciate it.

The anthology will be sold day of the event. Cash only.

More info. on how to purchase the book online TBA.

Blogtitlanistas Feminista Readings

Interview with Blogger Elena Mary and organizer of Blogtitlanistas Feminista Readings

Blogger Elena Mary

What is Blogtitlanistas Feminista Readings?  

Wednesday April 17th a few of the women from Blogtitlan will gather to read a short selection of their work.  Blogtitlan (a phrase I believe originally coined by Cindylu of Loteria Chicana) is a community of mostly Latino bloggers that came together in approximately 2003 and grew to support each other as we developed our individual identity politics. Read more on this event…

Why did you decide to organize this event?

I missed Blogtitlan despite our min-reunion in January of 2012 in San Diego, California.  A lot of Latina bloggers are here in the Midwest, and I miss the discussions we had so what better place to organize than Chicago —an epicenter for many Latino bloggers.  Plus, I love Chicago!

What do you want the audience to walk away with from this event?

I think we are all embracing to know we aren’t alone, and can identify with others.  I want people to laugh, cry, and nod in an “ohh yeah! I know that feeling, I too feel it, it’s okay”

Why are Midwestern Latina voices important to you?

Midwestern Latinas are my own voice and a generally an unheard voice.   I think people forget there are Latinos in the Midwest, we are a different bunch but still part of the movement.  We have generational issues, language issues, assimilation issues, and historical issues just in different context than someone in the valley might have.

How has blogging impacted you as a writer?

This question makes me chuckle.  I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but blogging has given me the self-esteem to think of myself as someone who can write, and occasionally have the privilege of influence.

What kinds of content will we find on your blog and how long have you been blogging?

I have been at since 1999 but I believe I only have archives up since 2004. I mostly write personal stuff and when I get political it tends to be about something dealing with my world in Ohio or in regions of Mexico where my family still lives.

What are your top three tips for blogging?

Not sure, I should be giving any tips but here goes, blog from the heart, and don’t regret. The don’t regret is the hardest.  There will be times you write things and think I can’t believe I used to think like that, or I can’t believe I used those words, or made those mistakes.  But you did and they are who you were. We are changing and if you aren’t changing you aren’t growing, allow yourself that process.

Lastly, I love this quote and I think it embraces the blog from the heart idea:

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Loteria Chicana , Flor y Canto  and Mi blog es tu blog

What have you learned about Latina bloggers that has surprised you?

They can be shy! I always imagined bloggers as generally very out going people but for example Cindylu of Loteria Chicana can be quiet and shy.  Also, once I actually get to meet bloggers, it is amazing how instantly we can connect.

Final thoughts?  Whenever I say “Proyecto Latina”, I think of the band Proyecto Uno jajajaja. Get more details on the reading on April 17th.

About Elena Mary (EM)  - She is a Xicana that is happily creating her own space where one kind find awesomeness and failure.  Like a good “American” EM has race and cultural identity issues which she blogs about quite a bit. Having trouble focusing on anything for too long, she has run for political office, been a union organizer, fostered half dozen children, studied medicine, urban geography and queer feminist performing artists, is competing for a slot at the world championships for triathlon.  Most importantly EM loves days with no set plans because she is stubborn, adventurous and hates being told what to do. Read her blog…

Reflections & Revelations of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

One of my favorite places in Chicago is the Harold Washington Library filled with books as far as the eye can see. What can make this library even more awesome? They are organizing a reading with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. SQUEAL! She will be in town for the release of her new book My Beloved World.  I remember biting my nails when she was going through the hearings to secure her seat in on the Supreme Court. Happy she is now the 111th Justice and is the first Latina and third female Justice in this position. She is a wonderful example of everything Latinas can do despite their circumstances.

My Beloved World Reading & Signing with Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Wed. January 30, 2013 @6:00 pm

Harold Washington Library Center

400 S. State Street – Winter Garden, Chicago, IL 60605

Learn more about this reading…

La Neta: A Latina Guide to Losing it All

Introducing La Neta

Paloma Martinez-Cruz

The humorous science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams provides advice to the intrepid, intergalactic hitchhiker: DON’T PANIC. I thought these words were a good way to introduce the present series on loss, failure, suffering, and survival. Much ink is spilled about how to succeed in life. It seemed to me that very little was being said about the other side of the spectrum, namely, how to fail. We fall down many times in love, career, health, family, friends, finances, creativity, beauty, style, passion. It occurred to me to develop a series that drew on both the analysis of prevailing data about our communities, our creative and critical voices, and the personal narratives that remind us that we can find strength in each others experiences in the universal moment of defeat. Proyecto Latina has graciously provided me with the space to undertake this project.

La Neta is about our failures. In the coming installments, a few themes I plan to address include, but are not limited to, divorce, abortion, unemployment, motherhood, care giving, and loneliness. I am hoping that you will tell me about the other topics you would like to see me cover. I believe that these experiences are our teachers. How can we become useful human beings without valuing our defeats? We can’t. And since that is the case, I vote in favor of rolling up the sleeves and doing the hard work of looking at our lives as they truly are. Instead of sweeping all the broken shards under the mat, let us get to the matter of getting many things wrong, and being brave enough to call it a useful existence.

The intention of La Neta is not to fix your problems, nor to console you when things don’t work out as you would like them to. We are all broken. We are all misshapen, weird, lonely, sick, and starving for the cure that will make us less misshapen, weird, lonely, sick, and starving. I am not writing to say, “Let’s be strong in the broken places,” because that would be trying to spin gold from straw. Let straw be straw. Let’s challenge ourselves to be cool with all this straw we are dealt. Also, I am not writing to tell you, “There, there, it will all be better.” Sometimes things get better, and sometimes they get worse. I’m not interested in the Pollyannaisms of, “tomorrow is another day,” or, “remember how many marvelous things you should be grateful for.” If today sucks, let today suck. It is your right to NOT be okay.

There is plenty of writing about the steps you need to take to improve yourself, and this writing is wonderful. Who doesn’t love learning how to set a table, or dress for an interview, or confront a lover’s hurtful behavior? However, La Neta is not about improvement, it is about acceptance. And remember: DON’T PANIC! You now have a handy guide to losing it all.