I have shared my story many times, so you may already know that at a very young age, I had experienced a few lifetime’s worth of heartache and trauma. Then people came into my life and took an interest in me. I refer to them as Pushy Angels; they pushed me to achieve more…but they did it with kindness.
The more I look at my life and the key changes that took place, the more Pushy Angels I recognize. When I was injured at work, my doctor told me I could no longer do my job and strongly encouraged me to enroll in school and get an education. He pushed me.
Later, when I was in graduate school, I often called my younger sister Brenda and told her I was walking out--I couldn't take school any more and I was quitting.
Her response was, "That's fine. Quit. But not today."
This was the perfect way to push me into going back to school for another day and then another.
Without these people, among many others who believed in me even when I didn't...
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive"
- Harold Whitman
I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, but I didn’t know how.
One day I was talking to a friend who told me about a gentleman who was building a school in Uganda for 800 students and needed funding. The Garden of Knowledge (GOK) Nursery and Primary Day and Boarding Schools, Gulu, Uganda, East Africa were founded by Komakech Charles to pay forward to his community, for the education he received through the goodwill of a New York Rotary club and other well-wishers from the USA. GOK opened in 2015 with only 70 students, mostly from disadvantaged families..
I was very impressed with Mr. Charles’ work and I was delighted to find that it doesn’t take much money to build in Africa. I took on the project and was able to help the school get permits...
My passion is to make a difference in the world, which is why I founded Ortega Counseling Center, to help injured workers back on their feet by finding schools so they can train and get the jobs they love. (Just like I did when I was injured and found myself with no options but to transform my life through education.) My passion for making a difference was reinforced when I met Vania Masías, a professional ballerina with a heart for her people -- to provide hope and social transformation to marginalized kids in Lima, Peru.
I met Vania last in August when I was in Peru on a learning tour with a group of entrepreneurs to listen and learn from Peruvian entrepreneurs on best business practices founded on social impact.
Vania Masías is an internationally acclaimed professional ballerina, having been in the main roles of classical repertoire. She also performed as a modern dancer in Europe and the Caribbean, danced at the Irish National Ballet, and performed for Cirque du...
I am celebrating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month! Originally established as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and expanded into a month-long holiday period in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity to learn about the contributions of Hispanic Americans to our history and culture. For this occasion, I want to share some photos of Latino/a celebrities I have had the pleasure of meeting.
For over three decades, the United States has celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. The nationally-recognized celebration, between September 15 and October 15, grew out of a desire to amplify Latino/a voices and shine a light on the different communities and cultures spread throughout the U.S. It celebrates American diversity and educates people on the positive impact that different Latino/a groups have made on the nation. The celebration gives the Latino/a community space to commemorate their past and look to the future.
My childhood was hard.
It was a miracle if I had lunch money growing up.
I was born in East Los Angeles and raised in downtown L.A. in a 60-unit apartment building filled with cockroaches, rats, and gang members.
My family was broken. Drugs, crime, and jail time was normal for us.
I became a workers' compensation legal secretary, eventually earning $15 dollars per hour. In my family, no one had ever made as much as $15 per hour. To me and my family, I had made it. The American dream was accomplished.
But I knew I was destined for more, I wanted to help people in a bigger way.
I am now entering my 10th year at the head of Ortega Counseling Center, and our non-profit organization, Angels for Injured Workers is still going strong as well. When I became an injured worker myself, I had a lot of strikes against me. I hadn't completed my education, I was a single mother raising three small children, and I had no idea where to turn. This is what fuels my commitment to helping injured...
We often overestimate what we can get done in one day.
Have you ever made a list of 15 things you want to get done and then feel let down when you only finish 8?
In the same way that we overestimate what we can do in one day, we tend to underestimate what we can accomplish over longer periods of time.
We can be horribly nearsighted!
The most important thing about your vision is that you have one. Your vision drives you to action. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. If you want the life of your dreams to become a reality, this is the single biggest step you can take at this exact moment.
The Vision Quest will help you get honest with yourself and find the 10 year vision that will pull you forward into the life of your dreams!
As we close out this year, I want to acknowledge the struggles we have all been through. Along with the things that have hit me personally, I have witnessed the battles and distress of our clients and friends. I see the losses. I feel the trepidation of moving into 2021. I understand.
But even though 2020 has been one for the books (to put it mildly), I can’t help but see some incredible growth and love that has come out of it. I am not someone who goes for “toxic positivity,” but I still see some remarkable magic that has happened in the last twelve months.
Closer relationships from further away. We checked in with our people and rekindled relationships over the phone or via FaceTime and Zoom. I know people who haven’t spoken in 25 years, but who are now communicating weekly and are even working together on artistic projects.
Communities coming together. People have been running errands and buying groceries for their neighbors who are at risk and not able to...
I didn't think it would happen to me.
When I first got my diagnosis, I was so scared, thinking, “This is going to get worse and I'm going to end up in the hospital. Later I found that those thoughts were actually a resistance to getting better. It was like I was bound to the illness by fear.
After several days of this, I decided to rest completely and allow this virus to pass through me.
As I resigned myself to total self-care, I began to feel better.
Where your focus goes is where you will see results. When I was focusing on the negative, I was getting negative results. When I was focused on taking care of myself better, I got better.
I hope that you are caring for yourselves and making time and space for your own well-being.
Too many of America’s children grow up without the skills needed to thrive in the twenty-first century. Low levels of performance among the most disadvantaged create long-term problems, particularly in an economy in which higher skill levels are more and more valued and the wages available to less-skilled workers are deteriorating. Inequality persists.
In the photo above, I am in 9th grade, posing with the neighborhood gang's graffiti. I grew up in Downtown LA in an 800-square foot apartment building. The kids in my neighborhood were routinely involved in drugs and gangs. Teen pregnancy was a huge issue. My family was on welfare. Ours was a five-kid, one-parent household. And I was a direct beneficiary of the programs where the city reinvested in at-risk youth programs.
When I was in 12th grade, I was hired to work at a courthouse, and I was paid through the Joint Training Partnership Act which aimed to keep at-risk youth off the streets. The courthouse positioned me in a job...