Dear Caretaker,

Dear Caretaker,

Please be patient.

When your loved one is crying or sad or feeling misunderstood, please just listen to her.

Please don’t tell her to calm down, to relax.

Above all, please don’t tell her to look at the positives in her life. Unless she’s complaining  every single day, be assured that it is more than likely that she can see the positives in her life, it’s just that she’s human and she has bad days too. Only hers are intensified because she’s got that little extra that she’s going through.

Just ask her what she would like from you, it’s very possible that what she wants is very simple. It might be that all she wants is a call at midday or to watch a movie on Netflix on Friday nights or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Sunday breakfast. Don’t complicate yourself trying to impress her with something “better.” If you do that she will not have felt listened to. Only do that “better” thing if you’ve done the simple thing she asked for.

Be a shoulder for her to cry on, that’s it. Don’t lecture her on how she should feel, that will only make her feel worse, guilty even.

Many times she’ll be hard to deal with, she’ll cry for no reason, or at least it’ll seem that way but she’ll know why she’s crying, she just might not know how to explain it

It’s the pain

It’s the changes she’s trying to make that don’t seem to work

It’s that she doesn’t feel understood

It’s the fear of this illness not ever going away, or showing up again in the future

It’s that she’s trying so hard but sometimes it’s all just too much

It’s that she feels her faith slipping through her hands

It’s that she didn’t know it was going to be this hard

It’s the pain, the anger, the fear, the frustration

It’s the sleepless nights, the sleepy days

The side effects,

Sometimes, it may even be happiness

Or sentimental joy

So, Caretaker, please be patient

and know that she is grateful for everything you do for her.

Thank you!



It’s been a week and a few days since surgery. I am finally able to type longer than two lines. I’ve been trying to continue the Shit That Happened story but I’m either too much in pain or too knocked out from the pain killers to stay focused. Yesterday I had my third post-surgery appointment this week, they took out three drains! But I still have two and they still don’t let me sleep comfortably.

Next week’s appointment is the good one, that’s when they take out (hopefully) the last two drains. Maybe it’ll be only one that they take out but if they do one, that’s progress. Right now, the wires wrapped around the tubes keep stabbing at my sides making me want to constantly scratch but of course it’s not possible. For someone who’s never had surgery, all this is new and a pain in the butt.

I’m able to raise my left arm higher now, a bit faster. My right arm still hurts, the underarm especially. The pain is changing as the days go by and little by little I have more sensation in the skin around my breast, although it’s a strange kind of sensation, tingly, nervous.

I’m thinking, hoping, that next week will be a better writing time.

The Shit That Happened will continue next week

In the meantime . . .


Today is International Mother’s Day and being that my family is Mexican, we celebrate today and because we are here in the United States, we also celebrate on Sunday. I’ve called my aunts, my mom and my dad because coincidentally it is also his birthday. Nothing much is happening today except that I am happy to be a mother to my three children.

Mayerlin, who made me a mother at the age of 18 is now in college and working. We don’t always agree on everything but we do always find time to spend together. She’s hardworking and beautiful. She is my favorite photographer and has a life plan to work with orphan children is one that inspires me not only to follow my own dreams but to continue to improve as a mom. To try to be the kind of mom who makes her children want to go out and help and be and do.

Nauj, who just became a teenager this year, is the one who makes the rest of us laugh. His lego building is now in the past. As I write this I am brought back to one night when I had sent him to bed. When I got up for a glass of water I noticed his light was on, I quietly poked my head in to see him looking through his lego magazine and his legos spread out in front of him. That night my heart melted, I knew his childhood would not be forever, that one day he would not be sneaking around to play legos. That day has come, the earbuds are in 24/7 and his bedroom door is locked when I wake him up in the mornings.

Gael, the baby of the house is no longer a baby. He is a big boy. His questions about life make me have questions of my own. His love of flowers makes me go out and plant even though most every plant I’ve owned has died. His love of animals makes me want to pursue my dream of one day living on a farm. We share a dream of one day, when we grow up, to be writers and illustrators. He will write and illustrate a 10-volume set and I will write, draw and teach and we will live on a farm somewhere in the sierras of our Mexican ancestors.

My mom, the one who brought me into this world, is always there for me and for that I am grateful. She’s was there for me when I became a teenage mother and she is there for me now that I am going through this cancer treatment.

Feeling grateful to be  a  mother. . .

Me and My Crew

I had read somewhere that we are not our thought and in some way it had made sense but recently, talking to Nina and her having me name my thoughts has really helped make that message clear, that we are not our thoughts. Let me explain. So this is what I’ve done: I’ve named my thoughts and their names are some of the Chespirito characters.

For example El Chavo is the fearful one, he feels lonely and misunderstood. When I talk to him, I let him know he’s not alone, that he’s got a family that loves and cares for him and most importantly that he’s got me. I have to remind him that it’s okay to be happy. It’s all gonna be okay 🙂

Then there’s Doña Florinda, she thinks she’s better and criticizes everyone, including me. Talking to her is a little hard because I tend to want to put her down so she sees that she’s got flaws too but then I remember that by putting her down she’ll only scream louder. What I try to do instead is to tell her that I love her. I hug her and tell her she’s got a good eye for detail and to please help me see all the pretty things she can find. She loves doing that.

Don Ramon is the angry one, he gets angry very easily and the only way he releases it is by throwing a tantrum. He thinks he’s tough but in reality he feels very scared. In Comm 103 I learned that anger is actually rooted in fear: we are either afraid of losing something we have (i.e. respect, family, house, etc.) or we’re afraid we won’t get something we want (i.e. respect, family, house, etc.) So when I talk to him I have to ask a lot of questions. I ask him what it is he’s afraid of and why. Whatever the answer is, I try very hard to reason with him because most of the time, it not all of the time, his anger (fear) is not rooted in reason. Then I tell him I love him.

El Profesor Girafales, he’s cool but he thinks he knows everything, he has a hard time asking for help. I still have a hard time hearing him when he speaks but I’m practicing.

All these characters can be very stubborn, especially because I just started talking to them, they’re not used to it. It’s a conversation I have to remember to have when they start speaking up. Sometimes I forget and they slowly start taking me into their world where it becomes a little hard to get out. Once I’m in there I have to really put my conversational skills into practice so that they’ll let me out. Other times, I catch them just as they’re starting and as stubborn as they are, they do eventually listen. I threw Cantinflas in there because he translates for me so that I don’t take them too seriously. When Cantinflas translates, things seems funnier, like not such a big deal.

And then there’s my baby, Lancha. I love her. She’s the one who loves to sit and read a book, she likes to draw and paint and take quiet walks all by herself. She has a very wild imagination which is why she loves to write, so she can get all her ideas down on paper. She’s not held back or worried about what people think. She’s just happy to be herself. Lancha has a very big heart, she makes me feel tender and loving, I feel like hugging her all the time. Sometimes she just feels like singing and dancing but she’s still a little shy about coming out of her cocoon so I have to gently give her a little push. She does come out but only where she feels safe. I remind her that the world is safe, she can be Lancha or Sexy-Chimoltrufia-Lancha whenever and wherever she wants. She’s practicing.

With all of these, I’m practicing on being loving and patient, it’s a practice, it’s hard work but it’s very worth it.




La Vecindad in the Desert

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for the past couple of weeks now and my loss for words has kept me away. Writing and deleting. Writing and deleting. I’ve been trying to write something smart, something impactful but it never came. Each time I typed something up and reread it, it felt forced. That’s what happens when you try too hard, it feels forced and artificial. So . . . now here I am again trying to post, trying to not force myself and trying to quiet down the fearful voice that keeps nagging at me. Here’s my next try at blog posting . . . just me and the beginning of my day.
This morning I found myself walking in the middle of a green desert. I drove a few blocks out behind my house and came to a nice surprise. At the end of a cul-de-sac was the entrance to open desert. The heavy rains have turned our usual browns and grays into greens, light and dark. The harsh and unbroken dirt has opened up for the rivers of water that search for outlets. In front of me bunnies dart from bush to bush. I think they’re cute and try to make myself silent and invisible as I get closer, they think I want to hurt them and run away from me. If they only knew that I, too, am scared to get too close. I keep walking and they keep hopping, both of us curious but from afar. My legs hurt as they step up and then down on the miniature mountain of dirt, immediately I think about having to go through it again on my way back and wonder when the pain will subside, chemotherapy ended three weeks ago. The joshua trees are particularly interesting today, maybe it’s that the sky is clear and the sun is just the right amount of bright. Maybe it’s the billions of raindrops that have fallen on them. Of maybe it’s just me trying to actively find beauty. Something, anything to get me out of La Vecindad.
La Vecindad is what I’ve decided to call the voices in my head in an effort to try and separate myself from them. “You are not your thoughts,” they say so this is what I’ve decided to do: visualize the characters in La Vecindad and hopefully put some distance between my thoughts and myself. La Vecindad literally means The Neighborhood but spoken in Spanish the word vecindad brings up an image of people coming together to gossip about the goings on of the neighborhood that inevitably creates chaos. However, the vecindad that I am referring to is one that is composed of a set of unique characters in the Mexican comedy show, El Chavo del Ocho. Each character is a voice in my head, they talk and talk but now that I have named them I can take control of my response to eat one of them. There’s the angry Don Ramon, shallow Doña Florinda, smart but conservative Professor Girafales, greedy Kiko, mean Chilindrina, all-about-me Popis, and of course fearful and naive Chavo. Sometimes it’s only one of them making a racket up there, other times a two people conversation but there are those times when they decide to throw a party and I can’t seem to figure out what is going on or who I need to talk to.
That’s what happened yesterday, there was a party going on up in La Vecindad and I couldn’t get them to quiet down. I took myself away but because they were still up this morning I decided to distract them by changing up our usual walking route. I pulled out my phone, swiped left and started shooting. In the distance I notice my neighbor’s house. Amused for having found the desert we’ve been staring at for months from behind the locked gate of our neighborhood, I snapped a picture and sent it to my husband. A fallen joshua tree peaks my interest. An odorous purple flowered plant calls to me and I follow. A coyote hiding behind a row of joshua trees makes my heart beat a little faster but settles down as I get closer and realize it’s only the stump of a tree. A couple more pictures and it’s time to go, my legs tell me. It’s only been about fifteen minutes but for my legs its seems as though it’s been an hour. They’ve been fifteen minutes well spent.

Because leaving breadcrumbs on the sidewalk would be useless, I try to take note of the streets as I drive home from the desert. There’s really not much that will come from my trying, my inner compass is off center and always makes me lost.

Tomorrow when I try to find the desert again who knows where I might end up.


Writing a Children's Book is not Easy but it's Fun!

So this weekend I went to my second class with Laura Lacamàra at the Writing Pad. There are nights when, after I’ve read to Gael, he still can’t seem to get to sleep and to get him to relax I either sing him a children’s song or make up a story or a song on the spot. He likes it when I make up songs and stories. In fact, he loves my stories and I love it when he responds positively to them: laughter, questioning, loving, understanding, etc. He particularly likes one about a boy who carries with his favorite book with him everywhere he goes. The book is huge but only he knows what the huge book says and he refuses to share it with anybody, especially not with his little cousin who keeps pestering him about it. But finally, one day she just wears him down and he reads the book to his little cousin. The little boy opens the huge book and begins to read the one word: Fart! Now, keep in mind, Gael is five years old and his current favorite funny words are fart and poop and pee.

Anyway, long story short, my reasoning when Gael enjoys my stories is: I’m good, I should really write a children’s book – at least one. So when the opportunity to take a children’s book writing class I just felt like I HAD to take it. And honestly, there’s always been a bit of a desire in me to write a children’s book. I love to illustrate and I love to write, what better way to combine my two loves!

The class has been quite eye opening. I’ve tried before to write a story for children but it’s not easy. Laura has  really broken it down for us and I’ve been able to turn that real life wrestling story of mine into a child friendly story. By the end of the class we will have a dummy book that we will read to an audience of small children. I love kids but they can be brutally honest and that’s scary. Gael is gonna come with me and he’s the one I want to impress, I’m really hoping he likes my story cause if he doesn’t it’ll be back to the drawing board, which I probably wouldn’t mind but still I just want my son to see this dummy book turn into an actual book so that he can proudly that his mom did that.

I think we parents want our kids to proud of us just as much as our kids want us to be proud of them don’t we? So, I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here, make my kids proud but honestly, I hope that they already are . . .

Until next week!

Esperanza Beltrán








Yesterday was International Women’s Day. My husband told me to not do anything and I had planned on “following his orders.” I wanted nothing more than to do nothing other than the things I enjoy like writing and art. I planned on not cooking, not picking up messes and not doing anything I didn’t need to do. I imagined myself sitting at my table in my artistic space listening to music and making art. But alas! I am a mother and a mother must care for her children. She must make sure they are clean, make sure they are fed and she must not allow fights to get too loud.

It turns out I finished doing the laundry, I cooked dinner and I helped with homework while at the same time doing mine. But I also wrote – I wrote about myself on the About Me page and I did manage to sneak in 10 minutes of art fun in my journal. I even managed to fit in a doctor’s visit, a grocery store run and, at the insistence of Gael, (my 5-year old son) an hour at the library improvising a game of Guess Who? which neither one of us has played before.

“Okay,” I said, “I think you have ask me questions so you can guess which one I’m looking at.”

“Ohhh, okay,” he said and I decided to ask first so he could see how to ask his questions.

“Is it round?”


“Is it a fruit?”


“Is it an orange?”


It was the most exciting thing to see Gael get that excited over a good “guess.” And then it was his turn.

“Is it round?”


“Is it the orange?”


“Is it the apple?”


“Is it the donut?”


“Is it the banana?”

“That’s not round.”

“But I’m asking questions.”


“Is it the strawberry?”

“Um, yes. Okay, let’s go look at the books”


Looking at my day, I’m surprised I’m still here. We women really are something amazing. What would the world be without us?

Which brings me to what I was thinking about yesterday – about the women I admire. There are many but here are just a few . . .

Sandra Cisneros, a Chicana writer who now lives in Mexico, which, by the way, is my plan for the future. The House on Mango Street is one of my favorites but I’d have to say that I am in love with Caramelo. Caramelo inspired me to keep working on my own grandmother’s story. Her writing style is the kind of writing I aspire to achieve: clear and simple but true and transcendent.

Maya Angelou, a black writer who stole my heart with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. That book was the hook that made me read Gather Together in My Name and Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, and Heart of a Woman. Then there’s her poem Still I Rise which only she reads perfectly. Of course there’s more of her work I need to read but I already love her.

Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, a feminist Mexican writer and nun of the 17th century. Although I do not consider myself a feminist (more on that in another post) nor a religious person (will also write about that later) I do admire her rebelliousness, her view on life and her intellect.

Mother Teresa, a nun and missionary. The way she took care of the forgotten is a trait I can’t help but admire in her. For some reason I have a special love for the homeless which is why, at least in small doses, I give to them directly whenever possible. Of course what I do does not compare to Mother Teresa’s work but I do believe in that quote by Aesop:

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 

Hoping your Women’s Day was just as eventful,


¡Hola! and Welcome!

Hello world!

My name is Esperanza Beltràn and today I start my blog. In it I want to say the things that make my head spin when I’m alone. There are three reasons for my starting this blog and they are: 1. I am a writer and I NEED to write; 2. Our current social/political situation; 3. I have cancer.

There has always been an inherent need in me to write, an addictive love of papers and pens. On my bed were spread out handmade notebooks from paper picked up from the local high school’s recycling bin and in the notebooks were songs and stories that lived only in my head. I didn’t know it then but I was already a writer. Actually, I didn’t know it until about three years ago and I am now about to turn 38! It’s not that one day I woke up and realized I was a writer, it’s been a process. There have been many life situations in the past years that have forced me to keep journals. Those journals have brought me a lot insight, one of those being the full understanding that I AM A WRITER. It made me remember the story I have always wanted to write and realize that writing it is not only possible but necessary now more than ever.

I find myself constantly thinking about the book I started but have not been able to finish. Coincidentally, it is the human story of a strong indigenous woman – my grandmother. My parents are indigenous Mexicans whose first language is not even Spanish. They have crossed many hurdles while having to learn Spanish, then some English and finally, enough US History to become US citizens. They have worked all their lives, raised me to love literature, to be empathic and to always try to do right. They have also made mistakes, similar mistakes to those of black parents, white parents, Asian parents, etc because just as in any other race, my set of immigrant parents are humans well. And as our immigrant community is struck with a daunting and uncertain future, I feel forced to be a voice to those who are my people and who might feel unheard. Documented or not, the stories of our immigrant community need to be told and need to be heard and the more of us there are telling and listening to those stories, the less of a possibility there is that we will be ignored.

Not only are we faced now with a drastically changing world but I also find myself having to (temporarily) face a life with cancer. There are situations in life that force you to do things you would never have done, like shaving your head or that force you to do things you would have done if you hadn’t been so afraid like speaking up – which is what I’m doing with this blog. Cancer is one of those life situations. As I sit here in front of my laptop writing, a beanie on my head, an open journal to my left and my two favorite pens on my right, I think to myself “what could be better?” There’s a humming sound outside my window, someone must be mowing their lawn. Birds chirp as they fly from tree to tree. A dog barks at a stranger and a driver steps on the gas, must be a young man. There’s organic food in the refrigerator and there’s nothing I’d rather do than to wait for someone to prepare food and bring it to me but fortunately for me, I am very able to get up and make it myself. I’ve heard of people who’ve said that cancer is the best thing that happened to them, I look forward to counting myself as one of those people in the not so far off future.

For now, this blog is my own little adventure and for those who decide to join me:


Thank You! 

What I Believe

This is what I believe about you:

I believe that you are a woman whose dreams are worth fighting for, whose dreams are valid, and whose dreams will come true. Why I believe this to be true is because I understand two things. My first understanding is that God has sent each and everyone of us with a job, a mission, to fulfill in this world. My second understanding is that if we don’t believe this about God, ourselves, and humanity, then what else is there to move us forward?

I believe that you are a strong and beautiful woman. Why? For the simple fact that God created you. And created you in that amazing and unique way that is you. I know this to be true because through every tough moment in your life you have and will continue to make it through exactly because of that beauty and strength that God gave you.

One last thing that I believe is that God=Love. You, all of this and everything in this world is fueled by love simply because that is what God is. I know that this might sound cheesy or fufi or whatever but I really believe this. I believe this even though we are constantly tripping, stumbling and picking ourselves up on our way through life. I guess any other way would not be as interesting right?

Oh yes, and don’t forget that you are Loved. Period. Not because, not when, not by, not at. Just Loved.


Tu mamà


Tomorrow It Will Rain . . .

And then the earth will look cleaner and clearer.

We have passed the shock of the election results. Shock is a time for outraged stillness. you sit and you ask no one in particular: WTF?!!!

But then you wake up, your eyes start to blink and you begin to see the bigger picture. All this looks big, too big. And it is. Its bigger than any one of us. But not bigger than all of us. I think that now – this moment – is the time to realize and understand who it is we want to be. What kind of person do you want to be? What message do you want to send out into the world? Maybe if you don’t know what you want to be, you might at least know what kind of person you do not want to be.

You know? It is easy to react when we are angry. It is easy to say things that hurt, it’s easy to point fingers and blame the system, the politicians, the racist, and every person in between. That is the easy way out. It requires not much thought and not much action. Someone who knows a lot told me that in a time of joy and love, we have to let ourselves be led by our emotions. However, in a time of anger and rage, we must let our head lead us.

You are a very intelligent person and if you use it, you can achieve so much. You can change, if not the system, then at least your impact not the people you meet. I think it is time for us to show our best side, it is time to show who we really are as a people. Not as black or brown or white or whatever shade, but as humans. I choose to believe that the world is  composed of mostly well meaning people and I hope that you will too.