My Almost 15 Minutes of Fame

One of my two dance moves

Do you remember American Bandstand? It was a popular dance program that ran from 1952 –1989.  When I was a senior in high school, Louie, a friend, invited me to go tape some shows. As a 17-year-old this was beyond exciting. We had to take several changes of clothing for the tapings. Trendy hot pants and the English model Twiggy were all the rage. I had a part-time job and was always shopping for clothes, so I had enough changes for the show.   We lived in Colton, a little more than an hour south of where the show was being taped in Los Angeles. We didn’t have to worry about lunch because it was provided by the studio. What I did worry about was all the cool L.A. kids who were regulars on the show. The camera liked them because they were natural, they knew how to play to the camera. I, with my shag haircut, was a little intimidated. I was in great shape and looked good in my attire, but when I heard that the camera added ten pounds I was nervous about looking fat. My body image has been my love/hate relationship my entire life.

American Bandstand

I had no idea that a nationwide dance contest was about to take place. I loved to dance and I felt confident enough to participate. Today I can still vividly hear the song in my head as we headed to the dance floor. “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” by Marvin Gaye was playing as Louie and I hit the dance floor. I remember the outfit too; I wore hot pants with a matching top. As Louie and I danced our hearts out, we were quickly eliminated. The couples chosen were part of the regulars. They had more experience on the show and were much better dancers than we were.

Dick Clark

Seeing Dick Clark for the first time was like Toto pulling the curtains on Oz. “This is Dick Clark?” I said to myself. This giant on television quickly became a small, life-sized man. I was not disappointed, but the reality of television really sank in because his charm was bigger than his frame. He was poised and professional and talked to everyone like a friend. Our audience was made up of several races: Blacks, Whites, and Latinos with a sprinkle of Asians. We were all there to dance. The show was staged with risers that elevated other dancers. The producers selected the dancers who were regulars to showcase their moves because they were much better dancers than the rest of us.

For hours, I looked through the archives of American Bandstand in search of our tapings, but I could not pinpoint the exact date or the precise year. I  was thinking it may have been the beginning of my senior year. It could have been between 1969-1970. To my recollection, the shows were taped weeks in advance. The sad truth is that I never saw myself on television because one of my cousins was killed in a car accident. The show was to play the weekend we traveled to the funeral. I found it disrespectful to bring up the show while my family was in mourning.

My cousin Elvia was living in Illinois, so I believe she was the only family member who saw me on the show. There were no options back then, no recording devices; so  if you missed the show, it was history. I believe that Louie and I appeared on several tapings.


Years later I had another brush with fame. I was getting my hair cut in Los Angeles at Vidal Sassoon, where I met a young man who would later introduce me to his mother. Carole, his mother, was the creator of “Facercise.” She had developed an ingenious series of face exercises to keep your face firm. Carole was interviewed by 60 Minutes and has worked with many famous clients. I was asked to participate in a seven-day program. Every morning I drove to Carole’s home in Redondo Beach for the sessions. This was a major sacrifice for me because the traffic was horrendous both ways. At the end of the program we had to drive to Thousand Oaks to take the “after pictures.”  I learned to tone my facial muscles. This is a program that Carole still teaches for a hefty price. Around 2002 she was interviewed by NBC; my “before and after pictures” were shared but I never saw that program when it aired. Another cousin, Delia , told me about the show. Thank God I have a ton of cousins.

My before picture (or mug shot)

I am still good friends with Carole’s son Brit; we keep in touch through Social Media. I baptized Brit and Jazmina’s son Noah, and they are included in my daily prayers.

My after picture, after seven days of Facercise featured in Carole’s book

My Fame

I am loved by my family, and I have a good corps of friends. I love my brothers and sisters and keep in contact with them on a regular basis. I have a handful of cousins who remain my dear friends. We watch over our Tia Maria and, when we get a chance, we get together and take her to lunch. I am famous in my family because I serve as the “Family President for Life.” Though this is a self-appointed position and my cousins always attempt to overthrow my dictatorship, I will always remain their loyal president! I’m here to serve.

My Prayer

Lord, I thank You for my family and all the opportunities You have bestowed on my life. I pray for every member of my family, that they may be blessed, and always serve You. I pray for all families who are suffering from strife and have not mended their relationships with one another. Father, You are their Creator and nothing is impossible with You. Heal all broken the hearts in these  families due to separation or strife. May Your peace and  understanding fall on their hearts. Amen.

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The Retreat

The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Father took this picture of us praying

In mid-April I started planning the EWTN retreat . Originally my sister Norma was to accompany me but God had other plans. There is always an attack right before a great blessing, so as the trip was unraveling and I was praying about canceling, the Lord brought Pat into the picture.


Pat and I go back a long way; missionary travels to Nepal, the Holy Land, Patmos, Turkey and other parts of this small world.  Pat has been my roommate on several occasions, and she is my dear friend. She makes me laugh a lot too. She’s been going through changes in her life, so she welcomed the opportunity to get away and spend time with the Lord.

Me and Pat

Our flight was departing from LAX, so she needed to be at our home no later than 5:15 a.m. in order to catch the flight. “I bought three different alarm clocks to be sure to wake up on time,” she said. These alarm clocks would later become hilariously problematic. As we were in line ready to board our second flight, Pat was looking through her duffle bag. “Do you hear that ticking?” she asked me. I responded “Pat, we’re at the airport, you can’t say things like that.” . Sure enough it was one of her alarm clocks ticking away. Later that night, after we settled into our hotel, that alarm went off at 4:00 a.m.

Fr. Leonard Mary

I met Fr. Leonard in the mid-90’s because we were attending the same Catholic lay group. At that time he was Anthony, the young man who accompanied me to feed the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. We have remained friends since then. Mike always makes dinner for Fr. Leonard when he’s in town; he loves chile relllenos and he gets home cooked, authentic, Mexican food when he visits us. Father was recently elected to the office of Community Servant (Superior). This is  a three-year position that comes with a lot of responsibility, which includes overseeing the Friars from EWTN as well as the cloistered nuns in Hanceville, Alabama, where the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is located.

The most important part of the trip was prayer and that we did. We drove with Father Leonard and Peter (Fr. Leonard’s brother) to Hanceville to attend the 12 o’clock Mass. While Father met with the Mother Superior, we kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed. There was a peaceful calm in the Shrine and I could almost sense that God was answering my every prayer. Prayer always brings me peace. We had dinner in Cullman, a small town outside of Hanceville, and visited with Ann. Ann and her family are very close to Father.

The Retreat

Our retreat was centered around loving. Loving everyone, including those who are continually causing strife in our lives. Those difficult people who bring you down at every opportunity; and the passive/aggressive behavior that sneaks up on you when you’re ready to forgive them. Personally I have always struggled with this type of behavior in others. As soon as I want to set myself free of these individuals, the Lord tugs at my heart. I go back in only to discover more challenges. What I learned this time was something that I’ve always known but now I can put it into action.  We are the Christians and we are to lead others to God. When the Lord places these people in our lives, it is because He is refining us to grow in love. We must always consider the troubled person’s background and take into consideration that their journey to spiritual freedom is taking many detours. What I wanted to hear was, “Walk away, they’re never going to change.” But what I heard was, “Be the example; be who God called you to be and never give up on who God has called them to be.” Honestly, it’s so much easier to wash your hands of this than to take the road of forgiveness because you know that until these difficult people start their journey to healing, you’re going to weather a continual battle. Let’s face it, we all have our battles: some are with our health; some with our children; or our  husband, wife, brothers, sisters, etc. It’s never going to be easy serving God, the closer you get to Him, the more intense the battles. But what you must always take into account is that you are never alone! God is with you every step of the way!

Retreat Lesson Taken from Romans Chapter Twelve

From a young age we are conditioned to believe in what we were taught. Not all parents are good teachers, not all parents are good role models. So we need to look at the big spiritual picture.

Compassion – Dying on the Cross Jesus was willing to die for all of us, not just the ones who serve Him. Jesus sees their broken backgrounds and understands why they hate. Jesus moves in compassion and empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Mercy – Mercy, understanding, truth and firmness are part of the recovery that allows us to become whole. We, ourselves, must be whole to fully understand the needs of others. In wholeness I am referring to spiritual wholeness, always striving to become more Christ-like.

When loving others, the starting point is Jesus Who loves us. When you truly understand the love our Father has for us, you can help others. We give what is given to us, so if you have the love of God, you give it to others. If you have hardened hearts, you are unable to give love. When we receive the Sacraments of Communion, you are united with Him in order to grow. We ask for the intercession of Mary for help in expressing the love of God because she always points to her Son for direction. The bond that Mary shared with Jesus can never be broken.

Pat and I were able to attend two additional 7:00 a.m. Masses at the EWTN chapel.

Dear Lord, thank You for allowing Pat and me to travel to Alabama. I pray for Fr. Leonard as he enters into a new chapter of leadership in his life. Give him all the special graces necessary to fulfill this calling. Lord, I continue to pray for all those You have put in my heart: heal those who are suffering from cancer; heal the broken hearted and teach us to love as You love. Amen.


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Turning Seventy

I recently celebrated my seventieth birthday. It’s a milestone to enter into this decade; I’m either going to go full force or start winding down. One thing is certain: I have stepped up my exercising and am walking up to six miles a day. No one is more surprised than me with this change. I had to take control of certain health issues.

Saying “No” To Diabetes

Last year I had blood test that indicated my hemoglobin ALC was too high. The doctor gave me three months to get this under control. Out of fear, I canceled the follow-up appointment. The last thing I wanted to do was to go on diabetic medication. In the back of my head, I kept hearing the doctor’s voice, “If you don’t get this down, you’re not only going to be on diabetes medication but heart medication as well.”  I changed my eating somewhat,  but what I changed most was taking a brisk walk after dinner.

It took me six months to finally make another appointment with my primary care physician.   I was scared straight but my hemoglobin ALC was greatly improved. I praise God for this great news, no medication needed!

The Incentive

I’ve had a Fitbit for as long as I can remember; owning one of the original Fitbit trackers was the start of this journey. I compete with a group of  friends, and this summer I have blown them all out of the water with my sarcastic remarks and staying on top of the leaderboard. We give each other an incentive because we all work toward the same goal.  In order for me to keep the diabetes thing at bay, I must continue my walking. I also started to accompany my friend Helen to Pilates. I love this workout because it’s low impact. I call Pilates a workout for ladies because you don’t really work up a sweat but you know that what your doing is helping so many areas of your body. Since I don’t know my right from my left, our Pilates instructor, Dori, graciously announces, “Turn toward the front door, or face the mirrors.” I have trouble mounting different equipment; maybe one day I’ll get this Pilates under control, but in the meantime all we do is laugh at my antics.

My birthday celebration with my family

Walking with my daughter Sonja is delightful. We always walk past a neighbor of hers who has the most beautiful scented garden. I never ask for tomatoes, but pray that when we pass she will be outside tending to her garden. “Do you guys need tomatoes?” My response is always a resounding. “Yes!” Luckily, Sonja can’t eat tomatoes so sharing is not necessary. Sonja complains and tells me that I keep her as a prisoner, forcing her to walk with me. That may be partly true because where she lives is a beautiful walking path and one of my favorite places to walk.

Watching Your Step

After my botched toe surgery, I have a tendency to limp. Sometimes I catch myself right before I fall. A slightly uneven sidewalk or a pebble on the path could bring me down for the count. Last week I called several prayer warriors to come alongside me in prayer for a person with an urgent need. As soon as I got off the phone, I took one step and came crashing down. My left knee and right wrist took the full impact of the fall. I was in the backyard and I could have gotten up, but I guess I wanted to add drama to the fall. I had my cellphone so I called Mike, but it went to his voice mail. Then I called my grandson, Jacob (Cubby) and all he said was, “I’m coming grandma!” Mike came through the kitchen door and Cubby through the French doors. Of course I had to go through the lecture from Mike, “You need to be careful! We’re getting older and you need to watch your every step!” I silently said to myself, “I refuse to walk with my head down.”

Pray More

The older I get, the more I pray. I believe this emphasis on prayer has increased because my only concern is to draw closer to Him. I have farther to go to get to where I should be spiritually, but whether I get there or not, I will never stop trying.

The Technology Challenge 

I still use my checkbook, not as often as before, but sometimes I need to pull it out for incidentals. Today’s technology is moving at a faster rate than I will ever be able to catch. I have hired a tech nerd to help me with my updates on this Blog. I would be lost without the help of this young man; I consider him a genius.  Thank you, Keaton, for working with me and solving all of my glitches.

There are so many things that I can’t seem to work out on simple apps. When I ask my daughter to help, she says ,”No!” Long ago she lost patience with my inability to comprehend anything that she has taught me several times.

Passwords are the worst, but I finally figured a secret way of keeping them handy. No, they’re not in my desk, but what I’m doing is working out so far. Sonja has the main passwords memorized, so when I forget, she reminds me.

What Seventy Really Feels Like

I’m a napper but, lately, my naps have become longer and much needed. We eat very early, sometimes as early as 4:30 p.m. I’m slowing down on my desire to shop and have taken a liking to online shopping. I find myself returning half of the purchases that I’ve ordered. My body has changed; now I’m in between sizes due to all the walking. I’ve lost several inches throughout my body, so now I really need to try clothes on.

I still love sweets and eat way too many carbs, but I have incorporated many fruits and vegetables into my daily diet. Every morning I wake up with a new pain – my back, legs cramps, my neck, my allergies. Poor Mike has put up with all my morning grumbling; after 50 years things have not changed in that department.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank You for my good health. As I get older, give me a clear mind to be able to make the right decisions. Lord, may I always have You ever present in my life. Guide my every step, and keep me on the right path. Amen.


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