You areMore than Good Enough, says Gloria Rodriguez to the women who attend her empowerment seminars and workshops. It’s also the title of her first book, which tells of her own journey towards self-acceptance and fulfillment. Gloria is an inspirational coach, a writer, and a full-time tenured professor of psychology at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York. She’s been teaching at the college for the past 14 years.
“I was sick and tired of hating [getting] up in the morning and [going] to a job that I disliked terribly,” she says now of her time as an account executive and merchandise manager in the fashion industry. “There was no room for individual creative expression,” she says. “The job was extremely stressful, sexist, and I often experienced the isolation of being one of few women of color in the companies where I was employed.” Yet, being a single mami, her work helped her give her daughter a good education, a stable home environment, and travel experiences.
A Brooklyn-born Puertorriqueña, Gloria, now 59, turned her life around at the age of 40, when her mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, and she realized life was too short to waste.
A natural-born teacher and counselor, Gloria returned to graduate school in mid-life, for a Master’s in Counseling Psychology with a focus on women’s culture and spirituality. “This was a new career path, where I knew I could make a difference in people’s lives, serve my community and get paid for what I knew to be my natural talents and gifts,” she says. “My vision for DeAlmas was to establish a sacred and supportive community for self-awareness, empowerment, spiritual development, and emotional healing,” Gloria says.
A COMMUNITY FOR DIVERSITY
In 1996, two years before she began her career as a professor of psychology, she also launched DeAlmas Latinas, a community-based organization, offering inspirational workshops and retreats for women. As it evolved into a very diverse group, it was renamed DeAlmas Women´s Collective.
DeAlmas is a place where women learn practical tools that they may integrate into their lives. It utilizes a feminine-centered model for self-esteem work, and helps women become more self-loving, authentic, powerful and peaceful in relationships with themselves and others. “DeAlmas invites women to reclaim and trust our feminine gifts, thrive, celebrate, and create new facility to live more meaningful and successful lives.”
A WRITER IS BORN
Gloria always wanted to be a writer, but she ignored her calling, afraid of not being good enough. She had been writing for many years, mainly in the academic field, but she wanted to do something more creative. Her recently released book, You are More Than Good Enough, is the result of many years of struggling with writer’s block.
“I found that I would often become creatively paralyzed,” Gloria recounts. ” ‘Who would want to read this book?’ was the mantra of my inner critic. So, one day in a meditation practice, my inner voice of wisdom, clearly directed me to write about what I was experiencing. ‘Not being good enough’ is a universal theme. ‘Write about that,’ it said.” She wrote in the evenings, after teaching five classes, she wrote on weekends, and she wrote over the summer, forsaking her vacation. Gloria completed the book in a little over a year.
“You are More Than Good Enough is a testament to perseverance and my journey towards becoming a writer. It chronicles the pitfalls, challenges, and triumphs towards self-acceptance and self-love in order to embrace my life/soul’s calling,” Gloria says. Readers will learn techniques, which Gloria calls treasures of the soul, that will prepare them to: rediscover their essence, embrace their talents and gifts, connect with their life purpose, and facilitate an awareness of those thoughts, ideas, negative self-talk and self-perception that prevent us from living big, bold and brilliant lives.
OVERCOMING STUMBLING BLOCKS
Some of Gloria´s challenges along the way:
“Learning to love myself. Validating, accepting, and approving of myself. Knowing that my sense of identity, value, and worth are not based on anyone’s approval or validation.”
“I often have to remind myself to take time for self-care. The myriad of responsibilities that each of us have, particularly Latinas, doesn’t afford us much time for ourselves. When we take care of ourselves, love flows for everyone else in our lives. It’s all about balance and not in a cliché way, but in a real way.”
“Allocating resources, time, and energy differently. Being willing to make ‘right order sacrifices’ for my higher good, for my sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.”
REAPING THE REWARDS
What makes Gloria smile every day:
• “My children. Through my example of always keeping one foot in their own lives, while making necessary sacrifices for their children, family and others.”
• “Students who have been inspired and motivated to continue their education, have successful and meaningful lives, choosing work that is personally fulfilling and a contribution to society.”
• “The thousands of women I have worked with throughout the years through DeAlmas Women’s Collective who have embarked on the path towards healing and changing serious challenges in areas of relationships, health, self-esteem, finances, and other major life issues. Women, whom, through support of a loving, supportive community have committed their lives to living their heart’s desire, being authentically themselves, and living their truth. It has been an honor for me to bear witness to more joy, happiness, freedom, confidence, and love they now have in their lives.”
WORDS OF WISDOM FOR THE LATINA MAMI
• Our culture promotes the primacy of family. Within this beautiful construct, we must keep one foot in our own lives.
• Ask yourself what brings you joy. What have you been putting on the back burner that you continue to feel called to do?
• Find time to get quiet and breathe, meditate, journal, contemplate, and connect with your heart. That is the place of connection with unconditional love. The first step in self-love.
• Never forget that you come first. If you don’t fill your well to nourish and nurture yourself, you will not be able to do that for others.
• Remember that you are perfect just as you are. There is a reason why you are on the planet at this time in human history. Your birth is not a random act. Your passions, gifts, and talents, are the way your unique spirit expresses itself. Do the self-work to overcome the negative self-talk and what your heart desires.
• We are each here to experience the beauty, joy, happiness, love, creativity, and all the goodness life has to offer.
• We are worthy, deserving, capable, and more than good enough to be great mothers and to also give birth to our dreams.