Monday, November 13, 2017

Meetings in Mexico

I just returned from Mexico City.
CSUN is developing a joint MSW program with UNAM.
We are all excited and working out the details.
I enjoyed meeting with Mexican students, social workers, and scholars.
I am looking forward to supervising MSW students in Mexico City in their field placement and internship hours.

This is my life!
We all came here for a purpose and I am carrying out my purpose.
I am doing exactly what I came here to do.
We all have gifts and stumbling blocks.
I am learning to manage mine so that my life stays in balance.

My Mexican mother, my upbringing, my education & training, my readings, my work experiences, my volunteer activities - everything I've ever known and done is aligning, connecting, and preparing me for the projects I'm taking on.

My point, my message is that this is my dream and my life and it is happening.
You have a dream and a life purpose to fulfill. God does not put a desire in our heart to mock us.
God loves all of us so so much. I believe it. I say a holy yes to all that God wants me to do and experience.
What desires in your heart are ready to bloom?

UNAM's Graduate Studies Department

El escudo de UNAM

BSW school at UNAM

UNAM School of Social Work
me with UNAM's Director of the School of Social Work and my CSUN colleague

UNAM Central Library

Left to right: Dr. Mario (visiting from Chile), Maestro Francisco, Maestro José, my daughter & me, Maestra Lupita

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Minority Male Crisis in Colleges

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that members of minority groups will make up 54% of the nation's population by 2050. Collectively, we will be the majority. In true solidarity, we will be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Yet, Black and Brown male representation is better in prisons than in colleges.
At U.S. Public Institutions, the 6 year graduation rate of Black males was 34.7%.
For Native American males, it was 35.8%.
For Latino males, it was 46.3%.
For Pacific Islander males, it was 49.5%.

In contrast, Black males are almost half the inmate population and Latinos constitute 20% of that population. This is not a testament to who we are and what we are capable of - these statistics inspire us to ask, "What are we going to do about it?"

I am partnering with colleagues and students at CSUN to figure this out on our campus. If we make headway, then we can franchise M3 (for free) because there is a crisis among our men in this country and attention must be paid.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sports Psychology for Academic Peak Performance

Public speaking is listed as American's number-one fear!
Yet, in school and in life, we are called upon to give presentations every now and then.

I reached out to a CSUN professor and sports psychologist, Dr. Jacob Jensen, to develop a positive guided imagery presentation for students in our Coping & Resilience Groups (adapted from CBITS).

Click on the YouTube link if you are feeling worried about an upcoming presentation, and please let me know if it helps:

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I was spent and recovering from bronchitis after working on an NIH grant proposal. That's when I got the approval to write an academic paper for the National Symposium on Student Retention to be held in Destin, Florida. Initially, I passed up the opportunity in order to recover. Then, one of my colleagues said, "Destin has one of the top 10 beaches in the world." To which my daughter responds, "Mom, write the paper." Now me and my favorite research assistant are here and enjoying the powder sugar soft sand beach preparing for my workshop presentation of "Minority Male Mentoring: A Multi-Tiered Model for College Success." Academic life is a beach.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


There's a proverb in Spanish, "Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres," which means, "Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are."

My closest friends have always been books. My mother used to say they were my real mother.

Right now I am reading, Ganhdi, An Autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth and I am preferring the company of Gandhi in this book to most other company.

I started reading Gandhi because I want to learn more about his concept, satyagraha, which means: Truth and non-violent but forceful resistance.

  • It rejects all recourse to violence and mere passivity.
  • It is an active, forceful, even militant role.
  • It is intended to bring about profound social and individual change.
  • It is intended to replace methods of violence and to be a movement based entirely upon truth.

Here is an excerpt from my new friend:
"But I should certainly like to narrate my experiments in the spiritual field which are known only to myself, and from which I have derived such power as I possess for working in the political field (Gandhi, 1957, p. xxvi)."
Feminists have said, "the personal is political."
Gandhi said his religion and spirituality gave him political power.
One of my mentors, Robert Cordova - a retired principal and community organizer - taught me that power in the political arena is either lots of money or lots of people.
I believe our spirit has the power to inspire other people's spirits to take action about issues that personally affect them.

Other excerpts:
"What I want to achieve, - what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years, - is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha [freedom from birth and death]. I live and move and have my being in pursuit of this goal. All that I do by way of speaking and writing, and all my ventures in the political field, are directed to the same end. But as I have all along believed that what is possible for one is possible for all, my experiments have not been conducted in the closet, but in the open; and I do not think that this detracts from their spiritual value. There are some things which are known only to oneself and one's Maker. These are clearly incommunicable. The experiments I am about to relate are not such. But they are spiritual, or rather moral; for the essence of religion is morality (p. xxvi-xxvii)."
"This truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in thought also, and not only the relative truth of our conception, but also the Absolute Truth, the Eternal Principle, that is God...But as long as I have not realized the Absolute Truth, so long must I hold by the relative truth as I have conceived it. That relative truth must, meanwhile, be my beacon, my shield and buckler. Though this path is strait and narrow and sharp as the razor's edge, for me it has been the quickest and easiest...For the path has saved me from coming to grief, and I have gone forward according to my light. Often in my progress I have had faint glimpses of the Absolute Truth, God, and daily the conviction is growing upon me that He alone is real and all else is unreal (p. xxviii)."
"Lying to anyone was out of the question. It was this last thing that saved me from many a pitfall...I know that nothing is impossible for pure love...Numerous examples have convinced me that God ultimately saves him whose motive is pure (p.13)."
These passages resonate in my mind, body, spirit, and soul. All I can say can be represented in a long string of heart, dollar signs, and star emojis.

In the following excerpt, I see Gandhi offering a model of integrating both head and heart in decision-making for those that tend to lead with their head (Ts) and for those that tend to lead with their heart (Fs):
"As long as my acts satisfy my reason and my heart (p. xxvii)."
I think Gandhi's experiments with truth are brave considering the temperament he was born with:
"I used to be shy and avoided all company...
I could not bear to talk to anybody. I was even afraid lest anyone should poke fun at me...
I disliked being taken to task by my teacher as much as I disliked deceiving them. Therefore I would do the lessons, but often without my mind in them...My shyness was one of the reasons for this aloofness."
More hearts and stars for the following excerpt:
"This play - Harishchandra - captured my heart...'Why should not all be truthful like Harishchandra?'...To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals Harischandra went through was the one ideal it inspired in me."
I feel you, Gandhi! I love plays because the subtext is made explicit in the story. I love the dialogue in plays and wonder why we don't all walk around talking to each other as characters in a play, making the truth plain.

That is enough for today. More later.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Take the bull by the horns

I am the head of my household and I juggle at least three jobs.
I left one of my jobs this week mostly because I couldn't keep my mouth shut and I was tired of fighting.
One of my social work interns at that agency wrote me a goodbye letter.
He said, “You always seem to have a 'grab the bulls by the horn' kind of attitude, an attitude that is on behalf of your clients and the community.”

I looked up the meaning of that idiom, “taking the bull by the horns,” and found:
• To deal with a difficult situation in a very direct way.
• To approach, confront, or deal with a problem or difficult situation directly and with clear, confident action.
• To confront a problem head-on and deal with it openly.

The origin of the idiom, “grab the bull by the horns” probably comes from “the American West where it was a common, but dangerous, practice to wrestle with steers – a part of the everyday working life of ranchers and cowhands throughout the west. To control a bull or a steer (a young bull) the cowhand would first have to catch it. Trying to grab the neck or legs of a dangerous creature like this was not an option. The only solution was to take a deep breath and face the problem directly by grabbing the bull by the horns and then pulling it to the ground. This expression now means to confront a problem directly without ‘beating about the bush.’”
Tim Bowen, “Phrase of the week: to take the bull by the horns,”

This all reminds me of my mom.
Irene Acuña Cardona was from Chihuahua, Mexico.
Growing up I watched her stand up for herself everywhere we went.
I watched her flirt and win people over too.
When she pushed back, I remember feeling embarrassed because I thought she was being rude. Privately, I told her that. She said, “No soy ruda, soy franca.
It is well known that “La gente de Chihuahua es franca y sincera.”

I don’t know if my mom ever faced a real live bull in Chihuahua but I know exactly what she would have done if she did.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Going Home

I am going to Mexico City.
I have a meeting to discuss a collaboration between UNAM and CSUN.
UNAM is in the same neighborhood as Frida's house.
I am finally going to Frida's house.
When you listen to the still, small voice inside it leads you to your purpose and guides you home.

"Por mi raza hablará el espíritu."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trauma Medicine

Cleansing and charging with prayer songs, drumming, stories, and plants on a Tuesday morning.

Dr. Brian Burkhart, chair of the American Indian Studies program at CSUN, presented to SWRK 630 (Family Crisis, Grief & Trauma) MSW students. Here are some highlights:

"You're supposed to fall and get up. You start your relationships and commitments all over again everyday...The past is here, invisible. We bring it out in ceremony...The fire in us needs to be fed. The ceremonies feed the fire and make it grow...If you build the fire really, really big, then several days of thunderstorms cannot blow it out." 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


when everything is aligned and makes sense - there is coherence and wholeness.
things get easier, simpler.
clean and clear.
all put together and integrated.
smooth and in harmony.

i have a right to my thoughts and feelings. freedom.
my voice matters and i use it. power.
i confidently walk in the world. joy.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tell it on the Mountain

“It’s OK to talk about it. Expressing those feelings is better for a student’s health and well-being." -Me
I get called by reporters for quotes about stories related to my research interests. Here's one:
Immigration policies take a toll on students

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What do you choose to believe?

"You can always substantially change how intelligent you are."
Carol S. Dweck

"I divide the world into the learners and non learners."
Benjamin Barber

We can change our mindset and harness powerful beliefs. What is your mindset?

“If the faculty offered a course for students who need to improve their _____ skills, would you take it?”
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
Not interested.
Emphatic yes.
Don’t want to expose deficiencies.
Believe that success is about learning.
To feel smart in the short run, willing to put college career at risk.
Seize the opportunity to learn.

Also, "people have to decide what kind of relationships they want:
  • Ones that bolster their ego.
  • Or ones that challenge them to grow." Carol S. Dweck

Passion, Toil & Training

I'm reading, Mindset: The new psychology of success, by Carol S. Dweck (professor of psychology at Stanford University and previously at Columbia University).

She explores the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop (growth mindset) vs. a fixed trait (fixed mindset).

She asserts that this simple difference in belief has the power to transform our psychology and our life. The view we adopt for ourselves affects the way we lead our life - becoming the person that we want to be and accomplishing the things we value.

"The major factor in whether people achieve expertise is not some fixed prior ability but purposeful engagement." Robert Sternberg

A person's true potential is unknown/unknowable. It's impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

"Darwin & Tolstoy were considered ordinary children."

"Geraldine Page, one of our greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for lack of talent."

"Believing that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning."

Here are some differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset:

Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
“I want to stick with what’s safe.”
“I love a challenge!”
Believing your qualities are carved in stone, which creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over again. Don’t believe in putting in effort or getting help.
Believing that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, strategies, and help from others. The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development.
In the world of fixed traits, success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself.
In the world of changing qualities, it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
“Nothing ventured, nothing lost.”
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
“If at first you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.”
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
“If Rome wasn’t built in a day, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Risk & effort might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task.
The importance of risk and the power of persistence.
Focused on permanent traits, fear challenge and devalue effort.
Focused on development, ideas about challenge and effort follow.
If everything is either good news or bad news about your traits, distortion almost inevitably enters the picture. Some outcomes are magnified and others are explained away. Super sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes.
If you believe you can challenge yourself, then you’re open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it’s unflattering. You understand that important qualities can be cultivated.
Ability is fixed and needs to be proven.
Ability is changeable and can be developed through learning.
Believe people are born smart and don’t make mistakes.
Believe you can get smarter.
“Will I succeed or fail?” “Will I feel like a winner or loser?”
“Everyone can change & grow through application and experience.”
“Will I look smart or dumb?” “Will I be accepted or rejected?”
“Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?”