3 Ways To Say No

3 Ways To Say No

Sarah Pichardo

If you have resolved to set boundaries and incorporate “no” into your vocabulary but it doesn’t come easy to you, fear not. That’s what I’m here for. Here are three different ways to say no. Ready?

You could say it in more than one language….

  • In English…No.
  • In Spanish… ¡NO! (followed by a dramatic exit or possibly even a slap in the face)
  • In Russian…Nyet (followed by a shot of Vodka)
  • In Hawaiian – a’ole (followed by you fading off into the sunset on your surfboard)

You could be cordial…

  • I wish I could, but I can’t.
  • Maybe another day/time.
  • If only I could!
  • Thanks, but no thanks.

And for those of you who insist on saying yes to everything, try this…

  • Sure, when pigs fly.
  • Absolutely, right as soon as hell freezes over.
  • Sounds great. How about we schedule that for February 30th?
  • I love that idea. How about never?

And if none of those work, try this…

See? So easy. Pick a few and practice them with your spouse, a friend or your dog.

If you need a little more to fuel you, learn more about boundaries and having resolve from a real professional. Check out this blog from someone who knows what she’s talking about. And for the record, abuelita would go with saying No in Spanish followed by offering you café con leche. She’s nice like that. We should all be more like your abuelita.

Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or obsessing over Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more resources on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Having Resolve

Having Resolve

Eva Fleming

My father suffered a massive stroke shortly after his 55th birthday. As a result, the right side of his body was completely paralyzed. After weeks in the hospital, followed by months of intense physical therapy and with the spiritual support of many colleagues around the world, he began to gain function of his body. In the beginning, he made a herculean effort to get out of bed alone, but gradually with the help of a cane and holding on to the walls for support he started ever so slowly to get from one place to the other.

His determination was so intent that in less than a year he was tending to his garden, pruning his fruit trees, teaching and even driving.

The success my father had relearning every mundane task starting from zero, shows what scientists have known all along – that the brain is more malleable than previously thought and is capable of rebuilding itself even after having been damaged or after having lived through trauma.

Determination and resolve coupled with the ability of the brain, due to its plasticity, to change and adapt, is what we need to keep on keeping on, never giving up!

Modern studies have revealed how the brain continues to create new neuron pathways and altering the already existing ones to adapt to new experiences, learn new information and create new memories even in the face of insurmountable obstacles. This means that the person who refuses to give up can be successful even amid the challenges he or she is facing.

When you want to conquer an obstacle, follow through on a resolution, or overcome a weakness, you can be certain that you are literally made out of a gray matter that is always renewing itself. This ability the brain has to renew itself, conquer obstacles, learn new routines and even develop noble character is the understated miracle of humanity. This should bring not only pleasure to our lives but also prompt us to be immensely grateful.

Even though we are saying it is a “miracle,” that doesn’t minimize the process of growth one has to go through and the stress that change inevitably brings: Everything that’s worth having is worth fighting for.

Here are some steps we recommend you follow when facing new challenges:

  • Accept your situation and embrace your challenge
  • Commit to getting the most out of the challenge and the process, learning the    lessons it provides along the way
  • Consider your personal growth as a gift to humanity
  • Remind yourself that the initial frustration of learning something new is normal and it can be overcome
  • Surround yourself with people that can give you positive support
  • Don’t lose faith

My father was resolute in his pledge to get better after his stroke and I know that your challenge, even though it is probably different, is just as significant. Don’t get discouraged, find your compass, and get up every day with a renewed commitment until you accomplish what you have set out to do. The ability of the brain to perform great feats is tucked deep within you and tenacity is all you need to activate it.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

Eva Fleming

Everyday people from many different cultural and social backgrounds and with different personalities come together to form one family. And it’s a beautiful thing. But, what happens when there’s a clash in values, particularly in the way you value money? Let’s talk about it.

A value is a force within you that will influence your life. Your attitudes about money will affect how you relate to it, to yourself and to others. Not all of us have strong financial values. And not all of us have the grace needed to deal with the partner in a relationship who has weak ones. Most commonly in a relationship, there is a spender and a saver. Each one pulling the financial rope in opposite directions. The spender wants to enjoy a high quality of life with all the comforts of the here and now, while the saver wants to feel financially secure, sacrificing comfort for financial security.
This dance can quickly turn into a tug of war because their different views of money can cause hostility between them.

Some couples quickly realize that if they want their homes to be peaceful, they must learn how to compromise, learn and make it work. Understanding all the while that it’s never easy, but with work and cooperation, they can pull through. Other couples never catch on to the pitfalls of financial disagreements and allow these arguments over money to become frequent and endless because, in the end, it’s not about the expense itself but about what money means to each of them.

These fights instead of solving the problem, merely widen the distance between the couple. They continue to argue incessantly, and the more a couple bickers about money, especially if more than once a week, the higher the possibility that they will end up divorced. Not even diverging political views can cause havoc in a relationship the way different views of money can.

There comes a critical moment in which couples that disagree with how to handle their finances must decide if they are going to continue fighting or if they are going to establish parameters in these areas of their lives and be amicable as they work through their differences.

What can you do when you become stuck in the vortex of financial disagreements?

When an argument about money arises, don’t allow your disagreements to turn into a deadly battle, where one loses and the other wins. On the contrary, acknowledge that the argument the other person is making has as much validity as yours does. Give their case the same consideration and respect that you give your own.

Establish firm boundaries with the help of a third person, if necessary, and commit to trying to understand what that need to spend or save means for the person you love.

If you are the spender, grow your character by learning to delay instant gratification. If you are the saver, be more flexible in the things you are willing to spend money on for the sake of the relationship. Can’t come to an agreement? Here are some tips on how to tell if something’s worth buying.

In the end, your relationship is worth more than gold and no disagreement is worth the emotional toll that all the fighting brings. Learn to value each other above all.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

5 Steps to Tell if Something is Really Worth Spending Money On

5 Steps to Tell if Something is Really Worth Spending Money On

Sarah Pichardo

Do you lay awake at night wondering if a purchase is worth it? Like do you really need it or is it going to make its way into someone else’s home via Goodwill. Let’s take the guesswork out of it. Here are five handy-dandy steps to follow in order to find out if something is really worth it.

Step 1: Sing Missy Elliot’s Song, “Is it Worth it”
Is it worth it? Let me work it. I put thing down flip it and reverse it.

Step 2: Ask Yourself, Is it Worth it?
Now that you have that song stuck in your head, keep asking yourself, is it really worth it?

Step 3: Talk to your Bank Account
Hey, money talks so talk back to it. How does your wallet feel about this expenditure? Do you even have money in your wallet or is it begging for mercy?

Step 4: Talk to your Spouse or Phone a Friend
Talk to your spouse about it. Especially if it’s a major purchase where you’ll be spending money from a joint account. Let’s not start World War 3 in your house cause you didn’t communicate. Not worth it. Not married? Phone a friend. Tell ‘em your hopes and dreams. What do they think? Also, make sure you phone the responsible friend not the crazy one. You know which one I’m talking about.

Step 5: Ask Yourself, What Would Abuelita Do?
Your abuelita is a smart woman. She pays in cash and thinks credit cards are for necios. And, si no tienes el dinero, no lo compres. (If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it). Please refer to Step 3.


You did it. You went through all 5 steps. Pour yourself a glass a wine. Now make a decision. If it’s really worth it, your spouse is cool with it, you have the money and your abuelita gives you a thumbs up, then you should be good to go. If not, then it’s probably not worth it.

Still don’t know if you should buy it? Use this flowchart:

You’re still here? Not sure you and your media naranja are on the same page? Check out this blog, it’ll help you both make better financial choices that can help your relationship be on the up and up.


Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or obsessing over Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more tips on finances and relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Cycle of Debt

The Cycle of Debt

Eva Fleming

Did you know that the national household debt in the U.S. is a whopping 13 trillion dollars? To help you put that in perspective, keep in mind that a trillion has twelve zeroes in it! In the words of Dave Ramsey, “debt is as American as apple pie, but certainly not as sweet.” Even though most of us have it, none of us really want it. I had a debt from a hospital stay that took me two years to pay off. And this is after decent medical coverage!

Some of our debt is the result of unexpected expenses that end up on our credit cards because we didn’t plan for them in our emergency fund. But other debt is the result of our wants and desires and things we just had to have, but never actually made provisions for in our budget.

If we want to break free from debt, we must learn to make the distinction between those two types of unbudgeted expenses and learn to plan for them seriously. One requires that we put effort into beefing up our emergency fund and the other one requires that we become more disciplined with our budget.

Emergencies are part of life. If you think your life will be smooth sailing without any setbacks, e.g., leaking roof or car repairs, then you are living in a fantasy world.

I live in Florida, where hurricane season starts in June and doesn’t end until November 30th. To survive those months, residents must have a contingency plan that answers questions like: What are we going to do in the event of a hurricane? Where are we going to evacuate if the storm is expected to be a category 5? What do I need to have in hand if I decide to stay home (water bottles, water for flushing the toilet, generators, candles, medicine, batteries, can foods, etc.), When are we going to install the shutters? What will I do with my pet? It’s important to plan every minor detail to keep the family safe and minimize any harm to the house or personal possessions, etc.

There are no always hurricanes in Florida, but one must always be prepared just in case. Readiness will help you sleep in peace with the least amount of anxiety possible. This is the kind of mentality we must have to succeed financially. The more prepared you are for what’s most likely coming, the fewer chances you’ll use your credit cards to get you out of trouble when those things do happen.

We must also keep in mind that the human spirit with all its wants and desires is nearly impossible to satisfy. In the mall I frequent, there are big signs everywhere that read: “Desire It,” “Deserve it,” “Acquire it.” All these signs invite you to satiate your desires even if it is beyond your means to do so because after all, you “deserve it.” In a world like that, without a budget and the willingness to stick to it, you are not going to be very successful staying out of debt. Here’s a budget sheet that can help you get started.

If you are amid crushing debt, seek help from the experts like Dave Ramsey among others, and follow their recommendations to pay off your current debts. Beyond that, try to develop the discipline needed to improve your emergency fund and make a firm commitment to stick to your budget and you will see how little by little, debt will no longer be an issue for you.

For our children’s sake and the future of our children’s children, let’s break the chains of debt. Let’s no longer allow our circumstances and desires to keep us slaves to debt. This new year commit to do your part to shrink those 12 zeroes from the trillion dollars that are currently strangling our economy. Let’s end our addiction to debt once and for all. Here’s a helpful resource that can help you cut expenses and avoid getting into more debt.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

5 Things You’re Paying for, You Should Cancel, Stop Buying, and Start Doing to Help You Pay Off Debt

5 Things You’re Paying for, You Should Cancel, Stop Buying, and Start Doing to Help You Pay Off Debt

Sarah Pichardo

If you’re like me, you’re probably paying for stuff you don’t even use. Well, maybe not like me cause after writing this I canceled stuff and rearranged my life. So I’m already one step ahead of you…catch up!

Here are those five things you should cancel, stop buying and start doing. Then take all that cash you saved to help pay off debt (and maybe buy a new pair of shoes).

Do you actually watch all 500 channels that you’re paying for? If you do, we need to sit and talk so I can report you to science. But chances are, you’re not. Matter of fact, you probably only have HBO right now cause you’re waiting for the last season of Game of Thrones to come out. Well, keep waiting and keep paying. Or you could be smart and cancel cable now, then just get the online subscription to HBO for when it comes out and cancel it again. It’s totally legit. I checked. Also, you’re probably just binge watching Netflix shows. Cable = $100+/month. Netflix = $10/month. So why are you paying for cable again?

Unused subscriptions
Do you really need Apple Music, Spotify and Satellite radio? At some point in my life I thought all three were absolutely necessary. I have regained my senses. You should do the same.

What other subscriptions are you paying for because you mostly like to throw money away? Don’t be like this kid, you might need those pair of shoes that are going on sale next week.

Buying lunch
Not only will buying lunch everyday cause you to gain 50 pounds and therefore ruin your New Year’s Resolutions, but it also costs you mucho dinero. Don’t want to cook? Make yourself a sandwich. It’s easy. It’s cheap. Again, those shoes are going on sale next week.

Bottled water
Why do you hate planet Earth so much? It’s a pretty cool place to be. There’s oxygen and science-y things that let us live here. All that plastic from bottled water is bad. It’s killing the fishies. (Do you really want to kill the fishies?) You don’t need those plastic water bottles. Besides, now that you’re bringing your lunch to work every day, you can fill up a reusable water bottle too. Want filtered water? Get a water filter. Look at you saving the planet. Your mom will be so proud.

Excess groceries
Speaking of, can’t you just hear your sweet mami in your head right now…“Tantos niños muriéndose de hambre, y tu aquí desperdiciando la comida.” (So many children dying of hunger, and you’re just here wasting food.) Shame on you. I’m telling your mom! How many times have you bought stuff and ended up throwing it away cause it went bad? It’s pretty sad. Not even my dog wants it. How about planning your meals ahead of time, writing a list, checking it twice? But, don’t forget the snacks.


There you have it. If anything, after reading this, three things are very clear. First, I need to talk to your mom. Second, you should check out this blog so you can get real advice about ways to pay off debt. And last but not least, I just saved you a bunch of money and now you don’t have an excuse to not get me a birthday present.


Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.
Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

Sarah Pichardo

Adulting sucks. You wake up, go to work, go home, sleep, eat and repeat. And then that glorious day comes where you get paid and you’re all like, “hallelujah, I’m about to make it rain.” Only to have the rug pulled from under you by those things called bills. And do you know why? Because 5-10-15-20 years ago you were sitting in your parent’s house thinking, one day I’m going to be my own boss, make my own rules and do whatever I want. Yeah. Congratulations. You got what you wished for. You’re an adult and there’s no turning back no matter how hard you try.

But it’s ok. Cause you’re a pretty fantastic adult. You go to work and maybe even have a family that you love and are nice to. You do a good deed every now and again, you give some money to charity and you call your mom once a week (BTW – did you call your mom this week? Get on it. She’s probably worried sick about you; it doesn’t matter that you’re 30 or 50 for that matter. Remember, family first.) Where was I? Oh yeah – you’re pretty good at this adulting thing.

And now, you’re thinking to yourself, It’s New Years. It’s that time of year where I’m going to make changes. Good changes. Changes that will make me a better person. And you wrote those down. You made some amazing resolutions. Didn’t you? Resolutions that you’re going to stick to…for real this time. And of course on top of that list is…(drum roll please)… making a budget and sticking to it. Because on top of being an amazing adult, you’re also a responsible adult. Bam! Plus, like your abuelita always said “a pobre viene, quien gasta más de lo que tiene.” (You’ll end up poor if you spend more than you have. Except it rhymes in Spanish and sounds way wiser and abuelita-like.)


Anyway, enough about your grandma. So, what are those two budgeting tips? Brace yourselves; they’re life-changing…


Step 1: Make a Budget

Step 2: Stick to It!

Tada. So easy. We’re done here.

Seriously. Why do we need to make adulting so hard on ourselves? Life is hard enough. But fine. If you want more on how to make a budget, or on how to save money, check out this blog and use this budget sheet. Otherwise just follow the budgeting tips I so generously gave you. They totally work.

Like I said, easy peasy. Tell your abuelita I said hi and “bendición”.


Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/


For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Where Did all the Money Go? Making a Budget

Where Did all the Money Go? Making a Budget

Eva Fleming

A budget is just a plan for your money. But as simple as this definition might be, the actual task of creating a budget might be daunting for some, yet necessary if we want to be able to go on vacation, pay off our debts or save for retirement.

When I don’t keep track of something as simple as my grocery bill, my budget is shot, and life unravels!  I don’t know what it is about that section of gourmet cheeses in the grocery store that makes me lose all common sense and run up my bill mercilessly.

So, before you put pen to paper to start jotting down your income vs. expenses and making your budget plan for the year or the month, ask yourself: What is your motivation to spend less than you make? Why are you putting yourself through this rigorous exercise of self-control? Once you understand your reasons, walk in your mind to the end of the road called Budgeting and imagine where you have ended up. Then ask yourself, “how does having a few extra dollars in my savings account feel like because I stuck to my budget?” If you like the thought of freedom, then commit to make a budget and stick to it.

If you are a not a saver by nature, budgeting will not be easy for you. Those of us who like nice things and the comforts life has to offer can hardly be blamed when we run out and get the things we want or upgrade everything we have every opportunity we get. After all, we are living in a society that is continually pushing their wares on us. “What can I say? I like shoes. What is a girl to do if TJ Max has a sale on shoes?”  But just like an alcoholic take it one day at a time, you too need to take it one day at a time when living on a budget. Don’t go shopping unless you need to. Don’t spend that extra money on another pair of shoes unless you have accounted for it in your budget. Find something fulfilling and productive to do instead of shopping or overspending money on leisure.

In my journey to budgeting, my husband and I have had to give up cable TV. That was hard because I really like Outlander and Better Call Saul. But I don’t think that ten years from now those shows are going to make a difference in my life, so we’ve sacrificed and found something more productive with which to fill our time. I have taken up running and volunteering at my kids’ school.  I can testify that both activities are more satisfying than any show cable TV has to offer. Our family is much more united than ever. And because we’re not looking at the TV, but rather at each other, my spouse and I have rekindled the spark in our marriage.

There are many budgeting tools on the Internet you can get to help you. Your bank also most likely has a budgeting feature they offer to you for free. Family Bridges teaches workshops that can help you budget wisely.

But before you download your favorite budgeting tool, think about your long-term goals, then write down your weaknesses and account for each of them in your plans. And finally, make your budget and put it on a visible spot in the house where all can see it.

A detailed plan for your income and expenses in a given period is right to have.  Here’s a budget sheet you can use. Don’t be scared to tell your money where to go. You got this!

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

A Latina Trailblazer: from Education to Construction

A Latina Trailblazer: from Education to Construction

The inspirational story of a successful Latina entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry.

Veronica Avila

“This is your new country. You are free. You can accomplish anything you want, except become the president of the United States. And always remember, never compromise your ethics. Those were the words 10-year-old Edith de la Cruz heard from her father Romualdo De la Cruz, when they arrived from Guatemala to the US in 1975.

From an early age, Edith was encouraged by her father to stay focused and work hard to reach her goals. So, she did. Edith received her degree in Psychology and began working as an ESL Teacher in Berwyn, IL where she saw a great need for bilingual teachers.

One day, while having a conversation with other parents about their kids and college, she realized she wasn’t financially prepared to send her kids off to college. She panicked for a moment but was determined to find a way to start working towards that goal. A friend of hers, a developer, introduced her to the idea of “flipping” properties; if she invested in a foreclosed property, she’d be able to fix it and sell it. That was an “aha” moment for Edith. The problem was that she didn’t know much about the business, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She knew a little about carpentry and was ready to learn the rest. Her friend offered to teach her the ropes of the business, as soon as he came back from his 4th of July break.

A self-starter, Edith couldn’t wait, so she drove off to seek properties; foreclosed, boarded up houses, anything that had the potential for a “flip.” She found a 3-story flat with a sign that read “Fast-track demolition auction for July 5th.” With only a couple of days left before the auction, she sought counsel from realtors that could help her meet the requirements of the city to bid. After a long search, she finally found someone who could help. So, into court, she went. She was able to become the defendant of the property vs. the city. But now, the court required that she make the needed repairs to the building in 120 days before they would allow her to purchase it. So, she got to work. She fixed all the required repairs and sent her attorney pictures.

The phone call finally came in with a, “You should do this full-time.” She received the approval to purchase it. She flipped it, sold it, and she liked the feeling of it. She did it! So, she began her journey as a general constructor on the side. In 2005, Antigua Construction was incorporated and since then has been a minority woman-owned business. If you’re interested in starting up a small business, check out our Micro Enterprise program.

In 2005, she left the education field to dedicate all her time and efforts into her new construction business, Antigua Construction. Unfortunately, in 2007 the market began to decline, and she had to sell a couple of properties. That didn’t stop her. She was determined to immerse herself in the business of becoming a General Contractor. She took every class she found to become a certified general contractor. She learned, applied for the certifications, and worked tirelessly to obtain them. Today she is certified by the General Services Administration (GSA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Minority and Women-Owned Business Certification Program (M/WBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE), National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), and Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB).

She began looking for what she describes as the “starving artist opportunity.” Started knocking on doors, all of them, to find the opportunity that would allow her to start up as a contractor.

After following up persistently, a major contractor asked her, “What do you want?” Edith confidently responded, “I am the Persistent Widow.” He replied with another question, “Are you a widow?” Edith referred him to the biblical reference of the persistent widow. He was silent for a moment, then agreed to work with her. She received her first project of $3,000, then a second, and then another. He gave her the opportunity, and Antigua Construction began to grow.

In 2010, she went on vacation to visit her father. Upon her return, the bank that had been her lender for years called to inform her that they would be cutting all lines of credit to small businesses. It was a tough time. Closing the business crossed her mind. As a woman of faith, she asked God for a sign if she was to keep Antigua open. Minutes later, she received a text from a friend in office expressing his support. Then, if in doubt, she received a random call from someone who wanted to let her know what she would be referring her business to federal decision-makers on construction. That was the sign! Edith regained her composure and was ready to move forward with her business.

The road hasn’t been easy. Edith has faced adversity and challenges in a man-dominated industry ‘til this day. But that hasn’t stopped her. On the contrary, it fuels her determination to continue moving forward by sticking to her goals. She has faced the challenges of seeing people she entrusted and who she thought would be her biggest supporters, fail her, mock her, and ultimately hurt her. Fortunately, she’s also had good people by her side who encouraged her to let go and move forward. Following her dad’s counsel of looking at life as if in a car, “The windshield is wide and you must focus on driving forward. The rearview mirror serves one purpose, to quickly glance back and then continue to look forward.” And that is what she continues to do with any storm that comes along the way.

Let’s talk family. Edith is a single mom of 3 kids, Bryan, Joshua, and Viviana – who have graciously seen their mother working 24/7 while also staying involved in their lives and their education. It hasn’t been easy. There was a point in her life when her children pulled her to the side asking to regain their mom back from Antigua. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, they found a way to make it work. They agreed to leave all technology, including social media, out of their house to have a healthy work-life balance. Fridays became family nights when one of the kids would choose food and activities. Edith values her family enormously and continues to have a strong bond with them. They’re also all involved in the business in some capacity.

She shared a funny anecdote with us, “I wanted my kids to speak Spanish well, so I encouraged them to study abroad. My son Bryan went to Spain for a semester, then came back saying he wanted to go back.” The reality was that while he studied in Spain, he met someone special. Edith wanted him here, plus the plan was that he would be joining the business. Fast forwarding, “On April 1st, he invited us to brunch and told me that he was going to get married in Spain. I laughed, it was a great April Fool’s day joke.” He wasn’t joking. He later married and now is pursuing a Master’s in Kinesiology. Her other son, Joshua, is also a part of the business, handling all on-the-field matters, and her daughter Viviana is pursuing a degree in Business Administration, while she gets hands-on experience at Antigua.

Edith de la Cruz is undoubtedly a Latina Destacada. She is a successful Latina entrepreneur in the construction business, with significant city and Tollway contracts. She has a strong family bond which she and her children continue to nurture, and she is an example and inspiration to single moms and minorities. Edith shows us that if you’re determined and committed, you can accomplish anything.

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Letting Go

Letting Go

By Christian Zapata

Have there been times in your life or in your marriage where it has been difficult to let go and allow the process to flow naturally? Have you felt the “need to be in control” be a factor in preventing a bigger blessing from occurring?

My wife and I were married on July 23rd, 2005, at St. Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southwest side. In front of God, our family and friends, we professed our love for and our eternal commitment to one another. After an amazing reception filled with music, dancing and laughing our wedding day was over and our marriage began.

Prior to our wedding, we both were in the process of completing graduate studies and after graduation we were fortunate in obtaining gratifying careers in our fields of study. Joanne was employed as a Spanish high school teacher and I, a Family Therapist. One month prior to our wedding day, we purchased our first home. It was a fixer-upper, but it had character and we felt we could make it our own. We were off to a solid start with this marriage thing. We had completed advanced degrees, found gainful employment, and purchased our first home, all before our wedding day. Things were looking very good for us. As the years went on, Joanne and I both worked tirelessly in our careers, getting settled and receiving several promotions. We spent much time going out on date nights and at least once per year we planned very nice vacations. Together we saw the sunrises from the beaches of Santorini in the east and the sunsets from Cabo San Lucas in the west.

For about six years we felt we had everything we could need or want. But after many conversations, going back and forth, we realized that our lives were missing a very important piece: children. I guess we figured that we had gotten lucky that we had not had children so far since we were both heavily involved in our careers, volunteering and church. In typical Zapata family fashion, we decided to plan this out as well. We decided that the best time to have kids would coincide with my wife’s school schedule so she could be at home all summer long and my work schedule would not be so hectic. It made perfect sense in our minds and on paper. But as the weeks went on, nothing happened. No baby.

We started to get worried, seeking out medical advice about how to proceed. After navigating through the complicated HMO insurance process, we found ourselves sitting in the physicians’ waiting room of a fertility specialist. Honestly, the first appointment was a blur for the both of us. The nursing staff and doctor were talking about hormone injections, egg retrievals and AA quality embryos. We left the appointment feeling overwhelmed, scared and wondering if this was the right thing to do. We spent several days praying individually, together and seeking spiritual direction from our Priest. We were asking existential questions like, were we not supposed to have children? Or were we putting our will before God’s? After days of reading information packets, Google-ing everything we could find out about infertility, praying and engaging in a very affirming meeting with our Priest, we decided to move forward with the process. We were excited, but simultaneously nervous.

We began the first round of IVF and were asked to come back in three weeks to see if the embryo survived the transfer. These were the longest three weeks of our lives. The day arrived and the nurses completed a pregnancy test. They returned with disappointing news; no pregnancy. The doctors did not give us an exact reason why it did not work, but they recited a litany of statistics as a way to offer solace.

We started the second round of IVF and it was recommended that we increase the embryo transfer to three instead of one. The doctors again recited the statistics of multiple pregnancies and their accompanying risk. Despite this knowledge, we so longed for children of our own, we proceeded anyway. Again, we waited three weeks and upon return to the clinic, we heard the long-awaited, good news; congratulations you are pregnant… with twins! I don’t remember the drive home. We must have floated the entire way home. Having tried for so long and getting negative results and then finally hearing those magic words created such a feeling of joy and contentment that we thanked God for having His hand in the process and creating this opportunity for our family.

We were asked to come back two weeks later to check on the “babies.” During this two week period we spent all of our time online and in baby stores looking for two of everything. The feeling was indescribable. Our hopes and dreams had just been multiplied by two. At the next doctor visit, the nurse came out with a solemn look on her face and said, “sorry, but they didn’t make it.” Again, I don’t remember the drive home. The news was so devastating that we barely spoke a word to one another in several days. We were not angry at each other; we just were in our own worlds dealing with the shock and disappointment. We felt we had hit bottom and had no motivation to do anything else. Tensions were high in our home and neither one of us wanted to say the wrong thing to upset the other. It felt like we were walking on eggshells.

It was in this darkest moment where God shined the brightest light for us. It was in our moment of feeling out of control that we realized that we needed to fully surrender this process and truly leave it in the hands of God. We came to the self awareness that despite our prayers and saying we had faith; we really were the ones driving the process. My wife and I had many conversations about who we were, what we believed and ultimately who we wanted to be as individuals and as a family. We struggled a great deal in being able to fully “let go and let God.” Our entire lives had been defined by what we were able to accomplish by sheer will and determination. It was in our most broken state that we finally felt the most complete as a couple. During this entire process we were reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your understanding, in all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

About Christian A. Zapata

Christian A. Zapata is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and he received his MSW (Masters of Social Work) from the Jane Addams College of Social Work. Christian has completed post-graduate training programs from both the Chicago Center for Family Health in Marriage and Family Systems Therapy as well as from the Illinois Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative through the Erickson Institute in Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Mr. Zapata has over thirteen years of experience providing multi-cultural therapy services to children, adolescents and adults. Mr. Zapata currently serves as the Social Work Supervisor for Friedman Place where he manages programs and provides therapeutic services to adults who are blind or visually impaired.

Christian A. Zapata

30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

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