Thelma T. Reyna

Sep 15, 11 Thelma T. Reyna

City you live in:
Pasadena, California

Occupation and why?
I’m a lifelong educator, but I now consider myself, professionally, as first and foremost an author. All the work I do on any given day is tied to writing, which was an early love of mine and which gives me great enjoyment and satisfaction. I write for my own books, blogs, and other purposes. I write and edit for my private clients in my business, The Writing Pros. As a part-time university professor and city commissioner, I write. So my three “gigs”, or jobs—all of my choosing!—publishing, editing, and university teaching, all relate to writing.

A regular day consists of?
As a person with the luxury of time (I retired early from my career as a school district administrator to pursue the three “gigs” I mentioned above), I’m not tied to an 8-5 regimen. Rather, I schedule my days with ample flexibility for spending time with family, going to lunch with friends, and staying up till midnight to work on projects if necessary! In my new life as author, etc., I am ruled not by a clock or by a company agenda, but by my own chosen work. I have a strong work ethic, but the diversity of my work now allows me to pick and choose how I want to spend each day and which projects or tasks I want to devote my efforts to. I love it!

How do you define success?
Wonderful question! We’ve all read amazing, insightful definitions of success out there, but I believe that each of us must identify and establish our own definition, customized to us individually. For me, it’s a bit complex. I think of success in different areas of my life: career, family, personal, and community. But the bottom line in all of it is HELPING OTHERS SUCCEED. If I do my best at all times, and am able to help others meet their goals and be proud of themselves, I feel successful.

What has been your biggest challenge?
This relates to my answer about success, actually. There have been some people close to me whom I was NOT able to help, who suffered and failed in their lives, in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others. For various reasons beyond my control (but which nonetheless saddened me), these individuals had no identifiable dreams or ambitions, or a weak work ethic, or were simply resistant to advice. I worry about their well-being and often feel that they are sad and unfulfilled. I wish it were different because I care deeply about them.

What advice would you give a Latina who wants to follow in your footsteps?
First, having a mentor or role model is very important to all of us, especially to Latinas/os, although you won’t often hear this. Research confirms that mentoring has a significant impact on success. To my “mentee” who wants to follow in my footsteps, I would say: Clarify your goal. Work hard to achieve it. Always be open to learning, for lifelong learners are often the most successful people. Have faith in yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to turn to others for help. AND ABOVE ALL: Always help others along the way.

What’s on your bucket list?
To work on my fitness level, be more active exercise-wise. A writer spends many long hours at the computer, so it’s easy to “skip out” on going to the gym, or on a walk with the family dog, or to that yoga class I used to love so much! We women often put ourselves, our own personal and bodily needs, on the proverbial back burner. But if I’m not as strong and healthy as I can be, I can’t be maximally productive, which translates, in my mind, to: I can’t do my best work, so I can’t help others as much as I’d like. Also, of course, I’d like to live a long life!

I am proud to be Latina because:
I am proud of the strong people from whose lineage I come. It’s a poor, humble lineage, to be sure. But the people—my grandparents, my parents, for example—taught me many things about overcoming hardships, being patient, being hard-working, valuing family and loyalty. The Latino culture is known for its premium on family, la familia. Research studies continually show this. I highly value that cultural aspect of being Latina.

How do you get your Latin fix?
Just get into a conversation with another Latina/o! I love how the connection is almost instantaneous. Whether it’s in English or Spanish, it seems there’s a brotherliness/sisterhood aspect to our interpersonal communications. I love it!

Spanglish, English, Spanish?
Gleefully, all of these! As a former high school English teacher with two degrees in English, and as an author in English, my dominant language is English. No surprise there! However, I speak, read, write, and understand Spanish fluently (though my speaking part is sometimes rusty). I am very thankful that I did not lose my native language, as often happens through the generations. As a fifth-generation American, born and raised in Texas, I was fortunate that many family members still spoke Spanish every day.

What is your favorite Latin restaurant?
Here in Southern California, the choices are endless! I like La Fiesta Grande; Acapulco; La Luna Negra; and Mijares, all in Pasadena.

My favorite Latina stereotype is:
Jennifer Lopez, who, in her film roles, has embodied the spectrum of what it means to be a woman, a mother, a tough cookie, a man-beater, a loving wife, an artist, a rich woman, a poor woman. She is all of us.

Best advice from mami and/or abuelita:
My maternal grandmother was the fount of all wisdom in our family. She didn’t speak English (though I’m sure she understood it better than she claimed!), so all her dichos were in Spanish. I was astounded as I grew up to hear the English version of many of her proverbs, a testament to the universality of her words. One of my favorites was: “Cuando te toca, te toca; pero no te pongas en la tocadera.” [“When your time comes, it comes; but don’t tempt fate.”] She always urged us to be careful, to avoid risky behaviors. Good advice for all time!

Favorite home remedy
I was prone to sore throats and swollen tonsils (yes, I still have my tonsils!) throughout my childhood and adolescence, and we couldn’t always afford doctors. I was one of nine children, so home remedies were often used. Mom or Grandma gave me water as hot as I could stand it, mixed with plenty of salt, and I gargled until the glass was empty. This always made my throat feel better!

Favorite Quote:
From Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Also from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Career Highlights
:
In teaching: Being selected as a California Mentor Teacher, the first Hispanic, male or female, in our school district to earn this distinction. In my writing: Receiving four national awards for my first book, The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories. In my business: Receiving the “Most Inspirational Award” in the 12th Annual Women in Business Awards.

[fun]♦ In my immediate family (husband, son, daughter, and me), we have a total of eleven university degrees: 4 BA’s, 5 MA’s, and 2 Ph.D.’s. (I have 4 degrees; my daughter, Christine Reyna-Demes, has 3; my son, Victor Cass, has 2; and my husband, Victor Reyna, has 2). This is significant to us because my parents were school dropouts, and my maternal grandparents were totally unschooled. My husband’s parents never went to school. To us, education is always fun, though it’s also hard work.[/fun]

[career]
♦ Thelma T. Reyna is an award-winning author with over 30 years of publication experience writing short stories, poetry, nonfiction, and opinion pieces in literary journals, textbooks, anthologies, blogs, and regional media.
♦ She is also an editor, ghost writer, book reviewer, blogger, and writing consultant with her company, The Writing Pros.
♦ She was recently honored by her state senator, Carol Liu (California), with the “Most Inspirational Award” in the 12th Annual Women in Business Awards for her work as an author.
♦ Thelma is also an adjunct professor at California State University, Los Angeles, teaching in the Master’s Degree program of Educational Leadership.
♦ She is also a City Commissioner in Pasadena, CA, her hometown; as well as a Board of Directors member in Pasadena’s One Community.
♦ Thelma was named as a “Notable Hispanic-American Woman” in 1998 and featured in Volume II of the book by the same name.[/career]

[description]If I do my best at all times, and am able to help others meet their goals and be proud of themselves, I feel successful.[/description]

1 Comment

  1. Like!! Great article post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

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