Gloria Estefan: Your Fairy Cuban Godmother

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Last weekend my sister took our mother and I to the Pantages Theatre to see, On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and it was beyond inspirational. I wanted to share some things I not only experienced but learned from attending and explain why Gloria Estefan is like your fairy Cuban godmother.

In order to win you have to lose something. Not only in life but in love, sacrifice is part of any ambitious endeavor. Gloria’s mother gave her the ultimatum that if she pursued a career in music that she no longer would have a relationship with her. Gloria knew music was her passion and told her mother, that was her choice but would always be there for her when she was ready to let her back in. Have you ever sacrificed a relationship to pursue something you loved? I did once and although it was painful at the time the old saying what’s meant to be will be and eventually it all worked out. So follow your heart and trust fate.

Even in low moments you are never alone. It’s easy to let an unfortunate circumstance get you down, we are all allowed to feel sad or depressed when life deals us a bad hand. Gloria was involved in a serious bus accident and suffered a broken vertebra. She had massive surgery on her spine which resulted in titanium rods permanently being placed to fuse her vertebra. Part of her recovery was relearning how to walk and finding the confidence and courage to perform again. Have you ever isolated yourself when you were at a low point in life? Have you pushed the ones who love you out ? Or maybe you didn’t feel worthy of their love and the darkness around you couldn’t allow you to see the love and light? Life is full of ups and downs but it’s how you preserver in hard times that truly help you grow. It’s ok to be vulnerable, to ask for help, and to voice when you are uncomfortable. It’s also ok to push yourself, let the people around you in and step outside of your comfort zone. Gloria performed again at the American Music Awards and she had a huge fan base lifting her up. Realize your family and friends are like your fan base, allow them to give you love and strength when you need it, let yourself be accepting of that light and love and let it help you through those dark moments.

“Get up and make it happen, get on your feet, Stand up and take some action.” I feel like this should be an affirmation, this could apply in all facets of life. Gloria was well know in the Latin market but when she wanted to cross over record execs refused to back her. She instead went directly to radio stations, performed at gigs for free, and pretty much played her music for anyone who would listen. Fans were calling radio stations begging to hear her record on air. Has someone ever told you no professionally or personally and you let that deter you? I’ve been told no many times and for things I really believed in doing, I wouldn’t see it as a dead end but more of a road block. It’s hard for others to see your vision which doesn’t mean it’s not valid, if you really believe in something find another way to make it happen.

Know your worth. Gloria was at one point the highest paid female performer. There was no settling with her or for her husband. They both pushed for what they believed in and wouldn’t settle, especially when someone couldn’t see their worth. Recently, I had a situation where a company I was freelancing for wanted to pay me one rate for design and a discounted rate for admin type stuff. I was a little insulted that this company thought my opinion wasn’t worth the same rate as me sketching a garment. Ultimately I had to walk away from that opportunity, don’t be afraid to say no to someone who doesn’t see the full value in what you do.

Tell the people you admire how you feel, one twist of faith could lose your tomorrow. So after Gloria’s accident her mother and her reconciled their relationship. This made me think of my aunt Becky she passed away from ovarian cancer but while she was in the hospital I was planning to go see her but the day I was suppose to I didn’t end up making it to see her. The next day she had a massive heart attack and was in a coma till she passed. I regret not going so much, I will regret that day for the rest of my life. I would also give anything to have one more conversation with her. Too often we take the time we have with loved ones for granted. We miss out on the opportunity for one last convo or the chance to tell someone we truly love that we admire them. If you’ve had someone on your mind, reach out to them and re-connect. Call them, tell them how much you appreciate and love them. Do not give yourself the opportunity to live with regret.

I knew Gloria Estefan’s music, but to see her story come to life was incredible. Both her and her husband Emilio were Cuban immigrants, who were refugees in America. Gloria is the American Dream, a woman with a passion who was relentless in pursuing it. Her perseverance and strength is an example to all women to believe in yourself, hone your craft and keep pushing forward. If you are in the LA area I highly recommend seeing the play for yourself. Viva la Gloria!

Thank you to my sister Cristina for taking me and the much needed girl time!

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Jessica Castaneda