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Angelica + Valentin | Phoenix Wedding

Angelica and Valentin met in high school. Dated for awhile but weren’t ready for each other at the time. It took them having to love other people in order for them to love each other the right way, when the timing was perfect. And that is exactly what they did. Their wedding at The Valley Garden Center was intimate and just beautiful. I’m thankful to have been a part of their special day! Congratulations you two!!!

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Driven | An Inspirational Story About a Teenage Mother

Self Love Project | Day 14 | Driven
I was 15 when I had unprotected sex. Got pregnant the very first time. You can only imagine the thoughts running through my head. What am I going to tell my parents? How am I going to manage school? Who will watch my baby while I go out into the world and continue to kick ass? Never ever did I think about adoption or abortion. I knew from the beginning that I would have this baby. I was more afraid of disappointing my parents than actually raising a child. What words can I possibly say to bear the news??? How can I break it to them gently? Nothing came to mind. So I didn’t say anything at all. I kept silent for four months. My mom knew. She had to know. She stopped buying me maxi pads. I’m sure that was the first sign. And then my clothes kept getting bigger. I would tell her I needed to go shopping and I bought baggier shirts to hide my tummy and bigger sizes in pants. She wanted me to tell her. She never confronted me. Until my sister-in-law finally asked. I knew what was coming. She took me out to lunch (which we never did). And she asked me. And I cried. And I said I don’t know how to tell my parents. I’m so ashamed. I’m so mad at myself for getting into this situation.
I’m a smart girl. A straight A student. How the hell did I get here??? Now let me tell you this. I was NEVER ashamed of my child (if you so happen to be reading this Berto), I was only ashamed by my choices I made in life at such a young age. Mad at myself for not using protection. Mad that I allowed a boy to talk me into having unprotected sex and believing that he would take care of me. I could have been smarter about it. That’s all. I missed my first trimester of prenatal pills and check ups. I was already in my 2nd trimester when I finally told my parents. The look in their eyes was enough to punish me. I can’t even fathom having that talk with my children now. It would kill me inside. My mom was the most supportive mother I could have ever imagined having though. She took me to all my appointments. Bought me stuff for the baby. Gave me a baby shower. Did all the things you would do for someone you were proud of. She never ever ever made me feel like I disappointed her, even if she was hurt. I know my parents expected so much from me. I was the one that was supposed to go to college and start a great legacy for the family name. I was the one they were routing for. So much pressure. My parents were divorced since I was 7.  I stopped going to my dads on the weekends when I was 13 or so. My mom pretty much raised us all on her own. I would remember nights she would drive 20 minutes at 10:30pm just to get the banana split I was craving.  Never did she ever complain about it. She happily drove me places and did things with me even though people talked behind our back. That was the worst of the entire teenage pregnancy experience. The way people looked at you in disgust. How they would talk crap about my mom and how irresponsible she was for allowing this to happen. That pissed me off more than anything. Because they didn’t know my mom.  They didn’t know that this woman was the best mother anyone could possibly ever ask for. They didn’t know that she was a single mother caring for 3 boys that wouldn’t stop getting into trouble and a daughter that rebelled for the hell of it…. just because. Maybe I was mad at the world for dealing us the cards we were dealt. I don’t know. But what I do know is that my mother had NOTHING to do with any of the decisions we made in life. But like the amazing woman she was… she still held her head up high and grabbed me by my arm and walked with me down the aisle of the grocery stores or shopping malls and never once faltered on anyones nasty glares or shit talking. And that made me feel so good inside. To know that my mother was there for me from day one and would never turn her back on me. I knew that I didn’t want to be a statistic. A teenage drop out, pregnant again in a year. I wanted so much more for myself and for my future. So I fought to get there. Daily I did things to motivate myself to do better. To love myself enough and to provide me and my son with a life that was worth living.  I finished high school and graduated top 4% in my class. I continued on to college but stopped going due to devastating family circumstances. Went on to work for Corporate America.  Became a manager of a Fortune 500 company and made 6 figures by the time I was 23. And now own my own business. I would hope my parents are proud of me. I hope my son is. He pushed me every single day with that cute little face of his staring back at me. I did it all for him. Everything I struggled and fought for was for him. Still till this day people are completely shocked when they hear I have a son that is 22. It’s like I wait for it… wait for it…… WHAT???? YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A KID THAT IS 22!!!!! Ha. Yes. Yes I am. But I do. And I am more proud of him than anything. My baby has made me the woman I am today and there is nothing in the world that I would do differently a second time around if ever given the chance. Maybe chosen a better father for him. But that’s about it. My son has given me more drive and more inspiration than anything else in this world. And I am forever grateful to him for that.
My only advice to you mothers out there is… talk openly with your children. Explain the consequences. And if they decide to make wrong decisions. Just be there for them. Support them. Love them with all your heart. I could never have made it without my amazing support system.
Here is a photo of me and my baby last year when he turned 21. I’m so very proud of the handsome, young man he has turned into.
Here is a letter I wrote in 2014 to him on his 21st birthday.
Oh man. Today is a big day. You are 21 years old. How does a mother sum up 21 years of unconditional love? I was 15 years old. Scared. Uncertain I could give my child a good life. But one thing I did know was, I was never gonna give you up and I was never gonna let you down. I loved you even before you were born. Once I saw that face, I knew there was NOTHING in the world that would hold me back. You are the reason for who I am today. You have shaped me, molded me and created me to be the strong woman I am. Every single decision I have made along the way was always in the best interest of you. You were always my #1 priority. You brought happiness into my life, even in my darkest hours. You pushed me to get better jobs, to be in better relationships. To never look back but to continue to move forward with a vengeance. You may not know you were doing this. But you did. Every time I saw that sweet face of yours, I knew I wanted the best life I could offer you and in doing so, I had to be a better person. Without you, I’m not sure where I would be. I know it’s not ideal to have a child at such a young age and we’ve had very long conversations about that once you hit your teens. Because if I’m being quite honest- it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work and major support from my family and friends. And I had to grow up so quickly. But I want you to know that you NEVER held me back from my dreams, you created them. I was able to move mountains because of you. To watch you grow into a young man has been a privilege. Your laugh is contagious and it brings such joy to my heart because I know you are happy. It’s such a ridiculously, obnoxious laugh and it warms my soul. I hope I have given you everything you have ever needed or wanted in life. Your passion and drive make me proud to be your mother. You are such a hard worker and so very loyal. Anyone would be lucky to have you on their team. I can only hope you learned that from me. If I taught you anything I hope it was, you can have anything your heart desires. Nothing can stop you. No obstacles could hold you back from living the life you want to live. Keep your eye on the prize baby. You are so talented and gifted. And so very intelligent. You can move mountains. Believe in yourself. Create the life you only dream of having. Only you can create your destiny. Only you can change to be who you want to be. You deserve everything you desire. Be smart with your decisions. Have fun. And live with no regrets. Learn from your mistakes and don’t let them define you, but instead help them better you. You will fail many times in life but in the end you will succeed. Because with success comes many failures my love. It’s just what you chose to do with them that shapes you into who you will become. I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for being the light at the end of my tunnel. Thank you for being the best son that a son could be. I love you with all my heart and soul. Happy 21st Birthday!!! You will always be my baby!!! – mom 


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Self Love Project | Day Thirteen | Resilient I’m not gonna lie… for YEARS I was ashamed of where I grew up. I fought my entire life to get out of that neighborhood. South Phoenix. Stuck in between 2 rival gang territories. It seems so surreal now when I think about it. That was over 16 years ago. I learned to block it from my memory. I had some wonderful years there that’s for sure. Days when I felt safe walking down the street to the local store to get a hot pickle for fifty cents and a handful of candy for a dollar. Night’s when we would play Hide-and-go- Seek until our parents were calling us to come inside. Running through Willie the Water Bug sprinkler during the hot summer days and laughing with no cares in the world. The only time I watched TV was in the morning right before we headed to school, the rest of the time was spent outside enjoying the hot summer breeze or cold winter nights. Those were the days. When life was easy.But something changed. The kids in the neighborhood got older. Started selling drugs. Formed gangs. I had 3 older brothers who participated. The youngest of the three I’m not so sure that he ever really did any gang activity. But he did always say proudly where he was from.  We started noticing my brothers coming home beat up.  My oldest brother was always the one in the most trouble. Then my middle brother as he got older. There were nights when we couldn’t even sit in the living room for fear that we would get shot. My house got shot up two or three times. I can’t even remember anymore. It’s all such a haze. A lifetime ago. All I remember is my mom hiding us in the hallway and holding our heads down as we were screaming for it to be over. Thankfully nobody was hurt. That time. I’m sure the retaliation went back and forth. I don’t really know. I was too young back then to understand all the violence. I was probably only 10 or so. I’m not really sure.  I never really understood how my brothers could be involved in such things. We came from a loving mother. My dad left us when I was 7 and my brothers were 8,  14 and 17.  Things went downhill from then. But my mom was the most kindhearted, loving mother you will ever know. My brothers acted out in the only way they could, I guess. I never asked them.  One night in 1994 my youngest brother went to a house party two blocks over. He was 15. Him and his best friend were there.  There was a little trouble happening and some guys were asked to leave. They ended up coming back and did a drive by at the party. My brother stood out in the crowd as everyone else was running to hide and was shouting at them. He was a very troubled teen. I believe he was manic depressive, although he was never diagnosed. As the guys fired off rounds of shots my brother stood there, ready to die. And his best friend jumped from behind the brick fence he was hiding behind and threw my brother on the ground and laid on top of him. His best friend got up and went to the backyard. He said he felt weird. And fell into the pool. He died that night. Saving my brothers life.  This is something my brother Jerry was never able to forgive himself for. He lived in torment the remainder of his life. Before he finally decided to take his own life, 6 years later. (His story will be told another day). The neighborhood was in mourning for our dear friend Gabriel. He was actually one of the good guys. Never getting into trouble, just always there to stop it.  Needless to say battles like this went on for years.  I watched my younger brother become an alcoholic at such a young age. I knew this wasn’t a life I wanted for my child. So I needed to find a way out. I knew my mom would never leave. She isn’t one for change. So I had too. I finally was able to move out when I was 22. I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Moved in with her father.  We were together for 8 years before we split up. I left him when I was 25 and got my own place. It was such a happy moment in my life. I was finally on a healthy path to healing myself. Living the kind of life I lived has helped me become the strong woman I am today. I chose to go a different route than most people that grew up in that neighborhood. I didn’t do drugs, nor did I sell them. I watched it tear my family apart. How my brothers would steal from their own mother to find a way to pay for their fix.  It was such an ugly and cruel habit, for everyone involved. I wanted to be so much more. I wanted my parents to be proud of me. I wanted my son to have a future. One that didn’t consist of drive by shootings and random, crazy people coming to your house at all hours of the night looking for crack. I worked since I was 15. I was a teenage mom that had to care for her child (that story coming soon as well).  Started off at an amusement park working on the weekends. Ventured out into the world until I finally landed at a job I thought I would retire from. A fortune 500 company. I was starving to make a difference with my life. For my only child (at the time’s) life.  He pushed me more than anybody I knew. I fought my way to the top.  I was 23 years old making 6 figures. My child and I were set. I was finally where I wanted to be. Providing a beautiful life for my son and my daughter. I did not let my past consume me. It only made me stronger. I no longer am ashamed of where I came from. My mom still lives in the same house.  There aren’t gangs (that I know of) that exist there anymore. All those kids have grown up and moved on, went to prison, are on drugs, or never made it past a certain age. She says she is comfortable there. It’s the house my youngest brother Jerry died in. I’m not sure she will ever move out because of that. She is still holding on to whatever memories we have of him there. Whether they be good or bad. I do know that this life has made me resilient. I have learned to pick up the pieces and build a strong foundation for myself. Always pushing my kids to do better, work harder, be the person they dream of being. I was always a dreamer. Since as long as I could remember. It’s because of those big and wild dreams that I live the life I do today. Owning my own business and giving back any time I possibly can. I am living proof that you can choose your destiny. You can choose to go down the easy route or you can choose to work your ass off to the bone to go a happier and healthier route. One you can be proud of. One you can hold your head up high to.  That’s the one that I chose. And because I adore quotes here are some of my favs. Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. – Unknown

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack. – unknown

And my all time favorite:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Please comment below. I would love to hear about your story!

Eva Franco - To be able to write the way you do. It’s amazing. Your story has touched home like no other so far. You inspire others to never give up. Keep up the amazing work!

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