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Month: October 2017

💐💀¿Día de los Muertos?

💐💀¿Día de los Muertos?

¿Día de los Muertos?

Hola! My name is Ella C. Lopez and I am especially happy and honored to share my October, 2017 blog post here on with you, because it is a topic SWEEEEET to my heart and part of ‘mi historia’ as a Latina-Americana. This post is sort of what I would like to call my personal Picto-Blog too, in a way- because for the first time, I am going to share some of my personal photos on the topic you are about to read. I hope the visual experience will give your senses a taste of why it is so sweet! I save a large amount of photos for the end, so stay tuned.

I am going to ask you an interesting question…

Are you the type of person that likes to learn new things about other cultures unique from your own?
Well, since it is very close to Halloween in many countries, or what used to be more commonly known as: All-Hallow’s Eve -I think that it is the perfect time for some FEARLESS LEARNING about a similar holiday rooted in great traditions, celebrations & festivals that happen around the same time in Mexico as well as most of Central and South America.

So here we go.

Are you familiar with the phrase in Spanish:
‘Día de los Muertos’?
Or…the words in Spanish: Las Calaveras, Las Calacas, El Cementerio and Las Ofrendas?
If you are, then don’t be frightened.

You will soon find out more about their meanings and why it’s sometimes just really great to try and be more fearless about learning new things that seem different or even uncomfortable to you at first. When you begin to think about and see things differently it’s like a whole new world opens up. Sometimes, once you learn more about some ‘strange thing,’ you’ll find that it is actually amazing & beautiful and can add a whole new perspective to your own way of looking at the world. It’s so neat- how great it feels to not just always think in the same old ways.

It opens your mind and your eyes to new adventures, fun times and even new people you might have overlooked. When I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico with my family- one of our favorite times was during the ‘Dia de los Muertos’ celebration. Here I was at around age 2 and a half. I hope you will get a better idea of why this time of year is so special from my post.

If you are not familiar with those words, then -never fear!
Las Calaveras actually means, ‘The Skulls’ in Spanish—yes—like the one you have inside your head.
Las Calacas means ‘The Skeletons’, Los Cementerios means The Cemeteries and Las Ofrendas means ‘The Offerings’ -or- ‘ Altars’.
These are all words you’ll hear during 
Día de los Muertos or: ‘Day of the Dead’ in Central and South America.

Okay, I know what you might be thinking: “Day of the Dead? What kind of a holiday is that?”

Well- get ready to think differently about these words.
In Mexico and Las Amerícas
Las Calaveras, Calacas, Ofrendas and Los Cementerios are symbolic things and very significant on certain days, for a specific celebration called, ‘Día de los Muertos’—or as they say in North America: DAY OF THE DEAD.

And this is not scary like it sounds. It is actually a beautiful cultural holiday honoring family and loved ones (even pets) that have passed on.

In the U.S.A., Halloween-time used to be more frequently called All-Saints Day. The night before November 1st, people would celebrate the lives of those who have gone on before us. Then, the next day people would celebrate the lives of those who had passed away, but who- many knew as honorable for their deeds to humanity because they had contributed something beautiful to our world. Today, it’s a little different than it used to be in North America. While kids in the U.S.A. are getting dressed up in costumes of Super Heroes, Disney Princesses and the latest movie characters to go out and Trick-or-Treat for candy—the families in Central & South America are getting together, preparing large meals, sharing time and remembering their loved ones no longer with them- in the human sense of the word.

Día de los Muertos celebration has families across Las Américas getting dressed up too. They eat amazing cultural dishes, lots of yummy candy that looks more like decorations than candy because of all the colorful details.

They bake cookies de calaveras and decorate their homes with Ofrendas—or special things that their loved ones passed- would have loved.

They even have huge parades in the streets in every city and small town, all across the continent.

The most important of all is that the focus of the entire experience is to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones- now passed on, and do it with your family. ‘Día de los Muertos’ is celebrated on both November 1st and 2nd so the families can focus on both children and adults who have been important in their lives.

And if you are still possibly thinking this sounds really weird, then get this: Mexico and Las Américas are so dedicated to this Holiday, that their celebrations take the parade processions all the way to the grave yards of the family members who have passed on. They celebrate, share stories and eat— right there with family, inside of los cementerios.


There is music in the streets at night with all sorts of instruments. There is dancing and singing. There are the coolest masks you ever want to see and everything everywhere is full of bright colors and art.


when you smell the orange flowers in the streets—the name is Cempasuchil (or the Aztec Marigold), you know that it is time for Día de los Muertos.

This flower has a really beautiful legend and love story behind it—about a young girl and boy who knew each other from their childhood. You can read more about it here:

So even though you will see tons and tons of las calacas and las calaveras—you will find yourself really interested in the details of the art work and the love that goes into them.

You will start to feel that it is not at all scary but more— just amazing and full of love! The coolest part is that if you don’t live in Mexico and you want to attend a festival to understand it better, then that is completely possible! There are celebrations for Día de los Muertos right here (aquí) in North America.

You can go to: 💐💀www.💀💐 and find out more about these events across the nation and find one near you. I am proud that traditions and rituals for ‘Día de los Muertos’ originated in Mexico and are really indigenous (or native) to the Aztecs. The celebration also includes ideals brought to Las Américas by Spanish Conquistadores. CONQUISTADOR = Spaniards or Spanish explorers who conquered Latino America in the 16th century. I love the mix of all the cultures because I have all three of these cultures in me.
“YAY for Día de los Muertos!”

…a Holiday passed down for thousands of generations that we like to think of as a “triumph over death” and a celebration of life.

Floats depicting “Catrinas” and offerings march during the first Big Parade of the City to celebrate the Day of the Dead at Av. Paseo De La Reforma on October 29, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Victor Chavez/WireImage)

So now when you think about Halloween, you’ll have another holiday to remember that happens right around the same time in our neighboring countries, connected to us- on our very same continent- a continent that reaches all the way from the North to the South poles of the Earth. And the ORIGINS of both are really not all that different when you think about it.

Oops! Excuse me there is someone at my bedroom door! Hang on a second while I go get it.
CREEAAK -(opening bedroom door)

ELLA: Hola Señor Calaca. ¿Cómo estás?
SEÑOR CALACA: Muy bien gracias amiga. ¡Es tiempo Ella! Desculpamé por haber venido sin anounciarme pero ya vamos a tomar unos tacos al pastor.
ELLA: ¡Oh sí, casi olvidé por estiy tan ocupada en escribir! Gracias por apuntar me y recordarme de esto. Déjeme terminar mis últimas palabras para el
SEÑOR CALACA: ¡Oh! el Jennieration? ¡Fantástico! Pues es la generación de los “FEARLESS” o los Sin Miedos.
ELLA: ¡Exactamente! Que buen tiempo del año por eso.
SEÑOR CALACA: Entonces, pues te esperamos abajo Ella.
ELLA: ¡Sí sí! Pronto!

Okay everybody, now that i’m finished with my visitor I will explain. My visitor was Mr. skeleton. He’s an old friend of my family and we were speaking Spanish. The gist of it was that he had come to tell me it was almost time for the celebration and we were going to eat some special ‘tacos al pastor’ for dinner together. He knows my papa loves those. I basically told him I was finishing up my post for the Jennieration. He then was all excited because he knows that’s the generation of FEARLESS THINKERS & LEARNERS who want to be a part of appreciating culture. So SEÑOR CALACA said they’d all wait for me downstairs. 

Okay well I hope that now we all know and understand the true meaning of what DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS (Day of the Dead) is really about, the love put into it every season and why it is celebrated! Here are some more photos from my experiences living in Mexico as well as some from festivals here in North America. I actually decided to do the traditional face paints with my family this year (October 2017) and dress up as Catrinas with my mama and one Señor Calaca (my papa). 🙂 In the past, I just preferred to enjoy observing others but now I’m ready to fully take part- for many reasons. Here’s more photos from most recent to the year’s past.

You can read about this Ofrenda on my own website and find out why it is so cool. It has meaning for the whole world. It’s in my Photo Gallery Post called ‘Amo Festivales del Otoño’. << Click

Candied Sugar Skulls and Creative Mariposa Catrinas!


~ I ran and laughed and danced with a calaca
she stuck a flower in my hair and smiled down at me.
I smiled up at her and we danced
through the street.~

By Ella L. Campana Lopez


We’ve added a few more photos below- taken and shared by our talented friend Meghan Villhauer and her family. Their enthusiasm to try new things, think differently and love other cultures is great.

¡Gracias! Thank you for the opportunity to revisit my roots, share my perspective on how important it is to be a continent that is not all divided up and  for your appreciation for the vibrant traditions of our fellow human beings. We are really just one big family, living on one great continent called: Las Américas. 

🌟Thank you Ella Linda.🌟

It was fun going back in time with you to remember… is grateful for your tremendous efforts and tenacity to write from a place of sharing, exploration, education, culture & caring.

Let’s conclude by sharing a beautiful minute-long video Made in Mexico about the beauties of this tremendous continent, its people and its culture.

💐Click HERE💐

Stomp in More Fearless Thinking!

Just click on the cover to find out more:

Be sure to check out the website for Ella Lopez and her journey at


☎️ PHONE: 440-975-6978

🐤 TWITTER: @TheJennieration @RHomeTweetHome

 The little things make ALL the difference.

[A New Generation of Fearless Thinkers and Learners: The Jennieration©] Copyright All Rights Reserved 2015

☕️☕️Two Authors. Worlds Apart.

☕️☕️Two Authors. Worlds Apart.

Two Authors.

Worlds Apart.

Serendipity on their Side.


What is better for an author than to do a book signing event?

Maybe a book signing half way across the world?

Or maybe… one in which you find yourself face to face with the opportunity you never dreamed remotely possible: to meet a kindred spirit and author friend who lives across the world.


When my new book publisher asked me to do a book signing at an historic book shop in some quaint little town within the state of Ohio, I didn’t hesitate for a second to agree. First, because I’d never set foot in the New World and I was so curious to find out if everything in North America is really ‘bigger than life’ as they say! But more importantly, because the bookshop where I’d been asked to do my signing could only have been a plan of pure serendipity or fate. It happened to be right down the street from my good friend’s home—an author with whom mutual admiration is shared and whom I’d never dreamed it would be possible to meet in real person!


Of all the bookshops all over the world I was about to walk into hers! Sweet Jen, who has supported my writing career with her uncurbed enthusiasm and whose unselfish attitude towards work and life has inspired and motivated me countless times. Talented, inspiring author and friend, Jennifer Campana Lopez!


So now, here I am at this very moment, nervous with excitement for the experience. I’m holding a red rose, searching among the myriad of busy Americans around me, for Jen and her red rose.

I know people do look a tad different when you meet them in person as apposed to their website or Twitter, so I’m hoping she’ll recognize me. We’re to meet for coffee first, here at this small and chic (I am impressed) coffee place right next to the bookshop. It feels like I’ve stepped into a world of times past. The coffee shop is one that’s been there for a very long time and has that old vintage feel. I see large windows at the back of the cafe- there are people looking down. I remember then, Jen saying the bookshop and café sat right atop a waterfall. I could hear it now—despite the bustle. Wow. This was definitely not what I imagined the U.S.A. to be like. Maybe because we aren’t in a large city.


And yes, I’ll answer your question before you even speak; we decided to meet like this for the fun of it! Is there a more exciting way for two writers to meet, I’m asking you?


There she is. We walk toward each other unable to contain our smiles and laughter.

Jen hugs me tight and says,


“Finally a real hug instead of a virtual hug! You are so precious Pat.”

We tap our roses together and chuckle.

“Come on Pat, I’ve gotten us a table. The café will be clearing out soon- as the afternoon rush is over.”

The waiter sets down our two cups of expresso.



PAT: Ahhhh… It’s chilly here so this is perfect Jen. We’ve wanted to chat about so many things, but with our kids, family and writing, well—we just never have the time. I love your humanitarian efforts and you know it’s something we both feel passionate about. I’ll never forget when your Middle School ESL students read my book HAPPY FRIENDS and how they responded. It felt so great to hear that my little book had been appreciated in such a way.


JEN: Pat, it was so awesome to experience. Then, when your book JOYFUL TROUBLE came out, it spoke on such a deep level to both kids and adults alike. Ella and I were thrilled to write our endorsement for the cover. Are you so excited to be signing today for all your special animal stories?


My coffee’s gone cold, or is this the second cup already? We’re too engrossed in discussion to notice.

PAT: I can’t even begin to express my happiness Jen. Talking about JOYFUL TROUBLE is so fun—maybe because it is based on a true family story. Also it really seems to appeal to young and adults alike. I think it’s his human nature that makes the dog such a huge success. Through his sheer size, he commands respect. He reveres his sailor friends and has a loyalty towards them that is unsurpassed. The things he does…well, dogs do have this rare quality about them, to sense when they are needed. But Joyful Trouble is also a peaceful dog, a contrasting quality with his size.

Perhaps the fact that there is no self-interest in Joyful Trouble’s actions—yet they leave the reader astounded. I am grateful for its positive impact.

JEN: It sure does have a positive impact, Pat. Animal stories reach into the hearts of readers because of the unconditional love and tenderness their actions express. They themselves are lessons we humans can learn a lot from. 


I smile, appreciating Jen’s understanding.


PAT: How did you develop such a tremendous love of Culture, Jen? I’ve always seen & admired it—so I have to ask.


JEN: I think we both feel it within us, Pat—you know? I’ve known culture is strongly rooted in you as well. Even your efforts to convey acceptance and the love of differences in HAPPY FRIENDS was tremendous. Maybe it’s something so deep, it’s a challenge to explain. I can’t say mine came from upbringing, because I didn’t grow up in a family completely immersed in this appreciation. So, I guess I’m inclined to feel as if my love if culture and the ‘uniquenesses’ of the world were just innately present and then grew. Every time I would interact with someone from another country, see a beautifully unique face from the rest of those around me, hear a new language, or be invited by a friend to take part in a cultural family celebration—it touched me deeply—all of it…

As I grew older, I read more and more about the cultures of our world, the rich traditions and the beauty in differences. I was magnetized by the sheer simplicity of cultures different from my own and how this very simplicity took nothing away from the people—in fact—it contributed tremendously to people’s happiness. It was as if there was no drive compelling me more so, than this deep reverence for culture. I believe my writing is an extension of this reverence for a simpler life and that kind of genuine happiness. That’s why I love HAPPY FRIENDS. Anyway, eventually I had to go, to live, to be a part of it for myself. Once I’d experienced the deeply endearing qualities of life and people in Italy, Spain and Mexico—I was forever changed. I felt myself connected, rooted forever-more in these distinct and beautiful cultures. What about you sweet Pat?


PAT: Well, I am so excited to visit America! I find it interesting and stimulating to see new places and be among people of a different culture. It’s quite diverse here, which is exciting to see. The way individuals think and their attitude towards the simplest facts in life is of great interest to me. When I grew up in Romania we didn’t have much access to the world outside its physical borders due to political restrictions and regulations. So other cultures were like a forbidden fruit. You would get what you could from movies, from books, by reading foreign author’s works and learning about their respective countries. I was lucky enough to be able to travel after the fall of the Berlin wall and the fall of the Communist regime. I felt like a sponge, ready to assimilate everything I saw. From art and music to the way people live and spend their free time; their national imprint and the way climate influences their lives. Everything was fascinating…

South Africa is the rainbow country. People from many nationalities live in harmony, or so we try. We have 11 official languages. What people share is their humor, the fantastic foods, the blue sky and the love for music.

It is a country that has inspired many artists and writers and it definitely influences my writing. Although my roots remain Romanian as does my heartbeat, I say.

 JEN: I love that! Oh my gosh- it must be incredible living in Africa and still having that depth of appreciation for your own culture. Not only that, but you explain it so beautifully—something that affects so many: the desire to truly know the world—but be restricted from this possibility in its purest form. Media and the movies can actually taint one’s perspective regarding the truths of a culture. Thank goodness for good cultural literature.  


PAT: Yes, you know, when I grew up I would study about famous Romanian people of culture who left to further their educations in ‘The City of Light,’ Paris. This was the beginning of the 20th century. And they all missed the blue sky from back home, the way the birds sing, the way the air smells. I could not understand that longing – until now. That is culture to me, being rooted in your own. I guess it is the way our hearts have been wired.


JEN: So interesting…all of it. And really, I feel we could talk forever. Are we still okay on time Pat? I don’t want you to arrive late to your signing?


PAT: We are just fine, it’s not until 7:30pm and I set aside this time to be with you. Let’s share a pastry. How does the Raspberry Custard Tart sound?


JEN: You picked my favorite!


I raise my hand and motion to the lad behind the counter. He smiles and points. He heads over with two forks and the tart.


JEN: So, children inspire your writing as does making a difference. How did you get to be such a dear one? Huh?


PAT: You are funny! I think when we have our feet firmly grounded in our roots, in what drives us—as you say—(the moral compass), then all we want is to make a difference. Having roots is very import for our children. And books can help a great deal in discovering one’s roots. Because books tell stories and stories do have a source. Before ‘the story’ was printed, it was told—at the beginning of its time—and it went from mouth to mouth. Each story was sparked by one previous to it. Each is rooted in an old folk tale, somewhere in a forgotten corner of the world…


Just as Joyful Trouble and Happy Friends, my stories- depict unusual friendships between animals. Friendship regardless of differences…


Animals and children have this special gift of seeing beyond boundaries;

to them there are no boundaries. Nothing stands and nothing should stand between a child and their hopes and dreams and life learning…

 With Animals, when they look at each other, they see the possibility of friendship, especially baby animals.

Children, when they look at each other, they see beauty and they see the possibility of a friendship or the excitement of learning.


JEN: YES!! So then the nature of an animals’ emotional intelligence is essentially what draws you to write about them? There is such a clear undeniable connection between the purity and selflessness of children and animals.


PAT: Right and since we now live in a hyper-technologically-driven world, what was important yesterday might not have the same value tomorrow. The world is most definitely changing.

IQ- Intellectual Quotient, was of high value… yesterday.

Today, Emotional intelligence- EQ is what our children need to excel in life. Being aware of your feelings and of the feelings of those near you, knowing how to express them and how to put your feelings into words.

Animals can sense things long before we do. They can read our emotional cues; this is why writing about animas is so exciting and attractive to me. Animals have no boundaries when given the opportunity to thrive in an environment, they do not shield their emotions, they do not misunderstand them.

Giving animals human qualities in a story can have an amusing effect but in the end it isn’t the real life. Because animals are so much more emotionally intelligent than we know…

Children can easily relate to animal stories because children have an innate desire to care for and look after those smaller than themselves. Care, as they are being cared for. And who out there, is smaller than a child, but a baby animal or, at least, a furry character from a book? It’s why so many generations of children loved Winnie-The-Pooh, or Paddington Bear.


JEN: You yourself have proof of this beautiful truth in the story of Joyful Trouble. I love this because there are some who don’t acknowledge the keen emotional intelligence of animals. Their potential to contribute to each human’s life is unfathomably beautiful. My sister would love you as well. She has a highly intuitive sense related to animals and for this I admire her. Another fellow humanitarian- she cares for animals and advocates for them as you do. Pat, we just connect on these ideals and it makes me overjoyed…


Do you enjoy the Raspberry Custard Tart? It feels such a privilege to share with you and I still can’t believe we are sitting here together!


PAT: It’s yummy and I could sit here all day. It’s like the café cleared out for us to have this time.


JEN: That’s because they’re all getting ready for your book signing—is what’s happening! You know what- We also have this funny Elephant connection-you and I do. I just remembered this. The little elephant, Pete- in your Happy Friends book. My sweet daughter, Ella and I loved Pete and the cute story behind his becoming part of the book. —Ella herself has the Elephant’s namesake because of the deep emotional intelligence these stunning animals exhibit throughout their lifetimes with loved ones and the matriarchal strength that guides their family.  


PAT: Aww! I know. I love the cover of your Fearless Thinkers book with the two Elephants. That book is a help to many families, aspiring to take a different path with parenting. It is evident that you wrote the book with the intention of helping others too. Elephants sure are an inspiration for both of us Jen. And yes, my idea to write about an elephant came not only from the plastic, old, yellow toy elephant (Pete) we have at home, but also from my mother’s interest in elephants and what they symbolize: courage, wisdom, strength, family. Perhaps the fact that elephants have a matriarchal family also influenced my decision!

But Pete, our yellow toy elephant with a twinkle in his eyes, was just sitting quietly on his shelf… until one day when he couldn’t keep quiet anymore and told me that he had a story to tell. Could I help him?

Turns out, my children’s book- Happy Friends was just that.


JEN: I know. So super sweet. The simplicity of that inspiration!! Well, let’s take a quick walk down to the waterfall so we can take in the sounds of nature and you can prepare for this evening’s events. The time has flown. I did mean to ask what your future plans are though Pat. We can’t leave without knowing what’s next—besides time with our kids—of course.


PAT: Well, I have many children’s books in my plans for the future, most of them about dogs! Fun stories, some sad ones as well—they are based on true events. One needs to raise awareness about animals’ feelings and their status and import in our busy lives.


JEN: Yes, I agree. Your FOUR latest books (that you’ll be releasing in the next few weeks) after your well loved-Happy Friends and Joyful Trouble, remind me of the tremendous stories you hear of around the world about Unlikely Animal Friends. They are utterly heart-warming. There’s been so many beautiful reviews and guest posts for your books. We loved your cover reveals for: Puppy, The Lion and the Dog, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Cheetah and the Dog. OHHH! What treasures!


PAT: Thanks Jen. I hope they will be cherished in many homes for years to come. You know, I wanted to ask you the same thing—what’s next for you in your writing and in your career? You keep so busy with your Spanish Interpreting, your writing and your Homeschooling of Ella to boot! Do you plan to continue all of this?


JEN: You know how we are. Where there’s a passion- there’s always a way. So my passion to support the Spanish-speaking Cultures is ongoing. It’s as if it were embedded in my DNA. My hope is to continue my involvement in bridging the language and cultural gaps with through Interpreting and Translating. It is always incredible for me to witness others embracing the rich family traditions, ideals and work ethic of Latin Americans. They are some of the most tremendous people—and precious neighbors in Central and South America. Here in the U.S., we SHARE the very same continent—all of us in ‘The Americas’…and our American Continent’s farthest points reach both the North and the South Poles.

I do plan to continue my writing, editing and proofreading. How can we not?

It is our fuel, right?! Words, language and communication equate to passion and connection with culture. My own upcoming books… well one has been in the works for quite some time. The program has existed for 15+ years and I am finally putting it into book form. A writer’s work is never done though- so I keep making the tweaks.  When I am fully satisfied, you’ll be one of the first to know.  It’s a rapid Spanish Language Instruction book—an intrinsically Easy-to-Learn Spanish Program—different than any out there I’ve seen in my own research over the years…

The other is a series of short stories called: Empathy Power. Much like your true animal stories, these are powerful due to their truth—each carrying a unique message. As an educator, my hope is for them to captivate while they educate. Time will tell my friend…


Well Pat, now it’s time we take that walk. I can’t wait for your book signing!


PAT: I can’t either Jen. Thanks for sharing this time with me, this has been incredible. I love conversations like these- where each of us can share a bit of ourselves, our deeper thoughts, our aspirations—and I just can’t believe fate allowed us this chance. The universe works in mysterious ways and far be it for me to question them. I’d rather embrace them and live to tell about them. Now give me another hug!


The two author friends stand up, hug and head out for the evening’s events.

As they are about to leave the cafe, Pat looks back and smiles at the two spoons, two expresso cups, one plate with a bit of raspberry drizzle and the two red roses that were left on the table. She smiles and thinks….



Thank you for joining us today. You’ll enjoy getting to know Patricia Furstenberg even better with these additional links:

Author Website:

Amazon UK:

AmazonUS: []

Huffington Post SA






My Reviews of Pat’s books- Joyful Trouble & Happy Friends:



Sharing is the little thing that can make a BIG difference!


🐣Twitter: @thejennieration

☎️Phone: 440-975-6978

Jennifer C. Lopez, MA. Ed.

Collaboratives© brought to you by The Jennieration- 


[The New Generation of Fearless Thinkers & Learners: The Jennieration©] Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved.