Lip Stain

She felt sad for you
wanting to be that light for you,
but she learned that you can never light a puddle of wax that burned pathways of scars connecting to who you really are
and so she layered her smile
one shade at a time
hoping that each color shined brighter than the last
to compensate the weight of her heavy heart
that melted permanently on her arms so full that sleeves wouldn’t suffice in covering it all.
There’s no way.
No way of knowing her seal of a kiss due to the lip liners of those who deceived her.
It stained so red it disguised as love
as each label rose from one disappointment to the next.
In time
tissues no longer carried her tears,
they smudged away the spectrum of insecurities
until her lips chapped into its honest color –
a natural shade
of beauty.

Lip Stain


A week ago they gave us two-inch binders filled with schedules, content, and assignments. We were placed in a small group with instructions to
work together,
share best practices,
and learn about the profession.
That’s how our week started.
Uncertainty of what’s to come or how to even get started.
We sat silently on the patio eating dinner with the sunset, humidity, and the San Diego view. I think my sweat revealed more of my awkward energy than anything else. The first words I said to my small group was, “I promise I’ll be more social after I eat. I’m just so hungry y’all.”
No joke.
No shame.
Just my appetite and constant regret of portion control, especially when there was so much food left over.
That’s how our week started. However, our week ended with more than what I expected it to be. Getting our presentations done was only the bare minimum.
We not only worked together, we laughed together.
We shared best practices like every professional development opportunity, but we also shared encouragement for our futures.
We learned about the profession and learned even more about each other’s stories.

I get to make a difference in the world and do good work with these beautiful souls by my side. That holds more value than any price tag. This is why I do what I do.

To my small group,
you will forever be the ferocious, fighting orcas in my heart.
(Cue whale wave) – Mendoza

College Board Summer Admissions Institute 2017


Mama's Shades
Mama Liza gave us nicknames that perfectly made no sense, but we kept them anyway. She named her grandchildren: Lee-Lee, Baby, Ri-Ri, La-Li, Baby (again), Bu-boy, Lee-Lit, Baby (once more), and Tu-Tu. There were times when these nicknames were used interchangeably between my cousins and I, but we went along with it. No questions asked.

I remember one typical day at grandma’s house Angie, Gail, Laurie Lei, Erika and I were watching tv in the living room and then we heard Mama Liza shouting, “Lee-Lee, Baby, Ri-Ri, Lee-Lit, Baby, La-Li,” then whatever else her voice trailed off to toward the end of that sentence. We were so confused to who she was calling so, of course, we said, “Erika (the youngest one) Mama’s calling you,” and then we continued to watch tv as Erika humbly tended to whatever Mama Liza needed.
Perks of being the older ones in the group.

Our nicknames still carried on with us just like our love and memories of her.
I still miss her more than my heart can handle, especially today.
It’s been five years since God called her home and within those years
I learned how to be less selfish in wishing she was here calling my name
and more grateful that she is no longer in pain.
Missing her doesn’t get any easier over the years, but it hurts less.
So today I will celebrate Mama Liza with two things she loved: coffee and word search puzzles.


On her side 

It was my favorite sight to see when I came home.
Mama Liza on the left and Papa Lupo on the right.
They sat side-by-side in complete bliss and enjoyment of their favorite company.
It didn’t take much to make them happy.
They were enough for each other more than words can describe.
They sat and swung in a quiet space with the view of their legacy, love, and lines that traced the most beautiful canvas no one could ever create.
He sits on her side now
on the left
swinging with the view of his legacy and thinking of his love.
His smile alone says it all.
Happy 94th birthday, Papa Lupo! I wish I was there to give you a hug, chocolate, and twenty dollars.
On her side 

50 Words 

A lover of coffee, books, photography, and Harry Potter.
Her positivity and laughter is pandemic to family and friends.
She is simply loved more than she will ever know and
she will continue to approach others with love wholeheartedly always.
Ashley strives to remind women that they are beautifully enough.
What would your 50 words be?
50 Words