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Meet Alma Cardenas – Rodriguez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alma Cardenas – Rodriguez.

Hi Alma, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My name is Alma Lizzette Cárdenas – Rodríguez. I am a Mexico-Estadounidense born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California, and proud to be a first-generation Latina and daughter of parents that migrated from Mexico’s Durango and Jalisco states. My upbringing was heavily influenced by my protestant Latina faith community whose unwillingness to engage or answer my questions led me to seminary school without the “permission of my leaders”. After over 10 years of working with youth and young adults at a church and in the non-profit world, and having realized that I had contributed as much as I could have without spiritually, mentally, and physically rotting, I decided to break up with my faith community for the second time in my life at the end of summer in 2019.

In dialogue with God- my body, nature, and my roots, about what would be next for me, I took up writing for healing in 2020 without knowing a pandemic would be meeting us during the weeks ahead, and in the process, I brought a long lost dream to life which was to write a book. Together with Alegria Publishing, I was able to publish my first collection of poetry by December of 2020. The hope for the book is that it could be a resource for other young adults and women of color who have experienced moral injury and burnout in the context for of faith and academic institutions like myself. But also for my daughters, Esther and Abigail, so that as they become archeologists of their bodies, nature, and our history, my words and stories may serve to connect some of their dots, something that I mourn we did not get from our Abuelos, Abuelas, and parents.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been many hindrances that have met me along the way to experience this first dream come true. The first was in my mind. All my life, I was told that I was not a good writer. I remember when I was in graduate school, I was constantly told that my writing was lacking because it was not academic. Recently I had and aha moment when I realized that of course, I was unable to write academically, academic writing requires a critical dialogue, something that was so foreign to me as a woman in the faith community I grew up. Because we were constantly encouraged to sit quietly and never push back or ask questions. So of course, I would struggle to write academically because engaging in dialogue was a new muscle and pattern that I needed to build. Although I will say that I have always been a “malcriada” and pushed back and questioned all the time, so it was a struggle for me to normalize pushing back, questioning and engaging in dialogue as a birthright. Another was the fear of what people would say especially my mom, as I knew I would have to be transparent about so much she had never known. But when I realized that me relieving my story and voice would serve me, my sanity, and well-being, all the other noise blurred in the background. Serving me is too serving God, and I gave myself permission through this process to do that for the first time. Before this, it had always been about serving everyone else, and if there was time, I could take care of me.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Today, I continue to write poetry and serve as a mentor for other women and young adults who are experiencing walls and blocks that do not help them step into their gifts, purpose, and dreams. Soon, I will be launching a write and wine community for women of color that will meet on a bi-monthly basis to connect, taste wine, write (journal), to hold space and support each other through the seasons that we find ourselves in.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
What matters to me is truth, justice, and unearthing the well within that each of us carries. When we are attuned to these gifts and realities we contribute to the wellbeing of ourselves and our comunidad. If there is one thing I have drawn from healthy community spaces and my theological education is that we are bearers of the image of God, unearthing the well within allows us to step into it fully. The first poem in my book tells more about what stepping into the image of God means to me, and is the essence of why I am, and do what I do.

Pricing:

  • Poetry collection- $15
  • Write and wine: a bimonthly community gathering for WOC-coming soon! Sliding scale $25-$75

Contact Info:

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