By Ernesto Saavedra
In the late 1990s, psychologist Daniel Goleman proposed that how one views and understands their own emotions and others’ emotions, and how one deals with them, is a form of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has five traits: 1) knowing one’s own emotions, 2) managing one’s own emotions, 3) using emotions to motivate oneself, 4) recognizing the emotions of other people and 5) managing relationships.
Of course, like with any theory, one can question the scientific validity of emotional intelligence. Yet, what Goleman proposed addresses what we should all know; we are emotional beings and how we express them makes a difference. Like many artists, Alejandra Guerrero, mother, wife and hard worker, leads her life with her emotions.
“I am from La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico. My family came over here [United States] in 1996 because of the economy. My father wanted us to have a better future so he brought us over here.” Alejandra was 12 years old when she and her family moved to the United States, and it took her a while to adjust. “It took me years to get used to living here, to learn the language. The culture, family, friends, a new house, everything was very difficult. However, now I feel much better living here, but it took me a while.”
Her older brother was influential in igniting the artistic spark in Alejandra. She would always follow him around the house as he drew and made sculptures. In addition, a television show she watched as a little girl was influential. “There was a program called Cositas. I really loved watching it and would try to do all the art projects. However, I didn’t have money to buy all the things I needed to make those projects, so whatever I could find I used and made art with them.”
Alejandra did what she could, but that wasn’t enough. “I remember when I was little telling myself, ‘when I get older, I’m going to do everything necessary to buy the things I need to make the things I want to make.’”
“When I was in high school, I took art a little more seriously. At that age, life gets complicated and you find it hard to express yourself through words. You get depressed, different situations happen and you don’t know how to express your emotions. So I started utilizing art to express myself, to express how I’m feeling.”
When asked what inspires her art in addition to her emotions, she mentioned, “Everything around me inspires me. I can’t tell you it’s ‘this’ or ‘that.’ For example, the stories my father, my grandfather and grandmother would tell me about working in the fields. It’s very hard work, yet they never gave up and worked up until their old age.”
Alejandra, with the support of her husband Guillermo and family, makes time to dedicate to her art while working 10- to 12-hour shifts almost every day. The routine goes as follows: she takes care of her children while Guillermo, who is also an artist, is at work during the day. When he gets home in the evening, she takes off to go to work and he stays home to take care of the kids. It’s a hard lifestyle, but they sacrifice to support their artistic passion. “People sometimes would ask me, ‘what are you doing here? You should be doing art’ and I say that’s exactly why I’m working to be able to buy the things I need to make my art.”
Her message to aspiring artists: “If it’s your passion do it…don’t limit yourself…don’t wait. You don’t need a paper saying you’re an artist. You’re an artist if you consider yourself an artist and do things because you feel them.” If we were to apply Goleman’s theory of emotional intelligence to Alejandra, I think it’s safe to say she has a lot of it.
Al e jandra can be reached at 559-312-4485 and on FaceBook at AlegArtepasionycultura.
Ernesto Saavedra is the editor of the Community Alliance. Contact him at ernesto.fresnoca@gmail. com.