20 Things You Didn't Know About Stephenie Rodriguez
I recently joined a collective of intelligent female achievers and our first assignment was to write a blog post titled "20 Things You Didn't know about Me". This was not an easy exercise because I am a prolific life streamer, Twitter fiend and social media convivialist. 1. I’m Puerto Rican, a quarter German and a quarter Cherokee Indian. I think I am very lucky to be grounded in the ways of the wind from my Native American heritage and be able to love rhythm, live, the sea, and dancing. I credit my love of innovation to the German genes but if asked, I will proudly tell you that I am Puerto Rican.
2. I’m a love child and a product of an affair in the 60s during the era of peace, love and Frisbees. I have never been in the same room with both parents and didn’t meet my dad until I had an ex-secret service guy named James help me track him down in 1995. My dad and I became wonderful friends later in life, and I took my family surname after my divorce in 2003. It was the “right-est” thing I have ever attached myself to and I have vowed never to change it. My dad passed away in 2009 and I will always feel there was never enough time between us.
3. I have been married twice. First to a dashing doctor who when we met looked like Hugh Grant with glasses in Las Vegas. We didn’t get married there, however he did say that our strange meeting and the initial 24 hours that would immediately follow would make an amazing story to tell at our wedding dinner and our best man Shaun recounted it 18 months later in Adelaide, South Australia. We didn’t have kids together however our kids from subsequent marriages have gone to the same preschool and we suspect shared a first innocent kiss, go figure. My present husband prefers for me not to talk about him on social media platforms so he is very much a phantom to the outside world but no less present and we have been together for over a decade.
4. My first son had four legs not two. His name was Hero and came into my life in 2005 and departed in 2011. He was a Maltese Shih Tzu terrier and he taught me a profound lesson about unconditional love. He was an amazing companion during my difficult pregnancy and was a gentle older brother when our human son was born in 2006. Saying goodbye at the vet to end his suffering from insulin dependant diabetes and Cushing’s disease was one of the saddest days of my life. My present husband who is typically tough as nails cried for hours and observing his grief shattered my heart further.
5. People constantly tell me that if I fail at owning a digital consultancy that I should open up a restaurant and invite the world to my table. According to those I’ve fed, I’ve got skills. I collect cookbooks and magazines like Bon Appétit and Gourmet, but most of my recipes come from my own palate. The way it works in my house is that I ask my family to “pick a country” and based on their choice and what I have in the pantry or freezer, we have for a meal. My signature dishes are Puerto Rican Pork Roast, Arroz con Frijoles and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese icing. Considering that I am painfully allergic to gluten and dairy, most of the cooking I do for everyone else I can’t taste or consume, yet it seems to please those at the table. If you would like a copy of these recipes, leave me a comment down below or send me a tweet @digitalgodess on Twitter.
6. Everything I know about Marketing, the Internet, social media and web development is self-taught. I studied business at West Virginia Institute of Technology but lost interest when I found myself correcting most of my professors’ board work. I am a voracious reader and believe that whilst you are learning your mind is growing and if you stop growing you start dying. I invest more in training and books than I do in anything else and am totally anal retentive about being staying at the top of my industry, which isn’t easy.
7. At the age of 16 and in my senior year of high school I was emancipated and lived in an apartment that I worked from 10pm at night until 6am in the morning in a diner to afford. I met gangsters, drag queens and predators yet still managed to stay focused, get good grades and make it to graduation. I was terrified most of the time, and caused my two sets of parents some incredible grief as a teenage daughter. Looking back this has made me believe that I am surrounded by a legion of guardian angels and they have my back most of the time.
8. I’m afraid of spiders and lightening and orange tiger lily flowers. I was chased with spiders by my older half brother as a kid one time too many and now they have the ability to halt be in my tracks. I can’t touch them but I do try to verbally convince them to leave the house when confronted. I am working on my Zen Buddhist live and let live ideals, however, they aren’t and this rarely achieves anything. I have on more than one occasion had to wake someone in the house up to remove a huntsman (they are significantly bigger than a Daddy Long Legs) from my hallway, bedroom or bathroom. Lightning makes me jump and it is touching down, I flinch like a cat and look really uncomfortable. The orange tiger lily flowers I am not sure of, but as a young child, could not walk past them or be around them. Other kids would antagonize me because they found this to be so odd. In hindsight, I too think it is odd.
9. I am a workaholic. I love what I do but I am completely unbalanced with it and when I do take breaks with family, I have to refrain from any work related contact which usually means that I have to lock my iPhone and Ipad in a hotel safe and vow to only take it out for an hour to ensure that the business is ok and respond to my staff. When I took 10 days off to go to the Cook Islands, I was so exhausted that I sat on the beach and started at the trees for all of the ten days – no trashy novels or fashion magazines. I felt as if the tide had washed out from my brain and I spent those days of quiet reflection watching my son kayak around the shallow bay and listening to my inner voice. It was one of the nicest vacations I had ever taken and I came home and told everyone how terrific it was to do absolutely nothing.
10. I was an egg donor for a woman who lost her son when he was 8 years old whom I met at a Christmas Party. No money ever exchanged hands and she wasn’t really a friend, but I offered to help her “any way that I could” and she took it literally and signed me into an IVF Donor program. After giving her 12 eggs and helping her produce a son in 2003, I then had a difficult time getting pregnant. After 10 months of trying naturally we able to have a son. It took us 2 years to successfully conceive again however miscarried at 8 weeks when my son was just two years old. We have not been able to naturally get pregnant again and now I am apparently too old for IVF and myself need a donor. I find this ironic and question the universe sometimes. The miscarriage was something that my husband and I glossed over for several years until the reality hit that we weren’t going to “just get lucky again”. My message to anyone trying is don’t leave it too long or be too busy to plan your family. We plan trips, parties and outings -- plan your family!
11. The happiest day of my life was during my 20th week of pregnancy when my amniocenteses came back with the confirmation that the baby was healthy and that it was a BOY! I remember hanging up the phone and crying tears of joy. It wasn’t that I didn’t love girls, but I just had a sense that if it was a girl I would relive of my own angst and I didn’t want to put a child through that.
12. I collect shoes. I travel a lot and instead of clocks, figurines or mugs, I buy a pair of shoes that remind me of where I have been. Some I wear with the story and others are just to remember. The most special pair are a pair of leather espadrilles thongs I bought on my first trip to Puerto Rico to meet my father for the first time. The most exotic pair are a pair of Aladdin-like slippers from Arabia from my first trip to the Middle East in 1994.
13. I wanted to be a jockey when I was growing up and the fact that I didn’t live on a farm, own any horses, or know anyone who did did not deter my dream. In the 4th grade when I sprouted to 5ft 8in and had to stand at the back of the class with the black boys who played basketball for class photos, I knew that dream was highly unlikely, and I forcibly grew out of it. I still have a passion for horse racing and love to frock up and head to the track.
14. I have a secret wish to make a major contribution to world hunger and win a Nobel Peace Prize. I started on this journey in 2004 before World Food Day became a cause Australians cared about when I approached the UN FAO to create an online volunteer network called Feast2Feed.org. My fledging idea put three farms on orphanages in Cambodia but was never resourced to a level where anyone took much notice. I am not giving up on this goal, it is just taking me longer.
15. I don’t fear death and strongly believe in the Buddhist logic that we are infinite spirits and we take human forms but this not where life begins and ends. This notion has confirmed to me on multiple occasions when I have been visited by the deceased and come across “old friends” in strange bodies through my travels. Most people think I am crazy when I share this but I am more certain about this than I am about many common beliefs shared by many.
16. I believe that anyone can break through the poverty cycle and that many female and reproductive illnesses stem from crippling beliefs around the chakra of wealth. My entire matriarchal family have had serious illnesses, cancers and misfortunes, and I am singularly living proof that it is possible because I detached from a tribal mentality passed from one woman to another, one auntie to a cousin, one sister to another. I refused to accept a default position and have consequently known great abundance in relationships, experiences, love and comfort when I started believing that I was worthy.
17. I hate international airport arrival halls. I am a sappy romantic and watching people reunite, hug, cry, see their loved one after God knows how long digs deep in my heart and I wind up with tears down my face. It’s really beautiful to watch and I can’t help but be moved to tears and people look at me like I am weird.
18. I am Cancerian with a Leo rising. The Cancer bit explains why I cook, bake and am the organic “mother hen” to friends, employees and kids. The Leo explains my need to be fierce at work. I had my astrological chart read in 2001 from a really good astrologer and he basically informed me that I was screwed in my 0-40 years with crappy duplicitous parents, a penchant towards debauchery and a few other tid bits, but life would be awesome in the following two decades. I am here for a good time, not a long time and I only live to be 63. The upside – I am a 12th House old soul and I don’t ever have to come back. Hallelujah!
19. I am not naturally blonde and my hair is not naturally straight. As a Puerto Rican, it takes a lot of peroxide to make keep the locks golden and if all hairdressers were wiped out in a plague I would be unrecognizable. My husband is in denial about these two factors and begs me to never expose my Latin “roots”.
20. I love flying. I didn’t know it growing up although I did apply for a job as an airline hostess in my early days. I hate dehydration, strip searches, delays and microwave meals but I love the way traveling opens us up to experiencing wonder, exploring curiosity and cultures and seeing simple things in a new way. I have my clearest thinking at 33,000 ft and never get tired of looking out the window and feeling humbled both looking up into the heavens and looking back at the planet. I have taken over 3500 in-flight, out the window photos of clouds, stars and scenery and it never gets old.