Have You Met?

A meeting with Nora Jacquez always leaves you feeling like you want more. A sparkling personality, alive with enticing thoughts and ideas, Nora brings a vitality to the table that is hard to resist. She’s a multi-faceted person who’s always searching for a better insight into life.

In Nora’s life there’s never a “dull moment.” She flips from one project to another, barely taking a moment to catch a breath. If she’s not helping an undocumented worker with legal problems, she’s probably assisting in another situation. Going to Mexico in the winter months doesn’t mean relaxing on the beach for Nora; she immerses herself into the culture of the area and lends a helping hand to the locals in need.

Despite her busy schedule during “retirement,” Nora always seems to have time to devote to her family and friends. Her days are balanced with what she calls restful time, which includes time set aside for daily meditation.

This year, Nora added another addition to her career accomplishments with the publication of her first book, The Great Tamale War and other Tales. The book includes twenty short stories. Ten of the stories take place in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Nora spends her winters, and the other ten stories use the Hispanic Southwest as their background. The publication is a philanthropic endeavor for Nora, as all proceeds from the book benefit the Humanitarian Center for Workers, a non-profit day labor center in Denver, and the Estancia Fraternidad, a shelter for poor families of sick patients in the general hospital in Oaxaca. The book can be purchased for $20.00 at local book stores or ordered online at norajacquez@hotmail.com

Tell me a little about your career. I was a professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature and then at 43 felt the need to be more in the real world. I started a couple of businesses; one failed and taught me a lot; one (wholesale and retail fabrics) was successful but after a few years, I wanted more challenge and decided at age 47 to go to law school. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

What’s important in your life? Being conscious of the divine in me and in others.

What’s in your future? I am a pilgrim on a great spiritual journey.

What are your volunteer activities? I run the legal clinic this summer at the Centro Humanitario Para Trabajadores, (The Humanitarian Center for Day Workers) a non profit center started by the Quakers to protect the undocumented from unscrupulous employers. In Oaxaca I volunteer at a shelter for the poorest of the poor who come to Oaxaca to be with sick family members who are patients at the General Hospital.

Which social event is your favorite? I love having small dinner parties and inviting good friends for good conversation and sharing. I also like film festivals and jazz festivals.

Favorite restaurant? Le Central.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Desmond Tutu who told our group that we humans were made for loving, sharing and humor.

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Lauren Bacall (dream on). She is a classy lady.

Do you have any pets?. No. I can barely keep track of me sometimes.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? I don’t know but probably that I didn’t like squares or rectangles because I live in a loft with very few walls that don’t have odd angles.

What word describes you best? Curious

How would you like others to describe you? Caring

What was your first job? I was a soda jerk at the Derby Co. drug store with The Honorable John Kane as my fellow worker (obviously before his Judgeship)

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Telling others how to run their lives.

What trait do you most deplore in others? Self absorption

What is your greatest indulgence? Ice cream and travel.

What type of clothes do you like? I love color. I like tailored but feminine things. I like jewelry that makes a statement.

What is the best gift you have ever received? A brand new red bicycle when I was ten with my initials in silver. I had been told I would have to share one with my sister and having my own bike under the Christmas tree, I’ll never forget it.

What is the best gift you’ve ever given? I made my dad a wooden tie rack when I was, maybe, nine and as frumpy as it was, he kept it until the end of his life.

What or who is the greatest love in your life? No names here. He is alive, thriving, and bestowed on me a Ph.D. in men.

What is your current state of mind? I am in agreement with Richard Rohr, the Franciscan Priest, who says we spend the first half of our lives climbing the ladder and the second half realizing it is against the wrong wall. I’m trying to figure out the right wall.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Knowing when to quit what I was doing and move on to something else that would open up other worlds.

What is your most treasured possession? My grandmother’s crucifix and my Tia Ofrocinia’s Infant of Prague statue with the red velvet cape she made for it.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Gentle awareness

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Free spirit

Favorite books/writers? Somerset Maugham, Garcia Marquez, Flannery O’Connor, Herman Hesse, Annie Dillard, Simone DeBeauvoir Thomas Keating and Wayne Teasdale.

What is the best advice you have ever received? My Dad saying to us: “Your word is like gold.” Also, he told us we could achieve whatever we wanted if we wanted to work for it. “Never” he would say, “use the excuse that other people stop you.”

Do you have a motto? Don’t waste energy on things you can’t change. Guilt, for me is wasted energy because it is based on done deals. My daughter says my motto is: “It’s better than it was.”

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you? I can only tell my very good friends because it is tooooo embarrassing.

If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? I would like to be a lizard who would bask on sunny rocks.

What are your hobbies? Other interests? I study piano, French, love tennis, reading, writing, sometimes water coloring. I love live theatre, good films, and good music. My musical tastes run from classical guitar to Etta James to Kenny Rogers. I always love thought provoking discussions where I have to work to get my mind around new ideas.

Who is your mentor? Joan of Arc. She was 19 when she was burned at the stake for what she believed in. I am also a great admirer of Nelson Mandela who led South Africa toward a nonviolent end to apartheid, when many other people would have justified violence.

What would you most like to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered as a generous, caring person who gave lots of love.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? I would like to organize another Wild West Show like Buffalo Bill’s and tour the world. But no guns or shooting, just peaceful participations.

What do you like about the town you live in? I love both Denver and Oaxaca, Mexico. Denver because I spent 25 years in exile away from here and I am so grateful to be back; Oaxaca because I step out into the street every day and learn something. I also have a place in southern Colorado in a town of fifteen people (fourteen when I am not there) and the time warp that happens there is wonderful.