Place your finger here and *inhale* now hold and slowly draaaaag your finger across the screen aaannnndddd *exhale*
You are doing fabulous.
From Sufferer, to Surviver,
to Spiritual Alchemist
Goddess of LOVE!
Hola! Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and why I am so passionate about sharing mindfulness with my global community.
I grew up in a low-income neighborhood. Drug addiction, domestic and community violence and undiagnosed and untreated mental illness was considered normal. In my community, and in many similar communities this is the case because of a lack of access and education about available services. Additionally, the stress high-need populations endure means we do not possess the emotional resources necessary to progress past our basic survival needs never mind find and attend a mindfulness class two cities away.
Furthermore, in social media and education, gay, poor, people of color, like myself, have historically been shown as victims and seldom heroes.
Mental illness was always prominent in my family. My father had bipolar disorder which he self-medicated. He became addicted to methamphetamine before I was born, which eventually caused him to live on Skid Row, one of the largest homeless camps in the United States. I spent my youth in and out of the Twin Towers Prison Visiting Center. When my dad was high, there was no telling how he would come into our lives and when. As a young adult, I spent time with him while he was clean around Skid row and he showed me how he got food and used the restroom. It was an odd time. I learned early on that love sometimes meant not enabling a person but when he was clean, I would find safe ways to interact with him because I believed he was a suffering child of God.
The trauma and lack of resources definitely felt normal and built a subconscious narrative that prosperity was not for people like me. The story I had about myself, aka my subconscious narrative, was that I was a poor, dumb, brown, spawn of a homeless meth addict and that is how the world saw me. I also learned depression. And so I was.
To survive the chaos of my world, I had to find inner peace.
My spiritual journey began as a child. At a young age, I centered myself through prayer, a religious form of meditation, journaling and self-reflection. As I became a young adult, I started to realized how negatively I thought about myself and actively started to change it using loving affirmations. Daily, I would write a compliment to myself on a sticky note and put it on my mirror. When I was emotionally abused, I would fill a poster board with positive affirmations about myself. (I also stopped reading beauty magazines and defined my own standards of beauty and success.) Overtime, my self esteem sky rocketed. It still takes daily work but it is so worth it.
Through my prayer and journaling, I learned that a spirit of love existed within me and covered me in peace while the people around me suffered. I felt how this love gave me strength, which started me on a lifelong path of advocating for people who were suffering in my community.
I have worked as a first response advocate for survivors of rape and sexual assault, as a grief support group leader, and have spent ten years working with underserved and marginalized youth in all levels of education. I became dedicated to increasing representation for underrepresented populations and implementing mindfulness practices.
At this time in my life, I felt I was finally at peace. Then something broke me.
In 2018, my father called and told me he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I became his primary caretaker for his final months of life and lived through the eyes of a homeless and mentally ill person. While seeking services, I experienced society's seeming abhorrence of this population's health care and humanity.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wholeheartedly believed my father would become healthy and transform lives with his story.
He just had to choose to change. When he died, the vision I held so dearly vanished with him and stole my inner peace, the last of my emotional reserves, and shattered my identity. How could the world give such a cruel ending to a man's life. How can the entire system and humanity fail each other so? Desperately seeking clarity in confusion, I made two significant changes in my life. One was internal and one was external.
First, I moved from California to Minnesota to work as a flight attendant. This career has offered me an integrative education into diverse micro and macro cultures around the world. Due to the privilege I have of appearing white, middle-class, mentally stable, and heteronormative, people from varied backgrounds have expressed views which illustrate how social injustice and oppression correlate with a lack of equitable representation of minority groups and a lack of mindfulness about harmful narratives. These discussions also revealed to me the universal human desperation for internal success—peace, which is achievable through spiritual practices such as mindfulness and Disciplined Self-Love.
The second and most radical change I made to my life was practicing what I now call Disciplined Self-Love. This means being boldly intimate with my inner self using a variety of methods. Daily, I meditate, do yoga or body scans, practice stream-of-consciousness writing and do shadow work . Especially when it is uncomfortable, I nonjudgmentally observe my ego through more writing and meditation. I invite the darkest parts of myself to reveal themselves and hold space for the untangling and unlearning of repressive beliefs, where I create boundaries between my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I consider the act of befriending our darkest parts and understanding them so that we may be the best versions of ourself SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY.
I found a community of mindful peers through a meditation center and as a volunteer for the University of Minnesota's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course. Finally, I remind myself of what I have learned by reading mindfulness books and traditional wellness literature.
I learned the power of presence.
I found my inner peace when I became present and learned to no longer identify with the ever-changing qualities of my inner and outer world.
My mindfulness practice matured into a powerful framework for changing generational traumas. Now, I realize that my dad may no longer have the power to transform in his lifetime, but I hold the potential of his narrative and more.
My life’s work and spiritual journey has prepared me to be a part of this global community of visionaries. It has lead me to you.
I now reside in Southern California and am in the process of creating The Peace Plan, a 30 day program that utilizes all the tools that I have learned throughout this school of life and my spiritual journey. I also offer free and donation based personalized guided meditation sessions.
I will continue to look for ways to make mental health accessible to marginalized communities like the one I grew up in. I hope to inspire people who feel like their situation is hopeless. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We can rise up. We have to be the representation we want to see in the world. Yes we can. Yes we did!
Si se puede! Si se pudo!
I often feel so many of us are similar to trees. We have roots that are deeply seeded in darkness but if we are capable of pushing through, these roots become the foundation of a truthful and abundant life. We are the strongly rooted trees of a beautiful future.
I love you. I love me. You are worthy and deserving of internal and external success. And so it is.