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10-years-agoWhoa. Life got ahead of me, and I am beeehind.

So here we go..

“Today, take some time and travel back ten years ago (2005) in your life. Review photos or journal entries to help remember what was going on in your life ten years ago. How things changed for you since then? Did you accomplish some goals along the way? Have there been setbacks? Are you better off today than you were ten years ago? What experience stands out the most for you?”

In July of 2005 I was in graduate school in the School Counseling program at San Jose State University.  I was living in Salinas, California, working as a Social Worker/Case Manager with adolescents, living in my childhood home with my sister, and in a relationship that should have ended a year before.

At that time I believed I was winning my lifetime battle with weight. I was very hyper-conscious (anxious) about my exercise and what I ate. For the first time in my life, I considered myself athletic. The gym was my church, and food was something to be feared and conquered. I was doing the diet thing really well, and felt both strong and scared.

Since then, a lot has happened. A lot of deconstruction and rebuilding. I have earned money, and lost money; lost weight and gained weight; lost hope and gained hope. I hasn’t been easy or fun.

I accomplished my degree, never applied it directly as I realized I no longer wanted to work in the school system, and acquired a second degree in Counseling. I also realized that my strict eating and exercise routine was actually a disorder.

I achieved a few goals then, such as traveling, moving to a new location, and starting my journey towards working independently. I also achieved a few things I didn’t know I needed. For example, and deeper spiritual self, deeper consciousness, and deeper inner healing.

There has been a slew of setbacks, Setbacks I would have never expected. Setbacks that, to this day still scares me.

Emotionally and spiritually I am better of today. However, I am not better off financially. I am actually in a worse state financially than I was 10 years ago.

There are two experiences that stands out he most. The 24-day European trip I had in 2008 gave me a life experience where I felt most alive. Then in 2009, I began the unplanned slow and intense deconstruction that lead to intense emotional despair, significant life changes, unlearning difficult life lessons, and transformation into a healing path.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit:


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My most pleasurable experience traveling was when I was bumped up to first class on a flight to Seattle. If I could afford to travel this way all the time I would. Ah, the leg room, the big comfy seats, the friendly service. It was truly a comfort I will never forget.

For short distances I like the train. Being in those old Amtrak buildings, and boarding the train feels so nostalgic to me. The click-clack of the tracks, watching people come and go at the stops along the way, getting to meet fellow travellers, really warms me up to this mode for short distance travel.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit:


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On day 2 of #NAJOWRIMO, I wrote about an aspect of the road less traveled as an inward journey.

“The weight of living life from a place of grasping for safety brought me to my knees. All of my familiar ways no longer worked for me, and I was faced with resigning to hopelessness or going through a re-birthing process that was painful, unfamiliar, and foreign to my family, friends, and community. I had to look back at my life, reach out for help, and learn how to walk in this world in a different way than I was raised and accustomed to. Although most of my life consisted of consciously doing things different than my family, in this moment in time, I was stepping out of my unconscious family patterns, and seeking my authenticity in an existential way far deeper than I ever had.”

Of all the journeys I have taken, this by far is the most important. It was, and continues to be, a journey to re-claiming myself, re-membering myself, and coming home to myself.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit:


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I was in middle school when I asked my mom if we could go to Australia. At the time we lived in an agricultural town in California, and had only driven annually to Juarez, Mexico to visit family. And here  I was, all 13 years of me, asking my mom to go to Australia.

Her answer? “We can’t go there! We don’t know anyone in Australia!” That moment gave me a glimpse into my mother’s world, and a better understanding of her. Maybe it also gave me a better understanding of myself as well. I wanted to go to places we had never been to, and never considered knowing people at these places as an issue. Elementary school field trips made me realize that visiting new places gave me a jolt of excitement and a sense of wonder. If a country or other location fascinated me, why not travel to see it?

As I grew older, my travels took the shape of spontaneous day trips to unfamiliar locations. My first cross-Atlantic journey took place in 2008, where I traveled through Europe in 24 days. I don’t know if I ever felt more alive than that time, and I hesitate to try and re-create it, because it just cannot be. However there are a few places from that trip I would like to re-vist and spend more time in.

Brussels, Belgium
Prague, Czech Republic
Venice, Italy
Paris, France
London, England

Other places I would like to re-visit:
Austin, Texas
Seattle, Washington

As for new places to visit:
San Antonio, Texas
Nashville, Tennessee
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mexico City, Mexico
New York, New York
Giza, Egypt
Marrakech, Morocco
New Delhi, India
Auckland, New Zealand
Croatia (coastal)
Athena Greece
Berlin, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dublin, Ireland

In looking at this list, I am realizing that if I want to visit at least half of these places, I need to get-a-move on!

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit:


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When I look back I feel like “The Road Less Traveled” has been a common theme in my life. Do you relate to this? I know I can’t be the only one.

I am a Chicana who grew up in the predominantly Mexican/Chicano town of Salinas, CA. As a kid, I felt like I walked in two worlds. The social world of my peers where we played familiar games, and my personal life which was rich with a curiosity of how this world “worked” and mainly consisted of wildlife documentaries. These documentaries excited me and made me happy, however when I tried to share this knowledge with others, they were not interested and quickly diverted to their playtime. Even though I was very young, I could feel the difference between us. I had no idea this would be the pattern for most of my life.

Most of what I have done has gone against the grain of my family’s values. The excitement was pleasant but the loneliness was painful. Moving away at 15, then at 19, choosing to not have children, preferring to live alone, being vegan and feminist, and constantly challenging the status quo were discomforts my family had to grow accustomed to.

Although these experiences shaped most of my early life, a more recent experience stands out as a very significant example of taking the road less traveled.

The weight of living life from a place of grasping for safety brought me to my knees. All of my familiar ways no longer worked for me, and I was faced with resigning to hopelessness or going through a re-birthing process that was painful, unfamiliar, and foreign to my family, friends, and community. I had to look back at my life, reach out for help, and learn how to walk in this world in a different way than I was raised and accustomed to. Although most of my life consisted of consciously doing things different than my family, in this moment in time, I was stepping out of my unconscious family patterns, and seeking my authenticity in an existential way far deeper than I ever had.

This poem not only captures the experience for me, but became an anchor I would return to several times to help me through that dark and painful time.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit:


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Okay, so this started on July 1st, but I’m jumping in now! It’s hard for me to turn down a writing prompt, especially a month’s worth of them. Will you join me?

So, here we go.


As a kid, our annual family trips consisted of:
Riverside, California
Las Cruces, New Mexico
El Paso, Texas
Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico (once)

Then with my mom, when I grew older:
Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico

Then on my own:
San Jose, California
San Francisco, California
Seattle, Washington
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Friday Harbor, Washington
Washington, DC
Portland, Oregon
London, England
Wurzburg, Germany
Brussels, Belgium
Prague, Czech Republic
Vienna, Austria
Rome, Italy
Venice, Italy
Lucern, Switzerland
Paris, France
Austin, Texas
Olema, California
Santa Barbara, CA

Anzaldúa, Coyolxahqui , and Dorothy: Homecoming and Re-Membering

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coyoEarlier this month I attended a conference titled: “The Feminist Architecture of Gloria Anzaldúa: New Translations, Crossings and Pedagogies in Anzaldúan Thought”. Although I only could attend half of day 2, it felt like an intense, and deeply rooted homecoming.

I first became familiar with Gloria Anzaldúa’s  work in 1996, when I was an undergraduate student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. At that time I had been away from my hometown of Salinas, CA for 5 years. I was 24 years old and wrestling with issues of cultural identity, gender roles, academic poverty, romantic partnership, my place in my family and the world outside it. Although I enjoyed new experiences, I felt out of place and conflicted in the mainly White  campus. Being that Salinas is an agricultural town, with a predominantly Mexican heritage population, the 5 years away from it left me with mixed feelings of being hungry for new experiences and homesickness for the small things that brought me what comfort.

I was in a Feminist Studies, Cultural Studies class when I was introduced to Anzaldúa’s work. At that time, reading Anzaldúa’s work was both nourishing and challenging, I did not consider myself an academic, but loved learning. Anzaldúa and other feminist authors used words that were unfamiliar to me, and described concepts that felt bigger than what I was ready to understand. Yet somehow, I could feel some sense of familiarity as some concepts did resonate with me, and helped me to name some of the struggles and challenges I was facing as I questioned parts of my “otherness”.

Despite feeling too green to completely understand Chicana feminist texts, I kept their books close to me, taking them with me to every place I relocated to. Anzaldúa and other Chicana feminists writers became older and wiser sisters to me, and over time, I turned to them when I needed a reminder of where I came from, and a connection to a part of me that I was yet to meet. I suppose I subconsciously knew that I would eventually grow into their works, and as a result, grow more into myself.

When I decided to attend the conference this month, it was a complete confirmation that I had indeed grown into, not only knowing, but into living many of the experiences Anzaldúa describes. As I slept that night, I dreamt of earthquakes. An internal experience I am all too familiar with. I often have felt aspects of my internal world crash or adjust against each other, each piece of me trying to make sense of me. This has resulted in seeing pieces of me reflected in various people, places, works of art, and communities. It has mostly left me feeling out of place everywhere. A stranger among strangers and an outsider among outsiders. It seems I have spent my life trying to find people and places where I can see my complete reflection. In failing to find this, I resigned to accepting my outcast nature.

At the conference, I could feel the beginning of something magical happening. The day after the conference,  I revisited Anzaldúa’s words and I felt my parts come together, and my whole being finally reflected back to me. It felt like abrazos, like the “whole” I have been searching for. It was blissful and frightening. Too new to feel true.

Like Dorothy about to leave Oz, I wondered why I didn’t understand these lessons all along. The words were there and so close to me for so many years,  yet I couldn’t see their deeper application to my life. How much suffering could I have spared myself had I just opened Anzaldúa’s  books again? And like Dorothy, I knew that I had to make the journey myself, because I wouldn’t (and didn’t) believe the truth if it was told to me.


Dorothy’s lesson of “There’s no place like home” always sat awkwardly with me for many years. Especially those years where I was deep in my journey away from home (both physically, emotionally, and spiritually). But I understand now that the home she refers to is not the little farmhouse in Kansas, but the home that has been with me all along. Even before my time. It is my birthright, my divinity, my ever-evolving identity, and communion with the divine itself.

It is connecting with my favorite parts, getting to know them, accepting them, loving them. It is coming home to my body, this body that has devoted itself to my very survival.

“With the loss of the familiar and the unknown ahead, you struggle to regain your balance, reintegrate yourself (put Coyolxauhqui together), and repair the damage. You must, like the shaman, find a way to call your spirit home. Every paroxysm has the potential of initiating you to something new, giving you a chance to reconstruct yourself, forcing you to rework your description of self, world, and your place in it (reality)…” G. Anzaldúa “this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation”

I have studied psychology, indigenous healing, myth, the S/hero’s Journey, shadow and light integration, chakras, dreamwork, the enneagram, and so much more, all in the attempt to make sense of myself of this world. All these have played a significant role in my healing. I wouldn’t be here without them. Re-connecting to Anzaldúa’s work has been both the journey home and the existential glue that fuses these pieces together.

More importantly, it is the fact that she speaks of psychology, existentialism, spirituality, and so on with concepts and language that is in my blood. She uses words and concepts that are culturally relevant to me. They are my cultural inheritance, so I have had them all along. Re-connecting with Anzaldúa has guided me to re-connecting  with myself on a deeper level that no colonization can take away from me, hard as it may try.


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