In meditation, the veils of time and space become thin, and I am able to reflect on lived experiences of my loved ones. Hear their wisdom shining through.
Our family’s history is a huge influence on my decisions and movements in this lifetime. My grandmother migrated from the countryside and into the city, part of a larger migration trend in the late 50’s and early 60’s of families seeking safety and work during a revolution, which culminated in the assassination of Rafael Trujillo and his 31 year fear-filled dictatorship. Political instability and corruption, fueled by foreign interest, continued to breakdown our communities. By the 80’s many were forced out of work. My mother’s family depended on her income- she was the oldest of nine and a mother of two young children. So when she had the opportunity, she moved to the United States, leaving me and my little brother with our family in the Dominican Republic.
“The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.”
I am grateful for those early memories on native land, memories of playing in my tío’s fields, memories of eating spaghetti on the beach with my family and running errands to the colmado for my tías. Long after my brother and I joined my mom in the states, these memories still call me to root down in the truth of our history.
Passionate about claiming my freedom and the freedom of all people, I am inspired by the stars that shine before me, they light my way. Our land, my ancestors and living family (biological and chosen) inspire me to face the day with courage and a smiling heart.
Eventually our visas expired and like many undocumented immigrants in the US, afraid of being found, we adapted to a certain kind of lifestyle. For a long time, I was confused by my mother’s decision to leave these happy memories of family for a life that felt so isolated. I still think a lot about what is the ultimate goal for us, for me, here. Si me pongo a pensar, I’ve had a first row seat in witnessing my mother’s faith-filled movements in life, a power tool that has helped to build the cornerstones of my character- the dignity to stand firm and the courage to keep pressing forward. What do I do with this inheritance?
“Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.”
I am most grateful for the wisdom of spirit, shared with me by mami. Over the years, spirituality has been my foundation, an ongoing conversation with my truth, my Soul, where I continue to cultivate a practice of prayer and meditation.
Along the way, I have been very blessed to have elders and healers in my life who have shared their souls, their truth with me. I remember the day an elder in our doula community shared their definition of spirit as the breath. Since then, conscious breath and movement have become a cornerstone of my practice as I work to align my actions with my Truth.
My spiritual practice informs my work and I recommend and teach the practice of breath and yoga to others. I moved to New Orleans for the Public Health program at Tulane, and since then have trained as a Doula and Kemetic Yoga teacher, focusing on family health education and advocacy.
It’s been 8 years since I started practicing yoga and I have been amazed and blessed to witness the expansion of my soul as my practice continues. Yoga has been a powerful tool as I seek freedom and peace in my own life; it is a safe place where I can explore and heal from my history of trauma, learn about the walls and mechanisms set up to cope with pain, and learn to have compassion for myself and others. It allows me to focus and intuit my needs and those of my loved ones with clarity and an open heart.
I have the Spirit of New Orleans to thank for introducing me to yoga. For one, being here on my own has allowed me the space to explore my spirit’s needs. I am grateful for the time and space to cultivate a practice that I turn to daily. New Orleans, like yoga,teaches me to feel for the contractions and expansions of time-space, experiencing the seasons of the city continues to teach me to surrender to time and fortifies my faith in Change.
New Orleans has been home for the past 10 years and I will always be grateful to the land that’s welcomed me with so much warmth and hospitality. It has been the site of heart breaks and openings that have led to many blessed transformations. In a time-space of displacement, gentrification and xenophobia- Here, I am.
Today I remember the challenge: To move in faith and loving awareness, in celebration of our right and responsibility to stand firm and press forward, together.