Bienvenidxs to the Mind Body Corazón Blog!
Estoy emocionada de compartir este espacio con ustedes. The purpose of Mind Body Corazón is to support Latinx & BIPOC communities to reclaim alegria, healing and overall wellbeing. I want us to push beyond de-stigmatizing and rather embrace holistic wellness, which includes mental health. As a counseling psychologist, I know the power of prevention and when we tend to ourselves, we are tending to our families, our communities and are actively instilling wellness. Similarly, I want to transcend the notion of compartmentalizing mental health and address ALL that makes us human including the embodiment of Spirit/God/Creator/a high power that is sacred to you.
I am a creative at heart and what’s missing from my professional life is the creative side. As a psychologist, I know that deep healing can happen through many avenues. For instance, cooking for me is very healing-I reconnect with memories, family, ancestors and culture through smell and taste in ways that that using my left brain does not facilitate. This blog will be a reflection of everything that encompasses mind, body, spirit and heart healing. This includes healing through therapy, self-discovery, spiritual practices, creating, cooking and everything that life has to offer.
This is truly more than a blog for me; it’s a portal through which the voices of my ancestors, my current family, communities and the voices of those that have passed on to the spirit world can come together. All in all, this blog is to support, uplift and have a voice and share aspects of my journey as a Chicana feminist/womanist going through mamihood, reconnecting with ancestral wisdom and actively engaging in decolonial work with myself, family and professional life.
Mind Body Corazon will center Latinx and more broadly Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) and is an inclusive and welcoming space for our LGBT siblings. Hope you visit often.
Wishing you wellness in mind, body, corazón.
Love & Grief
Love and grief are intertwined for me. It is no surprise that I am writing this entry as we approach Valentine’s Day. Two of the most important men in my life transitioned close to Valentine’s Day. One was mi Apa and the other mi abuelito. Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates love, also represents grief and loss for my family and I. Eight years ago on Valentine’s Day, my dad experienced a massive stroke that led to his death a week later. Cupid’s death arrow hit again last year around this time and we lost my abuelito to COVID-19. I still celebrate love on Valentine’s Day and also honor my grief. It’s complicated and a little messy.
I am not surprised that mi Apa choose to start his transition on V-day. He was a sentimental man that was full of life and love. Mi Apa, taught me how to love and because of him I know how to say “I love you” and openly express my love to my family of origin, my husband and my daughters. He said “I love you” to my sister, my mom and I every day. It was admirable that he was so generous with his expression of love given the loss of his mother at such an early age. I have many memories of his expressions of love. I have pictures that captured the sentiment of a moment, notes that he would leave for me to read in the morning before I left to school and countless memories of him telling me “I love you.” I have vivid memories of him calling during his graveyard shift just to check-in and say “I love you” and “good night” to us. I remember him coming home and kissing me good night at 3:00 AM and whispering in my ear “I love you baby.” He sang and played boleros, Frank Sinatra songs and Beatles music to us. Love was openly expressed with words, actions, and his appreciation of the simple moments in life that transmitted love, hope and beauty. He brought tenderness to my mom and my mom’s side of the family that allowed many family members to open up and entrust he and my mom with difficult life circumstances. For a long time, I assumed this was everyone’s experience and that everyone had a father that was explicitly expressive of their love. I later realized the uniqueness of my experience when my cousins started poking fun at me for always saying “I love you” to my dad and then again was reminded of this when I started talking about the expression of love in families with friends and peers. I realized that my experience was not as common in my immigrant Latinx community as I had initially thought and then recognized my privilege and my blessings.
My abuelito on the other hand expressed his love with actions that more closely resembled his generation and his values of being a provider and protector. He, also a sensitive man, took his role seriously. He was a campesino and connected to La Madre Tierra in ways that I am just now comprehending. Being an immigrant meant that financial resources were limited pero ganas, innovation y tierra teníamos para sobrar. He took it upon himself to plant, cultivate and tend to fruit trees and vegetables that would provide nourishment and shade for those hot summer days. Many of those fruit trees continue to provide medicine for my family and they are a living connection to him, his hands and his values.
Fruit has a special place in my family’s love language (I will save that for another post) but a funny twist is how mi abuelito used it as a pretext. When I was in middle school there were always concerns for safety, this was the early 90’s in South LA. Mi abuelito took it upon himself to make sure I knew he was looking out for me. One day he decided he was going to stop by my middle school while I was outside during my physical education class to give me fruta. He literally would stop in the middle of the day and give me fruit through the fence “para que no me malpasara.” I am not sure how long this went on, but it felt like months. You can imagine that at first it was a little embarrassing to have a viejito drive up in a very old clunky yellow van to give me fruit through the fence. Then it turned into a running loving joke among my peers and they would look for me when they saw him coming. One day it changed. I don’t know if it was the nonchalant way my peers just informed me that my abuelito was there for me, or if it was the kinda cool feeling I felt because I had a “visitor” in the middle of my school day, whatever it was, I was no longer embarrassed. I started to feel a sense of pride, importance and connection. At the time I did not have the words to express what I felt but in retrospect, I have a deep sense of knowing that his visits were meant to convey that I mattered, that I was important and that I was protected. He was reminding me and those around me that I was part of a family and he gave my family, our ancestors ,a face. I am fully aware that this is linked to patriarchy and that there is much to unpack in this regard AND I am also cognizant that this is how he, a man of his times, expressed his love; though protecting and nurturing the youngest members of the family.
I still hear “I love you” in my ear in the middle of the night and I still feel protected by my abuelito’s presence. Love and grief will likely always coexist and I will always get a little melancholic when I truly sit with love because I know that the other side of the coin is grief.
A beautiful piece Dr. Susana. I am warmed by the generosity and deepness of your reflections. I am encouraged to sit with my own experience with love & grief, I relationship I have not so bravely embraced.
Thank you my sista🖤