Who I want to serve

My intention in starting this blog is to share some deeper stories about myself. I believe we all have extraordinary stories and that to share them, especially their vulnerable parts, helps us all to realize that we are not alone in our struggles, challenges, and in the things we have to be proud of–if we pause and think about it all, really. As I sought what audience I am attempting to touch in the inspiration of my business, it turns out, it’s me. 

As a coach and personal growth junkie, it has come to light in various ways that most of us feel a sense of purpose in the work we do because it offers something to a community we relate to. We actually benefit from the work we do both as the giver and as the potential recipient. This is my attempt to speak to that audience, knowing my own experience and truth more than anyone else could, having empathy and a big open heart to all women who share a similar history.

I was born and raised in California. My grandpa immigrated here from Puerto Rico and my other three grandparents were born in California as well. Their parents or their parents’ parents came here from Northern Mexico or New Mexico or were in Southern California or the Southwestern states of the U.S. when that land was still Mexico.

I grew up estranged from the roots of my cultural background in a lot of ways.

My parents did not speak Spanish in our home.

I grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods going to catholic church.

My basic needs were met and I had a lot of leisure time to ride my bike and play with friends.

My darker skin was a reminder that I was different.

When I went to junior high and encountered other Mexican girls, I was different from them as well.

I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.

My friends and I stayed outside of the groups and trends choosing to do our own thing instead of trying to compete with the popular people and activities.

I often would befriend the new kids–the one Black girl who showed up in 5th grade, an Indian girl whose dad and brother wore turbans, a group of Asian boys in junior high, a Japanese foreign exchange student who barely spoke English.

Later in high school there was more diversity but even less identity.

Part of all of this was due to the awkward ages I was going though.

A lot of it was the beginnings of self development, not recognizing then how the community around me was shaping my perspectives about who I was.

It wasn’t until I moved to Santa Cruz that my dark skin felt appealing.

“Exotic” it was called by some. Compliments on my thick dark hair were aplenty.

Living in California, I was exposed to the generalizations of being Mexican.

Migrant workers who were hired housekeepers and nannies, men sitting out front of hardware stores waiting for someone to hire them, the cooks in our favorite restaurants, families selling flowers or produce on the side of the road. Being undocumented became a shameful label, a law breaking “bad” person. 

In his four-year term, our last president emphasized negative beliefs about Mexicans by building a wall and incarcerating women and children attempting to cross the border between Mexico and California. Families were separated and traumatized all in the name of a legal procedure meant to punish people seeking better conditions to work in, live in and support their families in. I think we are all eternally seeking betterment in our own ways.

I grew up privileged, even though I’m not white.

I’ve had opportunities for an education and experiences that many Mexicans dream of, either for themselves or their children.

I relate to and identify mainly with white culture. All of the slang and references to mass media, entitlements and judgements of others, petty complaints and justifications for destructive behavior. Playful banter over a pool table and dark humor, referencing mainstream movies and loud rock music at late hours.

As an adult, I’ve experienced motherhood, travel, entrepreneurship, immersion into integrative medicine and therapies, expansive spiritual growth, life-changing emotional healing and deep relationships for me to know myself authentically.

Today, I feel like I live on the bridge between worlds: the cultures my ancestors came from and the one evolving before my eyes. I didn’t have traditional cultural experiences, though I had glimpses along the way, and I can feel the depth of history in my bones–the oppression, the healing, the wisdom. 

I use a language to express myself in terms unfamiliar to most people from my cultural background. I know I’m not alone.

I know there are other women who come from other cultures who feel a type of displacement. 

A sense of being different and estranged from people and places that would otherwise harbor and nurture.

I could say that most people regardless of their cultural background feel this in a variety of contexts.

My story is this: I’m noticing we are evolving. Women got the right to vote 100 years ago in this country. This “free” country. Not long before that, women had no rights to property or an education. If her husband took a mistress or beat her, if she wanted to leave, she had no rights to her children or her home, even if it had been given from her family line.

Our grandmothers’ mothers’ mothers lived in those times. What could these women teach us about what their own experiences gave them? What mentorship or guidance was handed down? Be nice so you don’t get hit? Take care of everyone so you keep your worth? Don’t say what you really think or you will be rejected and thrown out or replaced? Your body is not yours, you are property and owe your provider anything he wants? Stay beautiful at all costs even if it means you sacrifice your health and well-being?

There are still unconscious messages we receive from the women who raised us that resonate some version of one or more of these. I’ve noticed that it is still difficult for me to speak my truth and voice my own preferences for fear of upsetting people. Maybe some of you can relate to me in this, while others of you say to yourselves, “oh, no! That’s not me, no way!” If so, that is a powerful place to be in this world. I applaud whoever provided a safe space for you to be you. To have people who wanted to hear your opinions, even if they disagreed, who valued them and encouraged you to speak up. To not be afraid to follow your impulses and creativity. To be supported with resources given freely without obligation, or to have fought your way through the muck with fierce rebellion and a tough, resilient heart.

I want to speak to both. To say, take on your healing. Develop your discernment and hold your healthy boundaries. Be an example to other women and hold the door open for financial freedom, pursuit of creative expressions, to dance and sing and shout joyfully and playfully with other women. 

Let’s nurture ourselves with the things we love most. Take time to fill your cup so you can give to others from a sustained place in yourself rather than being self sacrificing. 

I’ve learned to surround myself with women who inspire me. Who shine the light on my best qualities and who are women I admire for their courageous pioneering and the steps they are taking in the direction of their dreams and visions of truth and passion, regardless of the circumstances, adversity and challenges. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Anis Nin: “And the day came, when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I’m glad to witness more women recognizing the pain and choosing to dig deep and do the work it takes to move beyond the past traumas and wounds. To life a life of their own choosing versus surviving a life they’ve been thrown into. 

I feel fortunate for my journey. 

I’ve grown to trust that everything and all of my experiences, negative and positive, have brought me to this moment. This moment feels perfect in so many ways. There are certainly days when I feel regret and worry, though they are short-lived. More of the time I know that when I can surrender my agenda and take care of myself on a basic level, I will always come back to love, gratitude for the beauty and abundance in my life, and a broader context of sensing that my life is more in alignment with my authenticity and values than I have ever been in years before. 

There will always be more work to do. I believe that’s part of the gift of it all. The goal is not to avoid falling down or failing, but to learn more about ourselves and our cycles each time. To gather tools and discernment so the clarity about where to go next is more obvious than ever. 

When I love myself, I can take the next steps more easily–even when they are challenging or painful. I know it will be lighter and more joyful with more opportunity than I even imagined on the other side of it all. 

When I’m not loving myself, I set myself up for more challenges and upsets–I sabotage myself, if you will–because on some deep inherent level, I don’t believe I deserve happiness or love or whatever I was hoping for. Or worse, I believe that I deserve to be punished for being a “bad” person. There have been many points in my life when people who were upset with me told me things they thought were wrong with me, or told me that what I had done that was wrong. In tears, I would look at myself in the mirror and speak the words, “You are not a bad person.” I’d cry even more because I knew it was true.

None of us is “bad.” Most of us are in pain and afraid. It’s time to do the work. To dig deep. To feel what wants to be cleared. To know ourselves truly and recognize the potential of beauty, love and creativity we each have to offer this world that desperately needs it. To start to take steps in the direction of our dreams and most inspired Visions.

If this resonates with you, you are my people. You know me and I know you intimately. We share realizations, insights, consciousness, and more. I look forward to sharing more. I look forward to hearing your story. Thank you for listening to mine…

With love and gratitude,

Bernadine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *