Don’t ask me where I’m from…
As a “military brat,” the one question that always prompts a pause and often an odd expression is, “Where are you from?” It’s difficult to answer that seemingly benign question when you grow up moving every three years (or less) because your parent is a member of the US Armed Forces—in my father’s case, the Navy and the Air Force. At some point, I decided it would be easier to respond by saying I was from East Oakland, California, because that was where I was conceived, where I have family roots, and where I lived for 18 years. Otherwise, I’ll just say I’m from everywhere.
I take pride from being raised in a military family
because it truly was an adventure especially during the inaugural Space Shuttle program years at Edwards Air Force Base where my family and I rode our horses out to the highway to watch the shuttle being towed. We lived among test pilots and astronauts. My neighbors and classmates came from all parts of the world. I learned to appreciate different cultures, ethnicities, religions, and languages. We came to know and recognize each other as part of one amazing family with a familiarity all our own. Most of all, I learned adaptability and resilience. Change became a fond friend.
I was so enamored by the culture (subculture, really), I wanted to become a career officer like my father. My prior notion of becoming a commercial artist had fallen by the wayside. I felt I was well on my way once I received a congressional appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. I was in the sixth class of women permitted to enter the academy after the Education Amendments Act of 1972 passed, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. Needless to say, I embraced the military studies and combat training.
Then, life and hormones happened. I ended up fraternizing with a “firstie” (a senior), a big-time “no-no.” I found myself consumed with internal conflict over my first serious relationship causing me to neglect my studies. Ultimately, this took a toll leading to my academic dismissal, and honorable discharge from the Army.
What followed was the shattering of a dream, and the first of many depressive episodes in my life.
It took me decades and a few more colleges to come to terms with the level of disappointment and failure I felt. I managed to complete my higher education, earning a BA in Behavioral Science, and an MA in Counseling Psychology. I also found my way back into the government working as a civil rights investigator with the US Department of Education in San Francisco for many years. However, I remained unfulfilled.
During this time, my mother had begun genealogical research into her side of the family. My interest piqued as she shared her findings about our Mexican ancestry. I learned of a great aunt, Maria Alejandra de Jesus Machado, who was a well-known curandera (traditional folk healer, pictured on the home page of this site) in New Mexico in the late 1880’s. I became excited about this information because I was already considering a way to be more self-reliant when it came to health and wellness. I looked into whether or not our curanderismo lineage had continued so I could learn from family. However, that was not the case in terms of this particular kind of healing work so I sought out a curandero/a.
My search led to a San Francisco Bay Area curandero, Charles Garcia, with whom I immediately connected. I attended every class he taught through his California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism. I became his class aide, school co-director, and ultimately, his apprentice. Upon completing my apprenticeship, I was honored to join Charles’ lineage as a curandera. Our connection goes beyond this plane, but I’ll save that for another time.
This became a turning point for me.
I realized I had been making a gradual shift in direction, from a militaristic mindset to humanitarian. I was finally able to let go of my West Point defeat because I realized I was not meant to be part of the military machine after all. I found my purpose was, and always has been, to help others. This made sense because I have always been intrigued by the human condition.
I found it fascinating the multitude of ways humanity and nature is interconnected. I also realized how the intertwining of people, places, and events in my life contributed to a forward progression in my spiritual development, which has proven to be all about self-love and love toward others. I was especially pleased to note how nicely this all aligned with my continued studies with other healers, particularly in energy work.
My journey has been affirmed all the more by my previous work as a counselor at a chiropractic college filled with open-minded and vitalistic-oriented students. There, I co-founded a learning service program for students to gain real-world experience by providing complimentary chiropractic care for day laborers in San Francisco. I also co-created a mindfulness program for the campus community to benefit from various spiritual and healing practices involving social emotional learning. I am grateful for all I gained from working in the chiropractic community, which is I why I choose to continue my connection with the profession, but in a different vein.
Finally, I find myself well-grounded on the humanistic path, embracing All That Is. I celebrate stepping into my own power as a holistic life coach, author, artist, change-maker, and light worker. I now fully dedicate my life to helping others find and stand in their truth.