For National Minority Health Month, we wanted to highlight a woman who we are huge fans of: she’s a mother, a daughter of immigrants, feminine wellness coach and helps her community of Latinas find their purpose in life. Here is her story, Con Ovarios. Check out our Con Ovarios. collection and live your truth proudly. Vive en voz alta.
THE MOVE TO THE UNITED STATES
Moving to the United States was exciting and terrifying for a young immigrant girl. On the one hand, I was eager to explore this beautiful country because since I was a little girl in Mexico, I loved everything about being American: the blond hair, the blue eyes, the flawless skin, the fashion, the music, the lifestyle – oh boy, what a dream! But on the other hand, I was leaving behind everything familiar and entering the unknown.
Like most immigrants, we come here "a trabajar" to build the American Dream. One of my biggest challenges was no longer having a dad or mom (at least, that's how it felt) because they both worked extremely long hours. As the oldest child, I had to parent my siblings at ten years old. I had to cook, help with homework and care for them all while figuring it out myself, the language, and the culture. All of it didn't feel so bad, but what became bad was the constant feeling of survival mode, pulling all of the strength and resilience to what felt at one point, protection.
Protecting my siblings and myself was exhausting, to say the least. I missed my parents so much; when I thought that I couldn't handle all of what was happening, without anybody knowing, I would go to a private area of the house, get on my knees and cry to God. As a result of years of this, I started getting episodes of these strange feelings- as if I were falling off a long, never-ending cliff. I couldn't breathe, my heart would beat so fast, and I couldn't see straight.
Back then I didn't know what was happening, my parents didn't know how to handle it or what was wrong with me. Once it went away for that moment, we would move on from it as if nothing ever happened. I know now that those were anxiety attacks, and I could have gotten help in many ways. Now, thanks to the conversations my parents and I have about this, it brings so much awareness, helping us become better for the new generation in our family.
HEALTH CHALLENGES AS A DAUGHTER OF IMMIGRANTS
Because of the lack of money and time, having a healthy meal was a luxury. Don't get me wrong, the meals were yummy Mexican dishes: carne con chile, rice and beans, oh and let's not forget the warm tortillas. As a young girl in the kitchen, I would do my best to replicate my mom's recipe (still trying). But being a family on survival/rebuilding, you don't tend to prioritize health. I don't even remember talking about it, EVER!
Although my mom stressed us to drink milk, that was her way of helping us stay healthy, "Tomate tu Leche!" as if "leche" was the cure for everything. Is that a Latino mom thing, I wonder?
On that same note, it also became difficult to go for medical care, not because it wasn't available but once more because of the lack of time and knowledge. This country has an abundant flow of health & medical resources. Unfortunately, most immigrants tend to be running on survival; therefore, the lack of time and knowledge prevents us from taking full advantage of it.
In my family's case, not knowing how to help me through my mental health breakdowns as a little girl was due to a lack of time and knowledge. At that time, my parents didn't know how to help me or who to contact. This took place in the early 90s, we didn't have access to the internet, and the term "mental health" was never used, especially in our community.
Now in our family, we have open conversations about mental health. In one of those conversations, my mom stated, "Hoy en día la ansiedad está de moda!" saying that allowed me to share with my parents that "ansiedad siempre ha estado de moda," which caused us to discuss my childhood years of struggling with mental health. This was such a beautiful healing conversation to say the least.
LEARNING TO CHANGE GENERATIONAL HEALTH PATTERNS
As a single mother for many years, my inner ten-year-old Delfi continues to push through with strength, resilience, and at times with FEAR, and this time not for my siblings but for my boys. I look back and I am very proud of Little Delfi. Because of her, I continue to build my path, creating the life I desire, 'My American Dream' in a way that prioritizes my health and wellness, along with my boys and now with my husband and my beautiful bonus daughter, who I love very much.
9 WAYS TO PRIORITIZE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH IN OUR LATINA COMMUNITY
Now as an educated Latina sharing my love and knowledge for health + wellness, I can share the following with you in honor of National Minority Health Month to help our community revolutionize our immigrant ways:
As you build Your American Dream, that dream may be to build Wealth! Remember, 'Health is Wealth,' which should always be your priority because Sin Salud o Familia No Hay Nada!
- The best things in life do not cost money and will only take very little of your time. My invitation is to start being mindful, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, this will take care of your mental health: Slow down and Listen to your engine, your miracle worker, your Body.
- Watch your portion sizes: Many Latino dishes are delicious but can be high in calories and fat. Be mindful of portion sizes and aim to fill your plate with mostly veggies and lean proteins.
- Cut back on sugary drinks: Beverages like soda, sports drinks, and fruit juices are high in sugar and calories. Opt for water, unsweetened tea, or low-fat milk instead.
- Get moving: Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. A 30-minute walk can make a huge difference.
- Go get some sun: Sitting out for a good 15 min every morning helps you get Vitamin D and boosts your mood.
- Talk to your loved ones: Having conversations with others about the way you are feeling can strengthen relationships, help communication and overall release repressed emotions.
- Be creative: Doing something like painting or taking on a new hobby can help you relax and bring adventure into your life.
- Take time to laugh: We get so caught up in surviving and living that we don’t take time for having fun and enjoying a good laugh with your comadres.
- Get help: If life overwhelms you to the point that you cannot carry out daily tasks, it may be time to talk to your doctor about it.
Also sharing this website that I love to visit, loaded with free health resources:
We can build stronger and healthier communities by starting with ourselves. Then the ripple effect occurs in our home, family, and community, and that's how we can change our WORLD, just like I have changed mine!
Happy National Minority Health Month.
Salud, Paz y Amor,