“I Am Light”

It’s hard to write a short and simple post on how much light LUCES brings into my life. Gratitude does not seem to suffice; when I think of LUCES, I think of warmth and light, as its name denotes, but love, compassion, strength, courage, happiness. Self-care.

When I entered Loyola, nothing could prepare me. As an 18 year old, I truly believed I was ready for the world, and these four years were simply another barrier to that. My first year felt like the end of the world. I was desperate for a community, for a purpose. I joined dozens of organizations, tried desperately to make friends, develop relationships, but I never felt sufficient.

LUCES taught me bravery. From the beginning, LUCES was there, but my first gathering left me intimidated and nervous. These women were self-loving, compassionate, driven individuals; didn’t seem to make the mark. It was bravery and courage that allowed me to continue attending, to discover that the space was welcoming, safe, and inclusive.

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LUCES has the ability to show and teach every individual who enters the space what it means to be a leader and to combat the imposter syndrome that prevents us from being strong, and brave. LUCES speaks on identities and encourages you to embrace them so that you can use them as tools of strength, rather than as debilitating. When it came to my racial identity, I thought I knew exactly who I was entering Loyola. For the first time, I was able to find the word that defined who I felt I was: multiracial. I didn’t have to pick one identity and leave the rest at the door. When I questioned my sexuality, LUCES held examples of what it meant to be queer as well as a woman of color, identities that are often mutually exclusive. I felt the courage and the strength to embrace my identities, even if the world around me didn’t.

LUCES also taught me that the identities you did or did not grow up in do not define who you are. Identities are fluid, they constantly change, and I learned to ride the tide of those identities. And with those tides of identities comes radical self-love.

To love yourself each and everyday is a daily challenge, and there are days you will no doubt feel hatred, guilt, or shame about yourself. But with the support of my LUCES cohort, I know that I can do anything. Though I have only one more year with LUCES, I know that it will forever be in my heart, and the women always there to support, nurture, and care for me. Thank you, LUCES, for my strength.

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“You Are My Person”

It’s difficult to begin a blog post with Grey’s Anatomy, my least favorite show, but the quote, spoken by Christina Yang, is the greatest way to describe a particular person in only four words.

What does it mean to be someone’s person?

Steven Anthony Vigil-Roach and I have known each other for over 7 years at this point, and been friends for about 6 (he claims to have been friends with me before but I don’t recall), and my person before I was even aware of it.

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I am convinced that God has connected our souls. When he is upset, I feel it in my heart, even 1,000+ miles away. Even when we don’t talk for days, a text or a call from him brings me a sense of calm, a sense of peace, realization…I am often not aware that I needed to hear his voice before it happens. He is my piece of home, reminder of the things that bring me happiness, but also remind me that I am not missing much (family drama never truly disappears, even thousands of miles away).

He is the embodiment of strength, facing adversity in aspects I will never understand, and taught me the importance of allyship, of solidarity. It may not be the same struggle, but struggle nonetheless.

He is my anger when I feel calm, my calm when I feel anger. He understands, a trait that many believe they possess but are usually wrong. And when he doesn’t, he is honest, but ensures that he can learn to understand.

I could go on and on about Steven, but there is one instance I recall that consistently reminds me of the gratitude I feel knowing he is in my life. In my second semester of my first year of Loyola, I experienced many moments of trauma that I felt I could not heal from. I was ready to transfer, to drop out and “figure it all out later”.

I walked into my building, and there he was, standing there, his face asking “where have you been?” Every fear, every ounce of sadness, was drained in that very moment. Only God could interfere in an instance such as that. In a way, I should thank God too, for allowing us to be so aware of each other in a way I am with very, very few people.

Not often do we meet people whose mere presence is a comfort. His greatest sin is that he is too good of a listener. He has the ability to heal my emotional wounds that I thought could never heal, and remind me of the strength I possess to keep going, to keep trucking along.

Thanks for being my person. I can’t wait to grow old with you and bitch about our husbands over red wine.

Challenging Love

There is not much I can say about Romell that won’t seem super cheesy, as well as extremely personal, and I usually strive to keep my relationship private,  but this post serves as a platform for all the things I say in my journal but hardly to you, Romell, and I admit, I should say them more.

I often joke with Romell that the Universe was trying to tell us something when he put us both on the trajectory to meet each other. We are completely opposite people with completely different paths, so I can only thank the universe for deciding that we needed to be in each others’ lives in some way. We both have some of the strongest personalities that are often hard to miss. We come from different backgrounds. We don’t even like the same foods. Our first interaction wasn’t smooth; I yelled at him over politics and vowed never to speak to him again. And here we are, just over two years later…I never thought that I would ever get here, and yet I now can’t imagine my life without you in it, Ro.

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Romell, you are the most selfless person I’ve met. You’d give your shoes to a stranger if they needed them. And you have used that selflessness on me and on our relationship. Even when I felt like I didn’t deserve it, you made sure that I knew I was worth it, deserving of that love and generosity (and let’s be honest, sometimes I really don’t deserve it). You never stop pushing me, and I will never stop pushing you. You are so hard-working — one of the hardest working people I know, and your determination to fulfill each and every one of your goals, as well as the patience to fully achieve those goals is inspiring. That commitment is in yourself, but in our relationship too. You possess the potential to become an even greater version of yourself, and it has been a gift to watch you discover it, as well as begin to embrace it. Even in those moments of insecurity, of uncertainty, I see a light in you that has been present since I met you, and serves as a reminder of why I love you.

As my partner, you are my #1 support. You have an innate ability to make me feel like the most treasured person on this Earth, whether that is rubbing my back when I’m sick to making me laugh uncontrollably when I am feeling sad. Even when you don’t have the right words to say, you make me feel better in other ways, in ways I never thought would work. You challenge me to understand love not as self-sacrificing, but as a team effort. You taught me compromise, and patience, and you taught me how to not only understand those who think differently than me, but to accept it. You are a physical depiction of my opposite, and that is what makes us so strong. You challenge me physically, emotionally, and mentally, questioning my every belief, my every habit. That cannot be replaced.

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In a way, love can be selfish, and this letter of gratitude has definitely proved it: The things that you do for me and the way that you have affected me are significant. However, what has been most surprising, and yet challenging, is my growing ability to be selfless for you. You have made me a kinder, softer person. You have made me realize that I don’t have to do everything by myself, that it is okay to ask for help, to ask for time to take self-care. You remind me that having fun is OKAY, that I don’t always have to take life so seriously and work all the time. You have challenged my concept of love and what that means for you. You challenge me. And I will forever be thankful for that.

There is so much more I have to be grateful for when it comes to you, but I’ll keep this short. I love you so much Romell and can’t wait to see where our next journey takes us (Loyola!). I am so grateful to be your crazy partner in this crazy world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,280 feet

Day 2! This day serves as a letter to my beautiful home, Denver, Colorado.

Dear Colorado,

You may seem like a strange place to represent, but I am forever grateful to call Denver, Colorado my home. When I tell people of you, they often mention skiing, or legalizing weed, but there is so much more to you. I think of our small, but high skyline that seems to touch the always blue sky, or the beautiful, dense, Rocky Mountains, which hide away memories of my childhood.

Every happy memory that has kept me focused and grounded in the beautiful state of Illinois is a product of Colorado living. Chicago is a bustling, diverse city, with unlimited amounts of things to do on any given day. But nothing beats you, Colorado, with miles of lush, green forest, and high, rushing rivers with children diving headfirst. In many ways, Colorado is a branch of a simpler life. As a child, it pushed me to look for “bigger” things, but it now serves as a reminder of balance: I can seek ambition while also focus on my self-care and happiness. Colorado is a consistent reminder of that. And, as cliché as it might sound, I have never felt more of God’s presence than when I am overlooking what seems like thousands of miles of country, so high that one step will send you crashing back to Earth. You lift your arms and feel like you can squeeze a cloud, feel the heat of the sun. I’ve never been anywhere else that evokes the same feeling.

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La Loma, one of my favorite restaurants.

And for anyone who knows me, they know that food is a prominent facet of my life and is a true representation of my mood and my personality. No one can do Mexican food like Colorado. It’s spicy, flavorful, and the restaurants have been around for ages. Waiters and owners remember my face from when I was a baby. From the chilaquiles to the enchiladas with mounds of cheese and chili…sorry Chicago. No one does Mexican food like Colorado.

Colorado has gifted me with people I treasure most in this world. Though I have made great memories and friends here in Chicago, nothing replaces the people back at home. They are there for late-night phone calls, for every cry of homesickness, and as a reminder that they will all be there when I get back. Most of my family is there as well, and knowing that I always have a place to go is a comforting reminder.

Shout out to the 303!

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Featured Photo Courtesy of http://www.socialventurepartners.org/denver/