Sundays with Abuela
This past week I lost the matriarch of my family and the guiding light of my life, my grandmother, Jovita Quintana, at 92. In her great honor, below are some of the important lessons I learned from our family’s shaman, with whom I spent every Sunday for 30 years.
My grandmother, my abuela, had the gift of being able to see into the near future and she also had the gift of healing. She used her gifts every day with her family and within her community across the South Bronx as a futurist, a healer, an adviser and a life coach. Some called her a witch doctor, a fortuneteller, and a spiritual master but I called her Wella, short for abuela, which is grandmother in Spanish. This is what she taught me:
1. Always walk through life with an open and forgiving heart.
She never held on to anger, resentment, or remorse and instead walked through life in a constant state of gratitude and inner peace.
2. Honor your ancestors and remember from whence you come.
She taught us to preserve our Puerto Rican heritage and culture and to walk with pride in our cultural identity.
3. Pray, meditate, and never waiver in your faith in God and his angels, who are always with us.
As a spiritualist with a third eye, she was in touch regularly with the spirit world and was a messenger with a great ability to read people, the environment, and circumstances.
4. Heal yourself before trying to heal others.
As the community healer, she maintained a healthy boundary around herself and reminded us to self-preserve if we were going to effective caring for others.
5. Success is a state of mind.
She was a big believer in “act as if” and always used to tell me: “Once you believe it, own it, and act as if it is so then will it be so.”
6. Protect your resources and save your money as if it were gold.
She saved more than she ever spent and provided for us in so many ways, which is incredible given that she was a poor woman who by saving turned pennies into quarters.
7. Create and honor rituals, which empower your mind, body, and spirit.
For example, she taught me to always offer flowers to the ocean before a swim as a thank you for nurturing our planet, which I have always done.
8. Share your stories and remember that storytelling is about teaching something new to whoever is listening.
Although she never learned to read or write, she was a master storyteller and I write about her in Practical Genius and celebrate what she taught me about storytelling.
9. The heart should always be in the driver’s seat and the brain is only a passenger.
She believed the heart was the guiding force in our lives and taught me to challenge the logical side of who I am. Today I lead from the heart and live out loud in full Technicolor because of her.
10. Helping others isn’t a nice thing to do, it’s a must thing to do.
As a servant leader, she helped hundreds maybe even thousands of people throughout her life and taught us that it is only through service that we will experience our full human potential.
Wella, I will miss you and I will forever carry forth your lessons, insights, and legacy. I know we will be reunited one day and until then I will look for you in my dreams for I know you will continue to speak with and through me.