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“Why you should center yourself” With Beau Henderson & Annette Estrada

One of the best ways to heal from a current event is to connect with others through suffering. There is something magical that happens when two people can connect over a tragedy. People can cry together, commiserate, and learn from each other. The biggest way I’ve been able to find some peace is to listen, […]

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One of the best ways to heal from a current event is to connect with others through suffering. There is something magical that happens when two people can connect over a tragedy. People can cry together, commiserate, and learn from each other. The biggest way I’ve been able to find some peace is to listen, no talking, just listening. From listening, I learn how much I can contribute to the overall issue or to help heal myself and others in need.


As part of our series about ‘5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country, I had the pleasure of interviewing Annette Estrada, formerly known as Annette Elemen.

Annette Estrada has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in formal and informal settings for over 17 years; she continues to teach as a credentialed classroom teacher in the South Bay Area of California. During her 17 years serving youth, Annette remains passionate about youth development and about her own personal and spiritual growth. Annette has led and created workshops and groups involving healing, peace, technology and science, and many more!

Growing up in a tumultuous home, Annette’s past trauma has informed her passion for personal and spiritual growth and has influenced the human being she has now become; she uses the past as fuel to ignite the catalyst for her own healing and growth. It is entirely natural for Annette to incorporate her own experiences, healing, and growth into her classroom as many of her students share similar experiences with her about the daily traumas they face at home.

Currently, Annette is working on the final version of her book, Mini Manifesters, a pocketbook that provokes change in the way we think about our youth and the importance of leading the new world NOW! The book is scheduled to be released at the end of summer/beginning of fall 2020. Annette is also launching her website minimanifesters.com around the same time as her book release. Annette currently resides in San Jose, CA with her four children and her partner.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I am a first generation Filipina American. My life started in a small migrant working town, Orange Cove, located close to Fresno, California. The town was filled with many Mexican families in addition to a sprinkling of Japanese, Filipino, and White families. Many people of color worked the fields by picking fruits and vegetables and lived simple farm lives, where some families traded or bought livestock from neighbors for food. My family raised chickens and used their chickens for trade or sport (cock fighting).

I grew up in an emotionally unstable home; many of my young moments were spent using my imagination leaving me content enough to feel some semblance of safety, and kept me company. In the latter part of my elementary school years, my parents separated, and my mother relocated us to San Jose, California. It was a tough beginning, where my family of six lived within meager means. My parents finally divorced when I was in 3rd grade, and I continued to live with my mother, brother, and grandmother, in different multi-family homes. I was fortunate to have good friends along the way.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

In my experience, the book that catalyzed my growth from one point to another was The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book came to me during a time in my early 20’s when I lived mostly in fear. It was the first time I realized how my insecurities were rooted in fear that impacted the way I related to people and life. My perception of life was glazed over where all I could see was scarcity and problems: This was the first time I realized that I had the power to make my life work for ME: A slow journey to healing, building my own reality and reframing perceptions which changed my life trajectory, and still is, changing it into a life of wholeness, abundance, and happiness.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

A quote that stands out and defines many moments in my life is: Turn your wounds into wisdom. I have endured and witnessed more suffering than your average person. I have witnessed domestic violence and have also endured various abuse in addition to witnessing my parents’ separation and divorce. I have incurred so many wounds from my past, and I could have continued on a path of destruction. Luckily, due to my profession, the love for myself, and my children, I steadily chose to take the higher road, to find ways I could channel my higher self to inform my life decisions, which has brought me to this point in my life. I am still teaching, I will soon release my first book and website; I am currently contributing to several published magazines, and my family is thriving! I could not have done any of this if I was not able to locate the wisdom from my wounds. In the past, it was easy to numb my pain with many distractions, but now my wounds remind me that I do not have to relive my past; my wounds remind me there is still time to learn, grow, and live the best version of me.

How do you define Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

In its simplest form, I define leadership as the ability to direct, inspire, guide others to meet a common goal, and most importantly ELEVATE their energy. Energy is important; it is the fuel that ignites the soul. With all the good work happening in the world today, there is still more we can do to serve humanity. People can feel good energy; people can sense when a cause will directly benefit humankind, and that is important.

The best experience that exemplifies my definition of “Leadership” was when I led The Wellness Initiative at my daughter’s school. I was the parent leader in this effort together with my project partner, a lead teacher. My project partner and I had such a belief in our wellness efforts that our belief spread to the school staff and parents of the school community! The support our initiative received was amazing. We invited city council and state senators to come and kick off the event and they came!! Not only did we direct, inspire, and guide our community to meet a common goal, we executed it with an effervescent energy that was contagious and effective! Energy is key!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now lets move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crises. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. Wed love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I would like to focus on the racial tension that has incited recent protests and directed laser focus on law enforcement’s involvement. Many of my colleagues in The Powerhouse Academy, an entrepreneurial group, called various impromptu meetings to vent, commiserate, and figure out the best ways to be supportive and active in our own way, especially for people who felt out of place in this particular crisis. Many of us know that this is an “us” issue, but many seemed lost about how to be the best ally in the midst of such a sensitive subject and time such as this. I resonate with this issue because I am a woman of color; I have children who are mixed race; I serve mostly students and parents of color, and many of my dear friends are also people of color. I want to keep my ears close to the ground so that I know how to best support, advocate, and navigate through times like this. From personal experience, it is generally a touchy topic where all I do is listen and learn, but I am never sure if that is enough; many times I end up feeling unsupportive and numb.

This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that its at now?

This particular issue has had many eruptions and outbursts throughout our American history. It is clear from my own experience, that I have been unaware of the power of my ignorance. Regardless, we cannot deny that something does not exist. Although it makes things easier to deal with, there has to be a point where we are faced with making the decision to actually feel the crisis, and to feel for others during an emotionally charged time. It has been a personal habit to sit back and think, “this doesn’t affect me.” That’s where I’m wrong, I’m wrong because it does affect me; it affects the way I view our nation and its people; it affects the safety of my own children, students, friends, and family; it affects our country’s overall wellbeing; lastly, it affects our global society. This crisis is ever-present for a reason; this crisis is here to remind me that my ignorance can no longer comfort me when injustices such as racial tension are constant. As a global society, we all have to elevate ourselves and start changing the way we think and operate when dealing with humanity. The conflicts of late are a reflection about where our national union has been; this is a call to action for us all.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?

As a parent and teacher, it is not just one day or one story that encapsulates the good or an ultimate victory. What was victorious one day is lost the next due to day to day happenings. I am a mother of four mixed race children and have taught children for over 17+ years. Of that 17 years, I have spent almost 8 years as a credentialed classroom teacher. I have taught students in communities that many may view as “low income.” My community, my students, are impacted on a daily basis. They are often reminded that they are marginalized from the clothes they wear, the color of their skin, the fluidity of their English, to the type of neighborhood they live in. Being a teacher is a gift; it is a gift because parents are trusting that I see their children through the same lens of love as I view my own kin. Being a teacher is not just about teaching students how to read, write, and compute various algorithms, with love: our job is to remind our little leaders that they are special and worthwhile. I have the opportunity to give my students what society cannot, which is the ability to love themselves. Everyday, we embrace how mistakes increase our brain power ; how all of us are geniuses in our own way; and how we must show love to love others. The everyday messages our youth receive from pop culture and the media remind my community and our little leaders that they are not enough. They carry this idea and belief around with them every day; you see it in how they maneuver through life. You see it in shy students; you see it in students and their outbursts; you see it in mean students; lastly, you see it in students who have low self-confidence. It is heartbreaking! This lens of love shouldn’t be judged as a Pollyanna approach. This lens helps open up the heart to see the beauty in everyone, which in itself is healing: Seeing the beauty in yourself encourages seeing the beauty in others.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

The steps listed below encourage us to make a journey to healing the self through feasible action. During a crisis, sometimes we may feel powerless; healing the whole cannot happen until we begin WITHIN which will begin to transform our reality: What we do for ourselves we do for the whole. Healing will not occur overnight; it is our micro-actions on a daily basis that help to push the healing process. This begins the healing journey and living out the best version of YOU!

Step 1: Observe events to gain perspective

During any tumultuous event, it is helpful to completely detach from what is happening, to avoid any type of reaction, especially an unhealthy reaction. I think back to a time when a fight was about to break out. Of course, the drama of it all made me automatically step back to understand what was about to happen next. After the cussing and yelling, it was clear the combatants were going to go at it. Because I stepped back, I was able to think clearly about my next steps, rather than quickly stepping in.

Step 2: Center yourself

Coupled with Step 1, this is an opportunity to locate your feelings, thoughts, and the type of energy you want to fuel your reactions. Many times, I usually don’t even address the issue, which has left me numb. However, when something is recurring and devastating, it is undeniable that we will all be affected in some way. It is a call to action to redirect our own thoughts and energy to address the issue.

Step 3: Use empathy, check in with others directly impacted, then LISTEN and LEARN

One of the best ways to heal from a current event is to connect with others through suffering. There is something magical that happens when two people can connect over a tragedy. People can cry together, commiserate, and learn from each other. The biggest way I’ve been able to find some peace is to listen, no talking, just listening. From listening, I learn how much I can contribute to the overall issue or to help heal myself and others in need.

Step 4: Create the healthy environment you want to see + Elevate your energy (Keyword: Healthy)

THIS IS A BIG DEAL! Am I suggesting to create your own reality?? YES I AM!! In the end, regardless of what is happening outside of your residence, you still have to go home. The best place to start a new reality is in your home! Regardless of how big or small your dwelling space is, it is what you make it. Celebrate the energy that you bring into your space; energy is fuel for the soul. For example, if you live with others and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable about how housemates are liberally using racial slurs, call a meeting about how we have to be mindful due to the unrest outside of our home. Stand up for yourself and for what is right! No-one likes being told what to do, but if you feel the need to speak up, take care of yourself and speak up. Use the best energy possible to help elevate the situation.

Step 5: Carry your healthy reality out into the world

Conduct yourself as if the reality you desire existed! If you believe in treating everyone with kindness, treat everyone with kindness. If you notice a micro-aggression happening, oppose the hurtful act. Each micro-action helps to generate energy; ensure that your energy results in elevating the environment.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?

Think about healing the country with this concept in mind, we are all parts of a whole. To begin with, reflect on what type of healing will help you attain any of the aforementioned steps; reflection is key to any journey of healing.

To attain Steps 4 and 5, if you are feeling ready for it, join groups that are pushing for a cause; civic participation is a great way to enact the reality you believe in. If you do not feel comfortable participating on a civic level, join a community based group who are having courageous conversations or are actively addressing these crises head on. Another route to go is to create your own group of like-minded people. Luckily, I am working with The Powerhouse Academy, a cohort of committed colleagues who connect with one another about the current issues and crises impacting our community. They are a lifesaver, and we have created a safe space together to release our feelings; this release helps us to feel better about the good we want to spread into our community. So HEALING!!! At some point, it is easy to think that there is more talking than action, but if you think about it, processing and talking is helping to shape how you want to treat humankind.

Talking is healing as it helps to release pain and can birth new energy and thoughts.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

Racial tension is such a deep part of our history, that it will take time for all this pain to reverse itself. Just like any type of healing, building to become whole again takes time. But as a collective we all must do our part to help heal the wounds that our country has accumulated. I know things will subside with time, but we all have to do our part as well. Each person must act as an antibody for the collective; we must do our part to eliminate all that is toxic for the sake of the whole. Toxicity on any level will eventually spread through the whole: We must do our part.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I cannot stress the importance of loving the self and everything about ourselves. It is easier to be kind to others when we can see the beauty in ourselves. Lastly, being the ambassador of encouragement: our world is filled with so many limiting beliefs, it is impossible for people to spread their wings! To be a positive influencer and ambassador of encouragement for all is what we need! We already know what our shortcomings are, we do not have to be reminded about these. Being intentional about elevating the energy is our key job. Energy is contagious; it heals, and the supply is unending! We need to generate and use all of the good energy possible!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to meet with Ellen Degeneres and or Malala. It has been a dream to collaborate with either of these women because of the struggles they have endured. Regardless of these struggles, they are thriving and have stories to share about how they crossed over from the world’s illusory limits! They continue to thrive by elevating the energy and by spreading truth and joy to the world around them.

How can our readers follow you online?

I have two places for people to connect:

Facebook: facebook.com/annette.estrada.1111

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annette-estrada-b818321b0/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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