Meet one of my best friends Jennifer. She’s a powerhouse mom to an amazing son and her son is my daughter’s best friend. We graduated from undergrad together and are now raising our children together. She’s an educator, working to become a published author, an an all around dynamic woman. I hope you can be inspired by her story.
How would you describe the Life and Times of Jennifer P. Coello?
The Life and Times of Jennifer is a constant roller coaster in every aspect of life, is a never-ending journey that started in Cuba and traveled 9 years ago to the United States. The life and Times of Jennifer is the constant finding and reshaping of who I am and where I’m going.
What’s your day job and what’s your passion?
I am currently a Spanish Teacher at Bright Loritos, where I travel to different schools to provide lessons to different age ranges. My passion is to teach more than a language, it is to open my students to see, experience, understand and sympathize with other cultures outside theirs.
What is your why?
My why have changed based on my context in life. I remember a few years ago my biggest why was my family, especially my mom, and being able to make her proud. My why was my people in Cuba, what I left behind, my roots and my land. Even though it has not completely changed now, my biggest why is because I am a mother. Providing for my child is my biggest why. Every single decision in my life, even if is small a decision between water or juice, is based on his wellbeing.
How did you begin your self-love journey?
My self-love journey has also been a roller coaster - ups and downs especially since I moved to the U.S. Moving here was a big hit to my self-love. Why? Because I was no longer able to fully express myself because I was boxed in a category because I had to follow norms. To people here, I was too dark to be Latina, too light to be black, too “exotic”, too much accent, my hair, my dancing, my clothes.... and so on. It was a constant fight between who I was with who I should be in order to fit in or be part of something. So for a long time, I tried hard to change some things about myself, to accept that moving also meant moving my identity. Everything was so oversexualized taken out of context and I remember limiting myself to talk in public especially if men were present because then this will occur: “Damn, I thought you were black, damn so sexy, can you repeat that again , damn you so exotic.” I legit was intimidated the first years living here. I remember being questioned why I was wearing shorts that shorts. I remember how my personality was “too friendly” or “too touchy.” I had a hard time making close friends here in high school. I tried to change the way I carried myself. However, I was lucky enough to have the support of my mother and find such a great friend group. I was lucky to have their unconditional love that accepted me for who I was. When I lost my mother, I fell into a loneliness hole. Depression and anxiety were my two big demons which led me to fall into toxic relationships that lowered my self-love even more. When 2016 arrived and I became a mom, I realized that there was not a choice to not love myself enough to the point I wouldn’t be able to be there for my child. So this time, again with the support of my friends and family and my willingness to rescue the girl, I tried to leave behind I began my self-love rescue journey and trust me, this time I’m not letting anything or anyone to change me or push me down.
How do you care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally?
I recently began to eat only plant-based and I make sure my son also has a good diet. I love music, dancing, and jokes ( bad jokes ) but I joke a lot about things and situations just to have a positive attitude most of the time. My friend group is amazing like you don’t see them every day but you know they are there for you through text, calls, FaceTime, posts, road trips I keep in touch with them. I also love writing for children. I just finished a book and hopefully, I will publish it this year. I cry a lot too lol it’s funny because sometimes I will be crying and I don’t fully understand the reason why, but it helps to let things out. I love candles and massages and sex, good sex, but we are not getting into details with the last one.
What do you want to tell other moms about raising a son?
That is really, extremely hard but not impossible. Patience is key and is ok to lose it sometimes. I want to tell them to do not dictate norms to their sons, let them be unique, let them express themselves, instead of saying no, ask why. Show them that they can cry too because they have feelings as well and to not let people pressure just by trying and taking care of your son you doing a great job as a mom.
How was your pregnancy and journey into motherhood?
I spent most of my pregnancy eating chocolate and I loved it. I was depressed for a huge part of the process because of my situation with the father of my son. Being a mother has to be tough because most of the time I don’t know what I am doing and I feel lost. It's a constant challenge that you face every day but even if my legs are shaking Being a mother is the best thing that’s has happened to me.
How do you stay grounded?
I reflect a lot, it can be after a long day, after a decision made, I take a step aside and I reflect about every single thing. I am also learning some meditation techniques. I leave my phone alone for a couple hours after my day has finished or even during the day, it helps to not get distracted. I have also learned from friends the use of essential oils in the house and on myself. I am always thankful for everything I go thru in life and Josniel.
How do you live intentionally?
I have learned through the years that every day is the beginning or the end of something great or fatal that will shape your life positively or negatively. I wake up every morning with a great smile on my face, of course, I am tired, drained and exhausted but I need to wake up with the optimism that I have another opportunity to start, end, or change. I remember for a period of time, I will see my friends getting together, going to brunch, traveling and because of the situation I was at the moment I missed on those moments and that was affecting me a lot. Getting out that toxic cycle made realize that is very important to make time for your friends and your support system, to be as clear as you can to those who care about your current situation. Now, I try my best to check on my friends to make time to at least say hi through a text. Expressing gratitude on the daily basis is very important to me, helping others as much as I can, be a support system, help my students outside the classroom, and most importantly enjoy being a mother and taking care of my son.
What’s your inspiration?
My mother is my biggest inspiration, I want one day to be the reflection she was, strong as she was, resilient as she was, selfless as she was. I want to follow her steps in my own shoes.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to help to create an educational system that actually inspires and educate our children in an environment where they are accepted no matter who they are.