Mental Health: Week 9 - Gratitude Challenge
Where have you traveled that made an impact on your life? Why was that place so special to you?
Growing up, my family traveled quite often, and there have been many places, that have earned a special place in my heart: San Antonio, Texas; Savannah, Georgia; Disney World. However, there is one place in particular that really changed my life helping me explore and find myself as an individual. San Juan, Puerto Rico. More specifically, Old San Juan. As many of you already know, I am adopted. My biological mother was German, and my biological father was Puerto Rican. I was blessed to have been adopted by my grandparents, however, because of this, I never really got to know my Puerto Rican roots. With this being said, it was very important to my parents, and myself, that we visit Puerto Rico, and see in person where the other half of my roots were from.
I grew up in a predominately white world. Being one of 15 students of color in my graduating class of 400 students. Therefore, when I went to Puerto Rico, it was one of the first times I had ever seen so many people that looked like me. Since majority of my life, I was the “dark” one, or the old-ball due to my big kinky hair and caramel colored skin, it was refreshing to be surrounded by people with similar textured hair, and milk chocolate skin tones. While spending time in Puerto Rico, one thing I noticed was the abundance of diversity. Puerto Ricans, come in all colors: from as pale as porcelain to as dark night, making it nearly impossible to define what a Puerto Rican should look like. Which in my honest opinion, I love! Their hair can be stick straight or stunning afros, with all skin colors and hair types under the sun, Puerto Rican was hands down, one of the most diverse places I have ever visited, making me feel right at home.
Not only are the people absolutely beautiful, but the culture and the land itself, are each something to take in, and meditate on. From open tree houses in the rain forest, to colorful shops in a bustling city, Puerto Rico has an array of beauty and lifestyle options. You can surf in Rincon, one of the world’s best surfing cities, or lay on the coast in San Juan. Explore an array of birds in the rain forest in El Yunque. To really dive in and get closet to nature, my family went kayaking in the bio-luminescent in Vieques. The water literally glowed a vibrant blue with every stroke of our paddles. If that in itself isn’t a work of art by God, than I don’t know what is. Something very unique about Puerto Rico is the wild life. With wild “house cats” helping keep out the mice in San Juan and a large variety of small lizards and birds in the rain forest, the only other wild-life they really have (that I saw or asked about) were fruit bats, that come out at night, and tarantulas down in the depths of the ground. Otherwise, it is very safe wild-life wise.
All in all, my entire visit there, gave me the perfect opportunity to explore the land where half of my family was from, as well as see other Puerto Ricans in person and interact with them. Being in Puerto Rico, I learned more about my culture, and who the other half of myself was. I was inspired to continue to learn more about my roots from both my Puerto Rican and German sides, helping me embrace the interracial person I am meant to be!
Would I go back if I had the chance? Absolutely, just this time, I would bring my kid and my husband.
Where have you traveled that really made an impact on your life? Let me know in the comments!
Meghanlee Phillips is the Editor-in-Chief of The Volk Magazine. With a passion for fashion, a love for writing and her lifestyle focused around mental health; she has been able to bring all three together to create the mid-western fashion/lifestyle magazine, The Volk. Keep up to date with her and her vibrant style by following @msmeghanlee (Instagram)