Sunday, October 19, 2014

Acknowledge and Honor Your Story

This morning I was watching an interview by Dan Rather with Crosby, Stills and Nash. All of these years later, they have not been able to agree on how they even met. It reminded me of conversations with old friends and family. Nobody ever remembers an event quit the same because we all see it from a different perspective. Think about it. Where were you the first time you heard Crosby, Stills and Nash. Who were you with? Would your story match their story? Probably not. It is human nature.

We all see life from a different perspective because we are different from anyone else who ever came before us and anyone who will ever come after. In the 90's I went to Unity Church of Austin. I loved it for a while, they had a great youth program that my son Christian was very much a part of. But one day, while sitting in the Sunday morning service, I realized I was no longer comfortable in that environment. It was a big "Ah Ha" moment for me. I realized that just because the minister felt a certain way didn't mean I had to feel that way as well. She was a lesbian woman who was afraid of her father. She was telling her story and was asking us all to buy into her story and feel the same way. It became very clear that her likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations were as unique to her as mine are to me. It was a good lesson in not getting caught up in searching for truth and happiness in someone else's version of life. However, I wasn't able to apply that to my family just yet because I was still very much caught up in trying to perceive things as I was expected to in our family unit, even when it wasn't in my best interest.

One of the most frustrating things for me is to intuitively know something is wrong or to feel something painful and having other people tell me that I shouldn’t be upset. It is a self betrayal to not acknowledge what you know to be your truth. As a child my mother used to tell me not to cry. In retrospect, if I felt I had a reason to be upset, why shouldn't I be allowed to cry?  As an adult, I have learned that recognizing, acknowledging and honoring our personal pain is a lifetime commitment. Going along with the status quo to keep peace, was detrimental to my health. Just getting up and dusting myself off and moving on as if nothing happened is absolutely the most unhealthy coarse of action I have ever taken and most of us are asked to take that route our whole life.

What I now know to be true is that we all process unwanted change differently. I am talking about major changes like the death of a loved one, divorce, the loss of a home or job. When the whole conceptual framework for your life collapses, the meaning that your mind had given it dies a painful death. Suddenly, after the shock wears off, you find that you have also lost your security. You have lost your joy. I have experienced all of these losses and there is nothing worse than being told "WHEN it is time to be OVER IT." Again, burying feelings is the unhealthiest, action I have ever taken. When you are told to hold in your feelings, you pay for it years later in illness and bad relationships, both of which I have had my share of. The outcome sweeping grief under the rug will cause an explosion next time you suffer a loss because it snowballs. If you suffer a huge loss and don't allow yourself to grieve, a small loss later will bring up all the emotion that was buried and it will feel just as huge as the original loss that you didn't grieve.

The healthiest course of action any of us can take during hard times it to allow ourselves to feel our sadness and anger. Grief is part of the healing process. Allowing our experiences to flow through us is healing. Now that I know my story matters, I don't get caught up in searching for happiness in someone else's version of life, remembering that each of us are unique. So when the conceptual framework for our life collapses, a rewrite of our story is mandatory to heal, however, there is no schedule in rewriting the story, as the healing takes place. Meanwhile, if the uneasiness of your pain, your story, is an inconvenience to someone because their story doesn't match, it is best to just not be around them. Surround yourself with those that don't mind a little messiness, those that don't mind that your mascara is a big smear on your face by the end of the evening and most importantly, those that are willing to be real. Never let anyone tell you not to cry. Your feelings are yours. Healing happens in small increments over a period of time. It is a privilege to feel deeply. The dark night of the soul can be a very spiritually enlightening time. Most of my best art has come from those very dark hours in the middle of the night when I felt like I had no one to turn to. In my experience, it has been an amazing experience to emerge out of the dark night of the soul into a transformed state of consciousness. Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that I can necessarily explain. I've experienced an awakening to a deeper sense of purpose or connectedness that isn't dependent on explanation. And believe me, when this takes place, peace can be found.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Labadie Family

It's been over a month since I have written a blog post and my ancestry research has become sporadic. Mainly because I solved the mystery surrounding my paternal grandmother, Josefita Labadie Fajardo. I have traced all the other branches of my family tree as far back as the 1500's, some even further. The search for information about my paternal grandmother had become a personal challenge so when I found it, it was time for a break.

Josefita and Doroteo Fajardo

According to the Nuestra Senora del Refugio Church records in Puerto de Luna New Mexico, my grand parents, Doroteo Chavez Fajardo and Josefita Labadie Fajardo were married on May 12, 1915. My father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo was born two weeks later on May 26, 1915. Doroteo and Josefita had a daughter named Anita as well but I haven't found her birthdate or date of death. Felipe and Anita grew up without a mother because in the winter of 1918, when my father was only 3 years old his mother, Josefita died of the Spanish Influenza. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I. "The Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" was a global disaster.

Read more about it here ----> Infuenza

While I searched for information about my grandmother and aunt, I found another Felipe M. Fajardo family. In the 1800's there seemed to be a lot of Fajardos around the Socorro area and this particular Felipe M. Fajardo family migrated to the Hatch, New Mexico area. He was my dad's 2nd cousin and he also had a son named Phillip and a daughter named Anita. When I discovered them on, I thought I had hit a jackpot but it ended up just being a cousin with many family names in common.

So back to my father's given name, Felipe Montoya Fajardo .... I was always told that Montoya was my grandmother's maiden name however, I was ecstatic when I finally found the census from Puerto de Luna, New Mexico from the year 1900 that showed Antonio Montoya as head of household, his wife as Dorotea Montoya. There were six children listed ... BUT ... the children were all listed as step-children to the head of the household, Antonio Montoya and the children's last names were Labadie. I looked down the list of children to the next to the last name and there it was! "Josefita Labadie," my grandmother! Mystery Solved At Last! My great-grandmother had been married to Juan Labadie y Sanchez, ( I haven't figured out the Y Sanchez part of his name) They had six children and then he died. Cause of death unknown for now. My mother had always told us that my father's mother was a Labadie but never explained the situation. Anyway, 2 years after Juan's death, when Dorotea was 47, she married Antonio Montoya. While searching for records of Juan Labadie's I discovered books of interesting history on the prominent Labadie family in New Mexico.

Throughout this journey of discovering my ancestry, coincidences have occurred all along the way, I sort of just expect the synchronistic discoveries to occur now. The week I discovered that my grandmother was actually a Labadie, not a Montoya, my friend Marcia Ball's mother passed away and Marcia posted her mother's obit on facebook. The obit mentioned that she was from Labadieville, LA. What are the chances that information would show up the same week that I discovered my Labadie connection?

So as the story goes, my 4th great-grandfather, Dr. Dominique Labadie was born in France in 1738. He first settled in  St Louis, MO and then in Santa Fe in 1765. As a young medical doctor, the 27 year old married Maria Micaela Padilla, daughter of one of the original founding families of Albuquerque. They married in Santa Fe on November 2, 1766. and had 15 children. Their son, Juan Pablo Labadie, born on May 24, 1784 in Santa Fe is my 3rd great-grandfather. Then Juan Pablo Labadie married Maria Rosa de Reyes Cisneros and they had a son, my 2nd great-grandfather, Juan Labadie, born in 1817.  He then had a son, my great-grandfather, Juan Labadie y Sanchez, born in 1834. He was my grandmother's father but he died when she was 7. She took her stepfather Antonio Montoya's name and later gave my dad the middle name, Montoya.

My great-great-grandfather, Juan Labadie y Sanchez had a younger brother, Lorenzo Labadie. Lorenzo's immediate family are some of the most colorful characters that I have read about in my research.  It has been written that Benjamin Baca was the founder of Santa Rosa, NM but a historian from Santa Rosa tells me that my Great-Great Uncle Lorenzo Labadie was the founder. Nonetheless, they have both been named as two of the first settlers.

Lorenzo Labadie was described as a handsome, honorable man who wore many hats. In 1851 he was the Sheriff in Valencia County where he served 3 terms. Like his friend Kit Carson, he was a sympathetic and a loyal friend to many of the Native Americans. In 1855 he was appointed as a U.S. Indian Agent for 15 years and gained respect and confidence seldom obtained by the Native Americans as an Agent. Under his watchful eye, the Native Americans worked side-by-side with soldiers, damming the Pecos River to irrigate crops, planting trees, and building a slaughter house. They had 94 gardens spread over a 100 acre area and grew melons, pumpkins, chile and green beans. He was removed as an agent because he protested against the Native Americans being furnished unwholesome food by the government.
Lorenzo married Rayitos Giddings, a beautiful blue-eyed 14-year-old called "one of the fairest daughters of the territory," on Feb. 16, 1852. Rayitos was just as colorful in her own right. She was raised and educated by her great aunt, Maria Gertrudis Barcelo, AKA Madame La Tules, an intriguing, free-spirited woman who dominated Society in Santa Fe. She was known as the best professional gamblers in New Mexico. Rayitos later became a well known doctor. On the day of their wedding, as a wedding gift, Lorenzo received a commission from Governor James S. Calhoun as colonel of the territorial commission.

Later in life, Lorenzo became a census taker for at least 10 years. In 1880 he sat with Billy the Kid in Ft. Sumner and Billy gave him the name William Bonney and said he worked in cattle. He was also the census taker in 1900 in Puerto de Luna when he recored Antonio Montoya as head of household with wife Dorotea. I wonder what kind of relationship Lorenzo had with Dorotea, his deceased older brother's widow and mother of his nieces and nephews listed as Montoya's stepchildren.

In 1893 Lorenzo was elected to the legislation assembly of New Mexico as representative for Guadalupe County, NM. Lorenzo died on his birthday, August 10, 1904, in Puerto De Luna, New Mexico. He was buried there in the El Calvario Cemetery.

Lorenzo Labadie's grave

I will continue with Lorenzo's daughter Beatriz Labadie and her husband Juan Patron at a later date. This is another interesting story.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Takes On A Whole New Meaning!

It has been 5 months since I have been on this intense ancestral journey. Time travel has been amazing. Sometimes I can't help but feel that the souls of my ancestors are here with me on this journey, guiding me from one adventure to the next. Since I am related to many of the conquistadors and families that came with Juan de Oñate from Spain to Mexico, then north on the Camino Real, the Royal Road to Santa Fe, I would have been much more interested in 9th grade New Mexico history than Texas history...but oh well.

Earlier this week I discovered my 12th great uncle, Cristóbal de Oñate, a Basque aristocrat who was born in 1504. He was one of the richest men in the world, a silver baron and then became an explorer, conquistador and colonial official in New Spain. He was the founder of the contemporary city of Guadalajara in 1531. His wife Catalina Salazar y de la Cadena was a descendant of a famous jewish converso family. They had a son, Juan de Oñate. He married Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma, the granddaughter of Hernán Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador who conquered the Aztec Empire. She was also the great-granddaughter of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin. Yes, you read that right. Many of us from New Mexico are related to Cortés and Moctezuma through one woman, Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma. It is sort of mind blowing. She was described as a lady of surpassing beauty, highest virtues. How crazy is it that her bloodlines were royal on both sides, Cortes and Moctezuma?

Then King Philip II of Spain chose Juan de Oñate to lead an expedition to what is now New Mexico. Oñate set out with a group of 600 people early in 1598. Though Oñate's primary mission was to spread Catholicism, the discovery of new sources of silver was also a significant motive for the expedition. Since the Spanish conquistadors were professional warriors, only the ones that were married brought their wives. Oñate of course brought his Aztec Princess Isabel. 

The whole reason I went off on the that branch earlier this week was because I am still doing researching on the CCM1 gene mutation that I seem to have that was passed down from my 10th great-grandfather, Gerónimo Zambrano Márquez. He was a Captain in the Oñate expedition. He was married to Ana de Zaldívar y Oñate, the grand-daughter of my 12th great uncle Cristóbal de Oñate. Which would have also made her the niece of Juan Oñate the founder of New Mexico and his wife Isabel, the granddaughter of Cortés and the great-granddaughter of Moctezuma. At least I think I have that right... it is all so confusing...nonetheless, I still haven't received a call back from anyone at the University of New Mexico that I have been told that are experts on the CCM mutation. Very strange.

Last night I read about my maternal 8th great-grandfather, Diego de Vera who was born in La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain in 1593. He came to Santa Fe and married Maria de Abendano. Three years and two children later, he was tried for bigamy because he had left a wife in the Canary Islands. When I look at photos of the Canary Islands I wonder why anyone would ever want to leave, however, he may have had good reason, his aunt know as "La Perdoma" was tried and and sentenced for practicing witchcraft when she in fact was merely practicing Jewish ceremonies.

This morning I sat down with my first cup of coffee and a gold mine appeared on Even though I had been able to trace most branches of my family tree at least as far back as the 1500's, my dad's mother's family was still a mystery. She had died when he was three but he had plenty of cousins, aunts and uncles that should have made it easy. The Fajardo and Montoya families had remained close. It should have been easy, right? Wrong.

Today I found a census from Puerto de Luna, New Mexico from the year 1900.
Antonio Montoya was listed as head of household.
His wife was Dorotea Montoya.
There were six children listed.
I looked down to the next to the last name and it was Josefita, my grandma's name... but... the children were all listed as STEP-CHILDREN to the head of the household and had the last name Labadie! My mother told me years ago that there were Labadies on my dad's side but never really explained it and I couldn't put it all together. My great-grandmother had been married to Juan Labadie, they had six children, he died and two years later, at the age of 47 she married Antonio Montoya. I was beyond excited to make this discovery! Then I was sitting here thinking that she was the only grandparent that I didn't have a photo of... then my brother Gilbert called. He said that Stella, the renter in my parent's house in Amarillo had found an old photo in the house. It was my grandparents, Josefita and Doroteo. How cool is that? Her real last name and a photo of her magically showed up on the same day!

 Josefita Labadie Fajardo and Doroteo Chavez Fajardo

So there is a week's worth of research. I hope to one day put all of this information together and be able to give it to my children and other relatives.... who knows... I may write a book.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Still Looking For Answers

It sounds like it could be the screenplay for the next Hollywood blockbuster. I can see the headline in the entertainment section:

“Two Deadly Diseases, Without a Cures, 

Targets People From New Mexico"

I am telling you, truth is stranger than fiction. Until 2 weeks ago I had no idea what could possibly be causing my life long ailments, now I think I may be getting closer to the answers to not 1, but 2 diseases that target native New Mexicans. 

Here the news cast about on of the diseases today in Albuquerque:

OPMD stands for Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy. What’s even scarier than the name are the facts behind it. It's a rare muscular dystrophy, but it is common in Hispanics from New Mexico. Researchers believe 6 in every 100,000 New Mexicans have OPMD. That’s compared to 5 out of 100,000 Americans who have the most popular form of a muscular dystrophy disease.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Truth Stranger Than Fiction Found In My Genes

If you have been following my genealogy adventure, you have probably tuned into my excitement about my travels back in time. In the beginning of this journey my excitement was that of cleaning up my family's gene pool by potentially repairing DNA. Really. In recent years scientists had found that memories are passed down through generations in our DNA so my hopes were to repair the damage done to my family during the Spanish Inquisition. In the process, my interest in the Spanish Conquistador, Juan Onate's expedition and the huge part my ancestors played in that expedition have become my main interest. I have discovered 400, sometimes 500 years on family history in my research.

DNA is like a computer program,
but far, far more advanced than any
software we’ve ever created - Bill Gates.

Meanwhile, my brother, Phillip, has been on his own quest to repair our DNA with music. Again, there are scientific studies that show that simply listening to a single musical note that vibrates at 528 Hz repairs your DNA.

Well, I asked for it, I didn't get exactly what I was thinking I was going to get, however I got way more than I could have imagined. It gives a whole new meaning to dreaming big and then handing it over to the Universe because EVERY TIME you do, you will receive way more than you could possibly dream. I've received answers to some of my life long health issues, of which there have been many.

What some of you may not be aware of is that I do all of my research while lounging on my couch between activities such as doing artwork, watering plants and laundry. All of my world travels, by way of the internet, while doing genealogy keep me from going stark raving crazy on the days I don't feel well enough to leave home. Meanwhile my friends and family travel the world and post photos on facebook.

This week's discoveries play a HUGE part in possibly solving some of my rare and potentially dangerous health issues. About 3 months ago I joined the "New Mexico Genealogical Society Facebook Group." I read that there are two rare mutations that exist largely within the Hispanic population of New Mexico that have been passed down to the descendants of the early Spanish colonists. When I read it I thought "Oh, that would be me." Then I got really busy dealing with some potentially serious cardio and neurological issues so I put this information aside. Silly me... if I had known what I know now, I would have taken all this data to the specialists that I have been seeing in the past couple of months.

So the first of the  two rare mutations and potentially most dangerous is the CCM1 mutation called "Cerebral Cavernous Malformation." It is causes abnormal blood vessels to form raspberry like clusters, known as angiomas, in the brain or spinal cord. Cavernous Angiomas can occur in other parts of the body but with the CCM1 mutation, the angiomas occur in the brain and spine. The walls of the capillaries are thinner than normal, less elastic, and prone to leaking. Interestingly enough that was exactly how my cardiologist explained a condition I have in my heart that he had never seen before. I don't think it is called an angioma in the heart but it is a type mass between two of my arteries. These two arteries are supposed to go to the right, only in my heart they go to the left. Strange.. but that isn't part of the CCM1 mutation... that is a whole other issue.

At any rate, in the brain and spine, if the angiomas bleed or press up against structures in the central nervous system, they can cause seizures, neurological deficits, weakness and burning in arms and legs as well as problems with vision, balance, memory and headaches, or hemorrhages. Okay... just hold on right there! I have had seizures, neurological problems, weakness and burning in my arms, legs and neck as well as problems with vision, balance, memory and severe headaches beginning at the age of 15. And progressively getting worse!

About 7 years ago, after a very bad bout with the spinal issue, I got an MRI and I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Syringmyelia. That's just a big word for a cyst within the spinal cord that presses up against structures in the central nervous system causing severe headaches, pain, weakness and stiffness in the back, shoulders, and extremities. Uh.... ya think maybe I was misdiagnosed? Maybe, just maybe I have been dealing with CCM1 all along. Not Syringomyelia. It has almost become a family joke when I say I have the "wah-wahs" meaning "I have this weird over sensory sensation in my brain, like it isn't firing correctly." For years these episodes would only last for a few minutes. Now the over sensory brain misfiring episodes comes with pressure on my spine and it lasts off and on for about 2 days.

The second rare mutation is called Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy, or OPMD. The gene that’s defective in OPMD was discovered in 1998. Symptoms usually do not begin until the mid-40s or 50s. A person with OPMD may tend to choke frequently and have difficulty swallowing. Yeap... I have that symptom for sure. My friend, Winker had to take me to the ER once when the spasm in my throat lasted 3 hours when it would normally only last about 5 minutes. I now take meds for it. Now I just have a raspy, dry throat and voice and I cough and choke all the time. Another symptom is droopy eyelids. I stopped wearing eye make up a couple of years ago because my eyes are so droopy. I was complaining to my friend Lana about my droopy eyes once and she thought it was because I had been crying over a stupid man. NOT.

"The New York Times" did a story about both of these diseases in 2007.
You can read it here: Heirs to a Rare Legacy in New Mexico

In the interview with Joyce Gonzalez she said she suffers from CCM1 and the same genetic mutation caused a cerebral hemorrhagic death of her 9-year-old cousin, Jenae Gallegos and that many relatives in her mother’s family have had seizures. As she said in the article, it is easy to trace the Hispanic families that have lived in New Mexico for over 400 years, we’re practically all cousins. That led her to trace the genealogies of other Hispanic families with histories of CCM1. Her complex genealogical chart had five converging family trees that pointed to one man, Gerónimo Márquez, the 16th-century patriarch of her family. So I immediately looked at my family tree and found that Gerónimo Márquez is in fact my 10th great-grandfather on my maternal grandmothers branch of my family tree.

Then I heard an NPR interview recorded in 2013 and in the recording they pointed at Juan Perez de Bustillo as the carrier of the mutated gene. Again I went to and found that Juan Perez Bustillo is my 11th great-grandfather on my paternal father's branch of my family tree. So to map the disease, researchers have created some very complicated family trees to identifying descendants who may have CCM1. I am guessing since I don't live in New Mexico, I wasn't contacted. I spoke to a cousin and his wife in Santa Rosa, NM the other night. His wife and two children have CCM1 and the 2 children have had to have surgery to remove the angiomas. The first of the two was in the late 70's and was thought to be a brain tumor.

My prayer is that all of this genealogy research may have lead me to the answers to my life long health issues and that with my brother's findings that we may be able to start to heal. It affirms to me that by paying attention to what our hearts tells us to do, we discover very precious information. I am sharing my journey in hopes that others don't have to wait until they are 59 years old to have answers to life long health issues, or even better... maybe it will save a precious life.

Let the healing begin!

Please read the links below.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

This Father's Day I am honoring my father
by blogging about his given name.

 Felipe Montoya Fajardo

The Montoya surname is of Spanish origin.
Derived from the Spanish word "monte"
which translates to "hill."

Montoya families lived in the mountainous
Basque region in northern Spain

I grew up believing that Montoya was my dad's mother's maiden name. It was not. My grandmother's name was Josefita Labadie. Her father, Captain Juan Labadie y Sanchez died when she was a child and her mother, Dorotea (Maria Dolores) Chavez remarried Antonio Montoya and he gave her children his surname. This was confusing because I knew and was close to many Montoya cousins growing up. But since my grandmother passed away when my dad was only 3, the keeper of the family heirlooms and records was gone. From what I can gather, my dad was raised largely by aunts and uncles, including those in the adopted Montoya family. Sadly, the keeper of ancestral knowledge and family history was missing on my dad's side of the family. All these decades later, I am uncovering layers of amazing history. This quest for family knowledge has turned me into an amateur historian even though my original goal has been to repair family DNA... but that is another blog. 

I've spent months combing through genealogy websites trying to connect the dots from one Montoya to another, meanwhile getting sidetracked by so much other data and coming to the realization that there are closer links to the Montoya surname on my mother's side of the family. I just discovered a very important player in of the Montoya surname.

Bartolomé de Montoya was a Spanish Conquistador who arrived in New Mexico on December 24, 1600. Being the progenitor of the Montoya surname, it was firmly established in New Mexico, meaning ALL Montoya families from New Mexico descend from him. I can't even tell you how excited I was to discover this information. I have friends and family who have chuckled at my enthusiasm but this portion of my ancestry research was the bane of my existence for a while. 

Bartolomé de MontoyaBuried Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Bartolomé was born in born in Cantillana in the province of Andalucía, Spain in 1572,  the son of Francisco de Montoya. He went to Mexico and married Maria de Zamora, an Aztec Indian the daughter of Pedro de Zamora, the Mayor of Oaxaca. She was born in about 1575. They were married in in Tezcoco. He was 28 years old when he and his family arrived in New Mexico. They brought with them their 5 children, Francisco, Diego, Jose, Lucia and Petonia. The family came as part of the second Onate expedition, whose colony consisted of 65 settlers. The Montoya family brought with them 25 servants, cattle and equipment needed to begin a new life in New Mexico. 

Bartolomé  was my 8th great grandfather on my maternal grandfather's lineage and just in the line down from him, you will find four notable progenitor's surnames. It really makes me proud to see that I have such an amazing family history.

On my father's side of the family, even though my paternal grandmother did not carry the Montoya surname, Bartolomé de Montoya was my 9th great-grandfather in that lineage and again, you will find four notable progenitor's surnames.

So my ancestry journey continues from my home base in Kyle, Texas. Living here has been such a blessing because it is remote enough that it is sometimes like living anywhere but Texas. It's just the right amount of secluded and quiet. Alone time is peaceful. It’s not Texas in my little world … until I drive 20 miles north and then I am back in Austin. And that is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Love Liberates - Happy Birthday Momma

"Love Liberates" that is what Maya Angelou said when she spoke of the unconditional love of her mother. Today is my mother's birthday, she would have been 93. Happy Birthday Momma.

I felt orphaned on the day she died on April 12, 2005 even though I was to turn 50 exactly one month later. There is no love like the love of one's mother.

Love Liberates

"I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego. Love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'I love you. I love you if you're in China. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I'd like to have your arms around me. I'd like to hear your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now, so I love you. Go.'"

— Dr. Maya Angelou

In the video above Maya speaks fondly of her mother who told her when she was 22 "You know you may be greatest woman I have ever met." My mother gave me that same gift one day as she rocked in a chair on my front porch. I told her that my sister had said that she never wanted to live like me, being a working mom and never having much money. My mother said something to me that I hold close to my heart. She said "Don't let anyone talk to you that way, you are the richest person I know." From that day forward I have felt rich because my mother knew me better than anyone. I knew exactly what she meant. I am rich. I am loved and love liberates.

Happy Birthday Momma and thank you for the wonderful liberating gift of love.

Agnes Fajardo with her Willie Nelson braids
The month before she left us

Phenomenal Woman By Ruthie Foster

Live at Antone's

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Life's Little Journeys

I have been doing a "Whole Life Challenge" with some friends this month which means I am eating a gluten free diet, drinking more water, stretching, walking and journaling what I am grateful for. Today and every day I am grateful for the little jewel of a life I have created in Kyle, and I have to thank my friend Jenna for helping me to manifest this dream. She told me a story a year or so ago that broke my heart but helped me to realize my dream.

Like so many of my friends, Jenna used to be a Kervert, meaning she would park her wildly decorated trailer at the "Campers from Hell" campground in Kerrville and party with friends for 3 weeks. It has been years since she quit attending the annual folk fest. The last time that she attended, there were some teenagers who were making the daily drive down to the swimming hole for the day. They were killed in a car wreck. Jenna had just spoken to one of the girls that morning. She said that the death of that sweet young soul left a bigger impression on her than any other in her whole life. She decided that she wanted to live every day for the rest of her life the way she lived in Kerrville. So she created a place that is like heaven for her in Liberty Hill. To make a long story short, that is kind of the same decision I made after a rough couple of years. One was spent moving from Austin to St Louis, to Dallas and then to Kyle. A year ago I created a heavenly home... in Kyle, of all places.

One of my goals has always been to reconnect with my roots, that meant moving back to New Mexico... but wait .... most of my friends and up until 3 years ago my children were in Austin! Having everything in one place is rare. Once in the 90's, I actually had an amazing weekend when the Folk Alliance Conference was held in Albuquerque. I was able to stay with my cousin Paul, hang out with him in the day and then go to the hotel and hang with my Austin friends at night. What a dream come true for me! I have always been pretty good at creating my own little vortex of energy where ever I live but I feel like I have gotten it down to a fine art. Now I just wake up in the morning, have coffee and I can just imagine that my cozy little villa is almost anywhere I would want to be. I have tapas and a siesta in the afternoon and I in my mind, I may as well be in Spain... without the airplane ride. Then in the evening I take a short 15 mile trip to Austin and I am with friends again. Amazing!

Maybe the "vortex" I've created in my home has been accentuated by watching Anthony Bourdain and the little journeys I take back through the centuries researching my ancestry. Almost daily, another piece to the puzzle falls into place and I discover yet another connection to something or someone. Imagine the excitement when recently I discovered that the Fajardos migrated from Spain by way of the Canary Islands. Discovering that there are streets, mansions and vineyards, named Fajardo has been so heart warming! Last week I was curious to see what the Canary Islands are like, I googled "Canary Islands" and the next thing I knew I was on ETSY buying a peridot ring from a company called "Peridot Mountain," in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. I wasn't shopping for a ring, it just spoke to me so I ordered it. When the very nice and extremely poetic man received my order, he noticed my name and said he lives in wine country where there are only about 20 houses and the big house on the vineyard is Casa de Fajardo. I don't know if this is it but I am assuming it is and it is very cool:

I have been communicating with my new friend from the Canary Islands for about a week because we seem to have a lot in common and he is helping to fill in gaps in the ancestry info. I know it is a little late in life to being learning all of this history and geography but this is the first time that it really seems to matter. I couldn't relate to the Texas history that they taught in Texas schools. So now, as I am learning the history that I am interested in, I am documenting my family history. When my children and grandchildren get old enough to care, they will have all of this to look back on.

So my new friend from Spain realized that Kyle is a short 50 miles from San Antonio and informed me that in 1731, 16 families (fifty-five people) from the Canary Islands were sent to San Antonio, Bexar County by King Felipe V of Spain. My cousins the Delgados, from Santa Rosa, are descendants of one of those families.

Today, my Spanish friends asked what kind of art I do. I sent him a photo of the "Red Guitar" I painted for Danny and Rene about 7 years ago because it remains my favorite. He immediately wrote back and said:

"The painting hit me right in the heart!!
No need for thought, no need for words,
just communicated the way real good art is supposed to!" 

What a compliment! Then he said he is a musician and plays at the vineyard... well of course he does!

"Red Guitar" by Christina Fajardo
Painted for Rene and Danny Britt

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reflections On My Birthday Month

Another year has gone by celebrating Taurus birthdays with all my Taurus friends....  except Sarah Elizabeth, the one that I miss very much. This Taurus birthday season just wasn't the same without her. She wasn't just the center of the Taurus parties, she was the center of every party. She had a way of creating a party when there wasn't one. I miss the magic in her infectious laughter. I miss her political incorrectness when she would say what everyone else was thinking. My birthday somehow wasn't right this year, I am hoping next year will be better... it's a big one... I will be 60.
Sarah Elizabeth Campbell and John Prine

I found a poem online about Taurus the Bull. After reading it, I thought yeah, maybe I have some of those traits but I've been a muse for a few songs that seem to have captured my essence a little better.

The latest on is a song written by my friend Danny Britt. The song is loosely based on me... or at least the first verse. His artistic license sort of took over somewhere in the middle of the song. It's called "She Only Drinks Whiskey In The Morning." He and I were having a conversation one day and I jokingly said that I only drank tequila in the morning, referring to "Tequila Sunrises," well he couldn't find a word to rhyme with tequila so he changed it to whiskey. Okay, cool... I like whiskey too.

About 4 years ago my niece's husband, Mario Matteoli wrote a song about me and I am so glad I got passed that tragic, heartbreaking time of my life, but hey, I was a muse for a song that seems to help  a few women get through tragic, bad break-ups and I am absolutely positive that the attraction to tragic relationships is in my past. All I have to do is watch this video to remind myself that I never want to go down that slippery slope again.

In the 80's another good friend, Milton Carroll, wrote a song about me called "Cecelia Don't Give Your Heart Away." As you may imagine, the song was just as tragic as "Sweet Cecelia." 

Okay, so all the songs written about me aren't tragic. Here is one written by Daniel Ruddick in 1991 called "Christina's Magic." I actually named my company after the song and it held that name for many years.

So the moral to the story...

Recognizing, acknowledging and honoring our path is a lifetime commitment. Anyone that has spent any amount of time in therapy knows that we have relationships with people who mirror ourselves and the relationships we have with our parents. One of the most frustrating things in the world is feeling something painful and having other people tell you that you shouldn’t be upset. That has been the message I received for the majority of my life. 
I've read "The Secret" several times over, I should have it all figured out, right? In some areas of my life I do. I have excellent parking karma. Animals and children love me. I can make a yard come alive in the blink of an eye. Relationships are a different story. I mirror the one I experienced as a child. The one I was told to overlook. I have seen the law of attraction work for so many and it seemed to be working against me. Finally, last week I heard Esther Hicks say that if you strongly affirm something verbally but you don't really believe it in your heart, you are actually working against yourself because it is like you are arguing with yourself and digging your heals in. I get that. I'm a bull... I dig my heals in. So my birthday gift to myself this year is to really acknowledge my beliefs and to continue healing that part of myself that, in the past, didn't feel heard. Family dynamics are a funny thing. I urge you to take a look at yours and if there is an imbalance, acknowledge it. The day after I had that Ah Ha moment I woke up with this poem in my head, it was around May 12, my birthday. I'd had a dream about a family member that had really hurt my numerous times over the years and not only did they not acknowledge it, I was expected to do the same, and I did for years! And since it "wasn't happening" an apology wasn't in order...that was until I finally stood my ground and acknowledged what an unhealthy situation it was for the whole family. I assumed they cared about me as much as I cared about them therefore these atrocities couldn't be occurring.... well they were.  I thought they would always be there for me, only to realize they never were there for me at all. Acknowledgement of the truth is key. We all need to know that we are seen and heard and
that we matter.

Happy Birthday to all my Taurus friends and family
and also to all the Gemini friends and family! 
Gilbert, Mom and Dad to name a few.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th - Solar Eclipse/New Moon in Taurus

For the last two months I have disappeared from my social life and have been studying genealogy, discovering that memory is carried in our DNA. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I turned the TV on for the first time in a week on Sunday to find that they were talking about memory being carried in DNA on Oprah.

The synchronicity continues... I wasn't even thinking about the moon literally, when I started my new painting series "Good Night Moon." I was thinking about how much I miss my friend Sarah Elizabeth and how sad my Taurus birthday is going to be to celebrate without her this year. She used to post a beautiful photo of a moon on facebook every night and wrote "Good Night Moon."

Good Night Moon by Christina Fajardo

Well, today is the Taurus New Moon/Solar Eclipse, one of the most powerful, urgent and intense New Moons of the year. It is also Willie Nelson's 81st birthday.  Solar Eclipses are extra powerful New Moons.  We have just come through a very intense 2 week period with a Lunar Eclipse/Full Moon. No wonder I have been up until 3 am painting moons! 

Now it's time to relax, however it is time to go within and let go of our old programing as we move towards new possibilities and awakenings. It's time to shift individually into a higher energy level along with the collective. We are being given the opportunity to become grounded in the higher spiritual energies that we have been receiving over the last few weeks so we can bring them into physical form. With this Taurus New Moon/Solar Eclipse, it is time to pull back a little, breathe and to rest. Ground yourself in the Earth, in other words, go take a walk in some dirt... barefoot. Plants some flowers.

Solar Eclipse/New Moon in Taurus

Eclipses create a powerful energy that creates, if you will, a wobble in time, energy, and the natural flow of light and darkness while stirring up what is in our subconscious, bringing it into consciousness. Eclipses also affect the Earth’s electromagnetic field, affecting the magneto-receptors in our DNA. I know everyone is probably tired of me talking about changing the memory in my DNA but I have been reading about it everywhere I go and now seeing it on Oprah. Eclipses affect our cellular memory which holds our soul’s blueprint. That explains why I feel like I have entered into a portal downloading information, knowledge and insights from all areas of the Universe recently. I assume I need to hold on to my hat because the energy of an eclipse affects us for 6 months. It's time for all of us to change outdated programs and receive the energy to create new ones. Eclipses can bring about sudden or unexpected changes within us and the Earth (like earth quakes.)

So let go of the fear of the unknown.... it's time to release the past, the old and the worn out patterns, and habits. Meditate changes you want to make, the energy is very powerful and will be for several days. Ask yourself what cycles keep repeating themselves in your life. It may not be comfortable to look at, or to have to deal with but now is the time to face it and to make changes.  This is a time to release to make room for the new and better!  Ask to be given the strength to release that which no longer serve you, leaving room for the new and improved.

The Universe is speaking loudly……take a step…any step…..just move and embrace the magic!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Scholars, Scribes and Trail Blazers

After six weeks of researching my ancestry, the thought occurred to me that I had been reading 500 years of family history and women were rarely mentioned other than being "the wife of" or "mother to" someone important. This realization was timely. My friend, Christine is currently trailblazing around the US representing the GRAMMYs as the first Madame Chair of the GRAMMYs. Last week she was in Washington DC where music and politics united at The Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards.
On April 2 in Washington, D.C.
In honor of her support of music creators,
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
accepts the GRAMMYs on the Hill Award
from GRAMMY winner Dionne Warwick
and Recording Academy Chair, Christine Albert

Meanwhile back at the ranch, in Austin, I have been taking it easy, drinking tea on my couch, totally immersed in my research. While tracing the route of the Fajardos from Spain to New Mexico , I discovered Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo (1730-1806) a journalist who wrote one of the most important newspapers in Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. Born in the Canary Islands, there is a street named after him in San Cristobal de la Laguna, in the northern part of the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo 

"El Pensador" or The Thinker" weekly, was an example of the spirit of the Enlightenment. The work of Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo was printed and distributed in Madrid between 1763 and 1767. Each issue was devoted to a specific thought. Clavijo Fajardo described himself as a spectator of the social reality and offered his opinion in his publication.

"The Thinker" by José Clavijo y Fajardo 
As I drifted off to sleep after a long day of research, thinking about the scholar and scribe, Clavijo Fajardo, I laughed to myself remembering that I too was a scholar and scribe. No really! For 7 of the 15 years that I worked at the Austin American Statesman, I was a journalist, artist, page designer, teacher and tour guide in the Newspapers in Education Department. I published a weekly full page for children called "Scholar and Scribe." Looking back, I am amazed at the multi-tasking the three of us women had to do. We had a program called "Partners in Literacy" in which local businesses sponsored classrooms with newspapers every Wednesday to do their lessons from. I took children on tours of the newspaper and we had teacher workshops to teach them how to use the newspaper in the classroom. I designed and published the work books that were used in the classroom and one of my co-workers had to sell the full page ad on the back of my page to sponsors to keep it alive. I was the first person to design a website for the Statesman called NIE Statesman and the website still exists!
This was a year after I started working
at the Statesman,
AKA Christina Ethridge,

my ex-husbands surname. 
I fell asleep remembering once again that it is no wonder most often women don't end up in the history books, throughout the ages we most often did the most profound work with children or as the support for our husbands. Who takes notice until one of them does something amazing? I have observed that when famous people are interviewed, they always thank a special person in their life, whether it be a parent, grand parent or a teacher or their significant other, there's always a special person who took the time to teach them and support them. And when they are asked what they are most proud of they often say "My children."

So today equal admiration goes to my friend Christine who is paving the way for female musicians who come after her and on the other end of the spectrum, to my cousin, Kathy Fajardo, who is a special needs teacher in Dallas. Christine will be remembered by thousands as the trailblazer and Kathy will be remembered by many as that special person who made the difference in their life. May you both have an army of angels on your amazing journey.

...and for icing on the cake.... during my research, I discovered that one of my all time favorite actors, Javier Bardem is from the Canary Islands! He starred in two of my favorite movies! He played Felipe in "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts and in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.

Javier Bardem

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Castillo de los Fajardo, Vélez Blanco, Andalucia, Spain

"Castillo de los Fajardo" sits upon a spur of mount Mahimon above the town of Vélez Blanco, Andalucia, Spain. In 1506 Don Pedro Fajardo y Charcón, the first Marquis de Los Vélez and 5th Governor of the Kingdom of Murcia, was given the town of Vélez Blanco as a reward for his assistance in the suppression of the Moorish rebellions in Andalucia.

He ordered the construction of the "Castillo de los Fajardo." between 1506 and 1515. It was built on the site of a Moorish Fortress and became one of the most difficult and unassailable castles in Andalucía. The castle is now know as Vélez Blanco Castle.

Fajardo, raised in the culture of humanism, was governor of Murcia during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella and assisted in suppressing Moorish rebellions in their lands. By royal act, he was given the town Vélez Blanco, and between 1506 and 1515 he erected a castle with a central courtyard embellished with Italian Renaissance ornament in local Macael marble carved by craftsmen from Lombardy.

"Castillo de los Fajardo" 
Sits upon a spur of mount Mahimon
Above the town of Vélez Blanco, Andalucia, Spain 

Fajardo Coat of Arms 
On the Wall of the Castillo de los Fajardo 

With magnificent views through the Blanco valley, the castle appears on many post-cards, books and publications for the province of Almería. It is considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance style in Spain, melding indigenous gothic and Hispano-Moresque structural precedents, such as segmental arches and flat timber ceilings with exposed beams, to the architectural canons and ornamental motifs of the Italian Renaissance. Its construction is usually attributed to the Italian Architects Francisco Floretín, Martín Milanés, Francisco Fernández and Michele Carlone whose presence is also documented during these times as having worked on the Palace of La Calahorra in Granada.

"Castillo de los Fajardo" Vélez Blanco, Andalucia, Spain 

The castle occupies 2,300 square meters. It is comprised of two distinctly different parts; a rectangular structure of bricks and mortar, on the remains of the Moorish Fortress and the main palace 10 meters above floor level accessed via a drawbridge, still in place today. The main body was built of masonry and ashlar, on an irregular hexagonal floor, which included the 'patio de honor' a small room measuring 16x13.5m, the jewel of the castle, separating the Torre de Homenaje (tower of tribute), the military quarters to the north and the main residential areas.

Fajardo Coat of Arms
On the Wall of the Castillo de los Fajardo 

The 'Patio de Honor' was built with marble from the Marcael quarry with elegant arcaded galleries, elaborately carved marble capitals, window and door frames. Crowning the patio was an epigraphic cornice adorned with gargoyles. The graceful carvings that embellished many of the window and door frames, fantastic tiered candelabra and animal grotesques, foliate scrolls, birds, vases and monsters are believed to be the work of itinerant Lombardo-Venetian sculptors, who brought their carving skills and pattern books from northern Italy to the small mountain village of Vélez Blanco. The patio carvings are among the earliest of this style in Spain and antedate any published designs, showing Pedro Fajardo to have been in the vanguard of artistic patronage in Spain.

Tower of the Castillo de los Fajardo 

The higher level consists of two open galleries one with views across the Vélez-Blanco valley and the other looking over the patio to the main body of the palace and the Torre de Homenaje. The two main reception rooms, Salón del Triunfo and Salón de la Mitología were decorated with large relief friezes, unparalleled in their classical subject matter and exceptional vigor, richly carved with the themes of the 'Triumph of Julius Caesar' and the 'Labours of Hercules' and the coats of arms of Pedro Fajardo and his wife Doña Mencía de la Cueva.

The Fajardo family occupied the castle until the 17th Century when the line of succession came to an end. In the years that followed it was occupied at various intervals until it was finally abandoned following French invasion and decades of political and social upheaval in Spain.

The patio's marble fittings were sold by the castle's owner in 1904 to Parisian art dealer, George Blumenthal. He acquired them in Paris in 1913 and had them installed it as a furnished interior hall in the centre of the large house he was building in New York, on Park Avenue and 67th Street. In 1945, after his death and the demolition of his residence, the approximately 2,000 marble blocks were bequeathed the patio to the Metropolitan Museum, but it was not until 1945, when the house was torn down, that the patio's marble blocks were dismantled and transported to the Museum. In 1964, after extensive research into the patio's architectural and historical context, the structure was re-erected as part of a new wing built to house the Thomas J. Watson Library. In all some 2,000 marble elements adorn the Patio del Honor.

The patio of 
Castillo de los Fajardo 
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York 

a stamp printed in the Spain shows
Castillo de los Fajardo
Velez Blanco, Almeria, Spain, circa 1969 

Following a three-year renovation program, the Vélez-Blanco Patio returned to public view in 2002. The 2,750 square-foot, two-galleried structure had undergone extensive conservation work in order to bring the structure closer to its original appearance in the 16th century castle of Vélez-Blanco. To celebrate its return to public view the Metropolitan Museum held an exhibition of the 'Forgotten Friezes from the Castle of Vélez-Blanco', six large relief friezes were loaned from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, where they were identified in 1992 as those from the castle of Vélez-Blanco. Each of the pinewood reliefs is approximately 20 feet in length and 550 pounds in weight.

The castle was declared a National Monument (Bien de Interés Cultural) on June 3, 1931 and the Junta de Andalucía have been working to bring the castle back to its patronage. In December 2004 the Junta De Andalucía made a sale of agreement with the current owner, Salvador Ferrandis Álvarez De Toledo, Marqués de Valverde, and having completed the necessary administrative procedures, the final contract of sale took place on September 30, 2005. Three annual payments made in equal parts of 1 million euros in 2005, 2006, and 2007 were made.

Jesús Romero, Director General of Bienes Cultares said ' Now we can say that the Castle of Vélez-Blanco is the property of the Junta de Andalucía, therefore it is the property of all andalucians, and naturally of all almerians and most importantly that of the residents of Vélez-Blanco'. Once the final sale took place the Junta de Andalucía, together with the Council for Culture will put into motion the renovation of the interior of the castle. Alfonso Ruiz García, professor of Geography and History and co-ordinator of the Cabinet of Fine Art of the Junta de Andalucía, emphasises that the castle is ' one of the best examples of almerias heritage, together with the Alcazaba and the Cathedral. These three are the principle references of the heritage of the province of Almería, with their military, artistic, historic, scenic and touristic qualities'. The problem lies in the fact that many visitors remain impressed with the exterior but few venture inside due to the fact that the interior remains empty. The Junta de Andalucía are currently negotiating the acquisition of the friezes from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. With little hope of acquiring the Patio de Honor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Junta de Andalucía together with the Culture Council plan to rebuild the Patio using marble from the quarry in Macael.

Additional findings in April 2019:

The castle of Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacôn (ca. 1478–1546) stands above the town of Vélez Blanco,near the southeastern coast of Spain. Fajardo, raised in the culture of humanism, was governor of Murcia during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella and assisted in suppressing Moorish rebellions in their lands. By royal act, he was given the town Vélez Blanco, and between 1506 and 1515 he erected a castle with a central courtyard embellished with Italian Renaissance ornament in local Macael marble carved by craftsmen from Lombardy.

The above info found on this website: