I’m Zana Carbajal. When I became a mom in 2011, I sensed society expected me to neglect myself and become the supporting actress in others’ lives. I experienced postpartum after the birth of my second son in 2015. I lost my identity. I said yes to my employer, church community, and kids’ school functions. What I was saying no to was myself. I was a shell of a person and sunk into a depression.
Queue Sarah Bareilles’ “She Used to Be Mine.”
Where was the girl that traveled the world? Where was the girl that went skydiving? Where was the girl that cheered competitively for Hawaii Pacific University? Where was the girl that auditioned and sang for anyone that would listen? Where was the girl that married her Uruguayan 90-day fiancé before it was cool? That learned Spanish fluently in 18 months and tested out of her university? That loved attending theater and concerts? I was living someone else’s dream. Though I loved snuggling my babies and watching Blippi, I knew I wasn’t tapping into the best of me. I had a fixed mindset and felt stuck. Then I found out I was pregnant with identical twin girls in late 2017.
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This pregnancy was the wake-up call I needed.
How could I expect my children to learn how to live whole-heartedly if I couldn’t? I started pouring into my humanity by conditioning my mind, body, heart, and soul. I brought my kids along for the ride. I learned when my cup is full, my energy and love overflows into my friends and family.
Here are a few methods that helped me develop a growth mindset:
Mind— I sought out like-minded women that fought to pour into their families, careers, and the pursuit of their dreams. I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks during my commute. I read every Brene Brown book and watched her TEDTalks.
Body—I joined a community of moms at a local boot camp. I’d strap a baby on my back and push another kid or two in a stroller to run and flip tires with this crew. My mantra is “eat clean and close your rings!”
Heart— I started writing music and auditioning for theater again. I performed at community events. In March 2021 I started a podcast with my best friend.
Soul— I found the Ten-Percent Happier app and began meditating with my kids to practice mindfulness.
Slowly but surely, I realized I could be a wife, mom, AND many other things. I also realized without any family near by my husband and I needed to ask for help. We have been hosting Au Pairs for the last two years. Which has helped us spare the guilt of pursuing our passions while parenting.
In this chapter of life I identify as a mama AND a:
- Senior Retail Technology Manager
- Singer and songwriter
- Podcast co-host at The Strong Sunflowers and Los Girasoles Fuertes
- Global Strategic Communications graduate student at the University of Florida
- Future Broadway actress
- Advocate and ally for the Latinx, BIPOC, and LGBTQA+ communities
This list can evolve and change as I enter new seasons. Last summer, our family moved to Austin from the Sarasota/Bradenton area (just south of Tampa, FL) to pursue growth and opportunity. I was so scared to leave my comfort zone. I built a community of incredible moms and friends that supported me in The Sunshine State. Before our big move, I found Austinmoms.com, which has helped me connect with a field of amazing women. Though this move has not been easy by any means, little by little, I’ve been able to build a new support system in Texas and hold on to the things that make me, me.
As a little girl, society told me to be pretty and polite. To be a helper and show up as a supporting actress in others’ lives. After 12 years of marriage and having four babies, I know I can lovingly support my family AND be the main character in my own story. Our babies are looking to us to navigate life.
Mamas, make those little girls inside you proud. Pursue the life of your dreams, and your kids will know they have permission to do the same.
I am thrilled to contribute to this platform and look forward to hearing and supporting your journeys.