On April 5, 2022, #WeAllGrow Amigas presented a live IG interview between their CEO & Founder, Ana Flores, and a remarkable Peruana, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado. The invitation described her love of mountain climbing as a source of healing childhood trauma. My curiosity for glacier climbing prompted my participation. Had it not been for my curiosity, I would have missed an opportunity of a lifetime.
Immediately visible was a bubbly, bright-eyed woman speaking passionately of her identity. Seeing a Peruana in action is like being fueled by the Universe. With her infectious smile and humble grace, Silvia described the impetus behind her new book, ‘In the Shadow of the Mountain’. She spoke of the sexual violence of her youth, the traumatic aftermath and loss of her true narrative.
Looking for solace and healing, Silvia found peace in the “Goddess Mother of the World”, Chomolungma (Mount Everest). In 2005, Vasquez-Lavado became the first Peruvian woman to climb the epic peak, reclaiming her strength again. Trauma, pain, grief, loss… all these human conditions can bury us, making us dig out into unknown worlds. Yet, upon the sudden loss of her partner, Silvia opted to scale the highest mountains in the world. As she reached the pinnacle of each peak, Silvia placed a picture of her partner in the arms of the goddess peak.
With that dream, Vasquez-Lavado became the first gay woman to complete the Seven Summits, climbing the highest peaks of each continent in the World. Her attempt at Denali took three tries and yet she didn’t quit. This endurance exemplifies the focus of Episode 36: the strength of the mind to put the body into motion, to prove it can renew value and self-love. And in return, the body heeds its request.
Community Healing All Pain
Silvia seemed like a sister to me. Maybe the Life Lnxx connects us, the similar thought bubbles pulsing in our heads. I opted to seek out the most isolated places on the planet to test my convictions of raising my two daughters on my own. As they grew older and life became difficult, I tested my physical strength and psyche to find confidence and perseverance.
Listening to Silvia on the IG interview filled my soul again. The recent loss of my mamacita had left me void of the Latina energy. Her enthusiasm, grace and strength seeped through the screen and washed over me. Nothing can replace the love and energy of a Peruvian woman, no matter how much she is suffering or overburdened.
Silvia spoke of feeling the embrace of Mount Everest as she stood at Base Camp. The warmth of an ancient glacier provided the love to break open her pain and begin to heal. With healing came enthusiasm to share the opportunity to others who are suffering. In 2014, Silvia founded ‘Courageous Girls’, a non-profit community organization that leads young women, who are survivors of sexual violence, on adventurous outings to begin their healing journeys.
In the interview, Silvia stressed the need for community to provide a sense of belonging. She emphasized the difficulty in trying to heal without support. Living a diverse identity adds to the isolation. The answer is found in coming together to support each other towards a common goal.
Organizations, like #WeAllGrow Latinas, promote strength in a diverse identity and provide community that many seek for belonging. Founded by Ana Flores, in 2010, #WeAllGrow Latinas community empowers Latinas to affect social and economic impact. Bringing forward generations of cultural knowledge and wisdom, the latina community supports woman rising into leadership to widen conceptual organizational thought. The power is shared through the screen. We belong.
Latinas bridge the communities they share. They understand and empower both worlds. And yet, the comfort and revelry is most profound in the Latinx families and communities. It’s inexplicable and yet, undeniable. It’s the Life Lnxx.
Silvia’s amazing story is being made into a movie, with Selena Gomez performing her role and Donna Gigliotti directing. Let’s hope for a release soon so that we can be inspired by these fabulous women: in true life, behind the camera and on screen.