Woman Crush: Jacette Valenzuela
Hi everyone! I wanted to switch things up for my latest Mamá Crush series. For this installment, I had the honor of interviewing my best friend in the world, Jacette Valenzuela.
I met Jacette in elementary school, but we became BFF's in high school, after bonding over A.P. U.S. History, sharing ALL the late-night study bagels and Triple Entente Cake (it was just a triple layer chocolate bundt cake, but seeing as we were studying for U.S. History...), and of course, ditching school to go get our makeup done at the mall. Years later, we are still just as obsessed with makeup, but she was the encouraging factor in getting me to run my first half-marathon.
Though I realize that, to date, this has been a Mamá Crush series; I really wanted to include a wider range of voices. I asked her for this interview because I wanted to give readers the perspective of someone who has chosen not to have children in their life.
I've talked about the challenges and judgement women face for their choices - whether they choose to stay home to raise their children, or to embark on the journey of working motherhood. If we expand that circle of criticism just a little further, we can also include women who choose not to have children, those who cannot have children, and everyone in between.
She is a beautiful person, inside and out. She is a talented writer, an actress, a runner. She has a generous spirit that lights up the world, but especially those lucky enough to call her a friend.
So, without further ado...
On Jacette: I always find this question hard; how much do strangers really want to know? I grew up in the Coachella Valley heat and quickly ran from it straight out of high school. I have spent the last decade living in Los Angeles and I find it hard to permanently leave it for anywhere else, though I love to travel. I am a writer, a poet, a runner, a feminist, a plant eater, an animal lover, and tattoo enthusiast.
On a Day in the Life: I wake up somewhere between 3:00a-4:45a, depending on the day. I either have time for a quick gym visit or I head straight to work. I then spend anywhere from eight to twelve working, and if I didn’t make it to the gym in the morning, I spend a good half hour fighting myself to get to the gym at this time. I get home, I read something, whether it’s a poem, an article, a chapter in one of the many books i’m reading, write a little, meditate on the day, then knock out. If I happen to have the day off, the neighboring mountain trails are becoming more and more my home for upcoming races.
On Self-Care: Physically, I’m huge on treating myself. I’m obsessed with face masks, body scrubs, aromatherapy, and massages. Then there’s the running. That takes care of my mental state more than anything. During runs I get to process life; I figure things out more during runs than anywhere else. Running is my church, my confessional, my therapy. I don’t have any ties to a particular religion or image of God. I believe there is a power and force greater than ourselves.
I believe in the magic within our souls and hearts and minds. I believe in the power of visualization and the power of balance, and the power of our ancestors. I meditate and I write. I do my best to release my emotions, good and bad, on my runs. But, when one of these falls off track due to an injury, life change, over-work, the others tend to suffer. As functional as I may appear in chaos, my life thrives in balance.
On People She Admires: I have people I admire. I don’t know that there is anyone who I’d particularly want to emulate or aspire to be like. I admire Nora Ephron, Diane Keaton, J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, and Francesca Lia Block for being bad-ass, unapologetic, females-warriors in the screenwriting and literary world. Serena Williams for being one of the best athletes of our time. I admire passion, ferocity, and drive.
On Love: Love is a state of being. A daily aspiration. I fight to continuously do things out of love and to maintain the love I have for myself. Running, work, helping others, writing, relationships... If there’s no love in it, even a fraction of it, I can’t justify keeping it around. Love is a necessity. Love is a bind. I love what I do. I love the people I do these things with. There are so many societal constructs, expectations, justifications. I find it easier to search, find, and keep love or let it find you.
On Mantras: “Just breathe.”
“Find that inner peace.”
“When you’re through this, you can nap.”
I focus on my breathing and clear my head. I am fortunately and unfortunately good at numbing in the moment until I give myself the freedom to process at night or on a run.
On Being Stranded on a Desert Island: I think that I have trouble realistically answering hypotheticals. Does this island already have plentiful fruit and vegetables? If so, unlimited sunscreen, unlimited ink and paper, unlimited red wine, and a lifetime supply of fresh drinking water. Basically the things I use the most at home.
On Her Top Five Books of All Time: 1. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran 2. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 3. 1984 by George Orwell 4. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 5. A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations Interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky 6. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
Yes, I know there’s six… I was tempted to just give you ten altogether.
On Children: I don’t want to to have children, because I just don't want to. The idea of having a human life grow inside of me does not excite me. In every life list I have ever made, creating a life has never been on there. I am selfish with my time and sleep, and the responsibility of not screwing up a tiny human is not one I wish to take on. People who have a deep desire to create life, nurture life, let life grow, those are the people who should have kids and raise them.
On Future Possibilities: I always knew I didn’t want children of my own. The closest I’ve come to wanting to be some sort of mother was when I learned about adoption. I would consider the very, very small possibility of adopting older kids in a few decades.
On Regret: People ask if I think I will regret not having children quite often. I don’t see how I would. I’ve come to ask if they think they’ll ever regret choosing to have kids. I don’t get friendly responses. My life and heart are full already and I have plenty of close friends with children. As I watch those friends with their littles, there’s not an ounce of, “I’d like that someday.”
On Her Own Childhood: It was a whirlwind.
On What it Means to be a Mother: To me, personally, it simply means a woman who carried a child and gave birth, or a woman who raised a child. There are great mothers, good mothers, not so great mothers, and maybe a mixture of those. Defining what I see as a good mother is a different question.
On Dreams for the Future: To remain present and keep living a mindful life. I want to keep traveling, running, loving, reading, writing, growing. As for the future of the world; Love. we just need to love more.
On What You Should Remember: “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” -Max Ehrmann, Desiderata