It is important for your readers to get to know ya!
Shirley it’s a pleasure to meet you!
I struggle to define myself—the fact being that I dislike labels, titles, boxes, check-marks—anything that puts me in a category. I like to think:
I am a work of Art travelling through life. –Miss Roots
Wondering where Roots came from?
Well, in the book Eat. Pray. Love. the main character was asked to describe her entire being in one word. So, I began to really dig deep inside every layer of me, until the word roots came to my mind and heart.
Roots is a word that continues to grow on me and it is why I truly believe there is a spiritual impact we receive from knowing our word. Because it’s a word that identifies you. Truly a profound journey.
What’s your word?
I was born on Tuesday, February 21, 1989 in Springfield, Massachusetts, but lived in Puerto Rico until I was about four years old. My parents are from Guayama, Puerto Rico. My mother Virgen S. Rodríguez majored in education and landed her second teaching job in Holyoke, Massachusetts, so we packed our bags and lived in MA until I was fourteen years old. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer when I was twelve and passed away when I was fourteen, on June 20th, 2003. My father, José F. Rodríguez, thought it was best to take my brother and I back home to Puerto Rico. And it really was the best choice, although I admit, I didn’t want to move. Everything was moving so fast.
I graduated from Francisco A. García Boyrié High School – known as Costa Azul. Best school ever. I turned eighteen during my senior year of high school, so I decided to be the first ever in the family to join the United States Army – where I served for almost seven years. I fell in love with a young man name Rubén and married him at twenty-three. Divorced at twenty-seven. Our separation is what inspired me to go backpacking around the world in 2016. I figured I’d get lost, search for healing and self-love. Haven’t been back ever since. Only to visit my family. I love you dad.
Sweet long Summary
I never got to celebrate my Quinceañero [Sweet 15] but I had the coolest mother ever! She was super creative. She made me believe there was such a thing as Diezañero back in Puerto Rico – which is kind of like a Quinceañero but instead, you are ten years old, and for sure a virgin, ha! Sometimes, I believe that I am the only – or one of the first puertorriqueñas to have celebrated a Diezañero in the same traditional ways of a Sweet 15th birthday. It’s like my mother new she wasn’t going to be around, so she did all she could to show me how much she loved me. That woman always followed her heart. Maybe I am just like her.
I was gifted with all of my mother’s artistic talents, so I began to dance at age six. Started dancing at Griselle’s Private Dance School of Arts in Springfield, MA. Being part of the team gave me the opportunity to dance in New York’s Puerto Rican Parade!
Griselle also taught me how to move my hips and tetas to our Latin beats. She use to pull her tetas out and shake them saying – ‘!Muevan esas tetas sin miedo, que yo tengo más que ustedes y mira como las muevo!’ Best teacher ever. I swear. Hehehe!
I also began to take dance classes at Kathy’s Dance Studio, that is where I learned the principles of dance, specifically jazz. I also took acrobatics, which was also one of my favorite classes. Kathy’s dance studio is the place where I discovered that I was a jazzy girl and not a ballet dancer. At the time, I use to think that type of dance was just to girly for me.
My mother was one of the best baton twirlers back in Guayama, PR, I mean she even got to twirl some with fire. Not everyone could do that. : ) I wish I could!
She decided to form the first ever baton twirling group of Holyoke, Mass – and coach young girls like me. The group was called Las Batuteras Rainbow Bright. I was the best baton twirler in the group, and I say this with pride and honor – being that I took after my mother—but that doesn’t mean I was the only one! There were many of us who killed it at baton twirling – like my cousin Frances and my girl Sahira, Neisha, Jennifer and Eliane! We participated in many parades and competitions. Some of us even audition for the Orange Bowl Halftime Show and were chosen! Americas Orange Bowl Halftime show Coolest experience ever!
I took after my mother for almost a year when she got sick. At age twelve – I choreographed an entire baton twirling routine for the team to the song The Cup of Life by Ricky Martin, which won us some trophies and a great last smile.
As you understand, my mother was my constant motivation and when she got sick I couldn’t find the inspiration to continue to dance.
Rest In Peace Mamá
I joined the United States Army Reserves when I turned eighteen. I was the first ever in my family. I always wanted to be some badass bitch in uniform. No lie. But also needed to get away, become independent and pay for my college tuition. I served in the military for almost seven years. I wanted to keep going, I was planning to reenlist, but I became physically unfit for duty, therefore was sent to a medical evaluation board. Took a year to be medically retired with a disability compensation. I was one of the lucky ones.
I met my ex-husband during a training in Ceiba, Puerto Rico because we were part of the same Battalion. I was already four years in, he was fresh out the oven but eventually, he out ranked me. Proud of him. Truly some kind of love at first sight. I could say, we had a lovely marriage, no kids, one dog, the break-up was tragic. One I am thankful for.
Cheers to the old us! Old lover.
There is something important I want you to know about Shirley.
If I were to pin point the beginning of this journey I’ve been cruising in since 2015, I would say Fibro-fucking-myalgia. Pardon me. Fibromyalgia that is. The disease that brought me back to life and still tries to slow kill me everyday. But I’ve got this fucker by the balls! No apologies.
Fibromyalgia has been my most difficult battle. It is a very extensive topic, which is why I will keep it short. I know that at some point, I will write more about the subject, with the intention to inspire and raise awareness about health and everything I’ve learned throughout my personal experience. Also, to share the information I’ve read upon, all to which has helped me slowly kill this chronic pain disease and achieve a great chunk of healing. And let’s be clear about this. All without any medical help.
I was diagnosed when I was twenty-three years old. At the time, Fibromyalgia was a name that was picked out of the trash from doctors who couldn’t pin point the cause to all the chronic joint pain and its symptoms. I had too many – which is why my Rheumatologist couldn’t find a way to diagnose me. I had changes in my pigmentation, signs of Lupus, fatigue, tiredness, depression, chronic spasm and inflammation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, painful menstrual cramps, even changes in my vision. In other words, my body completely gave up on me to the extreme point where going up the stairs was painful, running and walking was painful, standing or siting for more than thirty minutes was painful. Pain, pain, pain, fucking depression, that’s the hole I was in. Ask my ex-husband, that man saw and experienced the worst of me. And what did all the MRI’s and X-rays find? Nothing. It was like I was making half this shit up. Seriously.
Doctors only suggest pain killers and anti-inflammatory. Funny, right? I believe the majority of doctors today are so out of touch with the human body. Only one doctor, out of too many—I can’t remember her name but she’s the one who opened my eyes to natural medicine and alternatives. She worked at The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire.
I remember the day she sat me down and said to me ‘Shirley, truth is, all we can offer you are pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication. What you need is a lifestyle change.’
She began to tell me about a good friend of hers who tried the Paleo Diet. It was my doctors words that pushed me to look deeper into my health. I began to read and do a lot research. Tried the Paleo Diet for a few months and surprisingly, it did reduce many symptoms which caused me to feel somewhat better. But that wasn’t enough. One day, I don’t remember the day specifically, but it was November 2015. I remember I woke up and said ‘fuck this! I am going all the way.’ So, I went and got a juicer , bought some veggies, specifically carrots, beets, apples, ginger and cucumber.
Adjusting my body to a liquid diet was very challenging but I juiced 100% for one week and lost 7lb. So, then I tried a second week, mixed it with smoothies and lost another 7lb. I realized that I wasn’t just losing weight, I was detoxifying my body! I began to notice that I had less pain and many of the symptoms, like fatigue, were diminishing—so I kept going for a few months and incorporated healthy meals. I am still on this journey.
If you’re going to go then you must go all the way. Mind, body and soul.
Fibromyalgia introduced me to yoga and yoga is what brought me back to life. It’s been six years since I was diagnosed. I went from feeling like I was dying, to a complete rebirth! At times, I look at myself in the mirror and I still can’t believe the woman I see. I can hike mountains again, I can dance and run for miles. I am even stronger now then the years spent as a soldier.
Here’s a before and after photo.
I am about 85% better. Although, I am not sure what this number really means because reality is – I am broken inside. My biggest struggle at the moment is when I dance because the next day I’m a bit like an old lady. It is different from running, dancing is a harder sport because you use more of your body. My body still needs plenty of rest and constant stretching. I am like a broken tea glass that was glued back together, but functions, like an old car you keep fixing because it’s worth it. I still continue the fight to reach the complete breakthrough in my health – if that’s ever possible. But the point is that I didn’t allow fibromyalgia to carry me – I learned to carry it.
I don’t do Paleo meals anymore because this journey has taught me to listen and to learn the ways my body and the human body works. I’ve manage to find my own balance with food. I am aware that our body is similar to a plant, a very delicate one but strong as hell. I tend to eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, drink only water and of course wine. Like I mentioned in the beginning—I don’t like labels because everything is about balance.
Wrapping up all of this wonderful information about me! I graduated from college during the same time of my breakup with Rubén. I have no idea how I pulled that off, but I managed to push through and finish my Liberal Arts in Writing Degree. I saved as much money as I could, quit my job at the pizzeria, and spent the summer of 2016 with my best friend and my dog Alaska in Houston, Texas. I bought a one-way ticket to Europe and on November 1st, I began the voyage. Hey, if there’s a label that fits me well, then call me a pilgrim. It’s the root of my being.
Thank You for reading. I wanted you to know me. Gracias.
Miss S. Roots♥