I welcome you with open arms.
As a child, I was surrounded by love, love for family,
friends, culture and tradition. I grew up in a wonderful place, which is now a historic monument in Los Angeles, called Olvera Street. My mother was always beautiful and glamorous, sewing new clothes and dressing me up. She was
a dancer and loved speaking to visitors. Mother, my little sister Star and myself enjoyed living with my grandmother, Cruz, Crucita, my talented
My grandmother was always full of energy and spirit! She had seven children and was mostly a single parent. Granny had a store on Olvera Street and was always making plans, working hard, and taking pride in her Mexican roots. She always had a flair for joyously sharing and celebrating our fiestas as she made our colorful costumes, created delicious foods, sang, and made piñatas and paper flowers. I remember when she would teach us Spanish and Mexican dancing and we would prepare for the Christmas parties, which all the other children on the street were invited. She decorated the store and was a type of ambassador to guests from all over the world who would come to visit us. It was a wonderful time, as most of my family was involved with Olvera Street and celebrated our yearly events.
Now that I have become an adult, I have adopted what I always thought was a strange phrase “I miss the good old days!” Somehow I have found myself in a world of violence, abuse, drugs, gangs, neglected children, elderly and the homeless who wonder the streets. Now with the chaos and frenzy of world terrorism, I feel a special need to reach out and I want to be part of healing in this world. I worry about new generations to come, pray that we can hold on to one another and give them the tools they will need to live in a loving life. Somehow things seemed to of changed and there is so much pain. I am blessed and want to share the gifts my ancestors have left behind to me. In my life’s experiences, I have learned to appreciate all that is good and still struggle to keep my heart pure and dare to dream.
As an American, I feel special pride in our country and I am grateful for all the good and the gifts I have right outside my doorsteps. Where else in the world can you go and meet American, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, French, Japanese, Indian, Greek, African, German, Irish, English, Italian ……, people from all over the world, and enjoy their food, culture, and much more? I believe that ALL of our ancestors created traditions in order to build a strong foundation and to make life more meaningful and joyful. We are all God’s children as when our spirits take on a new journey outside our world we are all the same as they all leave the same white skeletons behind. Our lives are composed with the same need of love, nourishment and respect. We only need to learn more about one another to find our common bonds as I know we all enjoy great friendships and laughter. Embrace new people in your lives and share the special moments which will come your way. I am grateful for the pride of culture and tradition that has been given to me as a torch of light and I desire to share it with all those who choose to adopt it into their own lives. What a treasure it is, knowing you can go right out your doors and a discovery and adventure is there for the asking.
Dia de los Muertos is an exhibit that is especially dear to my heart. It has inspired me to create the “Mailbox to Heaven.” Our American culture is very strong in so many areas, however, dealing with death is a soft point. As American, we often find it difficult to speak about death and are often at a lost as what to do when we have lost someone who is very dear to us. The gift from my culture teaches us that we can still celebrate their spirit once they have left our earth. We can create an altar once a year, put their photos, their favorite foods and embrace our story-telling of them to the younger generations of how wonderful these people were in our lives! These photos become alive with our memories of them and we can take time to smile with the joy and privilege of having them touch our lives! There is a special day of honor, a day of tribute as we also celebrate other occasions throughout the year.
My wishes are that you will be in discovery of your life and of others. We need to heal, for others are counting on us all. It is important, to reach down inside, to give thanks and create closure, as it is important to celebrate life!
My dream is to have “Mailboxes in Heaven” around the world. Should you desire to create a “Mailbox to Heaven” in your community it would please me to assist you! Simply contact me and I will be delighted to see how I can guide you. In the future, I hope that I will create a posting board for those of you who need to speak out on your adventures in this path. I hope we can all inspire one another to embracing and celebrating ALL of our lives. Many have suffered; have been courageous and striving to create a better life. My prayers and thought of love are with you all!
The “Mailbox to Heaven” is in tribute to my lovely Grandmother Belle Tapia, Uncle Mario Valadez, Cruz Ledesma and Christine Sterling for sharing the beauty of their love for culture, tradition and their vision of a wonderful life to share! I miss them all so very very much, yet I know they are by my Mother and my side as Angels smiling at us now!
“Your spirit is the beacon of light that inspires me!
Thank you for the wonderful treasures
Your memories will be cherished forever
Fly my beloved Angels, fly!
Enjoy your flight with laughter and song! Until we meet again!”
Thank you Duane for your generous heart and making the site possible!