This Mother’s Day, we are honoring all the strong women who raised us, and saluting one mother-daughter duo from Pomona, CA who found what they didn’t even know they were looking for at Campowerment in Ojai in November of 2021.
Irma Trujillo, 60, spent most of her grown up life taking care of her 5 daughters and her husband. It wasn’t even on her radar to take time to feed her own soul.
Irma: I have never left my house ever since I got married, when I was 19, I stayed there and had my children, and then just stayed at home now with my grandchildren. I felt like I was just living life, but it wasn’t an awakened life.
In 2016, Irma’s daughter Carmen, 40, found Campowerment while scrolling through Instagram and seeing a post by @motherhoodunderstood, a mental health community for moms run by many-time Campowerment camper Jen Schwartz. Once upon a click, Carmen started dreaming about how she and her selfless mama could one day…somehow get to camp.
The following year, Carmen read that Campowerment scholarship opportunities were available via the Give Her Camp, but it took her a few years, navigating through her own rough waters, to get up the nerve to even believe she could be considered for one of those coveted slots.
Carmen: “I was able to apply for a scholarship and decided to nominate my mom so we could both be here.”
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Here’s what Carmen wrote about her mom on the nomination form:
Why do you think this woman would benefit from a weekend at an expert-clad weekend of insight, connection, and new beginnings?
Since my mother has had such a tough life and devoted everything to her daughters, she has no friends. We are her only friends. She still does not live for herself. Now that her daughters are grown, she lives for her grandkids. I want my mom to learn how to speak up, to make friends outside of us, and to learn to live for herself.
Recently she has been very sad. One of my younger sisters has [fallen on tough times, and] it has taken a toll on everyone, but especially my mom. She is reliving childhood trauma, and need to get away – even for a few days – so that she can meet other women and learn to love and care for herself.
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Irma: When Carmen told me about Campowerment, I was very excited because I was finally gonna do something for myself!
Carmen: I wanted her to open up to the possibilities of what she can do for herself so that she can have a better life, a happier life. Sometimes we are too selfless, and I think that you need to be selfish, but in a good way, you just need to give yourself ‘me time.’ And that’s why I wanted my mom at camp…with me! I’ve seen her open up, and stand up and to feel confident, to speak to people and to have all these friends. It’s like the greatest feeling.
Irma: I had times when I got the chills in the sessions. I mean, things that I have never learned. You know, I’ve never gone to college, but this is a place where I can start. It’s never too late.
I always thought, oh, my life is over. I worked, I had my children, my grandchildren. But no, I’m going to go back and I want to help my community. I want to have more friends and I want to do things for myself.
There are so many women that are just like me. They’re experiencing the things that I’m experiencing. I do not feel alone. The connections I made that I still have on a daily basis was where I learned this is where I’m meant to be and this is my support system . So I am just so happy. Full of joy. I learned to love myself. And I have gained a community of friends that I will probably have for the rest of my life.
CP: It’s one thing to leave camp with that feeling we know too well (and need to experience more), but to go home and act on these lessons is a whole other thing.
Irma : Since camp, I’ve been good, I’ve thought of myself more and made changes maybe even some Carmen doesn’t know about. Before I wanted to do flower arrangements and I have decided to grow my own flowers. I’m just enjoying life and nature and my grandkids and I’m very proud of myself.
Carmen: I have taken on more responsibilities at work and the one thing I shared with Tammi (Founder, Campowerment) in her journaling workshop about wanting clarification.
I had a lot of fear about moving forward even though I was already doing a lot of the stuff I would be doing in a higher position. Since camp, I’ve been following Campowerment expert Shirin Eskandani and she talks about imposter syndrome and confidence and so I have pushed myself to not downplay my skills. Right now I am acting Deputy Director for my city and I just applied for another position (stay tune!)…and actually I now understand that even if I don’t get it, I am reminding myself that I’m pretty badass!
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On her mama’s growth:
Carmen: I feel like my mom’s potential is so big, she has impacted everybody’s lives and everybody always goes to mom for everything. So I thought having her there widens her horizons for what she’s capable of and the people she could meet, the connections she could make. You know when you go somewhere, and I feel this way for my sisters as well who I really hope can get to camp soon, is that, “I wish they were here to hear this” because you can only explain how awesome it is but once you are there you can truly experience the power. You see it’s okay to heal and grow.
Opening up the conversation is the first step, says this mama-daughter duo, even when it’s easier said than done:
Irma: As I started getting older, I realized I had a lot in common with my mother. I think what you need is to talk to them and get that closure. They don’t realize that they’re loved. Communicate and feel better like they got something off their shoulders. Even if you talk and get angry with each other, you get something out of it and you learn.
Carmen: Love itself should be the connection even if you can’t relate to one another. I’m lucky my mom believes in a lot of the things we believe in and there are moms that don’t and it’s hard. But you can still love them even if you don’t agree on the same things.
Irma: Everything that I’ve learned here, I am so excited to take back and teach all of my sisters and also my daughters and my niece. I can’t wait to tell everybody about this experience because it has been life changing, truly life changing.
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Happy Mother’s Day, Campowerment fam. Whether your mom’s around, has passed, is in the picture or otherwise, you deserve the warmth of a mother’s love, and we hope by being here in this community, you find s’more of it.
Ready to ignite your spark with that warmth? Check out a Classic Camp in Fall of 2022, and reserve your bunk space now. Mamas, sisters, cousins, friends and relative by choice: bring the whole fam 😉
From the campfire & beyond…