+SPOTLIGHT | Tina Lara

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TINA LARA

Name: Cristina Lara

What’s your age: 33

What are your tribe(s): Chinuk, Northern Ute, Shoshone-Bannock

What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you hear the word healing?

Hurt, teacher, growth

Can you tell us what you do and a bit about how you came to it?

I work for my community in Grand Ronde. I help youth and families meet their needs through finding resources and implementing Tribal Best Practices in the field of prevention. I help my community heal both on an individual level and community wide level. I started working with young people and for my community when I was a young person. I always wanted to be a source of help ( healing too, I now understand this as an adult). This need I felt to help as a young person kept me in good energy and on my own healing journey.

How do you heal?

I sweat, sing, pray, spend time in our longhouse, laugh with family and friends, paddle canoes, go to counseling, ask for help, spend time at the water, be with mother earth- during these times I work on letting go of negative energy that has built up since I was young.

What’s calling you right now?

I have been healing my grief that I’ve been holding onto for a long time now. Because of this healing, how I experience the world has shifted. My calling is to bring healing, always, however the way I do it is changing. I thought I must help a certain way, I am beginning to understand healing happens in many different ways.

Do your ancestors affect what you do, how you live?

I rely on my ancestors more now than ever. My connection to them has changed and I am learning each day to strengthen that connection. I sit quietly to listen to them for lessons.When I feel alone I imagine them with their hands on my shoulders supporting me through the happy and sad times.

Who are your mentors, role models?

Mentors are important in life. I have had a few of them. One is Lisa, she has been around since the beginning of high school, such a crucial transition on my journey. The other two are Jillene and Uncle Joe. These two have helped me through my adult transition, that I am still experiencing. Asking for help has been a struggle for me. Since meeting my mentors it has become easier to ask for help when I need it.

What drives/inspires you to keep going?

My culture keeps me going. The loss we have experienced as Indigenous people, the pain and trauma, I use to help guide me. The healing, love and compassion also continue to inspire me.

If you could relay a mantra, message, wisdom, ism, food for thought to Indigenous 20 somethings from the US and abroad what would you say?

Learn to let go. It is challenging to see through the pain, however, you are so much more than that. It’s ok to trust the process, during happy and sad times.