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  • Free to Be Mindful

2019 - A Year in Review

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed I was prompted to do my best nine of the year. It’s always nice to be reminded of memorable moments. I then began to think of all that has taken place in the last ten years.

When my son was born a friend told me, “The nights are long, but the days are short.” I feel the same way about the past decade. When you’re in a moment it may feel like forever, but it feels as though the past ten years have passed in a blink of an eye (okay, maybe two blinks).

As I reflected on my Instagram Top Nine, it prompted me to think of 2010 to the present date. From a girl who was born in a one bedroom apartment in Washington Heights, who went to kindergarten only knowing how to speak Spanish, who scored an awful SAT score, who was a first generation college student, and who experienced eating out at restaurants only when I went off to college - I have most definitely grown as a person!

To know me personally is to know that I have very high expectations of myself. As a child, I always wished to be a teacher, which I accomplished. When I graduated with my Masters in 2009, I wished to be a School Counselor. It is amazing how looking back on the last decade, I have accomplished so much more!

In the past ten years I…

  • Obtained my dream job (I had in 2010) as a School Counselor

  • Bought a home with my then fiance in 2010

  • Performed on many salsa stages in 2010 and 2016

  • Planned my dream wedding, got married, and moved into my new home in 2011

  • Was awarded Bergen County’s School Counselor of the Year in 2012

  • Took 8 post-Masters classes and earned 3 certifications from 2012-2016

  • Got pregnant and gave birth in 2013, and have raised an amazing little human since

  • Got a second job as a Behavioral Assistant in 2016

  • Got a third job as a Counseling Group Facilitator in 2017

  • Dropped the Behavioral Assistant position for an In-Home Clinician position in 2017

  • Presented at my first statewide professional conference in 2017

  • Gave a nationwide webinar in 2018

  • Presented at my first professional development outside of my district in 2018

  • Was featured on a podcast in 2018

  • Created a website

  • Saw JLo in concert with front-row seats!

  • Saw many Broadway shows

  • Took my parents and my son to see the Rockettes for their first time

In the past year of 2019 I…

  • Created a movement called Amiga Moms

  • Started my journey on becoming a Certified Mindfulness Instructor

  • Was featured on a podcast in March

  • Held my first Amiga Moms Conference in May, which was sold-out

  • Since May I’ve had an Amiga Moms event every single month

  • Founded my business LLC in May

  • Earned a position on my college’s alumni board

  • Celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday in August

  • Leased my own office in September

  • Began giving mindfulness classes to kids in September

  • Was featured on a podcast in December

  • Was featured in Parents Latina magazine in December

In the past decade I have visited:

  • Aruba

  • Dominican Republic (at least 5 times)

  • Jamaica

  • Cancun

  • Bahamas

  • Vegas

  • Venice

  • Paris

  • Disney World

  • And went on an amazing Disney Cruise (which I highly recommend!)

I truly can’t believe how much has happened in the last year alone! Now, not all has been rainbows and butterflies. There have been many struggles, many hardships, and many loved ones I have lost in the past ten years including my mother-in-law, my grandmother, and my husband’s beloved dog. This past year I lost my aunt and godmother, who I loved dearly.

In the past three years I have taken a strong interest in the aspect of mindfulness. Many of my presentations are centered on mindfulness, I named my business Free to Be Mindful, and I am on route to becoming a Certified Mindfulness Instructor. On this journey I have learned to live fully in the present moment, to appreciate what we have in the right-here-right-now, and I have learned to be kind to myself.

My life is far from perfect; however, as I sit in reflection, I am filled with gratitude. I am thankful for my family, health, talents, and blessings. I am thankful for the new lives who have come into this world, for the amazing professionals I have had the opportunity to meet and work with, and I am thankful for the time spent with loved ones who no longer walk the earth in body form.

I look onto 2020 with much ambition. I look forward to earning my full counseling license in the spring and take off with a private practice thereafter. I look forward to continuing my Amiga Moms Monthly Mindful Meet-Ups and serving children and mothers through mindfulness-focused classes and events. I look forward to creating memories with my husband, son, family and friends. Honestly, I simply look forward to being the best version of myself I can be.

My business’ tagline is Learn, Grow, Inspire. I seemed to have subconsciously chosen this tagline as it describes my journey much more than I even knew. In the past decade I have learned a ton about myself in a variety of facets. I have grown as a woman, as a professional, as a wife, and as a mother. As I continue on this journey called life, I aim to inspire those I come in contact with - personally and professionally. I truly hope to help others learn about how essential the concept of mindfulness is to their lives. I hope to help others grow as people, and aim to help them understand and value all they have to offer the world. Last but not least, I hope to inspire those I work with to help others know and understand the wonders of living a mindful life.

I thank you for continuing this journey with me and look forward to serving you; I consider myself fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to do so. Cheers to a new year and a new decade!

Happy New Year to all!


Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with children and families for two decades. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of Free to Be Mindful - a private practice located in Ridgefield, New Jersey.

Vanessa is passionate about helping moms, kids and educators with mindful living, mental health and personal growth through efforts including:

Vanessa has been featured on the Today Show, Univision, Parents Latina and more, always sharing her passion of helping others Learn, Grow & Inspire… all with mindfulness in mind.

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