Mente’s Beginning

Mente Beginning
January 27, 2022

It feels unbelievable to me that, as I write this, I am preparing to talk about my business (My business?! Did I really do this?!) a journey that began a little over one year ago. People ask me sometimes about what my motivation was to open Mente, and how I decided to become a business owner. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I really know how to answer these questions. In part, this is because Mente was not a plan or a decision in the traditional sense. If I had to put words to it, I would say that Mente was born from an implicit knowing, a longing for something that needed to exist, from a kind of impulse… but not of the I-had-too-much-ice cream-again kind. It was more of the life-giving, soul-driven, resonant kind.

For those of you who know me, this description may sound very unlike the person that you have interacted with. I am very open about my life-long struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies; fear, worry, and an overwhelming need for control have colored my every moment since I was a very young child. Following my instincts is not exactly my usual way of making big life decisions. This has not been helped either by the fact that, as a woman of color, I have been told -implicitly and explicitly – that my ways of knowing should be suppressed, modified, and mostly kept out of the way of the dominant culture.
Mente surpassed my usual labeled binders and color-coded calendars. At a moment in my life when I was experiencing deep uncertainty and questioning, it arrived before me and, going against everything that my cognitive mind said to me, I embraced it wholeheartedly. And something about it echoed in the community as well, because within 2 weeks of opening Mente Counseling & Consultation we were offering services at full capacity. My gut was right: this needed to exist.

There is one question that I have always known how to answer about my business: where our name came from. Mente, for those of you who are also Spanish speakers like me, will be a well-known word commonly used in conversation. It means “mind.” It was a natural choice working in the mental health field, but there was something else that I found interesting about it. Mente is not just a noun, it is also used as a suffix appended at the end of word to turn it into an adverb. Examples of this are adverbs such as amigablemente (friendly), espontáneamente (spontaneously), and cariñosamente (lovingly), among others. In sum, Mente means “mind,” but it also means “how you do something.” It continues to be my biggest wish and goal, that Mente makes a difference because we are thoughtful about how we do our work – kindly, justly, collectively, boldly – in ways that bring health and wellbeing to those whose minds have not been cared for enough, and have been kept at the margins of wellbeing. How we do our work is by centering and elevating voices, celebrating intersecting identities, and maximizing our creativity so that we do our part to challenge stagnant paradigms of mental and nutritional health.

I am grateful that the parts of me that are knowing, beyond words and beyond traditional forms of knowledge, have led me to share these words with you. I am grateful that you are reading this. I am grateful that this has joined us. And I hope that we will continue to share many more emotions, thoughts, experiences, and community as we continue to further our mission to support the mental and nutritional wellbeing of families in the BIPOC and LGBTQI+ communities.

Martha Stebbins-Aguiniga

I am Martha, Director, and Mental Health Counselor at Mente. I am a mother, partner, tía, daughter, and friend. I am a cis-gendered Latinx bilingual woman.