Hey! I'm Veronica Brin Yuspraikh Aragón.
Hi there! I am Veronica Brin Yuspraikh Aragón - a mouthful, I know. I am so grateful to be on this nonlinear quest to live a greener, more frugal, minimal, multicultural and soulful life.
I am learning to embrace the messiness of "process" and my perfectly imperfect path as a mother, partner, daughter, friend, and human being. I choose to embrace this perspective every day, with plenty of slip-ups along the way - given I grew up a type-A, fixed-mindset perfectionist who had to do everything.
I believe community is an extremely powerful way to learn and grow and hope that sharing my and my family's journey in cultivating a braver, more compassionate and present practice in life can inspire and support others in nurturing that same authenticity in theirs.
For those of you who want more specifics, I am the first-generation U.S.-born only daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. I graduated New York University (NYU) with a B.A. in Psychology, Sociology, and a minor in Philosophy. After a fews years' stint as a background casting director (to help pay down undergrad student debt), I got a JD at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles to practice international human rights litigation.
After working in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and an almost 2-year stint in Trinidad and Tobago (I'm sure I'll post more on this), the birth of 2 children, late-night/weekend activism, volunteering, my parents' deteriorating health, and an increasingly disconnected relationship with my partner, I knew something had to give and it couldn't be my or my family's mental health.
While this journey that I hope to share here had already begun years ago, it was really Leila's birth that afforded me the opportunity to shift priorities. Four years later, here we are and we are so much better for the changes we've made as a family!
Meet Dante - co-creator in everything!
Born in the year of the Dragon, he is true to his Chinese zodiac sign - an extrovert with a rich imagination - whole worlds have been built in his little room with his open-ended supplies! In 2012, on Labor Day, this little boy brought fire, excitement, exploration and a sense of wonder back into my life like never before.
I have never seen anyone breathe in life the way he does - so present, so fully invested in every action he takes. He loves deeply and passionately - especially his little sister. He is one very constant reminder of why my priorities have shifted. For his 1st-grade self-portrait, the first descriptive statement he wrote was, "I was born to be wild."
He is also my brilliant side-kick in everything travel-related and has brought so much energy in our household towards greener, more environmentally-friendly living and eating. He also picked the name of this blog! He wanted it to be "On An . . . " because he thought it was important to capture being anywhere in the process - at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, close to the end, but not there - yes, did I mention he is only seven?
He is a part of this journey in so many ways - from thinking up ideas for the blog, to being a part of our family's decision-making process, to one of the main protagonists in our adventures. I hope this little man can bring as much fire, love and passion to your lives as he does to ours!
Meet Leila - sidekick in everything!
This little one, born while we were living in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016, is her own universe. Empathetic beyond her years, crazier than me, sensitive, caring, volatile, assertive . . . unafraid of taking on a challenge, madly in love with her brother and determined to master everything he does.
Just like big brother, she is really creative. Oh, and she has the most bizarre tastes (just like me) - did I mention, Leila's favorite beverages are pickle juice, kombucha and water with apple cider vinegar? She might even be found, on occasion, to be eating a cookie in one hand and pizza or kimchi in the other. With a passion for singing, dancing, dolls, and everything pink and purple, she wants 6 kittens, 2 dogs, and caresses each and every plant we've grown in our garden.
She is taste tester extraordinaire and makes sure her opinion is heard in every decision we make. Like big brother she is and will be an instrumental part in this whole project and yes, I do believe that young children are very capable and competent beings and no, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have clear limits and boundaries and yes, the fine line between them is every challenging.
Meet Marino - a.k.a Papa Mingo, Papa Frito
This man has been part of every step that has taken me to today since 2004. He embraced my parents like his own, helping to care for them with the same tenderness and empathy I heard in his voice from the first time we met. He has a heart bigger than I've ever known before.
From Escobar, Argentina, to many places in between, to the U.S. He 's spent the last 10 years facilitating father groups for fathers working to build stronger connections with their children, and the prior 4 years working in a domestic violence shelter.
He has the perfect mix of idealism and realism for me - keeps me thinking critically and still lets me spread my wings - we met volunteering for a VERY liberal community -based radio station in Los Angeles and spent years as activists together.
His commitment to this messy imperfect journey is part of why I fell in love with him and why I will always choose to keep trying and moving towards our goals together. He is my partner in everything!
Meet Alessandra - our Zia Ale & my Soul Sister!
What can I say - she is the sister I never had (her family is the big, boisterous Italian family I've never had either). She is there for me on my worst days and best days, she is braving the wilderness of life with me, and she is the greatest thing that has ever happened to Dante and Leila (maybe, in addition to Marino and I). And I hope, Dante, Leila, Marino and I are the best thing that's happened to her, at least since she moved to the U.S.? (Her whole family is back in Rome, Italy).
I have to say (pat, pat), the day she met us (pre-children) literally changed her entire life trajectory. Come quasi tutti gli Italiani che vengono qua', questa Romana had dreams of making it in "Olly-wood-e" (Hollywood, with an Italian accent). Little did she know she'd shift gears so quickly and so profoundly.
She is now one of the most incredible intimate partner violence advocates Los Angeles has ever known. Her strength, passion, empathy, and vulnerability shine through every interaction and create genuine, deeply connecting, and life-changing experiences for the families and youth she works with.
We are truly family - did I mention, we live together? We're still figuring out the best way to do that, but hey, it is all a journey and there is no one I'd rather be on it with than Ale, Marino, Dante, Leila and Baba (see below).
Meet Galina - A.k.a. Baba, the Matriarch of the Family
What can I say about this woman? She has one of those stories that you cannot even believe could happen to a single person:
Born in WWII Soviet Russia to Polish parents who moved their to help build this utopian future and later were deemed Enemies of the State and sent to the Gulags for pointing out the corruption; her older brother was sent to (and died at) the front as fodder for German soldiers because of her parents' status;
After losing both parents before the age of 35 and an attempted recruitment ploy by the K.G.B., she left Soviet Russia with one suitcase, seeking political and religious asylum in the U.S. Despite being a journalism and literature major, she retrained her mind as a computer programmer. She came here with no family and only a few friends and built a life for herself.
She's battled breast cancer twice (the second time after remission), skin cancer several times, and has lived through more than I can begin to imagine. With my father, they put me through school, extracurricular activities, infected me with the travel bug, a passion for language, culture, diversity and instilled in me a belief in justice, fairness, and equity.
This bio doesn't do her story justice and I hope that parts of it will come out throughout this blog. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for this incredible woman.
Meet Alexander - a.k.a. Sasha, Sashula, or just "Deda"
I honestly don't know where to begin with this man. He was my childhood hero - there wasn't anything he couldn't do. And, man, did Dante love him. Dante just knew, could just feel it, when Deda needed a hug. Neither the scabs on his skin, nor the tubes he was hooked up to in the end could stop Dante from climbing up onto him and giving him a tender, gentle hug.
Fiercely loyal to his family, he left Soviet Russia seeking political and religious asylum here and worked day and night to save up to get the rest of his family here (parents, sister, and niece), having to abandon his chosen career path as a physicist to earn enough quickly enough.
I have never seen a more generous and kind heart - over the course of his life, in addition to helping other family members come here, he has helped an innumerable number of other people successfully obtain asylum here, and not just from the former Soviet Union. He recently passed away and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from even people who weren't that close to him - just people along the way that he touched with his generosity. So many thought of him as a brother or father, in the way he took care of them.
In this journey, I will carry him with me always, and even will make sure to check off some of his travel bucket list items, like swimming in Lake Baikal, Russia, or exploring Istanbul, Turkey. I can't wait to see where he lived, went to school, and where he was born/still has family in Siberia. So much more of this man's story will unfold through the chapters of my life and it is an honor to share that will all of you.