We had the good fortune of connecting with Deborah Salazar Shapiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deborah, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am proud to say that I am originally from San Salvador, El Salvador, a relatively small country in Central America—a country with tropical weather and beautiful beaches, but also a lot of poverty, violence, and injustice. As a result of being a witness to suffering, and through the guidance of my mother, I feel I have been granted the understanding to set a life aspiration to devote my career and personal life to serve others.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
One of the things that I am most proud about is that through my aspiration to turn compassion into action, I created an award-winning indie children’s book in two languages, “The Magical Mindful Day” and “El Día Mágico de Mindfulness.” I have no doubt that tremendous dedication and a firm desire to serve others is what brought me to where I am today, and I have overcome many challenges in life by coming back to my aspiration. The most important lessons that I have learned is that there are no mistakes in life, just lessons, and that you cannot force anything when it is not meant to happen. Everything happens in its own divine timing. My heart-centered practices of psychotherapy, meditation, and Forest Therapy are focused on guiding others to realize, embrace, and strengthen the potential we have to be happy in this lifetime (yes, amidst pandemic challenges and all) and the inherent goodness we have as human beings. Not only do we deserve this, but it is our birthright, in this miracle of life we have been fortunate to have.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and even though I have been living here for almost six years, I am still discovering new parts of it. That being said, here are some of the things that I would do, mostly in the north area of San Diego with a friend: Day 1 I would take her on a hike to Rancho Peñasquitos State Preserve or Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, followed by brunch at Sbicca in Del Mar (the owner can make anything vegan upon request). In the afternoon, if she is up to it and the winds are gusting, I would take her to Glider Port to see and/or do some paragliding. Exciting! Dinner at any of the fun places in La Jolla Cove. Day 2 It is beach day! We could go to Power House beach in Del Mar to surf or see the surfers. For lunch, a vegan sandwich from Board & Brew (a local favorite) sounds good. For dinner, we could eat at Tajima Ramen Hillcrest, which has some of the best vegan dumplings and ramen in town. Day 3 Perhaps on Sunday, I could take my friend to Deer Park monastery in Escondido for a day of Zen mindfulness meditation (their vegan lunch is the best!). On our way back, we could stroll through downtown Encintas and have dinner at Plum, a vegan Thai restaurant. On the following days, we could continue exploring all the incredible beaches San Diego has to offer or head down south for fun in the town. The opportunities for discovery are endless!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The whole universe deserves a little credit for who I am, literally, but I know I need to be more concrete. As mentioned before, the guidance of my compassionate mother has a lot to do with who I am today. My father also, who taught me about the beauty of music, photography, and the arts. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and particularly his book “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” for introducing me to meditation and the Dhamma (Buddhist teachings). Diana Winston and Marvin Belzer, PhD, from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for their guidance on the path of becoming a mindfulness-trained facilitator and for giving me opportunities to serve in the UCLA community and beyond. My meditation teachers past and present, including Deborah Eden Tull and JoAnna Hardy. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs and my mentor Ronna Schneberger for their support during an incredible training to become a certified Forest Therapy guide. Last but not least, my loving husband and my two daughters, who support me in every endeavor I set my mind to.
Credit: Robin Litrenta Photography