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From the Outside, Looking In

Memoirs of an Observer

As long as can remember, I have been an observer. There are two kinds of kids, the ones doing and the ones watching. I was the watcher: extremely shy, awkward and skinny, too afraid to talk. I could watch for hours and never utter a word recording everything around me, taking it all in – every detail –  watching lizards, spiders, birds, and exploring the rich paradise that was Santo Domingo. And reveled in the stories around me carried forward by the women in my life: my mother, aunts, maids, etc.

I have started this site in order to share stories of my family and my life. I have led the most exciting, complex, chaotic life full of ups and downs, adventures, lots of fun, lots of pain, but at the end, full of peace and happiness. I wish I could go back and tell that scared little girl that it is going to be alright. To relax and enjoy the ride.

I would like to dedicate these stories to my daughter, Avaryl, and my nieces and nephews — a generation free of political repression, anxieties, and fear, full of hope and open to every possibility.  I am aware that your generation has no reference to relate to the world I grew up in. Even I, at this age, and in this reality, feel like this was just a movie I saw a long time ago, but, sadly, I know it was all very real.

I am adding entries in the Blog when I can. Short stories of memories, events, or just observations throughout my life. Browse through and comment if you like. I welcome any information you might be able to add to the stories. 

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Family Crest designed by my father in the late 1940s.


Betsy Arvelo - Artist, Painter, Graphic Designer

I come from a long line of people with a connection to spirits, or some kind of 6th sense. My maternal grandmother was a shaman in the countryside of the Dominican Republic. It is hard to believe, but she took care of the health and spiritual needs of a whole village outside of Bani. Ever since she was a small child she could talk to spirits. She then went on to be able to use them for healing. My mother and her mother had a connection even though my mother did not grow up with her. I remember countless times when my mother would tell the maids to prepare the guest bedroom because she was feeling her mother closer.

I have always sought out ways to relax and work with my depression and anxiety. I have tried many different kinds of meditations, from guided meditation, to the Shivananda strict quiet meditation and lately Transcendental Meditation (TM).

I am a certified meditation teacher from the Shivananda Organization. My group spent 14 days with our teacher, Swamin Sita (Swami Sitaramananda) in Paradise Island, Bahamas. We had a rigorous schedule that included meditation twice a day. yoga twice a day, karma yoga. We spent10 of those 14 days silent. A very powerful experience. I can say, without a doubt ,that this experience changed my life. I had spent 11 days in the yoga farm in California learning yoga and the Sivananda teachings. And that was in itself a life changing experience. But learning to meditate gave me the tools to begin to heal. I was one person before this class, but another emerged from it.  was more calm, secure and less anxious.