Season 1, Episode 5: Discarding the Past with Marla Bautista of The Bautista Project, Inc. (Transcript)

[00:00:00] Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:00:00] Welcome back to discard it. I’m Jennifer Brantley, your host, and I believe that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been scarred. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been bruised, your story isn’t over yet. And in fact, your story is whatever you say it is. But first you have to let some things go, so let’s do that together.

And one step at a time.

Hey guys, and welcome back to DiscardIt. So I know last week I had the Nelly playing for you. I don’t have any Nelly for this [00:01:00] week’s episode, but what I do have is a spectacular interview with an amazing woman. I mean, we’re delving into the good stuff, like how to let go of your past and how to break those generational cycles that are keeping both you and your family bound.

So I can’t wait for you to hear all the great things our guest has to share. Disclaimer though. this episode is a little longer than our normal episodes, so, and here. I’m going to give you my best LeVar Burton impression – sit back, relax, deep breath in and out and get ready to grow. Here. we go.

[00:02:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to DiscardIt. As I mentioned to you in our introduction, we have a very special guest with us here today, Marla Baltista of the about teach the project. Um, and just to tell you a little bit about her.  She is an author. She’s written this wonderful book called My Thoughts, aAandoned with some great poetry.

She’s a freelance writer and speaker. And her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Military Spouse magazine, Military families, harness and Legacy magazine. And she’s also  co-founder of the Bautista project, which we’ll delve into more later. But other than that, she is also a military spouse.

And notice how I said military spouse last because. Face it. Mrs. Bautista Is so much more than a military spouse. Marla, if you would just introduce yourself to our listeners.

Marla Bautista: [00:02:57] Thank you so much. Um, my [00:03:00] name is Marla Baltista and I am and author. I’m definitely a freelance writer, a speaker, the founder of the Bautista Project, Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that provides basic living essentials to homeless community members.

I am also an army wife of 12 years, and a mother of three, three beautiful, clever, and rambunctious children.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:03:28] I love it. I love it. So, speaking of children, have you been quarantining along with the rest of the world? That’s my number one question.

Marla Bautista: [00:03:36] Um, kind of, kind of quarantining. Um, so. It’s really hot here in Florida.

We’re here in Tampa, Florida, and so we were forced to quarantine for a short period of time, um, due to our swimming pool being closed in our neighborhood. I know, first of all, problems. Um, but yeah, our swimming pool was closed. Um, and it just actually [00:04:00] reopened last weekend. So we have been at the swimming pool, um, with the kids at home.

It’s just been pretty difficult doing all this. Schoolwork and keeping everybody cooped up, but also because of the work that we do, um, for the Bautista project is really hard for us to stay in, um, with homeless shelters being closed down or lessening their, um. There, uh, donations and the soup kitchens being shut down.

You know, there are homeless people out there who are hungry and who don’t have a place to stay who are out here in Tampa in the heat without food or water. So we’ve definitely kind of ramped up our giving, um, during this time of, of pandemic crisis.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:04:45] Wow. That is so excellent. I’m so glad that we have people out there, like you, who are still out there pounding the pavement and making sure that the homeless population is taken care of. I think, you know, they’re so often forgotten. People don’t think about them. You [00:05:00] know, when things like this happened with the pandemic. So it’s great that you’re doing that.

Now Marla, I pride myself on wearing a lot of hats. But I have to say, I think you have me, you have me beat. Um, you really have me beat. And I really want our listeners to learn more about the  Bautista project and what you’re doing. And I want that to be our focus today. So you’ve kind of mentioned, you know, what you do and what you’ve been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic and how you have really stepped in with the soup kitchens closing with homeless shelters closing. Tell us a little bit more. So how did the Bautista project come about?

Marla Bautista: [00:05:38] Okay, so long story kind of. Um, so I’ve had, um, I had a really rough. upbringing as a child. Um, I was born in Gardena, California. My family lived in Watts.

Um, both my parents. Um, we’re divorced shortly after I was [00:06:00] born. And, um, my biological father died when I was six years old. Um. And when I was, my mother remarried and, um, she had two more children and she ended up getting breast cancer and she actually passed away in 1993. Um, I was about nine years old and.

Mmm. My grandmother, which of course was my best friend. She was a matriarch of our family. She actually passed away three weeks before my mom, so I literally lost everyone in my life. Who was, who was, they were my role models. They were my, my, my people, they were my parents. They were, my grandmother was my best friend.

And so I lost everyone who I was closest to before I was even 10 years old. Um, and then I was left to, um, and abusive stepfather, [00:07:00] um, who abused me until I wasn’t about 18 years old. And then I was put out onto the streets to be homeless. So I was actually homeless myself. And, um. Being homeless, I would eat at, um, a local church, a local Catholic church downtown in Denver.

My family moved to Denver, Colorado, and, um. You know, I just remember standing in those long lines outside the church and people coming out handing out, you know, hygiene bags that had deodorant and so in a toothbrush and toothpaste. And I just remember like, you know what? If I ever overcome this situation, I’m going to do the same thing.

That these people are doing for me, I’m going to give back to communities because yes, they’re often forgotten. People don’t, you know, think of who’s out there when they’re driving download streets and they see those homeless people there. People like me out there that have plenty of potential, that are very young, that just needs some, a little bit of guidance [00:08:00] or some mentorship.

Um. And that will change their whole lives, but instead, many of us, um, we turn our heads and we just drive away or, you know, we ignore the need. Um, and so that’s how that got started. Um, once I got back on my feet in my early twenties, um, you know, I got my life together and I had my own place and my car and all this stuff, and I met my husband, um.

When I was working at a hotel, he was in the army reserves. And um. He was in training in Denver and we met in a hotel in the hotel that I worked at. I was in and executive administrative assistant. And you know, it has soldiers come through all the time and they’re all, I don’t want to say cheesy, but they’re all super cheesy guys.

Oh, let’s go hang out. You know, you’re pretty, and all that stuff. Whereas the clubs that, and so after all that, I went through, honestly like I wasn’t going to be going to the clubs. I’m [00:09:00] not, you know, hanging out or anything. I’m like, Hey, I’m from nights, I go do laundry at the laundry mat. Any of you guys want to join me, you’re welcome to.

And of course, all the guys are like, okay, now we’re not. No, like, we’re not going to the laundry mat. We’re trying to go to the club. We’re trying to hang out. I’m like, well, I don’t do any of that. And I don’t know where any of that is. And so there’s this one soldier that was like, Oh, go to the laundry mat with you, which, and you know, so I was like, Oh, you know, like that was like.

Instant attraction. I’m like, you full clothes. What? Right. I was just like immediately attracted to him, and so, um, and there was like a, I think it was a Saturday, and so I was like, okay, well I’ll pick you up and then we’ll go do laundry. And so yeah, I drive over, um, to the hotel to pick him up to do laundry.

And so this guy, because he’s a naive guy, came outside bag of laundry [00:10:00] and my car, and I’m like dressed with my Solentos and he’s like, what are you, what’s happening? I’m like, are you serious? Like, you’re going to take me on a date. And he’s like, uh, Oh, okay. I thought we were going to go do laundry. I’m like, really?

We can do laundry later. Like that is the sweetest story. So he, after, um, you know, we went on our first date and 30 days later we were actually married. And so that was the, just like a crazy story. Honestly, I tell everyone, like, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Don’t, but I’m still married to him 12 years later.

Um, and we’ve, we’ve traveled all over the world, and I mean, I. I truly love him, so I’m grateful for them. But, you know, since we’ve been married and we have been all over the world, um, we have seen a lot of disparities in communities and underserved communities, um, in Hawaii and in Germany and in Colorado and [00:11:00] New York and here in Tampa.

Um. There’s just, there’s just a vast difference in the haves and the have nots, if you will. And so, you know, we decided that, you know, we’ll do what we can. So this mission started off as, you know, a personally funded mission where we just went and made sack lunches and provided hygiene, um, blessing bags to community members in need.

And we keep. Our children with us. Um, they help us make sandwiches. They help us, um, fill sack lunches and hygiene bags, and they also go out into the community with us and they’ve been doing this all their lives. Um, so they are pretty well versed in this, in this, uh, mission life, I guess, if you will. But definitely that’s how, that’s how this whole thing got started.

Um, with me being homeless and, and me just wanting to change the lives of others.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:11:56] I love that. I love that whole story. Um, and you said [00:12:00] something, a word that stuck with me and that was overcome. And I think people get so mired in their own story that they don’t even think about anyone else’s, especially after they’ve gotten through it and they’ve overcome it.

They kind of forget what they’ve been through. So I love that you have not only overcome. But you’ve used what you learned to help others, and then you’re teaching your children.

Marla Bautista: [00:12:22] How old are your children? I have a 10 year old, an eight year old and a five-year-old. Wow.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:12:30] And so they’re already out there and has been their whole lives.

They’re already learning to give

Marla Bautista: [00:12:35] Yes. And that is one of their favorite things to do. They love giving back. And the biggest thing is not just giving back for them, but it’s teaching them that those people are just like you and I, they’re no different whatsoever. Um. The only difference is, is that they may have fallen on hard times or they may just be going through something currently, but they’re no different from [00:13:00] us.

And I want them to understand that because that’s what I wanted people to understand about me. I was very smart. I was pretty, and I had always things going for me, but I was homeless. I had nowhere to go. And so when you see people like that, you don’t know their story unless you talk to them. And so that’s what I encourage people to do.

That’s what I encourage my children to do. They talk to these people. I know that they’re just like, you and I. There are no different.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:13:27] That is so true and it’s so sad, but I think sometimes when people see homeless, that’s all that they see. They don’t, like he said, they don’t know your story. They don’t see anything past the fact that you may be on the street or asking for money, and we’ve become so immune to other people’s plights and stories that.

We just keep going. Um, and I think it’s so important, like you said, to realize that there is a real person behind that face on the street behind that body, you know, lying down. That is a [00:14:00] person who needs

Marla Bautista: [00:14:00] help.

Absolutely. Yeah. Um, and that, that is one of the most, um, the most important things that any of us can do, especially here in America.

We’ve gotten a little selfish, if I can be honest. Um, yeah. We have things that are, they’re mine. And I understand it. Um, because of as a person of color, um, our plight has been hard as a people. And so I always say it like this, like looking at my, my background, I was born in the early eighties. My parents were born in the fifties when their parents had them.

Their parents were fighting for civil rights. They were fighting. Basic things. They didn’t have time to, um, be concerned with their children’s emotional wellbeing and all those things, um, that we have today, you know? And so they grew up really hard. Um, and so for that, you know, that kind of transfer through the generations [00:15:00] in, you know, for people of color.

And so. I think today, um, we as a people, and not just as people of color, but all people, we need to realize that, you know, that’s something that we kind of do, need to discard and move forward from. Um, because a lot of girls past hurts. We carry with us. And even me, I always say, um, there’s a lot of times, honestly, when you were talking about.

Forgetting it and moving off. There was times I didn’t tell my story because I didn’t want anyone to think, Oh, she’s trying to tell a sob story. It’s a hard story. It’s a horrible story. I mean, if I were to listen to someone’s story like that, I’m like, how are you even alive? Bye. It’s crazy. But yeah, that was my life.

And so when I, when I go back and think of things like that, you know, I think of, well. Why aren’t we healing those things? Because we’re just, we’re just compartmentalizing them. They were putting them in a box and we’re putting them away and we’re saying, [00:16:00] okay, I overcame that. This no longer exists. Move on.

But no, that story is a part of who you are today. And that reigns true for me. And so I, you know, a few years ago I was like, you know what? Being honest is healing. Mmm. It’s not only healing for me, but there’s someone out there that could be listening that needs that motivation, um, to overcome their past hurts as well.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:16:27] Absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, on the previous episode of discarded, I actually talked about heartbreak. Um, so I didn’t talk about it in this context. I talked about. As far as maybe romantic relationships are concerned, but one of the things I said is that people have to learn to sit with their power. If they want to heal, they have to sit with it, let it happen, let it roll over them.

You know, get down deep in the mud and experience it, acknowledged that it happened or else they won’t deal. And that [00:17:00] sounds like exactly what you just  said

Marla Bautista: [00:17:01] You’re absolutely right. We have to acknowledge it. There is a process of grief, um, that we all have to go through. And if we choose to stop that process at any moment, um, we’re going to have to complete it later on.

Um, and it shows up in the form of our romantic relationships, as you said, it’ll show up in our relationships with our children. It’ll show up in our relationships at work, and so we need to be able to heal from that. Um, but in healing, we have to be able to. You speak it, we have to be able to talk about it.

Um, talk to someone else, whether that’s a, a counselor, whether that’s someone who actually hurt you or whether that is journaling, writing it down, tearing it up, setting it on fire,  leaving it, you know, it needs to come out and it needs to be healed. Absolutely.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:17:54] And you said two things that I want to kind of hone in on.

So one of them was about how it not [00:18:00] only affects your romantic relationships, but it affects your relationships with your children. And when something like that happens, you haven’t healed and you’re imposing your hurt onto your children. What do you do? You create a cycle. So that generational hurt that you talked about.

And that is something, um, that. Mmm. My parents experienced, and this is where, again, I talk about people of color because I am a person of color, so I can relate to that. Um, but as people of color, you know, um. They did have those generational cycles that continued on because they knew they didn’t know any better.

Marla Bautista: [00:18:41] If you think back to slavery where, um, people of color, you know, we’re getting physically abused that transferred through the generations, you know, whether that was through incest or whatever, that’s still transferred down. And these people today, my generation [00:19:00] where. I actively trying to. To eliminate that past hurt.

Um, because we are now free enough. Two, decide what we want for ourselves. And when I say free enough, meaning yes, we’re still fighting a lot of civil battles. We’re still fighting a lot of human rights battles in America and around the world. But as far as, you know, being emotionally, um. Stable or mentally.

Okay. We have a lot of that. We own a lot of that today, whereas back in the day, they didn’t get to own that. They were told who to be in, how they could, you know, eat and live and dressed and where they can live. And today, if you have the money, you can live wherever you want. You know. If you, if you have the resources, you can do pretty much whatever you want.

Um, and so we have that, we have that freedom in a sense to kind [00:20:00] of, um, decide our own paths and in our relationships with our children. That’s important because we have an opportunity that we didn’t, our parents didn’t have. We have the opportunity to. Allow our children the freedom to express themselves emotionally.

Um, artistically. Um, we have that freedom that no one, you know, before me had, you know, I couldn’t imagine, you know, my mother as a child of what she had to go through knowing her, her mother was just, you know, fighting just to live a normal life. You know. And so that’s just really difficult to, to understand how they lived in, in that stuff that transferred instead of, you know, being just hurt.

I’m also understanding and learning where that hurt came from and how it went for through the generations. And like I said, it stems way back centuries. And you know, when people were talking about how their parents spank [00:21:00] them, that stuff goes way back. And so. When we look at that today, we can kind of process that and say, okay, I do understand where this came from.

I don’t like it. I will choose not to do this, and I will choose to instill discipline in my children in a different way. You know, I will choose to listen to my children, you know, and not be overly consumed with work to where I can’t. Mmm. Take a moment to be present for them. And you know, a lot of times our parents can do that.

Like I said, my parents were, you know, my mother was fighting a breast cancer battle until she died. She wasn’t able to be there for me. She was trying to stay alive. And so those are the things that we have to accept and we have to move on from that and heal from that. You know. Yeah,

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:21:54] Yeah. And so you said the word “choice”.

I like picking out words that stick to [00:22:00] me, and I’m thinking about how you were able to reach the point where you could talk about  pain in your past hurts in order to help other people. And I’m assuming that choice was a part of that. But what would you say, how did you reach that point where you could share your story in a beneficial?

Marla Bautista: [00:22:18] Um,

I think I, I saved a couple of quotes and I have a friend. She’s, she’s a good friend. When you have that good friend that’s super honest with you, no matter how you feel, um, you need to get one of those if you don’t have one, but you need to have one of those. But there was a couple of quotes of, and I can’t remember who wrote them, but, uh, one of ’em was, um.

If you wanted me to write better about you, you should have behaved better. And so that, that resonated a lot with me. Um, reading and writing. Um, there was another quote that said, um, you have to accept an apology. You never got. [00:23:00] And so for me it was like, okay, you know what? I’ve holding onto this and I living with this.

Other people are not, they’re living their lives. That’s fine. Totally fine. Right? I was in here mentally, you know, going through mental anguish, um, because of what happened to me and a lot of things would, you know, things will come up or you will see people in other relationships, whether that was romantic or what their kids are, what they’re even mothers, right.

There is a whole thing. I have a thing about mothers and so, you know, it would be like. People would be like, Oh, well my mom gets on my nerves and you know, all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, well, at least you have a mom. And so I realized that that was kind of resentment, and I realized I had to kind of grow from that.

And with abuse and all that stuff that I faced, I had to be. I had to sit in that, like you said, and process that grief and be like, you know what? I’m not going to get an apology. These [00:24:00] people are not sorry for what they did to me. Um, and it’s okay, but I am responsible for who I am today. And when I realized that and realized that all this stuff that I was balling up and holding inside and not telling anyone, only heard it me.

It only hurt me. It didn’t hurt anyone else. And so I realized that I was stopping myself and I was creating fear in myself. I was creating insecurities within myself because of this past hurt. Wow.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:24:30] So I think your story is such a great demonstration of the theme of this podcast, which is that everyone has a story.

It’s the bestseller waiting to be written. But before you can write your story, you have to let something go. And you talked about a multitude of things that you have had to let go in order to reach the point that you’re at now. The past resentment, fear, anxiety, doubt. Um, little anger and yeah, I think it’s important for our listeners, for you [00:25:00] guys to know that you can let go of all of that stuff, but particularly as it relates to the past.

You know, let go forgive, but don’t forget the lessons that you learned or that you gleaned from that experience and your past. And Marla, you have done such a great job of letting go of all of the negativity, but holding onto the lessons and teaching them to your children. Um, you have a wonderful partner who supports you and is of the same mindset, which is extremely important.

And now you’re able to in turn help others. Um, so that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. So how can people find out more about the bounties to project? How can they donate. Um, where can they follow?

Marla Bautista: [00:25:44] I am all over the interwebs as they call them. Um, you can find me on almost every social media outlet or platform outside of tick tock.

Um, is that, I’m just like, that’s just too much. That’s extra work. Um, [00:26:00] but. I definitely, if you would like to find out more about the, about SISA project, you can go to www. The about Tiesta project inc org. That is our nonprofit organization and you can donate there. And we also have an Amazon wishlist for much needed items for the homeless community members.

So definitely check that out. Um, I’m also on, um. LinkedIn on Instagram at, uh, Marla. Dot. Bautista. Dot. Author, um, that is my brighter page, but also we have the Baltista project, inc on Instagram. I’m on Pinterest because Pinterest is everything. Um. And if you don’t no about Pinterest, you need to get on it because it’s not just recipes.

There are just so many things that will help you, um, on your journey, whatever that is, whether that is entrepreneurship, whether that is working a traditional [00:27:00] job, whether that is overcoming fear and self doubt. Check out Pinterest, um, for that definitely on Twitter at. Bautista one six, one, two. I’m all over Facebook.

Of course. Um, you can just Google me and then all the things will pop up and you can read

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:27:20] about

Marla Bautista: [00:27:22] my journey.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:27:23] I love Google – “the Google”, as they call it. I love it. So that’s wonderful. So listeners, make sure to follow Marla. I will have links to all of her Instagram, Facebook, all the great pages in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

Marla, it was so great speaking with you today, I hope that our listeners gleaned, because you gave us some really good nuggets in there. If they gleaned a lot from it, um, and remember it and take those lessons

Marla Bautista: [00:27:51] with them.

Awesome. Thank you so much. And if I can just throw in one thing for the listeners, please remember that you are more, you can do more, you [00:28:00] can be more, you deserve more.

Jennifer N. Brantley, Esq.: [00:28:17] Wow. I have to say I really enjoy talking to Marla. And it’s my hope that you caught all of the messages and the discussion, and in what Marla said, I know I certainly got a lot from it, especially from the discussion about the homeless, right? And how they are just like you and I really, they are you and I.  Right? But for God, there go I.  And they are just as deserving of the love and respect and attention and resources that we feel we are entitled to. So remember that the next time you see a homeless person on the street, remember that they are just like you. And try and think, [00:29:00] what is it that I can do? How can I contribute to t resolveing this?

Cause, you know, contributing to organizations like the Bautista project. Um, another one that I’ve worked with ChopArt that was founded by Malika Whitley in Atlanta, Georgia, started in Hyderabad, India, and serves homeless children contributing to groups like that. Volunteering on boards, giving where you can are wonderful ways to give back.

And then there was the discussion about breaking generational cycles and how you teach your children to expect more from life and to give more to others so that they in turn glean a lot more from their own lives to the discussion about the past. Right? And how you can let go of your past while still holding on to the lessons learned and the humanity that you’ve gained from your past experiences.

And then of course that last wonderful nugget at the end about how you are more. You are so much [00:30:00] more, you’re more than anyone else says that you are. You’re more than the titles that people give to you, the descriptors that they use for you. You are more, and if you’re familiar with me, you know about my other project more than a mrs.

Um, that’s more than just for women, but it touches exactly on that how we are so much more, especially in the military community than a military spouse. You define who you are, you define your story, and that’s what we’re all about here at discarded.

That wraps up yet another episode of the DiscardIt [00:31:00] podcast. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. But it doesn’t have to end here. What you can do is help us to grow and help the people you know, by subscribing to DiscardIt wherever you listen to podcasts and please, please, please. If you like what you hear, leave a review.

It only takes a moment. It’s super easy. And doing things like that, subscribing, leaving a review, and even just sharing the podcast through your platform – helps us get found by others. In addition, you can become a guest on DiscardIt by using the link in the show notes and show description to leave a voice message for us.

Who knows? You may just hear your voice on a future episode. Join us next Friday as we discard something else on our way to making your life story a best seller. [00:32:00] I can’t wait to grow with you.