Illustration credit: Beto Cortes
“We have so much more power than we imagine, and we normally don’t use it. So I do everything I can to manifest what I dream of into my reality.”
Born and raised in Brazil, Danyelle Catini always knew two things for sure: she wanted to have a loving family, and she didn’t want to raise her family in Brazil. She always knew she wanted to be a mom and eventually a grandma, and for her that meant she needed a husband. Strong in her faith, Danyelle knew her husband was coming, so she prayed and waited for him to show up in her life. In 2003, at age nineteen, Danyelle met the man she would call her “Joseph,” and as it so happened, he was looking for his “Mary.” The two eventually became friends, and before long romantic feelings started to develop between them. As they saw the signs of a romantic connection blossom, they kept praying for God to remove temptation while they waited for confirmation that the other was the special person God had in mind for each of them. The more they waited, the more the signs revealed that they were each other’s special person and were destined to be together. Eventually they decided to give a relationship between them a shot, and they started dating. After a week of dating, Danyelle was convinced he was the one that she wanted to make a family and grow old with. She was ready to get married almost immediately, but he wanted to wait until they had both graduated and had more stability in their lives.
Making the move to Canada
During the search for places to emigrate to from Brazil, Canada kept surfacing as a viable option for the young couple to explore in greater detail. Over many discussions, and with a growing young family to nurture, they concluded that Canada fit their vision of the place to live and raise their family. For Danyelle, becoming a diplomat was a fail-proof means of achieving the dream to emigrate to Canada. It made sense as the job would offer stability, security, good pay—and they would be able to travel. Before meeting the man she would marry, Danyelle had pursued the path of diplomatic studies; however, the exam to become a diplomat is challenging, requiring proficiency in both English and French as well as extensive knowledge in international law and economics. After they began dating, the couple decided that their family was a more pressing priority, so any government job would have to do.
The family in a new country
Danyelle has a strong conviction that kids motivate parents to try harder, to be resilient, and to refuse to quit. However, for many newcomers to Canada, discouragement and hopelessness set in. Often this results in newcomers returning home because they are homesick. Sometimes they miss familiar food and a warmer climate, and the discouragement of having only entry-level jobs available to them can cause people to give up and return to their country of origin. For Danyelle and her family, returning to Brazil was simply not an option. At face value, relocating with children appears more difficult, but the truth is that children eliminate the option of quitting. Danyelle and her husband knew there was no going back, and they had to make it work—if not for themselves, then for the children.
“Having kids gives you that motivation to wake up. You can be desperate and tired from work, but then someone makes a joke, and then you’re okay.”
Manifesting dreams into reality
The resilience and determination of this Brazilian-born supermom comes from knowing exactly what she wants for herself and her family. “We have so much more power than we imagine, and we normally don’t use it. So I do everything I can to manifest what I dream of into my reality.”
An avid believer in co-creation, Danyelle often visualizes what she wants and places visual cues all around her, whether on vision boards or computer screensavers. She recalls how, twenty years ago, she looked at pictures of Canada’s snow-capped mountains without any knowledge that the pictures were of the country she would one day call home. “At the time, I was like, that’s beautiful, I want to go there. And now, years later, here I am.” Danyelle emphasizes that while waiting for your dreams to manifest, it is important to prepare for what you want—and, while preparing, to not get flustered when things aren’t going as expected. “I was, for a long time, doing everything I could to be prepared for what I want to have in my life. I want to be a business owner; I want to be an entrepreneur; I want to be a freaking millionaire—so as much as I can, I prepare for those things.”
Challenges are a part of life and outside of our control
One must understand that challenges are a part of life. Yes, life is challenging, and unfortunately there is no easy road or an easy way out. But Danyelle advocates that we can choose our challenges and how they affect us. “It can be very challenging going to the same job every day when you don’t like what you do, or when you know you have the capacity to do so much more. But you are just tired of arguing and fighting, and you have to pay your bills, so it is what it is.”
This means accepting the situation for what it is at a specific time. But problems arise when one gives up and sees the situation as permanent. “Giving up has a very high cost, emotionally, and it affects your health,” says Danyelle. “We can see that. Everyone who reads this article probably has one family member or friend who is in that situation. . . the usual culprit is fear . . . and the desperate need for control. There are many things completely outside of our realm of control, and we need to be okay with that. If you can’t do anything about it, then why cry about it. It is what it is—that is something I learned in Canada. And I love that.”
A cause greater than self
Danyelle is confident that she has a larger-than-life purpose. “My goal and my calling, my vocation, my purpose, is doing something bigger than myself—doing something not only for my kids, but for other people’s kids, and for other people’s grandkids.”
Determined to leave a legacy, Danyelle began working with Ariel Reyes Antuan, co-founder of Palenke Greens, which provides burlap sack gardens to communities (see page 58). She and Ariel connected through a passion to give the best foods to their families by growing it in burlap sacks. Ariel also believes the work they are doing is not for this generation but for their grandchildren and generations to come. Danyelle believes it is important to listen to and see the signs, to understand and respect your calling, and follow what you are inclined to, what you like. “When people show up out of thin air to help the cause, it is a sure sign that the work you are doing serves a higher purpose.” Danyelle currently holds down three jobs, each connected to food and nourishing others in some way. One of these jobs—at a Mexican restaurant—she loves to go to, and will bring her best self there “no matter how exhausted” she is.
Balancing the equation
Married for seventeen years, Danyelle understands her strengths and those of her husband Juliano. She is the workaholic of the two of them, full of energy, love, and ideas. Juliano balances that out and keeps her calm. “Through these seventeen years, one of the biggest lessons for me was to not fight it, not fight him. Or his energy, or his personality, or his dreams—and to understand my dreams” The differences in their personalities complement each other in all areas of their lives. Their years together have taught them that marriage is partnership, which includes support of the other person’s dreams. Otherwise, she says, the relationship doesn’t work.
Embracing cultural identity: the reflection in the mirror
Danyelle is intentional about embracing her cultural identity and passing her knowledge to her children as much as possible. “I am actually Indigenous, from Brazil, from my father’s side; my great-grandmother was Guajajara [which refers to the Indigenous people of Brazil’s state of Maranhão]” she says.
However, she is missing a great deal of knowledge about her cultural heritage because it wasn’t taught to her. While growing up, she lived close to her grandma, who had a small farm and garden. She wishes that she had learned more about how the older folks gardened or cooked. But as a child she was always encouraged instead to go play, which caused her to miss out on integral knowledge of tradition and culture.
In her role as a parent, she doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes she thought her mother, a single parent, made. Gardening, using plants to heal, cooking healthfully, being financially literate—all these are skills she wants to pass down to her children. “Places like Brazil are good with passing on culture and traditions. Canada is great for different things.” But in spite of the differences of each country, Danyelle is happy she has chosen to make this country home for herself and her family. “Canada is very good at building community spaces—wonderful playgrounds for kids, city spaces. I chose to come to Canada with my family, and I am very happy I did.”