Julia is the mother of Founder Melanie Contreras. She was born Julia Salagaj on September 10, 1926 in Newark, NJ. Julia was one of ten children, as well as one of six girls. She was a loving mother, sister and friend, always surrounded by women whether it was her five sisters, three daughters, four granddaughters or her wonderful girlfriends. She worked in the Family Court system in Essex County, New Jersey. During that time she witnessed not only the shortcoming of the court system, which still strongly exist today but also all the women and children who fell through the cracks of this system and had no place else to turn. Her spirit of love and helping others will continue through Women to Women by Julia.
Women to Women by Julia is the single most important undertaking that I have ever assumed. It speaks to my mother and what has been imparted in me. I do not have adequate words to define the very special relationship we had. However, I will endeavor the task.
Her love for me seemed boundless. As a child I distinctly remember her embrace. It was wholehearted and confident, almost like a favorite blanket. She always allowed me to be who I was. I have two older sisters who by the time the teenage years rolled around were out of the house. My mother and I shared many and I do mean many shopping excursions. We shared many laughs and comical events. But once again she allowed me the space to be who I was.
As the years went on and I fashioned my own life, our relationship evolved yet again. There was a time when things changed. We were sitting on the boardwalk in Sea Girt and for the first time both shared what we were really feeling and how we viewed things. Although there was some degree of disparity in our feelings and views, that day was different. I always knew how much I was loved. However, that day when she articulated how much she loved me, it forever changed our relationship. I will forever be incapable of expressing in words, if such words even exist, what she made me feel.
I noticed in the years that followed, her relationship with me continued to flourish, but more importantly she grew immensely as an individual. The funny thing is that it has been five years since her passing and I am always discovering one more thing about her.
Since my divorce, my journey about who I am and where I am going has been exceptionally insightful. I now realize that this journey started a long time ago and will continue forever. Though only lately have I determined that I have been unconsciously living it.
Awareness is a remarkable emotion allowing you to be an active participant in this journey. Lets call it conscious living. The journey is an evolving process filled with more than I could have ever expected. The areas of mindfulness and spirituality have eternally changed, to just name a few.
I challenge you now not to follow the flock, but to follow your heart, as I have discovered this is where the seeds and desires of who you really are lie. The sheep follow, however, it is the lions who create paths never travelled. Be a lion today and own who you are, not who you were conditioned to be.
As a result of the many blessings I have received and the wonderful life I have been given, I now know the greatest feeling would be to share that with others. It is about giving back to humanity for being so unbelievably blessed.